Thursday, December 12, 2013

Weighing in on weighing in.

When my mother told me moments ago she was having a yam and an onion for dinner, (that's it) I said, "who are you, Shrek?"

But really the thing is, weight is such an NON issue with my mother. She's always been the same weight, my whole life. 

And I have never been the same weight, EVER. My weight fluctuates like the Stock Exchange. Sucks. 

My mom doesn't really understand it. She says: just stop eating. Ok. That'll work. Like when you tell someone you're watching your diet, inevitably they say things like, 'you look good, you're don't need to diet'. Really?

I see it like this: your heavier friends don't want to lose you and your skinny friends don't want you in their skinnygirl club.

I keep analyzing why every other year I get thin, right down to the weight I want to be then over the course of the next 24 months I slowly gain the pounds back...ahhhhhh. It's exhausting.

I know it's not healthy. I know it's bad for my heart. I am now once again truly caring and paying attention to what I am eating. Cause I wanna be healthy. But for real, I just wanna look good in clothes. That's all. Nothing more. Oh yeah, and the feeling of being adequate, and sometimes even secretly superior to other people when I am thin. Nice, right? Ugh, truth is hard to write.   

I am praying about it. I used to say to my girls: "there are only 2 things you can really control in this world, what comes out of your mouth and what goes in."  Is that even true?

Asking God to help me control my mouth, my secret superiority wishes and taking better care of the body he gave me. 

I just want to do it for me. And who am I kidding: THE CLOTHES. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

OH NO THEY DIDN'T....but's it ok....really.

Oh no they didn't!!! I created a blog last November, bought a domain name, and whilst I wasn't looking, my domain name went up for auction, and some organization bought it.

Wow the justifiable anger I felt! I made that name up; dangit!! The guy from told me it was business, happens all the time and to forget it, buy .net. But you and I both know .net is NOT .com.

The status of .com is far superior to .net. Ah...........vanity.

So I figured I will buy (notice I dropped the and) and as soon as I typed in, a google error popped up. Whatever. I'm done. 

We don't really own anything in this world anyway. God made it, He owns it, and to hold onto something and think you are never gonna lose it is just denial. Or wishful thinking. Or blissful ignorance. 

So learn from me. You can say you created it, but Somebody already did. And somebody else is ALWAYS ready to take it from you.

I am thankful for what God has given me. My ideas, my relationships, my possessions. But if He wants all of it back..................well it's His shut up Maria and give it up!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Do you think Heaven is gonna look like Pottery Barn? If so, I AM READY LORD...

Pottery Barn sends me their catalog. Not because I ever ordered anything, I think it's because they know I really, really wish I could...

Perusing the pages of Pottery Barn makes think there is a life of loveliness. Pure, unadulterated loveliness. Every page fascinates me----do people have living rooms like this? Do they own lots of books and glass jars...and no dust? No cat litter boxes, no dirty kitchen towels? No dusty plants? No piles of junk mail?
Ahhhhhh Pottery Barn, you lovely, lovely vision of how I want to live. 

So I got to thinking, if God has created the people who produce Pottery Barn, the people so talented, so creative, so imaginative that these uber-talented people can make me swoon and convince me that buying a $1700.00 sofa would make my life ever so lovely....well imagine how Heaven looks? I mean, well, God is the creator of the creators of Pottery Barn, right? Soooo, that means Heaven is gonna look AWESOME. And, so while I am studying Pottery Barn and daydreaming, I somehow manage to configure God's role in it. I don't know why...but I see God in Pottery Barn. Or rather I see Heaven in Pottery Barn. 

I can't afford Pottery Barn. I also can't afford to sin. I do sin, but lucky for me, I am afforded grace and mercy. You see, I really, really want to end up in Heaven.

And I am hoping it's gonna look like Pottery Barn. Only better, 'cause I am in it.

It just occurred to me---do I only love God 'cause of his house?....oyyyyy that's not good. I got to think about this.

And pray about this. And maybe stop staring at catalogs.....

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I'm a Hater? I'll show you hater.

I was called a hater tonight. At my small group. The new one. The one I was nervous about starting. Yeah, that one. Why? 'Cause as I was getting a high-five as a goodbye, and said hey: Hi Five and he answered...."you're a hater. You're a hater".  I'm like what?.....I'm a Lover, not a Hater. Besides, I like you.

Wow. I am a hater. Aw, he said he was just busting on me, to which I replied, yeah, you are Italian, so that seems about right. ( I am Italian.) Ahem, I said it because I am also Italian.

The funny part was 10 minutes prior, myself and two women were praying for each other, and one said to me, God will test your will. You are praying to rid yourself of getting easily offended,
so be prepared, you will be tested. You will be tested.

And then BAM, ten minutes later I'm a hater comes out of some guy's mouth as a joke. Me being the butt if it. Was I offended? At first, hell yes. Did I think of the prayer we just prayed about God testing me. Heavens YES! God works FAST!!

Let me be perfectly clear. I am not a hater. A dweller, yes. A self- deprecating, sarcastic, blunt, Larry David, Louis C.K. loving denying that.

But a hater. No, I love C.S. Lewis, Tim Keller, Joyce Meyer and Ann Voskamp even more. 

I am layered like an onion; like Shrek. 

Not Christianese. Not saccharine sweet, not a fluffy, squishy kisser upper. Nope.

And as the Pastor said tonight during prayer, God loves each one of us, just as we are. (Mr. Darcy also said that to Bridget Jones, just sayin').

So I figure God is testing me on how not to be so easily offended. And it's working.

'Cause I am not a hater. And I don't hate him for saying I am. I don't hate anybody.

Thank you God, keep testing me, molding me, so I will NEVER be offended again.

PS: No offense to the guy I am writing about....  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

New Small Group: Water to Wine (must be 35 or older to attend)

I am starting my own new small group. In my head of course. It's called: Water to Wine. You have to be over 35 to attend, NOT a hipster, not even particularly affluent or attractive. Just someone who drinks water or wine, loves the Bible and that's pretty much it.

Any takers?

I didn't think so. As I start a new church small group next week, I am always a little scared, a little excited, and a little weirded out. I don't what to expect. What mix of people will be there...why do I care? I am there just to study the Word.

But I am also there to establish relationships with other Christians and that is sometimes VERY hard to do. Cause I don't fit the mold. Not that I should fit any mold. Jesus sure didn't. Neither did his disciples, but in our society we want to fit in. And be liked. And be invited places. And feel community. We are designed to feel connectedness and no where more I pray that Godly prayer than in my church. Community in my church. A tough one. 

My Pastor preached a few weeks back about how a member of my church asked to leave cause he wanted to be with more humble people. HUMBLE PEOPLE. That blew my mind.

So as I begin my new small group next week, I will be thinking: am I humble? Am I welcoming and friendly to everyone, even the hipsters...should there be any? Am I loving the ones who seem the most unlovable? The invisible ones? The socially awkward ones? 

Or am I gonna play Christianese and smile, work the room, try and be funny, and just skim the surface. Put my two hours in, bake brownies, close my eyes when we have prayer and wonder what the Modern Family premiere was about and then leave. 

I sure hope not.

Also hoping my Water to Wine theme catches on.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

10 Things I Hate About You ( metaphorically speaking)

1. Your technology sucks. I became so accustomed to using my daughter's laptop (MacBook) that you pale in comparison. Why did I buy you? Why didn't I just spend $1000.00 or so more and get something I can actually use and like? Oh yeah that's right, I didn't have the extra dough. Dangit.

2. You're a liar. You tell me your gonna get back to me and help me rectify the situation. You sound sincere. You sound genuine. Then we hang up and I NEVER hear from you again. Blast you and your customer surveys...which by the way I cannot WAIT till the next time your centralized survey center calls my cell and asks me to rate your service. YES. Vengeance is mine.

3. You think I think because I am Christian, I think I am like Jesus.
 I'm not Jesus, NOT even close. One of the greatest lines uttered in the movie, White Oleander. And yes, this line comes in real handy in everyday situations. Just because I'm Christian and striving to be like Jesus, I have absolutely NO consistent Jesus-like external qualities at ALL times. And neither do you. None of you. Notaone and that means you.
4. You're treating me as though I am invisible. We've seen each other several times, been introduced and at first I used to make eye contact and half-smile, but you averted your eyes one too many times and therefore I am either invisible to you, or I am wearing the Romulan cloaking device. Yeah, Star Trek rules. Original Star Trek. The one with William Shatner.

5. You conversationally inadvertently plant a reference about your degree from your Ivy League School as though you were Andy Bernard from "The Office". Please. Dwight Shrute wasn't impressed and neither am I. In fact it makes me think you are probably not nearly as smart as you want me to think you are.

6. You suck when it comes to sticking with the plan. You get scared and totally flake. Things get fouled up. People get disappointed. And by you, I mean ME.

7. You smell bad. You are NOT a Yankee Candle. You're just some cheap imitation of what's supposed to be Cinnamon or Vanilla or Hazelnut, but I might as well just pour my flavored coffee creamer into a bowl, light a match and sniff. Voila. Again, you are NOT a Yankee Candle.

8. You won't go away. I was just trying you out as a template on my blog (ethereal) sounded so cool, and now I have peach- colored birds flying around my picture....ahhhh. I can't get rid of you. I have called in reinforcements.

9. You're not medium brown. I put you on my head, cut my bangs too short and end up with The Perfect Storm. Just say you're dark brown. Stop saying you're medium.
10. You offer nothing. You are filled with empty promises, I turn you on and the next thing I know I am agreeing with Vickiwhoever and phoning my bff to swear about how mean the other women are to her. Or I am actually witnessing someone shoot an alligator and I like it. Or watch people bid on other people's crap or and this is a biggie: I stop my husband from turning you off, cause I really need to see how Brody helps Bruce...oyyyyy. Not good and I am actually paying for you?

So there it is. Metaphorically speaking, 10 things I hate about you. (which happens to be a really great teen flick with a great soundtrack). Hey, I found ONE thing today I actually like.

Things are looking up.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Can I Get a Witness? True Story # 3

We've known each other since 1981. While sitting on the beach with one of my oldest and best friends, I tried to explain what having a relationship with Jesus is really about. Man, did I do a really, really bad job.

She started asking me questions, like...."well, what you mean Jesus answered all your prayers, isn't that just life working itself out.." and I'm babbling....ummmm, yeah but I just love Him so much! Then I REALLY started : There's a hole in me that no food, no pill, no wine, no man, no friend, no nothing can fill like Jesus....and you know if you were like really into'd wanna join a knitting club, right? So that's why I go to church, 'cause I wanna be with other people that love Him so much, like me.
And I am not afraid of death, ok, yeah, maybe still a little...but this Alpha course I took, blah, blah, blah...I was plummeting. It got so bad I started to sing, (which I absolutely should never do in public anyway since I have no tone whatsoever) and she said I sounded like an old woman, which was hilarious but didn't help and then I declared to her I would happily kneel on this beach, RIGHT NOW and exclaim to the everyone how much I love Jesus.

And then she's asking me about small groups...and I'm promoting small groups, because she really doesn't know what they are about and then I say: well, NORMAL people's not like that....UGH.

And she concludes with "but maybe everything you went through in your life, Maria, maybe that's why you love God, you and your kids and all that divorce and stuff... and you're still kinda screwed up,, where's that Pottery Barn Catalog you brought?"

Oh whatthe......I mean, you had to be there.

I blew it. My one in, my chance to tell one of my dearest friends about the Love and Grace that only comes through Jesus. She's never asked before, I never tried to Bible thump or push anything down her proverbial spiritual throat...And there I am, the woman who can debate and shoot the crap for hours about literally anything just drops the Jesus ball. Man.

I have never had such a clear, intimate opportunity to evangelize...and it all came out like crazychristiantownusa.

I needed help. But I didn't ask. I just kept trying to expound to her about the Bible, how it's the one true word, how it calms me down when I am all riled up about everything in the Bible is actually coming to fruition, and blah blah blah...crazychristiantownusa.

I do not know how to witness. I do not know how to evangelize. And I am gonna learn. 'Cause the next time God gives me a perfect shot at telling a friend or family member about Him and His Son and the Holy Spirit, and grace, you can be dangsure I ain't gonna be comparing it to a knitting club...

And I am NOT going to start singing. Not Ever.

Monday, August 19, 2013


When am I going to stop ranting? I need to be gentle. But when I read somebody's status that bugs me....ummm I rant.

Love me a good rant. Ain't even gonna lie. Especially when I think I'm right. Even better is when I know I'm right.

I just rant on and on, feeling justified in my self-righteous opinions and well researched facts which end up equaling: a RANT.

Inevitably I feel bad after my rant. I realize I need to be more gentle. More kind. My well-honed opinions of pop culture and topical news could be delivered in a softer, less sarcastic way.
I gotta start trying harder. I gotta rant less, love more. Ok, new MANTRA: rant less, love more.

One problem, zizzle, these opinions of mine. Um, they wanna bust out like pin-size hole in a water balloon....phrewwwwwww..and out they come. Like when I read a status from teachers who are off all FREAKIN SUMMER and then they start, gotta go back to work, summer's over...and they get like a hundred likes...and I am bustin'..I am just bustin' to leave a sarcastic comment...."poor you, aw, you were home or on vacation for 8, that ain't right...."

I write it. Then I delete it. Cause I wanna be gentler. And being gentler is hard for me.

And because I like alot of these people. When the rant starts, I lose sight of who is reading it. I forget that the teacher who may have posted this status could actually be someone I like. Ouch.

I realize how gentle God is with me. He knows me. He knows how easily and sharply I can attack. And He still loves me. Ouch.

He knows I feel bad afterward, even when I am just thinking about the verbal attack, that one I may not post, but am still entertaining the stinging thoughts swirling in my brain...He knows. And He still loves me.

But don't get me wrong, I believe God gives ME a good old fashioned RANT whenever He sees me acting up...ohyeahHEdoes. He calls me out. 

Calls me out---I was abrupt with someone, like that lady today....and her beautiful, round eyes brimmed with tears, then I teared up...and held her hand, told it was going to be ok, I would help her.

Ok so, maybe with some work, I will become more Gentle. RANT LESS, LOVE MORE. 

QUICK SOMEBODY, LET ME POST MY NEW least for today....

Monday, June 17, 2013

Truth or Christianese? True Story #2

Christianese. This is a term my daughter, may or may not have invented, but she used it, defined it (to me) and you know what? I saw the truth in it.

The more I delve into Christianity, I see a transparency; light, filmy pretty lifestyle, that would merit the term "Christianese".

Journaling, pinteresting, mommy-blogging, pretty people with shiny white teeth, and pretty jobs, all loving the Lord, praying and meditating on the Word. Thin, comfortable, educated and compassionate. Oh, so compassionate. 

Does that sound truthful or envious? I don't know. Maybe both. I am fascinated by these people. I met a slew of them at a Women's Conference in a beautiful, manicured church, which looked more like a resort than a church, really,...anyway there were everywhere. I was there too, waiting to hear the charismatic woman/author/blogger Christian speaker.

She was great. Funny and beautiful, spot on with the mommy jokes. Down to earth. She had that whole Sandra Bullock from the Blind Side schtick goin' on....southern, sassy, well you know, Sandra Bullocky....

I bought her book. Hey, I wanna be like that. I wanna be Christianese. So I'll buy the book. I waited in line to get it signed. Cool. Gonna meet the beautiful, funny, down to earth, bible- loving author, and maybe her Christianese will rub off on me and I will be gentler, thinner, more feminine, develop a Southern accent, and fly all around the world, showing down to earth women like me that they can be Christianese too. Wow. Doin' it.

Well my 10 seconds with her came and went. She asked me my name, and as I stood 12 inches in front of her, I suddenly got a weird feeling, like I was waiting for someone or something which wasn't real. Her beautiful teenage daughter was behind her, and as I stared at her (the teenager) with her pageant-like beauty and as I heard myself saying my first name and blurting, "you're funny, I like it". It was if I was giving props to a really good comedian. "Hey dude, your stand up was awesome tonight"....

That doesn't feel like God. That doesn't feel like Grace. She was great, she was entertaining, but there was a truthfulness missing. Or maybe she's been speaking at too many engagements, way too much.  It was missing the RAWNESS of Grace, of God, of Salvation. The RAWNESS of the Crucifixion, the RAWNESS of the Resurrection, the RAWNESS of Jesus.

I think Grace and Salvation are so RAW that yeah you can be funny and polished, but then again maybe you shouldn't?  Maybe Christianese isn't what God wants. Jesus wasn't Christianese. He hung around with the not so pretty people. The gritty, unlovable, people. The whores and tax collectors and lepers and the poorest of the poor, and the least educated. Truth.

And all the while, I am looking to be Christianese, I know in my gut, that's not it. That's not me. That's not Grace. I don't even think it's Christian. I don't know, I just want to know Truth.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Don't Hate Me Cause I'm Beautiful...True Story #1

I attended Temple University around 1979, just around the time when Punk and New Wave music was making its mark. I loved it. What people now call Goth, whatever, we called Punk. I wasn't into Sid Vicious. Yikes, no way. Too scary. But I did love New Wave. The kinder, gentler Punk. I wanted to look like JoanJett/Blondie/ChrissieHynde/PatBenetar....bad ass enough, but not heroin user- killer look nonononono.....I also aspired to have Jon BonJovi's perm. Big hair. Big perm. Enough makeup on my face to look like I was auditioning for Cats. Oversized, mens' jackets I bought at thrift shops and I would then cover (jackets) with pins collected from New Wave shows....Elvis Costello, The Ramones, The Clash, all of them. All over me.

Back to Temple. Anyhow, while sitting in the auditorium style classroom for my Psych class, a few rows in front of me was this jock. What can I say? This big, blonde, hulky, white bread, corn-fed, letter wearing jacket jock. And every day he would turn his head and give me the hairy eyeball. Every day. Now just because I was from SW Philly doesn't mean I wasn't a scaredycat. 'Cause I was. First though, I was angry, like HEY JOCK, stop giving me the hairy eyeball! Then I would think oh jeez, I am wearing so much makeup and crazyhair and crazyjackets, this jock is gonna jump me. And hurt me. But days would go by, he would turn around at the beginning of class every day and stare at me. Hairyeyeball and all.

One cold winter day I was walking to the subway station after class, and who sidles up next to me. Ugh, that mean jock. Crap. I am literally shaking, not from the cold, but from what's going to happen next. When, he opens his mouth, I am thinking, 'ohboyherewego', but he turns to me and says, quote " You are the most beautiful girl on this campus". Unquote. What??? Hairyeyeball waspy blonde loving jock thinks punk, ala new wave girl (me) is beautiful??? And the most beautiful girl on campus??? Temple's campus?? (Temple was mainly a commuter school in 1979, but there were alot of people) Alot.

Stumped, speechless. Someone thinks I am beautiful. Wow.

I didn't know God then. Not really. Not the way I know Him now. I didn't have the good self esteem thing going for me either. So I was stunned. And beyond flattered. And we dated briefly, but I ruined that... self sabotage...That can happen when you don't see how beautiful you are through the One who created your beauty. You ruin good opportunities, good relationships, good everything when you don't know your beauty, your worth. Your worth because of and through God.

So now I know. And guess what? I am beautiful, 'cause my Father made me that way. Thanks Dad.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I Feel Ya

I talk to people all day long. Mostly about their problems. Sometimes self-imposed and sometimes happenstance. The people are usually confused, frustrated, angry, depressed and anxious by the time I answer my phone.

Sometimes I answer and I am the one who is all of the above..

Sometimes, I get the opportunity to talk to people that have been thrown a curve ball, and I mean a crappy curve ball;  lost their job, lost their spouse, lost their health, and yet, don't bemoan their circumstance, of course they're not happy about it, but they are grateful for any help I can any way. And even if that help is just me picking up the phone, listening to their sad/bad circumstances and letting them rant, me relating to their situation, maybe even making them laugh or maybe even letting them cry. We do both.

It's usually then, when their grateful attitude brings me to tears, quite often actually. Usually they don't know it. Mostly because we are talking on the phone. So I can hold it together, hold back. I do what I can then I am obligated to move the work along. No time to keep in touch.  I have spoken to some folks face to face and some over the phone, many I will never forget. It's like God put me there to meet them, hear their story. Feel their pain. And through feeling their pain, heal mine.

 I've received many thank you notes over the years, but two stand out, funny and touching, both authentic and intentional. One said: "Mr. C-------; Please be happy."

They spelled my name wrong. And clearly they thought : a) I was a man, which happens quite often with my husky voice, and b) I am not happy...? Did I reveal a secret suppressed unhappiness? They included a picture of themselves surrounded by a lovely park-like setting. This note is hanging on my drab, gray cubicle wall. It's a keeper.

The other note is from a woman around my age and to paraphrase, it simply states: "even if at this point, if I can't get any other ..... then thank you for being you. You are one of a kind."  The notes like this one bring on the tears.

I feel their gratitude, their love. Hope they feel mine.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Maria, Full of Grace

Maria, full of Grace.

I am Maria and I am full of grace. You can be too.

Well, you can't be Maria, but you can be full of grace. God's Grace.

All you have to do is admit you are a sinner, and ask God to come into your heart, and that's it.

Done. Graced.

Ok, here's the rub. You are graced and blessed when in reality you really have no right, whatsoever, to have such tender mercies bestowed upon you. Hence, salvation and grace. And for that reason you have to stop acting the way you were. And by acting I mean sinning. And by sinning I mean over-drinking, over-eating, over-talking, over-judging. And this is hard. 'Cause we don't think we are over-anything most of the time, 'cause we just plodding along lalalalalala...God loves me, I love Him, lalalalala.

I have done most of these things plenty of times. Drank too much, smoked too much, ate too much, judged too much....and I sometimes still do. I am not proud of it, but I am not gonna lie or hide it. And I don't want to keep repeating it. 

I do it because I am not feeling the grace I have been given. I let how I feel dictate how I behave. Big mistake. I have already been graced, but if on one particular day I'm not feeling it, I just behave badly. Knucklehead. Once you've been graced, it's done. Don't let your emotions lead you to believe you are not loved, or not graced. His Word is His Word, whether you feel it or not. Actually, feelings have absolutely nothing to do with God's grace.

So like I said earlier, you can be graced too, you are loved immensely by the One who made you. You and I may wake up feeling empty, but we are still full of grace. 

No matter how I feel, I still will ALWAYS be Maria, full of grace... so, right before that glass of Moscato hits my lips and forks full of cake go flying down my throat and right before I chime in about something or someone...Grace, Maria, Grace. 

You're full of it.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Instead of being all tucked in, I am all junked up

Some people are all tucked in. Everything looks right. Manicured. I am the opposite. I am all junked up. 
I don’t know how to go from all junked up back to all tucked in. Not that I was ever tucked in anyway....There’s no silver linings playbook here. No romantic movie ending from a junked up feeling inside. The feeling you’re losing it. Whatever it is. 
You can’t take much more and you feel that you don’t even have the right to feel mental suffering, because so many people in the world are suffering physically and mentally. Horrid suffering. So why do you suffer? I suffer for my children.
How do I take my child’s suffering, swallow it whole and relieve her of the mental and physical anguish? I want to be the pill she needs to calm her down, I want to make everything better, just like I did when she was little. But she's not little anymore, she's a young woman, living far away in another state, feeling alone, feeling the stress of being far and away. I feel it too. I feel it for her. I was never that brave. I never graduated college, picked up and moved 3000 miles away from everything I knew, to start anew. 
Unfortunately, as with everything, even bravery, there comes a cost.
I send her books, tell her to read page 110 of Battlefield of the Mind, read 1000 Gifts again, read Fearless, not to worry, things will work out. Don't be so hard on yourself. Pray, I tell her, pray. Little does she know my praying and reading are for me just as much as for her. 
Don't worry if you change your mind and decide this career choice isn't for you. We will figure it out. That should be a bumper sticker.....we will figure it out!. I'd buy it and slap it on my bumper.
I want to tell my daughter it's all gonna work out, but I don't that it is. Does anybody? 
All I know is I the more tucked in I want to her and I to be, the more junked up we become.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Social Network

Why does everyone on Facebook look like they’re having such a great life, filled with LITERALLY thousands of friends, updates of the latest trip they’ve taken, or a picture of the last gourmet meal they’ve eaten. Beautiful family photos, videos, lots of one-upmanship…… The Social Network.

I remember when people didn’t have hundreds, even thousands, of friends, when people actually picked up a phone and spoke to you, no texting, no status updates or I or anyone need to know you’re at a sports event or a concert, or worse, Target?

Alas, that will not be the case, as Facebook has replaced so much personal interaction and allowed us to present ourselves in the loveliest of lights, photoshopping our lives,  not completely truthful, maybe? It’s encouraged our society to parade our experiences, escapades, flaunt our resources, purchases, our academic prowess, and all our brilliant ideals and beliefs………..spin city…….I’m guilty of it as much as you are.

I ashamed to say I even enjoy the rants people put on their wall. The smart-alecky, stinging quotes from themselves or from hip, sarcastic websites. I also enjoy the sad, heartwrenching, romantic quotes, vidoes. Sentimental fool, I am.

Don’t get me wrong, I AM NOT BASHING the social network. It can obviously bring The Word, joy, comfort and connection to many lonely, Lord-loved starved people. Hey, I was one of those people most of my life!

However, while having a conversation recently with a friend about the challenges of living with our young adult children, she exclaimed, “but you and your girls look so happy on Facebook!” Wow, that got me thinking about how tricky the social network REALLY is. I just chuckled and replied, “you’re seeing a snapshot, not the whole picture”…it’s like seeing the scene from The Godfather when Michael Corleone is kissing his brother Freddie, you might think from that particular shot they are a happy couple,  just two guys who love each other…certainly not the whole picture. Not the true picture. 

Luckily, I eventually snap out of it, get off the computer, and read the Bible. No Spin City in the Bible. 1PETER 24: “ ALL MEN ARE LIKE GRASS, AND ALL THEIR GLORY IS LIKE THE FLOWERS OF THE FIELD; THE GRASS WITHERS AND THE FLOWERS FALL, BUT WORD OF THE LORD STANDS FOREVER”.

Truth and Righteousness abound, salvation and love is flaunted, not resort trips and fancy dinners, concerts or sporting events.
Boasting in the Bible does abound as well, 2CORINTHIANS 12-5: I WILL BOAST ABOUT A MAN LIKE THAT, BUT I WILL NOT BOAST ABOUT MYSELF, EXCEPT ABOUT MY WEAKNESSES. Boast in my weakness. Oh how I love that line, as I have so many weaknesses. That’s my kind of boasting!

I think my next FB status update there will be no spin city: I didn’t go anywhere, I’m not buying anything, the food I am eating is not fancy enough to plop on Instagram, but hey, I am alive, God loves me (and you too)……….nice.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Standing in Awe of God

I have refrained from writing the past couple of days as I am still lenting on vanity.
I cannot think of anything to write that is not vain unless it comes from God. All my thoughts and words seem self-serving and shallow.
I read Ecclesiastes 5-2: Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in Heaven and you are on Earth, so let your words be few. As a dream comes when there are many cares, so the speech of a fool when there are many words.
Enough said.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Here He Comes To Save The Day.......

Vanity, thy name is (insert name here)....

Lent is the time for sacrifice. I've decided to give up my vanity for Lent. Did I say it was gonna be easy?

Vanity is the single most trajectory leading to sin. Vanity's lover and best friend, Pride, assist perfectly in their common goal--sin.

I am vain. You are probably too. Ok, sure you're not, uhumm, never underestimate the power of denial #americanbeauty. I can't think of one person, other than Mother Teresa, that I know of, that is not vain. Completely humble. Ok, maybe Pastor Harry Pressley, (I listen to The Shepherd's Heart on 90.5 fm) Nonetheless, I am not just the "do I look attractive" vain, but the real vain. Ego-driven, highly sensitive, slightly, ok, a little more than slightly paranoid. I want to be original, but I want people to like me and fit in which is motivated by vanity.

The tears are vanity.

Seeking approval from others is vanity.

Annoyance with others is vanity. Liking others is vanity.

Distrust in others is vanity. Trusting others can also be vanity.

Self-idolaty is vanity.

Competition is vanity.

Jealously is vanity. At this point, is there any characteristic of humans that does not begin with vanity??

Recently, my youngest daughter's Facebook status stated: "money is the root of all evil". To which I commented, "no vanity is. trust me on this one." Trust me.

How do you get rid of vanity?  This is where Grace, only God's Grace has to step in and save the day!!! When I feel God's Grace, and yes I do actually feel it, then I feel void of vanity. When I give gratitude, to the One who Gives It All, then I feel void of vanity. When I feel empathy for someone or for many, then I feel void of vanity.

Problem is, doesn't seem to last very long.

Our culture, our world says is this affecting ME?

God is teaching me, to think how is this affecting Him? Glorifying Him? How is my behavior, or my words, affecting others?

Here He Comes To Save The Day....and He Ain't Mighty Mouse. But He sure is Almighty.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Perks of being a Single Wallflower

About 4 years ago, I was a single wallflower. Didn’t fit in. No boyfriend. No bars, no clubs, no internet dating websites to meet a boyfriend. Just a single, divorced 40-something, which on paper, sounds pretty grim, by today’s dating statistics.
But you know what? I didn’t mind, not one bit.
Not at all. Never. Ever. Really.
After being married for 18 years, I had had enough of companionship. I was married for over 18 years (21 total years of togetherness) and being alone for the first time since 1981, was well, not lonely. I felt no stigma not having a boyfriend, no awkwardness when I attended weddings alone. None of it.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself. For the first time in 20 plus years, I HAD CONTROL OF THE REMOTE! ARE YOU HEARING ME PEOPLE, CONTROL OF THE REMOTE! No football, no baseball, no hockey, no 610 WIP radio shows while driving, no newspapers scattered throughout the house. And ohmyword: no pay per view boxing. Yeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssssssssssss.
Got to cook what I wanted for dinner, got to listen to The Bangles while driving, got to watch Martha Stewart, yipppppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Babble on the phone with my gal pals, wander around stores without a guy looking bored and impatient with me and waiting for me to leave. Ahhhh. 
Of course, while thoroughly enjoying my singleness, I did have to raise 3 daughters, which by the way worked out perfectly, as they weren’t toddlers, they did not read newspapers, and never insisted on listening to 610 WIP while driving. Nice.
So singles, enjoy this autonomous time, this lovely season of not having to confer with a counterpart, just have fun! 
And remember, this may be the only time you’re ever gonna get the remote.

Monday, February 11, 2013

My love letter to Ann Voskamp

I am writing a love letter to Ann Voskamp. I know what you're thinking.... no I don't and nor do I care. I am still writing it. 

Dear Ann,

A year ago January, I was so anxious and panicked and distraught about so many things in my life, I started waking at 4:00 am, every morning. I could not sleep. No pill could help me sleep through the night. I would wake in a panic, and so as I would not disturb my then fiance, I would go downstairs, to my daughter Rebecca's bedroom, sit by the heater and think. Sometimes, lots of times, I would call my best friend, and we would talk for two hours, 'cause that's what best friends do. They listen, and talk to you even in the earliest of mornings.  

One morning I was so upset, with so many things I knelt at the end of Rebecca's bed, (oh did I mention she's away at college and hasn't slept in her bed in almost 4 years), anyway, I knelt and started to pray. I haven't prayed in this child-like manner since I was a child. I felt like George Bailey, just talking to God, pleading for His help. I was so lost.

I don't why but I glanced at Rebecca's bookcase, it had so many religious books on the shelves. At least 4 different Bibles. All types of Christian literature, I did not know then who these authors were, Max Lucado, Tim Keller, Jon Courson, whoever, but I pulled a book out randomly. No thought whatsoever. It had a beautiful picture of a young girl's hands holding a bird's nest with two robin's eggs. That book was 1000 Gifts, written by you, Ann Voskamp. 

The hand written inscription was not meant for Rebecca but for our mutual friend, Jess, a woman I adore, and the inscription Jess' friend had written, intrigued me so much I started reading 1000 Gifts.
Well, it changed my life. At first I admit, your style of writing, poetic prose, different and liquid and a little hard to digest. No self-deprecating jokes, no sarcastic, wry quips. Just unabashed love. Wow. What was I reading? A biography, a memoir, fiction, it didn't matter, 'cause I couldn't stop reading it.  You, Ann Voskamp, brought me to God. Actually, God came and clumped me on the head through your words.

I tried telling my friends about it, and well, last year, the book hadn't blown up yet. It was on the New York Times' Bestseller List, and still everyone I told, they hadn't heard of it.  I would email sentences to my daughters, paragraphs even, I was so moved. I even emailed my Pastor, so engorged with the passion of this book and my newfound passion and love for God, I was gonna teach him somethin'.

Delusion and inspiration walk a paralled path. 

But Ann Voskamp, thank you. Thank you for getting me through last winter, this winter, and  those lonely moments in work, when tears began to run down my cheeks, I would pick up your book and start reading. And I would pick up my steno pad and start writing. All the little things I am so grateful for. Grateful to Him. Grateful to you.

I try to live by "Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle".  And in fact, I count you Ann, as one of my 1000 gifts. 

Love, Maria.

Ann's website:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sex, Lies, and Videotape

I have seen this twisted, interesting, 'first of it's kind' low-budget, independent film years ago and it freaked me out a little. The movie's got it all: marriage, adultery, possessiveness, rage, and a media staple in 1989, the videotape, aka, the camcorder. Oh, and of course one of my favorite actors, James Spader. (he really plays a great creep, spot on).. The characters are self serving and not really likable. 

I am now reading Tim Keller's The Meaning of Marriage. (Nice segway, right?) Or rather, my husband is reading it aloud, one or two pages a night, so we can both experience it. And I like to hear him read aloud. Or 'out loud' as we say in Philly, I am from Philly so I can say either. 

Anyways, I gotta lotta work to do.

Yes I already knew marriage was hard. Trust me I knew and know how hard navigating a successful, intact marriage can be. Especially if you and your spouse are not on the same wave length when it comes to spirituality, family, money, and possessions. Slippery slope. Already went down that slope, and I got the t-shirt.

Now I am learning (in reference to marriage) what Jesus says in Matthew 16:25: "Whoever wants to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it". 

Tim Keller states, "Paul applies this principle to marriage. Seek to serve one another rather than to be happy, and you will find a new and deeper happiness.......It is because marriage is 'instituted by God'." Ah, Tim, you and your words. Gold.

But, still, I gotta lotta work to do. I want to seek to serve my husband, but, I am an opinionated, impatient, and many times, domineering...ummmmm...(I'd rather use the term: proactive) woman. I thought that's what he loved about me!! Detail-oriented, a bit of a perfectionist. Whatever. I need to learn to love to serve. Serve my spouse. Not just dinner, not just laundry but serving his spirit, his masculinity, his character. I forget, I may mouth a little white lie to get out of something. I get so wrapped in what needs to be done with every day stuff, I miss opportunities to serve him. Or do I deliberately avoid opportunities to serve him? Truth. 

I forget and miss opportunities to serve Him as well. I let days slip by, moments when I could be serving Him, His Greatness. I get wrapped up in the everyday. I forget He is the Giver of Every Day. 

So as I keep reading The Meaning of Marriage, I am going to make a concerted effort to serve him. My husband. And Him, my Creator. I want to love to serve. 

Spoiler Alert: Sex, Lies and Videotape does not have a happy ending. But you already knew that. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Changes......turn and face the strain.

Whoever said, change is good, probably didn't have to change much.

My car is broken down. It can't be fixed. I love my car. It's a bruised, battered, 2005 Hyundai Sonata. I bought it new when I moved into this house. After my divorce. After split-levels and minivans, after swim clubs, after homebound with my babies for 10 years, after trips to Disneyland, dinners with in-laws, life with someone for 21 years and then: change. Realizing your marriage is ending. Because you're ending it. It's broken down. It can't be fixed.

Now I waited about 11 years to remarry. I didn't rush out and sign a new lease;  I didn't want to. No way!! Never marrying again. Had to figure out what I wanted. What was best for these precious, fragile, girlies. My robin eggs. They needed nurturing. So I waited.

And waited, and waited.

I am so resistant to change. Still am. When my girls begged me to go to a particular church service, "sizzling summer" it was called actually, oh how I hated it!! Especially the singing!! Ahhhhhhhh what kind of music is this??? I was so resistant to God, to worship music, it's funny to think that now I am the one buying the J.J. Heller and Chris Tomlin cds. Don't get me wrong, I will always love me some 80's music, a girl still needs to hear The Talking Heads once in awhile. But I've changed. As much as I didn't want to, it wasn't up to me. It was up to Him. 

The Change to Him was Good.

The changes to everything else, well sometimes good, and yet, sometimes I resist and my temper gets the best of me and don't want anything to change! My adult temper tantrum begins. Ugly.

Then I read Scripture, shut up and start thinking how He's thinking about me, and how silly I must look over resistance to change. Some changes are obedience to Him in disguise. 

The only thing we can count on is God's Love, and change.

Oh and let's not forget. Cars breaking down. That ain't never gonna change. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gonna Raise My Ebenezer. Rock Needed.

When I hear Chris Rice singing "Come Thou Fount", which by the way due to some glitch in my brain, once I hear a song I am attracted to, I keep playing it and playing it over and over, I can't get it out of my head. My poor children at one point were unfortunately unwittingly forced to listen to Hoopastank's "The Reason"....way beyond the legal limit. (years ago...divorce you know..)  Anyhow,  I realize my entire biography is contained in the hymn, "Come Thou Fount".

Oh how daily I am that debtor, that sinner,  I am constrained to be....Oh how I know I am proned to wander from the God I love. I wander to the land of Pinterest, I wander to the land of analyzing others. I wander to the calling out the hypocrisy of others, even what I call the "anti-christian Christian".  They wear their Christianity on the outside, but they really don't live it. And in the end I am the sinner. I don't live it. I am put off, annoyed or resentful. Well, just read the lyrics folks,  I AM THE DEBTOR.

I looked up what an ebenezer was, and according to my credulous sources, (some obscure internet website) it's a rock Samuel erected in God's honor. It's a declaration of stating I am redoing my life following God. I like it. People put rocks on their coffee table just to raise their ebenezer. Nice home decor statement. But I want that so desperately. I want to re-do the decor of my dark sided heart/soul. No more resentment, no more analyzing, just lovely founts of every blessing.

Here's my heart, o take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above, here's my heart, o take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above. 

Whoever wrote this, knows me too well. Smart man.

Right Back Atcha

Why do I subconsciously love to throw things back?  What I mean to say is, why do I love to remind my husband and children of all the glorious things I have done for them when they've disappointed me or upset me. Why? I swear to myself every time I do it, it will be the last time and then festering starts leading to brew, and voila! I throw it back, I projectile vomit words that sting the other person, remind them of the time they screwed up and I overlooked it, or when I saved them from some impending disaster. Or I fixed it. As if.

As if my reminding them of all their little flaws and mishaps really shapes them into better people. As if my part in helping them correct some horrid circumstance entitles me to scold and mold them into what I want. Remembering their mistakes.

Thank God, and seriously, thank God, He does not play throw back. I screw up, I ask for forgiveness, He forgives and FORGETS. God doesn't throw it back in my face.  He moves on. He loves me so much, there is so much unconditional love for me, He forgives and forgets.

I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and I WILL NOT REMEMBER YOUR SINS." (Isaiah 43:25)

"For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

"'For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I WILL REMEMBER NO MORE.'” (Hebrews 8:12)