Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tempting Fortune

“Do not mistake temptation for opportunity.”
In “The Biggest Loser,” every week people go through a “Temptation” for the “Opportunity” to get ahead in the game, eating dozens of chocolates, stuffing their faces with muffins in a set time limit –all for a chance to get ahead in the game.  The game to stay on the Ranch for another week to lose weight and win $250,000 becomes very intense when you not only figure in this amazing opportunity to get healthy and get a life back, but also this huge jackpot. Is it little wonder that you will have contestants stuff their faces with 48 chocolates in 2 minutes for this chance? Is this healthy? Mentally, physically – seriously, is this healthy? I know what the point is supposed to be, but is it really valid? Will they really be faced with this kind of temptation when they go home?
But, I guess if you can walk away from the chocolate with $250,000 on the line, you can walk away from the ranch dip at the office party.  At least one would hope so!
“Do not mistake temptation for opportunity.”
What is a temptation for you? For me it would be to enjoy a glass of wine with a piece of chocolate – that is really tempting. What if though, I allow that temptation to become an opportunity to overindulge? A few extra calories here and there, not a big deal – until I wake up and realize I am 100 pounds overweight (not anymore, but trust me, I was there!). Where did my temptation get me?
Am I twisting this around a little?
Okay – there is a wallet lying on the ground. The temptation is to pick it up, rifle through it, grab the cash, maybe take the cards…here is an “opportunity” to get ahead a little in the world. Might be able to get a new TV, game console, clothes, liquor and groceries – here is my chance. Look at the odds of getting caught, might be just the opportunity needed. All from a temptation.
There is a person unknown to me in the world out there, saw a temptation….they sure took advantage of that opportunity! Lowes, Kroger, Burlington, Spec’s Fine Food and Liquor and Wal-Mart. Not sure what the source of their temptation was – old checkbook mistakenly thrown away, stolen bank statement with cancelled checks…does it really matter how? That person or persons, had a temptation that they saw as an opportunity, and who is paying for it?
Their opportunity has cost me many, many hours of work time and family time. Their opportunity has cost these merchants nearly $2500. Their opportunity has limited my ability to write checks at my local stores. All from a temptation that they viewed as an opportunity.
And, it is happening everyday to countless people across this country and throughout the world. The likelihood of them being caught and prosecuted is so very low that it is discouraging.
I cannot allow my temptation to just give in become another opportunity for them – and neither can anyone else. Even though the battle (and I do mean battle, because we are at war!) may seem insurmountable, we have to protect ourselves from the people who prey on these temptations. We also have to try to make sure they are caught and brought to justice. Sounds corny, I know – the justice system seems to give such light consequences to these felons, that it hardly seems like justice. Another front of the war is this, make sure that these crimes are not viewed as victimless. There are victims…I am a victim, Lowes is a victim, Spec’s is a victim, Burlington is a victim, yes – even Wal-Mart is a victim here. We all are in this case….because guess who gets to pay more because they have to cover the cost of these “bad checks.” We all do.
I could go on and on about how ridiculous this whole process has been – should I list a few? I can’t get hold of the one deputy that can help me get a new driver’s license number, because he has no set schedule and I can’t afford the time to camp out to get him. I have to fill out at least 2-3 affidavits for each check…this again, takes time! But, I am committed to doing this and making sure that I help this process as much as I can!
I am eternally grateful that this was a closed account – I get physically sick when I think what this nightmare would be like if it were my current checking account. I pray for those that it happens to!
All from a temptation that someone viewed as an opportunity.  
Live, Laugh, Love ~
Vanilla Mama
And, least you think I forget….
Your lucky numbers, 18, 23, 32, 34, 39, 41 – perhaps this is a temptation that you should take as an opportunity.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Kindest Fortune

“A single kind word can keep one warm for years.”
I have all these little fortunes in a cup now, a few days ago I asked my middle son to pull out a fortune for me to write about….I set it aside and somehow lost track of where it ended up. So, then I asked my youngest to pull one, and guess what (even after shaking) he picked the exact same fortune.
My first response to this was, yes that is true and that word is Natural Gas! I know, not even really funny – but, I got a little groan from all the boys. Sometimes being the mother of three boys can be very challenging. I really don’t find all the bodily noises, poo-poo humor and gross jokes very funny. Some of the movies they want to watch absolutely curdle my stomach with all the gross out humor.  Totally off the topic I know – but, the point is I at least try to humor them and that is a “kind word” in the simplest way.
In reality if you are searching for deeper meaning for a fortune cookie – what exactly does that mean? “A single kind word can keep one warm for years.” Does it have to be a single word? Does that mean you are speaking it to others?
You can say kind words to others day in and day out and there is truth to the adage that you catch more flies with honey. Everyone craves kindness and consideration from other people, even the crabbiest people that we deal with day in and day out respond differently when you have kind words to return to them. It is very difficult to face a person who is verbally berating you because of something or another and you look them in the eye and with kindness (faked or real) and respond to them without acting out as they are. Sometimes it is an immediate ice cold slap to their face that they are being rude and abrasive – other times it is throwing gas on the fire….it can be the roll of the dice, especially if they think you are faking it. Not rising to it is the challenge….we’ve all been there in that situation where all it would take to take an argument or confrontation to the next level is the single wrong word!
“A single kind word can keep one warm for years.” What if this isn’t saying that you should share a kind word with another person?
“Gee, your new haircut looks amazing – you look so put together!”, “Wow, thanks. I needed to hear that!”
“I really think that you have been doing so good at school and keeping up with your responsibilities, I am so proud of you!” Awesome examples of kind words….but where do these come from?
What if, just what if that kind word is a single kind word that is in you….Caring?! Caring about the other people that you are interacting with. Caring about those grumpy disgruntled people who you come across day to day. Caring, that is a single kind word that can keep one warm for years! Then that becomes part of who you are and how you deal with people and things….if you care and it allow it to be a passion.
There is a song that I love that is about not going through the motions – I’ll post the lyrics – and it is all about that caring in your heart. Feeling and caring about everyday life….not going through the motions.
Live, Laugh, Love ~Vanilla Mama
Lucky Numbers (if you care) – 9,12,16,24,25,31
Matthew West - The Motions
This might hurt, it's not safe
But I know that I've gotta make a change
I don't care if I break,
At least I'll be feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

No regrets, not this time
I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I'm finally feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

'Cause I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way ('cause I don't wanna go through the motions)
take me all the way (I know I'm finally feeling something real)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way (I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go)
take me all the way (through the motions)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions.
Matthew West
So, do you think he cares? First time I heard this song I cried!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fortune - TODAY? What about Tomorrow?

“Nevermind tomorrow, TODAY is the day.”
This fortune cookie is a little short sighted….not really even just a little. I mean, I totally get it, we have to live for the moment, live for today – but honestly that is why our lives get so screwed up. We don’t think ahead about what is going to happen tomorrow.
“Wow, this feels really great.” “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that baaahhahd.”
Song lyrics are everywhere – insert your favorite – the message is in movies, TV, books…the consequences that you face for any actions you take can simply be overlooked because today it feels good, it feels right. That extra bite of cake, the extra glass of wine, the skipped day of work, the hours spent watching mindless TV instead of interacting with what our life really is. Feels good right now – feels good today.
But, what about tomorrow? The cake bite of cake – little more fat on the hips. The extra glass of wine – damage to your liver and mind function. The skipped day of work – a Passover of a promotion, hours of watching mindless TV instead of interaction – total disconnect from reality.
Okay…really does this happen overnight? No, no – it doesn’t over time, yes. These are long term examples – but what about the choices that are made in that instant that changes lives?
I know young men at my son’s school who are choosing to live for TODAY – fake ID’s, alcohol, parties and drugs. What does that tomorrow bring? There is still time to turn around and look at those choices and change the path. But, what if, just what if – that choice is taken away by a choice made for today? A quick drink before heading home, going to a party, a hit before class – a police man watching?
My middle son told me that one of his freshman, yes freshman friends got his girlfriend pregnant….yes, she is a freshman too. They are both 14. I hope it was worth it. My heart breaks for them. What is the tomorrow here?
Kinda of a serious post – but, while I am all for living in TODAY and in the moment, I try hard not to lose sight of what tomorrow brings.
Live, Laugh, Love ~ Vanilla Mama
Oh - yeah....Lucky numbers: 55, 5, 45, 28, 13, 4

Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Life - the Fortune, the Verse, the Bad Checks!

My Life as a Fortune Cookie –
Well, I have really been craving Hot and Sour soup, but haven’t had any in a while – pretty sure it is on my list this weekend. I could even go for some Miso soup – maybe, just maybe even both! (I think Sushi is in order!)
This week has been an especially hard week, it really seems like for every step forward in my life I end up taking two steps back. From everything to my work in the ministry, to my work with my other full time job, to everything at the house….We had another week of snow and ice, and you know I REALLY hate to be cold! Hubby was sick, kiddos weren’t feeling so good – basically par for the course anymore. I was really needing Friday morning to be productive, I don’t mean a little productive….I mean a lot productive. I needed to get ministry work done and some personal things that needed attended to taken care of.
I was sitting down downloading emails and started opening what I believed to be medical bills that I needed to get paid – but, low and behold in the first envelope I opened I found a notice for a “dishonored check” from a home improvement store for $425….Umm…I may not keep up with my checkbook really close, but I KNOW when I have written a large check like that! The next envelope was a notice from a grocery store for $181 – again, kinda a big amount and not something I forget about. I had not gotten any notice from my bank that there was a problem, so what on EARTH?! I was in panic mode.
I called the first company, and after a very frustrating conversation (that was frankly threatening – legal action, fraud, police were all mentioned in relation to ME!), I was able to figure out that it was not my current account. I called the second letter and they were amazing – not to drop names but ….KROGER…) was able to tell me that the check was written in Conroe, Texas (5-6 hours away from me) and they gave me the account that the check was written on. It was an old account of mine…I’m talking four years at least…I closed that account (there is some irony involved with this – I was advised before I closed it that the account had been compromised….now FOUR years later….Hmm?!) Kroger was able to email me a fraud affidavit and a copy of the check (the other copy would not do such a thing – it is all on me!). From there I called the police, filled out the affidavit, went to my bank (who, because the account is SO old cannot even SEE it!), went to the notary public, back to the bank and then to the police station….then to work an hour and 15 minutes late! Then I came home to ANOTHER letter for another store, in the Houston area again….These “people” (term LIGHTLY USED, but in the interest of keeping this friendly – I won’t go any further!) have my driver’s license number as well – so it just keeps getting better.
Needless to say, I am a wreck – total wreck – now on top of everything I have going on I have this to deal with! I expect that there are more checks out there just waiting to pounce – and in the mean time – I cannot write checks at my local stores. It happened last week before I got these notices, I tried to write a check at two places I write checks at frequently – and they were turned down. I knew that my account was fine, but I have had problems with these “fancy” checks that I like to order, so I just chalked it up to that. Nope- I have been BLACKLISTED! It will take up to 30 days for these check companies to “fix” their records and decide that I am not the one who wrote these checks, in the mean time I guess I use my debit card.
What does all this have to do with a Fortune Cookie? I wasn’t even going to write all this out until I sat down to write about my Fortune Cookie – It is a random thing…I have them all in a little bowl and I pull them at random – I pulled out the one I was going to write about and it is:
“Your happy heart brings joy and peace where there is none.”
 Honestly, I kinda struggled with this. But, in the midst of all this going on….my middle son texted me that he was going to read my favorite Bible Verse – Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
I was at work when he sent that, couldn’t focus on anything, and my precious son sent me this…and asked me to explain it to him if he asked about why this is my favorite.
How on earth can I let this be something that works for the good? How can I let my happy heart bring me peace and joy?
I ALLOW it to!
 I have to make the choice to allow it to! All the things that I am dealing with, everything that tries to stand in my way – I can make the choice to be overwhelmed (very tempting!), or I can use this  and let God use this to let something good come from it. I know in my heart it is that simple – I can let God work for the good, I can allow my happy heart to bring joy and peace….or I cannot. The thought of the cannot leaves me sitting here with tears in my eyes, the thought of allowing the joy, the peace, the love, the good to come from this fills me with terror. How, how do I let it go? I am going to have to make the choice – I choose, even with the terror in my heart, I choose to let God into this and work this for his good, I choose to let Him make my heart happy and bring peace. I know that it is going to be a struggle, because honestly I am going to be dealing with all this for a while. It is a choice I will have to make…everyday.
I think that I may take advantage of my lucky numbers this week:
13, 19, 23, 28, 35, 41 – if I win anything I will let you know. Any prayers you feel moved to send my way are very much appreciated.
Live, Laugh, Love ~Vanilla Mama