Thursday, April 30, 2009

The sobering, the good, the funny, and the down right hilarious...

The sobering:
I emptied my mailbox after ignoring it for over a week, which is kinda normal for me. I think my mailman hates me. Anyways, divorce court officially notified me that our final hearing is May 21st. I already knew that. Hubby texted me at work last Friday to tell me. What was sobering is they tell you how much time they set aside for the hearing. Ten minutes. Ten minutes to end 11 years of marriage. How bout that.

The good:
School semester is finally over. I didn't study all weekend even though my facebook friends were lied to misled about that on Sunday. I actually went through the four tests we took during the semester on Monday and Tuesday nights, looked over another on Wednesday during lunch, and then went and took the test. My grade on the final exam was a 90, which pulled my shaky overall "B" up onto more solid ground. You may wonder why this was so important. Here you go:
1. The CLAST exam -- Florida's way of wringing more money out of its adult students is to force them to take a College Level Academic Skills Test. There is a math and an english section. I was already exempt from the English section because of all my English courses that transferred in from Temple University. The Math section is another story. I had not fulfilled my liberal arts requirements in Math, so no exemption there. I have had a CLAST hold put on my registration every semester since I reenrolled in school. I even sat through the CLAST and missed passing by SEVEN lousy points...sheesh. To be exempt, you have to have a 2.5 or better in two math classes. Stats is listed as one of those classes. The letter grade "B" puts me in the category of 3.0, so yay to the "B".
2. Reimbursement -- Work will only reimburse the course if you receive a letter grade of "B" or better.
3. Pride -- Pure and simple, I really didn't want to fail at anything. I have been humbled though, because that grade was made possible only through prayer.

The Funny:
I met Heather and Shayne during my first semester back in school. We used to sit through the boring tech writing class and laugh constantly. Since then, Heather and I have taken every writing class together (5 total), and Shayne has been in a couple of our classes too.

Last night Heather and Shayne had a final in a literature class they were taking together, and I had my Stats final. We hooked up afterwards at my favorite TexMex place, Tia's and hung out for a bit. I had my camera, and we had a blast. Heather took six pictures of me and Shayne together, and not ONE turned out well...They made me laugh the whole night, and I realized that I really am so much happier than I was a year ago.

Anyways, eating after 8pm is normally a huge no-no for me, and I remembered why at 3:30 in the morning when mild indigestion woke me up. After 1/2 an hour of tossing and turning, I got up and did my daily devotion. This morning on facebook, my status read:
NOTE TO SELF: No texmex btwn 8-10pm. It causes indigestion at 3:30am. NOTE TO SELF #2: Buy alka seltzer.

I finished reading and praying by 6am, so I set my alarm to go off in an hour and dosed off. I think what followed was hilarious, but I am giddy from lack of sleep.

The hilarious:
During my dosing time between 6am and 7am, I dreamed that my ex moved into my dining room. All his stuff: Bed (queen sized) book shelves (he doesnt own more than a couple of books) and a couple of chairs. Mind you, I live in a one bedroom apartment with about 800 sq ft. My dining room wouldn't accomodate most table and chairs, let alone a full set of furniture.

I was worried (in my dream) that I had woken him up by getting up at 4:00 with indigestion. He assured me this was not the case. I asked him when he was leaving, and he indicated that he wasn't planning on it. I told him he had to be out by the end of May, and started pointing out all the stuff he had to take with him when he goes. I woke up when my neighbors pounded on the door to ask why I was screaming.

Anyways, thats a REALLY long post. All that to say I'm so blessed to have people in my life who care, who make me laugh out loud, and who smack me around when I'm being stupid. You know who you are, and I love you.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spiritual Gifts

Last August I somehow became involved in the College Ministry. It's an interesting story of me drifting aimlessly into the youth leadership planning meeting and leaving with the vague idea that I would be co-leading the group. While things didn't exactly work out that way, and the Children's ministry pulled me away for a whole month, I am now spending my time with the college kids, building relationships.

One of the students, still a fairly new christian, wanted to investigate the subject of spiritual gifts, so the teacher collaborated with one of the pastors and we ended up with a packet of information to sift through, and some dvds to watch.

The booklets begin with 129 statements and a rating scale of 1-5. The instructions are to label each statement according to the rating scale: 1 is least like you and 5 is most. Through lots of complicated instructions and processes I won't detail here, you could easily see on a grid all of the spiritual gifts, and which one was strongest for you. Mine was encouragement. But I already knew that. I took a very similar test in Atlanta 7 years ago, and had the exact same gift. What did surprise me was the 2 runners up. In the prior test they were Hospitality and Service. This time it was Faith and Evangelism. I know my faith is very strong, and I know I have come a long way from my upbringing, but I had no idea I would score so highly in the evangelism category. I will address the reasons for surprise in a future blog.

Overall, although the test was helpful, it served only to confirm to me what the Holy Spirit was already working in me during the past six months. My gifts and personality traits (there was a personality test in the packet also) are uniquely suited to things like choir, prayer, counseling, and discipleship. It struck me today as we were watching one of the dvd lessons that go along with the packet: part of the reason I have a fountain of joy in the middle of pain is because I am following the Spirit's lead. I am actively encouraging people, began prayer walking in January, and am currently building relationships that will hopefully have an influence on others' walks with Christ.

All this is not to toot my own horn, but to encourage you to pray and ask God for direction in where and how you should serve. You should not be feeling frustrated and burnt out over what you are doing for Jesus, but instead feel fulfilled. I know my spiritual journey in the last year has taken me down a very strange path. But now, in the middle of great stress (school, divorce, and other stuff) I have indescribable JOY.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The OTHER 25 things u never wanted to know about me....

1. I try to always put Jesus first.
2. My gift is encouragement and service
3. I love school, although I complain about it a lot. :)
4. My quiet time is my source of strength
5. I collect angel ornaments
6. I miss my family, but love florida too much to move back to philly.
7. I am the youngest of nine kids, and so far I have 28 nieces and nephews
8. I love candles...but due to allergies have to be careful with scents -- no floral
9. I don't like feeling like I have failed at something.
10. I am doing this to avoid my homework.
11. I want to go skydiving
12. I want to learn scuba diving
13. I love socializing, but I value my down time too.
14. Eclectic taste in music -- christian, blues, jazz, rock, pop, and yes, even SOME country.
15. i LOVE to read.
16. i LOVE music.
17. Live concerts are the BOMB!!
18. I have visited every state on the east coast
19. I want to go to Israel and Africa
20. I LOVE my apartment, but I wish that I had moved closer to Lutz.
21. I find I am more on guard with people now than I used to be.
22. I don't know what "Paul is the OG" means
23. If I could live anywhere in the USA i would stay here.
24. I believe that God holds my future securely in His hands.
25. I feel more like a dire warning than a good example.

Top 25...all you never wanted to know about me.

Top 25

1. I eat pasta with butter and Kraft Parmesan. Can't be any other brand, it must be Kraft.
2. I rarely eat pasta anymore because I ALWAYS overeat when I do have it.
3. My mom used to cook spaghetti sauce with onions, which I hate, hence #1
4. I can cook, but I choose not to for just me
5. Since Chris left I have to have the closet door closed, otherwise I can't sleep.
6. 7 months later, I still sleep on the right side of the bed. That’s quite a bit of bed unused since it’s a king.
7. I have no tv in the bedroom, so I have trouble falling asleep. I purchased a nature sounds clock which helped a little, but all the sudden I can't sleep when it's on "sounds of the ocean" (my fav setting). Go figure.
8. I love sports. Football, hockey and even baseball, but never basketball. Although I still root for Philly teams, I find myself slowly shifting allegiances to Tampa teams.
9. That being said, when I attended the Flyers/Lightning game I WAS wearing a Flyers jersey, and I was really happy they won.
10. I have a very acerbic sense of humor, probably why I laugh hysterically every time I read Jenny's blog. (not my sister jenny)
11. I am really nice except for certain times of the month, when I become a sarcastic witch.
12. I try really hard to control the sarcastic witch.
13. I believe in personal responsibility. I get really irritated when people try to shift blame to others.
14. Even though Chris chose to leave, and not get counseling, I still sometimes blame myself for the fact that our marriage failed.
15. I am extremely idealistic (could be part of the problem with #14)
16. Before Chris was hospitalized, I was a fairly aggressive driver. Now I'm the person in the far left lane lollygagging at 60mph. Life took on new meaning after he almost died.
17. I'm an incurable romantic. I love Phantom of the Opera, Pretty Woman and Pride and Prejudice, and I still believe in happily ever after.
18. I rarely watch TV anymore. I'm way too busy and never home.
19. I love being around people who challenge me intellectually
20. The people at First Baptist Lutz are a second family to me. I love spending time there because of their warmth and friendship.
21. You can purchase my heart with dark chocolate, and it doesn't need to be godiva. :D
22. I love to read. Sometimes I still carry books into the bathroom with me. My mom used to do this so I come by it honestly. With 9 kids, its probably the only quiet time my mom ever got.
23. I love kids and want my own someday
24. I love being on my own right now, even though it's sometimes scary
25. If something is bothering me, I talk about it nonstop until it's out of my system. I feel sorry for the people around me during this time, but it's almost like an obsessive compulsive disorder. I try really hard to control that too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Women of Influence

Mother's Day is coming. I have a question: Is there a woman (other than mom) who has had tremendous influence on you? If so, who was it and how?

I wrote in an earlier post about how God was pressing me to prayer. January, I started getting up early on Sunday mornings, riding up to church and doing a prayer walk before services started. This was not my idea. Pure and simple, I would never have thought of it on my own.

Aside from Susie Walther, the woman who has single-handedly had the most influence on my spiritual walk was Karen Shogren. I met Karen when I was living in Georgia, attending Crossroads Community Church. I don't remember exactly HOW we met, but she invited me to join her and a team of people on Saturday nights in praying over the church. Karen described herself as a prayer warrior. It sounded a little strange to me, this praying over the church, but at the same time it made perfect sense. Each Saturday night, the pastor, worship leader, and a small group of people would gather in the sanctuary. We would lay hands on the pastor and worship leader and pray over them. Then everyone would take a section, and every chair in the sanctuary would get prayed over. We would then spread out through the classrooms and pray over those, also.

One Sunday morning I met Karen just before service and she was radiant. I had never seen anyone look so beautiful, and whenever I think of her, this is how I see her. She was glowing. I told her so, and her response was that she had just spent some intense time in prayer meeting with God.

My prayer walk feels very humble at the moment. It is just me and God. But recently, after I completed my weekly walk, and came into the sanctuary for worship/service, someone greeted me and said, "You look RADIANT!" It was the nicest compliment anyone has ever paid to me. I had just had a pretty intense encounter with God. I wouldn't trade my time with Him for all the sleep in the world.

I moved away from Georgia, and lost touch with Karen. It's been 6 years since I've seen her. I am in the process of shutting down my hotmail account, and came across some emails from her. The memory of her example and encouragement came flooding back. I tried to email her, but the address I had was no longer valid.

I just established a new facebook account, and one of the first things I did was look for Karen. I thought it was a long shot, but lo and behold, there she was. The first person to pop up on the search list. I let out a scream and clicked the "add to friends" button as quickly as possible.

Whether Karen and I reestablish relationship or not, I will always remember her example. I am a part of her spiritual fruit, and what I produce is due, in part, to her example. This is my lesson for the week: whether you know a person for a short time or for a lifetime, there's always time to influence him or her for spiritual good.

Thanks, Karen. If I never do get to meet you again here, I will definitely see you in heaven!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Facebook Stinks III

I opened a new account under my maiden name. Gillian Kilbride. Go add me if you haven't already. Guess I'll have to rebuild my apps, profile, pics, and everything else. :(

That'll have to wait until after the semester is over. Meantime, at least I'll feel less disconnected.

Y'all take care and come visit my blogspot anytime!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Facebook update II

No, still can't get in. Facebook stinks.

1. Solo went really well. I left everything I had on the stage, and was almost voiceless when we finished both programs this am. :) I came home and crashed for a couple of hours since I haven't slept well all weekend.

2. Next up: Test 4 on Basic Stats, Wednesday night.

3. After that: Major Project due 4/20

4. I have a brand spanking new addiction: Untold stories of the ER. Its a marathon this weekend. Favorite quote: "If you haven't seen a big carpet of maggots on a live human being, you haven't lived."

Yeah, I know. I have projects to work on and studying to do. See you folks around.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Facebook update

I have been without Facebook since April 3rd. Not be be dramatic, or anything like that, but this is like the Ancient Mariner: Water, water, everywhere yet not a drop to drink!

Last Thursday, Barak Obama added me as a relative on Facebook. That night, I changed my primary email because I am about to disable the one I used to open the account. Friday am (on my morning break, of course!!) I tried to log into Facebook and could not. Thinking I was an idiot and couldn't remember my password, I asked for a reset. Nothing. None of my six email addresses received a password reset from Facebook. So I sent them an email. I received a reply back, which basically asked me to confirm that I was me. Not really sure how that works, but ok. I responded. I waited patiently for them to respond to my response. Finally, I sent them another email. And another... Sad story. If I'm not on by the end of the semester (April 25th) I will open a new account under my maiden name (I'm changing it legally this summer, anyway), and see you all there.

Meantime, the notifications that go out from facebook tells me that MYRELATIVES has found 48 potential new relatives for me. TYVM stupid app, but the fact that they are related to relatives of mine, doesn't mean that they are related to me... And what is with all the distant cousins? I don't even know the proper terms for half of you. But, our moms were 3rd cousins once removed, (or something like that) so we are related. Can't lie to a facebook app, now can we? So how many of you are related to Barak Obama? Does this mean we get invited to the White House for a slammin' 4th of July BBQ??

Also, last night was the first performance. It was fun. I think I'm going to relax and enjoy tomorrow. Don't know if I'll ever want to do this again, though, cause it stretched my nerves to the limit. Rather be safe in the middle of the choir. Your mistakes get covered up there...

O well, back to the monster project due next Monday. Ya'll take care and leave me some love. :)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Disconnected connectivity....

I've not been able to access Facebook for a full week now. I am extremely disappointed in the Facebook team's inability to respond to my 10 emails screaming for help. My requests for password resets have not yielded any responses to my inbox, causing me to worry that my account has been hijacked by scammers. The lack of response from the Facebook has been disconcerting to say the least. Meanwhile, I suffer withdrawal. I had no idea just how addicted I had become to the instant access to my family and friends who live 1400 miles away. I also wonder if anyone misses me out there in cyberworld. Just in case you do, here is what is going on in my life.

1. School will be over on April 25th. I am looking forward to this with unprecedented longing. I think I might survive (and even pass) my Basic Stats class. At this point, I really will be happy to pass. If I achieve the 2.5 needed to be exempt from the CLAST exam, Philadelphians will hear me screaming with joy from Florida. My other class, Advanced Technical Writing is winding down with an enormous project that is due on April 20th. I haven't even started it, partly because there is one section that has me completely stumped. I am going to camp out in the University Library this Saturday and try to make sense of it all.

2. Choir preparation for Easter Sunday. Sometime in January, our worship leader announced that the choir was starting preparation for Easter Sunday and would meet Wednesday nights after the church service. Perfect timing. My class on Wednesday nights let out at 7:20, allowing me JUST enough time to get to church for choir. I fell in love with a couple of the songs we are singing this weekend, and somehow, I opened up my big mouth and ended up with a solo part.

I have never thought of myself has having a great voice, but this song is compelling to me, and I am happy to be singing it. Its my first solo, and I had no idea my nerves could hit such a fever pitch. I stood up to sing it in practice on a Wednesday night, and my hands were shaking so badly I almost couldn't hold my microphone. I think I'm finally ready -- I'd better be, because the show goes on tomorrow night. I just pray for the Holy Spirit to fill me up and use me during this time. Because when you get down to brass tacks, this isn't really about me. It's about Christ, His death, and resurrection. It's about the One who reigns in my life.

3. Thursday nights I attend The Well. This is my midweek gut check on where I am with my relationship with Christ. Aside from awesome Bible studies, The Well gives me a chance to connect with other women, hear about their walks, and share prayer burdens.

In case you are wondering about my schedule: Every day I leave my house at 7:20 am. On Mondays I get home around 8pm, Wednesdays 10pm, and Thursdays 9:30 pm. Most people would tell me to give something up. And if my circumstances were different, I would. But that Thursday night gut check is priceless, I love to sing, so the choir is really enjoyable, and I need to complete my education -- thus the reason for my grueling schedule -- all of which comes to a screeching halt on April 25th.

Over the month of May, I plan on taking some time and reevaluating what I really want to keep on my plate, and what I want to give up. Meantime, at least I'm not hanging out on Facebook all night when I should be doing other things. The only problem seems to be that blogs are replacing my facebook addiction...I'm such a junkie. I love the internet. :) Even in my disconnected state, I'm still connected.

But I do miss my facebook friends. Leave me some comments. Let me know how you are doing. :0)