Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A True Weather Story

The picture above is ME making my way to our car after the soccer game.

The following story is true. The names have not been changed because I don't care about anonymity - I care about warmth.

Saturday we left our home at 10:15 a.m. to go to the store and buy drinks and then head over to Noah’s soccer game.

Weather: Blue sky, beautiful, a bit breezy.

We get to Noah’s game at around 10:40, at which point we all put on the coats that were in the trunk.

Weather: Cold and windy

10:55 John has Noah put on his hooded jacket on underneath his jersey so he can play with it on.

Weather: You’re kidding me? The kids are going to play?

11:20 John and I are huddled on our lawn chairs, fighting over who gets to hold fur covered Scooby. Noah and his soccer cohorts are playing strong.

Weather: We live in Denver.

11:30 Halftime - Scooby and I take a walk to try to find a place out of the Arctic wind. John walks over to Noah to give him a puff of Albuterol. Noah and teammates have formed a human ball covered by several coats. Coach is walking around in short sleeves wondering what the big deal is.

Weather: That’s it, John. We are moving!

11:45 John: “Those are snowflakes.”
Me: “No, they aren’t.”
John: “Actually, yes they are.”

Weather: It is SNOWING on April 26th and it is COLD.

11:55 Noah is playing in a blizzard of wind and snow. The refs will only end the game if it is lightning. Parents keep asking the ref how much longer. When he says, “6 minutes,” a couple of dads offer him a bribe to say 2. He declines. Noah looks at us once as if we are child abusers. At this point, we are.

Weather: Blizzard. Scooby’s face is white.

12:01 In a mad dash, I hand out Capri Sun drinks as mother beside me hands out fruit snacks. Children take them and run to their cars. Everyone is happy and laughing.
I am in state between pride for living through this a Colorado moment and fury, for living through this, a Colorado moment.

Weather: Ridiculous - I wish I had my camera.

12:45 We drive into our condo complex, ready to go inside and eat lunch.

Weather: Blue sky, breezy but all clear. What?


Today is Tuesday. It is in the 70’s and absolutely beautiful. Noah and I have stayed home today. Apparently, my boy caught a cold.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Abundant Freedom Off the Leash!

WARNING: The following entry is not for the squeamish or bunny lovers!

I finished my proposal for my book! Alleluia!

The grueling experience reminded me of cramming for exams and staying up late at Denny’s writing papers in college. But the rewards today outweigh those long ago A’s and B’s and a couple of C’s at Texas Tech University. Through the process of researching and writing a proposal for my nonfiction book, I connected thoroughly with what I want readers to receive from my words. Make sense? See, the proposal tells the editor not only the basis of your book, but why anyone would want to read it. I researched other memoirs, especially spiritual memoirs and especially best selling spiritual memoirs. The insecurities attacked me from every website. How could I compete? I am the “Horton Hears a Who” speck in a world of published authors and famous people who write memoirs.

But ah…remember Horton’s words? “A person is a person no matter how small.”

I still count. The God-given lessons offered to me are worth writing. I cannot control the outcome. Trying only makes me want to nap or eat chocolate. But somewhere within the process of typing Helpful Benefits my Book will Contain and Who my Target Audience Is I discovered that I am right where God wants me.

I am off the leash! I am running wild with God’s purposes for me and it is exhilarating and painful and life-giving and funny!

Scooby, our Puggle, is obsessed with bunnies the Colorado spring has invited into our condo complex. He howls and gets crazy when he senses them. We have a leash law here and so Scooby is not free to chase the bunnies. It is against the rules.

But we, the Iobst family, felt so bad for him that we decided to give him a stuffed bunny for Easter. Noah threw it into the middle of the living room yelling, “Get the bunny!”

Within minutes, I am not kidding, the bunny was no more. Only pieces of stuffing dotting our carpet. Scooby sat proud. His eyes told us, “I got the bunny.”

One day during my proposal marathon I needed a break and took Scooby for a walk. As usual, we saw a bunny.

Maybe it was the exhaustion I was feeling or the need to rebel against all authorities who have decided I need to write a proposal. I don’t know. But I found myself throwing the leash into the air and yelling, “Get the bunny!”

Off Scooby ran, beagle ears in the wind, pug nose sniffing his prey. I’ve never seen him more beautiful. Wild, free, purposefully chasing a dream! He flew out of my view; I followed the direction, not worried about losing him. I felt I had done the right thing and just knew he would come trotting back.

He did. No bunny in sight. I knew he wouldn’t catch the thing, but I knew he had to try.

Monday morning, Noah took Scooby on his morning walk. A few minutes later the door opened and Noah called from outside, “What do I do with the bunny?”

“What?” John and I went to the door and witnessed the unthinkable. In Scooby’s mouth, a bunny. A dead bunny.

Noah recalled for us the incident:
He and Scooby walked by a couple of bunnies and as usual Scooby wanted to go. Noah, thinking Scooby could never catch the bunny said, “Get the bunny, Scooby,” and ran with Scooby toward the bunnies, leash still in his hand. Leash still hooked to Scooby’s collar. Quick as lightning, Scooby clamped his jaw onto the little creature.

Now we looked at our pet dog.

He stood proud. “I really got the bunny!”

John pried open Scooby’s mouth, removed the bunny and took it to the dumpster. Noah received the instructions to never do that again, with or without the leash. I called the vet and since Scooby didn’t eat it, our puggle was fine.

But we, the Iobst family, all felt pride and shared a great laugh. Scooby got the bunny!

I sit here pecking away and I dream of getting my own bunny someday, in the form of a published book written by me. I don’t know if I will get it, but I have to try.

You see, I am off the leash and loving it. John feels this way on his motorcycle, winding up Rocky Mountain highways. I think Noah senses this feeling each time he is chasing a soccer ball or imagining wars in which he is the hero.

What about you?

Here’s to you, my friend. I hope you find time this week to get off the leash and chase your bunny. Maybe you’ll catch him.

Trying is abundant freedom!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Fluffy Parable

Noah had a hamster for a while named Fluffy. Fluffy was soft and cute and for about 15 minutes, I loved Fluffy. But then I discovered that Fluffy was possessed and was in fact, a soft and cute demon. He drew blood out of Noah and I several times. Fluffy's tenure with the family ended when we moved to Denver. It would've cost $100 to take Fluffy on the plane, can you believe that? Hmmm...$100 and take little Beelzebub with us or...back to PetCo.

We don't have a hamster anymore.

But today my thoughts wander back to Fluffy and his energy. Hamsters are industrious little varments, aren't they? I am thinking about him because I want to have that kind of "get up and go" right now. Not to attack the ones that feed me and put my teeth into their skin when they are trying to change my water. No. But the "get up and go" to finish what I have started.

That darn proposal is almost done. Almost...and yet today here is a list of things I have done so far with my morning.

Make breakfast and lunches for fam
Say goodbye to fam
Feed dog
Pet dog
Watch an old episode of the Waltons
Play guitar (this is something I have not done in years)
Have quiet time (at least I did something productive)
Pet dog
Surf TV for mindless old program
Turn off TV
Approach computer thinking maybe I should work on proposal
Turn on computer
Read email
Read every single blog I have ever heard about
Pet dog
Fill up water bottle
Remember I need to blog - it is Thursday!

So here I am with Fluffy on my thoughts.

And here is something ironic - the verse I meditated on yesterday - just a short 26 hours ago:

"Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap." Ecclesiastes 11:4

Watching the wind? No. Thinking about a nemesis named Fluffy? Yes.


It is time to plant so I can reap. Procrastination do vex me!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What Do You Think?

I am whooped. I mean tired, really tired. It’s been a while since I have worked for such a long time with the left side of my brain, but that’s what I am doing. I am currently working on a proposal for my book. Think college research paper. Exhausting. Hoping for an A. Really just don’t want a C.

But the topic that is really swirling around in my fried brain is this: can you be sweet and funny at the same time?

When I was younger, I wanted to be one of those sweet, quiet females who grew long straight hair and wore modest clothes but still looked like a knock out. They laughed quietly but with such earnestness. Maybe Laurie Partridge or Marcia Brady or the blond one on the Mod Squad (of course she never smiled did she?)

Alas, it didn’t happen for me. At 45, I have accepted this and I am honestly appreciative of who God made me. But lately, I have been wondering…can I be kind, loving, witty and sarcastic at the same time? This started of course, with my writing. I seek to be ME at all times when I write. The biggest mistake I could make is not grammatical or word choice, but in the vast and simplistic area of TRUTH. I need to tell the truth as I see it. I need to be truthful.

And truth be told, sometimes I am very loving and quiet. And sometimes I am loud and hysterical and say things that although are funny to me, make other people cringe or squirm or just stare.

Now I know I have wit. In fact, I have always been funny. Ever since I picked up a joke book in the third grade I have loved making people laugh and I love people who make me laugh.

Consider the following. You need to know Robbie Floyd is my maiden name and I had then and have now a very loud honking cough. This is my senior “prophecy” out of my high school yearbook:

Robbie Floyd will become a very famous Hollywood stand up comedian. Unfortunately, she will meet with a premature death. While vacationing in Canada, a bull moose will mistake her cough for a mating call and will attack her, resulting in fatality.

I thought about becoming a stand up comic, but it never really appealed to me. Too much pressure. My humor comes out of the spontaneous moment. In fact, I am speaking at a certain group for mothers here in Denver and they sent me the newsletter they sent to their members. The write up about me speaking at their social meeting labeled me as “Robbie Iobst, author and humorist.” Yikes. So I am required to make them laugh? Too much pressure. I now have visions of standing in front of them, silent. An uncomfortable, horrible silence. Then I proceed to tell them a 3rd grade knock-knock jokes followed by singing my rendition of Sonny and Cher’s “You Got Me, Babe.”

Weird, I know. Pressure does that to me.

So here I am writing a book about my life and some of it is naturally funny. My critique group, thank you Jan and Loretta, read the first chapter and laughed and laughed. But at the end of the first chapter, they teared up. BINGO. See, I don’t want to just be funny. I want to make people think and feel…namely about God.

So with every sentence I ask myself, is this funny? Should this be funny? Will people laugh or cringe or have no reaction at all to this? I cover some serious topics in my book like death and pornography. These topics, though quite serious, can be humorous too. I have laughed out loud at funerals and during the long process of grief. As John and I battled our way through dark days of near divorce, laughing was a release and sometimes the only thing we could do to not kill each other.

I guess I am talking about the old topic of balance. Sweet. Absolutely. I want to show the love of God in all I do, don’t you? But funny. You bet. If I see the opening, I will go in and make the remark that might make you giggle. You know, it’s not just about balance. It is about an older topic for me. It is about people pleasing versus God pleasing. God made me this way. Those days of trying to be someone I am not are over. Not Marcia or Laurie or Peggy. Not even Martha in a Mary world. Just Robbie.

But I am really interested to hear your thoughts on this topic. I am not fishing for “Oh Robbie of course you are sweet and funny.” I want to know how you handle or have seen someone handle the line between being loving and kind and making someone laugh.

I hope I am making sense. I am whooped, you know. Such a delight to be blogging and not proposing.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A New Earth is An Old Path

First of all, no, I have not read the entire book, that is A New Earth, Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle. But I spent an hour in Barnes and Noble perusing and taking notes from it and I have watched a few of Oprah’s get togethers discussing its teachings.

Second, it is pure bull. Okay, not pure. The Enemy is not stupid. He takes truth, good honest human nature, even Biblical truth and adds just enough of a twist to it to make it a lie, but a subtle one. A New Earth is full of lies, yet subtle ones.

Eckhart’s philosophy as I understand it, is based on your ego versus the real you, the authentic you. Your ego is unenlightened and pretty much makes you mean, irritated, stressed, etc. Like when I snap at Noah or John, well that is my ego run wild. I am being simplistic because that is the only way I understand. The real you is the AWAKENED CONSCIOUSNESS. This is the enlightened part of you that takes a moment and realizes your thoughts and behavior are not the real you and therefore, not the best you. That’s like when I realize I was a jerk to my son and husband.

Here’s a quote off page 8, A New Earth:

“When you recognize the unconsciousness in you, that which makes the recognition possible is the arising consciousness IS awakening. You cannot fight the ego and win, just as you cannot fight against darkness. The light of consciousness is all that is necessary. You are that light.”

Do you see the subtle truth that is turned into a big fat whopping lie? Yes, I have a carnal nature, a sinful self. Tolle calls it the ego. Everybody deals with the “darkness” within ourselves that chooses to be mean or habitually is mean. And then Tolle says you can’t fight it and win. True. Who can conquer sin? Not me. Not you. In fact, Romans 3:23 makes it clear none of us can. We all have fallen and are falling and will fall short.

A couple of truths. Okay, Eckhart. You aren’t using Christian terms, necessarily, but you have a good point.

Look at this point:

Pg. 13 “You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you and allowing that goodness to emerge.”

There it is. A big ole, boldface whopper. See, Eckhart Tolle is saying that the REAL YOU awakens by recognizing the ego’s workings. If you are recognizing your “bad self” then you are conquering it. Being aware is the key. Being aware allows that goodness to come forth.

This is not a new thought. Anyone who has been through a 12 step program knows that admitting you have a problem and knowing you are powerless over it can recognize where Tolle is headed. But there endeth the comparison. Even in 12 steps, you need a HIGHER POWER. Some addicts choose God, Jesus and some choose their group. I knew a man whose higher power was his dead dog. No kidding.

But to Eckhart Tolle, the higher power is the authentic self WITHIN YOU. Once again, like The Secret and other philosophies, A New Earth tells us that LOOKING WITHIN is the absolute Key to living life abundantly.

I disagree. This is a lie. The only way to conquer my carnality, my sinful self is to allow GOD, Christ and the Holy Spirit to do their thing within me. Romans 8:13 says, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die: but if BY THE SPIRIT you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

I cannot conquer my own sinful self. I can’t do it. It’s like saying to me, Robbie you have a bad heart valve, so in order to fix it, cut yourself open and go to work. What? Again, maybe a simplistic analogy, but my point is I need a surgeon.

How do we have an abundant life?

Jesus, Jesus he’s our man. If He can't do it, we’re all going to hell.

That’s my and John’s favorite cheer. :0)

Jesus died on the cross to deal with our “egos.” Sorry, Eckhart, but looking within may work for you right now, but you are missing the big picture. You and I cannot be perfect. You and I might have enough inner resolve to grit our teeth and be enlightened to our bad habits, but you and I need to recognize that our battle goes beyond this into a SPIRITUAL world. And for that we need spiritual weapons that only come from THE WORD OF GOD and the Holy Spirit.

So, that’s my two cents. Oprah keeps searching. She keeps saying there are many paths to God and it seems she keeps advocating a new one each few months. Wouldn’t it be cool if Christ showed her His path, the true path?

I knew I was suppose to post this because I woke up and had absolutely NOTHING to blog about. I took the boy and neighbor’s boys to school in the snow (That’s right - it is snowing in April – yeesh!) and came home with still nothing to blog about. I went to read my friend Jan’s blog and she posted a 9-minute video on The New Earth and the Spirit said clearly, “Blog about you read and believe.” So, there it is. If you want to visit Jan’s blog go to my blog list and click on Jan's blog or go to www.janparrish.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Potholders or Business Cards?

Today at my Words for the Journey Christian Writers meeting, the topic was getting ready for conferences. It is 37 days until the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, but who's counting? Yes, I am a little more than excited. Sharen, our fearless leader, was giving us some tips on conferences and she said that it is always good to be loving toward the editors, agents and authors with whom you have appointments. In fact, one time she met with a gal who gave her something after their appointment that the woman had made. It made a quite an impression on Sharen.

What? I thought. She brought crafts to give out to the editors?

Sharen clarified and said that the woman gave her a beautiful homemade thank you card.

My mind was already dancing with ideas and I blurted out in humor, "I'll bring potholders!"

Can you imagine? I am sitting with an editor from a major publishing house pitching my idea for a book. The 15-minute meeting goes well and I feel I connected. As we say goodbye and shake hands, I whip out a potholder with my email on it...hmm.

Michele, another wonderful writer, dared me. I wish she hadn't have done that.

We at Words for the Journey laughed about it and went off on a rabbit trail for a second. We do that.

Later, Michele, who also heads up speaker conferences, offered her advice. "Make time before the conference to get away and be okay with who you are in God and with God alone. Don't put all your eggs into the conference basket. You will come across as desperate and needy, not just hungry to learn."

Potholders? Desperate for acceptance or hungry to connect? Hmmm.

In all seriousness the meeting got me to thinking...Do I have the right attitude about this conference? What about my writing future? Do I have balance?

I'm reading Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyers and this morning I read, "Anytime you are out of balance, it is an invitation to Satan to attack."


I have not counted my writing rejections, but I am pretty sure they number over 40. So much so, when I didn't even win Honorable Mention this past week for my Erma Bombeck Writing Contest entry, I was bummed but not despondent. In fact, after a while I said, "Oh well." Today at WFTJ I made a bunch of jokes about my rejection. Some might say I came off as, well, bitter. :0) Bitterness at being rejected makes other writers laugh. Every time. It's because we all completely relate.

But is my foundation level? Once again, am I balanced?

The only way I can know this is to once again head on over to the throne of God and give it all to Him. Writing for publication is a long haul. Looking at this conference as an answer to my dreams is a sure way to experience disappointment. God is in charge. I am not. My security is in a relationship with my Lord, published or not, agented or not, a great writer or not. He is enough. Right?

Easy to forget that. So I will take up Michelle's advice and do what I need to do to ensure I am "balanced" for the conference. I will take some time to just hang out with Jesus, just Him and me, and REST in His lap. When I am living Matthew 6:33, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you," I am in balance. My priorities are in line and I find myself being okay with whatever comes.

So in the next month I will be spending more and more time, really quiet alone time, with Christ. The Spirit will give me peace and joy where I need it the most. And maybe in our time of solitude, who knows? Maybe we'll make potholders.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

It's Not a Bag of Snakes!

I love gift bags. Try as I might, I have never been a good wrapper of presents. When I wrap something, I always end up short just a little piece, so I have to cut a strip of wrapping paper and tape it on and it looks well…not so pretty. When some intelligent woman invented gift bags, I was at the front of the line saying, “Hook a girl up!”

God, the ultimate giver of all good gifts, presented to us Iobsts a gift bag a couple of months ago. Hidden beneath the perfectly matched tissue paper lay a season of blessing. Just seems like we are being blessed left and right.

But I am having a problem with it. Yep, I am an optimist when things are going bad, but when things are going good, I look for dark clouds. As I wrote in one of my Easter blog posts, I sense that any minute the other stiletto will fall. Like when Charlie Brown of Charles Schultz’s Peanuts went trick or treating with his friends every Halloween. Afterward the exchange between he and Linus or Lucy went something like this:

“I got a chocolate candy bar!”

“I got a handful of candy corn!”

Then Charlie Brown. “I got a rock.”

My bag does not have a rock. But I always expect one.

John, the wonderful husband, likes to remind me of something when I get into a “doubting the blessings of God” mode.

He says, “Robbie, it’s not a bag of snakes.”

Matthew 7:9-11 says
"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”

God doesn’t hand out gift bags with snakes in them. Good to know.

But hard to accept. I mean, a friend of mine just got some very disappointing news. Where’s her gift bag? Two days ago, another friend told me how her son had a sore throat. Today she is in the hospital with him because he has to have surgery on his vocal cords. What? Where is the gift bag?

I am reading Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind right now. It is a great book! Thank you, Genevra! God is using Joyce’s words to teach me how my thoughts are pretty messed up at times. One pattern I have is to try to reason out everything God is doing, instead of listening and obeying and walking in faith. Another pattern I am trying to battle is vain imaginations or pretensions. It is my carnal bent to take blessings and imagine them into curses. The “what ifs” occupy my mind way too much. Not to mention, the superfluous thoughts of comparison. I often spend wasted time trying to figure out why God isn’t blessing so and so like me, or why God is blessing so and so and not me.

It is a process of growing in Christ and renewing my mind daily in order to be transformed. (Romans 12: 1-2) Last night John and I were discussing the good things in our life, and I, of course, topped it off with, “I am overwhelmed with all this. Just seems like it is going to end.”

John looked at me and smiled this sweet grin he has that I love and said, “How about you just enjoy today and what God has for us today?”

He’s right. This morning on my doorstep, I found a beautiful gift bag from God. Hidden underneath the apricot tissue paper, (He’s God-He knows how to shop) lay a beautiful gift. Strength for whatever may come my way and Joy to see the positive in each of life’s blessings.

It wasn’t a bag of snakes!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

I am June 11th!

A new book called Daily Devotions for Writers just hit the shelves! This book is published by Infinity Publishing and partial proceeds from the sell of the book go to the Writers Academy. I am proud to say that I wrote the devotion for June 11th!

If you would like to buy a copy of this book, let me know by contacting me via my email address which is on the side bar of my blog. IF I get 20 orders, I will buy some and distribute it, of course with June 11th signed. The cost will be $22.00 plus shipping. A little pricey, but some of that goes to the Writers Academy.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Have you Laughed Today?

“A joyful heart is good medicine…” Proverbs 17:22

For one hour every Sunday night, the most blessed of sounds bathes me and cleans out the junk from the week. This is when Noah laughs and laughs. He is a joyful little kid who doesn’t hold back giggles any day or hour of the week, but on Sunday night the guffaws and chuckles and chortles and mirth gush from him like a waterfall cascading on thirsty rocks below.

This is when “America’s Funniest Videos” is aired on ABC.

The show is so simple in its format. For sixty minutes, we watch people bumble. Each embarrassing pratfall or trip is fodder for fun. It is human nature to find hilarity within someone slipping on a sidewalk, especially if they don’t hurt themselves. Maybe our laughter comes from relief that it wasn’t us or maybe it comes from the commonality of foolishness that we all experience. We have all fallen…some of us still can’t get up.

Noah may love this show so much because he is a natural “faller.” It’s not that he is clumsy; he just loves to fall down. My friend Stacey, borrowing from Star Wars, coined a phrase that we often say about our son – “Gravity is strong in this one.”

With each tumbling, Noah looks to see if we laughed and often punctuates his pratfall with his own giggles.

Last Sunday Pastor John talked about stress in our lives. He preached that laughter can be part of the cure. I thought about what he said and it occurred to me that I live in a pharmacy with stocked shelves. My husband John makes me laugh like no one else on the planet, especially as we watch TV. He comments, as do I, on everything we watch and we find each other incredibly witty. And then of course, there is the boy, who does things that just tickle me.

I am a loud laugher but I have no inhibitions about it anymore. I am who I am and God happened to give me a loud laugh. I also use laughter as a defense mechanism. Often I say inappropriate things at inappropriate times that really crack me up. Wisdom often comes in and helps me edit, but not always.

Have you laughed today? If you don’t have someone who makes you laugh, find your own “America’s Funniest Videos” and start your own convention of conviviality. Yep, I worked a little too hard to come up with that phrase. Maybe head on over to the library and get a humorous book. Dave Barry always cracks me up. Right now, I am reading Erma Bombeck’s “Motherhood is the 2nd Oldest Profession” and I laugh aloud every few pages.

Laugh. Give yourself a hearty dose of medicine for your heart. After you laugh, look around at your world with your heart, not your eyes. You'll understand what the poet Lord Byron meant:

When the green woods laugh with the voice of joy,
And the dimpling stream runs laughing by;
When the air does laugh with our merry wit,
And the green hill laughs with the noise of it.

Lord George Gordon Byron