Eve Annunziato

I’M MORTIFIED December 15, 2008

I’m so incredibly mortified.  Yesterday, I received a letter from Soles4Souls thanking me for a donation I made weeks ago.  I looked at the receipt and next to the amount received; it stated a whopping $5.00. Quite frankly, I’m convicted and thoroughly embarrassed to realize that I only purchased one pair of shoes in my effort to “Change the World one Pair at a Time” for people in desperate need. Seriously? I mean, what the heck was I thinking  – or what was I not thinking?!

Let me explain, since that quick on-line gift, I’ve been Christmas shopping – purchasing a ton of presents for all of my family.  In fact, I refuse to even admit how much cash I’ve spent this year buying stuff. Honestly, the amount is obscene and an outright outrage.  Just to give you an idea, I purchased each of my kids three new pairs of shoes to go under the tree. I’m saddened when I really think of what I’ve done, in spite of the fact that I said I would NEVER conform to commercialism or searching for the “must have” toys.  Sure, each year my children have to choose three Christmas gifts to donate to charity.  Sure, years ago they reluctantly gave from their own toy stash, sometimes while holding back tears.  Now, much to my delight, they look forward, appreciate and enjoy the “giving” process. Sure, we throw Jesus a big birthday bash each Christmas morning and we read the Christmas Bible story.  Sure, they know Santa is just a fun, jolly character yet the focus is the birth of Christ – all in my effort to teach them the true reason for the season.  But, let’s face it, often times a ton of presents trump meaningful tradition.

I asked myself, “Why did I spend so much money on my precious children?”  My answer, “Because I love them with all of my being and want to bring them joy, happiness, security and give them ALL the desires of their heart.”  Oh brother, WHAT a load of crap!  A sense of entitlement is overrated and unhealthy!  Since when did material items equal LOVE?  Since when did showing my deepest gratitude for my two greatest blessings mean buying them everything they wish for and more?  Ahhhhh – NEVER!  I have news for you guys; God loves each and every one of us with all of His might – REGARDLESS.  He loves every single child born into the Free World or born in the muddy shacks of the 3rd World.  God knows every hair on every head and every tear we each shed apart from our socioeconomic destiny.   He cares about every child unequivocally  – those born into privilege, and those starving to death.  Therefore, American privilege doesn’t equal God’s unconditional love nor His promise for eternal perfection.

I challenge all of my readers to donate here today.  Join me as I head back on-line to help provide shoes for people, not so they have the perfect color and style to match their new dress in an effort to make the perfect fashion statement, rather to provide shoes to fit on their BARE FEET! Thank you Anne Jackson and the other Soles4Souls innovators for helping to keep our SOLES sturdily grounded and our SOULS truly deeply joy-filled.

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HAPPY HOLY HUDDLE November 24, 2008

As we head into our season of Thanksgiving I have the obvious attitude of gratitude: A heavenly father who loves me unconditionally in spite of my faults, my cherished family and few close friends who love me unconditionally in spite of my faults, and a lifestyle I don’t deserve yet yearn to appreciate. But this post isn’t about that stuff or my invaluable community of loved ones all of whom are quite lovable. Rather, this challenge is about those I haven’t yet met but whom I aspire to love.

The honest raw truth, I have a horrible habit of remaining in my Happy Holy Huddle. In order to keep a balanced lifestyle, I intentionally singularly invest in and surround my self with those dearest to my heart. I’m often asked, “Eve, when are you going to Twitter, or sign-up on Facebook (or Face-Space as my father often refers to it) in order to stay connected with others?” My answer, “Never!” More connected, are you kidding me?! Please, I’m most joyful and content disconnected from the outside world. I’m most comfortable circled up in my Happy Holy Huddle. But, isn’t that contrary of how we’re actually called to form authentic community?

“The goal of the Christian life is to love well. Jesus was aware that true spirituality included not only loving God, but also the skill of loving others maturely… Growing into an emotionally mature Christian person includes experiencing each individual, including myself as sacred, or as Martin Buber, great Jewish theologian put it, as a ‘Thou’ rather than an ‘It’… According to Buber, ‘We treat people as an It when we use them as means to an end or as objects. We treat people as a Thou when we recognize each person as a separate human being made in God’s image and treat them with dignity and respect.’”
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

Frankly, I’ve been processing this meaningful devotion since I encountered the truth a few weeks ago during my quiet time. These words pierced my heart with a dagger of conviction. It’s my prayer this holiday season to disassemble my huddle, disconnect from my contented spirit and start loving those I haven’t yet met.

Sure, I’ll still continue to guard my heart from getting more bombarded, busier, noisier, and more indebted to the virtual Cyber World (Not judging anyone who chooses to go this route to build community, including my sweet husband, but just setting a personal boundary not intended for everyone!). I’m striving to reach out more, build deeper relationships, and experience life, with even those outside my convenient circle of familiarity. There are plenty of opportunities we encounter in order to engage and extend a gracious heart. This Happy Thanksgiving, I’m giving thanks for my existing relationships and my prospective interactions whilst far from my Happy Holy Huddle!

On another personal note, congratulations to my loving husband and favorite weatherman! He was just awarded two Television Emmy nominations: an honor he’s most humble and grateful to receive. I’m quite excited for my already two-time Emmy award winner and am thrilled about these recent Emmy nods! Good luck, and I’m so very proud of you, baby!

 

A JOB WELL DONE! November 2, 2008

Do you have your dream job? This is a great question and we’re tackling this challenge over the next several weeks at my church. I know these two guys do their occupation with purpose and passion and brilliance. They also have immense talent and approach their line of work with excellence. So, when you couple my husband’s and my pastor’s charisma and chutzpah, with a creative genius producer, you receive this special gift. Take a look and listen for yourselves:


Dream Job_Week 1_Weatherman from Matthew Singleton on Vimeo.”>

 

LET IT GO ALREADY! October 16, 2008

Filed under: Just thinking...,relationships — Eve Annunziato @ 1:44 am
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Okay, I’m sitting in bed all covered up and toasty about to dive into a great book while Chuck, my sweet husband is doing bath, book and bed with the kids (God bless that boy!).  Yet, something weighs heavy on my heart – I keep hearing the words, LET IT GO ALREADY!  Did you ever feel like some people around you just need to hear that!  Okay, maybe not just “some people,” perhaps your own spirit, maybe my own soul.

Recently, Charlie and I returned from what we both agreed was one of our best vacations, ever.  I feel somewhat guilty admitting that, since it was just the two of us.  No kids, no family, no other friends.  Don’t get me wrong; I love all of the above  – spending invaluable time with our priceless loved ones.  It’s special, it’s a blast, and I appreciate quality time with friends and family.  However, there’s nothing better than connecting with my best friend in the whole wide world.  And, he loves me  (that’s a miracle in itself!).  We had five blissful days of non-scheduled time filled with indulgences of seafood, hot tubing, shopping and lots more ;-).  We got along swimmingly while enjoying our beautiful condo on the beach overlooking the picturesque Gulf located just above an amazing pool that served drinks with umbrellas!  One night, we decided to go surfing with the dolphins amidst a sunset cruise. I know, I’m a hopeless romantic – I can’t help it, but it sounded breathtaking.  And, it was truly amazing as we marveled over these entertaining dolphins joining us for the journey while riding our wake.  These precious mammals are known for their need for affection, love for attention (no wonder I relate!) coupled with great senses of humor and people-pleasing instincts (again, my esteem for these adorable guys is all making sense now!).

The most memorable part of the cruise was the profound words from our philosophical captain, the point of this post.  As the sun was setting, he encouraged us to hold on to our spouse, enjoy the moment, clear our minds, take a deep breath, appreciate the picture, live in the present and then said these exact words:

“As the sun is setting from the west above the gleaming ocean and as it disappears from our sight remember, this day will never return.  It’s gone forever.  Therefore, forget any negative feelings you harbor in your heart.  Let your fears, anger, bitterness, sadness, disappointments, failures, and regrets disappear with this very sunset.”

“Amen,” I exclaimed from the top deck. Sure, I got some looks, but his words inspired me – enough to journal this exact moment.   After all, like the sunset, all past circumstances are out of our control – evaporated into the night vanished onto the bottom of the ocean floor.   I’ll always view every sunset in this light.  Try it guys  – with every completion to the day, let it go.  A much needed reminder, following the conclusion of today.  Let it go already, and if not for you for the others around you!

 

STILL THE SAME SINNER September 29, 2008

Filed under: Just thinking... — Eve Annunziato @ 2:04 am
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Just returned from my High School reunion back in Philadelphia.  We had such a wonderful time and I enjoyed being reunited with my amazing friends – especially my best friends that I still remain in touch with and continue to do life beside.  Each reunion, I’m in charge of  “check-in” and I enjoy and look forward to my designated post.  I get to welcome all that walk in the door and hand them their nametag.  Although, we have a graduating class of almost 600, I pride myself of knowing and recognize almost everyone who enters – probably because I used to socialize with my peers and talked to everyone and anyone who would listen.   (I know those of you who know me find that very difficult to imagine!). I had so many great conversations and lovely visits during the pre-party the night before, the party, and the after-party.  And, I could post every day for weeks sharing many funny stories as we waxed poetically over many memories with these  inspiring friends.   But there’s one conversation, which I took to heart.

I was talking to a good friend of mine who I’ve known since 6th grade.  He’s a person I occasionally keep in touch with over the years and consider someone I can trust – a guy of character and integrity as well as a wonderful father and husband to his beautiful family.  He was telling me that he reads my blog, but that at times it’s hard for him to think of me as Christian when he vividly remembers the free spirited, risk taking, fearless, wild, energized girl who did this and that in her past (I would gladly list specifics, but my parents are my most loyal readers so I will spare them the details – although I’m sure they know more than they like to admit!). I smiled and listened, and said, “But, I do self disclose some of my failures and imperfections in my posts.”  He agreed, reiterating that I do allude to my pitfalls and that does help.  I would have liked to continue a further and deeper dialogue, but we were abruptly interrupted by the chaos and excitement of the evening.

On the flight home I started to unpack his words.  He made a fair and valid point that provokes much pondering. He made a comment many want to make to many Christ followers.  How can we, as Christians, claim to follow the God of the universe with all of our imperfections and inadequacies? Now, if I were to tell you that my sin was instantly alleviated, disappeared into thin air, I would be a big, fat liar!  The fact is, Pre-Christian I was a sinner.  I made mistakes. I made stupid decisions. I took too many risks and had the tendency to be wild and care free.  As for my Christian life now? I’m still a sinner. I still make mistakes. I still make bad decisions.  I take too many risks and have the tendency to be free-spirited.  You see, I have the same temptations and challenges that have always caused me to stumble. Fortunately for me, for all of us, there’s a God that allows for my redemption, renovation, and transformation, the same God of grace and mercy and Agape love who cares about me more than I deserve.

My very wise pastor teaches, “Good people DO NOT go to heaven, FORGIVEN people do.”  In other words, our laurels can’t lead us to eternal life, but our hearts certainly can. After all, even after we confess Christ into our life, aren’t we all still the same sinner?

 

In Marriage, Nice is a Necessity… July 8, 2008

Filed under: Just thinking... — Eve Annunziato @ 12:58 am
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Eve’s husband, Charlie, here. I’m continuing my stint as a guest blogger for Eve. I’ve enjoyed reading the comments from the previous posts and I’m glad you’re reading! Thanks!

This week I wrote the following over on my blog at lifebarometer.wordpress.com…

Whereas you love your spouse deeply;

Whereas your spouse deeply loves you;

Whereas your happiness is increased when your marriage is of high quality;

Whereas the quality of your marriage is highly influenced by how you treat one another;

Whereas how you treat your spouse is a daily decision;

Then…

Shouldn’t you be nicer to your spouse than anyone else?

This post is the result of a conversation Eve and I were having in the car a few days ago. We were musing on how we truly enjoy each other’s company. One of the reasons we get along so well is because we make a concerted effort to be nice to one another. Eve is great at this. She freely gives words of affirmation. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy walking into the door of my home at the end of the day and have the person I most adore be kind to me. The simple act of being nice goes a long way into making marriage work. I know this isn’t always easy. There are days you probably don’t feel like saying much and there are other days when you might be in a bad mood. But on those days, not saying much is nice compared to flying off the handle and verbally bashing your spouse over something insignificant. Even when Eve and I disagree, we try to respect each other’s opinions and not attack in a mean-spirited way. This keeps our discussions on track and in control. It’s easier to want to spend time with someone who’s nice. It’s easier to enjoy time together with someone who’s nice. Life’s more fun when your spouse is nice.

I’ll leave you with this thought… The next time your about to walk through the door of your home and see your husband or wife, which would you rather have happen? You walk in the door and are greeted with kind words of affection and genuine interest or with a short “hello” and a cold shoulder… I bet I know what your answer is. Could you be a nicer spouse and if so, how would that affect your marriage?

 

Live It Up & Lighten Up June 30, 2008

Filed under: Just thinking... — Eve Annunziato @ 3:35 pm
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Charlie and I spent a wonderful week on vacation in Philadelphia and New York (my two favorite cities!).  While visiting my 92 year old Grandmother in her Assisted Living facility, we decided to turn on the video camera and capture these invaluable moments between Nan and her great-grandkids playing, interacting and talking.  For posterity purposes I even started to conduct an interview about my Grandmother’s thoughts on life- lessons and just living.  My Nan, a woman of great faith, integrity, and generosity, talked about loving everyone then proceeded to introduce us to her best friend there, Anne, who is 100 years old.  Being the producer that I am, I decided to turn the camera on Anne who is of strong mind, body and soul – and asked her the secret of her happy and healthy decade long life.  Here are her profound words of wisdom:
 
“Eat healthy, live it up, lighten up and drink whisky!” (you’ll have to excuse Anne, she was born in Ireland!). 

Live it up and lighten up – a useful philosophy for both life and leadership.  I feel as if I have really grown in this area lately.  I’ve been quite focused on all of our blessings and have felt more joyful in my personal and family life than in years past and I’m enjoying every minute!  As for my professional life, I’ve stopped taking my work so seriously and realized my career, although is valued, isn’t as important as my personal life (I had to learn that lesson the hard way!).  Funny thing, when I don’t let my work define me or become top priority, work is more enjoyable and I’m more productive.  The 100-year-old Irish woman reminded me that life is short and there’s no need to sweat the small stuff.  After all, we can’t control everything.   Try letting go a bit and being more carefree and see if that doesn’t result in more LAUGHS!

My practical husband, Charlie Neese, teaches how worry is a waste of time and robs us of joy if we don’t guard our heart and mind from this temptation.  Charlie points out the following truth about the number #1 theft of happiness:

Author John R. Noe, among others, wrote that out of everything we worry about, only eight percent is real and legitimate.  The rest won’t happen, happened in the past or is out of our control.  That means 92 percent of our time spent worrying is wasted.  Considering that most of the 60,000 thoughts we have each day are repeats from the day before, that’s a tremendous amount of time we just throw away.  (Charlie will share more about this subject on my post next week!).

Thanks for the reminder, Anne!  We’ll be sure to eat healthy, live it up, lighten up and well – let’s just leave it at that!