Thursday, December 13, 2012

When heavy hearts give thanks


Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus......1 Thessalonians 5:18


I have misheard and misunderstood this Scripture and caused myself much grief, packing a load on myself I was never meant to carry. I have had to remind myself that it doesn't say to be thankful FOR for circumstance, but IN the circumstance. So today, I offer up thanks to a God who is worthy of all my gratitude, all the time.

Thank you Lord that even when our hearts are hurting, the fountain of thankfulness still somehow keeps bubbling up. I woke up at around 2:30 and the first thing that popped into my mind was the line to the song that says:

Oh no, you never let go, through the calm and through the storm.......

Thank you for the twinkling lights outside my window for they remind me of what and who I am celebrating, and for the love of a friend who put them up when I know that all she wanted to do was put this Christmas on fast forward.....not the reason of it, for that she clings to, but all the stuff that goes along with it.

In her loss this season she still thinks of how she can make others happy, so she put the timer on so that I would see them when I left for work. That kind of heart is what makes the Lord happy.

That king of gratitude when it isn't easy is like shaking our fist in Satan's face.

Thank you Lord, for an Aunt who calls me even when she is going through her own kind of loss this year once again with her husband in a rest home....she misses her old life, but still she waves the flag of gratitude because she has her health and that she can see him each day.

And most of the time, he is in a good mood.

Thank you Lord, for the classical station that actually came in this morning as I was driving to work. Those notes filled out a hollowed out place in my soul that I didn't realize was there until I heard it. It lifted me, made me better somehow. I believe that's what good music should do.

And thank you that things at work are relatively calm right now. We are in between processes and winding down so I can have time to relax at my station and I really need that right now.

Especially now.

I feel fatigued today, Lord. I need those wings of eagles to lift me up.....in fact I can feel them now. I already feel better. And send a big eagle for Elaine. She needs one worse.

Sincerely, your girl.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I may as well be a leper

I see the look on their faces when I answer their question, “Where did you go to school?” Meaning college of course. Inwardly, I look down in shame, scuff my feet and blush crimson. “I don’t have a degree.” There is usually an awkward pause, “Oh……” I can imagine what they are thinking. They wonder how I managed to finagle a job here at Intel. One of the places where education is held in very high esteem, in fact, you can’t get hired here now without a degree. But back when I was hired, you could. And I did.



And now it’s seventeen years later…..and I sometimes think, I wonder when they will catch on and fire me.


And I always have to qualify it with something, like…”But I have had SOME college.” And I have, and I really liked it. My first course I got an A. I was so proud of that, I can still remember the feeling I had when I went to the board and saw it posted there. By MY name. A few years ago I took English 102 and I was sure the teacher’s main objective was to make my experience as miserable as possible. And I like English.


It was a battle, but I passed with a B and I think it killed her to give it to me.


I get the same feeling when people ask me if I have kids or….. Ahem….. grand kids, now that I am older. I feel somewhat branded by a sense of shame, like they will automatically think I don’t like kids. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have a niece who I would jump in front of a truck for anytime, anywhere.


Note: If you feel shame today that is either self imposed or pushed on you by someone else, either intentionally or otherwise, know that it’s from Satan. Jesus died and rose again to release us from that.


And really, people just want to understand. It’s easier to put people in a box and classify them. It’s too confusing for them otherwise. It complicates things. People don’t want to spend too much time figuring people out. And I really don’t blame them, I’m the same way. I like things simple.


So here’s the deal:


I don’t have a wonderful husband with three beautiful children, although if you do I think it’s wonderful. I believe healthy marriages and families make a strong and happy society. I believe in family values more than anyone I know.


I don’t have a degree of higher learning, although I think education is wonderful. If you are going for it, I am a little bit jealous and I wish I would have done it.


I do, however, have a wonderful home and a God who loves me and accepts me just as I am. I have lots of love in my life, including that of my family and a best friend and soul sister who I know would give her life for me without a thought. We do live in the same house, but we are not gay for those who may have wondered. Seinfeld moment here, let the reader understand if they have seen the episode.


I am a living testimony of a Mom who always said she didn’t care how far I went in school as long as I had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and for that I will be forever grateful.


My life is a living testimony of God’s provision and care because when my brand new husband died, God came near and never left my side by surrounding me with people who refused to let me go.


As I get older I get a bit wiser. I have learned to care more about what God thinks of me than strangers. I rest in the people who know me and love me, and when it comes right down to it, people are really too concerned about their own lives to pay too much attention to what’s going on in mine or yours.


Bein real today.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Visitation


The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.” John 4:6

Join me over here at Wordpress for my story.......




Saturday, December 1, 2012

Just Believe



You have everything you need.....if you just believe........."Believe" from Polar Express

What is it about Christmas that has the power to evoke the tenderest of memories, our deepest longings, the faint possibility of hope when all seems dark? Come with me here for the rest......



Saturday, November 24, 2012

Random Saturday Thoughts


Random thoughts for your Saturday today......meet me here? I am switching over to WP and I am starting to post everything from there. Thank you for your patience!







Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holiday Speed Bumps


"Slow down. Take a deep breath. What's the hurry? Why wear yourself out? Just what are you after anyway? But you say, 'I can't help it. I'm addicted to alien gods. I can't quit.' Jeremiah 2:25

Every year it happens. Either I am driving on the freeway or in a store and there will be a moment when I make a conscious decision not to join in the madness that seems to be picking up tempo all around me.

My heart beat slows.... I take a step back. It happened this past weekend when I was driving on the freeway and I had to slam on my brakes because people were driving even crazier than usual. I realized the fever pitch had started. Speed bump number one.

Then at the Mall, it happened again when I saw Santa's Village already set up taking pictures of the kids. I don't remember them starting that early last year. I saw Santa sprawled spread eagle in the chair looking bored to tears while the "elves" were like circus barkers trolling for customers. Really? I asked the same question I ask myself each year.

This is Christmas?  Speed bump number two.

And last night I had the mute button all ready for when the decibel level went through the roof on the commercials.

Don't get me wrong, nobody loves Christmas more than I do. I totally get into decorating the house and doing the baking, and I do love to buy gifts, but I don't go crazy.  And I will deck the halls and love every minute of it. There will be a tree in every room. In my bedroom, the tabletop Victorian, and in the office, the Southwestern tree. And Elaine has an ocean tree, decorated with while lights, mermaids, and shells. 

And in the kitchen, a tiny tree with plastic snowmen and snowflakes and other Christmasey type things. Have to be careful with that one, the lights are old and very hot and if it fell next to something flammable it would be a tiki torch in no time.

And then there is the main tree, which is a pre-lit 8 foot we found in a Costco return line one year....I am always amazed when the lights come back on each year. One year I threw my back out trying to stuff it back in the storage container. The first two sections were no problem, it was the last (fat) section that did it.

Never again will I try to do that alone.

Advent is coming.....I feel it in my heart. I am slowing down. I will make peace with whatever doesn't get done. I will not succumb to the alien gods of commercialism run rampant. I will however, enjoy every little moment God gives me before the calendar turns over yet again.

It will be over all too soon.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gratitude as a way of thinking

 
"The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever." Psalm 121:8

As I went about from window to window the other night closing the house up, my heart was seized with gratitude.....of having a home to come to, a warm place and a refuge from the noisy world. "Why me?" I thought, "when so many others have no home, no place to go?" Safety for them is a far-off dream, something other people have.

I could have been born any place at all but I was born here in America. The land of blessing.

It's so easy to be Thankful when things are going well, but how thankful am I when things aren't?

Gratitude, as I have learned, is more than simply feeling grateful, it's a way of thinking. That no matter what happens, there is a reason for it because when we have God, we still have everything.

And it doesn't mean you are doing a happy dance when things are falling apart around you. It means that you know deep inside who is ultimately in control and that you trust in His love because He has already saved your life, past present and future.

And when that terrible thing happened He wasn't looking the other way.

And if you want to hear the best answer to a question I have heard so many people ask when prayers don't go their way? You really need to go here and read this gem, by Duane Scott.

The thing that causes hearts to go darker than anything else is Lack of gratitude........"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21

And today, I am also linking up with Ann at Holy Experience because she is the one that actually got me started with writing my gratitude down on paper and teaching me a new way to see.

Grateful for my home each and every day.......and that I have a job so I can help others.....for laughter in church.....friends at work who are like lights in the darkness......fixed cars that run like tops......thankful the driver behind me the other night was paying attention when the whole freeway stopped......formerly unknown people who I now count as dear friends thanks to FB, yes, FB.....pumpkin pie for breakfast......steaming cups of comfort to wrap hands around....being totally lazy on a day off.....a great day yesterday. #945-956

And for a great way you can build hope for children in Haiti, click on the Help One Now button on my sidebar, where just a little can go a long way. Blessings my friends, Lori



Sunday, November 18, 2012

God in the Silence

 
 
 
 
Sometimes everything quiets down and we step out into the freshly laundered world, gingerly so as not to break the silence because we know it's sacred......
 
Sometimes, we get the grace to see everything as new as when it was first created.
And in that sacred silence that is part of the eternal, we feel the pulse of life.
 
He gives us the same wonder He feels.
 
Heaven and earth meet, and it is peace.
 
God lifts the veil.
 
 
The woods are lovely, dark and deep and I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep......Robert Frost
 
Photos by Carolyn Fulton
 

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Blessing


 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” And He laid His hands on them and departed from there. Matthew 19:13-15

"I am doing a new thing with Lauryn now before she goes to her class," my Mom said. "I lay my hands on her and pray a little blessing." She saw someone do this on one of her Sunday morning shows. "I thought, why not do it for her." So now right before she slings on her backpack and heads off to join her friends, my Mom holds both hands on a very fidgety child and says:

"The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you and give you peace."

She went on to say that the first time she did it, she was wiggling around a lot, wondering what she was doing. "But now," she says, "She expects it, and I think she likes it a little." I verified this with my own eyes when I was there. She got this little mischievous smile that I caught on camera right after the prayer.

What a blessing to have a Grandma who prays for you...........and the laying on of hands? The Bible encourages it.

My Mom paused in her activity and said........"Do you remember how you and I prayed before school by the fire?" Of course I do. I told her I blogged about probably more than once, and I know I have thanked her more than once too.

How could I ever forget those times? Just she and I in the warm glow of the firelight. She praying for a very unhappy teen aged daughter because she just didn't know what else to do. I can still hear how she sounded, and feel her work-worn hands of love in mine. It makes me want to cry for the gratitude of her.

And it's not like you are really praying for safety, because things do happen, despite the prayers before going out. It's more like a release. It's a way of saying:

I give you to the Lord, and no matter what happens, we will be okay.

And we will.

For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1:6,7

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why I took a break, and why I'm back



Sometimes the blogging world gets noisy. And sometimes you even forget why you blog. And you go to a post where you feel you have held your heart out to the world...painfully so, and you get no comments. And you are disappointed. Even though you know you aren't writing for:

Accolades......Comments......Validation.....and those are all good things, that was never my motivation.

And you read all these wonderful other blogs, and you feel like your voice is just one more and it's not quite as beautiful, as esthetically pleasing....as skillful, as creative....fill in the blank.

A scribbling on a blank piece of paper could save your life, if it is just what you need to hear in that moment. 

I have also been mad at the "blogger" platform. Different reasons. All of a sudden my playlist didn't work. It won't start playing right when you open my blog. I thought I had it set up to do so, but I still can't get it to work right.

When I noticed myself scrolling to comments right away? That's when I knew I had lost my way. I needed to remember Who I was blogging for and why I started in the first place.

Only three reasons, but they are big ones. God, the Word, and You the readers.

I have been going through some changes myself, and no doubt this blog will change with me. Change is a good thing. But the one thing about this blog that will never change is the message. It is a little four letter word but it means the world.....and it's what the world needs right now:

Hope.

And I realized another thing. My little voice means something, and so does yours.

And after all, how many voices are too many for praise to the living God?

This year has been tough, and it still is. Going on two years of care taking and it takes its toll no doubt about it. But Elaine and I are still laughing despite the circumstances. And now I am going through some other things personally, physical changes which I have talked about here.

And even when the moods are incredibly dark? The amazing thing is that at unexpected moments I have this absurd joy. It just won't stop, because God has me. And He has you too, no matter what else is going on in your life. Because each and every one of us has circumstances we have to deal with. Those will never go away.

But neither will God.

That, my friends is my main message. And this morning, as if to highlight what I was feeling, this song came on and it said: Let my life song sing to you.

Let my life song sing to you. And you and you.

And like those stones along the road to Jerusalem that would not be silent?  I will never ever stop praising Him, because He is worthy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Little Blog Break


 
“If you’re really looking for answers, look past me. But if you’re interested in how I got to where I am, I will be as honest as possible.”
– Rich Mullins

Dear readers, I treasure you.....I am taking a short blogging break. I will be back soon, I promise. Feel free to browse through the archives!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Two to a car

 
 
 
But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head. I cried to the Lord with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. Psalm 3:3,4
 
This morning I went out to pray like a monk, I was glad there was a hood on my sweatshirt, because all of a sudden it has turned cold.....cold for here anyway. As I lit my "prayer lantern" I sank into my chair and bowed my head. There are so many things I am thankful for, why do I feel such despair at times? I have a good job and people who love me. I am doing some writing and there are actually people who get something out of what I write. I am constantly surprised by joy over that.
 
But there is another thing I have been fighting, and it's a big one. I hesitate to even write about it because I don't think I can put it into words. And yet I must because writing is my way out....my way up.
 
I've been fighting this thing. It's called "The Change." There is a reason they call it that. I wondered and wondered why I have felt this way and it suddenly hit me.
 
I am grieving. Grieving who I was before.
 
Who has taken my old happy life and what have they done with it?
 
As it hit me, tears gushed. And part of it was the relief of knowing. The other part is the not knowing. I don't know what waits on the other side of this tunnel. Every now and again normalcy touches down and I breathe a sigh of relief.
 
My faith holds me now. I howl like a wounded animal on the inside because I don't want anyone to hear.
 
I walk down the Christmas aisles at the store and I want to cry. Pumpkin pie filling makes me cry. People being kind to me makes me cry.
 
I drive on the freeway and I feel the white heat of anger lashing out. I call unsuspecting people all kinds of names they don't deserve. They are just trying to get home, after all.
 
I am losing what I fought so hard to get back when I starved myself.  The part of me that was always a reminder of health.....possibility....promise....life.
 
How do you let go of something you have had all your life? And who will I be on the other side of this.....will it make me less than I am right now?
 
How do you go about going through a change that will usher in the last phase of your life, especially when you still wear Miss Me jeans and buy your clothes in the junior section?
 
I got up and wiped my nose on my sleeve. And God gave me something, just a little vision of hope. I was sitting on the little train I used to ride at the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. It was two to a car....And in the seat beside me: Jesus rode.
 
And He promised he would be with me all the way through. And I know He will, He's a man of His word. Yes, there is much comfort in two to a car.
 
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Saturday, November 10, 2012

(Re)acknowleging my Desperation



Today, Lord I acknowledge my desperate state before you. Anything less means I am walking around in a state of delusion. When things are going well, it is so easy for me to think I have things under control. That I don't need you quite as bad as when circumstances are:

unpleasant, painful, spiraling out of control.............But the truth is, I need you just as much and in just the same measure every single day.

Sometimes I act like a person holding up a golf club in the middle of a lightning storm. I flirt with the world, I skate on the edge, I get too close to swinging the doors wide open that should remain closed.

And I shouldn't. Forgive me, precious Lord. Thank you for remembering my dust. Help me to never take advantage of your good grace. I acknowledge again that though you are completely Holy, you are not waiting up there to strike me down when I fail, but waiting with an arms open kind of love.

And forgive me for asking you once again to deliver me from things you have already set me free from. Sometimes I have amnesia. You are infinite Love. I remember again and again the great length you went to save me.

All the way from Heaven to earth.

Goin back to the foot of the cross today.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Flip Side of Sadness



Last night I had some company. First to show up in my dream was my cousin John with the crazy staccato laugh, huge heart and endless pranks. He and his brother George were always up to something. When they were little, they asked my Aunt Esther if they could decorate their rooms for Christmas. After she told them they could they scooped up buckets and bagfuls of brown pine needles and covered the floor and everything else in their room.....Join me here at Bibledude for the rest of the story.....

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Always is a good time to pray


The ballots have been counted up and I am rejoicing in the fact that I will not have to watch any more campaign commercials. I won't deny that I am disappointed......but not in God. Never in God. On the way to work I heard a great praise song on the radio and I was able to pump my arms in the air (while I was stopped at the red light), and thank God that despite everything that happens in this life......

He is still on the throne.

So now we get on to Kingdom work. I have no idea what the next four years will bring. All I know is that I hope that it will bring more people into God's kingdom.

And it is always a good time to pray, now more than ever. Even though the one I voted for won't be taking up a seat in the While House, I have to think back to the best and worst moments in my life and ask myself a question. With eternities values in view, how much does this really matter.

Right now today, if something happened to someone I love this little election and all my feelings about the next four years would cease to matter. We have very important things to do. And I was challenged by the Internet Monk today to pray for our President.

It might take some work, but I can do it. Because he needs God just like everyone else.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jesus wins by a landslide


 
To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
 
 “Look, he is coming with the clouds,”
    and “every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him”;
    and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”
So shall it be! Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”


There are so many more important things going on right now than this election. Yes, I will vote today, and yes, I believe it matters how we vote, but ultimately what matters is who is ruling and reigning on the throne of my heart today.

Unless He is? None of this really matters. And I am thankful today. So thankful that I know who will write the end of this story. All over the world, people are doing great and courageous things. Pastors in Haiti are caring for orphans. Sleeping with them outside on the ground.

People are fighting for our freedoms  and putting their own lives on the line, thinking nothing of it.

Our troops.

God has a plan for this world. He died, He rose again, He is coming back. No matter who is in office in the White House, or any other house. So today I will vote, because I still think it is important to exercise our wonderful freedoms. And then I will watch the results and I won't be disheartened if my choice doesn't win.

Because I know who untimately does.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Soiled Dress

 
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Ephesians 5:1-3

Thankful today, for another chance at clean.......Yesterday Pastor Kevin continued in his series of "Living Under the Influence" of Christ. Handing there on the large wooden cross in the center of the stage, there was a beautiful white wedding dress. As he talked, and with every example of how we flirt with living back in the world, he gave the dress another brown splotch from the bottle he held.

It hung there on that cross with ugly brown spots all over it and then we prayed, heads bowed, some going forward to kneel before that cross to get clean all over again.

I celebrate with Thanksgiving today, at another chance at clean. And better days. When you are depressed, and then you feel the sunlight seeping through your soul again it's like a celebration of hope. Of Easter right in the middle of the week.

Another small miracle that tells us that whatever hardship or challenge we are going through now, that it won't last forever.

Heaven however, is forever.

I ran this morning while night and day mingled together and for a short time, were one.

A few shy stars were out. The morning bird had not spoken yet, he was still sleepily blinking from his perch. The light from the sun was beginning to fill the sky and I realized that all over the world this pattern is repeated.

In nature, in hearts, in lives.

Thank you Lord, the new beginnings, and forgiveness.......

Counting my thanks........Lifting depression.....conversations that bring about healing....good work function outing yesterday.....health that allows me to do physical exercise which always makes me feel better......laughter sprinkled throughout every day, however hopeless it seems.......beautiful weather.....more great memories of back home......a brave girl who broke through her fear and participated in her school parade.....simple joys of washing and a washer that works.......clean bedding.....friends and family who make this life worth living and God who makes everything possible. #945-957

Linking up here with Ann and below with Michelle today.




Saturday, November 3, 2012

The God of all Comfort


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

How big is your God? I know my God is big......He is big enough to heal the deepest sorrow, and repair the most broken of hearts. I know because He's done it for me.

And even though He's big? He can make Himself show up in something as simple as a ray of light on the walkway because just now I asked Him to meet me there and He did, I felt Him there. I also prayed that He would meet you in my words.

 And how many have prayed for just that, and have not felt that assurance? He rains His Grace down at unexpected moments. You may not always feel Him, but that doesn't mean He isn't there.

He always has to make room for faith to kick in. And faith is always rewarded my friends, that's a promise.

And the days when you know that prayer is the only thing holding you together? He knows that feeling too. He knows how it feels to not even want to be around a single solitary soul. Honestly, I think there were times He wanted to tell everyone to just go away. Those are the times He went off alone to pray.

He also knows that sometimes the best thing you can do for a friend is just hold them while they cry. Job's friends did that at first and then they blew it by starting to talk. There's a time for talking, and a time for just being there.

And no matter what you might be feeling now, you can still have hope. God has an inexhaustible supply.

You can still have hope if you know God.  He is the God of all comfort. He knows how. When our words run dry and crackle in the air and fall flat.....The Holy Spirit speaks in groans deeper than any words straight to the Father.

I believe He is even better at translating the prayers that never make their way into words.

He's near. Nearer than your own breath.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Big Ticket

As we approach the ticket counter to US airways I am staggered at the amount of people in line. There are always a lot of people at the airport here in Phoenix since it is an international hub, but this......this is crazy. The line was so long they had to split it up into two groups, parted like the red sea.

They were all wearing the same expressions of worry and anxiety, and now so was I. It dawned on us that this must be because of diverted flights due to Hurricane Sandy. Everyone was orderly and somewhat calm. TSA has effectively whipped us huddled masses into submission like recaltritant children. I looked at them all, jostling kids, bags, nerves, and me right among them.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36


I still had time, but would it be enough? We went out to curbside and there was a line but not nearly as bad. I bantered with two ladies going back home to Toronto about our general complaints of the airlines. How they are charging for every little thing.

I punched my confirmation number in the little space on the screen and my ticket was spit out the bottom. I clutched it as any apprehensive flyer does. It had my name on it, a little bit of peaceful assurance in a scrap of paper. My seat was 9F.

Upstairs it was more of the same. Everywhere, people scrambling to get home or leave home.The line was four deep going through security. I passed the Canadian ladies again. One of them asked, "How did you get ahead of us?" And we laughed.

I reached for the bin, filling it up with everything I could take off.....scarf, shoes, belt, metal jewelry, sweater. I was motioned into the infamous TSA scanner......Arms up and hold please. The evil scanner. Will I ever get used to this?

Put my heart under Your scanner Lord. Tell me what I am doing wrong....... "Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts" Psalm 139:23

I thought of how at first, I had refused to fly. On justifiable grounds of gross invasion of privacy. Just the topic would sent me into a fit and quoting the first amendment. And now I just go through like everyone else. Just one of the cattle.

I clutch my ticket, make all my calls, and settle in for the boarding announcement. I think of myself, one who dreams often of being in the wrong place, or late, or being six months behind for a class and realizing I have not turned in one assignment. Its always so important for me to be in the right place at the right time.

I scan my boarding pass for the 5th or sixth time, noting the boarding time, the zone number.

I think about that other ticket, to that most important of places. The ticket I clutch even more tightly as the years go by, my Bible. The Words of God. That's one trip I want to be prepared for more than any other. The Holy Spirit is my deposit. I lean back in the seat and breathe deep. Thankful.

I won't be late because it's all in His timing.

".......and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us." 2 Corinthians 1:22

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Remembering the bread


In the midst of my "not so good" day, I saw when I opened my lunch.
And I remembered......

Yesterday didn't start out so good. Shortly after I got to work, my supervisor came up and questioned me about "an incident."

It seems there is one who has it out for us and this morning she left another nugget behind. It was a treasure she mined from somewhere, and then sent it out to her OM and ours. She wanted to share the wealth. We launched our own investigation and could find nothing out of the ordinary.

No doubt about it, sometimes the stress at work can be toxic. In every area I hear the same thing:

"So and so won't do their job so I can't take a break"

"So and so made me feel like an idiot last time she trained me"

"So and so wouldn't even answer my phone, while I ran downstairs to get some food"

In every case, the complaints are valid and true. I know the people in question.

At certain workstations you can almost feel the tension crackling in the air, and yesterday, after "the episode" I was on edge. 

I have heard that the lady in question does this wherever she goes. We have notes left at our station. Nasty grams I call them. I haven't had to deal with a personality quite like her before at work, so this is new to me, but I am determined to win her over.

I feel sad that someone is that determined to catch others in the wrong. Makes me wonder what she is hiding. Or what is missing in her life that she feels the need to do this. I am determined to be a peace maker in this situation.

And then I worried all day about my car. Something is wrong and it may be major. And I didn't know whether it was still under warranty. Big dollar signs if it's not.

I go downstairs and see the huddled masses crouched over their lunches, talking, eating.....some in meetings, some catching a break before they go back to work. All of them treasured by God, every last one. I am thinking of getting out of this crowd.......sitting in my warm quiet car sounds so good.

It is when I am unwrapping my sandwich that I see it. And suddenly just for that moment, God breaks through. I see the homemade bread and it conjures a sweet and precious memory. I think of the first time we made it together this year. Elaine had never made bread from scratch.

Oh how she laughed at me, getting all involved in the dough. Memories washed over me, of my Grandma in the kitchen. Of walking in and seeing every size and shape of dough creation piled on the counter. I thought of crisp fall days and bread just out of the oven.

She watched me knead......."You gotta feel this," I said. And as I felt that familiar texture when it's still a little sticky but it's just the right kind of elastic, I said...."Yeah, baby!" and then gave a huge sigh. She asked if I wanted a cigarette. Honestly it felt a little naughty. I never realized how much I missed it!

My heart lightens like it has been suddenly been caught by a helium balloon lifted into the clouds and a smile stretches across my face right there in front of the microwave at work.

It was a God moment.

And that evening I prayed as my relief came in. I was calm. And so was she. I brought up the issue. Turns out she was resending the same report she sent out a few weeks ago. There was no "new incident."

I was a peacemaker, and it felt good.

Not only that, I found out my car is still under warranty.

God is good.......all the time.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Alzheimer's Diary.....A continuing lesson in love


And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:14

I have probably tacked this verse onto the beginning of posts more often this year than any other. Have you put on your love today? This past year, I have had to start over time after time, day after day. As most of you know who read my blog on a regular basis, we are working on year two of Elaine's Mom living with us.

It's been tough, to say the least. Hygiene is an ongoing issue more and more. We are working on week 4 with no shower, again. The last time, Elaine had to physically get in the shower with her because she refused to put water on her head. And she was washing with shampoo. Incontinence is also a problem. She refuses to wear the undergarments so bedding has to be changed often....laundry done several times a day.

Because she has been increasingly combative, her dose of Anti-psych drug was doubled just this past week. We noticed the rage has been just barely contained....it's always just under the surface. The pacing and the agitation seem to go hand in hand.

It is disheartening and sobering for Elaine to realize that right now if her Mom were not on the Seroquel she would be in a lock down unit as we speak. Her Mom still knows very well where she is, but when her Doctor tells her that if she won't let people take care of her she has to go somewhere where they can, he is met with indifference, a shrug of her shoulders.

It has been a constant challenge for both of us to do that "putting on love" thing Paul is talking about. And I am on another trip to California to see my family on Sunday. It's hard to be the one always left behind. For two years, she has had to watch others travel, go on weekend trips, vacations. That is what caretakers face every day.......for them life has stopped. They feel just as chained as if they were in stocks.

And how can life still feel like it's at a standstill, when the workload never stops?

Please pray? For wisdom, and strength to bear up. To keep laughing somehow. To know when to say "when."

Pray for strength and grace for me as well. That I can be the right kind of support. Too often I feel like the check marks on my own personal report card are screaming out a big red "fail." But God knows my heart, thankfully.

I take comfort in the fact that He hears my prayers of forgiveness uttered after every exasperated blown out sigh......He knows we are all dust after all, nevertheless a kernel of God keeps us all preserved for eternity.

Praise God.

And more and more and more, we are craving the peace, the harmony that used to fill the house. We still have it for the most part, we just have to fight for it where before it was effortless.

Here is the magic formula that works for any and every situation:

Love + Peace = Harmony

I will need until every last breath to put it into practice.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Final Answer

 
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. Romans 8:28
 
I smoothed the sheets on my bed this morning and said a prayer of thanks because I didn't feel like I did yesterday morning. Yesterday I wasn't ready to enter into the day and I did something I never do on a day off......I went back to bed. Yet, even as I crawled back under the covers, I was aware that it was a luxury.  Just the fact that I could do it. Most can't.
 
I pulled the covers up, curled into a ball and slept until 9. For me, that's late.
 
After that I went to Walmart, which is my new place between places. I call it my own personal Bermuda Triangle. I sat with my cart amongst the fake Christmas trees and patio sets and smiled at the irony. The depression snaked behind me, but just then I felt I had outsmarted it. I felt cushioned in an island of peace. Even the pink one didn't bother me, it stood there innocently wearing sparkling white lights. How could I get mad at it?
 
I sat there playing my Words with Friends like I had nothing else to do. And it was good.
 
I got back and put everything away. And Joyce was agitated and pacing. I had closed my bedroom door and I think that threw her off too. Alzheimer's patients are like Autistic kids in that they like routine and they like normal. They don't like change.
 
And she forgets that Elaine has a job now and wonders where she is. Imagine never remembering anything? Your mind would have to work 10 times harder than anyone else's.
 
Every time I sat down at the keyboard to clack out words.....she came in or out the door. I gave up trying to write. I felt hemmed in, so I went outside for awhile and watched the birds eat the bread I left. The cactus wrens were up to their usual antics and I couldn't help but smile watching them.
 
And later the phone rang and it was a dear blogger friend just calling to say......"I have been praying for you." Never underestimate how important that is. To me it was grace like spring rain.
 
He told me his frustration about how some of his young friends just don't seem to get it. That it's not all about them, but it's about us and how we are all in this world together. And about Haiti and a world of people in need. And suddenly my problems felt smaller again. And I was able to write about just that very thing. Thank you, Duane Scott. You are a treasure.
 
Elaine came home after having to call four parents for out of control kids on the bus. They were new kids added to her route. She was exhausted. It was obvious the other driver had been ignoring the bad behavior. And then she sat in a training class where one of the other drivers constantly interrupted the instructor with unbelievably foul language.  
 
Nobody was saying anything, so she finally did.
 
Then later my Mom called and told me of her friend's daughter in law. She is in Stanford right now, a mother of three. They were all camping and she came home with a fever. Now something is attacking her liver. She is in Stanford undergoing tests and they can't find anything wrong, all those very bright minds.
 
And it was morning and it was evening and God is pulling the shade down on another day.
 
And the team we were rooting for last night is going to the World Series.
 
Each day has its own set of wins and losses. Sometimes people get it but sometimes they don't. And it's okay........We do the best we can any given day. And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness and prays for us with groans that words cannot express.
 
And in every conflict, as my friend so wisely said, the answer is always the same......Love.


Monday, October 22, 2012

What the Haiti Bloggers Taught Me


 
Tent City, a partial view....photo by telegraph.co.uk


There was a group of bloggers that went to Haiti not long ago. I guess you could say I went along with them. I found myself eagerly following their journey, swept up in their enthusiasm, fear, and trepidation about what they would see, hear and discover.

On Facebook and through each of their blogs, I packed with them, boarded planes with them and prayed with them. I was there, at least in spirit, while they waited in airports and when they touched ground there. I was wrapped up in it, but from a safe distance.

I read the first reports, saw the pictures come in one after another. Each sharing their own personal journey.....in their own words. And there was power in their words, because of what they saw.

Like drumbeats in a native village, the stories came back from each writer, along with the stunning pictures that went where words could not. And it wasn't just the stories, it was the real people attached to them. People whose faces would be forever imprinted on the hearts of each writer.

I myself slept in my own comfortable bed as they told about how a Haitian Pastor slept on the ground outside by the orphan children that he was protecting, because as Duane Scott said in his post today, "A shepherd never leaves his flock."

I was in prayer with them when they landed and came back to this land that must have felt a little bit foreign even after being in Haiti a few days. This land where normal means, buying the next model of IPhone simply because you must have the latest and newest version, not because there is anything wrong with your phone.

What they saw changed them from the inside out. Not only that, it has changed me too. I learned some things from them:

That a handful of committed people can make a big difference......and you don't have to go to another country to be impacted and feel the change yourself, (but it helps).

That God doesn't want my leftover gifts. He wants my heart.

That I am thinking harder and longer before I purchase something.

That even though I can wake up depressed like I did this morning? Over there in that country little children and adults are living in conditions no one should ever live in, and they are still smiling.

Singing, rejoicing......but they are also

Fainting in classrooms for lack of food.

Being kidnapped and raped.

Living with fear night and day and never ever feeling safe......

And God is watching how we respond, how I respond.

Each of us can make a difference. If only half of us went without one Starbucks Latte per day, we could build houses in Haiti.

If God moves you to do so, you can sign up for a project or make a one time donation right here, or find out more by clicking my "Help One Now Button."

If God doesn't lead you to give, then pray for those courageous souls doing God's work over there. Your prayers make a difference!

"Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with."  James 5:16, The Message.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fighting the Change


This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30: 19,20

I awoke this morning with a familiar feeling, one I didn't like. I was flat. Not happy, not depressed......just flat. I am in the beginning stages of that place in life known as, dare I say it? "the change." Sshhhh, I won't say it out loud. I didn't use bold face type or big letters. It is not a real uplifting topic for women, (or the men who live with them.) But it is a reality.

I had a choice in that moment. To settle for how I felt, or to fight for something better. That is what it really comes down to each and every day. A choice for life or death. Victory or defeat. So I got up, grabbed some coffee and sought life in the pages of the book that was lying on the floor by the bed. The one that gives life.......I flipped open to Corinthians and there I found this verse:

"For thanks be to God, who always leads us to triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place, for we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." 2 Corinthians 2:14,15

God has taught me that I don't have to settle. I don't have to slog through the day feeling like this.

I can have victory in Christ.

As I rustled through those pages, I started to feel more like life and less like death. And I realized something else. If I had settled for that feeling?  I would have missed the beautiful fragrance that the people in my life are giving off,  because they are making the choice to get up and give life to me. And I don't want to miss it.

I don't want to have to apologize because I have been so focused on myself that I don't see the hurt in your eyes for being ignored, not appreciated, not valued.  

We all have heard about muscle memory. Trained athletes know it. The muscle remembers. But so does the mind.  

That is what I remembered with tears this morning on the way to work. I remembered how I had to fight for life after my healing from anorexia. The healing of my mind had to come first, but then I had to begin the long battle of healing my body. You don't starve your monthly cycle away without having to work hard to get it back.    

I remembered getting up in the dark before anyone else was awake, and running....just running. In the cold and in the dark all I heard was my feet slapping on pavement and my heart pounding, my breath coming out in puffs. I didn't want anyone to see me because I felt I was repulsive. I had ballooned to 125 pounds from 80, largely from fluid buildup that came from wreaking havoc with my hormones.

But morning after morning, I got up, I went out, I fought back.

And today, I can smile on that victory. Because God heard the prayers of hurting parents, and He heard me too, down there hitting the pavement. He was with me.

Later, after I felt a bit more confident my Dad went with me. It was good, just he and I running together. And someone else I didn't even know was watching too. I later learned that my future husband watched us run from the window of Flame liquors where he worked for years. After we met he told me this. Life is amazing isn't it?

I can rejoice now in the suffering, because of the victory at the end. Because much of life is getting back up over and over again, no matter how you feel and fighting back, because you know life is always worth it.

Restoration and light and life waits at the end of the road. And once we've come through? We can help each other find the way out.

When you have had part of your life ripped away is when you begin to know the true value of it.  

All over the world today, people making the choice. Some even when it would be much easier to choose death.

Choose life with me today?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Unwrapping His Promises


How long we wait, with minds as quiet as time.............Thomas Merton

And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.
 “And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
“Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.
Isaiah 58:10-12
 
My time in the desert has taught me much. When the heat stretches on and you see no end, you long to escape it. You drive up north, you go to the coast, or you go to the theater or the mall. You learn to adjust what you do. You learn from the little creatures you see that somehow thrive, and it inspires you too to go on. This imagery is easy for us desert dwellers. But here, God is trying to teach a different kind of lesson.

A lesson for when the soul is parched and needs refreshing.

He is trying to teach us a new way of living for when life burns you out. We say, "I need a trip to the Spa," But He tells us we need to give to those who have less. New life, new energy, new hope is found when we do for others, and when we lean on Him in the doing. In a way, God is saying, "Get your mind off yourself and you will feel better."

But unless we also harness the power of the Holy Spirit, we will quickly be burned out. It's only when we join hands with the Creator that this regeneration and refreshment happen. The body might be beat, but inside the Spirit leaps.

In caretaking I have found this to be true. As soon as I stop harnessing God's power, I find my anger flaring up at all those little moments....a shirt getting stuck on the hanger, her pacing back and forth, her opening and closing the door 10 times.

I focus on a Motorhome that sits idle in storage for the lack of freedom to just get up and go. I lament the loss of freedom and say it's not fair. What is fair? People in Haiti are living in tents and have no clean water.

It wasn't fair the Jesus had to go to the cross but He did. And now despite everything I deserve, I get Heaven here and now. And for eternity. With that in view, I can be more than a conqueror.

Whatever we are going through here and now, it is only for a season. And there are blessings everywhere we turn when we have the Lord to refresh us in all those scorched places in life.

Let's unwrap His promises today, the basket is overflowing........


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pray as if it's the first time

 
 
There must be a time of day when the man who
makes plans forgets his plans,
and acts as if he had no plans at all.
 
There must be a time of day when the man who has
to speak falls very silent.
And his mind forms no more propositions,
and he asks himself:
Did they have a meaning?
 
There must be a time
when the man of prayer goes to pray
as if it were the first time in his life
he had ever prayed,
where the man of resolutions puts his
resolutions aside
as if they had all been broken,
and he learns a different wisdom;
 
distinguishing the sun from the moon,
the stars from the darkness,
the sea from dry land,
and the night sky from the shoulder of a hill......
 
No Man is an Island:
Thomas Merton
 
This is where I am today, friends. I sat in silence today, my candle flickering,  unable to say any prayer that made any sense. Tongue-tied I sat in the silence. I was feeling nothing except the sense that I had lost myself and I wanted me back. Caretaking does that.  
 
When I read these very wise words of Thomas Merton something within me sprang to life. The recognition that so much of what we are doing in our modern society makes it all but impossible to hear God's voice. I have felt that I needed to get away and hear the sigh of the wind in the pines.....I tried on Sunday. We drove all the way up to the rim, but there was a fire and all we could smell was smoke.
 
Sometimes it doesn't work out. But God is still here.....and within me, His Spirit.
 
As long as I have Him, what else do I need? In His fullness I can find everything I will ever want, need or desire. The need I feel within, that deepest longing that we all have, can be fulfilled in Him and only in Him.  
 
When I read the lines........"When the man of prayer goes to pray as if it were the first time in his life he had ever prayed," my soul quickened. Merton got it. And I can get it too.
 
We are all broken. That's where we must start. And it's not so much a learning, it is a remembering who we are. In the Spirit of reconciliation we must turn and help heal each other. That is what makes God happiest of all. Too often we sit alone in our pain and confusion, when right next to us is someone who could help, and in letting them help us, we help them too.  
 
I leave you to prayer and meditation in every quiet moment you find today.
 
Meditation: Psalm 15
 


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Home, where God is.


I was listening to the Gaither's again this morning on the way to work. There is only one problem with that. When I like a song I speed up and that is not so good for driving. "We Shall Rise" was the only song I ever remember my old Pastor requesting we sing twice. I can still see his perfectly Brylcreamed hair as he turned to us in the choir as we stood once more to sing. We raised the roof that day. 

I was thinking about how certain kinds of music make you feel like home. Something in your soul finds rest in it. It stirs up memories, emotions. Nature makes me feel like home too, it's like remembering our first home. Knowing that's how it should be, hearing that wind sigh in the treetops.

Later at work as I settled myself in front of a computer, (on my break of course), I felt still another sense of home. I never realized just how much a part of my life this has become. This checking in with all of you, my online friends. It's a bit like coming to your back kitchen door, and you getting out my favorite mug and pouring me a fresh brew. Exchanging news good and not so good, sharing laughter and tears as we reach across the table.

Fellowship. Community. Unity. Love. That's the Kingdom of God.

I can already feel eternity lapping at my feet like waves. Some days it is easy to know that this world is just a precursor of Heaven. The joy of the Holy Spirit confirms it.

I think of what finally home means.

No more goodbyes, no more plane trips, no more endings, only beginnings...... forever. We will already be there. When I think about eternity it blows my mind. I can't seem to come to grips with something that good lasting forever. I can't help but think that something or someone will ruin it all.

But God's promises are true, that we can count on. That's the hope I bring you today.

I love you, friends. I really do.

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:4