Friday, March 30, 2012

A Song in the Night

It was one of those tossing and turning nights. I seem to have a lot of those lately. A bleary glance at the clock told me it was 2:30 AM. And faintly I heard something that sounded like a bird singing.....Singing, at that hour! At first I thought it was one of those alarm clocks that sound like birdsong. My Dad had one that went through the whole repertoire of a mockingbird. Incredulously I staggered outside into the cool night.

The stars were bright overhead and it was so quiet, except for the unmistakably loud sound of a real live mockingbird singing its heart out in my neighbor's lemon tree. It was so early the morning commute hadn't even started yet. Don't birds only sing at sunrise? This one's internal clock was surely off, I thought.

Every morning since, I have heard it. The earliest recorded time was 1:30 AM.

At first I was a bit ticked off. I get up at 4 on my work days and every hour of sleep is precious.

But today, God spoke to me as He often does in that still small way He has. He said:

This little bird is singing at my own direction, and who are you to tell it that its not the right time? When is it wrong to sing of My glory, to sing just for the sheer joy of singing. Don't I welcome any prayer, any song, day or night? Am I ever too busy to rejoice when one of my creatures is singing, do I ever turn away from your song?

And I don't know if there is such an expression of a heart that pangs, but my heart did pang as I rolled down the window this morning in the dark just to hear my little friend sing.

A tear threatened, when I thought of all the times I have squashed another's enthusiasm.....a song they longed to share, because I was too busy wallowing in my own problems to open up my heart, my ears, and truly rejoice with them.

And I I stifle my own song, how I rob someone of the joy of hearing it. Me, for thinking it's not worthy of singing. Then, and this one last thought is painful......of voices long stilled, and how I would give anything to hear them again, no matter the day or the hour.

Thank you little bird, and thank you God. For using one of your creatures to instruct me once again.....

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Goin' Visiting....

Hey.....I will see you tomorrow, I am doing a bit of visiting on your blogs today.
It's been too long since I have gone blog hopping.

Wait for my knock on your door.

I love coffee!

Monday, March 26, 2012

In the Stillness

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long suffering;  bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.  And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15

My prayers this morning were little more than breathing in and out. Some words came, I went down my usual list of those loved ones weighing heavy on my heart. And then as I remembered that sometimes it is okay to just be quiet and listen.....a curious thing happened.

I heard.

I heard the dove song and behind that, the freeway loading up with the morning commute. Another bird of a different kind further away. I retreated further into myself and listened for what the Holy Spirit might be praying for me. He does you know......when we can't find the words of our own.

I picked up my old Living Bible that I had picked up off the bookshelf on the way outside. It was mine first, then my Mom's. She carried it out  to me on the day I moved away from her, from my hometown....tears streaming down. Even now, the memory hurts because the years have flown by way too fast. I hold it to my chest, I hug it like I am holding her too.

I see my words, and hers on the front flap. Co-mingled together......Our thoughts of God married together on those pages.

My breathing slows and I meditate on the Lord and how He heals us, draws us together.

I whisper His language.....the one He gave to me, and in between the silent pauses where Heaven and earth connect......We connect, and He tells me again, that it will be okay.

Isn't it wonderful to know that by thanking Him, we honor Him? And not only that, thanking Him does something supernatural to our heart and soul. It sifts out all the worry and fear and stress, replaces it with joy and peace. It reminds us that God is still and always in control.


A good appointment at the Doctor for Elaine and her Mom, he saw the situation as it really was, and took time with them. It was like an SOS call that was answered.

First week at new building at work and it wasn't as stressful as I thought it would be.

Good weather holding out......knowing that soon it will be too hot to go outside for very long.

Good memories made from the trip to California.

School time again for those parents and caregivers who need a break.

New Easter flag flying, bright against the sky.

As we get ready to celebrate the week of Passion once again, we know that really, each sunrise we celebrate Easter all over again.

Found rings, which I looked all over for in a panic yesterday, they turned up in the back pocket of my jeans which I had look through three times already!

Pictures that turn out, most of the time by accident and the fact that I have a really good camera.

Lunch after church......always a special time of the week.

Friday, March 23, 2012

What is scattered in me....

Is someone among you in trouble? He should pray. Is someone feeling good? He should sing songs of praise. James 5:13

Let all who take refuge in you be glad. Let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, Oh Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround then with favor as a shield. Psalm 5: 11,12

"In all things that I contemplate as I am consulting you, I find no secure place for my soul except in you. And in you, I pray that what is scattered in me may be brought together, so that no part of me may be apart from you.

Sometimes when you are working within me, bringing my scattered self to you, you draw me into a state of feeling that is unlike anything I am used to, a kind of sweet delight. I know that if this spiritual state were made permanent in me it would be something not of this world, not of this life...." St. Augustine, confessions 10

I started to write something below this quote but realized it is perfect just the way it is........No addition needed. Also, my dear Mom turns 83 today. I am so glad she was born, and not just because she had me! She is a miracle all by herself. I love you Mom!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We all need healing

"Our own experience with loneliness, depression, and fear can become a gift for others, especially when we have received good care. As long as our wounds are open and bleeding, we scare others away. But after someone has carefully tended to our wounds, they no longer frighten us or others.

When we experience the healing presence of another person, we can discover our own gifts of healing. Then our wounds allow us to enter into a deep solidarity with our wounded brothers and sisters."

Henri Nouwen, the Wounded Healer

We all need healing from something, that is the truth. This life makes its marks. And we are all at different mile markers in our healing journey. Here's the miracle part. That at just the point when we think we can no longer hold on, someone a little further down the path, or one who is presently not in need of healing speaks hope.

Someone listens........Someone says they understand, and you know they really do.

One of the ladies in my Mom's Bible study, when they finished going around the table with all their prayer concerns, (and they were many) said, "the word for the day is Nevertheless."

I like that.......Nevertheless......we have Jesus. Nevertheless.......we are more than conquerors......Nevertheless.......we exult in hope and joy unspeakable and full of glory......Nevertheless......He gives us peace that passes understanding.

The One who heals us, knows how it feels to be in need of healing Himself.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Monday, March 19, 2012

When our landscape shifts

He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19

So hard to leave this place of peace.....As we left the cafe after breakfast this morning I said, "What if we just didn't go jobs here, lived in an RV." Suddenly it sounded like the best idea in the world. But then, as soon as the dream took flight, reality set in as it always does.

Responsibility, Oh that. We are, each of us going back to shifting landscapes. Elaine's Mom has been very combative and she has to address the monumental situation back home. A hard decision will have to be made, and she knows it will be extremely painful.

And while I was away, drinking in the ocean, and cherished time with family and friends, I learned via Facebook that when I go back to work this Thursday, it will be in a brand new place. I was expecting it, just not quite yet. I fully expected to go back to my safe, old comfortable workplace home. So as I said goodbye to a places and people I love this week, I also had to mentally say goodbye to the familiar, the comfortable, the routine. But thankfully, I have a job.

Right now my brother has to decide on a forced early retirement. Whether to stay and risk losing more, or leave and keep what he has now. How can someone who already has so much be given the power to take away what others have worked so hard for?

While we are enjoying the last night on the road before returning home, we are stealing ourselves for what comes next. While our hearts are still on all those we just left, and on their own individual joys and hardships, we also hold the fresh bouquet of memories to cherish.

And the joy we shared this week was real. The conversations were meaningful and the laughter was deeply felt. And as always, there is much to be thankful for.

We leave our prayers behind.

And more go ahead.

God was with us and will be with us through it all......

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Redeeming the years

No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. Romans 8:37

We had the privilege to attend a miracle last evening.....the remarriage of Elaine's nephew Kaleb to his wife, Angela. For many years they were lost to the blackness of drugs and addiction.  Then they were lost to each other and everyone else. Possessed by something beyond their control.....and the kids caught in the middle, seeing things and hearing things they never should have.

And when you think of these two......on the streets, and then going their separate ways. All those days and nights spend praying and hoping against hope that they would make it out.....So many years lost, so many sleepless nights of worry and grief.......And not to mention all the anger, betrayal and broken trust.

When the story is bigger than everything, and there are no words left to say, the Grace of God fills in the spaces. That is where they are now.....and we are right there with them. There was love around them last night. From family old and new. It was important to tell them with our presence.....we are here to support you, and we aren't going away.

They landed in a mission.......they got clean......and sober.....she came back.....and now, they not only have their own family back, they are part of a bigger family now. God's family. The scars, while still visible inside and out, are healing. And they're all together. The biggest miracle of all.

In a story like this, with so much unbelievable heartache behind it, with words not being adequate to explain it all, the only thing you can say is that God is enough. God's grace pulled them and everyone else through. All the times when we held our breath and prayed. And yes, we did pray that the salvation would "stick."

And it has.

By God's Great and Wonderful Grace, He is redeeming the lost years.

Our prayers were heard. And they still need them so much.

Living miracles, each and every one.......and really, when it comes right down to it.

Aren't we all?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

It's Still Good.....

"Life Isn't fair, but it's still good." Regina Brett, The Plain Dealer

 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

For some wonderful rules to live by, please click on the link under the photo. Regina Brett says it was one of her most requested and popular columns, and I can see why. I had heard some of these quotes before, but I had no idea who to attribute them to, I am glad I do now. There is wonderful wisdom here.....

Well, it is the end of a difficult week. For those who may not have read some of my posts from last year, my roommate, (and best friend in the world) Elaine, is navigating the tumultuous waters of Alzheimer's with her Mom, who moved in with us last year. It was a big adjustment for everyone. First of all we had to figure out how to expand two bedrooms into three. Luckily we had walled in the patio when we moved in, due to a cat that came along with us when we moved. That was a God thing. He was looking ahead even when we weren't.

And there were the little things we had to learn along the way. Signs on the microwave, TV remote and refrigerator. (which had to be replaced recently because the door was repeatedly left open) Reminders to that effect were met with an indifferent shrug of the shoulders......God has been serving us some humble pie. You see, Elaine and I were used to a tidy house, and when it was clean, it stayed clean for awhile. Even the cats are that way. Things left out of place are looked at with suspicion and given a wide berth. Now we follow the trail of potato chip grease everywhere she's walked. And no showers for weeks leads to smells this house has never held. And every suggestion of a bath or shower is met with hostility. Sometimes you have to pick your battles.

Living with Alzheimer's is like living on an emotional roller coaster. You never really know what each day will bring, so you have to be ready for anything. One day she seems almost normal and cognizant. Other days, she sits and cries but won't talk about why. And then there is the irrational anger that comes from nowhere. It is a tough job. And Elaine has had to let her career go, for now anyway. As she says, "Her Mom is her full time job now." And what a job she is......and not only does she have her Mom, her Dad is in a resthome with dementia.

And so many times the one who is care taking gets the brunt of all the hostility. It's a strange phenomenon I have seen again and again. Her Mom is a marvelous actress when other people are around, the picture of politeness, she is enough "with it" to not say much.....But alone with her daughter she becomes downright nasty and contentious. I have seen this change when she thinks I am not watching.

Night before last it got really ugly.......She has been coming out at night asking where her checkbook is, where her debit card is. She hasn't been capable of doing her own finances for 3 years. And then the other night she awakened Elaine out of a sound sleep.....yelling for her to wake up. This brought back memories from when they were kids. Their Mom never woke them up gently, always with yelling or shoving. I must have awakened after the 5th or 6th yell.

The anger was palpable. It echoed off the walls. Elaine was blindsided by it. Her Mom was literally shrieking, irrational, her face contorted, daggers flashing out of her eyes. And when she said, "I would be better off in the street"? That hurt most of all. At that moment, the knife plunged deep. Say all you want that it is the disease doubt.

When every kind and good thing you have done is thrown back in your face, it smarts. Takes days to recover.

And the next morning she didn't remember a thing. Total amnesia.

Later, as we talked about it though, a light dawned. Elaine remembered the reason her Mom was taken off the (unnamed Alzheimer's drug) the last time. It was due to the terrible mood swings. Recently the Dr.had suggested that her Mom go back on it. It usually takes about 30 days for it to take effect, and it had been just about that long.

Hallelujah, thanks be to God. I am happy to say, her Mom is back off the drugs and so far, no more terrible outbursts. I say, what good is a medication that clarifies the mind, when it causes something worse. In my opinion, it prolongs the inevitable. A disclaimer here, I am not in the medical profession, but I think this was a very wise decision. Only time will tell.

In the meantime. We are heading to the coast for a week for a much needed break. I will see my family and she will see her brother and nephews and their families.......It will be very good.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Free indeed

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. Revelation 12:2

Hey everyone! Some changes were made to my blog. I removed the word verification (I think) If it is still there please let me know. I am also using a different font style that should make reading easier! Though I liked the look of the font, I admit it was hard for me to read my own thoughts sometimes. Then I got a comment that spurred me into action. I really appreciated that, so let me know what you think. It's all about getting the Word out there and if this makes it any easier, then all the better. I am a procrastinator by nature so this was good for me.....otherwise I would have kept squinting at my own posts for awhile longer......So thank you Beth for the timely suggestion.

This morning was my Monday and I had a hard time getting up. I had one of those tossing and turning nights. Satan was working overtime reminding me of everything I have ever done wrong in life, everything I needed to do better, and every way that I failed God, and everyone else under the sun.

Why does everything get so out of proportion at night? Worries get bigger, fears threaten to jump out from dark corners, failures are bigger than life.

There is a reason Satan goes by "the accuser." It's one of the things he does best. It's one of his oldest tricks. But sometimes we have to remind him, that he simply has no more power over us.

As I dragged myself out to my car at 5:10 this morning, I put on my Bible CD and this is what I heard:

"Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. Colossians 1: 21-23

Hallelujah, Amen......I have nothing more to add today.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Prayer for lost lambs

There was a certain man with two sons......
Oh, the agony of that first line......because we know the story.

I have always said I can't imagine how someone deals with having a child who is missing. It's the not knowing that kills you. Though I don't have children, I do know how it feels to love someone and have them lost to you. I can only imagine that it is like having your whole heart missing. A piece of you....gone. Not to rest until that missing piece is back in place. Safe. Even if they were there, miserable, head phones permanently attached, slumped over and scowling at the table, that would be better.
Some dear friends are on my heart today, and in my prayers. They have a son that has been missing for over a week. They don't know whether he is hurting himself or maybe someone else. It's the not knowing that is torture. But I do know this, God knows where he is. He has you, and he has your lost lamb too. The hardest part of the story of the Prodigal son is the missing part. The heartache part. A father sitting in the window day after day, having to go about his work with a piece of himself out there somewhere.
And it must have been hard for the other son too, the faithful son. He was on the same heartache journey as the father, just in a different way. And all the time, as a parent you ask yourself the hard questions, how much is too much to give? And when does giving become enabling?  And possibly the worst one of all, what's it going to take for them to come to their senses? Just how deep do they have to sink before they hit bottom? 

"He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. Luke 15:16-19
God had to live that hard lesson when Jesus was on the cross. That day when the clouds darkened the sun, the sin of the whole world removed the Son from the Father. In that terrible moment, God knew what it was like to have a missing child. He understands your heartache and He is with you in it. He has your lost one in the palm of His hand.
God cares about lost coins, and lost lambs......and lost sons and daughters. But like this hide and seek moon, though they are veiled from your sight for awhile, they are not lost, God has them.....and you.

My prayers are with you today, my dear friends.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Teachable Moments

Peace in my heart, peace in my home, peace in my world.

Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14

We gathered yesterday for lunch with two friends, believers, and ended up sitting around that table until late afternoon. We talked of earthly problems and heavenly things. We all agreed that life was tough and a struggle. I think the consensus was that if it weren't for the purpose we all have here, our loved ones, we would be ready to leave this world for looking back.

When we gather with believers, we bring a bit of Heaven down to earth, if only for a moment. We were saying how every now and then there is a peace we feel. Thoughts settle like floating manna and for just a moment all is right, all will be right, and all is well, at least in our world.

We talked of teachable of which was explaining death to children. David had had a close call last year and it had to be addressed, unexpectedly to the Grand kids. One of them, the little girl was very excited that her Grandpa would be with Jesus. How many teachable moments are there is a parent's life, and they miss it because too much life is pressing in? But that one moment may make the difference for all eternity.

Might save much heartache down the road.

That led me to start thinking about my own "teachable moments." I wondered just how many times in my life has God probably been trying to teach me something and I missed the opportunity. I don't even want to go there.

But now that He has opened my eyes to it, maybe I can be soft enough to get that lesson He has for me. I am thankful today, as I begin to list again my blessings.

I am reminded of my WORD for 2012, which is peace. I am like that stop sign, I "ain't gonna stop" until I get it. I want to be a peacemaker in my own world this year. Instead of nursing hurt feelings I want to release them to the Lord. Instead of worrying my days away, I want to cultivate trust in my Savior.

Peace in my heart, Peace in my home, Peace in my world......


Lying awake at the tide of thoughts rushing in this morning, I was thankful that I didn't have to get up in the dark and go to work.

Squeaky floors that say I am home, and so are you

Fellowship with friends around a table once again

Cooing doves that accompany my prayers

The silly woodpecker that insists the satelite dish is a tree

Geese flying overhead

Thankful, so thankful for the sounds I hear

A new Easter flag, flying purple and yellow and pink against the sky

Bones that ache and remind me that I can walk and move

Knowing the King of Peace has me


Friday, March 2, 2012

The enjoyment of being found.....

Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; Philippians 3:8,9

I found you! I said as I chased her around the tree and she shrieked for joy......I was playing with my niece when I was back home last. Her new game is hide and seek and she loves being found! She hasn't quite gotten the hang of tag yet. When she talks on the phone, she walks around the house and thinks I can see what she's holding up, maybe that's because she Skypes with her Mommy and sissy......And she doesn't like saying goodbye......we have that in common. She comes with the joy that is unique to special needs kids.

She is like anyone else, she loves being found, and belonging to someone. Isn't that what we all want after all? We want to feel that feeling of seeing the one we love winding their way through a crowd to meet us, just us. And then the scrape of the chair when they pull it next to you.....they are there, you are no longer alone, someone has claimed you. They know things about you that no one else does....

Sometimes we even seek to be claimed by those who really don't have our best interests at heart, but their own.

When Jesus claims us, we can be sure that He has our best interests at heart always. And He will never lead us down a path of destruction, but life, and peace. And because of our relationship with Him, we are also claimed by the Father and the Spirit!

Jesus endured that long, lonely 40 days of temptation in the desert so that we will never have to be without Him again....and those of us who live in the desert know just how bleak it can be, especially in the summer.......He endured the cross so that we can say with the unbridled joy of a child peeking out from behind a tree....."You found me!"

He rose from that awful death so that one evening not so far in the distant future, in a another place, we will be walking in the cool of the evening in a place we can can only dimly imagine, and He will be there to meet us and say, "There you are, I have been looking for you, just you."

And that time, we won't be hiding behind fig leaves........

Thursday, March 1, 2012

I once was lost.....

“My people have been lost sheep.
Their shepherds have led them astray;
They have turned them away on the mountains.
They have gone from mountain to hill;
They have forgotten their resting place. Jeremiah 50:6

Ever feel lost? I had a lost day yesterday. I felt misplaced at my workplace. All this restructuring, tearing down walls, closing off areas, all in the name of reorganization. And it does look nice, very nice. I'd say it was a vast improvement, except I couldn't find anyone. Nobody sits where they did before. They are reshuffling us all. Soon we will be moving next door to a new building. This place where I have been for about 5 years new will probably be used for storage.....And the other day I came in and the landscapers had been here in our back patio. They removed many shrubs and moved our poor Intel cat's food and sleeping igloo so it was right out in the open. She was nowhere to be found.

I know how she feels.......I was wandering around looking for our admin yesterday too. I finally found her at the very end of the day. And Steve, my faithful good soul of a buddy, who takes care of the poor adandoned cats people dump in our parking lot, has also moved next door. I found him on the phone, it was good to hear a familiar voice.

In this life, it's easy to feel lost sometimes. Let's face it, we are foreigners here. It's like someone has shifted all the pieces of the puzzle and we have to figure out where we belong again. But then, my Father reminds me just where I belong. My place is forever secure, safely resting in Him. I know where I belong....but sometimes He has to remind me. He knows what a scary place this is.......

And what a comfort it is when He does remind me.

When everything around you looks or feels unfamiliar, remember where you belong. Settle back into His loving arms, and know that....

He will never let you go.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Deuteronomy 31:6

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