Thursday, May 31, 2012

Phone Phobia

Me and phones.

I put off calling people, even people I really want to talk to. I don't know why, I guess because when I analyze it, I automatically assume you are doing something important and I would be an interruption. I don't know where that comes from, I guess a bit of shyness that has always been part of my character. Leftover from long ago.........That, and I can't see what you are doing. My imagination works overtime. I think how busy you are and the phone ringing would be taking you away from all that. And I can imagine you might think to yourself, "Oh, it's her."

My Mom had a brand new friend that she called out of the blue for the first time and the friend said, "What do you want?"  I would have been mortified. Of course, she was joking and they had a good laugh. And my Mom has a very healthy self-image and was unfazed. Now when I call Mom, often she starts the conversation with that same line and we both laugh.

But I want you to know, that if I don't call you, it's not because I don't want to talk to you, or that I am not thinking of you. I do, and I am. And if you called I would be very happy no matter what I was doing. Unless you were trying to sell me something.

I guess that's why I love texting. I never used to all. Actually, I didn't know how, and also, I didn't have an IPhone. I love texting, I don't have to worry about interrupting anything. If you text back, that means you want to talk. That opens the door for me to respond back.

But it's never the same. Hearing your voice is so much better. Especially when I can hear you smile over the phone. I picture your face and imagine where you are calling from.....maybe I see your room or kitchen and picture you in it, and that makes me smile.

Really, phone calls across the miles are magic. Sometimes when I get a special phone call, I remember right where I was standing when I got it.

Don't ever worry about calling me, whatever I am doing or whatever time it is. It means you want to talk to me, and that means everything.

I will try my best despite my phone phobia, to do the same for you.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

What makes us forget our passion?

 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Revelations 2:4

It was sitting where I left it, on the floor by the chest of drawers in my bedroom. My camera, the one I was so proud and happy to splurge on. The one that has captivated me and made me forget everything.....made me think that maybe I had a spark of talent for this........

But then it happens. I get discouraged. Thoughts come that I know aren't right. I go on other sites and sabatoge myself. I think how much better the professionals are, the real photographers. I see how much they can do, and I want to be able to do it too. But that voice whispers thoughts, warped ones. And I listen. Sometimes.

Don't we all from time to time? Life wears us down and we forget our passion, our first love. That one thing we could always do that made us forget everything else. Or that one special person who could always make us smile, feel fully alive. My brother used to do wonderful woodwork. He could make wood as smooth as glass.......he had the patience for it. Since the divorce, he hasn't built a thing and it makes me so sad.  

The voice of despondency, and discouragement whispers that it can never be revived again, that it's not possible. But that voice would be wrong. God can bring new life into anything. Marriages, talents, old friendships long gone, that thing you used to do that brought such passion, such life.

And Jesus said to him, "'If You can?' All things are possible to him who believes."

One thing I know to be true. If you have joy and passion for something, that is a gift from God. And by doing that thing you are honoring Him. Don't give up, don't listen to the negative voices that bring death. Choose life.

Pick up that paintbrush, that saw, that drill, that pen......that microphone......that hammer. 

That camera. And do it to the glory of God just for the love of it.  He will absolutely bless it. And He will make you better than you ever thought possible. And you know what, no one can do that thing exactly the way you do it anyway. You bring your own special beauty to it in a way no one else can.

This morning, I listened to my own preaching. I lifted my camera out of the case and apologized to it and to God.

And in the early morning, I sat and clicked. I captured Daddy quail along the wall, and then saw Mom with three chicks. Then the woodpecker came into view, banging on the satelite dish as always.......and then the pigeons got into the act because I had just put out bread.....

By the time I left them to their bread and their bath......I was alive again.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Everyday Miracles

By your words I can see where I'm going, they throw a beam of light on my dark path. I've committed myself and I'll never turn back from living by your righteous order. Everything's falling apart on me, God, put me together again with your Word.......Psalm 119:105-107 The Message

I went out to pray at first coffee and communion, I call it. My favorite part of the day. But I felt somewhat flat, like someone blew out my insides with a straw. But I was okay with that. I have learned not to trust how I feel so much, but to trust God instead. So I waited in the quiet.

Sometimes, in order to get the miracle, you have to go through the obedience part first. It's kind of like exercise really. I know the more I think about it, the less likely I will do it. But I have an expectation that when I go out, put on the shoes, turn up my Ipod, start walking, I will feel better.

So, still feeling a bit hollow, I did just that. I cranked up the music and felt the air push through my lungs. My feet picked up the pace, hearing the words Casting Crowns were singing....."Jesus can you show me just how far the east is from the west, cause I can't bear to see the man I've been, keep rising up in me the arms of your mercy I find rest.

And I thought of miracles, and how God has been with me through it all, been with my family, my friends. I can talk of miracles, all right.....and big ones. Like when my Dad was in a prayer meeting and the Holy Spirit wouldn't let him rest until he went home, and that's when the phone rang and he got the terrible awful news......

And another time, when my Mom and Dad were in prayer for my sister-in-law who was dying of cancer, praying on their knees in the bedroom, when a snow white dove came to rest on the window sill and it never left, the whole time they were praying. They never saw it again. And she has been with Jesus 14 years now.

And as I pick up my pace even more. I feel it. The pumping into my heart, my soul. The Spirit leaping joy within me as I hear Chris Tomlin sing about how water was turned into wine and He opened the eyes of the blind. And right then, He was opening my eyes too. Faster, and faster I walked, and now ran a bit too.

Our God is greater our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other......There's no one like You......None like You.

The daily miracle is this, that every day He opens our blind eyes.

The Spirit was bursting joy inside me now.

And then Francesca Battistelli sang......Savior I come, quiet my soul.....remember. Your blood was spilled for my ransom, everything I once held dear, I count it all as loss....Lead me to the Cross where your love poured out. This is it. The everyday miracle that is ours as believers.

I looked up to see a dove with a branch in her mouth and I thought of Noah, waiting for land. This is our inheritance, our history. This right to expect from God is ours every day and that is a miracle in itself!

By the time my walk was over, I didn't want it to end, so I walked a bit further and thought again of my former Pastor and what he used to say. It's Jesus plus nothing.

Jesus plus nothing. That is the pure and simple truth. He is everything and in all and through all. I listened as the next song came on. Don't know how it is you looked at me, and saw the person that I could be.....awakening my heart, breaking through the dark, suddenly Your grace......

Like sunlight burning at midnight, making my life something so beautiful beautiful, mercy reaching to save me.....And as I finished my walk, run.....I was filled to the brim in the knowledge that Jesus is indeed, everything.

He is my Lord, my God, my husband, me being part of the church, my savior, my friend, my all in all. Everything starts and ends with Him.

And it's all an everyday miracle. Please join me and some special friends, Ann and Duane on their sites to celebrate our faith and count His blessings on a Monday.

Walking and praying with God in the morning, a new job opportunity for Elaine's nephew and family, being revived in the Spirit, a new garden springing to life, fresh tomatoes on the counter, communion with the Saints yesterday, the joy of seeing life spring from Your word, staying sane, (just barely) dealing someone on a daily basis with a mental illness, projects that keep hands busy and mind neutral, a few days off after a tough week, and last but not least.

I am thankful today for those who continue to risk their lives for our Freedoms which we hold so dear. Keep them safe in Your hands, Lord. #911-921

Songs I listened to today:

Francesca Battistelli: Lead me to the cross, Beautiful Beautiful
Casting Crowns: East to West
Chris Tomlin: Our God
Matt Redman: You Never Let Go

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Joy in the Morning

Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Your righteousness is like the great mountains;
Your judgments are a great deep;

O Lord, You preserve man and beast.
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!

Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.

For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.

Psalm 36:5-9

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The cake tells the story

After years of vain familiarity, some distant gesture or unconscious behavior, which we remember, speaks to us with more emphasis than the wisest or kindest words. We are sometimes made aware of a kindness long passed, and realize that there have been times when our Friends’ thoughts of us were of so pure and lofty a character that they passed over us like the winds of heaven unnoticed; when they treated us not as what we were, but as what we aspired to be. Henry David Thoreau

I am so thankful today that I have such a friend, and today I celebrate her life, her Birthday. There are so many things I would like to give her, so much she deserves. If I could I would give her a trip to Paris and a dinner under the twinkling lights of the Eiffel tower. And a full moon smiling.......And then I would whisper a prayer to God to have the stars do a little dance. Cause sometimes, as she so often says, sometimes you just gotta give it a little dance.

Or I would buy her an East Coast cruise to tour every single lighthouse.

What I would most like to give her right now is freedom, which she doesn't have. Freedom to get in the car and go somewhere, anywhere, overnight. She is doing what she has to do right now, even though it is incredibly difficult. She is living what Ann Voskamp so aptly describes as the Hard Hallelujah. Where faith meets reality.

I know that every day she meets Jesus, because she can't do it without Him. Even with Him it's tough. This cake tells the story of her life as it is right now. Her Mom asked what the cake was for, and then for the umpteenth time, she asked her whose Birthday it was. Really, that was partially my fault. I put up the Birthday banner way too early. You learn not to do that with Alzheimer's.

Her Mom stayed in the kitchen and Elaine figured out why soon after when she came out with a piece of cake and said, "That is good cake." At least she said it was good.

Months ago I had put in for this day off, her Birthday, so we could hang out like we usually do on her special day. Then there was a scheduling conflict with someone else and they would have had to come home from out of state early. She said, go ahead and let him have the day. That is just how she is. That's why I love her so.

I don't like to imagine my life without her joy, her laughter, her unique brand of sunshine. She loves God and He loves her. She is God's kid through and through. You can tell by what she does.

It's in the way she loves people. It's in all the little things she does when nobody except God is watching. She is the one who sees the baby carrier in the beat up car and finds the weary parent and slips them a twenty. She's the one who pays for the Sonic order behind her. She's the one who hand delivers bowls of cut up watermelon for the neighbors.

And every time she makes ice-cream cones, she makes three more to take next door.

She's God's kid. She notices when people need help, need to talk, need a listener. And she gets busy and does something about it. Not a dispassionate noticer, not her.

She's my best friend in the world and I wish everyone could have the pleasure of knowing her. She is truly, the friend everyone would like to have.

I know she will be embarrassed by this, but after all, best friends are for shining the spotlight on each other. She has been shining the light on me now for 23 years, and I thank God for her everyday. Her life is a blessing.

Happy Birthday Elaine!

Friday, May 25, 2012

A Roomful of Royalty

“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:18-20

As my feet hurriedly slapped down the stairs after work last night I was thinking about where to go. I had destinations in mind. Birthday business. Tomorrow is the Birthday of my very best friend, and as all best friends, I wish I could give her the moon. I know how tough this past year has been for her. There are so many things I wish I could do for her, so many things I wish I could give her......And she would deserve every one.

I thought.......She deserves a roomful of Royalty. A party to end all parties, a true celebration of her. Then I remembered that there will be a very special guest indeed. He is already making plans to attend. How could I have forgotten?.......Oh, Lord. I never want to forget you, please forgive me. The Holy Spirit, ever a gentleman, stands back and waits until I remember that He is the highest court in the land. Who else do we need?

It's gonna be quite a party indeed.

Invite Him today, into whatever you are doing. He is there in the midst of it, my friend. He is the third person at your table for three, you business meeting, your commute, your life.......

Thank you Lord, for everyday with you is a celebration.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How Patient Am I?

One line of a book made me think......."She hung up the phone." I instantly thought of the old rotary dial phones I grew up with. I instantly remembered the way it sounded to actually hang up a phone. We don't really hang up anymore. There's no real finality to it. When you don't hear that "clunk." Used to, when you hung up, you hung up. But now, the hang up may be followed by a text....."Nice talking to you....Oh, forgot to tell you....." We are totally and completely connected. And then there's Facebook and Twitter. Pinterest.

Earlier today I went visiting over at Debbie's place and she challenged me with a question: "Just how patient am  I?" I think, not very. People have told me I am very patient, and I am sometimes, depending on the situation. But lately I am surprised at just how quickly the anger can flare up when the clothing I am trying to get off the hanger wont come off. Or when I am trying to find a parking place at work and someone beats me to it.

I text while in line at the store......Not a minute to be wasted. Or I take out my phone and get caught up on Words with Friends. I wonder......I remember, how would I feel now if I had to wait for that rotary dial to finish dialing that number. I hear it in my mind, and sometimes I wish I could hear it again. I remember my Grandmother's dial was literally worn down she used it so much. She would have loved texting.

The hang up. The pause. The reflecting on the call that just finished. It seems there are fewer and fewer pauses anymore. That's why I think it's important we set out to create them in our lives.

That was the whole idea of doing my blog. Creating a quiet place of rest, carving out some time to meet with God.......getting out of the fast lane of life for just awhile. We need it more and more. I am thinking that our whole society, while dedicated to saving time, actually makes us savor time less.

I think we need more pauses. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Morning Prayer

But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open  and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55,56

From my prayer journal:

Lord, how I love my time with you. Sometimes I sit out here and I feel only myself, all my thoughts, rattling around in my head in knots of confusion. My fears jangling, the world's emptiness weighing down my soul. Its hard to see you then, but I know it's all okay. I know you're still there. It's the trust you need to build in me, and the trust I need to see in myself.

And without those times of trust and patient waiting, despite how I feel........the sweetness of this fellowship wouldn't be nearly as sweet, the joy not as complete. What a reward when you meet me!

How I love to sit at your feet and dream of how it's going to be that day when finally we meet face to face. It occurs to me that maybe this enjoyment, this sweetness is all an allusion. Maybe I just don't know any better---like if I realized just how Holy you really were, are.....I could never be here like this. Then I remember what you did to make this all possible.

I remember the cross.

And I imagine what Stephen saw when He saw the Heaven opened as he was being stoned to death. Or rather, stoned to life. I think of the joy I'll feel when I look at you. My first response will be to fall at your feet in reverence, even fear. Overwhelmed by your Presence......your beauty.

Then I will hear that voice of many waters. The one I have imagined ever since I met you. I will hear the love pouring out, unbelievable love for me. And what wonder, what unbelievable rapture when I lift my head expecting judgment, yet seeing more love in your eyes that I ever knew was possible.

"The one thing I ask of the LORD--the thing I seek most--is to live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, delighting in the LORD's perfections and meditating in his Temple." Psalm 27:4

Monday, May 21, 2012

Multitudes on Monday

The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. Isaiah 58:11

This morning I slept in until 7. I must have needed it. It has been a touch two weeks......And it's amazing what I can do with an extra hour. I pray and collect my thoughts, read some verses, reflect on the day before and hope that something wonderful and inspirational flows out through the keyboard despite me.

It is important to create a space of quiet before the clatter of the day........before everything starts. But today I slept away that extra hour. Now I have a cat that is resting on my arm as I type. He is usually settled at the foot of my bed by now. Right before he came in, he rushed in through the cat door meowing loudly....that was my signal to check the catboxes. Elaine had just cleaned them 5 minutes before. I stepped out to poop on the rug. I cleaned that up and settled once again in front of the keyboard.
Then Elaine's Mom got up. She got her first halfcup of coffee. She has a routine. It goes something like this. She pours a cup (which is already warm) she scalds it in microwave then has to cool it down. I hear tap go on and half of the cup goes down the sink. She pours more coffee in because now it is not hot enough.
Peace be still.......The irritation that rises up is tempered by His grace. I feel it like a cloak that wraps around me. That is a big reason to give thanks.
This whole routine is repeated sometimes 2-3 times.
I hear the cat again out in the kitty box room. I go out and he has pooped on the rug again, he must have got inturrupted the first time, because he is still out there. That's when I startle him and he kicks poop over the threshold. I clean it up for the second time. You have to understand, this is my cat's only fault, he is perfect other than that. I love him dearly so it doesn't bother me to clean it up.
I don't remember where I was going with this post, but I do remember that it is Monday and that is a day to count my thanks. And I am thankful, because despite everything going on around me, there is a peace. I can still hear the praise of the church body from yesterday.........I still feel it, He is near. The peace that passes all understanding. Once again, I experience the miraculous power that is an everyday part of a believer's life.
Peace be still. So I count my blessings that continue to flow........A Mom and Dad that love what I do, and tell me so. A God who loves us and brings us through......friends who support with their prayers.......One more summer out of this air-conditioner, already it is past due being replaced......Little big moments of laughter in the midst of craziness.......Sanity despite insane circumstances......A best friend to worship with, pray with, share life with.......Fresh tomatoes starting to produce, and okra and watermelon reaching for the sky.......Godly teaching from a Pastor who is not afraid to preach right out of the Bible......#900-910

And another stopping place for today, please join Duane Scott as he unwraps the promises of God......Please join me, joining him there as well......You will be blessed, I promise!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Casting our care......

..........casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

You're hurt and still reeling from the pain of it......all you want to do is go away. Like an animal that is scared or sick, you want to find a dark quiet place and go there. The pain of it is so great you don't even want to talk about it. You didn't expect it, and especially from them. You reached out your hand for help and drew back a bloody stump.

I don't know much but I do know that when your heart is aching that much, there is only One who can heal it. When you don't want to talk to anyone else because it just hurts too much to repeat it, you can tell it to Him. He understands. One of the saddest verses in the Bible is also the most comforting to me. It is part of Isaiah's prophecy concerning Jesus:

......He was despised and rejected--a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Isaiah 53:3

He felt that bitter ache......He identifies fully with us in that way. His own best friends deserted Him when He needed them the most. We all did. When the ones you love the most turn their backs on you, and that you don't even know what to do with the hurt, give it to Jesus. You can trust Him with it. He is waiting with open arms.

Let Him place His healing hands over your heart today. Even our best friends can't do that, as much as they might want to.

But He can, and He will.

He loves you dear one.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Could it possibly be?

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is a reason they call it "THE CHANGE." As in, not a change, but the change. The mother of all changes. No I don't think I can write about this, it is too painful. I have been on the other side of the change all my life. So far, I have dipped my toes in that river that takes me to the other side, and I don't much like how it feels.

It comes with certain symptoms that I remember seeing in my older female relatives. I am ashamed to say that I snickered when they suddenly bolted from the table, looking like might implode from the inside out. I am sure of one thing, I am much too young for this despite what I read on the Web MD. And if I hadn't read the symptoms? I would probably just have gone on denying it.

To make it worse, when I read some of these off to my very supportive best friend, she said, "That's nothing new, you've been that way ever since I've known you..." Ouch.

Usually once a night, sometimes more, I wake up and run for the freezer for my little handy ice wrap thingy. The other night I stumbled out there, the cats blearily looking at me, (they know by now that this is normal, and not time for food yet.)

I velcroed the wonderful coolness around my neck and feeling the chill,  fell back asleep. I really don't remember putting it on so tight, but I was really really hot. When I awoke awhile later it had lost it's coolness and felt like a warm boa constrictor. That set off a panic attack. I turned instantly clautrophobic and when I finally wrestled it off I had to laugh in spite of myself. What must I have looked like?

It was a tough night.

I just want to know why they call it Menopause, do Men go through the change too? Not that that is what is happening to me mind you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Alzheimer's Institute

I accompanied Elaine to the Alzheimer's Institute yesterday with her Mom.We entered through a shady entry with the biggest ficus trees I have ever seen. It was eerily quiet. We were 30 minutes early. You always have to start out early going anywhere in Phoenix, you never know what you might run into on the freeway.

The doors opened and we were ushered into the land of Nod. There was one man there, a very nice man who turned on the lights for us. He even brought us coffee. Elaine's Mom, ever grateful and right on cue said, "This is the worst coffee I have ever tasted...." Said me, "I thought it was pretty nice of him to bring it to us."

I have to say, it was a pretty impressive setup. They even had a library full of books and resources and computers you could use. Of course I was drawn to that.

Sitting there, we watched the staff start to trickle in. When you are with Joyce you can't be surprised at what might come out of her mouth. One skinny but well dressed woman breezed through in a flowing dress and tennis shoes. She must walk to work. Said Joyce, out loud....."That woman has some big feet." I don't think the woman heard her. Elaine always says, "Someday she is going to get me killed."

We all traipsed back when the Doctor called us out to go through the results of the question and answer session. I listened as he went through his routine. Not much was surprising or new. He was youngish, and very nice looking and had a kindly manner.

My mind was running a ticker tape of answers as he addressed them both. Inside I was shouting.

Doctor: How is the depression?

What does she have to be depressed about, she has two people waiting on her hand and foot. She has the life of a Diva right now. What about the caregiver? She is emotionally bankrupt and overdrawn?? What about our depression?

Doctor: Her weight seems good.

Of course her weight is good. Her daughter makes two and sometimes 4 meals a day for her, why wouldn't her weight be good.

Doctor: So there plenty of family and resources around to help out? Joyce said something to the affirmative. I wanted to laugh out loud.....

No, Doctor, you are looking at the one and only resource here. And she's running on empty.

I finally had to speak up and make sure that Elaine as the sole caregiver would get some help. He assured us that someone would be in contact within two weeks. Okay, then.

All in all I would have to say it was a positive experience. It is geared to the patient and that is as it should be, however one thing I would change is that the caregiver should also be looked at as a patient. Statistics have proven that many times caregivers develop their own health issues and even die as a result of giving themselves over totally to the one they are caring for. I think they would do well to include some time alone with the Doctor so they can talk freely about their own needs.

In the meantime, I am working on memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. God has His work to do on me......

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,  but do not have love, I gain nothing.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Wonderful Sameness of God

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

From my prayer journal:

The wonderful "sameness" of God. It is quite a thing to contemplate. While the conversion experience itself may vary from person to person, but the end result is the same.......we are born anew, fused with a Holy God for eternity. At one point in our lives we had a crisis of soul. We had to answer the question once and for all. Am I going to walk God's way or my way? Once we are faced with the facts, we must do something with them.

We can read the words of St. Augustine from AD 386 as he reels under the weight of his soul struggle in a garden long ago, and it resonates with us because it happened to us too and it speaks to the wonderful sameness of our God. Where it actually happens doesn't matter, but what does matter is this........Once the Holy Spirit taps you on the shoulder, there is no doubt about who it is that is speaking to you.

Change is now so much a part of our daily life that we think of it as normal. At any given time at work I have to be ready to change, do something different, learn something new, or train someone else on what I already know. But I can count on one thing to not ever change......God.

He is the same yesterday, today and forever. And so are His standards. It's a wonderful thing to be able to count on.

Then you called me and cried to me and broke through my deafness! You sent forth your beam, the light of your magnificently beautiful presence. You shone your Self upon me to drive away my blindness. You breathed your fragrance upon me....and in astonishment I drew my I pant for you! I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst for you......You touched me, and I burn to live within your peace. Augustine, Confessions 10

Collecting thanks today with the body of believers everywhere........the wonderful sameness of our God, that He always hears the cries of the heart and is quick to morning breezes and being to still sit outside......small moments of peace that make it easier to go on.....being so thankful for being able to tell my Mom how grateful I am for her yesterday......watching little seedling reach for the sky......a fresh batch of library books, oh joy.......stories with happy endings.......being a listening ear for someone who needs it........the surprise rainstorm we got........the grace of being thankful when the road gets hard because God is worthy of it. #888-899

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Can we talk????

I heard a quote somewhere that said something like, "we view ourselves as our mothers see us".......I probably mangled the quote, and I really can't remember where I read it, but the meaning stuck with me. Could it actually be true? There is no stronger bond than that of the parent and child, or more complex. If that is true, then the bond between Moms and Daughters is even more complicated.

For every daughter who has a mom worthy of the glowing phrases found in a Hallmark card, I am sure there are 4 or 5 that don't. I am very blessed and grateful that it has always been easy for me to celebrate Mom's day. My mom has made it so. She was there emotionally and physically for me, always.....she still is, I am happy to say.

Some daughters spend their whole lives trying to "get over" their mother. And some spend all their lives trying to please a mother who will not be pleased; who remains as emotionally and physically available as a brick wall. My best friend comes to mind immediately. Sometimes, as she says, "I thank her for doing the best she could at the time, and for giving me life." I don't know that I could be as gracious as she is.

My Mom always hated Mother's Day. Finding a card was always difficult. My Grandmother was emotionally distant and critical of her daughters and yet displayed open affection for her son. In her defense, she lost a precious little girl to a shooting accident when she was only four. I often wonder if she just couldn't allow herself to show affection for my Mom and Aunts because of her guilt about Annie.

Some things she did do right. She created a warm atmosphere in their home in many ways. They always came home to meals and home baked pastries and a clean house. To her credit, she was very demonstrative in her love for me and my brother. I think mixed in with her love for me was pity, since I was born 3 months premature and was a small pale child. She was always trying to feed me.

Even great moms struggle with guilt......they think they haven't done enough. They see the mistakes they made instead of all the things they did right. My Mom told me on the phone yesterday, "It's hard for me to think of myself as a good Mom." I was floored.

As daughters we tend to remember that one barb that stuck, that one hurtful thing our Mom said that she may not have even been aware of saying, nevertheless we remember it.

Mother's Day for those of us without kids can be uncomfortable. An innocent question like, "What are you doing for Mother's Day" and all of a sudden I feel like I am on the other end of the Spanish Inquisition about why I don't have kids. Most of the time it's all in my head. They just asked a question, after all.

Just because I haven't had any doesn't mean I haven't mothered in some way shape or form. In fact, I feel very sure that within all women there resides a she-wolf  that would step in front of a truck to save even someone else's child. Its just a part of who we are.

There's a whole world of children out there who have benefited by someone who picked up where Mom left off. Someone who sacrificed without giving it a second thought. Auntie, Grandma, best friend, teacher......Imagine where some of those kids would be if no one had stepped up.

There was one moment in particular when I felt like I was briefly ushered in to the Mommy community. I was dropping my little niece Lauryn off at school when I noticed the booger hanging halfway out her cute little nose. Instantly I was mortified that she might be teased by her classmates, so I took my bare finger (cause that was all I had) and got it out for her. Then I understood that thing that comes alive in you as a parent. That thing that says, I will do whatever it takes to protect you.

So today I honor all Mothers in whatever capacity you serve. Because being a good Mom is the toughest job in the world and one of the most important assignments God will ever give you. You deserve more than just one day.....

"If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much." -- Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Thursday, May 10, 2012

One Little Word

"I was a stranger and you welcomed me......."

"That you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints......."

"The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all........"

"Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house......."

It was only a simple little sign that said, "Welcome." My Aunt had tacked it up close to the place we'd park so we would be sure to see it when we came in. To really see that sign for what it was, you would have to understand the million painful steps of grief and stress it took to get there. The welcome behind that little sign said it all.......It meant finding a place of peace for a few short days. It meant, I am glad to have you are wanted, appreciated. You are safe.

When you give someone a welcome, you have no way of knowing how great that impact will be. Or maybe you do. You never know what someone is facing, where they are on their journey or how far that journey has taken them. To someone, your welcome might mean that they can keep going on, that it's worth it....that they are worth it. And just maybe, our welcome is their last hope.

Welcome in our eyes, welcome with open arms, welcome with words of softness.

Being welcomed is like coming in out of the cold and led to a crackling fire and a steaming mug of something to wrap your hands around.

Being made to feel unwelcome is like being cast out into a raging storm. It can be the loneliest feeling in the world.

There is a world of people out there who are scarred and hurting from past rejection. They have learned not to trust, yet they really want to. And everytime we are kind, we are participants in healing over those old scars. And really, don't we all need some healing?

I will never forget the sting I felt when I was at a family gathering long ago. The mother couldn't remember my name and referred to me as "What's her name...." then they proceeded to go off to a different place and put their chairs in a circle. It was one of the strangest things I have ever experienced. I never want to make anyone feel like I felt that day.

And yet I know at times that I have.......God still has a lot of work to do on me.

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:40

Monday, May 7, 2012

Chasing God's Reflection

And the happy life is this: To rejoice in You. To rejoice for you. To rejoice because of you. I say it again: Life is joy in You, who are the truth, O my God, the light of my soul, health of my body!

Those who think there is a different way to find a happy life are pursuing something quite different from happiness--how sad that they do not even realize it. It is true they will find some reflection of joy. But they will not find the true thing, and in the end they will be sadly disappointed, as I once was. Augustine, Confessions 10

I was thinking of the truth and beauty of Augustine's words yesterday as I sat in the quiet. I was remembering Saturday night and how Elaine and I raced all over the golf course across the street looking for that perfect shot of the Big Moon......She was my human tripod. She calls herself my camera caddy. And she doesn't mind a bit......As darkness closed in she said, "Let's go and find the water so we can get a shot of the reflection."

A bit further, and we found it. I balanced the camera on her shoulder and she clicked away on her was magnificent, and yet, it wasn't the reflection itself that held us captive, it was what it was reflecting that continued to turn our eyes upward.

We can get so caught up in the reflection of God through all the wonderful things He has made that we can actually miss God Himself. Augustine was right. And yet, as Elaine pointed out, the fact that someone created all this times doesn't factor in to many folks pattern of thought. Their minds don't go there.

Why did I? Why did she? Why do any of us?

Therein lies the whole miracle of the conversion experience.......And how could I not be bursting with Gratitude each and every day. It humbles me to the point of silence.....

And He did it all for us, "See, what I made you......" Everything we see around us is a reflection of His love for us. His hope is that we will look just a bit further. To lift our eyes to Him so that we may not only know Him, but be One with Him through Jesus.....

My list continues........Big beautiful moons that take the breath away......a garden springing to life......still cool mornings for which I am oh so grateful......a great follow-up conversation with our girl Heather.....another week to worship with the fellowship of believers.......another great lunch after church.....watching Mama feed her baby bird while taking a break at work......answered prayers as I looked back on my journal of two years ago......another day off! #877-887

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Foolish Cross

Cross at Canaan in the Desert, Phoenix Arizona

 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,
“ I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for [p]signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,  but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

All of our technology and all of our human intellect has done nothing to improve the moral climate of this world. It seems the more educated we are, the worse we mess things up. Don't get me wrong, I am all for higher learning and education. But lets say we offer up the most brilliant thinkers of all time, even if we could combine them all into one person, we would only be left with one very intelligent person.

If in fact, there is such a thing as intellect and reason, and there is, it follows that there is a source behind it all that is infinitely and vastly superior.

What kind of language would that intelligent being have to use, to bridge the intellectual and moral chasm that lies between us?

Something almost too foolish for us to understand.

Something confounding, something almost too simple to be believed. Something preposterous.

Something like the cross.

Something that really messes with our intellectual pride. Picture a human being going to live in the ant world. And God would have to shrink Himself down much further than that......

He would have to make Himself look like Jesus did. Totally non-threatening. Gentle as a lamb, but with all the power of the universe at His disposal. Able to tell a raging storm to pipe down. Able to command death itself to go back where it came from and bring Lazarus out of the tomb alive.

And able to raise Himself from the dead, in order that we could be raised too.

God has proven that there is nothing He won't do to make Himself accessible to you.

He loves you that much.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Missing her......

I am missing her this morning....that's my post today. This coming week she will be going to the beach with "Papa's Mama" (my Mom) and "Papa" as she calls my Dad, and her Daddy. I heard how excited she sounded on the phone the other night. Sitting here at my desk at work, my heart squeezes and I am trying to keep tears from spilling, and failing. I know how she will shriek when she sees the ocean, just like I used to. She will be jumping up and down on one foot and I know my brother will not be moving nearly fast enough for her.

Wasn't it only yesterday that she left the driveway in her car seat, shortly after she was born? That I collapsed in tears because I knew I wouldn't be seeing her again for awhile? I saw all those moments I was going to miss. It's preposterous, that her next Birthday she will be ten....and I shake my head in disbelief and how fast it all went.

Elaine was feeling much the same way last night......Her niece, and namesake, McKenna was in a school play. I saw and felt the pang of sadness in her voice and in her eyes as the pictures came through, knowing she wouldn't be there to see her perform the part of Charlie Bucket's mother onstage.

They are all so precious and time is flying by way too fast. Everything is monumental in their lives right now, every moment as big as eternity......I wish I could make a big bubble where we could all live close.

All those moments are magic, you know?

I feel unsettled this morning,  like the world is shifting a bit under my feet. The gravity of home was pulling me back. I even kept slowing down in the car, and for me that is unusual. I got to work and found they had moved my workstation. You would think I would be totally comfortable with change by now after being here 16 years.

Meanwhile, there is a little girl named Isabel still missing here in Arizona. She is only 6. I hope and pray she will have another Birthday,  yet after more than one week missing, I feel guilty in thinking there is little hope that she will...... that is a sorrow that I can't even fathom. A bottomless grief.

Today I hold out hope along with her parents, that somewhere she is safe.

Please keep Isabel and her family in your prayers.....

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Looking back to what's ahead.....

"Keep your face to the sunshine
and you cannot see the shadow.
It's what sunflowers do."
by Helen Keller

Been thinking about.........Soft answers. And how the Bible says they turn away wrath. All this time I was thinking it was to turn away the hearer's wrath, but maybe the whole point is to turn away the wrath of the deliverer as well.

There is always more behind what Jesus says. The Bible is filled with layers. The more I read it the more layers and meanings God reveals.

Life sometimes feels like it's going frightfully fast. I find myself wanting to stop the stream of it, plug the hole with my finger to keep it from flowing, rushing past......stop it in midstream. And yet I want to move fast forward to retirement. Maybe, I think, life will move more slowly after that. If I can only just get there.

Meanwhile, during the night our minds manufacture dreams through our fears, joys and sorrows. I dreamed one night that I had pulled up to a campsite bulletin board. You know the kind where people put their paperplate message on the board so you will know where to find them? Except I awoke, heart pounding, because I realized they were gone and I could not go where they were.

They went to the place of too much time gone by......Aren't we all drifting there, even now?

I wonder? Is that part of what drives us to write? To stop time, freeze the moment. Never forget?

These days I find getting older brings a certain comfort. Comfort in knowing the truths I have believed for so long have been verified, proven true. Only years and experience teaches that. Not any school that I know of, except the school that God puts us through.

The more I read the Bible, the more it becomes alive. The more try to live it, the more I know it's true. And when I clutch it to my chest I can actually feel it saving me. It is a book like no other, it is pulsating with life.....

Redemptive power of both the redeemed and the Redeemer.

And this is one song that has no end.

The song of the redeemed. Let Heaven and nature sing.