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'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 by

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 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

Friday, October 12, 2012

Thoughts on my week

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

My heart feels full right now.

I spent most of the week in the company of a very special person that I lost touch with for a very long time. I last knew her when she was a feisty little girl with a very strong mind and independent spirit who never stopped moving. She dropped out of our lives and maybe she would say, her own life too. We recently got in touch again after all these years. We made her a Birthday dinner and we all shed tears for the lost years together. She, her Mom, Elaine and myself.

We serve a God is in the business of restoration. He loves nothing better than happy endings. And getting people back together again that were always meant to be in our lives for good.

And those people in your life? They are there for a reason and a purpose, every single one!

I learned again this week that though life changes some things, some things never change. I smiled as I watched a beautiful young woman run into CVS pharmacy while we all stayed in the car because "it would take too much time to all get out."

I smiled when she parked at the gas pump, blocking someone else in because she "would only be a minute"......smiled when I watched her moving to the music while she was paying for her item at the Quik Stop. I smiled because in so many ways, she is still so much that little girl.

Life has not been easy for any of us, we have all had our blows.

But none of them have been death blows. We are all still here. Still laughing, Still crying, but this time.....tears of joy.
We both laughed as she grabbed me for a hug and swung me around and around. Still so much that little girl, but now a confident beautiful woman all grown up, and in some ways, making up for lost years.

Aren't we all?

The world is in trouble, of that I have no doubt. But in the world, there is still so much that is good. So many doing good things. A little at a time.

Also: Please take some time to read some of the posts from the Bloggers who went to Haiti this week with the HelpOneNow team here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Prayer for the Haiti Bloggers

"I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink, I was homeless and you gave me a room,I was shivering and you gave me clothes,I was sick and you stopped to visit, I was in prison and you came to me." Jesus
As I eagerly read the posts coming in from the Haiti bloggers, I read their words and it felt like they were my words too, even though I am worlds away. I can't imagine what it would be like to be there. Last night I looked up at the stars, the same ones they were looking at  and I wondered what they were doing, what they were seeing and feeling.
I know I would never be the same.
As I unwrap His promises today I am assured of one thing, if we call ourselves born again believers, we don't have the luxury of not doing anything. Fear is one of the things that holds me back. I send my money to World Vision every month, happy to at least be doing something. I bring my bag of used clothes to the Hope Closet at church and I feel a nod from God. A small, warm quickening in my Spirit. And yet.......
If I were there? I know that all the words I thought I would have would be sucked right up inside me.
I pray for these who are there, seeing, feeling, touching.....being God's own hands and feet. It is the next best thing to being there.
I lift my small offering today.
Please join me.
Photo courtesy of Facebook/World Vision

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Two Cups with God

In the midst of the mess and the beauty of life, He listens,
 He enters into my world and I enter His.
 Two cups with my Father,
two cups with Jesus,
two cups along with the Spirit......
He sups with me and I with Him,
a window of Heaven cracked......
Prayer Journal
The devotional reading I picked for myself today was 1 Corinthians Chapters 1-3. It reads much like a letter from a grieving parent. Paul has spent his own time, money, and resources for 18 months in Corinth. He knew that there was a lot at stake. If the church could take root in Corinth, it could take root anywhere. A city of around 700,000, it was full of every kind of philosophy, thought, religion, as well as every kind of sexual morality you could think of.
Certain things were happening in the Church that deeply troubled Paul. They need to be reminded of who they were. It seems they had a case of "spiritual amnesia." Certain people were queuing up to follow the church leaders instead of Christ. Some followed Peter, some followed Paul, some followed the dynamic new person on the scene, Apollos. Still others followed Jesus.
Right now we are in the midst of an election year. We listen to the speeches, we hear who speaks the best, who looks the best, who is the most eloquent, who says what best matches our philosophies and beliefs. But no politician has the power to save us, and neither did any of the church leaders of Paul's day.
But Jesus does. He is our hope, no matter what happens in our economy, our country, our world.
Sometimes, like the Corinthian church, I need to be reminded of who I am and who I believe. I take comfort in Paul's words today.  It is so easy to get swept up in the worries of the world and all the different voices clamoring for our attention.
I need to be reminded that what I do matters and that wherever I go, I am taking God with me in the presence of the Holy Spirit.
I love how, even though Paul is brimming over with frustration, he is also brimming over with love and thanksgiving.
"To the church of God in Corinth (or America), to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together all those everywhere who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ--Their Lord and ours: Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ." Paul

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Of perfect storms and sparrows

Since I started in this new area at work, I have unvolunteered myself for a couple of things I really had no business volunteering for in the first place. I know me right now. Several things in my life right now are stressing me out big time. When I started counting them all I realized it would be even more amazing if I weren't stressed.

Today started off strange right off the get-go. The person I left at my station last night had transformed herself into a cactus. She focused her prickly laser-like vehemence on me as soon as I came in. It seems I left one thing undone which she proceeded to turn into her own personal very big deal. She left a nasty gram in bold print on my computer, detailing everything that happened as a result of my little mistake. The mistake by the way, that could have easily been corrected in about 5 minutes if she had chosen to respond in a different way.

I felt bad for her co-worker, who is a very nice lady.  She was rolling her eyes behind "the talking cactus." Then later, I was scolded for not showing up to lead stretches yesterday afternoon. That was my fault, it was my turn. Not only that, I was told that my stretch leading was not adequate. I needed to hold them for 20 seconds each and include more of a variety. So I marched over and took myself off that list too.

Sometimes we disappoint people, ourselves, God. It can't be helped. I have learned some things through this, though. That if you are stressed to begin with, don't raise your hand up in the air and volunteer for more.

Sometimes you have to take care of you.

Sometimes you just have to "check out"

After the stretching incident I went outside for a few minutes to regroup and play my "Words with friends." It helped.While I was out there, I studied a little brown sparrow on the wall. I meditated on that little guy.

I noticed all the variant shades of brown. There must have been 20 that I could see. He was really a work of art. Then I remember what Jesus said about they are valued by the Father. Noticed, counted. And how not one of them falls to the ground without Him knowing.

And He values you and me even more, much more, the Bible says.

I breathe deep. I start over. And now I will say a prayer for the counterpart that will come in tonight. I will be kind. Because I know there must be a reason why she acts as she does.

I also know that despite all the conditions in my life right now that are threatening to create that Perfect Storm? I have resources, I have people in my life who help me, support me, love me. And some have none of those things.

And writing about it really, really helps.

And most of all? I know the One who specializes in calming stormy seas.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Carpet fiber prayers

It was a "Carpet fiber" prayer morning. "Please Lord, help me get up and do this." That's all. My mind was churning at 2:00 AM. I tried reciting the 23rd Psalm, that usually works when I can't sleep. Not this time. I felt overwhelmed. Life is complicated, people are complicated, and my shoulders were never meant to carry all this.

At break, all I wanted to do was go out to my car and be alone with Jesus.

When you are going through something, or your family is......the situation can become bigger than everything else. Even God.

In a recorded speech, Martin Luther Kings talks about a time when he considered giving up. He had just gotten another phone call, a death threat, threatening he and his whole family. Not long before he had been arrested and thrown in jail for driving 30 mph in a 25 mph zone. He was sitting at his kitchen table, a cold cup of coffee before him. He was trying to figure a way out. How he could turn it all over to someone else and go back to the quiet life of a scholar like he had planned. Here is how he describes that moment:

"I discovered then that religion had to become real to me, and I had to know God for myself. And I bowed down over that cup of coffee. I will never forget it......I prayed a prayer, and I prayed out loud that night. I said, "Lord, I am down here trying to do what's right. I think I'm right. I think the cause that we represent is right. But Lord, I must confess that I'm weak now. I'm faltering. I'm losing my courage."

It was then that he heard an inner voice......."Martin Luther, stand up for righteousness. Stand up for justice. Stand up for truth. And lo I will be with you, even until the end of the world."

Three nights later a bomb exploded on the front porch of King's home, filling the house with smoke and broken glass but injuring no one. He took it calmly: "My religious experience a few nights before had given me the strength to face it." We have all reached that crossroads, we ask the question: "How can I get out of this?" We can't take another step. We want escape. But it is at that point where the Holy Spirit comes in and does what we can't do. He takes over.......Peter was at that point after he denied Jesus, but what happened just a few days after that? The day of Pentecost!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What makes a home

I never thought I would live in a "retirement" community. I had many preconceived notions, some of which were true. The high point of the day for some is getting the mail. When you walk at night the motion detector lights salute you all the way down the street. And if you leave the water running, there are always those who act as if they personally had to pay for that extra water running down the street.
And I complain because every time I want to use the treadmill someone has gotten to it first. I gave up and started running on the pavement, and that is probably why my back feels like it does now.
A plus side, if you could call it that, is that you are reminded of your mortality at least once a week when the firetruck or ambulance comes through. You learn who gets a regular visit....who is on oxygen, who is taking care of a terminally ill husband or wife.
You know Larry by the loud burst of song as he walks out the door to walk his dog Annie. Rosalee walks with sticks. And I hold the distinction of being the only "runner" in the park, though I use that term loosely. Now I am the crippled runner until I can find a spot on the treadmill.
There are plus sides to this life. Many times I don't lock the door and I never lock the car. People watch your stuff. They let you know when someone has been there when your not at home. When I moved into this place, the motive was to get out of debt........It is the best thing I ever did.
I had a beautiful custom home up in Payson, and I was in a very nice home before, and the two previously. But honestly, this manufactured home feels more like home than all the others.
Some people were downright upset at this decision. They thought we were "taking a step down."
But I have felt closer to the Lord in this place than I have felt anywhere else. That is what makes me feel more at home here than any of those others. I am proud of what we've done to make it a place of warmth and invitation. A place that makes you want to stay awhile.
Home is where you feel at peace, wherever that is. Home tugs at your heart.
And if you don't feel a warmth when you look through the windows at night? You are not home yet.
And for me, home always holds a bit of sorrow right along with the joy. The walls hold the good times but also the hard times. The times of sacrifice. But always, home is a refuge from the world outside. I never leave without carrying a bit of it with me.
And you see those stacks of wood I purposefully left against the side of the house? Those represent making a place even better than when you found it.
I think that makes God happy. After all, it's what He is trying to do with me. And when I get to my permanent home? I will be much better off than when He found me.
I will finally be complete.
"........being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

Monday, October 1, 2012

God's little speed bumps

Sometimes God allows things......I call them God's little speed bumps. I strained my back somehow, don't even remember how I did it. It bothers me every now and then. I spent way too many years doing hard impact aerobics when I was young and now my body is punishing me. No running this week. Agendas and lists will be tossed aside while I heal.

This morning I got back in bed until the Aleve kicked in. I settled down to read and I thought that maybe this wasn't such a bad thing.

I cleaned the kitty box looking much like a pregnant woman in her 8th month, knees apart, letting my quads do the work instead of my back. I noticed little things. The wind chimes, the lull of traffic, the sound of the litter hitting the side of the bag.

Time flows more slowly when you stop going from one thing to another without taking a breath in between.

Peace trickles in with the intentional movement of our actions, when we allow ourselves to consciously feel the rhythm of the day.

My mind, instead of racing ahead, relaxes into the rhythm to match my body. I am thankful that I am much better at this than when I was younger. Used to, I would rebel. Mentally I would kick and scream and insist on doing everything on my task list, my mind racing even as my body fought against it.

Nature calls, and right now the way I answer is the little corner of the yard where I sit. Wishing for pine trees and maples, the tossing of green okra leaves is as close as I get. They have yielded a good crop, they have done their job well. I watch the splash of green bending and twisting in the wind, and I am content.

Elaine's school bus rumbles by at 7:27 AM, and again at 7:34. Once again I marvel at God......for giving her the route that comes right by the house. Out of all the possible routes to get, she got that one. It's a God thing.

I am so grateful for that job, which has been a life-saver. She has seemed much like her old self again. Children have a way of breathing new life into weary souls. She comes home with a new story every day.

The Aleve has kicked in, and I feel better.....Yet I will continue to move slowly through this day. I will savor it, relaxing in God's speed bump. Honoring Him with my tally of thanksgiving.

Count the gifts with me and the gratitude community, won't you?

I revel in cooler temps.......the gifts of the garden......good bus route for from my Mom just now.......peace that comes when we pay attention to our bodies yield signs.......little furry creatures that enjoy it when you go back to with frothe' for a special birthday to come......thankfulness for all my blogger and online friends......the hope of the Lord which is my strength, always. #945-955