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How many times in my life--beginning as a child-have I heard those words. OH YES---I AM READY--standing here in my underwear with wet hair, sans make up frantically searching for something to wear in a closet full of unacceptable--YES I AM READY-LET'S GO! The person I lived most of my life with became quite adapt at handling this. ONCE I announced "I am ready-let's go," he would THEN begin to get ready. REALLY--I am out here SITTING in the car---WAITING! Whatever you might think---men DO primp as much and sometimes MORE than women!
Each marathon I ran, entailed 18 weeks of training. LONG WEEKS OF TRAINING-piling up mile after mile on these legs. I always did all the training, and I also ALWAYS stood on the "Start Line" wondering if I was ready. What else could I have done to be better prepared? I felt physically prepared, but could I have done more? One thing was certain-without preparation, I would never see the "Finish Line".
Tomorrow is the BIG DAY---for the little princess to make her royal appearance. Her Momma posted this picture on Facebook with a notice of eviction for Thursday. I have spent time this week, wondering if I am ready. Are the meals all cooked, are my clothes packed, do I have everyone's schedule straight? Something tells me my sweet daughter is not in a tizzy--but instead enjoying the anticipation of meeting her own baby daughter. She is emotionally prepared--what could be more important?
Perhaps the most important "Are you ready?" that will ever be asked of us is the one at the final finish line. Have you made all the preparations, have you checked your list, have you done all that needed to be done? The Finish Line has a judgement seat directly behind it---am I ready for that day of judgement? My Good Friend, Victor, wrote a post on "Purgatory" recently here. While I do not agree with the concept, it does call to question how we have lived our lives and our ultimate accountability. I am clinging to G R A C E --but in the time left--I am also continuing the pursuit of finishing well. Spiritually I am prepared for the final finish line.
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus
One of my Blogging Friends is quite perturbed at her family. That NEVER happens here! I get perturbed, but my Passive Aggressive tendencies do not allow me to get into any shouting matches. Perhaps being PA helps keep my blood pressure down. While thinking about my sweet family, I thought how different we all are--but also alike. Uncle Jim ran through my mind and his need to plant acres and acres of peas every year. He loved to watch them grow. My sweet Aunt Teets told me the deer could have them, because she did not intend to put up one more pea in her lifetime. Then there was the Uncle and Aunt who did not speak to my daddy for several years before he died at the age of 45. I know the problem was over business-but beyond that I will really never know the details of what drove a wedge between two brothers. My other paternal aunt played the piano for the church we attended. I remember walking to her house when I heard her practicing for Sunday. There she sat at the piano with a cigarette hanging precariously from the side of her mouth while she played the great old hymns with abandonment. How she balanced the ash which was half the length of the cigarette, banged those notes out, and blew smoke out the other side of her mouth is beyond me. My own children have very unique and different personalities. Their physical features are very different, but there is a common thread when I see their expressions and enjoy their humor. In the last few years, I have become aware of the fact that they talk about me---and even laugh about my quirks and crazies. IT IS NOT NICE TO LAUGH AT THE QUEEN! Two of them have their Mom's OCD tendencies and the other has not one obsessive bone in her body. Two of them never meet a stranger and the other is like his Mom--we reservedly observe before diving in. One is an avid reader of all genres and loves to write, like her mom, and the other two read only what interests them and might send an extremely short email-if pressed. I am watching my grands grow up and find it amazing how each has a unique personality--but yet I see so many similarities.
They are family. My family looks slightly different these days--but it reminds me of a puddle of water. If you siphon a cup of the water out of the puddle, the other water drops fill in the hole that was created but it still is a puddle.. So it is with family, we loose members, but we are still family. I am blessed to have an amazing family--children, children's spouses, grands, brothers, sister in laws, nephews, nieces, great nephews and nieces. My family tree is full of lovely branches with beautiful leaves hanging from each branch. There is nothing quite like family and yet---we still are all a mess at best! Some are not from large families, some are estranged from their families, and some grieve for the family ties. As I thought over my friend's dilemma with her family, I remembered she has a small but well defined and beautiful nucleus of a family. There are times--smaller--more intimate is better. We all are blessed with a family of friends. I have friends that I love deeply and consider family. I have been in small groups which were mirrors of family. Families come in all forms, shapes, sizes and reasons for the common bond which unite them. What is family-after all? A group of relationships with similar heritage--be it genetic or philosophical or spiritual. Community---from any source is synonymous with family for me. So do not grieve for what you wished you had--instead treasure what you do have and BE BLESSED!
This little man---knows NO fear. He will try ANYTHING once. He has been climbing and going down the highest slides since he could walk. If he sees his big brothers try something, it never occurs to him that he might not be able to follow suit. He is on a mission to try. Sometimes he is met with failure--but most of the time, he continues to try and eventually gets it done. He needs watching every second he is awake. Serving something new for dinner---he will put it in his mouth. Unlike biggest brother who announces YUCK! without even knowing what it tastes like, this one will try anything. If he doesn't like it, he promptly spits it back out---hopefully a hand is in the vicinity to catch the mush he spews out. He never meets a stranger and "Heys!" one and all. Not be be deterred by someone ignoring him, he will continue to "Hey!" until he gets a response. Sadly at times, I have to divert his attention, when rudeness allows another to ignore this sweet boy! I could do with a BIG spoonful of his courage, sense of adventure, and willingness to take a risk. What have I missed by not striking up a conversation, my unwillingness to go alone, my fear of the unknown, and the anticipation of rejection keeping me from putting a foot forward? What wonderful adventures, fascinating people, unanticipated surprises have I missed? The Little Man is teaching me---now to put those lessons to work---
JUST TRY IT!
The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life;
Sweet Brown is perfectly describing my life currently! I have had the latest round of crud (Yes, Ronny I have Zicam in my cabinet now) for over a week. Almost five full days I was in bed and I still have a stuffed up nose and sore throat AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!
This serious minded family of five--will become six on Thursday. OH MY GOODNESS! The arrival of the princess is imminent!
I have spent the past couple of weeks cooking and freezing. Trying to have as many meals at my fingertips as possible.
Daughter #1 announced on the same porch as the delightful silly Halloween picture that baby #4 was on the way. After scraping myself off the porch, I told her I would come and stay a month with the little family after the new nugget arrived. WHY was I surprised---let's review - Her oldest is 5 the next is 4 the next is 2 WHY YES---time for another one! And then SURPRISE---after 5 grandsons---we are having a "Princess"!
One of my duties while there will be taxiing everyone where they need to go. It would take an engineer to figure out this circle of confusion. One goes to school five days a week, another 3, and another 2--and then there is Museum School for two of them two different days a week. They live almost 30 minutes on the other side of town. I foresee LOTS of circles--and perhaps meeting myself coming and going since all the schools are on my side of the city. OH and don't forget--everyone has to be buckled in to make any trip--which entails Lulu climbing in and out of the van--which is now FULL of car seats and must be similar to driving a Sherman Tank! AND some need to take lunch and some don't. REALLY! WRITE IT ALL DOWN---DRAW ME A MAP!
I will spend a GREAT deal of time in the room where all the dirty clothes are processed.
A room like this will become my center of entertainment--well in truth--they end up scattered from one end of the house to the other--equal opportunity to become the playroom.
There may not be enough minutes in the day to blog for the next month. The truth of the matter is--we have NO idea what this is going to look like and since I am already a little coo-coo---I could finally tither over the edge to the land of craziness.
So if I disappear--no need to fret or be upset---I have only fallen down the Crazy Hole for a short while. Someone will throw me out--it is only a matter of time!
One more day on this topic of Guilt & Shame and today we take the easy subject of SHAME! I have vivid memories of my grandmother and one of my aunts saying, "SHAME ON YOU!" Whatever the misdeed, and believe me I was no angel, they were calling down the black cloud of shame to rest upon my shoulders for whatever I had done. Shame is a heavy cloak, and will begin to drag you down to the basement of low self esteem with even limited wear. I have worn that cloak of shame--more than I care to admit in my lifetime. There are still times I put it on--when I am reminded of my status-or lack thereof. In my reading on shame, I came across these wise words, "Shame is, indeed, less black and white than guilt. It can plague you because of what you did, what you didn’t do, what others did to you, or what others didn’t do to you. Just for starters. Shame has to do with your standing before God and your standing in the community. You think you should be unaffected by the opinions and words of other people? Not so. We were created to live in community, and anything that jeopardizes our inclusion goes against who we really are. " Ed Welsh As I walked away from the World War II Museum in New Orleans, I had this burning need to discuss the shame the German, Italian, and Japanese people must feel when reminded of the atrocities of war and the need to rule supreme. Before we could get in the car, I had already come full circle and remembered the shame I bear as an individual, as a citizen, and at the top of that list as a Believer. SHAME ON ME! For just what Ed said above---for what I did and what I didn't do. How can I consciously walk away from this thick and cumbersome cloak of shame--when the tapestry is tightly woven with my sin and the sins of my forefathers. I dare not cast a stone in the direction of anyone else--until I get my own act cleaned up. And then---I was reminded. After World War II, our armies occupied the countries that had sought to rule over us--killed millions of people--and caused some of the worst atrocities against mankind ever witnessed. We ruled over those countries with the intent to rebuild them, find the good in them, and replace the evil with the right. We ruled with grace--not intent to punish all those who bore the citizenship of those countries--but only those who knowingly and willingly lead others in a mad rampage against the world. My father in law served in occupied Japan. He was drafted at the close of WW II and the Japanese surrendered as his ship made its way toward the fighting. While serving in Japan, he told the story of men begging for food--starving men--trying to feed their families. We did not put razor wire around the entire island of Japan---we worked to redeem and reshape the country into the great country it is today. SO when I drag out my heavy cloak of shame from the closet---I need to remember what God has done. He has cleaned the cloak and made it white as snow. Free from the dirt of guilt and shame, it has become a cloak of redemption. The next time I feel a twinge of shame---I need to regroup--determine why I am feeling shame and do something about it. Move forward on the right path and without the heavy cloak but instead the robe of redemption----headed in the right direction without guilt or shame along for the walk!
Looking to Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
I have been chewing on this post since my day in New Orleans. It actually will be at least two posts--and who knows I can get going and sometimes add another one or two. My circle of thinking began with "Shame". After walking through the World War II Museum, I came away with a burning question of "Shame" after the fact. It began when my sweet friend told me of her friend who was a war bride--from Germany. She met her American husband and married him after the war--she was a citizen of Germany. We spent part of our trip home discussing shame as a nation, as a people, as a body of faith, as a family, and as individuals. Since returning to TX, I have done more reading---THIS IS A DEEP WELL I HAVE JUMPED INTO!
Shame and guilt are close cousins-perhaps even double first cousins. They are different-but the same--Often together--but not always--you may have both--or you may have only one or the other. They are mutual and also mutually exclusive. SEE I have already confused the both of us! Perhaps by taking one at a time we can determine what they are, if they are useful, and what we do with them.
If you have never felt guilt over anything--you should stop now and go seek immediate professional help. Guilt can be a gift. Our God conscious nudging us and trying to keep us on the path. The lowered cross bars and deafening ding-ding ringing loudly in our head when we are headed into danger-off the chosen path--with no thought to the consequences. I have guilt--guilt of wasted moments, guilt of failure to love well, guilt from narcissistic tendencies, guilt from exercising not enough, guilt from exercising too much, guilt over eating, guilt from eating the wrong things, guilt from wasting time and energy feeling guilty. Guilt of omission and Guilt of commission both remind us of straying off the path He has planned for us. I call them God nudges--reminding me of the consequences up ahead. Guilt can be a useful tool for God to keep us near and out of the path of the locomotive pulling the cars of destruction and sin which are clearly about to run over us. When then is guilt bad? When I have wronged another, and taken all the God given steps to correct my wrong, and then still feel guilty, I am cheapening His grace by refusal to truly accept it. Satan is whispering in my ear and telling me how bad my sin is--how undeserving I am of forgiveness--and I put myself on the throne of judgement and declare myself guilty---after He has paid the price and wiped my slate clean. The harboring of that guilt is the refusal to submit to the Only True Judge and instead placing myself upon the Judgement Seat. I cannot leave guilt without touching on the guilt we bestow upon others. Most mothers are professional guilt givers... we do it without even a thought. We are practicing for Grand Guilt to be shouldered on the backs of our sweet grands. I am guilty of sending guilt bombs to my friends. "I KNOW you are busy"--flung over the hedgerow of state lines via the WWW. We consciously, sub-consciously and even overtly use our shovels to heap guilt on those we love--ALL to get our way.
We could go on for hours--my head has been spinning in circles thinking this over for three weeks. I will end with this-
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
My friend, Linda who resides HEREin the blogging world made a comment on yesterday's blog which created a need in me to circle back around to the topic of gossip one more time. This time---gossip under the guise of asking for prayer. We have ALL been in those meetings--when prayer concerns were called for and the long litany began of: 1. Who we should pray for 2. Why they need prayer 3. With complete details NOW --there is not one thing wrong with asking for prayer--for you and yours. BUT--when the request is for my second cousin's adopted daughter's biological mother's step child who has lapsed into the depths of drug induced despair which have caused her to rob, cheat and steal from all those near and dear and even commit other unmentionable acts- We all have a need to share the latest news and need everyone to know we are on the cutting edge of being in the know. I AM GUILTY Shame on me for using the need for prayer as my excuse to share the latest news-heartbreak-tragedy or any other pitfall of the human condition to prove my Christian Concern. In the most successful Small Group, I have ever had the privilege of being a part of, we agreed to ask for prayer for ourselves and those closely connected to us-only---and NEVER ask for prayer for anyone or thing which we were not already praying for ourselves. How easy it is to throw those words around, "I am praying for you." It dawned on me in the last few years the consequences of saying those words and then not following through. I cringe writing this and remembering those times I promised to pray and somehow forgot before I got back to my car. God, forgive me when I have failed to bring before your throne, what I said I would. Prayer is important---too important to become a tool of gossip. Have a burning need on your heart--treat it the same as the guidelines for gossip-repeat only the fact without addition. God knows all the details--He is a God of details and He has no need for us to repeat back to Him what He already knows and understands far better than us. Many times, I go to God with these simple words, "God I bring John Doe before your throne--with no knowledge of how to pray for them--but with the full knowledge you are fully aware of them and their needs. I pray for them, Lord." Pray for me--that I might pray with purity of purpose and all for His good glory.
Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
Life is filled with fine lines. NO, I am not referring to the lines visible on my face-which have passed the stage of fine and gone on to ruts.
I am speaking of the difference between right and wrong--black and white--good and bad. Sometimes there is a precarious balance to remain on the side of right and not fall into the abyss of wrong. It is amazing how the sound of the jungle drums from Ruston can be heard all the way to Fort Worth. WHO KNEW? The challenge I have is listening to only the facts and not participating in the gossip. OH, how we love to hear a tasty morsel of gossip. It allows others to be pulled down into the hole we have dug for ourselves. Recently I heard a little tidbit and began thinking over is this gossip? I came up with a good rule of thumb. IF the information I hear is out in the public forum and is fact, then it is not gossip. For instance, IF your name appears in the obituaries and someone texts me to tell me you died--it is not gossip--it is fact. NOW if the conversation begins to drift into the non-public information, I am probably getting into the realm of gossip. If I am told you died (public information), and they have heard you had gangrene of the tongue from all of your filthy talk---THAT is gossip. KEY WORDS---"They heard".
Your Gossip Alert should immediately go off when you hear---someones name immediately followed by "Bless their heart". This is definitely going down the street of gossip. I saw in the obituaries that Susie died. FACT I heard she died from tongue gangrene. BEEPING STARTS Susie died. Bless her heart, her tongue fell off from gangrene. You know how she loved to embellish every conversation with her trashy talk. BACK AWAY--STOP THE TALK
Why not gossip---because someone always gets hurt by gossip. If you ever were the topic of gossip--you understand what I am saying. Even if the talk is true--only repeated to you by the one who is the subject--but you then repeat it-it is gossip. When nothing is gained for the cause of Christ by repeating it, then do not repeat it!
AND GOSSIP HURTS
So what to do? I have asked that we change the subject. I have said, "Let's don't gossip." Refuse to listen and do not repeat what you did hear. Stay true to the right and refuse to fall into the pit of the wrong. Truth always wins and gossip always hurts.
To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.
Another great truth this week, from The Little Man-
It can be quite the struggle to get The Little Man to give up--close his eyes--and go to sleep. He sleeps in a crib at home, so he is trapped--well except for the fact that he can now climb out of said crib. His mom reports--especially at nap time and early in the morning--it can take a few times of putting him back in his bed to do the trick. When he comes to stay with me, I sleep with him on a day bed. I wedge him in next to the back of it and try to trap him in the bed.
We have a nightly ritual. After a bath and leaving two inches of water on the floor after showing me how he can swim, I chase his bare little bottom around the house in an effort to dress him for the night. He thinks all this is a great game--I am grateful for a small house and few places to hide. Then we pull out the laptop and watch some videos of mind numbing and intellect dulling cartoons. He is especially fond of choo choo wrecks, fire truck chases, and car/truck crashes. None of this "Baby Einstein" stuff for the Little Man--he prefers action and heart pounding thrills---it gets you in the right frame of mind for sleeping. I FINALLY give up---turn out all the lights--turn off the computer--and get in the bed. Except for the city glow which seeps in around the blinds, it is pitch black. Perhaps NOW he will get the hint. I pull the covers up under our chins--he promptly kicks his off--and I grow quiet. In the hush of the dark night this little voice says, "DARK". "Yes, it is dark and it is time to go to sleep," I tell him. After a few minutes, I think perhaps I have succeeded, and then "HEY!" I "Hey" back at him and say, "Lulu is right here, now go to sleep." One more "Hey" and then finally I hear those deep breaths signalling he is finally out. As I wait to be sure he is completely out before reading my book, I begin thinking what has just happened. We live in a dark world---a fallen world--and what we want more than anything is to feel safe and protected. To know someone is there with us--watching over us--holding us--loving us. How thankful I am of the assurance of the constant presence of The Father. No matter how dark--when I feel the dangers and threats of the world closing in--I am never alone--He is always-always here with me.
The eyes of the LORD are in every place, Watching the evil and the good. -
Sunday- There was a rumor floating around last Sunday about the Cowboys appearing to take it all. I kept glimpsing out the window all afternoon in hopes of spotting one of those fine specimens. I never even saw a horse. In fact the streets seemed deserted. Someone told me Monday there was some football game on television that everyone in TX was watching. OH WELL--so much for the Cowboys!
My neighbor texts me Monday and asks why are all those police cars are down by my house. GREAT---I am away from home--building my massive muscles and there are 7 police cars parked up and down the street. WELL since the alarm company has not called me--and there is not much I can do anyway--I calmly go to the grocery store--as if it is just another day in the city. Turns out one of the neighbors is threatening violence--and has a gun---and thus the alarm. I tell you--THE BUBBLE I WAS LIVING IN HAS BURST!
Tuesday- Time for a little tutoring at the shelter. When I went back last week, the three students I have been working with for three months are gone. Disappeared into the World of the Homeless. All I can do now is pray-- I have As I drove home, I saw several of the homeless in sleeping bags under the overpass. It is hovering in the 30's--the wind always blows in Texas--concrete is really cold. Why are they not in the shelter--Why would you chose to sleep out in the open? SAD!
Wednesday- To school to tutor--I have to be there bright and early. Somehow tutoring digressed into games and puzzles. My OCD kicks in and I am putting the puzzle together while my sweet little student happily colors a picture of a princess. How did she manage to get me off track???
Thursday- I seem to have come down with the bubonic plague. I have the mortuary on speed dial. Friday- "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." Mark Twain
There is a slim chance that I may survive the latest bout of plague. And that's about all there is to the news thisweek in The Hood- where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.
I love my sweet-precious---ALL BOY--grands. Life is never dull when they are around. HOWEVER they are walking, talking, eating, sleeping, real live --boy sized PETRI DISHES! And with three of them--5 1/2, 4, & 2---somebody always has some illness. Their home seems to be the perfect breeding ground for germs--with three little hot bodies serving as incubators. The spread of kudzu across the south does not hold a candle to the spread of viruses through the germ breeding ground they call home. Top that off with living in the prime zone for Cedar Fever and we all have open spigots where noses once resided. For a little side note- here is a brief description of Cedar Fever-
" Cedar fever is not just any allergy. It's a scourge, a plague that smites the just and the unjust who have the misfortune to live anywhere in a broad strip of Central Texas that stretches from the Red River to the Rio Grande. The progenitor of all this misery is a medium-sized, frankly undistinguished tree with sinewy limbs covered in shaggy bark that vaguely resembles orangutan fur. Despite its common name, the mountain cedar is actually a juniper (Juniperus ashei). Every year around December, we blunder into the midst of the cedar's mating ritual. It begins with the appearance of the male cones--embarrassingly small, amber-colored structures no larger than a grain of rice. In good years (or bad, depending on your viewpoint) they blanket the tops of the trees, turning them an aggressive tawny orange. When the wind rises, great gritty clouds of the pollen drift aloft, making the woods look like they are aflame. This airborne mist can waft for miles until it runs into something sticky, like the small green cone of the female tree or the inside of your nose. Once cedar pollen gets into your system, its evil nature is revealed. Compared with it, ragweed is a wimp."
The Little Man spent the night with me before the holidays--his holiday gift to me was a cold. He never slowed down--I stayed parallel to the floor for several days. He spent the night this past Friday night--His mom informs me Monday, "Oh yes, Little Man is sick--he began running fever Saturday afternoon." Would that be immediately after you left my house at 1 PM? Today, I had the two big boys---Biggest Brother announces, "My throat hurts." "Really," I ask, "Do you need some medicine?" "My mom gave me some this morning." SERIOUSLY? When I took them home, I told their Mom I gave him some medicine after he said his throat hurt. She said, "My throat is sore too." AAAAGGGGHHHHH! Now I am home sniffing and snorting and a little achy. Praying it is all in my head and NOT in my body!
Here is a simple rule of life--when you live in a petri dish--you are going to get sick. "IT" is going to get you--whatever the "IT" might be. There is not enough Germ-X or Lysol to keep up with the contamination.When the germs are inches from your nose, even if you wash the skin off your hands, you are going to get "IT." The only solution is the Little People growing up and with a new one soon to arrive--that will be no time soon.
It reminded me of how we live our lives. If we surround ourselves with sin and sinful behavior and stick our heads out in the sin filled air--we are sticky and some of that sin is going to cling to us. We will find ourselves infected and affected by the environment we have surrounded ourselves with.
NOT to say--we should not be in the world--BUT instead--before you jump into the petri dish--be sure and dose yourselves with the only known supplement for a healthy life. Put on your armor and lift your shield--and then proceed-protected-into the petri dish of a world that we call home.
Whoever goes to the Lord for safety,
whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty,
My life long friend contacted me recently to tell me she is having a stint put in the back artery of her heart. I was shocked---she does not look like or act like she has heart disease. The condition of the heart is difficult to determine when looking at the outside of a person.
I have several good friends who suffer from heart disease. The physicalcondition of our hearts is important to our physical well being. If our hearts are not functioning 100%, we find our lives and activities directly impacted by the degree of the damage. We all know we need to eat right and exercise consistently to maintain a healthy heart. Our genetic make-up also impacts the health of our hearts. How my non-runner friends loved to point out the famous runner and author of books about running, James Fixx, died from a heart attack. I have left those running days behind, but still exercise my heart almost every day.
The emotional condition of our hearts is directly related to our ability to love. My broken heart vowed, at one point, to never allow anyone to touch my heart again. I erected a tall wall---built a steep moat---and put up a razor wire fence around my heart to protect it from pain and injury. With time--my heart has healed---but the scar will remain forever. The wonderful thing about our bodies is that scars build stronger connective tissue. As I slowly began to stretch out the scar tissue and flex the love muscle by opening my heart to new relationships, I discovered a wonderful thing---with my willingness to love--my ability to love has grown to new heights. By adding the weight of new relationships, my emotional heart has grown stronger and my capacity to love has expanded to new levels. What I would have missed, if I had kept the bandage on and refused to heal!
The spiritual condition of my heart is the most important aspect of a healthy heart. By opening myself to a deeper more intimate relationship with The Father, He has shown me how to strengthen the emotional condition of my heart. The creator and author of love has taught me new depths and heights of this thing called love. The condition of my heart is a reflection of the greatness of His love. As I look to Him, I pray He will continue to show me, teach me, and grow meto a new level of heart health---as I love Him as He first loved me.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
One more time, I will repeat---I lived the first 64 years of my life in a bubble. The bubble covered a 20 mile radius--but for all those years--I thought I knew what the world looked like--I did not have a clue. Somehow I got the idea I had seen all the suffering, the pain, the heartbreak, the hideous, the ugly the world contained. I did not even strike the surface. Perhaps it was all there right under my nose--perhaps I did not look far enough and close enough, but somehow it escaped me. One of the things God is teaching me by moving me to the Big City is what the world really looks like. I will begin occasionally posting about the people and things God has shown me since moving. I am still mulling over how often--perhaps only when God nudges me--but I needed to hear these stories. The question is--what do I do with the stories? I am seeking direction and wisdom to know exactly how to take the next step--if there is a step. Sometimes---I just need to know what is out there. The lady whose story I will tell you today was quite a chance encounter. I had never seen her before and will never see her again. What caused her to tell me her story in the 30 minutes we were together? You read it and tell me. The first statement when she began to open up about her life was,
"My son was shot and killed in the front room of my house,
while I stood one room away."
She immediately had my attention. She is raising the child of this son, because his wife is in prison. She was convicted of paying a hit man to kill her husband. There was evidence all over the place to prove the crime. Did this conviction soothe her pain and calm her anger--no.
Turning to alcohol, she then became housebound for three years as she tried to drink away the memory of what had happened. At her lowest point, she weighed less than 100 pounds and was slowly but surely killing herself. She was unable to care for herself at the time, much less the grandchild left behind. Drowning in self pity, hurt, and anger, she lost all focus on the world of today and became stuck in the mire of the ugliness of yesterday.
God intervened. Telling me she could verbally hear Him telling her to turn the pain over to Him and trust Him. She turned her life around, with His help. Today she has a successful career, she is focused on her marriage, and the grand she is raising. She is giving God all the glory--even in a chance encounter with me. Her story has been redeemed and she jumps at the opportunity to tell the story.
What did God show me that day? Take every opportunity He gives me, seize the moment and share what He has done in my life. Not every encounter is an opportunity, but it is abundantly clear when the time is right. What a blessing to see Him working and know He intends to us me as well. All for His Good Purpose.
This Little Man has begun spending the night with me almost every week. His two big brothers go and stay with the other two grands and I keep Little Man to give Momma & Dada a break. Divide and conquer is our motto--or more like Divide and Survive. Our boys are ALL boy! This little two year old is reminding me of important life lessons. It is good to be reminded of these great truths of life. When he comes to visit, Little Man demands my attention. If I dare pick up the computer, here he comes wanting to watch his favorite video in my lap. If I look at my smart phone, he wants to open his favorite app and play Choo-Choo. If I am eating, he wants some of what I have. If I try to sneak out to the garbage can, he is pushing the screen door open in hot pursuit. My house is very small, but he wants constant visual contact. He wants me to play games with him, read stories to him, do puzzles with him, and hold him. Tickle is his favorite game and he cannot get enough of me blowing on his belly, poking his ribs, gently squeezing his leg fat--all producing bursts of laughter. He just wants to be close to me--and what joy to be close to him. A gentle reminder--the most dear of times in my life have been spent in face to face contact with others. I become accustomed to living in the cave and winter months tend to keep me inside more than I like. OH HOW I MISS MY FIREPLACE! My face to face contact begins to be substituted with emails and texts and messages. It is not the same-far from it. The life stories that have been shared with me have all been one on one. The great debates and discussions about God, life, and theology have all been verbal---face to face. No hugs can come across cyber space--no kisses -no expressions fly through the mysterious world of the internet. There is no warm touch, no hand held, no shoulder patted, and no snug hug in this new world we live in on the WWW. Not to say it all is bad. I now travel with a great sense of relief that I have my smart phone with me to guide me and keep me connected in case of emergency. I have met many wonderful blogger friends through the wide world of blogging. I would have never known them--learned from them--enjoyed their acquaintance without modern technology. I have reconnected with friends from long ago and stay connected with friends from a lifetime. It would be impossible to stay connected without the new cyber world. So no, it is not all bad, but it has become skewed far too much into the silent world of the cyber and away from the noisy yet beautiful world of the physically present. I am becoming greatly concerned with where we are headed and what I am observing in the generations coming behind us. They are all plugged in to the cyber and unaware of their immediate surroundings. Look around when in a restaurant and notice how many are staring at their phones and not at each other. All this technology is not bad--BUT when our personal relationships begin to suffer and change because of it we are headed down the chasm of aloofness. I fear we are loosing the ability to be true friends and forgetting how important the gift of time and presence is to each other. Little Man is showing me---talk to me--face to face. Be present in my life and show me your love. Let me hear the sound of your voice and see the expression on your face. To be close--truly close---intimately involved--it takes face to face--eye to eye--word to word--heart to heart encounters. Lord, help me to remember and turn off and tune in to those by my side.
Now we see but a poor reflection; then we shall see face to face.
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
The Hood is quiet this week--except for a little thing called an earthquake and a bitter Arctic Cold Front. If there were tremors here, I did not realize it. I live a block from a railroad track and 2-3 blocks from a toll road that is being constructed. Things shake, rattle, and roll a great deal on a daily basis here in the hood. SO--I will give you a quick snapshot of my get away over New Year's to South Louisiana.
The first day involved hiking the Tunica Falls trail -which is in Southwest Mississippi.
A beautiful hike up and down hills along the ridge line--we ended up at the creek after going down-down- down.
A hardwood forest --we spent a great deal of the day enjoying the pristine beauty of huge trees and beautiful trails. You KNOW it is a GREAT hike when you have to get down on all fours at some point to get up or down the trail!
Across the road from the trail head was a throw back from the good old days--a general store. Unfortunately it was closed for the holiday, but I spotted the biggest "Blue Bottle Tree" I may have ever seen. That is a LOT of bottles of wine!
After a quick stop for a Dr Pepper, we happened upon this road in a Wilderness Area. We road for mile upon mile with even more amazing sights than our hike since this area was even higher. The only downer was spotting all of the hunter's trucks parked along the way. It might prove wise to travel in an orange vehicle during this time of the year.
My dear friend is a "Gourmet Cook". The menu included crab and corn chowder--a traditional New Year day lunch and gumbo----KNOCK MY SOCKS OFF GOODNESS! The day before I left, we drove to New Orleans.
A tour of the 8th Ward (Just before the infamous 9th) where my friends volunteer in Inner City ministry. Some of the homes looked like this--but most of the area has homes with zero lot line and in various stages of rehab with NO sign of green around them. Impoverished area--BUT with young professionals beginning to move in and rehab and drive the price of property up--many are being displaced. A common plight across Big City America today.
No visit to New Orleans is complete unless you visit one of the above ground cemeteries. This one is in the middle of the 8th Ward.
Most of the day was spent in the World War II Museum. All I can say is WOW! SO well done! A MUST if you are ever in New Orleans. I walked away knowing what my daddy and so many others sacrificed for my freedom. There are four buildings--so plan for most of a day--if you go.
A perfect ending to a wonderful day---a dozen-raw on the half shell followed by fried oyster/shrimp plate in the historic Garden District. YUMMY!
Lest I forget, there was a pat down--going and coming. SAD to realize this is the most intimate touch I have had in a LONG time! SIGH! That and the two hour trip home which turned into nine hours are the highlights I plan to forget of an otherwise wonderful Get Away! And that's all the news here in the Hood, where we are just trying to stay warm this week!