Thursday, April 30, 2015

BUT I NEED IT!

One of the "Little People" has a hoarding corner in their play room.  He tells everyone it is "His things" and the brothers are not allowed to touch it.  Mostly the corner is filled with toys, but he also likes to accumulate toy catalogs and his papers.  My sweet counselor friend explains it is establishing control over his life.  With two younger brothers, all toys are shared and everyone gets a turn.  His corner allows him to establish ownership over a few toys which were given to him.  He is a "Treasure Keeper" and wants the stability of his order when he returns after being away from home.  


If you have ever watched the reality show "Hoarding-Buried Alive", you understand what an issue hoarding can become for some.  A form of OCD, the   show reveals individuals who have lost complete control over their environment by exercising what they think is total control over their possessions.  I have heard the psychologist explain their identity is tied up in their things and even though we might consider it junk--it is a part of who they are.  Those who hoard are convinced the item has value---fiscal or emotional and they refuse to part with their things and allow those things to control their lives.


.  

There is a tendency in some who were around during the Great Depression to become hoarders.  Having lived through those days when there was nothing, they fear they might return and hang on to their possessions.  Those who were around during World War II lived with severe shortages and rationing.  This deprivation lead to washing the aluminum foil to reuse, saving the soap that had melted, finding a need to save anything which might have future use--just in case.

We all flip by the "Hoarder" reality show and think--"NOT ME!"  No way would I ever live in that junk.  They have allowed their stuff to take over their world and rule their lives.  I would NEVER live in a mess like that.

Or Do You?

The junk in your life may be hatred, hard feelings, resentment, jealousy, unforgiveness, anger, or any negative emotion.  When we refuse to give up our "Golden Idols" of negativity, we are accumulating emotional junk in our lives.  Oh you may not be able to physically see it, but there it is, as plain as the nose on your face, crowding out the good and robbing the joy while controlling your thoughts and life.  The only way to "Give it up" is to "Give it over".  Release the negative---ask for help---and accept His helping hand in cleaning out the mess and live a life free of clutter of the ugly and open to the beauty He intends.  I am absolutely sure---we do not need it!


Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you
Philippians 4:8-9

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WHAT I DO KNOW

If you live, at some point, you will grieve.  With any loss we experience there also comes anniversary days--Not the kind of anniversary we enjoy celebrating.  One of my sweet young friends wrote this week of a day which should have called for celebration, but because of her loss, instead brought reminder of her grief.  My heart empathized with her as she poured out her distress.

I have learned dates can be redeemed by God.  I lost my mother on Mother's Day, May 13th and five years later on the same date, my sweet daughter married her Godly husband.  God redeemed a date---and though I always remember the loss of Momma on that date, I also turn my thoughts to the wonderful wedding on the same date. 

The same God who designed an intricately complex system in which we live hears our every cry.  The same God who placed our planets into orbit around our source of heat and light also created the dark of night.  The same God who designed the rotation of the Earth so that we would have defined hours of light and dark also knows the darkness of our grief.  The same God who orders the days of our lives also counts our tears.  



Among God's wonderful promises is the assurance the sun will come up tomorrow.  When the days of intense remembrance draw you into the deep well of intense pain, there is one thing I have learned--one thing I do know---the sun will come up tomorrow.  Life will go on--it will look different--but it can be filled with joy.  Hold on---it is only 24 hours--one day--and tomorrow the sun will come up--you can count on it!


That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other
Isaiah 45:6

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

WASTED?


The two year old who lives with "The Little People" has decided to drop his nap.  Since the little monkey can climb out of his bed, there is no answer to this dilemma short of a straight jacket (for me).  Both of his older brothers discontinued napping at this age.  The REALLY sad thing about this is---his mom and I (when in "The Land of the Little People") would LOVE to have a nap!!  Even a 15-20 minute power nap would be great--but a good hour of exploring the intricacies of the back of my eyelids would be a bonanza.  It seems I need this nap only when visiting them--could have something to do with getting up in the dark and going non-stop until lunch.  SO--the young are given every opportunity and encouraged to nap---but do they take advantage of it---NEVER-
SUCH A WASTE !


These Little People have boundless energy---full speed ahead all day long -everyday.  You might ask what do they do with all of this energy? Dig holes where holes were not meant to be, place themselves into danger and peril by climbing where they are not meant to climb, undoing what you just spent hours doing, dragging out that which was just put away-AGAIN, antagonizing their siblings, and running from the place they are supposed to be -to name just a few.  Here I am in need of just a short burst of energy to get this yard back into shape, get that floor down for my grill, and numerous other projects I do not have the energy to list and am so worn out from chasing them I collapse in a heap.
SUCH A WASTE!


And then there is their metabolism which is the speed of lightning.  They burn off calories faster than they can shovel food into their mouth.  And with this super speedy metabolism, what do they choose to eat---chicken nuggets, pizza, and peanut butter/jelly sandwiches--exclusively!  Here I sit with the taste buds of a food snob and the ability to cook gourmet meals fit for a king and the metabolism of a snail.  A nibble can turn into thunder thighs!

SUCH A WASTE!

I could go on---but there seems to be no point.  The eyesight--the hearing--the strength, the ability to learn...  We seem to never appreciate the gifts we are given in our youth--until we have lost them in our maturity.  If we only knew then, what we know now--but alas no reason for crying over spilled milk---it would result in one more mess to clean up.  Truly it is not wasted--they may be misdirected and uninformed, but there is no waste on our hope for tomorrow.

 "All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,
I Peter 1:24


Monday, April 27, 2015

REVISITING THE LAND OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE

It is the time of year when school begins to wind down and the days are filled with activities, celebrations, and special treats to mark the successful end of another year.  One of the annual milestones endured enjoyed is "Field Day".  A day long burst of events and games for all the children to participate in with the great spirit of whining  competition and team building.  This past weekend with "The Little People", I began to notice everyday all day is field day in their lives!

A great variety of struggles competitions are enjoyed by them throughout the day.  While the games may vary from day to day, there are some that are visited on a daily basis.  For example-

50 yard dash--this is enjoyed numerous times during the day.  The dash may be to the road as they make a beeline for the traffic, to the fence as they make their escape, to chase the dog who someone "accidentally" let out of the back yard, or during a walk when one spots the drainage ditch.  This fun event never fails to give a quick jump start to a lethargic heart beat!



Obstacle course--this cannot be participated in until the course is set by dumping out various plastic soldiers, Lego's, plastic figures, blocks, and numerous other small and sharp items  The point is to get through the room house without injury in the least amount of time to prevent one from injuring the other when they begin tusseling.  Points are added as objects are added to the course.

High jump--the only equipment needed for this competition is the couch.  With the increase of difficulty, the jump earns more points.  For instance, if you merely jump up in front, that is a low point earner;  flat foot jumping the higher arm rests, begins to add points; and finally vaulting over the high back and diving into the cushions earns maximum points--especially if you avoid hitting the coffee table.


Biking-this is revisited several times during the day and the more bikes/riding apparatus you drag out, the more points.  Additional points for style seem to be given for leaving the wheeled vehicles in unusual spots and tucked behind cars.

Wrestling-this event reoccurs several times during the day with each form of wrestling practiced.  Points are determined by how long you can hold down your brother before someone comes to break the hold and rescue him once he begins screaming.



Synchronized swimming-there is less synchronization and more splashing involved in this event as 3 men in even a large tub is not a good idea.  Points are accumulated based upon how much water is out of the tub and on the floor at the end of the event.

Marathon--for the adult--gate keeper--child watcher only---IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE IT IS A MARATHON FROM 6 in the AM until you threaten them with bodily harm if they get up one more time at 8 PM with NO naps---I invite you to come play!

WHAT FUN!  I came home after 48 hours of Lulu duty and collapsed into a wet noodle state.  After my two hour coma, I am ready to go yet again when field day beckons!

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting.
Job 8:21

Sunday, April 26, 2015

THE RIVER

I heard on Amazon while walking this week.  A little sound of bluegrass--gave me a dance in my step as I strolled along.

Sabbath Blessings, Dear Friends!

I

Saturday, April 25, 2015

MEANWHILE HERE IN THE HOOD

Dr SIL is away at a conference, and I have intense Lulu duty this weekend.  NO time to tell you all the exciting and mundane going on here in the Hood.  Try to contain your disappointment!

Friday, April 24, 2015

TRUTH IN LABELING


Yesterday's post brought this text from one of my sweet young friends, 

"I am my worst critic.  I am the worst labeler of myself.  I allow Satan to whisper in my ear and take it to heart.  We ask society to look past our scarlet letter, but do we?"

Guilty on all counts---I label myself with the unflattering lies the world is whispering in my ear.  I allow other's comments to define how I feel about myself.  I dishonor God by ignoring the labels He has given me.

Royal-"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood"  I Peter 2:9

Child of God-"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. John 1:12

Righteous-"So that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
II Corinthians 5:21

Temple-"Do you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit."
I Corinthians 6:19

Friend- "I have called you friends" John 15:15

Body of Christ-"Now you are the body of Christ" I Corinthians 12:27

Citizen-"But our citizenship is in heaven."  Philippians 3:20

Justified-"We have been justified by faith."  Romans 5:1

Ambassador- "We are ambassadors for Christ."  2 Corinthians 5:20

Fragrant-"For we are the aroma of Christ to God." 2 Corinthians 2:15

Chosen-"You did not choose me, but I chose you." John 15:16

Worker-"For we are God's fellow workers." * Corinthians 3:9

Servant-"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another."
Peter 4:10

Light-"Let your light shine before others." Matthew 5:10

Seasoning-"You are the salt of the earth." Matthew 5:13

Sanctified-"Sanctify them in the truth" John 17:17

Saint-"To those sanctified in Christ Jesus" I Corinthians 1:2

Redeemed-"In whom we have redemption." Colossians 1:14

Reconciled- "Through whom we have now received reconciliation." 
Romans 5:11 

Forgiven-"As the Lord has forgiven you" Colossians 3:13

AND my personal favorite:

Beloved-"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine" Song of Soloman 6:3

This is not all of the labels--only a sample of what His word tells us He labels us.  My choice is to believe what the world tells me, or believe the Word of God Almighty.  Why is there even a question?  There is real truth in labeling laced throughout His message to us, but it is a day to day-moment to moment decision of what we believe about ourselves.  As the Little Man says, "WHIIEE?"
For this day, for this moment, I believe what He has told me--I am created in His image and therefore His beautiful beloved-My Forever Label.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

THE SCARLET LETTER

We have spent time this week discussing life as a single--the church--divorce-social strata-and defining qualities.  I am beginning to embrace life alone-much better than fighting the unchangeable.  Alone time allows me to recharge, recount and regroup.  Too much alone time causes atrophy of my social muscles and activation of my depression genes.  Striking a good balance is the key.

I do not mind being labeled as single.  I detest--strongly resent--abhor the label "Divorced"  When discussing this in the context of the church, I stated my feeling of being at the bottom of the social heap since I am divorced.  You see, no one asks for the story of why you are divorced and I must admit I do not offer detailed explanations.  There is a scarlet D on my forehead and there is no room for explanation.  Suffice it to say I cringe when I am asked the question, "Are you married?"  At times I answer no without comment, but there are occasions when more must be said.

As my marriage did not complete me, nor does my divorce define me.  There is so much more to me than current martial status.  It is interesting that as soon as you marry again, you loose the "Divorce" label.  Almost as if it never happened, you are welcomed back into the throngs of the happily married.  You reclaim your spot in the top social layer and never look back to the days in the cellar.

I wonder if there are labels which you resent as well.  Obese, poor, ignorant, old, ugly,  low class--on and on are the labels we place upon our fellow sojourners.  We never look past the surface and judge the book by its cover.  We never turn over the front cover and discover the beauty contained within.  What a loss for us when we refuse to recognize there is a deeper story hidden by the labels we place over the heart of the matter.

I am no longer married--there is shame associated with the word divorce.  It proclaims to the world that I did not finish what I vowed before God only death would part.  It has left unfinished business--with no possibility of finishing it.  The story behind the divorce is painful, but the anguish of no possibility of finishing well is heartbreaking.

I pray you will look beyond the scarlet letter and see my heart.  I pray you will know how much I love The Lord, my family, and my friends.  I pray all of this is used for His good purpose.  I ask that you look beyond the labels and the surface before judging one another.  There is always more to the story than what you see and no one is defined by a single letter.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.
I Corinthians 15:10

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

WHO?

Yesterday's blog brought LOTS of discussion.  If you did not read the comments, it is worth your time to go back and look through them.  I leave yesterday's subject with a quote from a text I received

"There are other reasons for people to not be seen, which is the worst type of rejection; such as appearance, economic status, race, disability, and increasingly old agers who are sick or demented.  We gravitate to people based on affinity which is not biblical."

Are you convicted---I am!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Who am I?  What defines who I am?  I am a woman.  There is more equality between the sexes than ever before---in this country.  I embrace my femininity and the advantages of being female.  The mystery and wonder of a baby growing inside of me and the ability to feed a baby.  The rush of emotion and tears lurking just under the surface--the laughter--the wild swings from the depth of despair to the peak of elation.  All that goes with being the fairer sex--I embrace.  Always a woman

A daughter -for a lifetime--I will always be a daughter.  The loss of my parents did not negate the status of being their daughter.  The sweet memories of childhood, the lessons learned, and the years of innocence are forever etched on my memory.  The formative years  helped shape the person I  became as an adult.  Always a daughter

A student--for a lifetime.  Even after graduating from college the process of learning never stopped.  Professional education was required all the years I worked.  I am a student of The Word--that will never end this side of Heaven.  I am a student of current events, new procedures, new technology, new processes, new information.  There are always things to learn--Always a student

A mother--for a lifetime--I will always be a mother.  The active duty mothering days are over, but my three grown children are still my children.  I am beginning to see a slow reversal of roles as I begin to ask my children for advice.  They know more about medicine, technology, cars, construction--many things than I ever will.  NOT to worry--there are still a few things I have the edge on. They no longer depend upon me--but I am Always a mother

A grandmother---what a wonderful blessing to define me.  What fun--spoil them--indulge them--love them--send them home.  It does not get any better!  I pray I see all my grands grow up--but nothing will ever change the fact I am Always a grandmother.

A friend--old-new--gold--silver--what a gift friendship is.  Being a friend takes time and effort, but the rewards  --oh the rewards.  I have found true friends can pick up where they left off after being separated by distance or circumstance.  The laughter, the fun, the tears, the conversation--all the joy of calling another--Friend.  I am Always a friend

A sister, aunt, cousin, niece.  I will leave this earth forever connected to my extended family.  There is a connection with family---a bond--a commonality of gene pool which is beyond explanation.  I am always a member of my family.

All of these define me, but none of these complete me.  What completes me is being a daughter of The King, the Beloved of Jesus, and the residence for the Holy Spirit.  I am a combination of all, but the glue that holds it together--is the love of The Father.  

So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
Colossians 2:10

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE

Yesterday's blog brought a flurry of comments on the blog, on Facebook, and via email and text.  An excerpt from a text I received bears sharing,


"All seems like Daisy chains when Christians are literally being beheaded or thrown overboard."

AMEN!

YET-we all seem to feel the need to worship--be it in a home church all the way to the largest of the mega churches.  Our hearts and souls desire to worship the Most High with those of like mind. There is a reason there are so many different denominations and churches---we are all individuals.  The perfect or near perfect fit is determined by "our corporate worship heritage and culture" and the place we find ourselves today based upon our cumulative worship experiences.

End of today's comments concerning yesterday's blog.




Today concerns my view of attending church as a single woman and  my hyper awareness of what seems to be a caste system within the body.  I dare say-I may be the only one who feels this way and depending upon your situation it may never have occurred to you there is any division among the body.  This ONLY reflects my perspective and admittedly I am super sensitive.

The line up of the castes seems to be a division based upon martial status.  I have been at the top and now sit at the bottom, so I understand some of the reasons for this happening.  The top social order of the church is the complete family.  Depending upon the church, within this division those with children still at home may take the top step, especially in today's Bible churches and the other married couples just below.  The widows are on equal ground with those who are married, but receive special honorary status due to their loss.  Then you have the singles---those singles who have never been married are at the top of this division, but at the bottom of the layers are those who are divorced.

In fairness, I never experienced this in the last church I belonged to in Ruston.  Perhaps because I was married when I began attending it, perhaps because the body had learned who I was, and perhaps it was just the church.  I will never know, but I never felt slighted because of the change in my martial status.  In fact I felt supported and uplifted during some of the darkest days of my life.

What do I base my system on?  Observation and experiences.  When a church has a Sunday School class comprised of divorced women, it struck me as strange.  When asked my martial status and having to say divorced, I had some become uncomfortable and look for an exit to the conversation.  In general many within the Body seem uncomfortable with divorce and not know quite what to do with someone who is in this situation.

What is my solution?  In the wonderful small group, which I was part of for almost 10 years, we had a wide range of age and martial status.  Varying ages by 30 years and married,  widowed, and divorced were all represented.  It looked like life!  There is so much to be gained from one another--if we only take the time to listen to the stories and experiences of those who are not our mirror image.  It was a beautiful thing to witness everything from birth to death and all that can come in between.  We lived life together, upheld each other, and loved each other well.  We looked at each other through the eyes of acceptance and no prejudice.  It was an equal playing field.

"Birds of a feather flock together,"  may be true especially within The Church.  I find it quite interesting the other institution here that I belong to, The Y, seems to be quite different.  I have made friends with singles, divorced, married, same sex couples, reprobates, and saints.  There seems to be no prejudice when working together for the goal of fitness.  Interesting!  Is the common goal, the great equalizer?  What about the common goal of worshiping Almighty God?

I am reminded who Jesus sought out and hung around with.  NOT the married couples with 2.25 kids or the empty nester sailing into the sunset together.  No, Jesus, sought the sinners, the fallen, the disenfranchised, the shunned, the outcast.  Jesus looked at all through the eyes of love and grace.  OH, that we could emulate his actions and love one another.

Am I off base?  Are you inclusive of all-no matter their martial status?  Anxious to hear from you again.  Perhaps I need to grow a thicker skin ---tell me what you think.

  I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.--Romans 16:17







Monday, April 20, 2015

SITTING IN THE PEW

If your toes have a tendency to be tender, please be warned you may need to lift them or take them to another blog--these words are MY thoughts and not gospel!  If you are happy with your church, please read another day, for I fear you will not understand where I am coming from and I am delighted you are planted where you can bloom.




Once again I am wandering around in the WWC (Wide World of Church).  Frustrated & guilt laden, I am in the wilderness roaming --looking in doors-seeking an oasis of church community--and left with no answer of how to find it.  Not taking this lightly, I am on a quest for answers of where He wants me to be planted.

It seems you have two choices in the world of church, the huge mega church (my last stopping off point) or the small church where everyone knows your name.  My observation about the mega church is it can resemble attending a Broadway production or a rock concert.  You walk in the worship center and are blown away at all the bells and whistles--from an orchestra to a rock band--to a laser light show--to fog machines--from choirs the size of a short battalion to worship teams with the talent to be on American Idol.  The church I was attending had a God ordained pastor who delivered God's word every week and left me walking away inspired, motivated, and knowing God was using Him to communicate His word to me.  I grew up in a small church--attended another one as an adult for over 25 years.  Everyone knew everyone and there was a great feeling of community, but the choir (which I was part of) though full of sweet and some really talented people was closer to the one in Andy Griffith's church and far short of the Brooklyn Tabernacle.  The pastors were great men of God who were stretched thin trying to manage the business affairs of the church, pastor the flock, attend all the committee meetings, and teach twice on Sunday.  

Having thought this over, there is nothing wrong with the bells and whistles of the mega church--if you are still able to worship and remember the reason you are there.  Would we not want to use our very best and all the finest during our time of worship?  And the small church, the challenge may well be keeping the distraction of personalities from interfering with our reason for being there.  Something tells me if I am sitting in worship thinking about the person across the aisle who did not agree with me in committee meeting, I might as well have stayed home.

SO--what should church look like?  In the Old Testament, God drew up the plan of a magnificent synagogue.  In the synagogue, the priest approached God for you.  Offerings for sin atonement, thanksgiving, celebration were all presented by the priest, for man had no right to approach a Holy God.  All this changed with the New Testament.  With Jesus offering the final and complete sacrifice, the curtain was torn and we were allowed to approach God ourselves.  No longer was the priest required, but now Jesus became our intercessor.  The New Testament church met in homes--perhaps for security reasons, but there was church.  So the Bible contains both the mega church and the small body of believers.

I know we are charged to assemble together.  I know Paul's letters were written to churches.  The benefits of community are endless, my challenge has been how to establish my community.  For almost ten years, I was blessed to be part of a community group which closely resembled what church probably should look like, so I have seen the promised land.  Since arriving in Fort Worth, I have struggled with how to attain the same.  I joined a small group and it was a great small group, but in the mega church those 12 people were the only people I knew beyond a very casual basis.  I walked in church Sunday after Sunday lost in a crowd of 2,000 and left many times with not one word spoken to me beyond the greeters hello at the door.  In fairness, I am certain many others who sat around me probably feel the same way.  It is the feeling of being a small island among a chain of islands in a vast ocean.   I tried a small church here recently and came away with the feeling I had attended the wrong family reunion.  

Here is my conclusion, I need church--God desires me to be in church.  Church is filled with all of us fallen people who fail each other over and over, and yet love each other.  I cannot expect others who struggle just as I do to fulfill my needs-I have to look to God for direction and take the next step.  My choice is the mega church with the gifted pastor and impressive worship team and the feeling of anonymity beyond the small group or the small church which will take time (how much time do I have) to establish community.  There is no question though I need to establish community--I want-desire to be hand in hand with those who love the Lord.

I do not have an answer--beyond God wants me in community.  There is more to come in another post--walking in church alone.  For today, I welcome your comments, suggestions, and even lambasting--iron sharpens iron and we can learn from each other.  In the meantime, I remember why I am in church--to worship a mighty God and for the community who serve to encourage me as we seek the goal together.


Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:25

Sunday, April 19, 2015

MY LIGHTHOUSE


I Love These People!




I am in the midst of some deep thinking about "The Church"

But for today-let us all agree--

HE IS OUR LIGHTHOUSE


Saturday, April 18, 2015

MEANWHILE HERE IN THE HOOD

Once again Friday night rolls around and I have my weekly sleep over pal here with me.



He is like sleeping with an alligator!

It was decided a little excavation work needed to be done in my backyard while he was here.



Followed by a wild game safari, as he searched for the lizard who lives under the potting shelf.



During the late afternoon, we took a stroll to the neighborhood park and discovered the Mother's Mafia was meeting.  While they were circled up plotting their next caper, their children were all in the drainage ditch by the railroad tracks playing--completely out of eyesight.  



OKAY---perhaps it was a Girl Scout meeting--BUT from a distance it could have been the Mother's Mafia!



-AND--these neighbors--they are still gone-but still sneak by occasionally and at times meet various workers at their house.  I have now come to the conclusion they work with the FBI and are making renovations on their house to establish a safe house for someone who is now in the witness protection program.



And this neighbor--the house sitter has disappeared also.  All is dark and quiet on the corner leading me to believe two different people have now been kidnapped.  Since they have no local family or ties, the alarm has not been sounded.  Perhaps aliens are the culprits and they have been zapped away for the study of the inhabitants of planet Earth.  Aliens always know who they can zap without raising a fuss.

There is a house for sale in the middle of the block.  Please come be my neighbor and invite me to swim in the pool in the backyard of your new house.




After the "garage caper" during the week, I am happy to report, after a little brain storming, I was able to trip the lock and open the garage door once again.  So except for the hole in the wall from the apartment foyer into the garage, which still has not been finished, all is well.  I think the cardboard over the hole adds a little shabby chic to the entire thing--well shabby for sure.

AND THE BLUEBONNETS ARE BLOOMING!








  

Friday, April 17, 2015

THE NEXT STEP

There seems to be a tendency of some to compare our grief with that of others.  I recently saw a post on social media which stated, "I have been divorced and lost a spouse and the most difficult grief was the death."  In the midst of fresh grief, the grief we are experiencing always seems to be the most profound.  As I have thought this over, it dawned on me this is one contest I do not care to win.  The medal of suffering has a sharp pin which pierces our hearts over and over every day as we put it on.  It would be easier to decline the medal and embrace the mediocrity of less pain.




  If I were to create a scale of loss (which I would never presume to do), the loss of a child would always be at the top.  Loss and the grief of loss is  individual and until the day we learn to jump into the skin of another---we have no ability to gauge the degree of pain and the suffering endured by another.

Thinking of Job and the loss he endured, perhaps I will give him the winning edge-after all he truly lost it all----OR did he?  He lost his wife, his children, his livestock, his health, his wealth--you name it and Satan stripped it all away.  AND BOY---did Job grieve--he deserved to sit and grieve if anyone ever did.  BUT--Job did not loose God--he questioned God--he called out to God--but Job never turned from God and God was always present.  All that he lost and more were restored to him after Satan was sent away. BUT keep in mind--his family-the same family who died were gone and Job had to learn to live with the grief of their loss.  He took the next step and continued to live his life---but while material goods can be restored his family that was had been forever altered.  Job bravely took the next step, but the void created by the loss of his family would never change.  A new family does not take the place of the old family.




So rather than compare, perhaps we would be better suited to draw along side those who are grieving and sit with them in their grief.  There are no good words of healing ever--for those who are grieving.  There is the comfort of presence and knowledge of support.  An outstretched hand to help with the next step speaks volumes.  Job had to get up and take his next step to continue on with life.  His "friends" attempts at talking him out of his grief were for naught.  Job ultimately turned to God and God gave him answers.  Then Job managed to get up and take the next step. And the day after the first step, perhaps he took two steps.  With God's help, Job stood up and faced the future by taking just one step at a time.




God created us to suffer when we experience loss--whatever that loss may be.  God does not want us to become mired in the pit of martyrdom.  He is cheering us on as we bravely take the next step in our own good time.  Life may be forever altered, but life can still be joy filled.  The path to joy begins with one step.  I pray we are all courageous enough to take that most important first step.


“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
II Corinthians 1:3-4




Thursday, April 16, 2015

NO COMPLAINING

We had a BIG storm in FW Monday, while I was lifting weights at the Y--THANKFULLY!  Since it was already raining and messy-I did not park in my garage when I arrived home.  Not until Tuesday night garbage take out did I discover all three of my electric garage door openers were inoperable.  Obviously the lightning tripped the breaker.  Here is the HUGE catch--in houses built 90+ years ago, the garages were detached.  There is no other entrance into my garage.  I went to bed thinking SURELY there has to be a secret to getting into those doors.




After tutoring this AM, I called the service company.  The man curtly told me I was fresh out of luck--there is no way to get into the garage.  GROAN!  WHIIEE!
I began brain storming how to get in--after all my lawn mower and garden tools are in there!  After coming up with an idea, I called #1 son who happens to be a carpenter extraordinaire--THANKFULLY.  We concur a hole has to be cut to get into the garage and a door put in to allow entrance in the future if this happens again.

Even though I live in Egypt, I have acquired a relationship with a handyman-who I have on speed dial.  He came over and cut the hole--turns out it is not a simple job of cutting through the sheet rock.  There is fire board in the vestibule where I am cutting the door and the garage on the other side is ship lap siding-which means a lot of cutting.  The deed is done--I am back into the garage.  All that remains is adding the door and framing it out.  Well except for the garage door which the handyman locked while fooling with it and I have no key and cannot seem to get to trip from the inside.  OH WELL, I'll think about that tomorrow, Scarlett!

I have been praying for God to give me thoughts beyond myself---CAREFUL what you pray for!  I am not complaining!  I live in a country where I am not persecuted or in fear of losing my life because of my faith, I am healthy, I have a roof over my head and food on my table and a plethora of loved ones.




Today my brick making was a little more difficult since the straw was short changed, but I still got the bricks made.  Brick making is an honorable profession and not everyone can be the architect, not everyone can be the contractor, not everyone can be the supervisor, but we all can make bricks and what would we have--if someone didn't make the bricks!  It's the small things that make a difference.  Each and every small deed done in a way to reflect His glory--you never know who is watching you making your bricks.


Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:17

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

WHILE LIVING IN EGYPT

Fort Worth has been my own personal "Land of Egypt" in many ways.  I left my "Promised Land" of Ruston, which I will always consider home, and moved to the foreign country of Fort Worth.  Leaving behind all I was familiar with and took for granted, I moved to the land of different.  Different is not always bad--it is exactly that- not the same but different.  Some things have been extremely difficult--leaving behind a lifetime of friends, the feeling of being invisible, the family I left behind, the loss of church family, and the wonderful sense of the familiarity of being known.  Walking in any store in town and always knowing someone--the random hugs--the waves and smiles--and the ability to look to and count on your neighbors.  There have also been the positives of the foreign country--Joseph was a citizen of Egypt and greeted his family upon their arrival--so I have been greeted with the love of #1 Daughter, Dr. SIL and their clan.  I am always greeted with upraised hands and hugs of some little munchkin.  The availability of so much which only comes with living in the big city.  It has been a challenge, but I am learning to make bricks and on some days make bricks with less straw.  There is always something to be learned in each new life experience.  Some days the lessons are more difficult than we think we can endure, but the sun always comes up tomorrow and our hope lies in the sure knowledge of God's awareness of where we are living.  I remind myself that Jesus fled to the land of Egypt as did God's Chosen People--God sometimes sends us to the "Land of Egypt."


Many of you are living in your own "Land of Egypt".  A foreign land where you have not only never lived, but in some cases may have had no desire to dwell within.  The land of loss of precious loved ones from death, the land of life threatening or perhaps terminal illness, the land of no job, the land of life altering handicaps, the land of delusion, depression, or dejection, and on and on.  Leaving the familiar and comfortable and embarking upon the journey to the different.  When plunged into your own personal "Land of Egypt", what are you to do?  How do you learn to make bricks much less face the possibility of less straw?  There is only one way to face the foreign country--only one hope when days seem hopeless--one strong and certain tower of strength while living in the unfamiliar--one way to face the bondage of fear--and HE is faithful.  He abides with you whereever you dwell--even in the Land of Egypt.

And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt
Matthew 2:14

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

GARDENING

It is my favorite time of the year--and I am back out in my yard.  The first thing which has to be done is clean out all of the beds and pull all of the weeds before planting spring/summer annuals.  I have been as high the the highest step of the ladder trimming limbs and as low as on my hands and knees pulling out those hated weeds.  If I planted all the new annuals without pulling the weeds and preparing the beds, I would end up with weeds choking out the desired annuals in a very short time. Weeds can be very deceptive since they often have blooms--but they always end up ugly.   It is a day to day struggle keeping those weeds at bay allowing the beauty of the flowers to crown  a well groomed garden.


My next door neighbor has a lush and thick crop of bamboo in her backyard.  I don't know if you realize---you do NOT want bamboo in your yard.  The bamboo will send out runners under the fence and send a shoot up in my beds.  It takes constant vigilance and a love of spraying round up to keep the dreaded bamboo from getting a start in my yard.  Bamboo is extremely invasive and will take over the entire yard in one season if you are not careful.

I have a high fence at the back of my lot which hides the alley running behind the houses on this block.  After finishing my walk recently, I happened to look down the alley and discovered a tall covering of weeds.  It is time to get the mower and weed eater and attack the jungle--before it also encroaches upon my yard.

Long hours of tending my yard will all prove for naught, if I do not keep the weeds under control.  They must be pulled up by the roots, sprayed with weed killer, or cut back into submission or the beautiful garden and lawn will begin to look like a cluttered-unkept-unloved jungle-devoid of the beautiful flowers and filled with the thick mesh of unwanted weeds.


Our hearts are the gardens of our souls.  They also require careful tending and weeding out of the junk so that the beautiful can thrive.  If we allow the shoots of sin to begin to invade our garden, in no time it will be a mesh of the ugliness of sin allowed to grow wild.  There is no more important garden and the Master Gardener stands ready to remove the weeds of sin and restore the beauty of the bloom.  We only have to allow Him entry---into our Secret Garden of our hearts

."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. - 
Isaiah 58:11

Monday, April 13, 2015

LESSONS FROM THE LITTLE MAN

The sweet look of innocence we all have while sleeping-


Have I ever mentioned The Little Man is two---YES--TWO---I know it all--have discovered a mind of my own---want to try it all--do not understand the word, "NO!"--been here a full two years independent man-child.

His very favorite word these days-----WHIIIIEEE???? (Why for those who do not speak two year old).  Do not run out into that road-----WHIIEE?  Do not throw hard things in the house----WHIIEE?  Do not climb on the top of those shelves----WHIIEE?  Put that entire bag of chocolate kisses back into the cabinet-----WHIIEE?  Do not knock the other children on the playground down---WHIIEE?  Do not pick up that live snake--WHIIEE? Don't grab that bumblebee---WHIIEE?  The day is filled with a long list of instructions--which is always followed by his question---WHIIEE?

I must admit I have to bite the end of my tongue to not say, "Because I said so."  After all that was the reply I raised my children on--perhaps better than the fear  to ever question my parents.  The explanation if I had questioned their directives would have been  more physical than verbal.  So perhaps with generations we are improving our parenting, we can only hope.  When he questions, WHIIEE--I explain why---the danger of the traffic, the harm caused by hard objects hurled at great speeds, the danger of the shelves turning over on you, the sick stomach an entire bag of chocolate will create, how we would hurt someone if we knocked them down, how the snake might bite, and the bumblebee might sting.  A lesson in cause and effect which hopefully is sinking into the stubborn two year old brain.  

Sadly I find my mature brain also asking the question---WHY?  When I look around me and see the suffering and pain so many are enduring; when I see the homeless--poor--destitute standing with empty stomachs;, when mothers loose children; when children loose mothers;, when entire families-towns-counties are destroyed in fire or storm; when nations rage against nation; when citizen attacks citizen; when there seems no end to the suffering---WHY?  

I have no answer to my "Why?".  I do have God---and know who God is--know His character--and that He loves us individually--limitlessly--eternally.  Obedience to His directives by doing my part--whether in service or prayer and most important trusting---having faith--believing it is not without cause and He has a good purpose.  I must learn to obey and trust and turn my whys into "Thy Will"--not mine.  

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Romans 5:3-5

Sunday, April 12, 2015

THE SAME GOD



The Same God

Who created this vast universe we live within
Who created the sun to light the skies
And the moon and stars in the vastness of space
Who threw the planets into their orbits
Marked by precision and predictability
Never lost over the ages

The Same God

Who created the earth and the water
The vast oceans in between
Who made the highest mountain and
The deep unexplored recesses of the deepest ocean
Who created every climate and environment
And all the uncountable intricacies of life within each one

The Same God

Who created all life in all forms
From the smartest and strongest to the tiny one cell
Who knew the hierarchy of species
And the dependence of one upon another
Who understood the need for a food chain
Before the first pang of hunger began

The Same God

Who created life in a such a manner
To allow for the continuation of life through pro-creation
Who knew the need for male and female
And the miracle of the two being joined
Who witnessed the first birth
And every one since and knew it was good

The Same God

Who created man and woman
And the intricate body systems within
Who knew the interaction required to sustain life
And what it would take to make it all work
Who knit us together in His own image
And for His good pleasure

The Same God

Who watches over a world filled with souls
And yet still knows our every thought
Who counts our tears and holds them in his hand
And desires our laughter and joy as we delight in Him
Who protects us with angels and sends us saints
And desires to fill the God sized holes in our souls

The Same God

Who watches over this vast universe second by second
And knows long before it happens all that will occur
Who created us for His own good purpose
And will take what man intends for evil and turn it to right
Who is all powerful, all mighty, all knowing
And beyond our mind's ability to comprehend

The Same God

Has a perfect plan for each and every soul
Who are called according to His purpose
He is the fountain of life eternal and
The living water for today
He has us in the palm of his hand
And He is our hope for tomorrow

The Same God

Loves us beyond our mind's comprehension
Provides a way to live with Him eternally
Bears our sorrow and our pain
Watches over us every moment
May the will of This Same God
Be done in all those who call Him by name.