Sunday, January 31, 2016

THROUGH ALL OF IT

I AM SO THANKFUL

HE HAS BEEN

BY MY SIDE

THROUGH IT ALL

 ~ ~ ~

BLESSED SABBATH,

DEAR FRIENDS!


Saturday, January 30, 2016

MEANWHILE HERE IN THE HOOD

We DO tend to get a bit annoyed here in the hood about the dog poop issue.  Based upon my unscientific survey, the dog population seems to be greater than the human here in the hood.  Since the canines must find relief from poop backup as they are walked--it becomes an issue as to the placement of said poop.    A neighbor posted on the Hood FB page this reminder-


As much as I appreciate your picking up your precious pups poop, I don't appreciate your leaving it on the sidewalk in front of my house. If you're going to take the time to pick it up and package it so nicely, please take the time to take it home and dispose of it properly.


We did a little Valentine craft this week when I went to mentor my student.  It actually turned out pretty close to the instructions.


AND it turns out one of my neighbor's mother grew up in Rocky Branch which is a few miles from where I grew up in Farmerville  Then today I had lunch with someone I randomly met on line---their grandparents lived in Spearsville which is also a few miles away in the same parish.

SO my conclusion----the world truly does all originate in Union Parish


OR- IT TRULY IS A SMALL WORLD!


AND THE REALLY BIG NEWS THIS WEEK

THIS LITTLE SWEETIE

TURNED ONE YESTERDAY





HER BROTHERS ARE SO SWEET 

AND PROTECTIVE





MY HOW THIS YEAR HAS FLOWN BY!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I LEAVE YOU WITH THIS LITTLE DITTY

WATCH IT TO THE END

HAS A GREAT LESSON IN HUMANITY






STILL LIVING LIFE LARGE

HERE IN THE HOOD!

Friday, January 29, 2016

COME TO JESUS AND LEARN HOW TO WEEP

This excerpt from a John Piper sermon, found on the "Desiring God" website is my answer to why I cry so easily now----a beautiful explanation of how Christ sensitizing us to reality.  A recent discussion about the tension in life---the bad things that happen and yet God's abundant blessings explored this very topic.  The struggle to reconcile how the hard---difficult---unbearable--painful--things of life could possibly be used for God's good purpose and His glory.  And then I read this and I am reminded the sorrow is NOT the main thing---it is just the real thing.


Becoming a Christian is an awakening: an awakening to the pervasiveness of sin, to the subtleties of evil, to our need for Christ, and to the realities of daily life. Without grace, the world desensitizes us and dulls our spiritual vision and numbs our spiritual needs to pure ignorance. So in Christ we are brought to life, given a tender heart, and given new levels of sensitivity when it comes to pain of life. In a recent sermon in Milwaukee at the Campus Outreach 2015 New Years Conference, John Piper addressed Paul’s testimony in2 Corinthians 6:8–10, where Paul writes about his suffering in these pairs: “through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.” Piper gives a summary of Paul’s words:
People see us as imposters. But in spite of that, we are real.
We are virtually unknown in the Roman Empire, nobodies. But in spite of that, we are well known by the one person in the universe who matters.
We are dying and our bodies are wasting away. But in spite of that our eternal life in Christ is untouchable.
We are punished. But in spite of that, God hasn’t seen fit, yet, to take us home.
We are sorrowful about sin and misery and pain in this world and in ourselves. But in spite of that, our joy is unshaken and constant.
We are poor and have little wealth in this world. But in spite of that, we make many rich with the one treasure in the universe that counts more than anything.
We are nothing compared to the lovers of this world and we have nothing. In spite of that, we are heirs with Christ of the Father’s estate, which means we own everything.
That is the way it works, right? Are we together? In spite of these things, these things stand, which shows that the emphasis is on the second half of all these pairs here including “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” The joy in the Christian’s life is the rugged thing, the durable thing, the lasting thing. And the sorrow is not the main thing. It is just the real thing.
One of the most amazing things about becoming a Christian is that it awakens you to more sorrow. You come to Christ and you are not naïve. You suddenly wake up to pain. Of course there is pain for unbelievers, but they have no sense of how big it is, how horrible it is, or how long it can endure. To be a Christian is to be awake to cancer and birth defects and profound mental disabilities and divorce and child abuse including abortion and terrorism and earthquakes and tsunamis and racial hostilities and prejudices and white-collar crime and sex trafficking and poverty and hunger and a thousand daily frustrations that make life very hard. Every Christian is increasingly sensitized to these things.
The gospel brings life, right? And living things are awake and alert and touchable by other things. Which means, welcome to Christ and greater sorrow. I have little patience with ministries that sell Jesus with the promise that he will make your life easier. He doesn’t. I promise you. He makes it real. He makes it eternal. And he makes the joy in it indomitable and invincible, but so do your sorrows rise. Come to Jesus and learn how to weep. The world doesn’t know how to weep for lost people. They are one. They don’t even believe in it. They don’t believe in hell. They don’t see to the bottom of anyone’s pain. They see pain. They feel pain. But they don’t see to the bottom of it. Christians are the saddest people in the world — and the happiest.
Do you feel that? I am getting this from 2 Corinthians 6:10: “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” Not sequential; simultaneous. Do you hear it? Sorrowful, yet always in, under, around sorrow: joy. There isn’t any other kind in a not-yet-saved world, right? If you think, “I have got to have all of the sadness out of my life — I have got to get all of the sorrow and brokenness out of my life — then I might be happy,” you won’t have any. You will never get all of the sorrow and all of the brokenness out of your life. The more you love, the more you hurt.
So I love this phrase. I love it. I don’t want to be sad. Frankly, I hate sorrow. I hate it. I don’t want to cry. I don’t want to cry. I don’t like crying. And I can’t control the phone calls that come, the doctor’s report, the nine-year-old missionary kid who fell on Christmas day, bumped her head, and died. We know those people.
So the gospel brings life, and in this life comes sensitivity to reality, and reality is really sad in a not-yet-saved world.
A beautiful and profound explanation! 

 THE DICHOTOMY OF LIFE-SORROWFUL--YET REJOICING

sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
II Corinthians 6:10

Thursday, January 28, 2016

IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE

I saw a sight tonight that I can not get off my mind.  As I left the shelter--after dark and in the cold---I spotted a woman walking down the sidewalk.  She had a huge rolling suitcase and two stuffed plastic bags.  She would roll her suitcase a block---leave it-go back and get the plastic bags and repeat.  It broke my heart.  The shelter is located in a part of town where you do not stop after dark and on a street with heavy traffic.  I could not help her---I have prayed for this nameless homeless over and over since---but it pulled at my heart strings to see her struggle.  Now why was she not in the shelter?  I have no idea--and will never know.  I do know the last meal was being served at the shelter as I left and she was headed the other way.

Photo credit:america.aljazeera.com

NOW--before you tell me this is a choice for many---I know that---what I also know is the poor are among us for a reason.  What response is required from us?  I have heard many great plans for helping the very least of the least.  From handing out gift cards to fast food restaurants and grocery stores to carrying sacks with water, peanut butter crackers, granola bars etc. to hand out.  My normal response is when God prompts I give enough cash to buy a meal.  Dangerous--perhaps--and perhaps the money will go for the wrong things---but I am not in charge of that--I am in charge of my response.


Jesus told us---"The poor will be with you always"--which might cause the question---Why?  And this statement is repeated in three of the Gospels--so it bears great importance.  Perhaps they are among us for good reason.  Perhaps it is not all about them--but our response to them.  For some it certainly is a choice--but I have met many a family while volunteering  that this is not the life they would prefer.  They are desperately seeking a boost to get back into the real world and out of the dorm life of the shelter.  The mission is doing an excellent job of giving them that arm up to self sufficiency.  

The purpose of this post is not all I have said to this point, but instead--

IF YOU HAD TO LIVE LIKE THE HOMELESS
WHAT WOULD BE IN YOUR BAG?

If you were limited to only the possessions you could carry, what would you take with you?  Knowing that you would be responsible for physically carrying it all---what would be important?  This gives new meaning to minimalism.  I do not have an answer for you--the intent is for you to think it over---I have done a great deal of thinking since I saw this poor woman last night. 


If you had to choose, what would make the cut?

For you always have the poor with you,
but you will not always have me.
Matthew 26:11

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

WHEN MORE SHOULD BE LESS


I spent a couple of hours recently watching episodes of "Tiny Houses".  Intrigue was my take away.


Photo Credit-Lucia @Guruphotos

There is a movement afoot among many to minimize the stuff in their lives.  I have done that very thing, but it was more like being dragged whining and moaning than choosing to downsize.


I must admit--it has been freeing.  But as I watched this series, I thought of how little storage tiny homes have--and how little room to enjoy community.  There is a lot to be said for having a minimum number of dishes--pots & pans--towels--and even clothes.  After all how many outfits can you wear at one time?  And the concept of everything having a dual purpose is extremely efficient.

And the thought of being able to pull up stakes and live in a wide assortment of places has a great deal of appeal.  I did notice in the picture above---they still have a u haul---I assume full of stuff.  Perhaps it is bicycles, kayaks, camping equipment---toys necessary to live the adventurous life.  AH--but where are they going to put that stuff?


The authors of books telling us how to achieve this minimalist life style have exploded.  I assume they MUST all be for your Kindle or computer---since you CERTAINLY will not have room for a bunch of books in this world of less.


One of the most interesting points of the entire process was listening to the priorities of each home builder.  One couple had 4 (FOUR) cats that did not get along and needed separate space and entertainment such as scratching posts and swinging bridges for their fur menagerie.  Another couple owned a 145 pound St Bernard---who needed to be able to climb up the ladder and sleep with them.  And then there was the woman who HAD to have her clothes--and a walk in closet---so 1/3 of her total space was dedicated to her wardrobe.  These houses ranged from 150 Sq Ft. to 400 Sq Ft., and the process of determining the musts was fascinating.  With limited space--you quickly learn what has priority in your life.

This Minimalist Philosophy is fascinating and the more I read---the more I understand the growing trend among the young.  Today, while writing this, it occurred to me one of the true minimalist was Jesus.  I assume since he was a traveling preacher man---he only had what he could carry on his back.  He left his home and family and his things behind and spent his time and energy teaching - healing - counseling - loving and ultimately dying for us.  Possessions and worldly worth were not important to Him---man was.  

Perhaps we could all take a lesson from His life.  I am not telling you to give away all your worldly possessions, but instead do not become a slave to owning them.  I am saying we should all think before we obtain--consider what we already own and its necessity.  I went through my already pared down closet this weekend and once again found clothes I had not worn for a year.  It can sit in my closet or I could share with those who have so little.  One author declared our need of stuff comes out of the spirit of fear.  Many who were around for the Great Depression lived their lives as horders--which stemmed from the fear of having so little ever again.  

SO---rise above this spirit of fear---live beyond the need for more stuff--and search for the true priorities---that which is really important.

15 For the Spirit that God has given you does not make you slaves and cause you to be afraid; instead, the Spirit makes you God's children, and by the Spirit's power we cry out to God, “Father! my Father!”
Romans 8:15


Monday, January 25, 2016

CHECKS AND BALANCES

Today, My Friends, you will be pleased to know I am giving a short course in accounting.  BEFORE you hit the X---give me a fighting chance--accounting is not ALL boring and dull!



In the vast and titillating word of accounting, we have what used to be a set of books---thus--bookkeeping.  In today's world that would not be books, but a series of computer printouts.  At any rate, the daily record of accounting events is recorded in a journal.  So all checks, sales receipts, purchases, etc.-the day to day operations are first recorded in these journals.
  



NOW--hold on to the edge of your seat---at the end of the month, these journals are totaled AND the totals are transferred to the General Ledger.  The General Ledger is the complete set of accounts for all assets (things you own), liabilities (things you owe), capital (what your are worth), income (money coming in) and expenses (self explanatory).  AND---DRUM ROLL---all this will be in balance---or the total of the accounts will be 0.  It is accounting magic---and I am sure I have already lost you!  Remember  back to your days in math and algebra--the equation was always the same amount on both sides of the = sign--NOW you see the picture.

All this to say---the day to day transactions are totaled and transferred to the general ledger which is a summary of the big picture.  How you are doing is then recorded monthly in a set of financial statements---or the statement of operations.  Fascinating I know---but the beauty of all this---when you look at those financial statements---it ALL balances---or each side of the balance sheet there is the same number.  REALLY--it IS MAGIC!  And it all operates on a system of checks and balances!




As I was going over this exciting concept, I began thinking of the journals so many keep.  The day to day record of life--sometimes a spiritual journal--other times a diary of life's happenings--but always a record of the past.  Fascinating reading--well in some cases anyway!  These journals become a history book.


And then there are those little lists of the plus's and minus's based upon a real human being.  Perhaps the list is the attributes versus the flaws of someone, or perhaps the list is what I have done for you versus the missed opportunities of what you should have done for me.  You KNOW of what I speak---we keep these mental ledgers (hopefully NOT on paper) and our relationship is greatly influenced by these lists.  If the minus side begins to weigh the scale down---the relationship will suffer.



And then there is the Book of Life which we have been told St. Peter keeps as he guards the Pearly Gates to Heaven.  NOW---this all comes from Christ giving Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:19) and there being 12 gates of Pearl to the New Jerusalem or Heaven (Revelations 21:21).  It is not scriptural that Peter is the one to decide who gets in and who doesn't---BUT for the sake of the blog---suppose he DID have the BOOK OF LIFE and you were standing before him asking admittance.  Does your ledger balance?  Are you sins offset by your good deeds?  We are ALL sinful and fall short---BUT the good news---the books are balanced-your page is marked "PAID IN FULL" by Jesus.  No need for your justification---HE provides the justification that you may enter---and throws open the gates widely and invites you to enter---His home of many mansions and eternally balanced books!


Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,


Romans 5:1





Sunday, January 24, 2016

IN HIS HAND

AMAZING TALENT

ONE MAN

FOUR PARTS

"No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand."


Saturday, January 23, 2016

MEANWHILE HERE IN THE HOOD

THE REALLY BIG NEWS

FOR THE NEXT

THREE WEEKS

ABOUT A MILE FROM THE HOOD


IT BEGINS THIS WEEKEND

WITH MOSTLY

THE STOCK SHOW


WITH ANIMALS

OF ALL

VARIETIES


TODAY'S EVENTS

FEATURED THE

LLAMA COMPETITION


AND THE RUMOR IS

THE COWBOYS

ARE COMING

TO TOWN

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

SINCE ALL ELSE IS QUIET

HERE ARE SOME OF MY 

REGULAR VIEWS-

THIS IS A PORTION

OF THE TRINITY TRAILS

NEAR MY HOME


AND THIS IS LESS THAN 

A MILE FROM THE BUNGALOW

FORT WORTH BOTANICAL GARDENS


AND IT'S SO COLD HERE


STILL LIVING LIFE LARGE

HERE IN THE HOOD!

Friday, January 22, 2016

MR. FIX IT

How easy it is to yell from the mountain tops, "God is Good!"---

when you have been healed
when you are experiencing success
when the bad has turned to good
when all is right with your world.

Social media has given us the perfect venue to announce to a big audience--sometimes a huge audience that God has been good to us.  But it also can lead us to believe there might be something wrong with us--or we have done something wrong--or that God does not love us when our own circumstances are less than stellar and we can not begin to get a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel.



God deserves the glory for all the blessings we receive, but the quiet is deafening when things are not sunshine and roses.  We all fail to post those hard times---who wants Debbie Downer updates?  For good reason, we know others do not want our reports on

chronic-incurable illnesses
financial reversals
bad that has lead to worse
our world is in chaos.

Perhaps we are hesitant to post these because we do not want others to think we are not worthy of God's blessings




Somehow we get the twisted notion that good rains upon the good.  And if we are not even getting a sprinkle--then it serves to reason--we must not be good enough.

OR--- are we waiting for God to "Fix it"---for after all we have told Him we will give Him ALL the glory---



NOW-Friends---what are you going to say about God when He does NOT fix it?

HOLD ON TO YOUR HAT--



God's plan is NOT our plan!  He sees the long term picture---and is not frozen on one still shot.  For 40---FORTY years His own chosen people wandered around in the desert.  Were they giving God the glory or were they grumbling and mumbling?  Insert yourself in a 40 year forced march and think about your attitude.  

So I am telling you---God IS GOOD----in the good and in the very bottom of the pit times---HE IS GOOD!  Whatever our circumstance--whatever our plight---HE IS GOOD!  

One of the most enlightening discoveries I have learned from writing--others want/need to hear of my trials, my heartbreaks, my pain--AND how God helped me to survive.  They are comforted to know that God has faithfully been present in my life.  And No---He did not answer all my prayers in the manner that I would consider good---BUT---I have faith that His eternal purposes are being met in every circumstance.   He is not punishing me for my lack of righteousness, but instead is working to further HIS kingdom--not mine.

PLEASE---Give God The Glory in all your blessings, but ALSO--do not think God does not know exactly what is happening in your life when things are no bed of roses.  In ALL things---God is Good!


Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1


Thursday, January 21, 2016

BEWARE THE SEDUCTION OF THE VINE



Back in the late 1800's, the wonder plant of the century was brought to the United States from Asia.



This non-native plant promised to be the answer to erosion control, preventing the slow washing away of the precious soil necessary to produce abundant crops.



AND--it provided low cost but protein rich fodder for the livestock which was a large part of the economy at the time.




And the added bonus---it was a beautiful shade producing ornamental plant.

FINALLY the easy way to kill three birds with one stone---erosion control, fodder, and shade.  Man had imported the inexpensive answer and paid to have it planted extensively in the more temperate parts of the country.



With a change in the economy, caused by the increase of the machine age, farmers abandoned their farms and moved to the city.  And the miracle plant was left untended.






Fast forward to the next century, the fast growing-sun seeking-highly invasive vine -has taken over entire forests and effectively killed everything in its path by blocking the sun light.






What man had thought was the miracle answer has turned into the choke hold of death.




The beautiful kudzu vine has turned into the ugly stench of ruin.  And the worst thing has just been discovered by scientist-


Tharayil estimates that kudzu invasion results in the release of 4.8 metric tons of carbon annually, equal to the amount of carbon stored in 11.8 million acres of U.S. forest.
This is the same amount of carbon emitted annually by consuming 540 million gallons of gasoline or burning 5.1 billion pounds of coal.
It is releasing gases which are destroying the very environment which we thought it would save.
And THERE we have the story of sin- as we allow sin to slowly invade our lives with the promise of more and better.  We see it in the beginning as a helper---an easy way to success---a thing of great beauty.  As it begins to invade our life, it quickly becomes the invasive killer of all the really beautiful in our life.  It takes a death grip on our souls and begins to slowly cover the Son light from coming in.  Left untended it will lead to our death and demise.  The only answer is to let the Master Gardener strip all the vine away-yanking it out complete with roots and restore the life giving Son light and the redemption of our beautiful garden will then be complete.

"He thrives before the sun, And his shoots spread out over his garden
Job 8:16




Wednesday, January 20, 2016

MEMORIES

One of the instructors at the Y was telling us about her training for her next marathon.  I took a trip down memory lane to those long weeks of training leading up to the marathons I ran.  The weeks of pure torture before the big race.



WHY would anyone put themselves through this grueling process?  The fact is you will not run the race well--in fact I would have never completed it--without the training.  Our amazing bodies have---a built in muscle memory and what we train our muscles to do---after a period of time--they will automatically do.



A golf swing is a great example.  The really great golfers have taught their muscles those great drives by practicing them over and over.  Perhaps millions of swings went in to making a really great golfer.



When the day of the marathon arrives---after 20 miles are so---my lower body would become numb---then I relied upon the muscle memory to keep those legs moving.  Without all those weeks of training, I would have not been able to complete the race.  In the heat of the moment, in the middle of the pain, when I thought in desperation, "I can't do this", my muscles kept working---kept me moving toward the finish line.




There is a lesson to be learned from this wonder of the human body--what we expect our muscles to do based upon memory---we can also expect our heart and soul to do with training.  As we pray--read The Word--experience inspired teaching---we are training our spirit.  The memory of all we are learning and experiencing is being stored away in our deepest being.  Then when the day of hardship-pain-turmoil-heartbreak---trouble comes our spirit can be counted upon to automatically respond based upon our training.  Our spiritual memory will take over and keep us moving forward.

So I challenge and encourage us all to train for the day---prepare our hearts and souls--and know we will finish well because we have trained to win the race.


I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus
Philippians 3:14

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

NEVER ENOUGH

In a long ago life, I lived in the same house for almost 30 years.  Life was busy--extremely busy.  With three children to raise, a full time career, a home to manage, and countless activities associated with church/family/friends/organizations--there never seemed to be a free moment.  




The day finally came when the children had all flown the coop.  I looked around and saw a house more than 30 years old that had not seen much updating beyond paint.  I set off on a quest to not only update the house, but turn it into the haven to live out my days in.






Over the next seven years, the process was a slow evolution of moving from project to project.  Turning 3 bedrooms  into 2 with a large walk in closet. Gutting bathrooms---installing whirlpools--the latest thing in walk in showers.  Changing all the flooring---solving a huge drain issue while turning the yard into a virtual English garden.  It seemed each project pointed out the next thing that needing fixing or updating.  One thing lead to the next--literally.





At last the only thing unchanged was the kitchen---a HUGE project.  I consulted the experts and came up with a plan.  When I shared my vision,  I will never forget  the following statement--AND WILL THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY?  I was so focused on completing the project-and convinced this was the next right step--that I ignored the obvious.  



OH--how I loved that new kitchen!  It had it all---including a butler's pantry.  It was an absolute joy to cook and work in.  





Within weeks of finishing the complete house remodel, my marriage suffered a blow from which it never recovered.  And the house I had worked long hours perfecting was passed on to another.

This is NOT a story about marriage--this is a story of our continual quest for the next thing--the next change--the next remodel--whatever your next is to complete the picture---make you happy---satisfy the longing to fulfill your needs.




I was so busy climbing the ladder to the perfect house, that I failed to notice my legs were being chopped off an inch at a time. 




I was whirling around in a circle trying to grab the brass ring--when I already had the gold ring.



And so, I have learned to be content with what I have--where I am--and who I am.  Forget all the other--for it truly can be stripped away in the blink of an eye.  "If  I've struck gold, why go in search of brass?"  There is no need to look beyond what I have today--the true gold in my life---my deep relationship with My Father.


11 And I am not saying this because I feel neglected, for I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. 12 I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. 13 I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.
Philippians 4:11-13