Saturday, April 30, 2016

MEANWHILE HERE IN THE HOOD

MY ADVENTURE LOVING

MOTORCYCLE RIDING

FRIEND, SHEILA

CAME TO 

TEXAS


WE WENT TO SEE

THE BISON HERD

HERE IN FORT WORTH

AT THE NATURE CENTER


HERE IN TEXAS

THERE IS A NEED TO POST SIGNS

TO TELL YOU TO NOT

MOLEST THE ALLIGATORS

WE KNOW BETTER IN LOUISIANA



AND THE CITY SLICKERS

NEED TO BE TOLD

WILD ANIMALS BITE


MY NEXT DOOR NEIGHBOR

WHO RESCUES POSSUMS

HAS NOT GOTTEN THE MESSAGE



TIME TO FIRE

UP THE OLD GRILL

LAMB CHOPS &

GRILLED ASPARAGUS

YUMMY!



IT'S TIME

FOR THE ANNUAL

MAYFEST

ON THE TRINITY RIVER



AND THE 

TOP STORY


THE HAIL DAMAGED ROOFS

WERE REPLACED

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

STILL LIVING LIFE LARGE

HERE IN THE HOOD

Thursday, April 28, 2016

HOW DOES FORGIVENESS LOOK?

My seeking to draw nearer to God has lead to much soul searching and truth seeking.  It can be a wearying task.  Frankly, I do not always like what I have learned.  I could do a really great job of forgiving if I first had the satisfaction of a well planned revenge, but that is not the way forgiveness works.  I remind myself God's thoughts are not my thoughts and His thoughts always center around my sanctification and His good purpose.  And yet--I still cry out---I CANNOT DO THIS!  Without Him--I truly cannot.




Though I am not Catholic---this image says it so well.  God must surely grow tired of my feeble efforts!

Remember the quote from Gilead,

"To be forgiven is only half the gift.  The other half is that we also can forgive, restore, and liberate, and therefore we can feel the will of God enacted through us."

I have been exploring my half of this equation.  I truly believe the author reflected the truth of the full experience of forgiveness.  We are not capable of understanding grace until we extend grace.  Forgiveness is only a loose term thrown around in Christian circles--until we are called to the act of forgiving those who have sinned against us.  THAT can be a bitter pill to swallow.




From my own experience, it is not a one time deal--signed, sealed and delivered with the words, "I forgive you".  It is an on-going process.  Every time my mind wanders back to my pain, my sorrow, my anger, the why's, I have to once again give it back to God and repeat those words of forgiveness.  We are commanded to forgive---before we are forgiven.  NOW THAT--in itself should be all the incentive I need to put it down and leave it behind.  Unfortunately our human character --especially when we have been injured--makes this not quite so simple.




While studying God's mandate of forgiveness and trying to decide if I have crossed that bridge, I went to John Piper---a great theologian and man of God.  His words ring of truth.

What does Forgiveness Look Like?


  1. resisting revenge,
  2. not returning evil for evil,
  3. wishing them well,
  4. grieving at their calamities,
  5. praying for their welfare,
  6. seeking reconciliation so far as it depends on you,<---MY HANG UP
  7. and coming to their aid in distress
When I read these over---I swallow hard at #6---HOW can I do that?

What Forgiveness Is Not

      1. Not the Absence of Anger at Sin (Not feeling good about what was bad.)

      2.  Not the Absence of Serious Consequences of Sin 

So I am totally on board---with the reservation noted above---and THEN 

 He deals with forgiveness of an unrepentant person.

I quote him directly--for these words are profound-

"One last important observation remains: forgiveness of an unrepentant person doesn't look the same as forgiveness of a repentant person.  The difference is that when a person who wronged us does not repent with contrition and confession and conversion (turning from sin to righteousness), he cuts off the full work of forgiveness. We can still lay down our ill will; we can hand over our anger to God; we can seek to do him good; but we cannot carry through reconciliation or intimacy."  My answer to my hang up.  




The entirety of this sermon can be found here.  I am thankful it  answered the questions I have rolled over and over.  I am charged with forgiving and doing unto others--but unless there has been contrition and a request for forgiveness--I am not commanded to restore the relationship.  




My confession---this has been a hurdle for my drawing closer to God, for I felt amiss in completing the cycle of forgiveness.    The redemption and restoration process will not be complete, but I have obeyed as required in The Word.  I am thankful for Piper's clear instruction on what forgiveness looks like.  I am praying to reflect God's forgiveness of me as I forgive those who sin against me.  Something tells me ---God has far more to forgive than I could ever need to forgive.

Be kind and compassionate to one another,
forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

PEEPING LULU

Having lived in the woods for 30 years, we had no window treatments on some of the windows to allow for the best view of those beautiful trees surrounding our home.  I loved gazing out upon the glory of creation.   There was no need for concern over someone peeping in--unless it was a squirrel or deer.


During all those years of early morning running, we always began in the total dark of the pre dawn hours.  In order to have adequate light, we ran under the street lights of the neighborhoods and downtown.  It always amazed me how many people were up at that early hour and how many did not bother to close their drapes.  Running can be a boring solitary sport, and the human propensity to voyeurism invited peeping in those uncovered windows.  Running several different routes over and over, I began to figure out who had what I wanted.  I noticed your furniture, your landscaping, the warmth of your lighting, your new car, and on and on.  I began to suffer from a chronic case of the "I Want's" while peeping in your windows and admiring your stuff.

"I Want" extends all the way back to the beginning of mankind.  I want a bite of that apple.  I want my brother's blessing.  I want that man's wife.  I WANT--I WANT was so prevalent God gave us a commandment--DO NOT COVET!  And yet we still want---whatever we do not have.  And those wants--they are never satisfied---we go from must have to must have with an unsatiable appetite for more and more.  


During those long ago early morning runs, there was one house we occasionally ran by  where  I saw an acquaintance of mine through the window sitting at their kitchen table having quiet time.  A person of well known integrity and Godly wisdom, they have what I knew is most important--a close and personal relationship with The Father.  Oh, the house was nice, the cars were fine, but to see their countenance there was no doubt what was important in their life.  Their fame for honesty, integrity, and seeking God was common knowledge among those in the community.  Every time I ran by that house, they were always in that window--faithfully seeking time and communion with Our Father.

The past few posts, it has dawned upon me what I want---I WANT GOD--to be deeply and purely consumed with the desire to seek Him.  I want to be obedient--so that my understanding of who He is will grow.  I want to leave the mundane the ordinary and seek the extraordinarily divine. I desire to leave the unquenchable thirst for the worldly and live in the satisfaction of the Living Water.   I want the peace and joy of the presence of The Master---His faithful and eternal love to fill my being--and to ---Want NO MORE!

And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

AND NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS!

Along life's highway are the scatterings of "If Only's" and "Only If's" which liter the passing scenery.  They are in direct competition with the "Missed Opportunities" to draw our attention away from the beauty of the journey.




Here is the really great news---God does not need us---He is a mighty God--capable of finding a way to accomplish His ends.  He would love to use us---allow us to be the conduit of His amazing grace.  BUT, Friends---if we miss the boat--walk away from the opportunity--deny our chance---FEAR NOT-HE CAN ACCOMPLISH IT WITHOUT US!  



How heartbreaking that we miss those opportunities---but let me remind you---HIS WILL---IT WILL BE DONE!  

While reading Gilead, I came across this passage-

"There are certain attributes our faith assigns to God:
omniscience, omnipotence, justice and grace.  We human beings have a slight acquaintance with power and knowledge, so little conception of justice, and so slight a capacity for grace, that the workings of these great attributes together is a mystery we cannot hope to penetrate."


AMEN!!!

I should stop right there---no more really needs to be said, but a great explanation of the blessing we are missing by not taking those opportunities is contained in this quote,

"So to be forgiven is only half the gift.  The other half is that we also can forgive, restore, and liberate, and therefore we can feel the will of God enacted through us, which is the great restoration of ourselves to ourselves."

God does not need us---but we are blessed by His desire to use us.  The Almighty--All Powerful---Great God of the Universe chooses to allow us the opportunity to be used.  WOW!

NOW I SAY, AMEN!!

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
Philippians 2:13



Monday, April 25, 2016

COCK A DOODLE DO

A recent email and group post from The Hood inquired if anyone had lost these-



Yes, we have chickens here in the middle of the city.  One of the neighbors on the street behind me has a flock.  There are rules about keeping chickens in the city including you can only have one rooster.  More than one rooster can lead to gang violence--of the chicken persuasion.  If you have ever lived near chickens there is no need to explain why.




Did you know roosters crow according to seniority?  So the oldest goes first---and we thought they were bird brains!  Once the world begins to loose its covering of dark, Mother Nature's alarm clocks begin to go off.  I suppose it is a lot like the train which blows his whistle near me around 6 AM EVERY morning--after a while you do not even notice and can sleep right through the hubbub.



Have you seen the roosters on top of wind vanes high on the roof of homes or barns?   The legend is this is a reminder of Peter denying Christ three times before the cock crowed.  I came across this little tidbit while reading Gilead.

The rooster or cock is a significant symbol of watchfulness--being awake and vigilant.  On our toes---playing our A game---on alert and ready.  I must admit many days I am not even aware the cock is in the neighborhood much less that he might have crowed.   For I have a tendency to be asleep at the wheel---drifting through life on auto pilot.  How many opportunities have I missed and never had a clue they had presented themselves because I was distracted by the mundane?  

Having walked away, many a time, and known I had missed or blown the opportunity, it makes me shudder to think how many chances I have completely missed while in a sleepwalking like trance going through the day.   The cock is effectively crowing and I am effectively denying by missing opportunities to share the truth.  Sadly my denials have far exceeded three.

Denial is not always the overt proclamation of not knowing Christ, it can also be the missed opportunity of proclaiming Him.  It can be the stark silence when opportunity has knocked and we refused to open the door.  The unintended but effective denouncing of our Savior by missing the opportunity to proclaim His Lordship in our lives. Those times when our example is anything but being a Believer, and pointing instead to the world.  

We all know the cock is going to crow, and have some idea of an approximate time.  BUT there are indiscriminate-unplanned crowing going on at random times during the day.  It is a great metaphor for life--we have no idea when it will end--even though we think we can count on old age.  It is best to be prepared for that crowing at all times--be on our toes and vigilant.  We never know when that cock may decide to crow.  When it does crow---will we have been vigilant of sharing the gospel message or will we be like Peter--hanging our head in shame?


Jesus told him, "I tell you with certainty, before a rooster crows this very night, you will deny me three times."
Matthew 26:34


Sunday, April 24, 2016

IN CHRIST ALONE

I ALWAYS

BECOME CHOKED UP

WHEN I HEAR

OR SING THIS!

INDEED--

IN CHRIST ALONE!!




MAY YOUR SABBATH

BE FILLED

WITH THE ASSURANCE

OF HIS 

VICTORY!


BLESSED SABBATH,

DEAR FRIENDS

Saturday, April 23, 2016

MEANWHILE HERE IN THE HOOD

I made a trip to Overton, Texas

this week to see my only living  aunt and uncle

and their daughter and son in law.


GILLESPIE
GENE
GAGGLE



ALASKAN COUSIN AND HUBBY



AND STOPPED BY

MOMMA'S

RESTING PLACE


AND THEN THERE

WAS GRANDMOTHER

WHO NEVER 

REVEALED HER AGE

TO ANYONE


(OOPS--THAT'S UPSIDE DOWN!)


IN THE AREA 

OF THE ARTS

ATTENDED THIS PLAY

WALKED AWAY

WITH A BRITISH ACCENT

WITH A SLIGHT TWANG



MY NEIGHBOR INFORMED ME

I HAVE A STARRING ROLE

WITH GOOGLE MAPS


YOU CAN'T EVEN

TELL I AM

CURSING THE EDGER



GRAND #3 AND #4

HAD THEIR OWN

STARRING ROLES

IN THE END OF THE YEAR

SCHOOL SING FEST

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

AND WE PARTIED

LARGE

CELEBRATING

#3'S BIRTHDAY




TO CAP THE WEEK OFF

ONE OF THE TRAINERS AT THE GYM

TOLD ME I WAS A PERFECT EXAMPLE

OF A FAT SKINNY GIRL



NO WONDER

I SUFFER

FROM FALLEN EGO

IT'S A WONDER

I MANAGE

TO GET OUT OF BED

EVERYDAY!


BUT HEY--

I AM STILL LIVING LIFE LARGE

HERE IN THE HOOD!

Friday, April 22, 2016

ALL THE OTHER STUFF

Before launching into today's  tirade missive, H E R E is the link to the next installment of Linda's blog about Single Women and the Church.  We have a great dialogue going at her house, be sure and read the comments.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yesterday's post seemed to resonate with many of us.  One comment simply stated, "Guilty",  my reply, "Or course you are, we all are."  Is there anyone who does not have a catch all drawer?  I actually have two--one in the kitchen for all those things described in the post and one in my parlor by the throne chair where I sit.  It catches all those random pieces of paper I might need at some future date, the pieces of mail which might prove useful, all the electronic cords for recharging my life lines to the world, various scrapes of paper with notes and addresses, and at least 20 emery boards in various states of  use.  It is the junk drawer I once had in my professional life in my desk.


Another reader was inspired to clean her junk drawer out.  I assured her it was a futile effort, for it will surely be brimming over once again as she stuffs all those "I might need's" back into the drawer.

Those drawers---they are a mere reflection of a more serious junk problem.  The junk in my head of which I refuse to let go.  Oh, I give lip service to giving it all to Jesus and then quicker than you can toss a screw in the junk drawer I have snatched it back and buried it deeper.  This junk doesn't just clutter up a drawer---it clutters up precious brain cells and most important the room in my heart.  It is taking valuable space in a limited compartment--for after all how many things can you truly think of at one time?


If you could open my brain, you would find an instant replay track of words that injured me.  They keep rolling around and making their way to the surface.   I repeat those slams over and over until I begin to claim them as truth.  The enemy loves to remind me of those verbal grenades as he dredges me through the mine field of earthly destruction.


And then there is the list of failures I have experienced in life.  Somehow I loose the importance of having tried and instead focus on the losses.  When I compare the successes to the failures, the scale tips in my favor.  Once again though, I cannot always seem to focus on the wins---but instead dwell on the losses.


At the top of this heap of junk is the "If Only's and "Only If's".  What possible benefit could it be to playing this game of second guesses?  But still I dissect and reconnect life's happenings, trying to figure out how different things would be---If I had only played a another card.

What a waste of time and effort!  The common thread in everything I have mentioned and probably all the things I have not bothered to list--they are ALL IN THE PAST!




I have allowed the agents of the enemy to convince me of the lies they have fed me.  Instead of giving credance to all that is good in my life, I have allowed a few isolated incidents from the past to cloud my perspective of the truth of who I am and given them undeserved replay time in the never ending monologue rolling through my head.  I could use some retraining in leaving the past where it belongs-in the past.


Most important though, I have turned from the truth that God has given me about who I am and what He thinks about me and listened to the enemies agents to clutter my mind and heart.  Instead of concentrating on those things which are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and admirable, of eternal consequence, I have allowed the junk of the world to cloud reason and truth.  Time to chunk out the junk and hold on to the eternal truths.

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

Thursday, April 21, 2016

IT'S JUST STUFF

I pride myself on my minimalist life style.  Why I have even gone so far as to publicly brag on this blog about how much I have pared down my possessions. (I might have forgotten to mention the dragging, kicking and screaming and no choice)   My smug self proclamation of "Minimalist" is announced with the vigor only the self righteous can summon.



And then today, I opened my junk drawer.  You know that drawer--usually in the kitchen which catches all the "I Might Need This" in life. 



It begged for a de-cluttering--and in a masochistic moment of craziness- I pulled everything out.




There was a stack of business cards---who knows when I might need the services of "All Paws Go To Heaven"---even though I do not have a pet---I might get one someday--and it might die--and then I am prepared!  And the pool cleaning company---though I don't have a pool-I hear those guys are really good looking--I do have a fountain that I could watch  have cleaned.  



Scattered throughout the drawer were various screws, nails, parts, etc. which had come with new purchases or been found without a clue where they belong.  I will have them in case I ever discover a missing screw, part, or nail.  Sadly more than likely, if I discovered anything missing, I would probably go by an entire new package rather than go through this pile with not even a remote possibility of finding what I need.



And of course, I had saved every pen, pencil, or marker that has crossed my path in the past three years---that along with every free note pad received in the mail or found in a hotel guest room.  You never know when I might need to write a note or underline a book--although most of my books are electronic these days and after writing said notes I often can't remember what the note means-- if I can even find the safe keeping spot where I put the note.



And last--but by no means not least (the rest I will leave to your imagination) are the keys.  One set of keys in an envelope which are labeled and clearly have a use.  And then the other huge pile which I have accumulated over a lifetime and have no clue what lock they fit.  You NEVER know though---I MIGHT need one someday and what if I had thrown it out.  I am certain there must be some hidden lock in my life waiting for its missing key.



I am a GUILTY DOG who has secret stashes of clutter and junk while avowing austerity.  Color my face red and my head hung.  YOU GOT ME!

I was reminded today as I continued my journey through Revelations, the things of this world are all temporary.  Someday they will be gone in a flash---and that which remains---has no physical qualities.  I should spend more time collecting integrity, truth, relationships, joy, service, and all those things of eternal claim and ditch the junk---You cannot take it with you---but you can leave behind the fame of a good name and Godly character.


In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin.
Revelations 18:17





Wednesday, April 20, 2016

THAT FIRST STEP

These two little wonders learned to ride their bikes this past weekend---sans training wheels.





  As their mother shared their triumph with me, I was taken back to those days of teaching my own children how to ride.  The process begins with you holding the bike by the handle bars and seat and running along beside the bike as they learn to peddle.  As their balance gets better, you are able to hold on to only the rear of the seat--just a little touch to help them stay upright on two wheels.  Eventually you let go and as they are concentrating and pumping those legs so hard--they do not even realize it--they are off to the races.



This little darling decided to go for the vertical recently.  It has been a process of helping her stand, holding those fingers, encouraging her, and giving a round of applause each time she bravely takes those steps.  She is not to the point of consistently being upright-but that day is quickly approaching.

All three of the grands have experienced their share of falls while adding these new accomplishments to their repertories.  They learned balance by continuing to try--and not allowing the pull to the horizontal to defeat them.  It takes building core muscle and learning balance to defeat the laws of gravity.  A little help and a lot of determination garnered the reward of success.



I recently posted about the courage we need to swim in the deep water where the beauty is found.   This quote by Winston Churchill says it all. Try, try again and then try some more.   Life is filled with opportunities--and unless we have the courage to take that first step--that initial leap-we will miss the thrill and beauty of the adventure.  The boys could have spent the rest of their days with training wheels---but how much harder is it to peddle a bike with four wheels than two?  Lucy could have spent the rest of her life crawling, but knees were not meant to be calloused and the scenery is much better when you are vertical.  

What are we missing out on by allowing fear and hesitancy to control our lives?  Every adventure I have experienced took almost every ounce of my courage to take that first step into the unknown.  I have never regretted a one---and the best stories are always about the closest encounters with danger and the difficult paths leading to the conquest.



OH--and the sights I have seen by taking that step--that risk--that plunge into the unknown.   The glory I would have missed had I not tried.


13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
I Corinthians 16:13


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

THE MIDDLE OF THE STORY

Before I begin today's narrative, my blogging friend, Linda, invited me to guest write on her blog here.  I hope you will take the time to skip over to her page and read about being single and the church.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


I often find myself beginning in the middle of a story or cherry picking the parts of the story which will hold your attention. Justifying omitting the details for the sake of brevity,   I plunge forward doubting you would care for all the minutiae and trying to avoid tale ending glaze over.  The truth of the matter is the middle is usually the guts of the tale.  The beginning is the background and the end---well frequently the fat lady has not sung and the story has not ended.



While listening to your story, I often wonder what the details are that lead to this telling.  What came before which lead to this event worthy of retelling?  What has colored your perception of truth?  How would the story sound if one of your characters was telling it?  Would the story be the same?


What if Dr. Seuss told this classic story from the viewpoint of The Cat and not the children.  Would The Cat have described only trying to brighten a rainy day for unappreciative children?  Would he have stated his intention from the beginning of cleaning up his mess?  The tale is told through the eyes of the children--whose perspective is clouded by the fear of mother's blame for the mess left behind.  The poor cat is grossly misunderstood until he redeems himself at the end of the story.





All stories are clouded by our perception as we live the tale.  Our emotional response to a series of events can lead to repeating the events through a filter of narcissistic memory--instead of reciting a blow by blow description of the events.   There is plenty of truth to the quote, 



For it is impossible to see both sides of the story, without standing in the shoes of the other.  Our vision is limited by the inability to jump into the mind of the other side.  Each story has a different reflection depending upon whom is standing before the mirror.  The story told by the cat would be entirely different from that told by the children--and somewhere in the middle is the truth.



Stories always have two sides and unless you hear both sides--I have given you a story with a favorable slant toward me or at least the truth as I see it.  Unless you care to explore further, my word is then labeled as truth.  A biased truth at best.

What if the story of The Garden of Eden was told through by Adam or Eve.  He said, "She made me do it."  and She said, "He didn't stop me."  And God said, "I told them to not touch the apple."   It is truly all in the eyes of the beholder.

While reading Revelations, I have been reminded--this is the end of the story as given to John in a vision.  His God inspired words paint an incredible picture of the end times.  John is telling the story through the eyes of the messenger--if one of those living the tribulation were to tell it---how would the story sound?  Those who are left behind will have a completely different way of telling the story from those who are swept up to Heaven.   And the truth will win in the end.


Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go, pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on the earth.”
Revelations 16:1