Monday, October 31, 2016

LET'S PRETEND

I have wonderful memories of Halloween in the by gone days of my youth.  Life was so much simpler!  No store bought costumes--only those you could create from what you had or talk your grandmother into making for you.  Mama James would have considered it a huge waste of time to sew a costume--so I dared not ask her.  I remember taking an old sheet and becoming a ghost, being a cowgirl--raising animals for 4-H-the costume necessities were part of the stock show wardrobe--painting my face like a monster with my mother's make up (suffered the consequences of that action)--being a scarecrow with the help of a little hay from the barn--it was all easy.  The treats were mostly homemade--YUMMY--for no one feared their neighbor poisoning you and there was no thought of apples having razors in them.  It was the best of times.



The three amigos have a closet full of costumes.  This past Friday was storybook costume parade at school.  This one changed costumes three times before leaving for school, which necessitated a search for a storybook three times.   His mom is much more patient than I ever dreamed of being.  I tried to give her a little advice on not allowing last minute changes of mind--to no avail.  My advice rolls off her back like water off a duck's back.



Halloween is the annual "Let's Pretend" Extravaganza!  Pick a character--step into the costume--and become your fantasy.  As easy as one-two-three!  The boys immediately go into fight mode when dressed in Star War costumes and brandishing a light saber.  Slipping a mask over our face invites slipping into an alternative personality.  A relative peaceful and calm child morphs into an indescribable mad person by donning a mask.  

If I could for one day slip into a costume and live the fantasy of being that  character, who would I be?



Maybe June Cleaver, surrounded by a loving family who only wanted my happiness.   Able to run a household and family with seeming ease while wearing an apron over my best dress and heels.  Never having to raise my voice and always held in high regard---YES--June has an appeal.  Then there are the Eddie Haskell's of life that even June had to endure.



The truth of the matter is I could slip into I Love Lucy with relative ease.  Her life and shenanigans I easily identify with.  Sweeping the mess under the rug and the throwing the trash into the closet while shoving the chocolates down my blouse are second nature in my world.  Unfortunately there is no Ricky to keep me on the straight and narrow.


I could be Dorothy and be swept away in the funnel of a tornado into another world.  But then there is that nasty witch who keeps rearing her ugly head!  And the yellow brick road got a little crowded with hanger-on's before the journey was complete.

OR I could be the witch---OH DEAR--too many of those around already!

If I could pretend for one day--what would my fantasy world look like?  I see a white robe and serene verdant pastures with sheep grazing around the pond.   It would be peaceful and filled with joy.  Everyone would be concerned about others.  There would be no hunger, no illness, no loss-no more tears.  We would all get along and look out for each other.  It would be Utopia---or perhaps a better way to say it-

HEAVEN

For now we can only fantasize what it will be like--but the day is coming when my fantasy will become reality.  What a glorious day that will be!

13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ ”
Revelations 7:13-17






Sunday, October 30, 2016

ONCE AND FOR ALL

Be lifted high as my

My Kingdoms fall

Once and for all






Blessed Sabbath-

Dear Friends

Saturday, October 29, 2016

MEANWHILE HERE IN THE HOOD

I Found Elvis

Turns Out He Has Been Hanging (Sideways)

With the Royal Philharmonic


All The Great Hits

And A Wonderful Backup

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

And Then I Went

To See-With a Slant


At The Beautiful
Bass Concert Hall


After That Dip Into The Arts
Had A Day Of Historic Sight Seeing


Many Of The Small Texas Towns
Have Preserved Their Historical Court Houses
And Are Filled With Antique Stores


Saw this at the park yesterday

They Play Soccer 
A Little Different
Here in TX



When You're Down
It's A Problem





And Then I Did My Civic Duty

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

FINALLY--my new tenants moved in--


I negotiated this rental with a church committee.
They were looking for a short term rental for an interim pastor.
I was traveling when they moved in and
they were traveling when I returned.
We finally meet and it turned out they had held a pastorate in
RUSTON!
I kept thinking their names were familiar, but until we talked it all over
had no idea they had lived in Ruston for almost 10 years and
have children the age of mine.

TRULY A SMALL WORLD!


STILL LIVING LIFE LARGE
HERE IN THE HOOD!

Friday, October 28, 2016

MONSTERS AND DEMONS

I spent a great deal of my childhood with my head under the covers once I was forced to go to bed.  My brothers and cousins made it their business to scare me half to death at every possible occasion.  Scratching on screens, monsters in the closet, scary stories---numerous avenues were exhausted to ensure my fear of the dark.



If you displayed any sign of fear---the torture tripled!  Their amusement was heightened by screams, tears, and running.  I learned to be stone faced and show no fear to stem the tide of plots to terrify.

Thankfully I grew up--and got over my childhood fears.  Those fears were replaced with an entire new set of terrors fueled by the media, scary movies, and reading suspense stories.  My imagination would be shifted into overdrive after seeing a warning of potential attacks in parking lots, bizarre kidnap schemes revealed in books, and movies where the main character turned out to be dead.  The super fantasy epics such as the chain saw massacres did not faze me--too bizarre to be true.  The realities of the evil which lurks in the day to day of our real world--that can cause me to quiver and quake-- was enough to induce nightmares.

And then there are the demons which torture my dreams and thoughts--the terror of loneliness, betrayal, financial set backs--a long list of the horrible scenarios of the what if's.  What if my old house has major foundation problems?  What if I become sick?  What if the 90 year old huge tree falls on my house.  What if----fill in the blank.  The demons of fear, anxiety and worry are enough to drive the most sane over the edge of reason.

The fact is there will be setbacks--things do happen---the seemingly unbearable--insurmountable--  potentially defeating occurrences we all experience may indeed occur.  Most of us will experience one of our worst fears at some point in our life.  But what good is worry---does our anxiety of the possible guarantee not experiencing our worst nightmares or does it guarantee they will happen?  

I love the scripture which tells us to worry not about tomorrow--but live in today.  Worry and being anxious will not stop the firestorms of life.  Sitting around obsessing about things which may never happen is a waste of time and energy.  Live in the present--relish the joy of the moment--and let tomorrow take care of itself.  Deny the monsters and demons control of your thoughts and emotions--instead trust the voice of reason which knows how much God loves you and His constant presence--even when the worst happens---He is here.



Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.
I Peter 5:7



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

UNMASKED

Here we are---once again---at the time of year when masks and costumes take center stage.  This little family



has broken their mom's heart.  She is ALL in to family theme dressing--I believe her idea this year included chimney sweeps and Mary Poppins.  The boys--including the three year old are having none of that!  Sadly everyone is going their own way this Halloween.  They have reached the age of individual expression--or better known as not cooperating with mom. 

Mulling over Halloween and masks, I began to imagine what it would be if our masks and costumes matched who we really are.


We all know a Pinocchio.  Those individuals who tell lies to cover up their lies.  Telling so many lies they begin to believe their own fabrications.



I heard a story this past weekend of a Jekyll and Hyde.  Someone who presents one face to those they want to impress and turns into a screaming monster when unhappy with someone not in their sphere of influence.



And of course, there are the Mary Poppins--disgustingly perfect in every way!



Don 't we all know a Scrooge?  Those who can squeeze blood out of a turnip.


Lest we forget, there are the Super Heroes in our lives.  My super heroes are those who fight for our country and the ones who keep the peace here.



Here in Texas, I live in the land of the cowboys--though they do not seem to come to town EVER!

Then I began to ponder the characters I portray--some days I seem to be that silly whirling dervish-the Tasmanian Devil




But occasionally I might give a sloth competition in the art of lazy



I have my good days




And those days when I am not so nice



Some accuse me of wearing this disguise





One thing is for certain--most of the time I would qualify for this crew



The only thing consistent about the character I play and the mask I wear is its inconsistency.  

And still--no matter who I am--how I act or what mask I am wearing---
God loves me----


In spite of me.

What a gift!

"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions -- it is by grace you have been saved." 
Ephesians 2:4-5






Sunday, October 23, 2016

THROUGH ALL OF IT

I got it right sometimes

but sometimes I did not

But you have been with me

through all of it




Sabbath Blessings,

Dear Friends

Saturday, October 22, 2016

MEANWHILE HERE IN THE HOOD

Halloween is just around the corner
The boys have their jack o lanterns ready




It's been a busy week with this little family sick
But I did manage to cook one good dinner.


Seared Rockfish with Caper Aioli
Potato Wedges & Arugula-Artichoke Salad



These two classmates came to Fort Worth
and I took them shopping--
including a trip to Waco's Magnolia Market


I came back from Farmerville
With a treasure my cousin gifted to me
The James First Cousins
Two of which have left us.

AND MORE COMPANY THIS WEEKEND!

Still living life large
here in the hood.



Friday, October 21, 2016

INDIVISIBLE

I find myself deeply disturbed by all the presidential election shenanigans.  NOT from the seriously lacking two top contenders, but from the electorate itself.  Frankly I am dismayed and discouraged by the way opposing sides are treating each other.  We seem to have forgotten one of the great commandments-



I have family members and close friends on all three sides of the contest--the contest to select the most qualified of the sad examples of our best.  I am not offended, nor do I think anyone is stupid or uninformed for having an opposing opinion from mine.  I would never attack anyone who does not agree with my choice. There certainly is nothing wrong with being passionate about your viewpoint, and I applaud those who are active in the cause which they support.  We all have acquired tunnel vision, myself included, with the entire reason for our support based upon one issue.  The truth of the matter is both candidates have serious short comings at a minimum.   And no matter the outcome of election day, I will love those who agreed and disagreed with how I cast my ballot.  We will all still be Americans ---one nation under God---the day after the election.



 We all seem to have allowed social media to remove any barriers to civility in how we treat one another.  We have allowed the bias of the media on both sides to whip us up into a crazed frenzy--declaring all out war on each other.  The current Great Civil War in our country has once again managed to divide us and pit brother against brother.  It is a sad thing to back up and observe.

I understand how our opinion of what is best for our country is greatly influenced by our circumstances in life.  I understand familial, social, religious, and philosophical attitudes are a large influence in our political opinion.  I am not threatened by another's political persuasion-it is merely that--their opinion.

I do take great comfort in the fact---God is still in charge---no matter what the outcome of this election---God will continue to sit upon His throne.  He already knows the outcome and He will allow the consequences of our choice.  Not one thing will happen--not one person will be elected--without His approval.  AND--it all will be used FOR HIS GOOD PURPOSE.

My prayer--is we can all find a common ground of love for our country once again.  My prayer--is we can remember how to love one another--even when we do not like each other.  My prayer-- is when we are not satisfied with the outcome we will not sit around complaining, but become active in the process of peaceful dissension.  My prayer--is God will draw us together and remind us of the principles this great country was founded upon and we will once again become "One Nation Under God-Indivisible".  And is there anything more important than to pray for our great country?


Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.
Proverbs 19:21




Wednesday, October 19, 2016

YES--YOU CAN GO BACK

There is a saying, "You can't go back."  It alludes to the fact that history is exactly what it says---in the past.  You cannot return to the past and redo what has occurred.  Certainly there is truth in this statement, but I found out, though you cannot relive the past---you can revisit it.  You can relish what once was.



I recently attended by 50th high school reunion in my childhood hometown of Farmerville, Louisiana---aka Mayberry.  Driving around the town with my cousin, I quickly noticed many changes.  The final huge blow was driving up to my childhood home and seeing the sad truth of how overgrown it has become.  Though it still is a nice house, the owners have moved and it sits vacant.  All things untended will return to their original state--implosion.  The once carefully tended grounds have become so overgrown you can no longer see the pond where the sheep once grazed.  I almost cried.  



We went by the James Lot in the cemetery and visited Daddy.  I certainly cannot revisit that past, except in sweet memories.



And then I spent two days with my former classmates.  For a brief second of time, I did go back.  I slipped seamlessly into my life 50 years ago.   Back to those days when life was simple--small town life at its best.  The amazing thing  I discovered ---age becomes the great equalizer.  With the exception of two, everyone is retired.  With the exception of two raising grandchildren, everyone has an empty nest.  There are no more comparisons--we are all on an equal playing field--- and the goal at this point is trying to finish well.



Of the more than 70 who graduated together 14 are gone.  We paused to remember them and the places they held in our lives.  



Of those remaining, more than 50% attended the reunion.  The beauty of growing up in a small town with a small school--we ALL knew one another extremely well.  The wonderful reality---after all these years--we still love one another as only a family can---for you see, this is my high school family.



No--you cannot relive the past---but you can revisit those memories with the friends who helped you make them.  No one else will understand--no one else really cares--but those who were there---those who lived that past with you---


They can go back with you
and celebrate what was.

Those who knew you --way back when--can reconnect with you and be thankful. This past weekend--I was abundantly thankful.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

MEANWHILE HERE IN THE HOOD


I HAVE BEEN COOKING



ITALIAN SAUSAGE & BABY BROCCOLI PASTA





CAJUN SEASONED ROCK FISH
POTATOES AND SUCCOTASH


DUKKAH CRUSTED PORK
LEMONY GREEN SALAD & POTATOES


ITALIAN SEASONED CHOPS
POTATOES & TOMATO-OLIVE
FRESH ZUCCHINI-MINT SALAD

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

MY VERY FIRST TENANT

DR. PAIGE

GOT MARRIED

TO DR. ROB

LAST WEEKEND




AND IN THE APARTMENT
PT RESIDENT MOVING OUT TODAY
INTERIM PASTOR MOVING IN


AND I AM IN MY VERY FIRST HOOD
THIS WEEKEND
FOR MY
50TH HIGH SCHOOL REUNION
GASP--I THOUGHT ONLY OLD PEOPLE WENT TO THOSE!



STILL LIVING LIFE LARGE
HERE IN THE HOOD

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

BEYOND REGRET

This week will be filled with memories and reflections on my past.  A couple of life long friends have come for a brief visit.  As we sat and talked last night, I came away thinking how different our three lives have looked.  We could not be more diverse, and yet all those years ago we parted with like dreams of how life would play out.



The similar path we all began walking together was altered as we began making choices and living with consequences which created alternate routes and detours.  We all agreed at 17-18 years of age--you are still so young and naive.  As you begin to look back, you see how some poor choices made the going rough.  You understand how illnesses, deaths, and many other things out of our control affect your trek.  And here we are all these years later--three entirely different people who are still connected by the memories of our youth.

As I thought this over, I was reminded of the story of King David who begged God for the life of his son who became ill as a consequence of David's poor choices.   David tore his clothes and cried out in anguish as his son lay dying.  God's answer was, "No"..  And then----he picked himself up--dressed in a familiar tunic--and kept on living his life.  Although, I am certain, he always missed his son, he did not live in regret for the remainder of his life steeped in the great sorrow of his loss.  He chose to continue to seek God and live the moment in front of him.

So it is with our life---we can bog down in the mire of regret---gnashing our teeth and moaning over the what if's, if only's , and only if's--or we can let the past remain in the past.  Never denying our history, but instead learning from it, accepting it, and moving forward with where we are.  We can live beyond regret--putting aside the fruitless struggle of mourning what was, and instead living in anticipation of the future and what God has in store for us.  For we KNOW the plans He has for us!


16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth[a] on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.
18 On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, “While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”
19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realized the child was dead. “Is the child dead?” he asked.
“Yes,” they replied, “he is dead.”
20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.
II Samuel 12:16-20


Monday, October 10, 2016

DONE IT ALL!



There is a reason I watch so little television---as I turned it on and was reminded  when Bill O'Reilly proudly proclaimed, "I have accomplished everything I wanted to."  The discussion centered around his rumored retirement.  I agree with Mike Wallace---NOT GONNA HAPPEN---he LOVES the spotlight too much!  I sat there in amazement at the brashness to tell the entire world---I HAVE DONE IT ALL!  Talking about an ego--but the thing is--those giant egos have to be fed--and they want more of what they have become accustomed to.  The spotlight is never bright enough.

LONG AGO--in my past--I remember a client who would come in every year and talk about the goals they had set for themselves and how they had done.  As you can well imagine, it was all for the sake of me seeing not only how they had done financially--since those records spoke for themselves--but also--how well they had performed in all areas of their life.  I used to laugh and say my goal was to get everybody up, dressed, fed and off to their respective places.  Long term goals involved getting the bills paid for the month and groceries in the pantry weekly.  Couple that with keeping the laundry current and house in a semblance of order AND working all day everyday and I had my hands full.  My goal was to keep my head above water every day and not loose my cool.

Deep down--I did have some unstated, but internally understood goals-raising my children to be responsible adults--being a person of integrity--loving my family and friends well--deepening my relationship with God--having someone who cared deeply for me and I for them until death parted us--walking the path set before me with dignity and purpose.  I cannot sit here and say---check-check-check--did all that!  What I can say is I have really tried--tried with all my might--never gave up--and when I failed---I backed up and tried again.  And what I did not accomplish--what I could not change--I have tried to endure without bitterness.

At the end of the day---when your final hours are here---what do you hope they say about you as they watch you fade away?  When someone sits with the person who will say those final words as your life is summarized, what will they say about you?  What is really important?  Is accomplishing all your goals, making it to the top of the ladder, leaving a huge estate, leaving behind a list with everything checked off-is that your legacy?  Will you have done it all---but what is left is empty and meaningless?  How will you be remembered?


Matthew 6:20-21





Sunday, October 9, 2016

DO THEY?


DO THEY SEE JESUS IN ME

DO THEY RECOGNIZE YOUR FACE

DO I COMMUNICATE YOUR

LOVE AND YOUR GRACE

DO I REFLECT 

WHO YOU ARE

IN THE WAY I CHOOSE TO BE




BLESSED SABBATH,

DEAR FRIENDS

Friday, October 7, 2016

KEEP ON KNOCKING

There are times in my life--when my prayers grow woefully short and completely redundant.  I have no problem praying for the long list of those in need--pain--distress--disaster--and more.  My prayers for me and my relationship with Him though have become a repetition of the same few words over and over--and begin to take on the rote recital of more of the same.  What am I to do when my prayers become quickly thrown up words in a vain attempt to communicate with The Faithful One.  What is the answer when I feel the line of communication is blocked by the ceiling?  How do I reach God when my efforts seem lacking?




How do we communicate with the ones we love?  Is it always through our words--whether oral or written?  As I pondered this, I thought of a long marriage and what communication looks like after years and years of living with another.  When you know someone really well--you begin to have the same thoughts--know how to finish the sentence of the other--can speak to each other by a mere look.   Communication can be as simple as a glance across the room.   




The language of love includes acts of kindness and service.  Doing for one another without prompt or thought of reciprocity.  Acting in anticipation of needs which have not even surfaced--all out of care and concern for the other.  Good communication between marriage partners comes from years and years of growing to know each other and many hours of living life together.  It does not come without plenty of work, effort, and patience.  It comes as you grow together, make time for one another, and work at keeping the lines of communication open.  The fruit of all those years together is a wide variety of methods of effectively communicating.   It truly is a beautiful thing to see and even more of a blessing to be a part of.




Circle back to our communicating with God.  I am a firm believer in our marriages were given to us to model the depth of the relationship we can have with The Father.  If this is true, then we communicate with God in many ways--not only our prayers.  Our acts of love and service for His children are concrete evidence of our love and honor of Him.  A heavenward look in a time of wordless need speaks volumes.  A simple groaning of, "Oh God" and he can finish our thoughts.  Time spent with Him over a lifetime can grow our relationship to the point where we communicate in a love language learned over an eternity of learning who He is.  There is no ceiling--no barrier--which can thwart our reaching Him with our language of love.  Most important, when we stay the course, do not drift away, continue to knock on the door-- He is always with us.


"Evening and morning and noon, will I pray, and cry out aloud and He shall hear my voice."
Psalm 55:7