Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A BIG PIECE OF HUMBLE PIE

One of my favorite verses is Micah 6:8---I often describe it as my life verse-



Life has been humbling.  It was humbling being the younger sister of my brilliant older brother.  He is a man of great integrity and well thought of by all who know him.  It was never easy as a child and teenager being his younger sister.  I well remember one of our mutual teachers saying, "YOU are Robbie's sister?"  The inflection in her voice held unbelief for he was a really hard act to follow.  It was humbling to admit I was indeed his sister.




Running was quite the humbling experience.  I was never willing to push myself into the pain zone and perfectly content to stay at the back of the pack.  It was humbling to admit to all those "real runners" that I was a turtle.  I became an expert at the run gait and rear ends of most everyone I ever ran behind.






Perhaps the most humbling experience in my life has been my marriage ending in divorce. Leaders and teachers in the community of faith do not have this to happen.  I never dreamed after years of marriage and raising a family together that my marriage would end in divorce.  I took till death do us part literally and was convinced that only death could tear our family apart.  Each and every time I have to proclaim I am divorced it is a humbling experience.  It is one of the worst failures of my life.



We all have experienced moments or periods in our life which have yanked us back down to the ground.   A comeuppance, if you will, has reminded us we are human--we will fail--we are not all we have convinced ourselves we are.  
The road to self proclaimed self made success is filled with potholes of humble pie.  I have eaten my share and then some of a bitter piece of crow.

Back to those twelve verses in second Samuel which held me captive for so long.  David was the man who was proclaimed to be a man after God's own heart.  His life had been filled with success beginning with slinging that stone---all had worked and worked well.  He had lived a charmed life.   He began to feel perhaps a little smug and deserving.  God wants me happy--God wants me to have this woman I have been peeping at--she is my reward for all I have done for God--and this child we have made is the icing on the cake.  God sends Nathan and Nathan asks David a trick question.  GOTCHA!  David was the very one he quickly condemned when the story was told.  David was repentant, and God forgave Him--BUT--a BIG BUT--the child would die.  David fell before the Lord fasting and begging for the child's life.  He humbled himself before God and remembered his unworthiness and pleaded for the life of the innocent child.  The man after God's own heart--one of God's favorites fell upon the ground and tasted the dirt underneath his lips---in testimony to his unworthiness and God's omnipotence.

How often do we forget God's sovereign reign?  How often do we take things in our own hands?  How often do we stray far from His path?  How often do we forget to humble ourselves before God and proclaim His majesty?  I can only speak for myself--but it is quite humbling to know how many times I have failed to give Him the glory.  It is humbling indeed to be humbled.


David pleaded with God for the child.
He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground.
The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground,
but he refused, and he would not eat an food with them.
2 Samuel 12:16-17


Monday, February 27, 2017

CONSQUENCES

I have been camped out for three weeks in a very short story in 2 Samuel.  Twelve short verses have given me five points to share.  Amazing the depth of wisdom contained in The Word!



Having prepared income tax returns for a long time, I have a working knowledge of the Internal Revenue Code and its overseer the Internal Revenue Service.  My go to wisdom for all of my clients, back in the day-
they want the taxes--NOT to pay for your room and board when they put you away if you do not pay them.
  Many a time, I sat with a revenue officer or traded correspondence with the great Tax Man in some far away cloistered sanctuary in an effort to lessen the cost of "failure to pay" taxes due.  When you do not pay the taxes as required by law, in a timely fashion, there are penalties and interest which begin to accrue.  The penalties are a consequence of not obeying the law--at times they could be negotiated, but the interest---the cost of keeping the government's money--it does not disappear.  Penalties and interest are a consequence of not paying your taxes as required by the Internal Revenue Code.


Exercise and eating a healthy diet are necessary to maintain your body at its peak.  We all have lazy days and we all enjoy those decadent meals.  The hours of sloth and the full stomach from that delicious meal all come with a consequence.  Many times those consequences are delayed for years--but the bell will toll and we will reap the consequences of not living a healthy lifestyle.  My peers and I are of the age when we are living proof you cannot get away with unhealthy choices forever.


When we fail to obey civil laws, the consequences can range from fines to years spent in prison.  There is a procedure within the judicial system where we can have our torts removed from our records called expungement.  After our penalties have been paid and we have proven we can live within the law, our wrong is removed from our record, but we first paid the consequence.


As a child there were most definite consequences of disobeying Momma.  There were times I was willfully disobedient, knowing if I was caught punishment would be painful and swift. If I plunged neck deep into disobedience there always was a consequence.  Even if I managed to get away with it--the cloud of Momma finding out hung over my head.  Guilt is a heavy burden to bear.

The story of David's son dying, which is found in the 12th chapter of II Samuel, is a reminder though God forgives us, we have consequences when we sin.  David took another man's wife---and made sure the man died so he could marry her--this produced a baby.  David took the necessary steps for God to forgive him--except--the man he had wronged was dead--so he could not ask him for forgiveness.  Nathan tells David God has forgiven him, BUT because David caused unbelievers to look upon God with contempt, his son would die---a consequence of his actions.

The sin in my life has always had consequences--a result or effect of an action. The greatest consequence is always turning from God's presence.  Apart from God there is never peace and joy.  It is a stark reminder that the sins of the father will be revisited upon generation after generation.  The consequences of sin have a huge ripple effect which affects more than we ever stop to acknowledge.  

I am thankful for God's forgiveness, but I also am aware this is not carte blanche to sin at will.  There are always consequences of disobeying God's laws.  Jesus died to pay the price for our sin-so that we might be with Him in eternity.  The consequences of our sin--here on this earth--can not be wished away.

Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord."
Nathan replied, "The Lord has taken away your sin.
You are not going to die.
But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord
show utter contempt,
the son born to you will die."
II Samuel 12:13-14 




Wednesday, February 22, 2017

FLYING HIGH


I recently put this picture up as my profile picture on Facebook and my blog.  Taken in the Swiss Alps last summer, it was truly quite the experience to para-glide the warm summer thermals over the peaks- which seemed to reach to the heavens.  I will never forget the thrill of running toward the ledge and feeling the lift off as the currents took me up and away.  Half an hour was spent spinning in slow circles and watching the eagles fly by.  Mountain goats perched on the side of the cliffs were close enough to hear bleating at their kids.  Many of you commented, many were amazed  I was brave enough to soar where eagles fly.  I must confess- Alas--what you see is not what actually happened.



I was sailing tandem--not alone.  NOW in my defense, it still was quite the exhilarating experience and it still took a great deal of courage to run off that ledge and I truly was at the top of the world.   However I did not take my parachute to Europe and I did not have a clue how to fly said parachute if I had brought it along.  My good friend, Bill, was kind enough to photoshop my wonderful pilot from the picture.  SO what you saw--it did not actually happen as I portrayed.  

The picture was originally altered for my Christmas cards.  I did not want to explain who the man was whose lap I was sitting.  After many laughs and comments, it dawned on me it would make a great blog post.  

It would have been really easy to allow you to believe I para-sailed alone.  Only a handful of friends knew the truth and they would never blow the whistle on me.  While it was great fun reading all the comments, I would not be living the truth if I did not come clean and fess up. I posted a doctored picture and had everyone believing I was incredibly brave and enjoyed my undeserved moment in the spotlight.

How many times have we allowed a half truth to stand?   What motivates us to alter or amend the truth or let a misconception go uncorrected?  While my original intent was innocent, it was very enticing to allow you to think I was brave enough to para-glide alone.  The fact I was brave enough to para-glide became not enough and the allure of higher esteem in your eyes became an aphrodisiac to my ego.  I want you to think highly of me.  The question becomes--why did it not occur to me what you might think when I was exposed.  

Live the truth.  It is enough.  No more is needed--no more required--know the peace of living the truth.  In the end--the truth always wins.

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.
John 3:21
 or 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

THE PARABLE OF THE SPARROWS

God continues to teach me and show me His lessons in the most amazing and sometimes unexpected ways.  Recently while on the treadmill at the gym, an entire parable unfolded as I gazed out the window.  I will tell the parable and leave you to ponder the meaning.



There was a large piece of bread carelessly tossed on the ground right in front of the window.  A little sparrow slowly hopped over and began to nibble at his day's find.  He was content and in no hurry-but instead enjoying the feast dropped from the heavens.



After a short period of time, another sparrow, who had been eating nearby appeared, after leaving the bread it was eating.  He pecked at the ground and hopped all around the bread and the other sparrow who was slowly nibbling his meal.  





It soon turned ugly and the newcomer sparrow pulled the bread away from the one who had found the bread.  The sparrow was not content to eat with the other sparrow, but instead claimed the entire piece for their own.



The poor little sparrow flew away in defeat.  You could see the sorrow as it slowly slipped away.  As it made a slow circle one last time, there a few feet away was another piece of bread which had fallen from the heavens.



While this piece of bread was not as large, the little sparrow was satisfied and content with more than enough to sustain it for the day.  He picked the morsel up and flew off to safety.  Thinking I had seen the story play out, I glanced away, but then another story unfolded quite unexpectedly.



As i walked and watched the thieving sparrow was attacked by a larger sparrow.  It was soon sent off in defeat as it lost the bread taken from his fellow sparrow and claimed as its own. The first sparrow I had spotted had slipped away after finishing his meal.  And the thieving sparrow sat on the side of the sidewalk watching in hunger as his prize was devoured and he was left hungry and alone.


I will open my mouth with a parable;
    I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
Psalm 78:2

Monday, February 20, 2017

BEYOND THE MIRROR

If we listen to The World, it is easy to become convinced nothing is more important than beauty and beauty is found in perfection.  Symmetry and flawlessness are the cornerstones of perfection.  The airbrushed -retouched world of fashion has sold us a bill of goods-that unless we are beautiful and without flaw we are of less value.  We spend far too much time comparing ourselves to the physical reflection of others.  Comparison is a deadly game and we risk life long scars when we are told another is far more beautiful.  Everyone eventually looses in the game of physical beauty.



I started out as close to perfect as I would ever be.  Baby soft skin-no wrinkles-sweet smiles and perfection--and then I began living and living vigorously and the scars that come along with that began to appear.




I have several childhood scars--stitches from the time I hit my foot with a shovel while digging in a pile of glorious dirt, and stitches from the time the knife I was whittling with at a fun filled camp week slipped and cut my hand.  My knees are filled with the evidence of riding with abandonment on my bicycle during those long days of playing as a child.  There are more scars whose origin are long forgotten--but are the results from a carefree time in life.



Then at 18 there was the appendix which was removed--my first of several surgery scars.  Then there was my gall bladder which decided it was done after I ate one too many french fry.  More biopsies than I can count, skin cancer removal, and the ravages of carrying huge babies for nine months have taken their toll.

There are crow's feet or as I prefer to call them smile lines beside my eyes.  Sun spots from hours in the garden  and enjoying the great outdoors.  Why with time I have left the mark of perfection so far behind it is only a distant memory.

The World of Beauty has convinced us all we can do something about all this and correct the imperfections.  I laughingly call the body - the money pit.  If we only purchase these products and these services the flawlessness of youth can be recaptured.  Here is a news flash--MOTHER NATURE WINS! 




BUT--all these lines, all these scars, in fact everything which denotes imperfection also indicates a lifetime of living and the joy which came with that.  Had I not played with all my might during my childhood, and instead stayed in a protective bubble--those scars would not be there.  Had I eaten a healthier diet and skipped all those dishes I dearly loved, I might have avoided loosing a couple of parts.  If I had stayed inside and avoided the sun, my skin would not be showing the ravages of sun damage.  Why in fact, if I had skipped birthing those three babies, my stomach would be flat as a pancake.  AND MY LIFE WOULD BE A SAD REFLECTION OF THE EMPTINESS CREATED BY THE NARCISSISTIC PURSUIT OF PHYSICAL PERFECTION. 

Life is meant to be lived---and lived to the fullest--without living in a protective bubble.  Going for the gusto never entails careful avoidance of all potential hazards--instead it seeks the thrill and joy of living life large.

Of course, there is also the fact that anyone who only appreciates us for what the surface looks like, is probably not someone we should spend a great deal of time worrying about.  The Shallow Hal's of life will never take the time to discover the beauty of our hearts.  As my mother taught me, "Pretty is as pretty does."

Thinking through this, I came to realize one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen is this one



I am convinced she had the secret to true beauty--real perfection.  Her beauty did not come in a bottle or as the result of a procedure, or from avoiding exposure to some potential hazard, but did come from pursuing life to the fullest---for His good pleasure.  A lifetime of service with abandonment marks her face and the beauty we see reflected is eternal.

Look not upon my face with pity, but instead stare deeply into my heart and know my inner beauty.  There are many far more beautiful on the surface, but I know He recognizes my true beauty and loves me deeply.


Your beauty should not come from outward adornment,
 such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, 
the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,
 which is of great worth in God's sight.
I Peter 3:3-4





Saturday, February 18, 2017

MEANWHILE I ESCAPED FROM THE HOOD

I made a quick get away from The Hood
And you didn't even miss me.

Met this group of friends since college.
We talked, laughed, ate,
and repeated often.



Some of us are talented enough to puzzle while doing all the above.

And then we toured an Ansel Adams Exhibit
and one of Raleigh's fabulous-FREE museums.







~ ~ ~ ~ ~
MEANWHILE
HERE IN THE HOOD



It is NEVER dull in the Hood.  Some magazine salesman had the audacity to solicit subscriptions--in a rude manner--after dark.  The jungle drums immediately began beating and our friendly and protective neighborhood policeman put a stop to his efforts.  It would seem you MUST have a permit and The Hood is designated as a "No Solicitation Zone".  Wish someone had told the
 Girl Scouts BEFORE I bought 4 boxes of cookies.  I CAN'T HELP IT--I'M WEAK!




Valentine's Day was spent volunteering and this crew bringing me a beautiful handmade Valentine.  NO BETTER Valentine!



To end this week's Hood Happenings, there is a neighbor who seems to have quite the problem.  He emailed the Hood party line looking for someone to remove a critter from under his house.  All of the houses in The Hood are close to 100 years old and thus built in the fashion  of that day which is up on piers.  It seems he was having plumbing issues and the plumber crawled under the house (another lovely feature of an old house BUT the pipes don't burst in the slab).  The plumber told the home owner until he removed the large snake under his house he would not be crawling under there again.  Poor neighbor--no water--AND a big snake.  Wonder if his wife darted out the door too!  NOW in Louisiana---I would have a solution if the snake was poisonous--and if not I would run him off.  These people over here will let you strap a pistol on your hip and open carry BUT will not let you fire said gun.  MAKES PERFECT SENSE-RIGHT?



STILL LIVING LIFE LARGE
HERE IN THE HOOD

Friday, February 17, 2017

RAIN RAIN GO AWAY

Here's to Hero--the source of endless inspiration!



Hero is ALL ABOUT the four times a day we go for a stroll.  He sniffs every tree and blade of grass along the route.  AND THEN, something catches his nose---literally and he is hoovering what ever the scent is in high suction mode.  If your nose was able to ingest--he would swallow the scent down.  I have looked and looked and cannot discover what is so interesting about a particular spot.  Some spots only get the precursory sniff--and then there are these dognip smells I cannot drag him from.  Perhaps Senorita Conchita Chihuahua has marked the spot--perhaps the hated neighborhood feral cat--and perhaps a morsel of human food hit the spot---I will never know--my nose powers are limited.

While Hero LOVES his walks and dances with glee when I pick up the leash, he is NOT such a fan of walking in the rain.  He tucks that tail and looks at me with those sad eyes as if he is saying, "YOU HAVE GOTTA BE KIDDING!"  AH--but there is no choice--so Lulu dons the rain boots and rain coat--even my rain pants a time or two and off we go.  He is NOT HAPPY--BUT we do not come in until the job is done!  You would think it would click -If I use the first bush by the door--we can go back in side.  NO--he is a little thick headed.



What Hero hates even more than the rain is when it is a stormy day and we have no choice but to walk in the thunder.  He is a BIG chicken-thus he sits around shaking when he hears a strange noise, I act like I am leaving, or the littles walk through the door.  Hero is a coward!  As we walk through the rain, he tucks that tail, and creeps along as if I might change my mind or perhaps the rain will go away.  Unfortunately until he learns to use the potty, we have no choice but to walk through the storm.



The good news for Hero is I  never send him out to walk alone-I am always by his side and when the deed is done--we go home and I have a towel waiting by the door.  He is thoroughly rubbed and dried and given an extra treat for completing the mission in spite of the storm.  He comes out on the other side of the wet walk with me holding him, caring for him, and supplying all his needs plus some.

So it is with life--we are forced to walk through the storms of life at times--there is no avoiding them.  Thankfully we never walk alone and He is by our side in the worst of times--comforting us as we travail the stormy path.  When the day comes that the clouds lift and the sun once again shines down upon us, we discover He never left us--never deserted us--and supplied all our needs before we even knew what we needed.  Though life may be stormy--our faithful Master is always by our side.


Whoever goes to the Lord for safety, whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, can say to him, “You are my defender and protector. 
You are my God; in you I trust"
Psalm 91:1-2







Thursday, February 16, 2017

IN THE DEPTHS OF SILENCE


While watching the local news recently,  I heard a heart warming story.  A school student body was raising money by selling candy grams for Valentine's Day.  A sucker was attached to a Valentine's card and delivered to the chosen student by paying a mere fifty cents.  A young student asked his mother permission to buy all 750 students a candy gram.  This entailed him emptying his piggy bank entirely.  The young man, who has autism, wanted every student in the school to know they were included and had a friend.  The money was being raised to purchase "Buddy Benches".  This beautiful concept entails a student who is feeling left out or lonely  sitting on the Buddy Bench to signify they would like someone to come and talk to them.  

Perhaps I should put a "Buddy Bench" in front of my house or designate my swing the "Buddy Swing".  There are times I yearn for conversation and no one is around to share.  It has been extremely difficult here in Fort Worth to find those buddies to fill that void of silence.  I find myself striking up a conversation with perfect strangers in the grocery store, at the gas station, and even walking the dog.  I am hungry for interaction.

While it was easier in Ruston with a lifetime of friends--there were still times of intense loneliness.  I could talk to Hero, but his conversational skills are slim to none.  It would be nice to have someone to trade the tales of the day, call with my latest bumble, speak of deep thoughts of God, and perhaps even talk about the crazy weather.  God gave us a voice for a purpose--to communicate--and being single can lead to Communication Deprivation.

Today's high tech world has further isolated us all.  How many times have you been in a public place and seen everyone with their nose stuck in front of some screen.  I am guilty at times also.  Once I look around and see everyone staring at the little screen, I begin to feel inadequate and out of touch for not sharing in the world of social media.  This is truly a SAD state of affairs!

While visiting my friends in Ruston or my recent visit with friends in Raleigh, the time is not spent seeking constant entertainment, but instead in old fashioned conversation.  Listening and speaking-contributing and gleaming-giving and taking in a lively conversation.  It has been my experience one never feels alone when engaged in conversation. 

So what should we do as singles?  Install a "Buddy Bench"?  I am searching--always searching for ways to establish those lines of communication.  In the meantime, I cling to these words,

"I trust there is more.  There is always more."

And remember, God is often found in the silence.



For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.
Psalm 62:5

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

LESSONS FROM HERO--YET AGAIN

Pardon this interruption of the Single Series, but Hero--The Pint Sized Wonder Dog--continues to teach me.  




We all know, if you live long enough with someone, you begin to notice they have little habits that annoy the stew out of you.  Now I certainly do not have any of these annoying tics!  Those endearing little nuances of being me, which my children LOVE to laugh about, are all part and parcel of the perfect package.  Perhaps I might be guilty of sniffing and not being aware of it and I might be a little rigid when it comes to various rituals of life, BUT they are who I am.  We all have known someone who loudly chews with their mouth open, is perpetually late, blows their nose with fog horn precision, or chews their ice with alarming vigor.  Those little day to day habits which can eventually drive us to thoughts of retribution and perhaps even murderous mayhem can push the calmest to the edge of insanity.




LAUGH--YOU KNOW IT'S FUNNY!


Hero has a habit that can cause me to bark at him in annoyance.  True confession--Hero sleeps in the bed with me.  In my defense, he came to me with this annoying habit.  # 1 Grand slept with him every night and he came to my house expecting like treatment.  He will not go near the crate I foolishly purchased and the nice soft dog bed I bought him is only used by the grands for play.  Lucy loves to come over--sit down in the dog bed and announce, "Lucy's Bed".  SIGH!  I am straying from the subject here--sorry!

Hero's annoying habit is scratching.  NOW, yes I know he is a dog, but this incessant scratching would drive a saint up the wall.  I find it extremely annoying when he gets started in the middle of the night.  I take him to the Doggie Spa--so he is not dirty.  I treat him for fleas and ticks--so there is no infestation problem.  I have observed once he gets started--it quickly digresses into a scratch-a-thon.  I can almost tolerate it during the daytime, but in the middle of the night--my patience is extremely thin.  It all begins with one innocent little scratch-

SCRATCH--
SCRATCH SCRATCH--
SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH--
SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH--
SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH--
SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH--
SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH SCRATCH--

He starts with one little scratch and before you know it he is unable to stop. Being enticed by that first itch to scratch leads to his inability to stop.  He will literally keep on until I call for a cease and desist or else.




It reminds me of a pig and a good mud puddle.  Once he begins to wallow-he can't get enough and before you know it--he is permanently covered with mud!  And it all started with one little quick wallow.

So it is with sin.  We are enticed by the allure of how good this will make me feel.  We are convinced we can sin one time and stop. Once we start down the slippery slope, it is almost impossible to not pick up steam.  It can soon become a habit and before you know it the sin is controlling our actions and our life.  All because we scratched the itch of temptation that first time.

An example is straying from the truth. We might begin with one little white lie or stretching the truth a bit.  This will lead to the dulling of the sense of right and wrong and a propensity to lie more often.  I recently read an article stating scientist had done a study of the brain and discovered the more we lie--our brain actually changes--SHOCK!   Eventually we are unable to tell the difference between the truth and the lies we fabricate and become lost in the web of deceit.

SO--if it itches--DO NOT SCRATCH IT--you risk becoming pulled in to a lifetime habit which will at a minimum leave you injured and perhaps take control of your every action.  Beware scratching the itch!


 "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

ONLY THE LONELY

Do you sit in quiet despondency on this Valentine's Day?  Are you thinking everyone has a significant other, but me?  Are you wondering why you have no flowers, no candy, no card?  Are you sinking in the cesspool of self pity?  Is the quicksand of grief threatening to pull you into the sea of depression?

TAKE HEART










I will share with you what I have come to understand---it is just another day on the calendar.  It will only last 24 hours and tomorrow the world will continue to turn and life will go on.




You might want flowers--you might want candy-




BUY YOUR OWN---guaranteed to get exactly what you want this way.  Better yet--buy them for someone else who will not be receiving the gifts of love.

You might want a special dinner



I never was a fan of eating out on Valentine's Day, but loved cooking a special dinner.  Invite a friend over and enjoy a gourmet spread or a simple burger.



Pause and remember those who are hungry and alone---

As this day goes forth--look beyond yourself.  Do not allow the world to convince you everyone else is out celebrating.  Focus on others--perform small acts of kindness--hand out a warm hug--share a listening ear--gift a sweet smile.  My day will be spent mentoring at school and tutoring at the shelter--and I will be blessed.

Tomorrow--the candy, gifts, and flowers are all on sale and Valentine's Day is quickly forgotten.  Why not make every day an occasion for sharing your love?  Above all else---never forget the One who loves you beyond your wildest dream- the Author of Love--the Giver of All Good Gifts---Your Faithful One.


  See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are
I John 3:1

Monday, February 13, 2017

FLYING SOLO

The initial post on being single seems to have struck a tender nerve for some.  One of the comments addressed being alone while sitting in the presence of another.  I understand this response, and I dare say we have all experienced a similar experience.  I am guilty of telling others at least there is the sound of another human being breathing in the room with you.  In all honesty, perhaps this time of aloneness when in community is far sadder than being physically alone.  



My posts are not addressing martial counseling---for one thing is certain---I am for sure NO expert on marriage!  My posts are intended to address the state of being single--without a partner--alone-whatever the reason.  I wrote in my book the fact was I had always been in community until my marriage ended.  I was never alone until six years ago.  The new experience of that reality of life had a steep learning curve--and I am still learning daily.  As I have thought this over, I questioned if I had been successful in the transition.  I laughed to myself and declared, "WELL, I'm still here and still putting one foot in front of the other!" 

 There are pros and cons to being single as with each and every season of life.  Being single can encourage narcissism.  There is no one else to consider and we begin to focus on what will make us happy--what do I prefer--where would I like to be.  Decisions as simple as what to eat and when to go to bed all depend upon my personal whims.  Narcissism is a slippery slope and unless we are intentional in placing ourselves in positions of service, we begin to become navel gazers.  Having places I volunteer has helped with maintaining balance in my life.  The commitments to these children is a non-negotiable.  I will be there at the appointed time and place-unless physically unable.  My grandchildren are an opportunity to serve.  The perks of these simple weekly acts of service are sweet smiles and hugs which remind me of the why.  Simple acts of kindness, helping my friends and neighbors, random words of encouragement, a listening ear--all remind me why God placed us here on this earth---for His Good Pleasure and to bless us as we serve as His hands and feet.  It occasionally takes me out of my comfort zone--such as serving with others I do not know.  The blessing has always erased the temporary discomfort.




I have struggled with walking into places alone where I knew not one single soul. It is no problem to walk into the Library alone-after all it is not the place to go for social interaction.  I often go to the movie alone, there seems to be many who do the same.  I do not mind traveling alone--for there are always people on public transit who are alone.  I go to all the usual places where a person alone is not out of the ordinary.   It takes all the courage I can muster to walk into a room full of strangers and chance no one being willing to sustain a conversation with me. I no longer go to restaurants alone.  I am never so hungry as to sit in the midst of a room full of chatting diners and eat alone.  The loneliest place I have been is church on Sunday morning.  The one place I should feel most accepted and sought out is where I feel myself most invisible. At times it seems church has gone from a community of believers to a Sunday morning performance.  Not unlike a movie or play, we go in for our entertainment and perhaps encouragement and bolt out the door when the curtain falls.  The mega churches are doing a fair to poor job of encouraging and instilling community in my book.  I was recently told a story of a new attender sitting in Sunday School for six weeks before anyone spoke to her and then it was, "I guess we should get your name and address to put on the roll since you keep coming back."   A sad indictment on the church, but we are talking about being single--NOT the church.

SO--what are the pro's--what is good about being single?  I have found my voice since I began soloing.  When I do not want to do something, I have found the word, "NO"---"Thank you, but NO!"  Recently while volunteering at the shelter, one of the staff asked me was I coming to the banquet.  In a nice, but firm voice, I told her, "No, I have reached my lifetime limit on banquets."  She laughed and applauded my honesty.  I am interested in tutoring those homeless children, NOT in attending an evening of speeches.  I have finally found the courage and quit worrying about whose feelings I might hurt to say, "No," when I really do not have any desire to do whatever is being offered.  It has stopped the days of dread I suffered when I was unable to turn anyone down.  Frankly those I did not want to offend, probably were never offended by a turn down.  They just needed a head count.




As a single, I have been forced to grow--expand--learn.  There is no longer anyone to share big and small decisions with.  SO the buck stops here and I have made every decision on my own for six years.  Learning to seek wise counsel and at times, learning from my mistakes, my independence and self sufficiency has grown by leaps and bounds.  I no longer agonize over each and every decision, but instead approach them with the surety that even if I go wrong--it usually can be fixed.  My first year on Medicare found me agonizing for weeks over what policy to purchase.  I made an OK-decision that first year--but when the next enrollment period came around--I was ready after finally finding a wise medicare counselor.  My decisions are based upon study, exploration and wise counsel.  I have learned to do the best I can and move forward.  My self esteem has grown as I have reaped successes with major decisions.




When one is becoming a pilot, you must study the manuals, and lean on other experienced pilots to learn how to fly.  The first solo run must be terrifying, but unless you are willing to get behind the wheel alone-you will never experience that exhilaration. Until the pilot is willing to stop clinging to the ground and asking for help, he will never know the joy of flying solo.

ENOUGH for today, I will close with two very important lessons I have gleamed as a single.  

I really like me.  I would be friends with me.  I don't hit the mark all the time, but I am really trying to do what is right.  I do not ever hesitate to laugh at myself and find humor in most of my shenanigans.  In a nutshell--I am at least fair to middling when it comes to humanity!

The most important lesson--I am NEVER alone---HE is faithfully by my side.

Tomorrow---Valentine's Day as a Single.



"Be strong. Be brave. Be fearless. You are never alone

Joshua 1:9








Wednesday, February 8, 2017

TABLE FOR ONE

My thoughts keep circling back to the topic of  "Being Single".  I recently read an article confirming in the last US census there are more "Single, Widowed, and Divorced" women than married.  Although I am not shocked, as I read the article it confirmed God's nudging that I should address being single in my posts.  Here is a fact ---even if you are currently married, unless you die before your spouse, you WILL BE single someday--  Bottom line you will be dead or single.



Trust me on this---there are worse things than being single.  It has taken quite a few years, but I am slowly beginning to get into the grove of being alone.  NOW would I prefer a LONG and successful marriage--why certainly.  I am always warmed when I see an announcement of an anniversary of many years being celebrated.  We were created to be in relationships, and though it takes a great deal of work, it is always worth the effort.  Surviving the ups and downs of marriage is a reflection of our relationship with God.  We are teaching our children the lesson of being steadfast--even when things are hard--sometimes extremely hard.  Marriage is a work in progress and it mirrors the work in progress of our relationship with God.  The longer our marriages exist, the better we know one another---so it is with God.



For a variety of reasons, there are women and men, all around us who are single.  The test becomes NOT striving to end our single status, but living life fully in our single status.  God does not desire for us to be out on a spouse hunt.  Why poor shot that I am, I would probably bag a skunk thinking it was a lion.  God desires us to live life---AS IT IS--to the fullest and trust Him.  Put away your hunting clothes and instead don your servant gear.  He has plans for you that will blow you away--make your day--thrill your heart.  All you have to do is be patient--listen--and obey.



SO---I will have at least a couple of more posts on being single.  BUT they will come next week.  What better time to address life as a single than Valentine's week?  

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
Psalm 73:25

Monday, February 6, 2017

LIMITATIONS

There is a decision I am pondering.  As I have thought it over, I realized I had not really committed myself to pray over this game changer.  When mentioning it to #1 Daughter, she committed to pray with me.  I came away feeling a little guilty.  I hesitate to ask anyone to pray with me over something that mostly affects my life.  With all that is going on in the world, it seems like such small potatoes.  How dare I ask anyone to pray when there are really HUGE things such as the mess this world is in, friends with big time health issues, those living in poverty and without homes, oppression of all forms, fellow Americans who are at each other's throats, and on and on.  With a myriad of big problems which impact millions, how silly to even mention this little thing and take up valuable prayer time.

As I mulled this over, I thought of my children.  I could never get enough of hearing about their lives---even today--I delight when they share as adults the day to day of living.  When they were young, I asked them everyday, "How was your day"  Tell me what happened in your world today."  Even the minutiae held my interest.  This has carried over with my grands.  The two youngest are not always easy to understand, but I love their efforts in telling what they did at school.  I always ask, "Who did you play with today?"  and this little man can tell an elaborate tale, which delights my heart.  It all comes down to the fact that I love them and therefore their lives are important to me.



The thoughts then rolled over to other family and friends.  It warms my heart when they share with me and I am always interested in what is going on in their lives--good and bad.  Every single person in my circle of family and friends is dear to me and I always have time to listen.  In fact, I am delighted when they come to me and talk.  There is no problem so small that I will not lend an ear.




Why then, would I think God would not want to hear what is going on in my life?  No matter how insignificant it might seem, surely He is interested.  I am His creation, His daughter, and He loves me dearly---SO why would He not want me to share?  

And as for asking others to pray with me, if they are so lead, am I limiting God by indicating He could not possibly hear all those prayers.  Am I saying He is incapable of handling the messes, the questions, the problems, we bring to Him?  Do I think He is unwilling and unable to hear a symphony of prayers?   Do I not acknowledge the omnipotence of our Almighty God?  Is this not another form of putting myself on the throne, thinking I can handle this?  I have made a fine mess many a time--handling it.  When will I ever learn, to seek His will in ALL things?  

And ALL God's People Said-----AMEN!


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6