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Hero, The Wonder Dog, never ceases to amaze me. I recently looked out in the back yard and noticed he was in his guarding stance. He is quite ferocious about protecting the castle---IN THE FENCED BACK YARD! Especially brave when enclosed behind the protection of a six foot fence, no bird or lizard dares to invade when Hero is on duty.
He also likes to sit and stare out the front window (the warm sunshine in the air conditioned house might be a slight incentive). He faithfully barks, growls and spits at every canine who dares to walk down the street in front of his house.
The three a day walks continue---I trained him so well in Fort Worth to relieve himself when out for a leashed walk that he refuses to use the back yard. As long as I am behind him with the leash pulled tight, he boldly goes for every dog or cat in sight. Hero does not realize he is a dog and considers all four legged creatures enemy invaders on his turf. He is quite brave in the confines of his home or with me standing behind him. What would happen----if he were to escape from the protection of home and master? Would he survive in the big bad world? We all have similar tendencies to be brave and outspoken within familiar territory. As long as we are certain the fences surround us and others have our back, we are quick to growl, bark and spit. Social media is a great example of the fences we place hide behind. As long as we are on this side of the keyboard, we let it fly without regard for our safety and protection and hold those who disagree in great disdain. The WWW encourages loose tongues and indiscriminate courage. We often jump quickly and without thought when we feel our territory has been invaded by someone we disagree with. With the protection of being behind the screen of our computers, we feel the false sense of safety and lose any inhibitions. We bravely stand up for our beliefs--and often say far more than we EVER would if we were face to face with those who intrude upon our values. Good or bad--social media has released the inner guard dog in many of us. We have lost the tolerance to even listen to another philosophy. What have we unleashed with social media?
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
It was a beautiful Friday afternoon and the school bell ending the day produced hordes of children pouring out the double doors keeping them contained. Shouts of glee, peals of laughter, and shrieks of joy announced the beginning of the weekend. From a distance all seemed right with the world. Up close though, one observes a knot of eight pre-teens clustered together whispering and giggling. From out of seemingly nowhere a limousine pulls up and the eight are ceremoniously escorted into the long stretch by a uniformed chauffeur. It was no secret that these privileged eight were off for a fabulous night of cruising in style, dining in elegance, and a rock concert every preteen for miles around dreamed of attending. It all seems perfect--idyllic--Utopia--until you notice the four girls from the same class left behind. They stood alone--not even as a united front--heads down--shoulders slumped--and egos damaged by the slight of not being invited. How devastating to know--have it overtly thrown in your face--that you are not in the "Chosen Group." All because your skin is the wrong color, you act a little different, your parents don't run with the "In Crowd", or whatever else might make you different. Your company is not desired in the night's outing. You are not invited.
Think I am exaggerating? I just heard this story and it happened very recently. NOW--I totally understand when the expense prohibits inviting everyone to a party. What I don't understand is why you would make a big deal of making sure everyone at school knows you are celebrating, but not everyone is invited. Why would you create a public disply of being certain others know of their exclusion? Why would a preteen cause this much pain for her classmate?
Daughters learn from their mothers how to act. Sadly--if the mother encourages this type of bullying---IT IS BULLYING--then the daughter grows up thinking this behavior is acceptable and normal. IT IS NEITHER! The pecking order is alive and well. It was around when I was growing up. I can't put my finger on when I realized I did not fit in with the "In Crowd", but at some point in my early teen years I understood I was not "In". Never totally out--but never truly in either. One of the nicest things about maturing (nice way to say getting old) is one day you wake up and realize you do not care anymore. Though being on the inside of the socially elite is important to some--most of us came to realize a long time ago who our true friends were. Sadly when you are 13, your psyche is just beginning to develop its social side. This kind of bullying and snubbing is unacceptable. A kind and sensitive heart is far more desirable than a slot in the socially elite. What are we teaching our children? What does this say about the value of another human being? All of this type of behavior has been around a LONG time. Protecting fragile young hearts is extremely important. Hooray for the mother in this story who declined the invitation for her daughter to be a part of this and instead invited those left out for a night out. I am thankful for those who see beyond the surface and stand up for what is right. GOOD for the mom who fights against bullying--whatever it may look like.
3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
How we envision our lives and how they often play out are sometimes polar opposites and in most cases, at a minimum, not the dream we planned on living. I loved keeping a welcoming and serene home for my family to call home base. Dinner on the table, everything in its place, and an atmosphere conducive to relaxation and regrouping were important to keeping the family healthy and happy. My dream was to always be the wife who made home a welcoming sight. My style of love is that of service--be it family or stranger, I show love by taking care of those in my path. My dream was to live in a happy home until death do us part. That dream disappeared.
Many women and men who find themselves alone mount a desperate search for another spouse. Most of us are happiest in a relationship, but be wary of any living body to fill that void. As I have thought this over, I came to realize re-creating what it took a lifetime to achieve is not obtainable. There simply is not enough time left. It takes years to grow a deep and meaningful relationship-years I do not have. So when the dream is dashed---and the realization of re-creating it is impossible--what do we do with dashed dreams? Where does our hope lie?
As I thought this over, it has occurred to me I should be thankful for that which is right in front of my face. My children, my grands, and my wonderful friends. Who is to say that dreams cannot be re-channeled? The love for a spouse cannot be replaced, BUT our love, time and energy can be directed toward others. Lately I find God placing those who are alone on my heart and mind a great deal. Though many of my friends are married, many are not, and those who are alone seem to feel the same void. We seem to be missing the boat by focusing on our past and not looking toward our future. The world is filled with need and opportunity for service. Why not re-direct our time and energy into impacting those God places in our path? Re-channel our energy and time toward the needs directly in our path and leave the past in the past. Life on this earth is short--and a wasted day can not be re-lived. SO--I have my eyes open and my heart prepared to bloom where I am planted.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
Somehow the trip to see the turning of the Aspen leaves turned into a hiking trip up to the top of Pike's Peak. Why would I be surprised when I travel with this crew?
I will quickly tell you there is no comparison to the views when hiking to those you see by other means of reaching the point of attraction. It is incredible the views you see when off the beaten path. Since Pike's Peak summit is WAY above the tree line, the trek to the top had little to do with seeing golden aspen leaves and a lot to do with getting to the summit on foot.
It does not take a genius to realize you are in no shape to climb 14,000 feet. Even after the hike was changed from one day to two with a camping stop over, I knew I would never make it. Moving has not allowed any time for training. My failure to prepare came with a steep cost. SO I dropped the Three Amigos off bright and early on day one of their two day hike, with the understanding I would stay around town until I heard they had made the camp site. Our cabin was 45 minutes out of town on winding mountain roads, so coming back if there was trouble was not a hop, skip and jump.
By 2:00 they had made their camp, but surprise---I have made the decision to ride the Cog to the top of Pike's Peak. The three hour round trip took you through the glorious terrain of the mountain and---I got to see the sight of the mountain top. It seemed much smarter to ride the train than to drive---keeping your eyes on the road to the top of the peak is a MUST!
Beautiful as the train ride was--I missed the glory which is only associated with climbing the mountain slowly and relishing every step of enjoying God's majestic creation. The summit of the mountain was breath-taking (literally at 14,115 ft) The girls who made the hike experienced the whole enchilada and did not miss a moment of all there was to savor. We all reached the summit, but their trek allowed them to enjoy so much more than I possibly could on a train ride.
As I thought through this experience, I realized how closely it resembles walking our trek through life. We have the opportunity to choose the route we traverse. We can walk with Jesus by our side, and experience the glory of His perfect path for us, or we can walk by the side of man and miss the fullness and beauty of experiencing God's perfect path. Who we walk by is entirely up to us, but the price we pay when we wander from His side is missing the wonder of His perfection. What a price we pay when we stray from the path!
So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him.
I am certain you have figured out by now I have been off tagging along behind these three on another hiking trip. Well to be absolutely truthful--I did a little bit of hiking and a lot of driving and people watching. I still have not figured out how I became the designated driver for this trip. Our other trip buddies usually do the driving, but somehow I got elected this trip. I believe I heard some nonsense about me being used to "Big City Driving". Who EVER gets used to that??? The other thing I heard was something about not really enjoying driving---AGAIN--WHO DOES?? Before the week was over I began to feel like Hoke from "Driving Miss Daisy."
I really did not mind driving--much--as long as I had a good navigator. Traveling a lot alone, I have learned to put the phone GPS in my lap to help with the navigation. This can lead to missed exits, wrong turns, and being three lanes away from the one needed. FRUSTRATING! Even Hoke relied upon Miss Daisy's directions when traveling in unfamiliar territory.
It would seem there should be no problem with having someone to help me to navigate with three extra bodies in the car. WRONG! I am confessing to being a grouchy old woman more than once during our week away. We drove quite a few miles--IN THE MOUNTAINS--on unfamiliar roads--in unfamiliar cities, and there were times my navigators went to sleep on me---LITERALLY! Other times they seem to have forgotten I needed help---whatever the reason I was trying to negotiate difficult conditions and not getting the help I needed. I am embarrassed to say I lost my cool more than once and might have even made a couple of idle threats. Stress brings out my not so nice side, unfortunately.
By the end of the week, we were doing better and managing to get to our destinations with not many mess ups. The wonderful thing about great friends is we are a lot like family- all is forgiven and forgotten before the day has ended. I might have been perturbed a couple of times, but it was not a capital offense. It was a wonderful reminder of how much we all need a navigator in our lives as we travel down this road called life. How much better to look to the master map maker for directions on the direction we should go rather than bumbling and stumbling down the wrong paths. When we forget to ask directions and fail to look at "The Map", we often suffer the consequences of our mis-guided ways. We all need a Master Navigator in our lives! The path may not be easy--but how much better to have One to give us directions as we travel down the road. Never take a step without consulting Your Navigator.
Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths.
This wonderful Englishman tickles my funny bone almost every day! He does have a quite serious side--especially when it comes to his faith. Today though, I want you to have a taste of what I read almost every day--Go HERE. What a wonderful gift laughter is and bless those who are able to give us an opportunity to cut loose.
“He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting.” Job 8:21
Then there is my blogging friend, Ceil. Such a talented writer--but also one who has her priorities straight. She just took a summer break from writing--to be with family and friends. GOOD for her. She recently posted this blog HERE--which has me thinking about Holy moments. She does an excellent job of describing how the day to day can be Holy. I am inspired by her words!
My blogging buddy, Linda, wrote a post which resonates with my thoughts. For you see, my brain still feels young! Though my body does not always cooperate, I am out there pushing and trying. I agree with her---I am relishing every day I am blessed with.
My future includes another daughter. Liz is completing her international project for her Masters in Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service. It is quite an accomplishment to be accepted into this prestigious program and now she is culminating her two years by setting up services for women's health in rural Ecuador.
She won my heart from the very beginning--she loves my son. The icing on the cake was her domestic project while working on her degree was surveying the homeless for the adequacy of services. Any woman who is courageous enough to teach in the Marshall Islands through World Teach is a force to be reckoned with!
All this to introduce Liz to you before I point you to her blog. I sympathized and laughed out loud in the span of two minutes. PLEASE--Go HERE and read about her adventure of moving to Ecuador. She is an excellent writer! What a woman!
40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’
Yesterday's post dealt with three situations of intense pain and grief. The loss of a long time spouse, a child in an intensely painful position, and the long good-bye which comes with aging parents. Though these three situations are greatly different, they have one huge thing in common---they are creating heart pain for those involved. A physiologic heart attack is extremely painful--so I have been told. An emotional heart attack could perhaps be even more painful--for it does not deal with just the heart muscle--but the heart as a whole--physical as well as emotional.
In the midst of some of my hardest days, I was driving home from Austin when I began to have chest pains so terrific I could not catch my breath. The pain became so intense I pulled over and called a medical friend who quickly diagnosed a panic attack brought on by my intense grief. The pain was real--even when there was no damage to my heart--I seriously doubt a myocardial infarction could be any more painful. I was absolutely debilitated for a period of time.
Recently I have been thinking over the pain I have endured in the past. I have discovered an amazing thing---though I remember I was in pain and recognize the depth of my grief, I cannot remember the physical experience of the pain. A similar experience would be the pain of child birth. Though we know it was a pain like no other, and we can give words to what we felt, we no longer feel that same pain. Childbirth, in most cases, has a happy outcome and we often think this is what helps us to forget the pain. I don't really think that is the case, I believe God has given us the unique characteristic of moving beyond the pain. Job is an excellent example. He lost EVERYTHING--even his family--and yet he lived for another day and God blessed him with another family. Now-I seriously doubt Job EVER forgot his family he lost--he grieved for them the remainder of his days, BUT the extreme pain of the moment of loss never had to be relived again. Gone---but not forgotten. He moved on to live in the day God had given him. I am thankful God has been by my side every step of the way--the good, the bad, and the ugly have not driven Him from me. I am thankful though I know I was in pain--I no longer feel that intense pain. I am thankful for the scars on my heart that remind me of His faithful presence and comfort. I am thankful for the hope for tomorrow and the joy of today. I am thankful.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalms 18:2
I have just returned from a dear friend's husband's funeral. It was an unexpected death. Do we EVER expect death? She is in shock at best and the days, weeks and months to come will be a new road to travel. As I listened to the pastor, he spoke of my friend being a widow. I was struck by the harshness of the sound of this label. He was certainly speaking the truth, but I seriously doubt this has had time to dawn upon my friend. She will need time to process the depth of her loss.
Immediately following the funeral, I went to lunch with a group of dear friends. One of those with us told a heart breaking story concerning her child. She is experiencing the agony of seeing her child suffering with no way to remedy the situation for them. Mothers had always rather bear the pain inflicted upon our children and whatever you do--do not get in the path of an angry mama bear! I was heart broken for her as I listened to her story and felt her helplessness. There is no end in sight for the dilemma and her frustration is tangible.
Three of my dear friends are dealing with the complexities of aging parents who are chronically ill. Our bodies begin to fail us, in most cases, long before the bell tolls. We have advanced medical science to the point where we can keep people alive sometimes much longer than our bodies are able to adequately function. This leaves us with parents who are bed ridden for the most part and suffering from multiple problems. The pills they must ingest to keep them going are legion. And the saddest thing, many times there is really no remedy for the wearing out of our bodies. It is frustrating not knowing the answer to how best to help those who have loved us best. The role reversal of parent and child is perhaps one of life's biggest hurdles.
Where am I going with all of this? It is okay to say, "I am NOT OK!" Often we feel the necessity to put on a brave face and be strong when faced with huge losses, pains, and dilemmas. We somehow get the impression, no one wants to hear our sorrows and frustrations. A true friend--will ALWAYS have an ear to hear. Most of the time we need someone to listen as we verbalize our grief. No solutions are needed but often the case in these times, we just need someone to hear us and sympathize or empathize--but especially listen. Be the one to offer an ear--be the one to ask, "How are you?" and truly listen to the answer. Bear the burdens of one another by listening to those God places in our path. The world is filled with pain and suffering--there is always someone needing an ear.
2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
I have been accused of being one who over analyzes--who spends far too much time thinking and pondering. Perhaps there is truth in this, but it also bodes well for me when it comes to gossip. I am NOT a good ear for the local gossips or in fact social media or even the National Media. I almost always call into question repeated stories and wild claims. Having learned--unless you were there to see the deed (and even then our eyes and ears are not always totally reliable), there is a strong possibility I am not hearing the whole truth and nothing but the truth. For in fact--our personal perception--our personal biases can cloud our stories--even when we are honestly trying to tell the truth.
MANY long years ago, I worked in a bank for a period of time. Long enough to receive training of what to do in case of a robbery. One of the things they stressed was to not discuss it among ourselves until we had been interviewed by the authorities. You see depending upon the person, it is highly likely we will all have a slightly different description of the robber. Somewhere in the middle of all the descriptions is the story.
Gossip is the perfect example of why we need to be skeptical. Once a story is told and retold--and embellished--it begins to have little resemblance to the truth. We have all experienced the prick of the gossip's tongue. It is painful enough to be talked about--without the story loosing any close relation to the truth.
SO--I am a skeptic of the highest order. Right, wrong, or indifferent---I need more than a repeated story to take it at face value. A first hand account is best--or even better--straight from the mouth of the horse.
I heard an excellent sermon yesterday on Luke. Luke was a physician---a scientist--a skeptic of the highest order. He did not accept claims from third parties---he wanted first hand accounts. The current sermon series is on Luke and the message was from the first four verses. It seemed Luke did not accept the stories of Jesus without interviewing the first hand accounts himself. He needed to know for certain what the truth was before writing even one word. God KNEW there would be skeptics among us--He provided us with Luke's account to satisfy our doubting souls. What a gift!
1 Many people have set out to write accounts about the events
that have been fulfilled among us
.2 They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us
from the early disciples.
[a]3 Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning,
I also have decided to write an accurate account for you,
most honorable Theophilus,
4 so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught.
As I have watched Irma slowly crawl across the Atlantic this week, it has occurred to me what a difference a slight shift in direction can mean for hundreds of thousands--even millions. We may be able to track hurricanes, but we are not always predictable in getting our predictions correct. A slight variation in many weather factors can have a huge impact on where Irma decides to finally wreck havoc.
What I find truly more amazing than the unpredictability of the route a hurricane might take is those who sit and gamble on missing the direct impact. It is a game of Russian roulette with high stakes when you wait until the very last minute to flee. Escape routes can be clogged, the storm may pick up speed hitting sooner than thought, the gas supply can be gone, and why you could even have a flat tire. Over and over I have heard the Florida governor warn his citizens, "If you wait until the storm to call, we will not be able to help." He refuses to put his first responders in danger because someone failed to heed the warning.
Life is filled with storms---some we know are coming and others which come out of the blue. It is important to heed the warnings, when we are fortunate enough to have one. What a difference a warning can make. What a difference a storm changing direction can make for so many. All we can do is be prepared and heed the warnings along the way.
I get a lot of strange looks when I explain to friends that I have made all the preparations for the final storm in life. Wills are written, instructions have been given--DNR's and medical directives are all filled out. I am not living life in dread of the inevitable, but I am prepared for the day it comes. We don't get out of this alive--I promise!
The most important thing I have done is made preparations to ensure where I will spend Eternity. I have heeded the warnings, I have made the preparations, and I live in the surety of tomorrow--whatever it might bring. I have not sat around waiting for the final warning--for often we are given no warning. I am out of the path of eternal damnation and riding along the road leading to eternity with Him. What a difference it can make to be prepared for whatever the next moment might bring. The difference of the peace which comes with the assurance of eternity in His presence.
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them