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Wednesday, February 28, 2018

HOLLOW FEELING

Occasionally, we have this sinking feeling there is something missing.  You walk in a room and cannot put your finger on what--but there is something definitely missing from the room.  You are sitting at a table full of friends enjoying a holiday meal and there seems to be an empty chair.  OR open the pantry and grab for your favorite box of cookies--only to find the box missing.


Most of us feel a void at one time or another in our life.  Someone--something is missing.  When coming out of my anesthetic fog after surgery, I had a strange hollow feeling where they had removed several parts.  What had once been there for my entire life, was no longer there.  There was a hollow space----which I was not accustomed.  The feeling of being hollow only lasted a couple of days--until I was up and moving around again allowing a shift of what was still there. I found a great picture showing exactly what happens, but for the sake of the squeamish--I will refrain from showing.

Something must always fill the voids we find in life.  When my nest became empty, I threw myself into volunteering.  When I was no longer able to run as I once did due to injury problems, I found lower impact activities.  When I found myself without a life partner, I filled my hours with family and friends.  Why something as simple as giving up artificial sweeteners lead to turning to the "Real Deal".  Surely it is a law of nature that when we have a void--we will fill it.



Man is created with a God sized void in his heart.  That void will be filled--and we have the choice of where we will turn to fill the void.  He gives us total freedom to choose Him or not.  Make no mistake, we all have the void--the only difference is in how we decide to fill that perfectly shaped God hollow.  We can let the perfect shape of God fill the void or we can try to cram the mis-shape of something from the world .  One thing is certain--it will be filled.

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. 
Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart,
 yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
Ecclesiastes 3:11


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A LITTLE WORMY

It has rained and rained here in North Louisiana.  If you are a Louisiana native, webbed feet are a given, but we may find ourselves in need of gills if it doesn't let up soon.
I have noticed, while out walking The Wonder Dog, the full ditches have lead to the frogs taking up residence in The Hood.  If  you have never had frogs sing you a lullaby at bedtime, you have missed one of sweet wonders of nature. I grew up on a hill above a pond and that sweet night song always brings warm and dear memories.




Unfortunately, with the heavy rains we have reached the saturation point in the ground.  It is no longer able to suck up any of the rain, or it has rained so much in such a short period of time that the ground cannot absorb it fast enough.  This result is the runoff of all the water, filling ditches which empty into the streams and lakes.  In a very short period of time, we have gone from want to plenty in the water department.


This has caused the systematic suicide of one of my yard's most important assets--the earth worms !  When the ground becomes too saturated, the worms come to the surface for a variety of reasons, but chiefly to migrate.   They crawl out of the ground and begin their blind search for better ground (or greener grass). Though they need moisture in the dirt to enable them to make their tunnels which make my garden happy, they are not satisfied with the plenty under their noses (literally).   Somehow they end up on my front porch on the concrete, where there is no water and their demise follows quickly.  If they had only headed to the back of the flower beds, under the eaves of the house, they would have been spared this untimely end.  It seemed like a great thing when it started raining, but in the vain search for better, they lost their way and met their bitter end.  

NOW, I am sure you have heard of all of us being compared to sheep in The Word, but I dare say this might be the first time you have heard us compared to the lowly earth worm!  As I looked at these worms, I thought of how often we blindly stumble down the wrong path, when all we truly needed was right in front of our face.  For whatever the reason, over indulgence in pleasures of the world, straying into dangerous waters, dis-satisfaction and looking for more, we get ourselves into a bind when we loose sight of the potential for danger and head off in the wrong direction.   How often have we become panic stricken and forgotten the Great Guide?  He will provide an eave to crawl under!  Why The Word describes Him as a Mother Hen shielding her chicks under her wings.  First---we MUST have our eyes upon The Guide and be willing to be lead to the safety of the eaves!  


"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it
Matthew 23:37



Monday, February 26, 2018

ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR

During my forced convalescence (I am not particularly good at stillness), I have watched the first two seasons of "The Crown" on Netflix.  What is there not to love about a series based upon actual facts AND most of the episodes I remember reading about the events during my lifetime.  There seems to be no middle ground when it comes to this institution of the monarchy enjoyed by the Brits.  You either love them or hate them---indifference is not an option.  



One side insists the dignity of the monarchy has been destroyed by the shenanigans of the family.  I came away from the series feeling extremely sorry for the Queen who has done her part and more for upholding protocol and time honored tradition.  It's the rest of the mob who have given us a bad taste.  The other side clings to the time honored institution of the figurative head of the country.  She really has no authority, beyond a sharp word of criticism here and there.  We all love fairy tales of the beautiful princess and charming prince.  This is no fairy tale---it is real life.  With real life comes all the drama of living in a fallen world.  We all have clay feet and are prone to faLL---none of us are perfect.



Added to the responsibility for trying to keep the family straight, the Queen is automatically named as the Head of The Church of England upon coronation.  Try living up to that role.  We all know the head of any church is supposed to be heads above the rest of us mortals.  Overt - open sinful lives are not condoned.  Ask Queen Elizabeth's professor, King Edward.  You cannot have your cake and eat it too!  The House of Windsor lives a very public life and we all are watching.



I came away thinking about the rule of The Queen, beginning as a naive narrowly educated young woman until today as the longest ruling monarch.  She has morphed into a highly honored institution among the British.  She has stood the test of time, weathered the storms, and risen to the top.  What a legacy she will leave behind.

BUT, the series also points out her mis-steps, the family scandals, the stiff formality, and the messiness of families.  I came away pondering how it must feel to have a permanent record pointing out the details of her mistakes, mis-ques, and out right messes.  If you consider the queen's life as a whole, she has lived a good life.  Mankind it seems is more interested in remembering her humanness and failings as a monarch.  With all the good she has done, historians are keen that we understand the bad as well as the good.  Though she has made tremendous strides to correct the wrongs and amend the wayward ways of the crown, we refuse to forget or allow her to put it behind her.

How thankful I am that we serve a God who forgets our sin once we have turned from our sinful ways and repented.  The Word tells us He has removed from His sight our transgressions as far as the east is from the east.  He forgets our sin when we come before Him and repent.  God does not have a rolling documentary of all our lives.  Our repented sins are on the cutting room floor to never resurface again.  How much kinder and merciful is our Great God than we are to one another.  What a Mighty God we serve.


“I, I am he
    who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
    and I will not remember your sins.
Isaiah 43:25

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

PIECE BY PIECE

There a famous saying, "There are NO U-Haul's behind the hearse."



And yet, we spend a great deal of our lives trying to accumulate money or things that we are pretty sure we "Need".  I for one am GUILTY as charged of being very concerned about having the financial means to keep me going to the end.  Watch the show, "Extreme Hoarding".  It is an eye-opener about the extremes some go to when it come to accumulating "stuff".  This all comes from a deep place in our psyche that whispers "NOT ENOUGH".  Not enough can quickly morph into NEVER ENOUGH if we are not careful.



Having cleaned out my mother's home and helped with my in laws, I can tell you most of the things we hold so dear are not only not so dear, but sometimes merely problems of how to dispose of them for our offspring.  I am under NO illusion that my own children will not feel the same thing about my treasured stuff.  My mother had boxes of vacation pictures from her travels.  Most of the pictures had no identification on them AND no people in the pictures.  WHO wants those??  OH--and the 25 years of Readers Digest books all bound in vinyl binders---the library will not even take.  




It will all one day be discarded piece by piece.  I believe in the hoarding shows they have four piles---keep, donate, sale, and trash.  The trash pile is ALWAYS the biggest.





Why this principle even applies to our bodies.  We come here and for the most part fully equipped with all the parts of a human body.  Over the years, various surgeons have whittled away on my body.  Piece by piece I seem to be disappearing.  When the day comes that I bid my good-bye's, I will not have all the parts I started with.  Some of you will manage to be intact, but many of us will be snipped, clipped, dredged, and even have new and improved artificial parts.  

Where am I going with this?  All these earthly things we cling to so fiercely can be out the door or in the garbage before we can blink an eye.  NONE of this is of the eternal--all of it is fleeting and temporary.  We spend most of our lives grasping all the wrong things--things of this earth.  What we should be clinging to--what should be written on our foreheads is The Eternal Word of God.  Nothing else truly matters--nothing else is eternal--the Pearl of Great Price--God Almighty and His Truths.


45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls,46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Matthew 13:45-6

Monday, February 12, 2018

GETTING MY HOUSE IN ORDER

I have a vivid memory from my childhood of the day my father passed away.  He was in the VA hospital a couple of hours away from our hometown and my grandmother was staying with us.  We received the call of his passing early in the morning before time for the school bus to pick us up.  Before I knew it, our next door neighbors were there to clean our house.  My grandmother was no spring chicken and certainly did not clean house to my mother's standards.  She had previously arranged for the neighbors to help out by coming to clean the house before the visitors began to arrive.  I am not sure Mama had thought about who would talk to us kids, but she definitely had planned who would get her house ready for the small town inspection to come.  It is a surreal memory that gives me insight to who my mother was.



As you read this, I am having surgery or perhaps in drug induced sleep to keep me from pain.   I have spent the past few days getting my ducks in a row and my house in order.


Not unlike my mother, I have been making sure I leave a clean house to come home to.  People will be in and out and I would not want anyone to think I was not neat and tidy.  I have all my end of life papers neatly stored where they can be easily found~NOT that there is any possibility of being needed BUT.  I am a Girl Scout--BE PREPARED is my motto.  The pantry is filled with Dr Pepper, cookies, and chips ~the MUST haves in my day to day life!  The Super Dog is at the Pet Hotel---SERIOUSLY-The Spa!  I have prepared my Bible Study lesson to teach in a couple of weeks.  I have even written a few blogs ahead (VERY FEW).  I am ready.



Why would we worry about clean houses, stocked pantries, and end of life plans?  We do not want the world to judge us as unprepared.  Control is the name of the game!!  AND what the world thinks of us is of utmost importance.  The opinion of those in our world of who we are can be a driving force in our lives.

The question should be am I prepared to meet God face to face?  Do I have all my ducks in a row when it comes to my relationship with The Father?  Have I cleaned out the dirt of sin in my life?  Is my spiritual storehouse stocked and ready?  Am I constantly ready for a face to face with the Father?  Is the house of my soul in order?  THAT is the important question!

32 “No one knows, however, when that day or hour will come—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son; only the Father knows. 33 Be on watch, be alert, for you do not know when the time will come.
Mark 13:32-33

Friday, February 9, 2018

FILLED TO OVERFLOWING

We have had several days of rain recently including the deluge from Winter Storm Liam which moved through the area for an entire night.  It has been so wet the Wonder Dog was not able to go to the Parish Park for his daily walk.

I had rather sleep!

The day we returned to the park I was astounded to see how much the lake had risen with these two rain events.  It had rained so much the water was seeping out of the side of the hills onto the path and we had to go around the stream flowing from the upper pond into the lake.  Even after the rain had stopped the water was rapidly pouring into the lake.


I ran into the long time park director, James Ramsaur, who has made this park into a jewel for the parish.  As we talked over the rain and the change in the lake level, he told me he read my blog about the low level of the lake recently.  I assured James this rated another blog and casually said, "The question is what will be the topic?"  He quickly answered, "The goodness of God."  

We've gone from this-

To this

There seems to be no question there was a plan to refill the lake.  The plan did not rely upon man's plan, but instead trusted God would provide all that was needed.  Though the water was depleted--God faithfully provided the resources to make the lake beautiful once again.  In a very short period of time we went from depleted to filled to over-flowing.

So it is with God---He provides all we need to fill us to the point of overflowing, if we seek Him.  When we are at our very lowest--seriously depleted--if we will only call upon Him, He will faithfully provide the help we need.  God's love for us is from a deep spring which never dries up.  It flows over us and will overflow from us--if we trust Him to provide what He sees we need.  If God provides the rain to refill the lake, surely he is intent upon providing us with all we need.  As the old hymn says, "Only trust Him~Only trust Him now."

but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing
Psalms 34:10



Thursday, February 8, 2018

GIVE YOURSELF A HUG

Yesterday's topic and Scripture brought a response from Victor (He's Here) that was exactly what I was thinking when I quoted The Word.  The Second Greatest Commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself, but if we do not love ourselves how can we do this?



Interestingly, this perfectly dovetails into the Bible Study we are beginning in our small group.  Another great example of a God-incidence in my life.  I was already pondering this very subject and I get a little nudge to continue to explore exactly why we do not love ourselves.



Somewhere between loving ourselves above all others (narcissism is the fancy psycho babble name) and deep seeded hatred toward ourselves is the goal.  The key lies in the First Great Commandment---"Love the Lord Your God with ALL your heart, your soul, and your mind."  Putting God first and worshiping Him above all else allows us to live the life He intended.  The first step toward loving ourselves is loving God and because of this love being obedient.  As we strive to be obedient, we please God and when God is pleased with us--we are pleased with ourselves.


When we were children, we sought our parents' approval.  When we managed to stay within the boundaries of their rules, hopefully we received their approval and reaped the warm and fuzzies.  We became proud of ourselves and beamed  when we knew they were proud of us.  They were the ultimate earthly authority in our lives and we looked to them for a reflection of who we are.  If they were proud of us--we were proud of ourselves also.  


Contrast that to when I was naughty (GASP--I know difficult to believe).  When I broke the rules, there was swift consequences.  The emotions I felt included shame, embarrassment, and failure.  My parents were not proud of me and that disapproval was reflected in how I felt about myself. 

NOW---before you jump on my case about what Jesus did for us---I totally understand this.  The topic of this blog is not His paying the cost of my sin-the topic is why we do not love ourselves.  We do not love ourselves because we believe the lies we are fed by The Deceiver.  We replace our mantle of righteousness with the mantle of shame.  We do not love ourselves because we have not accepted what was freely given to us and cling to the shame of the past.  


As I work through this Bible Study and ponder this question, my goal is to accept who I am and God's provision.  Learning to love myself will open a huge door in deepening my relationship with The Father.  As I learn to love Him deeper and deeper, I will understand the perfection of His love and this will allow me to love others in the fullness of the Father's love.  I believe Newton's scientific principle is "For every action there is a equal and opposite reaction."  As I accept God's love for me, I am able to love myself and pour out that love on others."  

What a beautiful truth!



19 We love because God first loved us.
I John 4:19

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

SECOND GREAT COMMANDMENT


My first HOA meeting for my new hood is in the books.  It was an interesting meeting and a glimpse into a cross section of America.  Not unlike our national elections, approximately 25-30 % of the homeowners attended.  The Hood tends to have a high turnover of houses as evidenced by the fact that in nine years, my home is now on its fourth owner.  There are currently four houses with For Sale signs on them and a couple more that will soon be on the market.  This is a stopping off place for young couples headed up or prone to employment changes and these young families represent part of the hood population.  The most stable part of the demographics seems to be the older homeowners who in most cases have down sized and settled into their retirement nest.  These are reasonably priced homes in the city limits in a very safe neighborhood and normally they sale quickly.  




The meeting was a study in personalities and the give and take of trying to come to a consensus when more than one personality type is represented.  The Hood is good reflection of America--various races, nationalities, and ages.  For a host of reasons many elect to not be a part of the meeting-busy schedules, intended moves, and the plague of disinterest.  I plead guilty to disinterest over our political process---the frustration over lack of ethical leaders (NOT all are unethical) and the fact things seem to never get done have tainted my belief in the system.  AND, yes, I know that is not a good excuse, but that is not the point--I am trying to explain I understand why some grow frustrated and elect to remove themselves from the discussion.  Those that did attend proved to be a case study in personality types.  Myers-Briggs would have a great time proving their point of all those letters they assign us if they attended a meeting.



There were those that beat a dead horse not just to death but refuse to give his poor battered body up.  Some subjects have no answer---certainly not the answer sought---but we cannot seem to let them go.  The cutting of timber off the land surrounding the hood is a dead horse.  We have no rights to insist that the beautiful timber be left for our viewing pleasure.  NO--I am not happy---but also do not see the point in discussing how unhappy we are when there is nothing to be done.  For the most part, the items we felt the need to discuss at length were those that directly affected us individually.  




There were rule followers represented and those who like their own set of unorthodox rules--and then there were those who are the reason we have Robert's Rules of Order.  Some were unhappy, some resembled deer in the headlights, some seemed disinterested, some seemed to be thinking why did I come, and some were anxious to air their thoughts.  We ALL like the sound of our own voices and some of us love the sound of our voice.




Once the new president was elected (the old president was the past owner of my house---THANKFULLY the job did not come with the house),  he managed to take control and was on a mission to get us out of there in one hour.  He nipped any discussion in the bud which was going no where and vowed the board would take care of those items which could be solved.  Though his Rules of Order might have been less than orthodox--he got us out the door in one hour.  THAT IS A WINNER!

NOW-here is my take away. The Hood is my new neighborhood family.  I love The Hood and intend to interact exactly as I would with family.  I will be courteous to all, work to get along with my neighbors, agree to disagree at times without anger, and walk away from unnecessary negativity.  I will enjoy my good neighbors and relish new relationships along the way.   We have no choice in members of our family and I have no choice in picking my neighbors (there is a house for sale across the street if you are interested in being my neighbor), but I can treat everyone with respect and kindness.  I take to heart the Second Great Commandment.  Welcome to the Hood and we meet again in six months---CANNOT WAIT!


39 The second most important commandment is like it: 
‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’
Matthew 22:39

Saturday, February 3, 2018

MEANWHILE HERE IN THE HOOD


THIS ONE
TURNED THREE
THIS WEEK
AND
SHE IS
FULL OF
ATTITUDE!



SCENES
FROM
MY WALKS
AT THE PARK


ZOOM IN
THIS IS A PAIR
OF CANADIAN GEESE


HERO
IS ALL EARS
WHEN I
TALK-
SUCH A SMART DOG!

LIFE IS GRAND
HERE IN THE HOOD!



Friday, February 2, 2018

WINDOW SHOPPING

Personally, I am not much of a window shopper, but will quickly admit some windows do catch my eye occasionally.  It never fails that I look at some really cute outfit artfully displayed and think,"OH, I LOVE THAT!"  AND THEN, comes the big let down--- I try it on and discover it looked a LOT better on the plastic/headless model with the perfect figure than my far from perfect body of flesh and flab.



I live in a delusional world where I imagine I am Aubrey Hepburn and Tiffany's is my store.  It is a harsh catapult into reality when I realize Breakfast at Tiffany's is a long way from my real world of Corn Dogs at the Circus.




We ALL are guilty at times of peering in the windows around us and thinking we are being short changed or missing out on something.  IF ONLY, I had ... you name it...my life would be so much better!   We tend to look at the world around us and wonder why we seem to have missed the boat.  We look at others through rose colored glasses and glance in the mirror at our own reflections with a magnifying glass.  We are our own harshest critics and have short term memory loss when it comes to how blessed we are.  Grass is grass on both sides of the fence and when examined closely green is still green.

I am most satisfied when I am most thankful.  Though your life may look good from a distance, all life presents challenges.  Until you have walked in another man's shoes, you will never understand the hidden calluses he is trying to walk on.  All to say--there is only one source of true contentment--and it is NOT of this world.



11 I am not saying this because I am in need, 
for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 
12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
 I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
 whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 

13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:11-13