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Sunday, September 30, 2018

LOOK UP

WHERE ARE YOU NOW,

WHEN THE WORLD IS CRUMBLING?

LOOK UP, CHILD



BLESSED SABBATH,

DEAR FRIENDS

Thursday, September 27, 2018

LEAVING THE CRUTCHES BEHIND


Most of you remember the ankle sprain I suffered while hiking the Grand Canyon (you are welcome for NOT showing that picture YET AGAIN).  Here I am five plus months later and my ankle is still sore and slightly discolored.  The easy thing to do would be to elevate that ankle and stay off it until it finally gets well.  If I had done that, I would have missed the fabulous trip to the Tetons/Yellowstone.  What I have chosen to do instead is work through the pain.  It hurts like a son of a gun after a few miles of walking/hiking, but instead of stopping, I keep going.  After a while, the pain finally slowly diminishes and then disappears.  The ankle is sore the next day, but with continued stretching and strengthening exercises, it is slowly getting better.  I knew when I sprained it, from past experience, it would be about a year before it was really back to normal.  It offered a perfect excuse to cease all activity and complain endlessly about my injury, but I pretty much have ignored it and kept going.  As I hobbled up the hill this morning, it dawned upon me what great blog fodder this would make.

We all have crutches of some shape or form in our lives.  Those things we lean upon as excuses for our present day behavior.  Dysfunctional families are perhaps at the top of the list.  It is truly amazing we are able to put one foot in front of the other after growing up in Crazyville.  A great example I heard recently,  "My inability to hold a job today was created by my mother's need for perfection."  NOT--I am unwilling to apply for a job, I want to start at the top, or the working conditions are not perfect, but something which happened twenty years ago is preventing me from working.  And how about it's in my gene pool to-----you name it--act crazy, throw hissy fits, drink until staggering, sink into deep dark depression.  I am not denying we all are born with certain propensities, but I am saying we have the capability of doing something about them in some fashion.

BUT, you see, I had this really traumatic event happen in my life in 1963.  I have never gotten over it and it has forever altered my life.  It has driven a wedge in my ability to trust.  I think about it everyday and sometimes get angry at the one who caused this to happen to me.  This sounds pretty serious and I am not discounting our lives being altered by traumatic events, BUT it has been 55 years ago--MORE than half a century!

I need to GET OVER IT and move on!  We should not spend life leaning on the crutch of the past and all that did or did not happen.  MOVE ON!  When we allow past occurrences to stop us from living life to the fullest, we are giving those very negative occurrences free license to continue to have power in our life.  Recognize what happened, forgive those in the wrong, learn from the past, and stay in the present.  There is a great deal of truth in the statement, 



I am not a huge fan of Nietzche, but it stands to reason if we chose to learn from our pain, we will become stronger.  Scar tissue which grows over a wound is very strong--stronger and thicker than the original tissue.  

So rather than dwelling in the past and dragging the heavy ball and chain of past injuries around, cut the rope, throw down the crutches, and live free from the negative.  Use the knowledge of the past to make a better today and always have hope for a better tomorrow.  God has a plan---


13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind
 and straining toward what is ahead, 
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize
 for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

DESENSITIZATION

Coming from a double barrel dose of allergic genes, I consider myself fortunate that I have not suffered more from allergies than I do.  Both my brothers and parents took allergy shots for years.  One of the things I have noticed is when I am no longer exposed to the allergen for a period of time, my allergy becomes more pronounced.  Always having pets, I never noticed any allergic reactions to any of them---UNTIL - I went for a few years without pets and especially pets in the house.  



When the Wonder Dog came to live with me my allergy to dogs went haywire.  I wanted to scratch my eyes out of my head.  To add to the issue, Hero had learned to sleep in the bed with my oldest grand.  NATURALLY --he was not happy unless he was on the bed at night, so I inhaled his dander all night long.  The good news is with exposure, I have become desensitized.  Only occasionally do I notice the effects of being allergic to the ball of fur.  With exposure my body no longer reacts adversely.




Our little adventure group has hiked many a mountain over the years.  In the early years, the fear factor of the danger of not only the trail, but the wildlife was high.  After many a trip, we have become desensitized to the very real danger of falling or happening upon a bear/moose.  As we have traveled, the risk factor seems to have increased due to this desensitization.  Until I fell while hiking in the Grand Canyon, it really never occurred to me the very real possibility of becoming permanently out of commission.  As we successfully took risk upon risk, I had become desensitized to the very real danger in which we were placing ourselves.  While hiking in the Tetons facing a moose taller than six feet and a great deal longer with a rack on him twice as wide as his body, and headed down the trail toward us 20 feet away, brought back that sense of perhaps this is dangerous.  One of the group, who was not with us and did not see the moose, asked did we get a picture.  She obviously did not realize the danger we faced as that huge moose headed toward us.  I was more concerned with getting off the trail and behind a huge tree than making his picture.



Many of us suffer from fears and aversions of all types and degrees.  In many cases our fears are created by the unknown.  Social anxiety runs rampant in society.  Snakes, spiders, bugs, --many types of living creatures create anxiety and fear in people.  Most of these phobias and fears can be treated by slow exposure to what we live in fear of.  The desensitization through gradual exposure is a wonderful tool to teach us how to deal with these fears.

There are times desensitization works against us---sin would be a primary example.  A whispered word of gossip, a small white lie, cheating on your taxes, no grace for failure, attacking opposing viewpoint holders, and the list goes on and on seem to harm no one--no one but us.  With each retelling of the rumor, with every small lie not meant to harm, with each personal attack because of opposing philosophies, we are chipping away at our integrity.  Sin is a slippery slope leading down to the dark chasm of separation from the Father.  One sin leads to another and with time and repetition we become so desensitized we loose our sense of this is not right. Little sins largely go unnoticed, and slowly desensitize us to the line between right and wrong.  Ignoring the Holy Spirit's nudging will eventually result in the dulling of our ability to hear His warning.  Repetitive sins lead to a hard heart--impenetrable to the sense of wrong.  Woe to the hard hearted person--the consequences of our sin cannot be avoided.  And it all starts with one little sin which could not possibly harm anyone.



Do not be conformed to this world, 
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
 that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, 
what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2










Sunday, September 23, 2018

AFTER ALL

SUCH PEACE

KNOWING

NOT FOR A MOMENT

WILL HE FORSAKE ME



BLESSED SABBATH,

DEAR FRIENDS!

Friday, September 21, 2018

DO YOU SEE ME?




My home is adorned with artwork treasures from my super talented friends.




I treasure each one of these and fondly think of the friends who created them each and every time I walk by their chosen spot.  My recognition of their talents has lead to me proudly displaying their work.



I have quite a few friends whom are recognized for their athletic talents.  Their workout schedules are not for the faint of heart or lazy (THAT WOULD BE ME).  Miles of biking, swimming, running, and any other form of sweating is their weekly regime.  I need a nap just hearing what they do every week.  Their lives revolve around their workout schedules.  Well known for their feats of athletic endeavor, they have achieved a great deal of local recognition for their athletic prowess.

 Some of my friends are great cooks, others are super intelligent and well known for their scholarly pursuits.  Others are highly successful in their chosen fields, some are "Master Gardeners", and many are multi-talented seeming to be recognized in every pursuit they tackle.

Bottom line we all want to be recognized by those around us.  We want and need the respect of others as we seek recognition of who we are. We all desire to be seen and heard.  Here is a dirty little secret that King Solomon recognized long ago, "It is all fading with the wind."  Yes, occasionally some creative genius or brilliant scholar comes along who we remember for their achievements.  That is the exception--most of us are seeking recognition from our fellow man which will disappear like a puff of smoke as the memory of who we were dies with those who recognize us.  Here today--gone tomorrow.

BUT there is One who will A L W A Y S recognize us--throughout all eternity.  The really good news--I do not have to be super talented, super athletic, a Rhodes Scholar, a good cook, a master gardener or even a good writer.  He knows me and recognizes me for who I am and loves me in spite of that!  He recognizes me through the eyes of Jesus.  I am seen through the lens of grace and mercy.  He knows me and loves me--even when the world does not recognize me--He does.  What a comfort!


But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.
I Corinthians 8:3

Thursday, September 20, 2018

SWARMS BENT UPON DESTRUCTION

It is that wonderful time of the year when we have our semi-annual visit of the Louisiana Lovebugs.  NO--we do not love them!  


They are EVERYWHERE!  Stalking around the doors--waiting to sneak in; able to find the smallest crack to wedge inside--lining the highways and byways in kamikaze formation attacking every vehicle that dares the road.  You might say--it's just a little bug--but those little bugs can ruin the paint job on your nice vehicle.  SO--if you dare to leave the house--the remains of the recently departed must be removed upon reentry to the hood.  GROSS--scraping bug guts off the car!  

And then you might ask "How do they get their name?"


To quote that famous philosopher-Forrest Gump--"And that's all I have to say about that."

Some years ago, I do not seem to remember these pests being such a problem.  Then I read on the Internet (EVERYTHING IS TRUE ON THE INTERNET!) they like the temperature to be above 84 degrees.  Global Warming could be causing the recent years' swarms (NO--I DO NOT WANT TO DISCUSS THIS WITH YOU) as they seem to be coming farther and farther north-all the way to Arkansas.  I have even noticed them creeping toward Texas (it may be a little too dry over there for them).  For whatever the reason, the pests are EVERYWHERE!  You cannot walk outside without batting the nuisances away.  If you go for a walk or jog after the temperature has started rising for the day, you are in danger of swallowing insect protein if you dare to open your mouth.  Why the little flying monsters will even fly up your nostrils if you aren't careful.  Twenty First Century swarms of pestilence, except they cause no real harm (except to your car finish) and even help with pollination.  

Unlike the Biblical plague of the locusts which covered everything and ate all the green, love bugs are merely a short term aggravation.  I am reminded of human behavior when I think of swarms of any variety.  We all swarm from one subject to the next.  The media whips us into a frenzy over their version of the latest outrage and off we all go on a rampage taking sides and ready to draw. There seems to be no end to the swarm until the next wrath producing news story appears.  Then the swarm picks up and attacks in mass--that next cause of indignation.  

As I pondered this, I began to realize in amazement, it is all about attacking any other distraction in a desperate attempt to not address our own short-comings.  As long as we are moving with the mob and addressing our disappointment with the latest failure of someone other than ourselves, then we skate around the only pest we have any control of---ME!

"For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,
 and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.
Matthew 24:7

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

GETTY UP!


Somehow we managed to find an outfitter WAY BACK in the Teton Wilderness.  That second dirt road was a bear (remember this analogy).  We all thought it would be great fun to take a horseback ride through the mountains and wilderness.  My rear end begged to differ after a couple of hours in the saddle.  All these girls ride bicycles several times a week--I do not--and therefore have no calluses on my rear---JUST SAYING--after all they were not sore!


I laughingly asked for the Old Gray Mare---the horse picker took me serious.  Cowboy Carl spent the entire ride yelling at me "LADIES, KEEP UP!"  I am back there kicking away at the poor horse and he knows one speed--S L O W.  Occasionally he would run up the mountain or creek bank, but most of the trip he saunters along as if we are on a Sunday picnic.  Cowboy Carl continues to yell for us (I am holding up several behind me) to catch up.  In disgust, I tell Cowboy Carl to TALK TO THE HORSE!  My legs look like windmills  I am kicking so hard and fast and Dallas (the Kentucky Derby Reject) pays literally no attention. 


I am at the mercy of a four legged -mule headed horse.  AND THEN, Cowboy Carl tells us we are bear bait back there.  These woods are filled with bears (see above notation) and we have been told they are making a last ditch effort at scrounging for the rest of their winter fat buildup.  WONDERFUL!  Now I am on a horse who refuses to move faster than molasses and there are bears looking for a midnight snack.


It certainly was not my intention to be trailing along so far behind.  I do not relish being eaten by a bear, but the alternative of walking does not seem to be wise. Carl continues to yell, and I continue to be at my chosen horse's mercy.  When Carl asked, "Who is the boss you or the horse?"  I did not even bother to answer--THAT was a silly question!  Ironically a few days after we get home, a bear attacks a guide retrieving a game kill in this same area.  Thankfully we did not have an elk carcass with us.  

The final insult Cowboy Carl threw my way was the horses act like their riders.  OUCH!  It's true I trail behind the group most of the time, but to be compared to a horse is a little painful.  The fact of the matter is I should have chosen my transportation a little wiser before heading off to face the wilderness.

How many times are we guilty of not choosing our companions wisely?  How many times are we guilty of bad decisions about who we buddy up with?  Why do we allow others to steer us in the path of danger or deceit?  How often are we easily swayed and persuaded to head down the wrong roads?  The Word instructs us to wisely select our companions or we will suffer harm.  Next time I am going to ask for a mule!



Walk with the wise and become wise, 
for a companion of fools suffers harm.
Proverbs 13:20

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

FLOATING ALONG IN THE BRIGHT BLUE SKY

The highlight of our latest adventure was a hot air balloon ride in the Tetons.  My nephew and niece arranged this for us with his uncle who owns and operates a balloon company in Jackson Hole as a thank you for coming to help with their new baby. Though it was certainly not necessary, since it was all joy being with them during those first few days---I am most appreciative.

Isn't he precious!!

When communicating with Captain Andy about our ride, he informed me the weather has to be perfect.  No rain, no high winds, --in fact perfect conditions are necessary to drift into the clouds.  God provided the perfect conditions and Andy took us for a beautiful ride in the sky.


Up - up and away we sailed in the early morning chill.   The conditions were so perfect that we were able to float up over 12,000 feet.  OH MY!


In case you are not aware, there is no steering wheel on these balloons.  You are totally at the mercy of the wind currents and where they chose to carry you.  Down on the ground, there is a chase team following along to pick us up once the hour plus trip is over.  There are NO WORDS to explain how beautiful this experience was.


We were blessed with a breath-taking view of the Tetons and the surrounding area while floating on the gentle currents of the winds.


My only hesitation was the lack of control you have while floating along.  We all have heard terrifying stories of wind shears and sudden storms appearing out of no where.  And yet, we floated up and away and enjoyed the ride of a lifetime, in the capable hands of Captain Andy.


As I thought of how thrilling this day was, I also wandered how many of us float aimlessly through life?  How many of us allow the storms of the day to dash us to and fro?  How many of us become stuck in dangerous currents and refuse to lower ourselves to safer places?  How many of us live on the cusp of risk and the ragged edge of disaster?  How many of us forget to look to the Captain of the Ship to care for us and keep us safe?  How many of us allow the world to control us instead of looking to The Captain to steer our ships?  How much easier could our journey be if only?

In their hearts humans plan their course,
 but the LORD establishes their steps.
Proverbs 16:9


Monday, September 17, 2018

EATING DUST ALONG THE TRAIL

I returned very late Wednesday (almost Thursday) from a hiking trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park.  It was a glorious week with breath-taking hikes everyday, but one.  We have finally gotten old enough to beg our fearless hike planner for a rest day during the week.




As our group of seven hikes the trails, we are only able to traverse single file due to the narrowness of the trail much of the time.  Constant vigilance is required to stay in an upright position due to the many stones, boulders, crevices, and roots along the trail.



I seem to always be at the back of the pack for a variety of reasons.  Though I worked very hard to physically get ready for this trip, the others are in tip top shape from hours of activities every day--so perhaps I might be the "Weak Link".  I also have learned to be super cautious after my fall in the Grand Canyon--especially going down.



There we are climbing up and going down the mountain--day after day in a single file line.  There is something to be gained from being in the rear--wild animals live in the woods that do not like to be surprised when some strange creature rounds the bend of the mountain.  If I am at the back, I will be the last dish in the buffet line.  When you are following along, you also will not be blamed for any wrong turns on the trek.  Adding a mile or two to an already long trek does not make you "Most Popular".  Most of the decisions of when to take a break for a snack, drink, or most importantly a breath of air are made by the leader of the pack. This also can be a magnet for griping and complaining, when you do not time those all important breaks --just right.  NO--I do not wish to be the "Leader of the Pack."



Instead I am perfectly happy to be "trailing along" the trail in the rear.  NOW that has its own set of problems.  The dust kicked up by those in front of you is constantly blowing your way.  Filthy at the end of the day is an understatement.  If you dare to start sight seeing or lagging due to shear exhaustion, you might find yourself FAR from the others.  Instead of being the last dish on the buffet line, you are now the first dish on the dessert table. The bears do not attack groups of four or more (WHO KNEW BEARS COULD COUNT!).  "Let's see, one - two - three - four---NOPE too many.."says Mr. Bear. "OH BUT WAIT---only one dish on the dessert table--all alone--PERFECT for my Sweet Tooth!"  Dead hiker down!  

It is all part of hiking in the mountains, but it lead me down the trail to thinking about God's Chosen People wandering around in the wilderness for F O R T Y years!  I am Molly-grubbing after one day---who could possibly imagine that long.  AND can you comprehend the dust at the back of that multitude?  Speaking of griping and complaining--this bunch puts me in the shade! 

The one place I kept going back to was the trust God's Chosen obviously had in the leader of the line.  Why else would you continue to follow Moses for forty years?  Knowing he had been in the presence of Almighty God, and survived, they ultimately trusted Moses to lead them to freedom.  They were disobedient, griped and complained, but at the end of the day--they chose to follow Moses around the wilderness for 40 years--because God had chosen him to be their leader to freedom.  

That trust did not come easy, and it had a great cost, but still they kept putting one foot in front of the other--KNOWING the promises God had made to them.  What a testament to trust---What a declaration of faith---always continuing along the trail--always with hope for a future--always believing the promises God had made.  The shear willingness to follow along believing and trusting what God had said lead to their eventual entry into The Promised Land.  The reward was at the end of the trek and only came when they chose to trust the One Who Lead The Way---God Almighty!  The Promised Land was gained when they chose to trust God.  Are we trusting Him?  Has He not also promised us a Promised Land?  Believe--Trust--Have Faith--and the Promised Land is yours!


And you saw how the LORD your God cared for you all along the way as you traveled through the wilderness,
 just as a father cares for his child.
 Now he has brought you to this place.'
Deuteronomy 1:31

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

PAST YOUR EXPIRATION

I recently read this post on social media and was greatly relieved to discover it was not just me who somehow let things slip past their expiration date--


Identity Concealed To Protect the Guilty Party

Most of us are guilty---I say most, because there is a certain element among us, including #1 Daughter who are the Expiration Police.  I NEVER paid any attention to these silly dates until I was thoroughly chastised by not only #1 Daughter, but Dr. Son In Law as well.  Here is another great example of the everyday miracles experienced by not only me, but the legions of others who totally ignore those dates in super small print.  OBVIOUSLY, they were not meant for my generation! With diminished eyesight, they are a mere blur on the back or bottom of the container.  I eat away and SHOCK--I am still here and kicking having ingested tons of expired food!  We all know as the sweet hubby above found out, it is not edible if it is truly expired.  DUH!  Those dates---why they are merely suggestions--NOT written in stone.  A PLOY by the companies to get us to throw away perfectly good food and buy more.  NOT ME--I live on the ragged edge of food poisoning and dare botulism to attack.  I laugh in the face of these feeble attempts at warning!  EAT & BE MERRY is my mantra!

Dr. Son In Law also has the nerve to examine the dates on the prescriptions in my medicine box.  We all know these drugs just get stronger with time and will work even better.  If it stopped diarrhea three years ago, the stopper has not been removed--only more effective.  But here we go again, throwing away perfectly good partly used antibiotic, cough remedies, anti-histamines, and GASP pain medication.  With my superior abilities to self diagnose after NO medical schooling and only Dr. Google to consult, I know EXACTLY what med and the correct dosage for every malady.  Once again--another miracle--I am NOT dead---YET!

What IF we all had an Expiration Date tattooed on our forehead?


Our entire lives would center around getting it all done before E day!  We would be in a huge tizzy trying to check off that bucket list all that we wanted to accomplish.  And then--the date comes---and we go to bed that night convinced we would wake up in Eternity the next morning.  As you slowly come out of the pre-dawn fuzz of deep sleep and try to prop your eyes open, you realize---

I AM STILL HERE!

OH--the date was not written in stone, but merely a suggestion--an estimate of how long you would be effective.  SO the three score and ten--why it is just the national average--NOT the day you need to be thrown in the garbage heap.

God, in His infinite wisdom knows our expiration date, here on this terrestrial ball, but He does not share the date.  Instead He gives us a guarantee of this moment and no more.  I am quickly approaching three score and ten, but just like the expired box of Mac and Cheese I may be still good beyond the expiration date.  So I make the most of each and every day, do not worry about when I might expire, live and love in the moment.  Don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself.  AND for goodness sake, look through the pantry at least once a year to keep the Expiration Police at bay!

“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time
Matthew 6:34

Monday, September 3, 2018

A LITTLE RESPECT AFTER INTROSPECTION

I had a great long time friend and blog follower contact me and ask the question, "Are you not going to blog anymore?"  She gently nudged and reminded me of what an important role my blogging has been in my life for many years now.  I gave her my laundry list of excuses, but the bottom line is anything which is important to us, we find time for.  Since her nudge, I have wondered what I even have to share, and BINGO--WHAT have I been thinking about lately?  

In the Small Group study of 



we have been reminded of God's great love for us.  Not only does He love us, but He does not expect us to change our basic personality to some pseudo Religious Fanatical Zealot.  His only expectation is for us to completely and totally surrender to Him.  THAT is what I have spent a great deal of time thinking over the last few weeks.  Who am I ---the basic unit of God's creation--before the world began to morph me with shame, guilt, sorrow, anger, and all those other negatives---Who am I?


To figure out exactly who I am, I have done onion therapy--peeled back the layers.  God loves the me He created, but to get back to that basic me, I have had to recognize the layers which are by products of living in a fallen world, not God's desire for me.  Where does my lack of trust come from? -NOT God.  Where does my fear of future needs come from?- NOT God.  Where does my insecurity and inferiority come from?- NOT God.  Layer after layer I have slowly peeled away those traits which came from the world and living life.  Introspection is perhaps one of the best things I have ever done.  Slowly but surely I have begun to understand the perfection of how God creates us as layer after layer of the old wall paper of life began to be stripped away.



Now, I am not certain I will ever get back to that pre-primer basic layer, BUT I have gone really deep.  I have made the most marvelous - wonderful discovery-
I LIKE ME!


I would be my friend.  Those gifts and talents that God has blessed me with are traits I respect and look for in others.  Far from perfect--sure don't have all the talents--but the basic elements of Who I am---it is good.  God's perfection in His creation of ME!  

SO--if God loves me, and after tireless examination, I have decided I like me---WHY then do I give myself such a hard time?  Because THE WORLD has become my measuring stick--NOT GOD!  I have allowed The World and others' opinions to become more important than God's.  We all tell ourselves, "We don't care what others think."  BUT sadly, Yes, we do.  And though the world is a harsh critic, we are our own harshest critic.  When do we finally believe Him?  When we are able to totally surrender to Him.  Even then, it requires reminders to ourselves of What He says about us and how much He loves us-

See, I have engraved you on the palm of my hand.
Isaiah 49:16