CHANGE

 My Mother, Bless Her Heart, spent her entire life trying to change me.  Perhaps she saw something in me that I did not.  Perhaps she wanted to relive her life through me.  Perhaps she did not even realize what she was doing to my sense of self.   Without fail I never felt as if I was "enough" ~ who she thought I should be.    In my informal survey, I have found mothers either think their children are perfect and God's gift to mankind, or like Momma, they are always trying to shape us up.   Until the days of her final illness, she was FULL of correction.  I would take it personally, but I know for a fact she did the same thing to my perfect older brother.  I am not so sure about the younger brother, after all, he was the "baby".  We all know the baby gets away with everything!



NO, this is not a monologue on my childhood.  I read a passage in a book I just finished that struck a note with me.  Many times when we work with those who are financially challenged (correct current verbiage for poor), we approach the problem with an attitude of changing them.  Showing them the way to better days.  Providing new opportunities, training, and above all, a shove in the direction of financial independence.  That sounds wonderful!



It all sounds like a noble cause we can all get behind.  Generations of poverty are not solved overnight.  For every person pulled out of the ranks of the impoverished, there are scores still stuck in the world of the needy.  It is a huge problem.

One of the many things I have learned by volunteering at The Well is many times the problem is multi-layered.  There is no one easy answer.  The ladies in the group I spend time with are mainly retired.  Their entire lives have been spent in poverty and all the problems associated with the lack of financial resources.  How do you help these ladies get out of this world?  I read this quote by Charles Martin that sums up my approach ~

" I love them without trying to change them.  I look at their suffering, their hopelessness, and do what I can.  I climb down in their misery and love them where they are."

That is it in a nutshell.  There are times we cannot change the circumstances of others - no matter how hard or what we try.  We CAN always love our brothers and sisters just where they are.  We can offer a helping hand and do what we can without stealing their dignity.  We can love them where they are.  That is ministry at its best.  Perhaps the reason we have always had the poor among us is for the good purpose of God.  Perhaps He is not trying to change their lives, but to change our attitude.

"The poor you will always have with you."

Matthew 26:11


STORIES

There is a distinct difference in a story and a book.  Not all stories are placed or written on a page for others to read.  There is a wonderful tradition of oral story telling which we may be losing.  With the advent of so many forms of media today, we seem to not sit and talk as we once did.  I have wonderful memories of sitting on Mama James's front porch and listening to the adults tell their stories.



I still have an actual picture in my mind of scenes similar to this.  The kids loved swinging on her bench swing, until we became too rambunctious with our swinging and were banned from the porch.  Easy days--slow days of sitting and visiting, which seem to be lost in my past, but never forgotten.  Today if we are out of doors, we are usually hidden on our back patio out of sight.  I have a neighbor who often sits on her front porch.  I feel a tug to stop and chat anytime I walk by and she is out.  It feels like an invitation to stop and trade stories.  



We all have stories ~ stories which need to be told.  I would never share my story with just anyone, but occasionally there seems to be an opportunity to share parts of it with the right person at the right time.  Our stories can encourage, teach, enlighten, and even admonish others.  God places others in our paths who will benefit from some glimpse into what we have learned as we walk down our path.  The lessons of life not only teach us, but can be of great benefit to others.  I learned a great deal about my mother by the rare event of her sharing about her past.  As with all of us, she was much more prone to share the happy times and truthfully rarely spoke of the heart wrenching.  


The problem with us sharing only the good, is we get a skewed impression that either something is wrong with us or others are more blessed by all the good things they share.  When we are unwilling or sometimes unable to share that which is not so pretty, others get the wrong impression about how life should look.  NOW ~ I am NOT saying every small detail of the not so pretty should be shared with everyone in your path.  I am saying to those whom we have influence, we should share the truth of life's up's and down's.




The Word is filled with great stories of men and women who had sought the Lord while living with feet of clay.  Those stories teach us and remind us of the path we should seek to take.  But those stories are of people we never knew and certainly have to opportunity to know beyond the written word.  The stories of those who are real to us---we know up close and personal--those are the stories which will have the greatest impact on the direction we travel in life.  I encourage you to share your story --not a wholesale share--but a selective share.  Share with those whom you have influence and will benefit from your experience.  


Every time I write, I am usually sharing some of my story.  Bits and pieces which I hope cause you to think and push you to examine your own story.  There is much to be said for a good story--and the best stories are told by those who lived them.  Share your story or a part of it with those who will listen and learn.  We all have great stories to share.


"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy,

always being prepared to make a defense

to anyone who asks you

for a reason for the hope that is in you;

yet do it with gentleness and respect."

I Peter 3:15

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SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT

 Our neighborhood book club is reading this


which you can find HERE, if you have not read it.  An easy read about the program during the depression called "Packhorse Librarians" which provided reading material for the impoverished Appalachian Mountain area.  This program was begun by President Roosevelt under the WPA umbrella in an effort to provide jobs and supply reading materials to the rural uneducated.  Having just finished re-reading the book, I came away with a new perspective on all it encompasses.  The story is NOT just about trying to educate those who are living far away from opportunities for education.  This story has so many facets in one fact based fiction book, that I cannot begin to go over them all in one short blog.  Today I will take one of the main points the book is making and leave the rest for another discussion.


The story may revolve around the packhorse (or mule in this case) librarians, but the real story centers on man's prejudice toward his fellow man.  The librarian was part of the "blue people" found in the mountains.   This color was caused by a genetic condition which caused a deficiency of an enzyme in their blood which helped with the blood oxygenation.   Even when confronted with there being no real difference in the librarian and her fellow man--the color difference  could be corrected~ her "difference" was not forgotten.  The librarian took the medication, which caused severe side effects, in the hope of being recognized as being white.  Sadly because she had once been different, no one was willing to admit she might be the same as them.  She was forever marked by "difference", even when it was not longer there.


Man's inhumanity to man in a world where we need above all else to love one another is limitless.




How quickly we focus on our differences instead of recognizing our similarities.  Perhaps it comes from fear, perhaps it comes from lessons throughout our life, but for some reason we focus on how different we are from each other instead of the overwhelming number of similarities.  The basic need to be loved, love of our children, hope for a better tomorrow, grief in the midst of loss, and on and on bind us together.  And yet, we are drawn to that which make us different--whatever that might be.

Praying we can all begin to look at one another through the lens of Jesus.  What would He say about those who are "different"?  It seems to indicate in The Word, he gravitated toward them.  He reached out to form relationships with the very ones others avoided at all cost.  He recognized they had needs just like the Jewish people from which He came.  They needed Him just as much as God's Promised People did.  Jesus loved those who were different with the same intensity as those  who were part of "His Tribe".  Praying I can do the same.


"May the God of endurance and encouragement

grant you to live in such harmony with one another,

in accord with Christ Jesus,

that together you may with one voice 

glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Romans 15:5-6


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CHRIST IN ME

 Great words of encouragement



May Your Sabbath Be Blessed, Dear Friends!

WHAT AM I READING?

 If you are a fan of Kristin Hannah, this is one of her better books



I read this almost two years ago, but still remember the story.  THAT is a good book!

Here is my note card description~

Vietnam Vet suffering from PTSD takes his family to Alaska to live off the grid.  Filled with distrust they are in a mess not knowing how to survive the brutality of the northern wilderness and its brutal winters.  The goodness of mankind saves them.

You can find it HERE

FAR FROM PERFECT

How much many of us miss this dear man.  One of my favorite Dr. Dale stories centered around perfection.  He loved to remind us all as he sat beside his wife, Helen, that he was NEXT TO PERFECT.  Dr. Dale has been gone a long time (in some ways a blink of an eye), but I still remember so many things he said.  Truly a wise man.



 Here is a fact you will find interesting.  None of my family follow my blog.  WHAT does that say about me?  One thing is for certain, I am---


I recently asked my daughter why she did not read my musings. (Except for the fact that she has four children 12 and under).  She laughed and said, "Oh, Mom, you know that scripture about a prophet has no honor."  I am not too sure about the prophet thing, except I have plenty of words to say.   Here is the 



They know me too well.  They know just how far from perfect I really am.  Having seen me in not just the good, but most assuredly the bad and the ugly, it calls into question, just who do I think I am?.  Why would anyone who knows me, warts and all, listen to a thing I have to say?  Many of those who know me best do not read what I have to say.  Perhaps they think they have heard it all before.

Unlike my friend Dale who was next to perfect--I am FAR from perfect as many would love to tell you.  Who am I to be giving anyone advice or wisdom?  

No, my loved ones do not read my opining, but there is never any doubt in my mind that they love me.  I am not going to spend a great deal of time or energy fretting about that which I cannot change.  My mother and I had a really strange relationship.  It has taken me years to figure out the why's and how's of why we related as we did.  I am certain she never spent any time thinking about that, and perhaps I am following her example by not examining closer my relationship with my own children.  Perhaps the fact I love them unconditionally keeps me from going there.  Those who are closest to us know our greatest faults and weaknesses and yet they love us.  They might not always agree with us, but they love us.  Yes, I am



The reason we are able to love those who are far from perfect is because we are following the example of the One who loved us perfectly even though we fell far short of His hopes and desires for us.  The perfection He desired for us, we cast aside in the Great Fall in the Garden.  So now we are far from perfect, but perfectly loved.  What a Beautiful Savior we have.

"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly,

since love covers a multitude of sins."

I Peter 4:8

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ONE TOUGH SEASON

I have read plenty about Simone Biles this past week.  As I watched the replay of the team competition where she made the decision to pull out, I saw deep circles under her eyes and a face filled with disappointment.  


 

Yes, I am disappointed for her.  Yes, she is perhaps the greatest gymnast EVER.  I am not liking the negative comments I am hearing from some.  Keep in mind she is 24 years old.  She has spent her entire life training for these events-foregoing a normal carefree childhood.   It is a ton of pressure to perform as well as the previous games and we expected great things.  There is no one as disappointed in Simone as she is disappointed in herself.   This was not a decision made lightly.  You do not decide on a whim to forego the goal of a medal after dedicating your life to this purpose.    Most of us are harder on ourselves than anyone else ever is. She must feel like this will be her legacy.  I am praying we  are compassionate and remember all the thrills we have been given by witnessing her prowess and put this down as a tough season.  After all, she is entitled to have a bad day too.  I cannot even begin to imagine how devastating this is for her.



I suspect there was a perfect storm working here.  If the pandemic has not affected you psychologically, you are made of tougher stuff than me.  It has definitely had an effect on my emotions.  With the latest outbreak, I have this dread of what comes next.  What friends or family might I lose if this variant is even more contagious?  What new steps to try and nip this in the bud need to be taken?  Will the world forever be changed?  It has been with us  for soon to be two years.  I thought I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, but the darkness seems to be closing in again.  Imagine trying to train and compete during these uncertain times.  I cannot even begin to imagine all the Olympic politics, lack of fan support, concern for health, and weariness from a schedule which most of us could not even fathom.  Combine that with the mental pressure---a recipe for possible disaster.


Bottom line  ~  this is a time above all when we need to stand by Simone, not criticize.  This is the time to thank her for the countless hours of dedicating her life to her sport.  This is the time to stand up and say how very proud we are of our fellow American.  This is the time to show our love and remind her of our compassion and respect. Grace, Friends, it is all about grace.  God Bless Her!


"Therefore encourage one another

and build each other up."

I Thessalonians 5:11


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WHAT WORDS ARE IMPORTANT?

 Sometimes after posting a blog, an additional thought will hit me about the subject.  Today's blog is a continuation of THIS blog from July 19th.  You remember those infamous words Aibileen spoke to the sweet child, Mae~

 

~

Would you stop for a moment and consider the choice of words?  There is NO mention of beauty, talent, popularity riches, power or any of those words the world would have us to believe are important.  Instead there is focus on those things which will serve Mae for her entire life.  Those attributes which will uphold Mae in the tough times, the lonely times, in the times when life is headed in the wrong direction.  The times when The World seems to ignore her and her pain.

As I thought this over, I was taken back to Ecclesiastes and those wise words about the fleeting nature of The World.  Beauty is fading and our bodies will fail us.  Our kindness, though,  will outlive us.  "We all leave a mark on the world - one way or the other. " 

Our intellect will serve to keep us company all the days of our life.  I may not climb mountains anymore or run countless miles every day, but my mind is still active and being stretched daily.  I am blessed to still be learning.

Perhaps the most important is just that---YOU ARE IMPORTANT!  Someone values you, someone hears you, someone sees you, and you are dear to those God has placed in your life.  One of the most difficult places in life can be when we feel invisible.  People all around us---hurrying and scurrying around---and we feel unseen.  Others seem to look right through us.  We begin to feel we have no importance and there is no point.  What a sad state.  Life takes on rich and deep meaning when we allow ourselves to live in relationships of all kinds.  We are important to those who God has placed in our lives.

SO---when you are speaking those words of affirmation over someone---remember to choose those words carefully.  Speak those worlds of lasting consequence--not those which are temporary at best.  Remind those in your path of their importance and help them to seek to live as a reflection of that importance.  Begin by careful words of affirmation and help others to leave a lasting mark on this world.

"Let everything you say be good and helpful,
so that your words will be an encouragement 
to those who hear them."
Ephesians 4:29


HELP!

 I am fiercely independent---to an absolute fault.  Most of my life, I have refused to ask for help and instead struggled to do impossible tasks alone.  It has not always been easy and sometimes I end up black and blue in the effort.  It also has tested my resolve and creativity in getting things done.  I have learned there is usually a way to do even the seemingly impossible with a little ingenuity.



The only thing lately I can remember having to ask for help  was breaking into my own home after locking myself out.  (It's not nice to laugh!)  These double pane windows with shatterproof glass are no joke.  My neighbor finally took a ball peen hammer to break the pane of glass.  I was locked out and did not have access to heavy enough tools to break the glass.  My car keys and cell phone were securely locked in the house.  I am not certain what I would have done if my neighbor happened to be away since my sweet niece was out of pocket.  




WHY? am I so stubborn about asking for help?  Do I see it as a sign of weakness?  Do I want others to think I am strong and capable?  Some of the things I need help with, I will never be able to do without help.  Some things are two people jobs, some things are far heavier than my limited strength, and some things I really should not be doing at this stage of life (roof top matters). I hate to impose and feel helpless and a bother when I have to ask for help.   So  most of the time, I ignore what needs doing in the futile hope that it will go away.



WHY?  Plain and simple it is the sin of pride.  I do not want others to see me as needy, incapable, or weak .  My pride wants you all to think I am self sufficient, strong, and completely independent.  It's really being stubborn as a mule. (I apologize to all the wonderful mules out there--Wouldn't want the PETA patrol after me!)    None of us want to feel we can not take care of ourselves, when in truth with every passing day we are moving closer and closer to returning to the dependence we began with.  If we live long enough, most of us will need some degree or perhaps complete help.  It is a tough pill to swallow.

There you go, Friends, my confession about my sin of pride.  Unfortunately, it spills over into my relationship with The Father.  I stubbornly try to take care of myself on most fronts and only go to Him for help in the really BIG areas.  I sinfully refuse to acknowledge my daily dependence and need for Him.  My pride keeps me from bowing in submission to The One who has me on this path.  My pride keeps me from admitting my total dependence and need of My Provider.  My pride keeps a dam between Who He is and how great my need is for Him.  I NEED HELP, LORD!  Everyday--every minute of everyday I cannot do this without You.  I need your help!  Forgive my stubborn pride and help me to tear down the barrier it creates between us.  Help me, Lord!

"Humble yourselves before the Lord,

and He will exalt you."

James 4:10


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GO AHEAD AND LAUGH

We all like to be known for something which we do well.  I have friends who exercise several hours a day and are constantly looking for the next dangerous adventure.  They are well known for their physical feats.


 I was forced to give up trying to keep up with them.  We all KNOW who gets eaten by the bear--the one at the back of the pack.



We all have those friends who look like they just stepped out of a fashion magazine every time they leave their house.  Make up perfect, not a hair out of place, and the very latest in fashion ensemble.  My question is always--HOW LONG does it take to get this look?  Patience is NOT my forte when it comes to putting myself together.  I look more like "Did she look in the mirror before leaving? when I leave the house.


                                      

A recent blog about  was about one of my gardener friends redeeming her broken blossoms by creating a flower arrangement.  After one reader's comment about our talented friend, I asked, "Don't we all get garden envy from her beautiful photos of her garden?"  Her reply, "ABSOLUTELY, I love a beautiful yard/garden, BUT I don't do the work to have one."  I LOVED her honesty and truthfully that is my problem in a nutshell.  I usually do not want to expend the effort it takes to be well known for an endeavor.


One thing which took little effort, but I seemed to be able to do with ease, was make my friends laugh.  I was known for a quick pun and great story guaranteed to get at least a snicker out of you.  Sadly these days either my humor is fading, my world is shrinking,  or my tack is no longer sharp, but the laughs are not as frequent.  WELL, except for the ladies at The Well who are constantly amused at my efforts to dance while teaching exercise.  If laughter is good for the heart, they should have perfect hearts because they are greatly entertained by my stumbling over my own feet while trying to lead them.  Recently one of the ladies was in my car for a ride home when I stopped to make a delivery.  I gracefully dropped the book in the door slot and made a less than graceful pirouette to head down the front porch steps.  She was staring right at me as I made a stumble toward the beautiful flower beds.  Throwing my arms out for balance, I jerked my entire body back toward the steps.  My friend is in the front seat cracking up as I took a quick bow before ducking toward the car.  She laughed all the way to her house.  




So today, I can still get a laugh, but the laughs are usually at my expense.  You know what, I'll take that too.  Nothing makes me happier than to hear a sweet friend laughing and if I have to show my obvious lack of grace to get it---SO BE IT!  Laughter means a moment of joy ~ and if I can bring one moment of joy into anyone's life ~ I am blessed.  


"We were filled with laughter,

and we sang for joy.

Psalms 126:2


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I WILL WAIT FOR YOU

 May I always wait for Him.



PSALMS 130

BLESSED SABBATH, DEAR FRIENDS!

WHAT AM I READING?

 What better recommendation could I give than I read this over a year ago and I can still remember it.  You all know I often  have a difficult time remembering books---this one is memorable



My note card has this description ~

Spanning the Russian Revolution to Post WW II

A book filled with beautiful imagery and wonderful relationships.

WELL WRITTEN AND READING IT SLOWLY IS BEST.

You can find it HERE


NOT ME ~ I'M NOT AFRAID!

 I am an expert at covering up my fears.  From an early age (my childhood was filled with brothers and male cousins), I learned you never show fear.  If there is even a hint that something might frighten you, it can lead to endless hours of torment for the amusement of others.  Then there was Momma and my Grandmother James and my Girl Scout Leader and ... all those strong women who did not tolerate you squealing, crying, or pretty much any form of appearing fearful.  The message was clear and concise ~ fear is a form of weakness.



I learned to not be afraid of snakes---hoes, shovels, and rifles could take care of that, but leave those good snakes alone.   My Girl Scout leader would verbally assault you if you squealed over a granddaddy long legs---I learned to pick them up and toss them aside.  NEVER run from the pack of wild dogs, who once claimed our neighborhood as home, that encouraged them to chase you.  Drag those 1000 + pound steers for a daily haltered walk, keep your eye out for the ram who loved to sneak up on you and give you a good head butt, and try to stay out of eyesight of Mama James's rooster.  Keep a watchful eye out for any signs of potential danger, but keep fearless plastered on your face.



I might be afraid, but to survive you put on a straight face, learned how to warn off those who might come after me with a deep strong yell, and, above all, never allow fear to show on my face.  It became second nature to appear stoic and calm in the midst of the worst storms.  There was nothing my daddy liked more than riding around in the midst of a hurricane or storm so fierce you could not see a foot in front of the car.  If I showed fear, the next storm would find me at home and not riding in the car with daddy.  We girls always wanted to be in the protection of our daddy's.



Those early lessons were well learned.  As an adult, I learned to stifle any fear with that same stoic expression of calm.  Underneath my insides might be shaking, the primal scream might be stuck in my throat, and my instinct to run would be stifled by the years of training to keep your feet planted.  



Suppressed emotions always find a way  out~ sooner or later they will bubble to the surface in some shape or form.  When my children had scares (as they all do), I always kept it together until the crisis had passed and then I shook and became teary.  A hard aggravating day at work would be taken out on someone close who did some small infraction of no consequence.  I would find myself unglued and foaming at the mouth over nothing.  My anger from the day boiled over on the innocent without me realizing where my wrath originated.  To this day, I have a high startle reaction when surprised--years of ducking the next scare tactic from the boys.

Lately I have been thinking about the threat of danger I feel times..  Past experience has me gun shy and wary . The threat of danger sets off warning signals when someone feels like a potential threat.  So ~ I put on my mask of having it together, being strong, and never fearful.  I am NOT afraid - I am not fearful - I have it under control - I can do this - my daily pep talk on  conquering the fears which sometimes accompany being alone.  

What is the common thread through out all of this.  ME  ~ I am under the illusion I am in control.  I forget my source of strength, my protector, my provider, the lover of my soul.  I forget in the worst of danger ~ I am never alone.  He is my shield and defender in the most dangerous of life's storms.  He does not want me to live in the spirit of fear, but in the surety of His faithful presence.  Allow Him to be the driver as I travel through the blinding fury of the greatest of storms.  Give up control and trust Him to lead.

"Fear not,

For I am with you;

Be not dismayed,

For I am your God,

I will strengthen you,

Yes, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Isaiah 41:10

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LET IT GO

 A few blogs ago, I told you the story  HERE of taking Hero walking down the shady path across the road and his discovery of it being a rabbit sanctuary.  Since that eventful day, all Hero has on his mind is chasing rabbits.  He is about to get on my last nerve!


Do not let this face fool you, Hero can be as stubborn as they come.  I would say mule-headed, but I would not want to insult any of the mules out there.

Everyday--every walk all Hero has on his mind is let's find the rabbits.  He will fool me into thinking we are going back to our old paths by taking a stroll down memory lane through the hood.  All paths though lead to the road leading to the rabbit trails.  He does not forget.  This necessitates me scooping him up and carrying the stubborn rabbit obsessed addict.  He CAN NOT stay away from those rabbits.



There is NO fool like an old fool----and Hero is an old fool when it comes to rabbits.  He cannot get it in his head that he does not have a prayer when it comes to catching Mr. Rabbit.  Rabbits are Hero's weakness~ He is addicted to the scent of rabbits.  What would he do if he by some miracle he caught the rabbit?  I really do not want to know---Mother Nature has a way of often turning ugly.

Our leisurely strolls around the Hood and occasional walks on the Greenway have turned into rabbit hunts.  Once Hero catches a slight whiff of a rabbit he is off to the races pulling me down the trail behind him.  We can no longer enjoy the beauty and leisure of walking together.  Every step is consumed with looking and smelling for his mortal enemy----that cute little bunny rabbit. 


Once Hero has the rabbit scent I am forced to pick him up and carry him the rest of the way.  All else is forgotten if Hero knows a rabbit is in the neighborhood.  I have carried him so much the past couple of weeks I am beginning to lean and one side is much more muscular.  Ten pounds is not much until you have carried it a mile or two.  Hero has nothing but rabbits on his mind these days.


Are there any thoughts you are obsessed with?  Something you caught sight of, heard, or a scent of trouble you cannot walk away from?  Do you find yourself dwelling on a past incident which you keep returning to chase it yet again around in the gray matter?  How easily we can get stuck on some perceived or perhaps even real hurt.  Chasing those thoughts around in our heads until we have rehashed it to the point of ad nauseam.  What two legged rabbit are you allowing to lure you away from what is important, what is true, what is relevant to today?  Don't be stuck chasing rabbits of the past---stay in today.  Learn from the past, but do not allow yourself to be stuck chasing those thoughts which are allusive attempts at changing the unchangeable past.  Leave the past in the past.  Stay in the present and off the rabbit trails.

"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,"

Philippians 3:13

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Thankful for those of you who take the time to not only read, but encourage me!



LOCAL HEROES

 There are times when it is absolutely crystal clear the HS is pointing me to write about a subject.  Today's blog was not on my radar, in my notes, or even a blip on my screen until a series of events lead me to the need to write about it.


FIRST~I read the book American Dirt which was one of my Saturday recommendations.  It gave me a glimpse of why people are flooding to the American border.


SECOND ~ I was told about an American missionary family who fled Haiti just before the assassination of the leader there and the pursuant political unrest.  They are now in a state of flux with an complex story including adopting a Downs Syndrome child left on their doorstep.  Countless others are desperate to flee the danger in their midst with no place to go.


THIRD ~ My friend called to tell me about the organization she is volunteering with which helps transport the aliens after they are released from detention to their families or sponsors.  During our long conversation she tells me a couple of stories about those she has encountered while volunteering which absolutely sets me on edge.  The trauma many of these aliens have lived through is harrowing.




So today I am going to tell you of a local group that is working to get these aliens to their sponsors and families after they are released from detention.  Somehow the ball has been dropped when it comes to getting these sojourners to their new homes.  They are released from the detention centers and taken to a bus station often without the means to get where they need to go.  No money, no food, and sometimes they do not speak English ~ and they are supposed to figure out how to get to their sponsors or family.  Bureaucracy at its finest.


A local organization has joined hands with other such organizations to aid these strangers in our midst.  Two of the volunteers go and pick them up from the detention center and they begin the ride on today's version of the underground railroad.  They are transported to a midpoint where someone from the city where the airport or bus station is picks them up.  A church in that city provides a place for them to stay until they leave--usually the next day.  The volunteers stop and get a meal for those they are transporting since many times they have not eaten for hours.  It is an logistical quagmire my friend is sorting through to get these people to their new home.  When I heard the story, I thought of the admonishment in The Word to care for the strangers.  We have local heroes who are stepping up to do just that.  They are transporting the strangers to the next point on their journey to their final destination.


The organization, LA Advocates for Immigrants in Detention (LA-AID), is looking for volunteer drivers and contributions to provide meals for the travelers.  They are asking for volunteers for one late afternoon a week to pick up those released and take them to a mid point on their way to a airport or bus station. You will be met at the mid point by someone who will take them on the next leg of their journey.  You are only asked to stop and get them a meal for which the organization will reimburse you.  There will be someone riding along with you and you will only pick up those detainees on the list you are given.  


If you are unable to provide transportation, they are also looking for contributions to provide the simple meal on the way to their transportation.  Nothing is easier than writing a check.  Message me at the bottom of the blog page on the right if you want this address.


I am careful and prayerful about matching my gifts to the service projects I volunteer for.  This may or may not be where you are led to be of service.  I admonish you to use your gifts in some form of service.  We are given our gifts to glorify God and for His good pleasure.  Prayerfully seek where God would use you for His glory and to further His Kingdom.  I am thankful for all who hear the call and step up to volunteer.  You will always be blessed much more than you bless.  You cannot out give God!

" 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty,

or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison,

and not help you?'

And he will answer,

'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these,

my brothers and sisters, 

you were refusing to help me.' "

Matthew 25:44-45


WHY EVEN TRY?

 My laughing joke when asked to try something artistic is I flunked coloring in the first grade and it has all been downhill since.   For some reason I felt inadequate as a five year old trying to color.  Perhaps it was my inability to stay in the lines.  Truthfully there is not one artistic bone in my body ~or so I thought.  And then the pandemic came and I had LOTS of time on my hands with my volunteering hours coming to a screeching halt.  I began the search for things to do and ~






I began by going back to embroidering .  I am no seamstress, but I can make these tiny stitches (with the help of a magnifying light).  I made my granddaughter a dancing bag, and two sets of pillowcases.

Then I began to watch youtube videos on how to draw.  I have an entire sketch book filled with drawings such as these ~


Once things began to open up a little, I made my way back to the She Shed and made a bird feeder and garden pole.  So far I still have all ten fingers.  The latest thing I have tried is acrylic painting such as this sunflower.




Who knew I would enjoy this so much?  Who knew, though I am no artist, the process was very satisfying and relaxing.  

Bottom line, I could have left this terrestrial ball never knowing how enjoyable this was because I would not try it--thinking I was not good enough.  I made the dire mistake of comparison.  I have loads of super talented friends, and there is no way I could compete with their wonderful pieces.  BUT--I should have realized this is no competition (THANK GOODNESS--HATE COMPETITION), there is only the joy in creating.  So what if I am no Rembrandt, there was only one of those.  So what if sometimes my creations are lame.  Why not create for the shear joy of creating?  What fun and enjoyment I would have missed had I never picked up that first pencil, needle, or paint brush.  My creations are hung in and around my home (some in the garage-LOL) for me to reflect upon how I enjoyed accomplishing their creation.  

So my sweet friends, stop comparing yourself.  Participate and try new things in a search for those things which bring you joy.  AND guess what, you can create by writing.  I see creative posts on social media everyday.  Posts which make me laugh, cry and think.  Sit down and write one paragraph--that is where it all begins.

Please stop the big mistake of comparison---what a joy stealer!  Be you---let others be themselves ~we are wonderfully created to be individuals.  Seek joy--above all--seek joy.

"You will show me the way of life,

granting me the joy of Your presence,

and the pleasures of living with you forever."

Psalm 16:11


A gentle reminder to please sign up as a follower on the right side of the blog if you have not already done so.  Knowing you are reading is great incentive to keep on writing.

AFFIRMATION

 My middle of the night inspirations for writing are often some of my most favorite.  It is no secret that with age there often comes restless nights.  Most nights I wake up several times during the night and last night was no exception.  I immediately began praying and it occurred to me I should remind God of His attributes.  Slowly I began to list Who God is--Truth, Wisdom, Faithful, Eternal, Omnipresent, Righteous, Compassion, Love, Just, Never Changing, Holy...As I prayed and confessed to God His Glory, the movie "The Help" began to roll around in my head.


Do you remember the sweet little daughter with the emotionally abusive mother?  She was constantly beaten down by the unkind words and actions of her mother.  The kind Aibileen becomes the whisperer in the ear of the sweet child~


She reminds her of the truth of who she is, not what her broken mother is telling her.  Aibileen stands in the gap to be the truth teller.  She speaks the affirming words so desperately needed.  Aibileen spoke the affirmation of who this sweet child of God really was.

This is a lot of thinking for 3:30 AM, but when it sticks with you after you finally go back to sleep ~ it is important.  Why is it we are hesitant to speak those affirmations to each other?  Why are we not speaking words of truth and love to each other?  The sad fact is that some are broken and unable to build their loved ones up.  We do not have the time to go into the varying reasons for our brokenness.  What we do have the time for is a reminder---




Become the one who speaks affirming kind words into the life of others.  We never know the great need some have for affirmation, but we do know you can never over affirm anyone.  Be the one who takes the time to remind others ~

YOU IS ~~~~~

God does not need my reminder of who He is--it is unchangeable.  God is glorified by my acknowledgement that I understand how Holy He is.  Conversely, people need reminders of who they are.  We all need affirming. Be the one who takes the time to speak those kind words.

"Gentle words bring life and health;

a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit."

Proverbs 15:4

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MY DWELLING PLACE

 To remind you of the great hymns based upon His Word



PSALMS 91

May your Sabbath be Blessed!

WHAT AM I READING?

 


This is a memoir ~ an unbelievable story of survival in a highly dysfunctional family.  Amazing how some are able to overcome what seems like impossible odds.  Also a reminder that our memories are highly influenced by the eyes we look through.  

A REALLY GOOD BOOK!

REDEMPTION OF HOPELESSNESS

 One of the local gardeners is well know throughout the area for her beautiful garden.  She is a stand out in the midst of a variable sea of green thumbs here in Ruston.   She is not only a talented gardener, but also a gifted photographer.  She shares her talent in both areas by regular postings of beautiful photos of her blooms.  Recently she posted a photo with a comment which began the wheels turning.  


Photo Credit ~ Sunant Ranjitkar

She had taken the blooms broken by a recent rain and created a gorgeous flower arrangement.  Did I mention she is also a gifted flower arranger?  (The lady is extremely talented in many areas)  Taking flowers which were doomed to quickly wilt and fade after being broken and turning them into another art form, she redeemed the doomed blooms for continued enjoyment.  The life giving rain had caused damage which threatened sure death to the blooms, but with careful trimming, arranging, and supplying with needed water they lived to be enjoyed for more days to come.

At times we face damage and trauma with little or no warning.  We are then faced with the question of how we will react to the storms of life.  Are we able to redeem the beauty remaining or do we walk away in defeat?  My gardener friend could have walked through her damaged garden that day and thrown away those blooms affected.  She chose to gather the blooms and create another work of art from the damage left behind.  She chose to redeem what seemed to be beyond hope.  She knew there was hope and chose a future for her beautiful blooms.  Thankful for those who look for redemption in even the worst of circumstances and thankful for a God Who is a Redeemer of even the most hopeless times.

"There is surely a future hope for you,
    and your hope will not be cut off."

Proverbs 23:18



WHAT'S YOUR ATTITUDE?

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POOR Hero !  The visits to the grands is NEVER easy for him.  For some strange reason, he refuses to stay in the house with the four little admirers and instead spends a lot of time hiding outside.  Perhaps it is the flash back to those early days when they were toddlers and babies and he was their rescue.  I have to admit - he did not have an easy life and I was not particularly happy when he was added to the mix.  Those early years when #1 Daughter had her hands not just full but overflowing were survival years for Hero.  He was a runner during those years and they eventually ended up in doggie court. (Who could blame him)  He was sentenced to a little surgery and a chipping forever marking who was supposed to be watching out for him.  Hero still insisted on heading for the hills every time he was given a chance to make a break for it.  These days he is like me, my running for the hills more closely resembles an amble to the mailbox.



Hero's world changed when he came to live with Lulu after an injury.  They certainly did not have time to rehab a dog from a back injury with four children---one a baby--all under 6.  I did not take him with a good attitude, but more out of compassion for an injured dog who could barely walk.  Over the weeks that followed, I gave him his meds daily, provided food to entice him to eat, and carried him--literally outside for bathroom breaks.  We began a slow physical therapy regime with short walks and lots of me scooping him up to carry him.  What started out as a short stay to nurse him back to health ended with me announcing he is mine for good.  After weeks of rehab, lots of vet visits ($$$), and slowly growing to like the little stinker, Hero wormed his way into my heart.  I began to enjoy his company and he became someone who needed my care and attention.  

Hero has the good life these days--ask anyone who has been to my home.  My schedule revolves around taking care of him and meeting his needs.  He can be a very needy dog.  His old age has truly become the golden years for Hero and there is little doubt about who is in charge.



Many times we serve others with a poor attitude.  We resent our schedules being interrupted, we do not want to be physically challenged with hard work, we had rather be pursuing what we enjoy, why it is even easier to write a check than to get down in the ditch and toil.  No one likes getting dirty, no one wants to sweat, no one likes being out of their comfort zone, and who wants to be stretched.  Why would we want to serve the poor, the not so beautiful, those who are different, those who might not smell like a flower?  Who wants to stop and listen to a sad story when there are things I want to do to make me happy?  Who wants to be inconvenienced?  Each and every time I have done the right thing and held out a hand to do what was needed, I have been rewarded.  It might not have been what I thought I wanted to do, but I have always been glad for the opportunity---even when I began with a bad attitude.  Those bad attitudes can slowly grow sweeter with time, endeavor, and commitment.  Hero has provided countless hours of company when I was lonely, given me reason to go for those daily walks, and given me an introduction to neighbors who stopped to give him a pet.  Hero has provided as much if not more enjoyment than any work or inconvenience he has been.  I would have never realized this joy--had I not first taken the step to be inconvenienced.  What's in an attitude--the opportunity to change it!

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,

for the rights of all who are destitute.

Speak up and judge fairly:

defend the rights of the poor and needy."

Proverbs 31:8-9


POPCORN RULES

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 I am always learning new things everyday and the grands are excellent teachers (in more ways than one) .  Having just spent a week with 4 of those little darlings.  I came away with a new knowledge of something I never knew existed.  There are rules for eating popcorn.  WHAT??



While visiting we went to the movies one day and saw a seat gripper about a horse named Spirit.  (Sorry I can not remember the name of the movie)  The two littles went with me to see this thriller while the two bigs went with their mom to see "Twelve Mighty Orphans".  (Short review-12 orphans during the depression who become a champion football team-THEY LOVED IT!)  



SO--mistake #1--I bought a large vat of popcorn to share between the three of us.  I KNEW BETTER!  NOW in my defense, I do not ask anyone to share a drink--though it would be much cheaper to get a large water and share it ~ I do not trust the back washers! We had not gotten into the theater good before the reminder of the popcorn rules began.  This was immediately after riding the power recliner seats up and down half a dozen times looking for that sweet spot for perfect movie viewing while eating popcorn. 


I can give you the gist of the Popcorn rules with the two first ones announced before we were out of the blocks good ~


#1- DO NOT EAT THE POPCORN BEFORE THE MOVIE BEGINS- SAVE IT FOR THE MOVIE!  WHAT???  I have popcorn before me--the previews are showing and I like my popcorn warm.  We have to wait though until the movie we are here to see begins to commence with our gourmet popcorn feast.  This seems like a really bad rule to me---I am well known for finishing my popcorn during the previews, then I am not distracted during the movie trying to be sure I get my fair share.   The rule maker does not correct Lulu--instead he very loudly corrects his sister so that I will get the message.  S I G H !!  I come to the movie for the popcorn!


#2 - DO NOT LICK YOUR FINGERS AFTER EATING A HANDFUL OF POPCORN AND PUT YOUR HAND BACK IN THE BUCKET!  Okay--maybe there is good reason for this one.  I was reminded lately of my loose rules about swapping germs when I offered a friend a taste of my drink and she informed me ~ "I NEVER EVER DRINK AFTER ANYONE!" Perhaps this is a good rule in theory ~ but how would I have ever discovered how many new foods and drinks I liked without that shared taste.  Of course, I also would have not known how much I disliked some without that taste.  I am a rather loose woman when it comes to sharing germs.  Today's Pandemic World has put a sharp stop to my sharing days.


The Rule Maker ended up taking the popcorn--which he covers with a napkin to discourage begging.  He is sitting two seats away and I cannot reach over the middle chair to sneak bites of popcorn before the official start of popcorn eating time.  These rule makers can drive me up the wall!  AND since when do we need rules for eating popcorn!



This reminds me of the recent blogs on unfulfilled expectations.  We all have rules we impose upon ourselves as well as those around us.  When someone fails to follow the rules we live by, they are not fulfilling our expectations.  You can see an excellent example of this when you cross cultural lines.  We Southerners are polite to a fault and expect the rest of the world to act accordingly.  We have a LONG list of rules (expectations) for living in polite society.  Much of the world does not understand our manners fixation. 

 I had a sweet friend send me a quote last week when I posted about expectations ~

"Expectations are planned resentments."

We expect everyone to follow the rules we impose upon ourselves and resent those who fail to meet our expectations.

Rules - Rules - Rules  The world is filled with official and unofficial rules.  Who could even begin to keep up with all the rules?    We either have a rule follower personality or fall into the rule breaker category-     G A S P!   I looked up the definition of rules and guess what ?  the word CONTROL appeared.  There you go Friends.  We all want control and we are continually challenged to stay in control.   There is only One who truly is always in control.  We can try and try to stay in control, but it is a moving target.  A target with new rules everyday and the abolishment of old rules as well.  Why who can keep up with the rules anymore--who can stay in control?  NOT ME!  I did not even realize there was a set of rules for eating popcorn.   If I ever thought I was in control, my grands are a stark reminder of how out of control I am.



NOW watch this--I am going to pull us back to the blog on "The Abundant Life".  God KNOWS we cannot follow all the rules---God knows we are all dismal failures when we seek control---God wants us to live an abundant life of freedom---ONLY available through Jesus.  AMEN  ~  AMEN!

"For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters.

But don't use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature.

Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love."

Galatians 5:13