Sunday, September 23, 2018

Sunday - Beside Still Waters

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It seems strange to be attempting to blog on a daily basis again. Sometimes I just get these crazy ideas into my head, and I just have to act upon them. Like quitting my job. There are some days when I think, "What were your thinking! Are you nuts!" But really, in spite of what my daughter says, I am not one to act impulsively...well, not any more. I've had some times when it appeared that I did so, but I think I did things out of guilt and shame in certain situations. But those days are over. And this is my life. I'm on a new journey, and it is an exciting leap of faith.

People say they trust God all the time, but when push comes to shove, I've not seen the reality in those statements. I hear comments all the time, "I wish I could afford to retire!", but trust me, my decision is not based on what I can or cannot afford. I'm being obedient to what I feel I need to do at this stage in my life. It's not about age, but it does concern health, and like anyone, I want to have optimal health, especially in this next stage. I have mountains to bike, sights to see, pages to write, and a story to tell. So that's the plan.

Jesus says not to worry about tomorrow, and when questions arise or things begin to get a little scary, to focus on Him. I can tell you that a quiet walk in the woods on a sunny day with Jesus helps my outlook improve. Pretty soon, He and I will be cruising across country in my aspen white Nissan Sentra in search of adventure around every crook in the road. Now that's exciting! But for today I'm keeping my focus on this moment in time, not making any plans, and resting on the promises He's given me. He always keeps His promises, ya know! It will be grand!


Saturday, September 22, 2018

Saturday - Como el viento sopla!


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It's been awhile....

As many already know, I am retiring. My last work day will be September 28th, so the countdown begins! I have many mixed emotions, but I am trying to focus only on today and what I need to accomplish today. This has been my daily prayer, my daily focus for months - thinking on one thing only...Jesus as He directs my path.

For years my doctor has felt that I needed a different career path, as case management by any other name is what I have devoted my "career" to doing. I see a need, and I'm off and running. It can be exciting at times, but it is extremely stressful all the time. I've met a handful of folks with the same calling over these years, and our lives have not been easy. Sometimes I think that I've wasted my life in not pursuing another direction, but the closer I walk with the Lord, the more I see that nothing we do is ever wasted if we truly have a desire to walk in His ways. We detour and put ourselves through pain and grief, but even so, He can work all things for good. I can truly see that in my journey.

Today there are many thing vying for my attention, but like Mary, I have chosen the better way. As I sit here in the quietness of this Saturday morning, I only want to be in this moment. Many notes, unanswered letters, and lists clutter my dining room table. So, the first thing I did was clear them away, out of sight, so I could only focus on my first priority of the day...each day...Jesus. I cannot understand how anyone can begin a day without first talking to Him. I watched God's Not Dead 3 this week, and the last words spoken by a dying man were "God is good all the time, and all the time God is good." I want those to be the words I speak as I am taking my last breath. Because He is!

I have so many things to accomplish these last five days of work, and I have some personal hurdles to jump as well. I've already managed to do quite a bit since handing in my notice, but I'm a perfectionist when it comes to my work. I don't want to leave anything undone. I know I'll muddle through, as I always have, one step at a time.

Besides this being my last work week, I am planning a road trip the week of October 1st! I will be hopping in my car en-route to Virginia where on October 6th I will attend my 50th High School Reunion with my old school chums. I'm anxious to see those friends whom I've not seen in many years, as well as those I've seen from time to time while visiting all these years. Generally, the first thing I am asked when Ii drift into town is "How long you staying?" Well this time I don't have a set date to return, so I can take my time and basically do whatever I want to do. As I say to my friends..."como el viento sopla!" That would make a great soap opera OR a first book, don't you think?!

For today, however,  I don't have any "set in stone" plans, but there are things I need to do, so I best get at it! I hope y'all have a beautiful day. Enjoy God's great creation.




Sunday, July 8, 2018

Abba's Girl

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Today I made my first step in downsizing! It may not sound like much to some, but to the young child I blessed with one of my "treasures," his life may change for the better. It's his birthday, and he's nine years young today. He and his sister stopped by to visit me yesterday while I was brushing their dog outside. Kenya has such a heavy winter coat that it takes hours and hours to remove all that fur! But, she's appreciative and shows it by those beautiful big brown eyes! She's my blessing, and her gaze speaks volumes. Oh, for the confidence of two-legged friends that I find in the four-legged ones.

This weekend is my Star Warsathon, and I am watching all the Star Wars movies. I always begin with the originals, then start at the beginning of the new ones. Of course I have to then begin with the very first that came out not too long ago, Rogue One, then continue to the end...again. I'm all befuddled, but I enjoy laughing at the antics of Jar Jar Binks in Episode 1. My older son doesn't appreciate his clumsiness. Life should have its giggles!

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As I follow the day-to-day leading of my spiritual journey, I am learning to appreciate the "little things" that make me smile. Things that my childlike mind find worth the knowing to encourage my wonder to remain intact. After all I'm supposed to be writing the story, and this is part of my story.

Sundays are the best days of the week to energize for the week ahead. It's a jungle out there in the work I do, so I need to be able to maneuver through the twisted thorns and thickened vines that lay snares in my path and delay in my reaching the desired destination. I need to know I'm not alone, and that my efforts are not in vain. I need to know Someone walks with me, and that He has everything under control. All I have to do is trust Him. To do that I have to communicate with Him daily, constantly, just as if He's here with me, walking beside me. But then...HE IS! I know that, and I feel it!

In reciting the Lord's Prayer as it was intended to be spoken and understood, I am even more convinced that when I say "Father" He is listening.  Also, when I say the words, "May Your Kingdom come, may Your will be done, on earth (now), as it is in Heaven (in my life)," I know Jesus meant exactly what He was saying to his disciples then and teaching us to say today. We can have heaven on earth...or at least a taste of it. It's a matter of perspective if you're truly seeking with your whole heart.

Today's sermon from the series ECHO can help you understand what I'm trying to say a bit better, especially if you're like I've been, living on the words that were ingrained into me while growing up. So do yourself a favor and listen in on a message that will change your perspective of who you are!

Because God is who He is, the message was confirmed in my daily message today in Jesus Calling:

"Open wide your heart and mind to receive more and more of Me. When your Joy in Me meets My Joy in you, there are fireworks of heavenly ecstasy. This is eternal life here and now; a tiny foretaste of what awaits you in the life to come." 

Heaven on earth! In John 15:11 Jesus tells his disciples, "I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. So your joy will overflow!" This is the way I prefer to live my life...knowing to Whom I belong and living in that truth that sets me free to enjoy heaven on earth regardless of what challenges I encounter along the way. I want to belong exclusively to Him and live my life with Him. Everything else pales in comparison to His beauty.


My heart has heard You say, "Come and talk with Me." 
And my heart responds, "Lord I am coming."

Psalm 27:8


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Dance

Image result for images of mexican children praising God

The sounds of birds singing and wind chimes blowing gracefully awaken me as the sun peeks over the mountains to bid me good morning. There's nothing quite like a northern New Mexico sky!
Beautiful mental pictures of each new day, or perhaps you enjoy an equally inviting morning wake up call. Nature can be arresting, calming, and most definitely sparks the creative forces within writers. But, it's not always this way.

I suffer from the effects of cumulative brain injuries, and the last threw a devastating blow, knocking my spine out of alignment and filling my brain with obnoxious, ceaseless noises. Depression threatens my peace, and on the best of days, when the pain is not as cruel, it still tries to wiggle itself into my consciousness and bring fear and loneliness. It's caused by a chemical misfire in my brain, much like that created from other forms of mental illness, and it is indeed cruel and can be quite debilitating. So don't be so quick to judge when you encounter these symptoms or "labels" in others. Honestly, I love all people, and I don't care what "condition" society or the medical world has linked to their names. We are human beings, with feelings and needs just like anyone else in this world.

Sadly, I am so involved with my job that I don't take the time to listen to all the news that is happening in the world. I get a little sick and tired of hearing of "illegal aliens" as if we are infested with lizard like flesh eaters who are annihilating the globe. We act as if we are too "special" or good to help others in time of need. But that's exactly what God expects every spirit-filled believer to do! Jesus is our example, and He spent time with lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, filthy fishermen with equally unclean mouths spouting vulgar words. But Jesus transformed them all, and He can transform us and change our cold, stony hearts into something beautiful and praiseworthy if we allow Him into our lives.

Across the globe the innocent suffer deplorable circumstances, as we tuck our little ones into bed each night under cozy, warm blankets and hand them a teddy bear to snuggle into a carefree slumber as we read them fairy tales and whisper "I love you."

Compare this with the scenes at the border...children in cages, separated from their parents, and the only thing they have to keep them warm is a solar blanket so kindly offered by their cruel and inhuman jailers. "Don't be so quick to judge," you say, "they're only following orders." I couldn't and I wouldn't. I'd be shoved into a cage beside them for insubordination or shipped over the border into the hands of equally merciless captors, all because I would not conform to evil. That's just my way, and if you'd like to check my job record, you'll discover, I'm not just saying it, I've done it...more than once!

Let's look at this from another perspective...the affluent people who live across the border shouting obscenities at the United States Government, some Americans living in Mexico, when they haven't lifted a hand to "share the wealth" with the less fortunate much less approach the border to offer assistance. I'm sick to death of hearing of multiple homes, another new car in a fleet of many, and endless vacations or spur of the moment jaunts across the nation, only to read the latest post on Facebook condemning our government leaders. Why don't we see that we each can help make a difference if we would be willing to loosen the purse strings. I guess an added luxury is a necessity where food for the hungry or clothing for the naked or reuniting a parent with a lonely, despairing, helpless child is not.

But you don't have to look far from home to find poverty and the basic needs unmet. This week I traveled to a home, two hours from my own. I was met with warmth and welcomed into this dwelling with open arms and a larger heart. The house sits in a community at the edge of town in a small lot of dirt and weeds, plus the neighbors' trash littering the yard. At the sidewalk I have to go around a weed that's overtaken the area. The structure of the home I am told is still good, but the outside appearance of the place is enough to bring tears to my eyes. The screens on the windows are frayed, loosened from the base and blowing in the breeze, the house is peeling in desperate need of a coat of paint, and the gutters sag. Across the street is a church, and all around are neatly manicured homes. Inside the home across the street is another lonely human, tormented from time spent in wars in service to our country, fearsome when he hears a helicopter or a plane cross the sky. But, that's another story.

As I go into the house I see gifts the resident has received from friends who adore her. The house is sparsely adorned and the walls free of any decorations other than a photo here and there, carpet worn and furniture minimal, but sufficient for her needs. As I am welcomed in with a huge smile and warm embrace, I go into the kitchen to put down the things I've purchased. I look around, and my heart breaks a bit more. I see dirty dishes, a small piece of soap and empty dish detergent bottle, filled with water to make the soap clinging to the sides of the bottle last a bit longer. The refrigerator is broken, the oven and two burners are out on the stove, and the water heater has to be coaxed to give a little warmth to the water to bathe each day. Still I am welcomed like royalty into this humble home. It's her birthday in two days, and she's excited to see me. She's so grateful for the little gifts I've brought along. Not much really just things I know that mean a lot to her...note cards and stationary, as I know she enjoys writing notes to friends, giving encouragement and sharing God's love. A couple of little dishes, as I know she loves to give Hershey's kisses to folks who bring her groceries and deliver her mail. And a devotional journal to bring strength and encouragement to her when the pain's too intense or the visits too few or the bills piling up or the landlord demanding his money. She lives in fear of the landlord who hasn't been to see her in well over ten years, who calls only on occasions, and who doesn't seem to mind if something goes broken or unpainted. Interested in the identity of this innocent, lovable, selfless resident?  She's my daughter. She asks so little, and she gives so much, and the crazy thing is that she is content to live as she does. All she wants is to be healed of the diseases in her body and pain that plagues her life. Oh, and she wants to be loved, just as she is, because she's never felt good enough or pretty enough to be accepted. Still, she sees the beauty in all humanity, even when they are unkind to her.

She's judged by those who feel she's made poor choices in life, but the ones who think this way actually know very little about her and don't bother to really ask. It's easier to judge, to make decisions based on appearances. We all know appearances can be deceiving and usually are, but still we fall prey to making them. I help her as much as my paycheck stretches and sometimes further. I've managed to sock away a little money for a future purchase of a home for myself, her, my sons and anyone else who needs a safe haven, but she's still reluctant to leave the sanctuary of the home she's lived in since she was a teenager, when we moved to New Mexico with the dream of a new beginning. Dreams fail sometimes...many times. I see that daily. I wish things were different, but her fear and pain run too deeply. So I wait. My life is always on hold, but that's the way God wants it. For now at least.

I've lived much of my life in pain. As a child I was always sick with migraine headaches and weak from unknown conditions. My mama used to tell me I couldn't do this or that, because I was too sick. I really didn't listen to that as a small child, so I climbed trees, journeyed into the woods, and did all manner of gutsy things against the wishes of my mama. I lived, many times in fear of the repercussions, but I lived nonetheless. I went to school whether I had a headache or abdominal pains or other symptoms that followed at a later age. If I had to lie down in the office for a little while, I would, but I always went back to class. In the sixth grade my teacher told me that I wasn't as smart as my brother, so that shut me down a bit from trying to do better. After my friend was killed in an accident at age 15, I woke up and decided I'd show them, and I did. I graduated from high school with honors, but even so, I still never felt like I measured up.

I had aspirations as a child, but I was always frustrated and backed down, because I felt as if I wasn't good enough or strong enough. After all, I had to obey my parents, and I was being told I couldn't do it or my ideas to help others were silly. I shut down as a teenager, and I lost the pluck I had as a child in awe of the wonder of God all around me. How I'd marvel at the beauty of His handiwork in the heavens and the majesty of His creation. I can still see myself, full of curiosity as I beheld the glory all around me. The illnesses I would much later learn came from immune deficiency disorders that I later passed on to my children, especially my daughter, and the focus problem stemmed from a crack in my occipital lobe at the age of three or four at the hands of an alcoholic uncle bouncing me off his knees into the corner of a marble table. Blurry vision keeps one from being able to see the blackboard in the back of a room, and one tends to lose focus when the brains are rattled at an early age. But, still I showed them! I'm not so dumb after all.

Why am I telling you all of this? I don't know, perhaps in frustration at the senselessness of the things happening around us. Or maybe to open your eyes to how blessed a life can be in spite of the difficulties that surround mishaps or tragedies or the unkind words of teachers and other adults who mold our futures. There is a cure to all of this devastation, and it is within your grasp.

This morning I didn't give into the voice of depression. Rather, I tuned into the voice of my Abba Father who loves me with an everlasting love. I didn't despair over the things I could have done, but I see the things I still can do with His guidance and strength leading me each day as I listen to His voice. I read testimonies of His goodness from people who had it much worse and find a reason to praise Him and give Him glory. Why? Because He's everything to us! He's in every fiber of our being! He hears our cries and sees our tears, and He does answer. He ALWAYS answers. Just listen. It's just not always what we want to hear, but it is the best, because that's all He knows to do...give His best...His all!

So, I put on the music that awakens my praise...God's Great Dance Floor and the other songs from Chris Tomlin's Passion Tour with Lauren Daigle and a host of artists from all nationalities singing How Great Is Our God! I danced and I laughed and I sang and praised until I thought my heart would burst into a world of color and sparkles. Like a child I turned round and round, and I jumped and clapped. The physical pain in my body increased, but it didn't matter. I was alive! In His Presence with a host of believers across the world, every tribe, every dialect praising and worshiping the God of all creation. It's a prescription I recommend as a doctor of the heart and mind. Give yourself as many doses of praise, laughter, and light as you need every day. It works!

This is my life. This is my daughter's life. We go on. We fight the lies of fear, because as the song goes, "Fear is a liar!" Believe it. Don't give into it. Fight it. Love those who persecute you, even if they are supposed to be the ones who love you or give birth to you. Love them and pray they find Jesus. Pray they open their eyes to the cruelty and inhumanity around them. Pray they stop giving lip service and actually DO something. Pray we all do. I want to. I try, and I will keep trying as long as I have breath in this pain-wracked body and my noisy head allow. Ya see I have a lot of fight still left in this almost 68 year old body, and I intend to use my dimming vision to clearly focus on what needs doing. I'm going to speak up and fight for the rights of the disadvantaged. I'm going to reach deep into my pockets and pull out the coins that can help feed a hungry person or clothe the naked or reunite a child with his parent. I'm going to love my daughter and my sons and all the people in my life. And I'm going to dance until my aching body can only wiggle a single toe or finger. And I know that she will be right beside me doing the same.


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Listening


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Last night I watched a movie about a defense attorney who, like all lawyers, live their lives spouting words. He mentioned how many thousands of words he spoke in a day (something like 80,000), and it was staggering. In his case, his words helped free criminals, and so... the point of the movie.  After his wife and daughter were brutally murdered, he takes a vow of silence until their deaths are avenged. He readies himself in combat by learning how to fight..and listen. In fact, he says that as he keeps silent...or...as he disciplines himself to keep his mouth shut, his hearing becomes more acute! In fact, it saves his life on more than one occasion.

Interesting that I should choose to watch this movie after the way my day began yesterday morning. After a heartless comment by someone who speaks without thinking or feeling how it may hurt others, I lashed out in anger about the comment to another friend using angry, vile words I loathe to hear from anyone's mouth. I don't speak or think in such terms, and I don't subject myself to vulgarity, but out of the depth of my deep-seated anger and poisoned soul from the day-to-day remarks of individuals, the filth and dis-ease had to be released or delivered out of me. Needless to say I was appalled at the depth of my sense of depravity just from the associations. It was then I realized, finally, that it is time to separate myself from those who destroy my spirit. Over the months, literally years of my life, I have been victim to many misfortunes, but verbal abuse is the worst enemy. Whether it is directed at me, others, or to God! I can no longer subject myself to those who see the negative side of life, who blame others, and who cast aspersions on my best Friend, the Lover of my soul.

Since listening to the message of this cinematic wonder, I have not spoken a word to another person. I speak to God all the time, within myself and out loud, because He's my constant Companion, but He doesn't mind it if I discipline myself in such a way. Our communication doesn't stop, because with Him, it's two way, any way. Others will have to wait, to understand. If I want to hear, I must listen. If I want to listen, I need to shut my mouth.

The challenge I'm having is that the noise in my head from my accident increases daily, and it is deafening, and at times, maddening. Who knows, perhaps I'm already nuts, but this is my world in which I survive, so don't judge what you can't understand.

Perhaps, if we all took a vow of silence even for a short period of each day, just to listen, to wait, perhaps the world would be a safer, saner, better, more peaceful place. For me, it has already become so.



Thursday, April 5, 2018

His Time

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I learned something today. Actually, the lesson began yesterday afternoon after the scheduled "plan" had gone awry. When I woke up I was peaceful, content to have my quiet time alone. I love these times. I don't enjoy interruptions, but that is exactly what came, one phone call after another.

God is not interested in our daily "rituals" or "routines." He is concerned most about the purity of our hearts as our voices utter the words, I trust You, Father. Jesus never had a physical prayer list or a set time to separate Himself from the crowds to pray. But when He did, He spent more time praising than praying, I believe. To do otherwise seems didactic. To do otherwise is to miss the Divine.

We are His chosen and redeemed. He knows what we need before we ask. He sees the needs, the concerns, the love for others etched upon our hearts. With every heart beat, with every breath, He knows....  He lives to make intercession for us. He gives us the Comforter, Holy Spirit to guide our way, to hear our cries, to come along beside us. He gives.... He lives....

Someone told me that I should talk to a counselor, because I felt guilty about the changes. Well, I did. I spoke to my Counselor, the Prince of Peace. Know what I got in return? Yep, peace that surpasses all understanding.

Jesus heard my cries, and those of my daughter on my behalf, and He answered. "Wait. I have it under control. Things look hopeless, you feel. What's the point, I may as well give in, you think. You doubt you made the right decision. But, as I've said before, it will be okay. I got this!"

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Days 36 - 40 Season of Lent

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The weather has been warmer with a little chilly nip in the early morning breeze. Earlier in the week, there  was a brief promise of rain, but the storm clouds drifted away inviting the warmth of the sun. The day dawned hopeful, peaceful, but it quickly changed to an internal storm of the never-changing war that ensues among people. One would hope that during this season of Lent that human kind could resist the petty quarrels and cease the strife that threatens peace. It is particularly distressing when the dis-ease includes the household of God. Brother struggles again brother on Saturday going unrepentant to church on Sunday morning. And we wonder why the world chooses not to go. Judgment begins in the house of the Lord, as the scriptures warn, goes unheeded.

In my reading for today, recounting each of the trials of David as Saul chased after him to kill him, and later as David made poor moral choices, it was said, "Through it all, David seeks God zealously and confesses His sin promptly." I admit that I struggle with my thought life at times, proving my flaws. Things that may injure an unbeliever or damage a struggling Christian's faith if spoken and misinterpreted wrongly. So, each day I ask God to guard my thoughts and put a lock on my mouth.
I am full of faith and strength that comes from my joy in the Lord, but this physical body is exhausted from lack of sleep. Some days I feel the need to rest, and this rest includes foregoing an occasional Sunday service. I love to go to church. I always have since childhood, but when turmoil lies under the surface, I cannot find peace I need to get me through the week ahead.

It is my prayer that today, Palm Sunday brings only the joyful saints who gather to praise the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord and King. And to remember the sacrifice He made and the debt He paid for us so we who believe on Him should have eternal life. A place that defies all imagination - peace, beauty, no more sickness, pain or death. A place of rest in His Presence for ever more!

My celebration of Jesus today has been wonderful beyond comprehension. I can only express the joy I feel with songs that reach to the depth of my soul. Above all today, my friends, Celebrate Jesus !