Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Remembering Jack

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A few weeks ago I lost a very dear friend whose life touched many people, especially mine. Yesterday I spent awhile talking to his widow, Betty, who is also my lifelong friend, reminiscing about our childhood. In fact, her family was a place of refuge for me growing up as a child. As she spoke, sharing her heart with me, she said that although she and Jack shared everything, she did not realize how many lives he had touched and all the people he had helped. He was indeed a blessing, and his good deeds in the Name of Jesus will continue to live on. I wasn't able to attend the funeral, but my son, Daniel, who lives in Virginia, attended, and his life will forever be changed. He commented, as did Betty, about the message her pastor shared which included an invitation to accept Christ as Savior and Lord. Betty said, "Jack would have had it no other way."

Today, in my morning quiet, I read this quotation from Max Lucado's book, Six Hours One Friday, and I thought about Jack:

                                "If you ever want to know how to conduct yourself at a funeral, 
                                don't look to Jesus for an example. He interrupted each one
                                He ever attended. A lifeguard can't sit still while someone is 
                                drowning. A teacher can't resist helping when a student is 
                                confused. And Jesus couldn't watch a funeral and do nothing." 

I want my life to be like Jack's, whose life was all about being the hands and feet of Jesus in this world where conflict rules the news and unconditional love is not prevalent. But Jack's life was never about Jack; his life was about Jesus. I pray that my life also will sing of His excellent mercy and His amazing grace! This is the message that should ring from rooftops and funeral homes.

I love you, Jack, and I'll miss those brotherly bear hugs and your big smile welcoming me home! But, one day we'll meet again  in our eternal home! How glorious that will be.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Where I Am Right Now

Life is a daily struggle at times. We have choices to make. Sometimes we make good ones, other times not so good. Consequences follow. I tend to be very introspective, too much so at times. And I tend to become my own worst enemy. Honestly, at this juncture in life I am very battle weary. Some days I just want to give up. But that's not the life Jesus wants me or anyone to live. He died so we could have an abundant, victorious life in Him! He forgave our sins before we were even born! Today I was reminded of that in Romans 5:8 when Paul says: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (NIV)

This morning I attended the worship service at my local church here in Velarde. I lifted my voice in praise to God through hymns, advent reading, and the reading of the scriptures. I love His Word. I find inspiration in hearing it, speaking it, and living it. When I was a child my parents and grandparents, as well as my Sunday School teachers and school teachers taught me about the love of God. I memorized scriptures, and I taught my children to memorize it. I en-grafted it on my heart. But as I grew up I began to feel that my value was dependent on what others felt about me. I wanted to be loved and cared for by someone special. I wanted the home and family.

When I returned from my local church, I turned on my second church service, the live stream from Flatirons Community Church in Colorado. The teaching comes from the Sermon on the Mount, a section of scripture that God has brought me back to over and over again throughout the past few years. Today Ben, the Teaching Pastor, talked about loving our enemies. While he was talking, sharing candidly about his own personal feelings about those who'd wronged him and others whom he loves, I began to think about others who'd made statements about me or hurt me or those I love. I thought I'd dealt with those feelings, but I came to realize that I had not released all of them. I wondered how I would react if I came face to face with them. I've gone through considerable healing over the last several years, but some things still hurt. But, another feeling that has grown in spite of all the hurt is the love and compassion I have for others who have failed in their lives. I want to wrap my arms around people and tell them they are loved and forgiven. My heart breaks for what breaks God's heart. The depth of these feelings is so immense. Yet, the one person I find it hardest to forgive is myself! I allow satan to beat me up almost daily, reminding me of things, my imperfections. Today I realized that I need to love myself, as Jesus loves me. As I love others. As I want to forgive others. I want my life hidden in Christ Jesus my Lord. I want to respond to people as He would in compassion and love and with forgiveness. As He hung dying on the cross He said, "Father, forgive them fore they know not what they do." And that's so true. We become so blinded by emotions that we do mindless things. We react in stupidity, and in so doing we hurt others and ourselves.

I want to be free from this prison of hating myself or holding a grudge against anyone. We have ALL sinned and fallen short of God's glory. I don't judge others, so why do I judge myself? I am a new creation! A friend sent me a list of scriptures from Christian author Neil Anderson about the Truth of who we are in Christ when we receive His forgiveness. If anyone is struggling, I would be happy to send them along to you. Professing the Word over our lives and over the lives of others brings liberty. I am so thankful that I have friends who remind me when I forget. I also know that when the battle is ongoing that God is getting ready to bring victory again. He has a plan for my life, and I do trust that plan. I may not be able to see the next step, but He already knows! Can I continue to trust Him, as He asked? I pray so, as His is the only path I want to follow. Yielded, I come, Lord.

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Thursday, December 6, 2018

Sorting Through

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This morning I started going through boxes in the spare room in the home I rent. As I begin the process of sorting through and giving away, memories resurface and are tossed into the giveaway box for someone else to enjoy. It's a difficult process, especially when I've had to repeat the process numerous times over my lifetime. Picking up pieces and beginning again. It's not the way I planned just happened, and here I am.

Waiting for answers is not easy. It seems as if this is the way of things with me also. But day by day I inch away at the tasks before me, and there is a sense of accomplishment in a small way.

Retirement is not as easy as it sounds in theory, unless you've planned it well. Mine has been a bit haphazard in ways, but I am muddling through the steps. I think I realize more and more how alone I am in the process, and holidays make the loneliness more unbearable. My family is scattered here, there, and yonder, and I begin to wonder if it will always be that way. That wasn't my plan either, but then life happened, and we go on, until there's a change or a wake up call or something. Perhaps my life was meant to be a solitary one.

God is always faithful to the call. He reminds me daily that I belong to Him when I question where I am supposed to be. He also makes it quite clear that He has set the solitary in families, as I am surrounded by people who love me, who enjoy hanging out with me. I make people laugh, and regardless of what happens, I do know that God is always here with me walking beside. I am reminded that I need to keep my focus on Him only, and the answer will be made crystal clear. My part is to continue to trust and know that He's good to His Word.

So today as I go through the motions of sorting through or checking off other items on my "to do" list, I'll do so with thanksgiving in my heart and a dance in my step, remembering His Amazing Grace and the incredible gift of Jesus' love and sacrifice for me. I remember how God relentlessly pursued me, He wouldn't let me go, and He won't let go now!

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


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.