Sunday, November 17, 2019

I Worship Him

Image result for images of worship songs hands to heaven

For the past three-four weeks my journey has led me on a gnarled and twisted path where challenges lurk in every tangled web. I am not traveling alone. Jesus is guiding me, and I am armed in case of enemy encroachment. My weapons, however, are not worldly ones, but spiritual, so I can tear down every conceivable lie, break strongholds. The path is long, dark, and arduous. Often cold and damp, but there are breaches of light and tranquility. I don't always see the Light or feel the warmth of Love, yet I know He's here with me. He hears my voice calling out, holds me close, wipes away my tears, stills the anger as my heart gives way. He presses in, calls my name, encouraging me onward. This narrow path is not the only one that's there, but it's the one I choose, because He is there.

Today, I shut out the voices inside my head, the noise that threatens me, and I breathe in His Presence. I lift voice to Heaven, and I praise Him! I live to praise His Name. This is what I need right here, right now. I grew up singing hymns like "I Need Thee Every Hour," "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," and "In the Garden." Sadly, some who mouth the words don't hear the message, feel His Presence, or fully understand the truth. Words are important. So, when troubles threaten, I know from Whom my help comes. I know into whose arms to run. I don't have an earthly father, but I do have my Abba Father. When I trust enough to write and share, I make every attempt to be authentic, transparent, true. The journey was difficult in my early life. Still, I know I was loved, and I know that my earthly father was proud of me, because he told me. He always held high expectations, but throughout my life I felt that I failed him, or so it seemed. When he came to truly know Jesus as Savior and Lord later in his life, he began to see me as I am, a child of God, and understand me better. My daddy held expectations of me til the day he died with regard to my daughter who has her own journey through illness and isolation. That's another story and part of the tortuous path I journey. So we walk it alone in the human sense, but spiritually, we are never alone. She knows that, and she grows from it, as do I. Sometimes I feel so close to Abba that I feel the natural and the supernatural merge into one. They do actually, in Jesus.

Praise and worship have consumed me for these weeks. I am carried through the tasks and turmoils of each day by the notes sand chords of Heaven. I share these messages of hope on Facebook for fellow travelers so no one feels alone. The mere mention of His Name and uplifted hands chase away the enemy. This morning, by chance or Divine intervention, I discovered a new song from another ministry team led by someone I adore, Israel Houghton. It's called "To Worship You I Live" by Israel and New Breed. In a time of spontaneous praise these words are raised:

"You are breath of my soul,
life in my bones,
You're the only one my heart wants to know."

This song has played over and over in my heart and mind this morning, much like others have carried me over the past weeks as I hang on to life and dreams and disregard the lies the enemy is trying to tell me. Sometimes he uses well-meaning people, other times he uses professionals who are supposed to encourage, not destroy. But I'm standing strong, gaining ground. I snap the undergrowth from my feet, and I knock down the webs of deceit and destruction, and I follow the voice that says "This is the way, follow me." I am comforted and strengthened, and I praise my Lord, because I will make it home safely.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

A Bit of Nonsense

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My idea of "kicking back" or having fun is either dancing the day away as I clean my house OR watching movies that teach me things I need to know. This weekend I've had the best of both venues. On Saturday I enjoyed early morning quiet with Hillsong Worship team and Bethel Worship, followed by listening to more soul stirring tunes as I cleaned my house. There is something to say about beginning your day with praise and worship. It changes your perspective of what is truly important. Today, after attending church services, I rented the movie Christopher Robin from Amazon Prime. It was such great fun that I watched it twice! It's nice to know that there are adults in the world who still have imagination. One thing I have learned about Jesus is that He loves childlike wonder in an adult. Especially at this time of the year when the weather is changing, days are more blustery, and the leaves are aglow with colors and fire! Passion ignites the soul.

Actually, in writing my book, I find that movies play a big part in my life. I love a story told well, and when I need confidence, reassurance, or laughter, I can always find just the right movie to fill that need. Although I particularly enjoy fantasy or science fiction, children's movies, or classics, I find that I have a very wide range of interests, hence a great mix of DVDs in my collection. Some are watched over and over again. From time to time I have mentioned ideas or bits of wisdom gleaned from my favorites that I have included within my blogs. I try to find something to take away from each story that challenges me or heightens my awareness as I live and write my own.

In his simplicity, Winnie the Pooh offers much wisdom and counsel to Christopher Robin and to his friends. In this tale Christopher reunites with Pooh in an unexpected way, and a new adventure unfolds. Whereas Christopher Robin comes to Pooh's rescue in the original tale, Pooh and his friends find a way to help Christopher with his own dilemma in this drama. Let's consider some "Pooh Wisdom".

"Sometimes, when I'm going somewhere, 
and I wait, somewhere comes to me."

"I always get to where I'm going by
walking away from where I've been."

"Sometimes the thing to do is nothing."

"Doing nothing often leads to the very best something."

My older son thinks I'm a bit "touched" in the head when considering wisdom from imaginary friends, but I feel that my inanimate friends offer wise counsel as well as great hugs. Regardless of what anyone thinks, imagination keeps me active and engaged when facing the reality in our present world that becomes quite depressing. I find that in dealing with the complexities of our modern age the complex is not so contorted when things are viewed from a lighter side. I've been having difficulty making decisions in recent years, since a blow to my head left me with headaches and relentless noise. Learning to cope with it without doing something drastic, takes time and focus. I simply cannot make decisions I am not capable of making at this time. Hence, I do nothing, and as Pooh so wisely surmised, "Sometimes the thing to do is nothing" and "Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something." So here I am. Here I stay. For now.

In the meantime, I have been writing my memoirs, writing daily in my journal, and occasionally, blogging. Hopefully, the latter will once again become more regular, because there are some who consider what I have to say interesting, even thought-provoking. As for myself, if I write anything, I have decided that I am writing it for myself, and I need to care less whether anyone else likes it or not. I'm learning many things about control also, and I am learning that it is perfectly acceptable to be myself. Perhaps therapy will pay off. I do hope that some form of encouragement can be taken away from even the silliest of my entries, because I write to bring hope. Sometimes, however, a little detour to the unconventional thought is expedient. Otherwise life would be boring.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Listening - Day 3

 Image result for images of balloons being released outside to the sky

My heart is heavy, noise so loud, voices fighting to be heard above the other. Will anyone listen? Will anyone help? Does anyone see? Does anyone care?

I step outside myself, balloons in hand, I go outside to the fresh coolness of late afternoon. As I release each one laden with prayer, it is carried away by the gentle breeze, traveling upward to heaven. The weight on my shoulders is too heavy to carry. It was never intended to be so. The balloons will symbolically be my release of each burden. Up, up, one by one they float to Jesus who says "Come...."

As the last balloon leaves my fingers, I feel peace.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Listening - Day 2

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Somehow I thought nighttime would be a great time to sit quietly, alone in the darkness, listening. Near the close of day, peaceful, still, but not so. It has been a long day, a physical one, working and cleaning. My belly is full. My mind ready to receive. But, it wasn't that way. As I attempted to settle myself comfortably in my rocker beside the window, my body tensed up, and I found it impossible not to squirm. My legs became restless. It was not until I reclined on the floor and became still that I was able to settle down and begin to listen.

The mournful moaning of Thor, my neighbor's Alaskan Malamute, who is missing the company of Kodak, his female counterpart filled the night air.  Kodak recently had a litter of puppies, so she has been staying inside the house with the pups as they struggle to survive. I listen for a response, but I am unable to discern a reply to Thor's pleading. Even now, I continue to hear him cry into the night.

Insects tuning up for the all-night vigil of discourse in the forest night, second only to the monotony of insects buzzing inside my skull. I thought at one moment there was a short cadence as the sounds slowly collided into a swelling crescendo. I expected to hear the clasp of cymbals at any time. I may go completely insane of I keep up this practice.

Traffic was slower, as one would hope. Regardless of the hour, someone is always going somewhere at some time going who knows where.

I began to wonder if I needed to sit tall and erect in the lotus position to hear the voice I long to hear. Even so, I know He's here, and I'm not alone. I never am. Perhaps the lesson learned tonight is the incredible gift of calm at the close of an otherwise hectic day. The breeze, coolness after a warm, sunny day, is refreshing. The hope of gentle rainfall in the air. Gratitude for a day well-lived. Simple pleasures in the midst of conflicting and troubling news reports.

I am reminded of all the chaos in our nation, even close to home. Wildfires are still burning in California, devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian on the east coast and Bahamas. The missing five year old child playing outside her home, now missing, just fifteen miles up the road. The world is anything but calm, and my heart cries out. I saw a woman with her hair pulled back, thin, standing in the median with a sign that read "Help me." There's a lot of that in Espanola, and I wonder....

This morning in my daily quiet time I read these words: "Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the people you can, as long as you can."

No flies this evening, only a solitary spider has woven its web in the corner of my kitchen wall adjacent to the stove. I decided to let it stay another night. Everything has its season.

Shutting down for the night now. Perhaps as I slip into a dreamless sleep, I can listen and hear if my mind remains quiet and my ears are attuned, my heart expectant.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Listening - Day 1

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Have you ever taken the time away from your busy, ever-changing schedules just to sit and listen? We become so frantic in our daily coping, scheduling, arranging and re-arranging that we become numb to the sounds around us. In my case, I have become so busy asking for an answer to my trials that Jesus can't get in a word edgewise! I recently read about sitting an hour a day, quietly, without distractions, just listening, then write in a journal what I hear. The desired hearing, for me, would be an answer to a problem that gnaws at me each day and will until I find resolution. Thus, I decided to begin this practice. Brother Lawrence wrote a short treatise on The Practice of the Presence of God
ages ago. Of course Brother Lawrence was surrounded by silence, but still, he had to, as the title proclaims, practice.

My unrelenting noise in my head since my last head injury in 2016 is quite a distraction at times; however, I have been learning over the years to cope with it, just as I learned to deal with headaches and other chronic pain. A specialist tried to tell me that I had lost some hearing, probably because I am ancient in age, but the problem is not that I cannot hear, but rather, that I hear everything! My problems rests in the ability to discern from whence comes the other sounds or noises. I find it particularly challenging to try to listen for the voice of someone who is otherwise engaged behind a door where the washer or dryer are running, over the additional noises from television, air conditioner, and noisy neighbors above and outside. I fail miserably at times, but it is good practice, if you can call it that!

Today is a rather busy traffic day in the little hamlet of Velarde, New Mexico. No one ever obeys the traffic laws as they nod passing through, stopping only for a temporary repose at Mike's Mini Mart for gas or food from the little cafe. Otherwise, it is rather a sleepy little breeze through en-route to Taos or other pleasant retreats.

Hence, choosing to sit in my bedroom rocker, with window open, blinds drawn and curtains pulled to the side, I began Day 1. The highway runs past my little county road, and I live a skip and hop off that road. It's rather quiet here, and what amazed me was that in spite of the busy traffic, I could still feel and hear the silence around this little property. The neighbor's dog, Kenya, who was my constant companion recently died, leaving behind a chasm that cannot be filled. One of their other dogs, Shadow, a pit bull who has terrorized my flower garden repeatedly, remains on a constant vigil. It seems he feels it is his duty to protect me and show some semblance of love and affection during this time of grief. I must say that the little fellow is growing on me with all his snorting and heavy breathing. Somehow I feel that my CPAP would benefit him more. I've spoke with him about it, but he just snorts and lies down. Maybe that's what I should do.

Through the cacophony of noises I heard a symphony of bird calls, owls conversing, and baby birds cheeping from a nest located under my carport eaves. The sound of the wind rushing then the gentle breeze harmonizing with my wind chimes reminding me of God's Amazing Grace. My neighbors coming and going, and the soft chatter of hushed conversation carried across the yard. And no, I did not strain to hear what was being said!! The other senses were heightened during the exchange with smells of wind, trees,  and clean, fresh, mountain air. Fortunately I was not bothered by the two flies present as I am writing this blog, dive bombing around my head. Their minutes are numbered!

I rose from that hour of listening with a spirit of peace. After the hour was finished, I turned on the radio and heard Lauren Daigle singing her new release Rescue, and I knew it was God reassuring me once again that He has heard my pleas. Lauren sings:

You are not hidden
There's never been a moment
You were forgotten
You are not hopeless
Though you have been broken
Your innocence stolen .

I hear you whisper underneath your breath
I hear your SOS, your SOS.

I will send out an army to find you
in the middle of the darkest night
Its' true, I will rescue you.

Coincidence that this song should be the first thing I hear playing softly in the background? No, I don't believe in coincidences, only blessings and the faithfulness of a loving Father.

Peace has returned. One fly down - the other on his way out!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

July 28, 2019 I Want More

Image result for images of Bible verses knowing the right path to follow

It's a quiet Sunday morning. I didn't go to church in the conventional way. Many times I just need to crawl up into God's lap and be held. But, I do attend an online church that has become my church, as it speaks to the inner longing within my soul. The attendees are all broken people saved by grace by faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Everyone is welcomed and accepted in an "as is" way, because let's face it, if we're honest, we'll admit we have all messed up. There's only one perfect one, and His Name is Jesus.

For awhile now, a very long while, I've been struggling with some decisions, asking God to show me something. Any time in the past when I've cried out for a new word, God has told me that nothing had changed. Well, yesterday, and again this morning, I heard the same something. Only thing is that today God made it abundantly clear that my life has been on the right path. He also settled some thoughts I'd had about suicide and other ideas that are not accepted by many Christian circles. People are hso quick to judge a human heart, a suffering heart without looking deep into the soul of that one. Jesus looks behind the surface. The word even says that Jesus looks at our hearts.

Ya know, I'm so done with judgment on any level, for any reason. When I look at another person, no matter what they have done or are doing, or their unkempt appearance, or their unsocial behavior, or what sign they are holding at a stop light, I want to see that person as Jesus does. I have been privileged to work with diverse people groups, in all walks of life, all ages, and I can truly say, I have learned from them and have grown to love them. I think my hardest case history has been my own, and for the first time in my life I am beginning to understand that God loves me. "ME!" The other thing I am learning to do is to forgive myself. It is so much easier to forgive others, but myself with all my disappointments, not so easy. Brennan Manning and Rich Mullins have been good friends to me, and they struggled with similar feelings about themselves. Just sad I didn't meet them this side of heaven.

People are always looking for answers. Reading this devotional and that Bible translation, listening to this message and church shopping, which can be good. But there is nothing that matters as much as crawling up into God's lap and talking to Him up close and personal. This includes honesty about our emotional and spiritual conditions, surrender, and acceptance. It is a time of worship, and praise will ultimately follow. But it's a process, not an overnight success! Some don't feel that it's necessary, but if you truly want the life that is hidden in Christ, the life that God has for you, then,, trust me, it is so necessary. David had it right in the Psalm when he said that one day in His Presence was worth a thousand others.

I'm on my path, and as long as I continue trusting Him, the journey will lead me to where I need to go. I can't see all the rocks along the way or the challenges that lurk around the corners, but I can trust that no matter what comes, He will be right beside me. Another thing I am learning is that people will disappoint us, but true friends are worth everything.

After not just listening to, but hearing, the message that Chad brought to Flatirons Church this morning (posted on Facebook),  I realize that I have already had many Cliffs in my life. It has been hard at times to get to the real person, but I pray that I loved them well. But I want more, because the job's not done. God has so much for each of us to do. Jesus still walks among us into the leper colonies. I want to walk with Him.

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.