Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Close the door, lock it up and throw away the key

       So it's 2018. I am thankful I have lived another year. I am also thankful I made it through this past year. Last year was not a good year in many ways. It was a year of disappointment, troubles, trials, challenges, people hurting the heart,  disasters and a few big pits that my feet found the bottom of. So good riddance, close the door, lock it up and throw away the key.  There are hours, days, years and yes sometimes decades that feel that way.  One prays, plans and then punts. One sees God moving, jumps on the bandwagon and find there are 3 flat tires and the good tire just went rolling down the road ahead of you. 
We don't intentionally start out the year hoping for better than failure but for many of us, we figure - bring it on, it can't get any worse. And then, of course, Murphy's law sets in; it can get worse and it does!
       So what does one do when the ones slashing at your tires are the very leaders you are suppose to respect and be inspired by? What does one do when the dark clouds aren't getting lighter and just bring on thunder and lightning? The very umbrella that is supposed to protect us is the lightning rod that keeps zapping us and sending us three feet in the air with our hair sticking out in all directions. And then someone, someone wiser, older and so much more spiritual says those words, "Calm down; it's not that bad". Of course lighting isn't bad when you are in the house. Tornado's aren't bad when you are in the middle of winter; they don't exist. Hurricanes look pretty harmless for us here in Minnesota, but when you are in the middle of stuff flying around you; it's petrifying.
      Somehow the Christian faith doesn't do a good job at holding hands and seeing where fingers have been slammed in doors.  Apparently the compassion for those who are struggling is missing; missing that is until you have been upside down after being caught in a noose hidden in the grass. Then you get it; compassion from a heart that has felt pain comforts much deeper than those who simply laugh their way through life.
David felt that  way . Psalm 13..."How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
 How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved."
I have a feeling David was swinging upside down by one leg about the time he wrote that.  It was almost a "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, think I'll go eat worms" moment.  Except- it was during the dry season.... and the worms were too deep to dig up.
     We don't often put ourselves in others shoes. We don't reconcile the hurt in people's eye and put ourselves in their winter coat and feel the cold. It's inconvenient and we are comfortable where we are at so we just pray for them  or rather pray at them and walk away. 
So as much of last year being one I don't care to live over again, there were some redeeming qualities that God let brighten the heart. I love those moments. It's the rest of the story, or rather the rest of Chapter 13 in Psalms.  "5 But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation.
6 I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me."
Several of us sat, basically speechless as someone shared their testimony at small group. I did ok until the very end when the sobs came from her heart and she explained had she never lived with us, she would have never seen God come to life. 
I stood in the hospital and held the hand of a dear friend; at that moment, her being alive and with us was the best breathe of fresh air one could ever inhale.
I held a young man, curly hair and giggles and got lots of kisses.  I shook hands of total strangers who told me, my son was the cats meow. Well, they didn't say it quite that way, but they loved my child. That's a boost of Adrenalin to any parent. I got the phone call that said the kid from grad school had a job offer; with money! With benefits! YES!
I looked into the eyes of a young man who was asking, "will you?" and said "yes" and no I am not getting married again....
So what do I choose to do with 2018? Close the door, lock it up and throw away the key but I will also look back through the window in the door and be reminded that I didn't make it through a year of challenges without a God sized hand guiding me. I didn't come out still breathing without the Holy Spirit calmly making sure I didn't go over the edge.. I just wish that the edge wasn't so close sometimes.  I will look back at my journal and think, "why didn't you say that God" when I see the chapter actually does lead somewhere awesome and it has some exciting thrills and curves to it's journey. 
I don't think I am the only one who was breathing deeply when we pulled the calendar off the wall and put the new one up. And I won't be the only one to say, "Hope we don't have to go through that again." but I will start the year with the the end of the verse... "I will sing".  The one thing I could count on this year to keep me going was Cowboy Church twice a month.  A time when worship was down to earth, music was a jam session and for an hour or so, life was very good. I could get lost in Rowdy's stories and almost be in Matagorda, Texas driving cattle.  I could pick up the fiddle and find a harmony and let the ole sweet hymns talk to the heart.  For you see music has a way of taking away the fears and realities of life and transporting us into a different heart level. Music, even with no words, makes the spirit soar and the mind soothed.  Music is easily remembered and quickly soaked into the troubled world and brings peace where there was a hollow spot. Music does that..
And David knew that oh so well. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The little boy that kept us laughing...

Well, they tell me you are not supposed to laugh in church. We are supposed to be joyful, but not laugh. Well, I totally defied all the odds and not just laughed in church last night but howled; inside of course. Well, no, not really. We were laughing, the people beside me were laughing, the people in back of me were laughing and we laughed ourselves out the door. Oh yes, even the people in front of us were laughing.
You see it was the Christmas program by the Elementary Children at Church. Lots, and I mean lots of kids were on stage dressed in the black T-shirt that I think said, "it's a Son". 
The boy that caught our eye, was one of the first ones on the stage and the last one off; literally. He had it. He had the smile, he had the impish twinkle in his eye, and he had the beat. You don't need a fidget spinner when you got arms, legs and hips. He was moving every which way and relatively standing still; kind of. It's hard to behave when there are hundreds of people looking at you. He did sing; once in awhile. He got the Joy down and he got his boogie down. And that was just the beginning; but I would like to see you stand for 35 minutes on stage and not itch and scratch. 
Then, here comes Mary and Joseph. What caused hysteria was the calm way that Mary said, "Joseph I have a pain; I think it's time." No way on the face of this earth has a women ever calmly said, "Honey, i am dilated to ten and by the way I have a contraction...." calmly. If you have had a contraction that racked your body and made you double over, there is nothing calm about saying anything. But the funniest thing was what came next. Joseph said, "Here Mary, I have made a bed for you to lie on." I have been married for almost 30 years. I am not sure Jim has ever made a bed... But then again they were newlyweds too.
The Angels came in next to sing; they were the Preschool. There is nothing cuter than preschool kids looking like total dorks with stuff around their head to try to imitate halo's. Just let them be cute, however it does allow for some interesting actions as no one trains their preschooler to walk around with scratchy stuff on their head. When it's a strange thing on your head, your nose scrunches up, your eyes have to look straight up to see it and then you have to wave at anyone in the audience you might know. That's all normal, but, what does an angel do when he has to sneeze? Let er rip! And he did it fairly on beat also but it didn't help our giggle factor. We were attempting to try not to egg on the preschoolers while watching the dancing behind them
. And then, here comes the wise men. Did you know wise men brought Funyuns to baby Jesus? Why not? I guess if you can have Joseph making beds and Mary calmly stating she is having a baby, bring along a bag of Funyuns. They have enough preservatives in them they would not have had to worry about spoiling. 
Christmas through the eyes of children is always a blessing. Christmas through the eyes of faith is always soul searching and Christmas through the eyes of Jesus, well I am sure that in more ways than one he realized quite quickly that he left heaven this will be an adventure. As they left the stage the last things the kids doing the acting part which was going through the Nativity scene piece by piece and sharing what it meant, was to remind us what Mary did. Well, what she did after she calmly had her pain and a baby. Mary pondered. Of course Mary pondered. She's a women. We ponder. We think about. We rehash. We remember. We think back upon. We meditate. We mull over. Yep- we ponder all right. The difference is that we ponder about things that are so meaningless and worthless. We worry about our clean house (or lack of that first word- clean). We worry about if the food is good enough. We worry about if people will like our new couch. We worry about if anyone will remember our birthday (and yes I forgot 3 this past couple weeks). We worry; we don't ponder. Mary pondered these things. What things? The angel telling her she would be a mother without having sex, the fact that Joseph didn't have her put to death (unwed mothers were often put to death), that she made the trip on a donkey, the angels, the shepherds, the proclamation of who her son would be....what a difference my life would be if I pondered those things in my heart rather than the things I worry about.
I don't really make New Years Resolutions but I will try to ponder Mary's pondering rather than my meanderings. I will ponder what God has done for me, I will ponder the uninhibited joy of a child dancing with no hesitancy an the angel sneezing and still sang on. I will ponder the beauty of the Nativity and each role that the figures played in Jesus coming to earth to be my Messiah.
And yes, at the end you will never guess who came running back across stage when the others were walking off in line? Ok- you guess it. And he made me smile all over again- ok we laughed again. The joy of Christmas through the eyes of a child should make us do things because we can't help ourselves...and make others smile from the heart in the process.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Crisp morning air

It was early: well not really for people who actually get up early but for me it's early. The air was crisp. The ground was frozen and crunchy. As I walked, I tripped over puppies and cats. Their desperate need for affection was almost cute: to them very essential however to me quite an inconvenience. The barn door had beautiful frost pictures and the ice on grass is beautiful.  I almost hesitated to step on the grass as to try not to ruin the beauty God had presented to me.
The horses were eager for their hay.  They knew what they wanted and I had it.  They were eager to eat; something o never do until the chores are done.  And I worked, the air kept reminding me of the morning.. New mornings are beautiful. Even on a day like yesterday when I slept in to kick a headache, and ended up cleaning all day, it was rather fun to look out at the snowy windy day and have the chance to stay inside...for as long as I wanted. So either side of the window crisp is beautiful in different ways.
God gives us crisp mornings to remind us of our reliance on his waking us up. We take each step because of his mercy. I opened the door because he created me with hands. I walked and pulled a sled full of hay because I was blessed with energy, strength and the desire to work. I had the knowledge thanks to his giving me a brain and wisdom, I had the financial means to own 10 horses to feed all with different jobs and different abilities.  I was enjoying the crisp morning totally because God was allowing me.  My steps felt different when I thought of things thst way. My smile was bigger, my heart was lighter, it wasn't work as much as a privilege, the gates shut behind me knowing that I had the honor of being outside.  Any people didn't wake up today. Many more re housebound, bed- bound, restricted by life and its affects on their bodies and minds. Walking back to the horse, I stepped a little higher, pranced a bit more and enjoyed each time I heard the "smush-crunch" under my feet. For to live is Christ, and to walk in Minnesota in the winter time is great enjoyment. And there is no wind today...I should mention that's what makes it so enjoyable to be outside....

Friday, December 1, 2017

Changing focus...can make things blurry

its time to change things up a bit in life...chang No ones focus can also make everything blurry.  Like the time I got bifocals. They said it would answer all my questions... make things better but they didn't tell me I had to get used to them. First night out we were doing a concert. I looked down st my music wasn't there. All I saw was a Blurry mess. So, back to the car for the extra set is f glasses so I could see. Eventually it was no problem but that first week was tough.
So things are changing... the obligations I have had are over. It's time to change focus. I went to th missionary convention, ICOM, to find my next God adventure. I talked to tons of missionaries. I talked to groups, I listened and I prayed... blurry. Plus a flat tire and lots of rain and bad convention food. What I came back with was not what I started out thinking I might. It's still blurry but definitely it's something I would not have thought of..only God would come up with something like that. I know eventually things will be clear but I am a modern American women. I want to know all the plans and want to know now...without a waiting period. Incubation periods are for eggs not my ideas... how often do we talk about Jeremiah twenty nine and say we know the plans God has for us but not be willing to wait and be patient for them to grow, develope and mature? So blurry yet, yes...but I can see the outline and know the plan is there. God has a way of clearing things up in his own time.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

How does God handle knowing too much?

 So I know too much. About a certain situation, I have way too much information. It's alarming, scary, hurtful but most of all I want to help. I see so many gaps, and there is nothing I can do. I ask, I try to point out little things and encourage to see the bigger things and it's met with not simply answers that are truthful but defensiveness. Defensiveness which  basically proves that something isn't right.  We seldom get upset over things that are just lying on the ground, but when the things lying on the ground are tripping us, we kick at them. The simple solution would be to pick them up but in our humanness, we simply kick at them when they annoy us. Truth would acknowledge that there is something there, move it or pick it up. Pretending there is nothing there only deludes us more.  I want to help others pick up their stuff... Move it! However, when others don't accept that there is something on the ground, I cannot change their perception of that truth.

How does God handle knowing all about us and not wanting to slap us upside the head? How does he simply let us make a fool of ourselves and not step in and say "Wait a minute"?  When we are praying to Him and talking, how does he not keep asking the questions so we tell the truth? How does he let us be surface and not pull his hair out; of course assuming he would have hair.  Its frustrating to know there are better answers and to not be allowed to even ask the questions. It's hard to watch someone struggle because of what others have done to them and they don't even see it.
So I know too much- and because knowledge isn't everything, it's frustrating. I cannot change the perception of others. I was told that truth is based on perception. I always thought truth is based on the facts as presented not as someone thinks they are. We have facts. We have our human desires. Sometimes those two things collide in the middle in a violent hurricane. If I want to believe the color of the stop sign is green, I have the option in life to believe that. That doesn't make a red stop sign become green it simply means I have the choice to not accept the color as it is.
So how does God watch us go through life knowing and not cry out?  How does God allow people to hurt others, lie, steal, and not step in and want to make it right? How does he sit by and watch others mess up their lives and not want to step in and help? How does he allow us to make poor decision after poor decision and not want to wash his hands and walk away? And, how does he continue to love when the hurt and the frustration feel like a ton of bricks on ones heart?
I have lots of questions for God.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Hope.....when the heart is lonely

I hope for many things. I hope the weather is good for the picnic. I hope we Ave a fun time with family. I hope I get my shopping list done. I hope, or anticipate, many times during the day. We hope because it gives us just s spark in th heart to take the next step. If we had no hope, we would stay in bed...or keep eating chocolate and black coffe trying to deal with our disappointment. Hope gives us an edge on our day. Hope...well it's one of the three things we read about in 1 Corinthians 13.   Faith, hope and love.  Why is hope in the middle? Why isn't it hope, faith and love. Or love, faith and hope?  The definition of hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best.  So this week I went out on a limb and became hope. Not me, giving hope, but letting a friendship of many years take priority and be hope. What does hope look like? Love to or talking, playing with dogs, walking at a garden, looking at a dam, riding a chairlift up on top of a ski hill, make that plural, eating simple cheese and crackers in a parking lot, laughing and talking, tacos and meeting other people's friends, laughing a bit more, eating burgers at a cool place, hanging out at cool scenic places and letting a 90 year old man walk down memory lane and listen.  For so many of us just a simple smile and time spent with people to just be together is hope. Spending time with others helping their life just a bit better for the day. Giving the, hope that a smile and time means love. Hope that the faith we possess together gives us that love we all all crave. 
For me, it was a week out of my normal life, a plane ticket, a rental car, different beds, several tanks of gas and a ton of pictures.  What I got was tears. That's not the usual response to giving hope, but when hope moves the heart, one often gets tears. I drove away from Washington with a few tears and a praying still ringing in my ears. I left Portland with a lot of laughter, good meals together and a few crazy little adventures... what a way to live life...and feel hope that we serve a God who loves us and gives us hope but let's us be hope and feel hope through the love of others.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

True beauty

I am standing beside many others; many others. Most of them wives...well, all but the man in the large blue shirt. Not that the shirt was large, but the man was large and therefore his shirt was large enough to cover him and it did that well. We were in an elevator going down to the lower terrace to eat breakfast. Well, not really true either. I was going back down to take pictures of the torrential rain on the beach. There were many clothing options in the elevator and I would bet that all of us thought when we got dressed that we were somewhat, maybe, perhaps close to being as beautiful as we possibly could be. Showered, hair done, clothes chosen, earrings in, make up on and we were headed out to make our impact on the world in Marco Island, Florida.
Why didn't we just crawl out of bed and walk downstairs in our varied assortment of sleep wear?  Because we are proud and vain; we want to be beautiful. Sometimes we forget that beauty doesn't come out of the suitcase for beauty  begins in the heart.
Being beautiful isn't negative, God created a world that we call beautiful. We are beautiful and being everything God created us to be is true beauty. True beauty is more from more important than the arrangement of clothes in the elevator, it is in the eyes of the women. Laughter, smiles, non verbal words affirming that the morning was more beautiful than the sound of the rain on the roof. (It's really dry here and they desperately needed rain). Beauty is the beach; normally this time of day the beach would be crawling with shell collectors, walkers runners and children who couldn't wait to hit the ocean to play.  Right now the beauty of nature would have to wait.
True beauty doesn't need circumstances to bring a smile. True beauty sees the tiniest break in the clouds and makes others smile. True beauty laughs when the blue shirt in front of you makes it so you cannot see anything but blue. True beauty holds the door rather than walking out first. True beauty... is action not clothing or physicial features. True beauty is the laughter from within. True beauty makes others feel beautiful; even on a rainy day in Florida....