Saturday, December 8, 2012

No Bump in the Road

I don’t own a lot of CDs. But there is one I’ve had for a dozen years. Listening to it has helped me encourage myself, especially after a time of betrayal. It’s called “The Mercy Project.” A favorite song on it, sung by Martina McBride, is called “You’ll Get Through This.” The chorus says,

“You’ll get through this, you’ll break new ground.
When you’re lost within your weakness, hope is waiting to be found.
You’ll get through this, no matter what it takes.
I believe in you for heaven’s sake.
You’ll get through this.”

It irks me when I hear someone say “just get over” it. I don’t believe we “get over” being betrayed by someone we trusted. Okay, I don’t think I will “get over” being betrayed by someone I trusted. To me “getting over” something is like saying it was merely a bump in the road, no big deal. Uh uh! Betrayal is no bump in the road.

So this song is a favorite because I have discovered that I’ve been getting through it. It’s like digging a tunnel through a mountain to find what my part was in it, as I forgive and keep forgiving the person. I think I’ve broken through a lot of new ground looking at and acknowledging my own part in it, confessing my sin to God and others, accepting forgiveness, uncovering deeper roots—the lies I believed about myself—that set me up for the situation and dealing with those, healing. I can think about the situation now and talk about it and the pain is no longer there. I remember the pain and can empathize with others when they experience it but I’m not staring out my window anymore feeling bereft.  

At a women’s gathering earlier this year I heard a speaker said, “You don’t have to clean up the mess someone else made.” Wow! What a concept. It’s their mess and they didn’t make the mess in my house. They made it in theirs. No need for me to step over it. I’ll be right here getting through my own mess.

What are the messes you’re getting through?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thumb Times I’m in a Zone

 If I circle my right wrist with my left thumb and middle finger, they don’t quite meet.

If I circle my left wrist with right thumb and middle finger, they meet without any problem. And if my thumb joint would allow me to straighten it, it looks like they could even overlap.

Does this mean my right wrist is bigger than my left? Weird.

Well, that’s not the case. But the real case is still weird. Turns out my left thumb is about ¼ inch shorter than my right thumb. My mom used to tease me that I stunted its growth by sucking it but then she’d say I sucked my right thumb and made it stretch. LOL! Wikipedia gives several labels for it: clubbed thumb, murderer’s thumb (further investigation needs to be done as I think it would be interesting to know the origins of that!), potter’s thumb, toe thumb, and finally brachydactyly type D of the congenital musculoskeletal abnormalities, which just means I was born with one thumb small enough to be Thumbelina. I’ve never attempted to hitch hike but I’m wondering which thumb would be more successful.

I know there are more Thumbelina people out there, some of them even have two brachydactyly (why do I keep picturing a dinosaur when I type that word?) thumbs. But double clubbed thumbs would not help me make my point today.

That is, before coming to a conclusion about something we need to get all the facts. If a person describing me only saw the first two photos, they could say, “Anita’s wrists aren’t the same size.” Or they could look closer and get out the measuring tape and realize it’s all about the thumbs.

There is something else about me with a tendency to get misconstrued. It’s even less evident to the naked eye than my thumbs. I’m an introvert. Doesn’t mean I’m shy or timid or that I don’t like people. It does mean that my energy level depletes quickly when I’m with people. I re-stock my energy by getting into my own head. So I love being with people but in shorter time frames. And while I prefer smaller groups, larger groups are doable if I can take breaks.

Sometimes when I’m in a large group of people and everyone’s talking at once—you know what I mean, girlfriends, we’ve all got something important to say and we just can’t wait to say it—I start to feel overwhelmed.

You ever see a little kid start crying in a room full of people and there doesn’t seem to be any reason for it? That was me. First day of VBS with my grandma’s church. Mom dropped me off and went home. Grandma, being one of the Cookie Ladies, wasn’t involved in registration. I felt so proud, not quite six years old and I was going to do this all by myself. Gave my name and answered the questions of the lady filling out the little card. Allowed my name tag to be pinned on my shirt. Followed directions to stand in that line. Looked at the crayons another little girl showed me.

And then suddenly I became aware that the room was bursting with kids, boisterous kids, happy kids, not a single one being mean or anything, but what could I do but inexplicably burst into tears! I couldn’t explain what I was experiencing to any of the adults who came running. I just knew I needed to “g-g-g-go h-h-h-h-home. My mommy needs me to h-h-h-help take care of my ba-a-a-by sister!” Eventually they located Grandma who took me with her to the kitchen where I helped her set out the cookies for snack time. When I’d calmed down she asked me if I’d like to see what the other children were doing—she’d come with me and be with me the whole time. Once I’d seen how they were all gathered in small groups around tables doing crafts (Oh, boy! Crafts! I’m there!), it was a piece of cake for me to stay with them, instead of with Grandma.

Retrospectively I’ve identified what that was all about. Changing the labels of “Crybaby” and “Scaredy-Cat” to “Excited Little Introverted Girl on Sensory Overload” is very healing.

Although on occasion I still cry when I’m with people (now for entirely different reasons—I mean, when hearts are being shared some discussions are just going to be five-Kleenex rated), I’ve learned to take a break without even leaving the room. I call it “zoning out”. It might mean that I close my eyes. Or my eyes will stay open while I retreat into my thoughts. I block out what is going on around me.

The awkward thing about this is that I’m not always aware that I’ve zoned out and my face may have an expression that could be interpreted as incongruent to my environment. I might even make a “huh” sound as I follow my own thoughts. But those around me could assume I’ve indicated an opinion about what’s being discussed. Oops!

Hopefully if you’re with me, or maybe with someone else you know is an introvert, you’ll ask clarifying questions. If you do, you’ll always get a thumbs up—little brachiosaurus and the other one—from me.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Joy in the Birthday Present

This week I told my son Nicholas (in the very first of what I hope will be a series of Skype conversations) that I would soon be entering the last year of my fifth decade. Not surprisingly within just a few seconds, Dr. Nick, PhD, said, “Mom, you’re almost at the end of your SIXTH decade!” Oh, my! Now I really feel old! LOL!

Before getting myself all bogged down in muddy old age laments, I had a little visit with King Solomon (via Day 5 of my Bible study lesson).

“After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live.” (Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, The Message)

Thanks, Wise Solly! Opening up to the joy God gives in the present—I like that. Skype conversations with family are definitely some of those joys!

I was also happy to open the present—I mean, the box marked Priority Mail—that arrived on my door step a couple weeks ago. Doesn’t take fancy gift paper and ribbons to make my heart go pitty pat. I knew it was coming. My sister told me so. She and Mom shopped together for my birthday presents and put them in the mail early. And there was no way I was going to wait until November third to open it!

The box revealed a scarf from Mom, a pashmina from my sister, and THE HAT! I’d seen pictures of the hat, my sister modeled it for me in one of our Skype sessions, making me drool, and now it has come home to mama.

My mom included a Starbucks card with the scarf. 
Hubby and I love old town Orange; a perfect spot for a birthday date a few weeks early. It is totally fitting that my birthday coincides with the season of pumpkin spice lattes! Iced, for a very warm southern California October day—yum and a-a-a-a-a-ah. Such a pleasure to share the treat with my best friend (he likes to give his caramel frap bunny ears) at our favorite Starbucks located in the Wells Fargo Bank   building.
This beautiful fountain has been around the block a few times. It’s moved almost as many times as I have. Installed initially in the Orange Plaza in 1887, relocation followed in 1940 to Hart Park (known as Orange City Park then) but without the graceful birds. At some point and for some reason it was delegated to storage for awhile. (How exactly does one store a fountain of this size?) The city restored it in 1981, reuniting it with its birds, and placed it at the Civic Center in front of the Council Chambers. When this new rendition of the library was finished (2007?), the fountain was chosen to grace the northwest corner. I hope it gets to stay awhile.

The scrumptious sherbet-y scarf is from my mom. The day’s temp was in the 80s but the scarf matches this top so well and when it comes to my love of scarves, I do not let climate dictate my fashion preference; besides scarves also come in handy when in air-conditioning. 

Hubby has a new shirt too. His mom sent it to him earlier this year. Yay for our moms!

              Last, but absolutely not least, from my adorable and adoring sister Robyn:

Thank you ever so much, daahling. I feel like royalty.

Also wearing the luxurious pashmina she chose for me. My sister dresses me up so fine! And every time I wear it I feel like I’m getting a hug from her.

   I like the sparkle found inside the package. 

Now, to find a fancy holiday tea party… 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sillybration Week in My Little Corner: Post #4

Glimpses into the Life and Times of Mrs. Dunwoodie (Continued)

“I know Mrs. Dunwoodie volunteered her services in chiromancy at Mount Tiara’s Community Haunted House,” Mr. Fenster said. “But you know she thinks that means giving people a little adjustment by smacking ‘em upside the back of the head as they walk past, right?”

Ruthlessly following the HOA protocol Mrs. Dunwoodie positioned her Viking helmet on her head, armed herself with her ax and in denial of her own promethean personality destroyed all evidence of her neighbor’s decorative expressions of same.

“Being a skilled gradgrind, Mrs. Dunwoodie eventually gets under your skin and into your closets,” warned Mr. Fenster. “But you may not realize it until the skeletons are rattling out.”

“You may have heard Mrs. Dunwoodie referring to herself as a 21st Century woman,” said Mr. Fenster, “but the only thing neoteric about her is her knee replacement.”

“If my Viking helmet doesn’t discourage that cat burglar from terrorizing Mount Tiara, this ought to do the trick,” Mrs. Dunwoodie muttered, putting the final touches on the alarm system she’d devised featuring sounder grunts and squeals.

Mrs. Dunwoodie took first place in Mount Tiara Community Clinic’s third annual nosocomial gurney race but only because she hooked her Viking helmet by invisible wire to the zip line hidden in the ceiling.

“I asked Mrs. Dunwoodie why she kept looking over her shoulder at herself in the mirror as she ran on the treadmill,” Mr. Fenster said, choking on a chuckle. “And the surd woman said she was trying to follow the advice in Proverbs 14:7, the one that says ‘escape quickly from the company of fools; they’re a waste of your time, a waste of words’.”

I believe I have succeeded in confining her once again
but she's a slippery one. She might be ba-ack.
Dear brave reader. Let me congratulate you on surviving this onslaught of terrifying verbiage and the escapades of Mrs. Dunwoodie. I hope you can agree with Mr. Fenster when he confessed, “Although she’s an annoyance, I prefer Mrs. Dunwoodie on those days when her most prevalent personality is a flaneur rather than when it is a flaunter; with the former our eyesight is at least spared grievous injury.” 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sillybration Week in My Little Corner: Post #3

Glimpses into the Life and Times of Mrs. Dunwoodie (Continued)

“Better call the veterinarian to bring a neuroleptic from the horse stables down the canyon,” Mr. Fenster advised the paramedics trying to restrain a Viking regalia-clad Mrs. Dunwoodie from axing the trees around Mount Tiara’s community club house.

In releasing Mrs. Dunwoodie from protective custody and returning her belongings to her, including the Viking helmet, Mount Tiara’s law enforcement unwittingly participated in an epitasis resulting in a confrontation at the community’s gated entrance where our infamous heroine had taken it upon herself to stand guard against the postal service.

While visiting a cooperative agriculture center, Mrs. Dunwoodie assured the farmer, concerned about how his cows were uncharacteristically milling about and mooing loudly, that it was her numinous Viking helmet eliciting the bovine blessings.

“I thought Mrs. Dunwoodie said she had an appointment to see a foot doctor for orthopedic shoes but from the looks of it, he’s given her the same orthogonal pair worn by Frankenstein’s monster instead,” Mr. Fenster said as the woman lurched up the sidewalk to her front door.

“Yes, Mrs. Dunwoodie was once a Radio City Music Hall Chorus Girl, and no, she is not practicing her Mount Tiara Talent Show routine when she does that little hop and kick,” explained Mr. Fenster. “It’s a little tic she has whenever she heads in a dextral direction.”

“No, Mrs. Dunwoodie,” Mr. Fenster raised his hands in protest, “This is not the time for an intimate lesson in paleography, regardless of having had those tattoos applied in your long-ago seafaring days.”

Mount Tiara residents knew it was ten-foot pole time when Mrs. Dunwoodie started pawing the ground with her foot, the whites of her eyes turned sinopia and steam escaped from her nostrils.

“Please keep in mind that the red pomiform kettle on Mrs. Dunwoodie’s porch does not contain what it resembles, the bulge in her cheek is not a piece of bubblegum and her spittin’ aim is far from accurate,” warned Mr. Fenster as he led the way across the yard.

(To be continued…)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Sillybration Week at My Little Corner: Post #2

Glimpses into the Life and Times of Mrs. Dunwoodie (Continued)

Coyote snickered, well, as much as a coyote with a mouthful of synthetic blond hair can snicker, at the thought of poor Mrs. Dunwoodie awakening poolside with a sunburned bald spot wondering who avulsed her wig.

“She won’t be taking this decumbent,” sighed old Mr. Fenster when dawn’s early light revealed the toilet paper streamers decorating his neighbor Mrs. Dunwoodie’s lawn and trees.

Far back in the dusty reaches of Mrs. Dunwoodie’s aging mind, a smidgen of inwit nestled, a smidgen which kept her from rushing out in broad daylight and rolling herself up in the toilet paper streamers festooning her yard.

“One good thing about Mrs. Dunwoodie wearing shorts this late in the summer is that when the hair on her legs begins to inspissate, I know to prepare for an unusually cold winter,” Mr. Fenster said to the furnace repair man.

Not only did the landscaping yob assault Mrs. Dunwoodie’s ears and sinuses as he used the leafblower for three hours, in his sloppy handling of the noisome machine he sent her brand new wig off on a new flight.

Because it was more like a bottomless pit than a handbag, in which Mrs. Dunwoodie subsumed everything but the kitchen sink, the Mount Tiara Women’s Club always avoided asking her to take the deposit to the bank.

“Too bad Mrs. Dunwoodie has no understanding of apollonian pie making,” Mr. Fenster said at the Labor Day block potluck as he spit out a nasty unidentifiable glob of pastry. “Savory and sweet should be combined to bring harmony to the tummy and she definitely did not bring it.”

Barely able to see out from under the old horned helmet, worn by her Viking ancestors in a time of spoliation and passed down through the generations, Mrs. Dunwoodie still managed to make quite an impression at the Mount Tiara Women’s Club Autumn Tea Extravaganza.

(To be continued…)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sillybration Week in My Little Corner: Post #1

For some months now I’ve participated in today’s word on Brandilyn Collins: Seatbelt Suspense Facebook page. My creative juices spurted with truly frightening results and an ominous character came to life, one I hope you never have to meet face-to-face.

Watch out! Apparently she has escaped the confines of my word processing program and has taken over here on my blog.

And beware, readers. Other horrors await you should you decide to proceed. If monstrous words frighten you, if vocabulary of the weird and grotesque makes you squirm, if terminology dug from the depths of a thesaurus raises the hair on the back of your neck, then that is what you may face. You have been warned.

Glimpses into the Life and Times of Mrs. Dunwoodie

“The worst thing that could be said about the Mount Tiara condominium development was the tendency of the architects to platitudinize in their designing expression,” the real estate agent explained to the eager young couple looking for their first home, all blissfully unaware the worst thing was actually Mrs. Dunwoodie.

Having been elected the new Home Owners’ Association President, Mrs. Dunwoodie considered it her proof of being impeccant in all decisions regarding community improvements or lack thereof.

The HOA had never seen Mrs. Dunwoodie more philippic than when she campaigned for the removal of five weeds from her neighbor’s back yard.

Perhaps it was the spit spray accompanying the ten minutes of Mrs. Dunwoodie’s philippic that made it feel like a decennial flood but everyone wished they’d worn their high waders.

“Mrs. Dunwoodie has switched her philippic into high gear this time and nobody is getting a mora in edgewise,” observed Mr. Fenster at the HOA board meeting.

If Mrs. Dunwoodie had only taken the time to embrace mnemonics when she had a mind to do so, the money she’d stashed away in various nooks and crannies would be available to her now.

It came as no surprise to the residents of Mount Tiara, when the new neighbor offended Mrs. Dunwoodie by parking his work truck on the driveway rather than in the garage, that as a schoolgirl along with elocution she’d taken malediction as an elective subject.

(To be continued…)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Creativity Attack

Halloween approaches. It’s an event of controversy for some. I wasn’t allowed to go trick or treating as a kid. My best recollection of the reason my parents gave had to do with it being a form of begging. When my kids were little, I felt uncomfortable associating with anything remotely pagan or demonic so placed restrictions on our participation. Over the years I’ve come to believe that dressing up in silly costumes has no more to do with demonization than playing at peek-a-boo has with becoming invisible.

On the other hand I want to use every opportunity to bring blessing and light into my little corner of the world, right? I’ve been trying to remember something I came across in The Message not too long ago that I want to incorporate into my front door seasonal d├ęcor. This morning through working on my Bible study lesson I was directed to Ephesians 5:11-16. Woohoo! There’s the verse!

“Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!”

A scary yet reassuring reminder not just for Halloween!

 And here's where the attack of creativity took me.

Front door side window.

Wind chimes catch more than the breeze.

Protected by a ziplock bag...
...the breeze makes the card twist and turn.

What’s your approach to Halloween?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Not That One

My delight is five-fold in hosting a guest blogger today.
·        Delight #1:  She is the granddaughter of Francine Arnold, author of Not My Will, one of the first Christian novels I ever read and loved.
·        Delight #2:  Her talent as a fictional writer, in her own right, earns my high admiration.
·        Delight #3:  She offered to lend her exceptional talent to a post over here in my little corner.
·        Delight #4:  After giving her a few topical options, she chose hats (ecstatic sigh).
·        Delight #5:  Although not having read my Mad Hatter post, her fictional story reflects a glimmer of that experience, so to me this is a divinely-inspired piece.

Please help me welcome the one-and-only Jan Ackerson. And would you do me the honor of showing her your appreciation by visiting her blog One Hundred Words as soon as you can. Thank you and enjoy.

Not That One

On Sunday mornings, Betty stood with her mother at her closet, watching as she picked the hat she’d wear to church. There were four hat boxes—a white one, a blue striped one, a yellow one, and one with a red ribbon. Mother never picked the yellow one.

“Which hat today, Little Bee?”

Betty took her mother’s gloved hand and played with the pearl button at her wrist. “Mama, the yellow one?”

Her mother laughed. “Not that one, Bee.” She took the hat from the striped box.

“Why not, mama?”

Her mother paused, her hand at her throat. “Not that one.”

(Aaagh! Embarrassing update: I misspelled Jan's grandmother's name. It's actually Francena H. Arnold. I knew that; the book is on my bookshelf. Apologies galore.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Murmuring Cats

Exciting, challenging, convicting. A new Bible study for me to work through, in which looking at changing my attitude is key. What?! Me, needing an attitude change? Okay, maybe just a little bit.

The first chapter deals with complaining and takes us into the wilderness with that group of grumps, those constant crabs, the stars of strife, in the Old Testament. Yeah, you know who. Moses’ herd of murmuring cats. None of us are that bad. Or are we? Today in our discussion group we talked about how quickly we forget the great and mighty things God has done in our lives and like the grumblers, we let our desires run wild because somehow we don’t think he’s going to come through for us again. (Psalm 106:13-14)

It’s been good to be reminded recently of a time a dozen or so years ago when God used nature’s beauties and wonders to teach me how to remember his faithfulness.

It was a spring Saturday morning. My mom, my daughter, Kim, and I braved uncertain weather conditions to go ‘garage saling.’ As we left our car to explore one more treasure site, our eyes were drawn upward to an intense blue, frosted with clouds—the kind you want to put in a waffle cone for licking. The air almost tingled; the hillsides, sunshine glorious.

“Mom,” Kim exclaimed suddenly. “Look behind us!”

Turning, we marveled at the difference. Black clouds towered and rain sheeted down in the distance. Moments before we’d traveled sunny roads over which the storm now raged.

I’ve weathered a number of storms since then. And you can bet I’m not talking meteorologically. Whirlwinds of fear, dismay and worry assailed my mind. There will undoubtedly be future storms. Instead of letting that storm devastate my mind, I want to speak out this truth to my God, “You stretch out the starry curtain of the heavens; you lay out the rafters of your home in the rain clouds. You make the clouds your chariot; you ride upon the wings of the wind. The winds are your messengers; flames of fire are your servants.” (Psalm 104:2b-4, NLT).

Wow! Is there any room for complaining in that? In case you’re wondering, that’s what praise looks like. For me, it’s not about saying, “Oh Praise Jesus, we’re late on the rent again.” Or “Hallelujah, it’s rice and beans for dinner for the foreseeable future.” If that’s the situation we’re facing, that’s the situation we’re facing and it ain’t exactly gonna be roses. My task is to remember that God is the Power described above. And hang on for the ride without being a murmuring cat.

Got any storms raging? What does praising God look like for you?

                                     wait for it........................

                                              ....aaaaah, sun.

 COMING SOON! I am so excited! Guest blogger next week!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Am I a Pain?

One of my favorite authors, Jane Kirkpatrick, writes about “focus” in her Kinship and Courage Series novels. She uses it to describe more than clarity, looking at the Latin root meaning “hearth”, that which warms a person to the center of their being.

I like thinking about that in terms of God, how He is my focus. Not just helping me see more clearly, but to feel more clearly. His warmth comforts and energizes. Food prepared at the hearth fire nourishes. He feeds me.

Even with that comfort, pain is a constant. Somewhere I saw a quote indicating that the pain in the past lessens when we face forward. I’m not sure that’s true. Why is it, anyway, that we want the people around us to be pain free? Maybe pain is a constant, never-ending reality in this life. And our desire for the absence of pain in others is to avoid admitting our powerlessness in eradicating it.

According to Genesis there’s no maybe about it. God told Adam he’d have pain all his life. Maybe we’re not supposed to seek the absence of pain. Maybe we’re supposed to continue on in the pain. Maybe the triumph is in persevering in spite of the pain. Physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, whatever and wherever the pain, or the cause. Accept the pain instead of trying to escape it.

But I’m not to let pain define me. I am not this painful shoulder that wakes me in the night. Or the fingers that allow me to drop things. Or the wounded heart that pangs with memories. They belong to me, but I don’t belong to them. They might restrict my movements but I don’t have to let them restrict my attitudes or let them be an excuse to hurt the people around me.

In the midst of my greatest difficulties, my belief in God develops. That’s where my faith really begins—in my pain and anxiety and angst. I found this verse one day when I was wondering if my pains were from a lack of faith. “I believed in you, so I said, “I am deeply troubled, Lord.” (Psalm 116:10, NLT) It is because I believe in Him that I can tell Him about my struggles.

Pain will have an end, to be sure. God’s going to handle that. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelations 21:3-5, NLT) Well, hurray for that! Makes me want to put on my red hat and do the happy dance!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Can’t Drive Out the Way We Drove in

Ezekiel is a fascinating book in the Old Testament. Hey, you might call it weird. I call it fascinating. There’s room for all of us here.

I love that it is full of imagery and instructions for building the Jewish temple and lots of the religious activities. The other day as I was reading I was reminded of the car license plate holder my daughter used to have. Okay, so you’re right. That is weird.

But not totally weird—hear me out. See, there was this band she liked called They Might Be Giants and she liked one of their songs so much that a friend had the license plate holder custom made for her with the title of that song on it. “Can’t Drive Out the Way We Drove in”.

There were cars in the Old Testament, you’re asking? No, of course not. Although there was a Honda in the New Testament. You know, where it says the disciples were all together in one Accord. 

(crickets chirping loudly)

But seriously, I believe everything in the Bible means something. God gave those instructions for a reason. Most of His reasons may be beyond my comprehension in this world but I am seeing a little picture here that reminded me of that song title. The people are told in chapter 46 verse nine that when they come to the temple to sacrifice, they weren’t to go out the same way they came in. Literally in by the north door and exit through the south and vice versa. I wonder, did those people consider why God gave those instructions? I imagine some of them did. I’m talking more than just crowd control measures, although that's certainly necessary at times. I mean, here they were bringing sacrifices in worship. That had to be pretty significant. After all, sacrifice indicates giving up something valuable. So going out a different door than the one they came in seems more meaningful to me than just some weird thing.

What does it mean for me thousands of years later? Could this also be a foreshadowing of when God gave up something more valuable than anything we could ever give?

Is it possible that when we meet God at that ultimate sacrifice—His son, Jesus, giving up his life on the cross, who counted everything loss for our gain, we receive something even more valuable? I think so. In the victory Jesus Christ had when He exited the tomb, we experience the change from living death to living life. We leave that encounter a different way than we came in.

Having pretty much avoided the church scene for a couple of years and now starting to get back into it, I don’t want to go in the door of a building and come back out, same old same old. It’s my desire that my life exhibit that encounter even better than having it written on my license plate holder. Not in my physical appearance or what I wear or how many church programs I get involved in. But in how I view myself and others and God. Hope that’s not too weird.

Have you had that encounter? In what ways are you different as a result?

                                          An open gate invitation.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Right Place, Right Time

 As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength.” Psalm 138:3 (New Living Translation)

Why did I decide to soar into the blogosphere at this particular time in history? I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I’ve been taking a look at the way things fell into place at the right time.

Blogging’s been around for a couple of decades now. I remember a couple friends starting blogs maybe eight or nine years ago and I’d visit their sites but they weren’t terribly active on them. I dabbled a bit when I had a myspace account around 2007 but didn’t carry on with it either. Hadn’t really figured out what use the blog was to me.

My sister began a blog when she and her husband went to Macedonia on a short term mission trip as a means of updating the prayer team back home. She enjoyed doing it so much that she kept it up after she got home, figuring after all, that every day lives can be on mission. Reading her posts gave me a much better idea of what blogging was about. Started reading other active blogs too. My sister suggested that I might enjoy putting up a blog. But I really didn’t know what I would do with it.

Last fall I seriously thought about it. Journaled and prayed about it. Considered what to name it. But there was a major drawback. I didn’t have my own computer. I’d had one for a number of years but sadly it succumbed to a major global hacking assault last summer. I was fortunate to have backed up my photos and writing on a flash drive prior to the crash.

And so I began praying for another computer of my own.

Now, I still had access to a computer, my husband’s laptop. But because he uses it for work I never felt at ease to spend time writing or creating anything on it. He usually leaves it home while he’s gone during the day but due to the nature of his work, he often pops in at home at unscheduled times and needs to use it. If I’m disrupted in the middle of deep creative time my thought train jumps the track and it takes a long time to get it back on the rails. So I was reluctant to even start anything like a blog.

After a couple of years of staying away from church and women’s ministry due to a painful situation in that area, from January to May of this year I attended a women’s Bible study with a friend. In our small group I began to share a bit about my writing and received affirmation and encouragement.

A friend of my daughter’s offered me a used laptop he had sitting unused in storage. An exciting answer to prayer! Not! (Well, not that prayer anyway.) It was really, really old, a dinosaur, like twenty years old. As soon as we put the anti-virus program on so I could go on-line, it ran so slow it was like it was going backwards. Disappointing? Yes, but the amazing thing was that I was able to practice patient acceptance in my circumstance. A gift and a lifeline that held secure through the months.

During the summer I joined a book club discussion group with some of the ladies from the Bible study, another lifeline.

At the end of July another friend of my daughter’s brought me a laptop that needed a good home. This is a computer with an operating system that was actually made in this century. It’s better than my husband’s laptop! He’s just a wee bit jealous.

Thank you, Lord, for a computer of my own!

Two days after that prayer was answered, I received a request to share my testimony with the book club discussion group at the next meeting. I used this laptop of my own to write out that testimony.

Meanwhile several ‘tutoring’ sessions on how to set up my blog occurred with my personal blogging guru, aka my dear sister, via Skype. Exciting new territory for me!

August 10th I shared my testimony with the book club. More affirmation and encouragement on my writing. “You need to put this out there for people to read,” someone said. I think she meant in a book but let’s just take it one step at a time.

I made my testimony part of my ‘first’ official blog post August 13th.

Wait a minute, you’re saying. What about that verse you posted at the beginning? It says God answered you as soon as you prayed. But you had to wait a whole year for a computer of your own. Ah, yes. I waited for the computer. But God immediately gave me the strength to do so patiently and with acceptance. You know that Bible study I attended from January to May? It was Beth Moore’s study on the book of James. I think this wait of mine illustrates the kind of thing James was talking about in the very first chapter. Verses 2-4 tell us, “you should be happy when you have all kinds of tests. You know these prove your faith. It helps you not to give up. Learn well how to wait so you will be strong and complete and in need of nothing.” (New Live Version)

And there you have it. A computer of my own at the right place, right time. Plus strength in the waiting.

What are you waiting for with patient acceptance?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Who’s the Boss?

It’s a conversation we have often, my hubby and I.

No, no! Not about whether he’s the boss or I am! No need to answer that question. Ha, ha, ha!

No, my man Eddie was voicing his musings again the other morning as to why he feels that working for someone else in a job has more validity than working for himself.

There must be something about oatmeal that gives me insight. Well, at least this time, because that’s what I was eating just then when the thought came to me. And Eddie recognized my ‘aha’ look and responded with his ‘go ahead, lay it on me’ look. Hey, after thirty-six years of marriage, we’ve got the communication by facial expression thing down pretty well.

I said, “Honey, it’s a life-long pursuit of yours, looking for affirmation from someone in authority, the affirmation you didn’t receive from the ones that were ‘supposed’ to provide it. There are jobs where the boss does give that and there are bosses that don’t. Parents that give it and parents that don’t.”

I suggested looking at Colossians chapter three. Verses 22,23,24 in The Message say, “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ.” (Italics placed by me)

I said, “It’s about looking to Him for our ‘attaboys’, our affirmation, even if you’re the boss.”

Later that day I came across the following in my daily email Bible reading and found a great big ‘attaboy’ from God. (And yes, I put it in an email to my husband. He wasn’t close enough for facial expression communication by that time.)

Psalm 147
10 He takes no pleasure in the strength of a horse
    or in human might.
11 No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him,
    those who put their hope in his unfailing love. (New Living Translation)

God created each one of us with different physical traits, stamina, talents, abilities—each wonderful in their own way. And according to Genesis, God said His creation was good. Yet, those physical attributes count as nothing to Him compared to our hearts’ and minds’ decision to put our hope in Him. We all have the same ability to choose to do that. We don’t all have the strong muscles but we do all have what it takes for God to delight in us. From the very core of our being, reverencing, acknowledging Him, placing our hope in His love—the love that never fails.

Whatever my job, or yours, whether we work for ourselves or others, our heavenly Father takes a shine to us doing so with an attitude of looking to Him as The Boss.

Hubby’s facial expression says, ‘got it!’

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Note Scribbled to Myself

Do you write notes in church? It’s really okay if you do!

But if you’re looking at MY notes scribbles and thinking, “What a mess,” well, stop looking—they’re not for your benefit! These scribbles will serve to remind me days later of the ‘take-aways’, the concepts meant for my heart, my mind, my soul. Maybe at a moment when I most need them. The neat thing is that the Holy Spirit works through a sermon in an individual way. So what I take-away in my notes might be different than what you take-away. But I don’t want to be selfish with my take-aways. So guess what?! I’m going to share them with you today!

This past Sunday I had the privilege of sitting with my husband at Saddleback Church and listening to Nick Vujicic speak encouraging words that my heart needed. I can’t give it to you verbatim but I can share with you insights that made an impression on me. (The message however is archived on the church website)

Nick, by the way, commented that he loves to see people taking notes, not because it makes him feel good, but because he wants people to be able to look up later any quotes from the Bible that he uses and spend time thinking about them for their own benefit.

My ears and fingers caught a few concepts to muse on later (and to make your reading easier I’ve cleaned up the scribbles a bit. You’re welcome!):
The enemy attacks by influencing our thoughts and attitudes to try to keep us from God’s truth. Here’s Truth.
·        Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. (New Living Translation)
·        Jeremiah 29:11-14a   “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. (NLT)

We don’t know what God can do until we give Him the broken pieces. When we give Him those broken pieces, we’re saying we have faith in Him.
·        Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (NLT)

God thinks about me all the time.
·        Psalm 139:16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. (NLT)

God thinks beautiful thoughts about me all the time.
·        Psalm 139:17-18 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me! (NLT)

Being disabled by fear and guilt is worse than no arms and no legs. The miracle of knowing God is better than having arms and legs. Moment of most impact for me: Nick commenting, “There’ve been times I’ve thought, ‘If only I had arms and legs, then I’d be happy.’ But I’m looking out at all of you, most of you have arms and legs. Are you happy?”
·        Philippians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (NLT)

When God doesn’t change the circumstances, He will use the circumstances.
·        Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (NLT)

What do we REALLY want?
To know the truth. The truth is God is sufficient.
·        Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. (NLT)

I’m thanking God for the blessing of Nick Vujicic, a man with a huge heart and a big voice. The world is being blessed by his ministry Life Without Limbs.

 And just for fun, here's the hat I wore on Sunday:
                                                       It's a great hat to muse in.