Thursday, April 30, 2015

Picking up starfish and other 3 a.m. meditations

It's 3 a.m.

Do you know where your cats are?

I know where mine are...

They are outside our bedroom door, wailing like banshees because we won't let them outside.

I hate this time of year.

Well, any time of year when it involves cats.

But especially this time of year...when the baby birds leave their nests and my cats think it's a smorgasbord on tiny little feet.

My apologies to those of you who adore cats.

There are cat lovers. And dog lovers. I am a none-of-the-above-lover.

So, you rightly ask, how come you have cats?

Because I am a sucker.

Because my heart is too big.

The same reason I do so many things.

Almost ten years ago, a friend found three adorable, innocent kittens alongside their mother in the middle of the road. The mother was dead and they needed rescuing.

Enter sucker. Me.

My daughter, bless her heart as they say in the South, needed a kitten. Or two.

I admit it's the third one that's my fault. I mean really, how can you say "yes" to two siblings and not the third? It would be like splitting up a family. Sigh.

And that, friends, is the story of my life...

Hi, I'm Arlene. I'm a sucker for anything hurting or broken. I want to save the world, and by golly, I'll do it or die trying. I'll even give up sleeping for a month if need be!

It's a sickness I inherited from my mom. Yup, she's to blame...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

10,000 reasons for your heart to sing!

I don't normally write two blogs in one week.

When the Spirit whispered this morning that I need to write this blog NOW, I flinched...

My first thought was, "But I have already written one blog this week! No one is going to want to hear from me again!"

And then He reminded me that it's not me who writes these blogs, but Him.


So, this morning I was playing catch-up in the book we use for Wednesday night Bible study: The Good and Beautiful God - falling in love with the God Jesus knows.

Now don't abandon me here...I'm not going to go all preachy on you.

But I am going to entice you to do some thinking as you move throughout your day...

With eyes wide open and an expectant heart.

As I wrote in a previous blog this week, times of sorrow and loss and challenge can hit us in the gut and leave us reeling...

And wondering, "Where is God in the midst of this?"

Good question.

The answer comes in knowing God...His nature...who He is.

Faith is not blind...we do not hand over earthly treasures to someone we do not know.

That is called foolish.

In the same way, we cannot trust a God we do not know.

How can we know God is good, when all around us we see brokenness and pain and suffering?

But what else do we see?

It depends what we are looking for...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Magnificent Heartbreak

Wherever humans garden magnificently,
there are magnificent heartbreaks.
 Henry Mitchell

Forgive me, Henry, but I'd like to make a substitution...

Wherever humans live magnificently,
there are magnificent heartbreaks.
Arlene Tencza

We attended a wedding this past weekend...the glorious culmination of many years of waiting and praying and dreaming on the part of two people.

As I sat there watching them come together for their first dance, arms wrapped around one another, eyes dripping love and adoration, a song popped into my mind...

And hot tears began to flood my eyes.

My son noticed, and asked gently, "Mom, are you sad?"

Yes, yes I was.

Because I had just finished remarking to someone I hadn't seen in years, how tragic it is that it takes weddings and funerals to get us together.

And because I have learned that life is full of snapshots...fleeting moments like these...

That we need to pay attention to, or they are forever lost.

Gifts we need to embrace and hold on to...

To give us the strength to get through the storms that will inevitably come.

And ultimately, the day we will hear the news that stops our hearts and puts a period on the life of someone we love.

Yesterday I walked into church and shared with my Priest what a great plant sale he had missed that Friday, but how I was sure having a day with his grand-babies more than made up for it.

"I never knew it could be so wonderful!" was his ecstatic reply.

"Yes, and with great love comes great pain," said I, as he knowingly nodded his head.

You see, right before church, I had heard of a tragedy to the EMS community, of which my daughter and many of her friends is a part...

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ready or not, This Is Your Life!

I am going to date myself...

Remember the TV show, This Is Your Life? 

"Each week, an unsuspecting celebrity would be lured by some ruse to a location near the studio. The celebrity would then be surprised with the news that that they are to be the featured guest. Next, the celebrity was escorted into the studio, and one by one, people who were significant in the guest's life would be brought out to offer anecdotes." IMDB review

I was pretty young and impressionable when I watched that show...pigtails and plaid jumper, black patent leather Mary Jane's and white lace socks...sitting in front of a black-and-white TV on an avocado sofa.

Saturday morning cartoons, Lawrence Welk, My Three Sons, The Dick Van Dyke show...

I grew up on a veritable smorgasbord of what are now TV classics.

And I loved them all...still do.

But I have to wonder now how impressionable I was then...

For instance, in one Brady Bunch Show there was a contest to see who could keep the cleanest house...a judge would stop by unexpectedly to rate their home, and if they had the cleanest house, voila! they would appliances I think. You can only imagine how that played out!

I was so naive, that for many years I thought this would happen to our family day, someone would knock on our door and, with checklist in hand, determine whether our house was worthy of a prize.

I wanted a prize so badly that I worked hard at keeping our house spotless.

You got one ever came...but we did have a clean house.

Silly, I know. Childlike...

But back to the series, "This is Your Life"...

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Don't like? Don't want it? Get rid of it! Or not.

"Does something have value only because it's useful?"

This question pries itself into my not-yet-awake mind as I sit on our deck, watching a Spring morning come to life.

It's a riot of activity, and colors, and senses are on overload...

Nearby, a Chickadee is singing its heart out, hoping to attract a willing mate.

In the front garden a Thrush is joyously sending up sprays of water from a birdbath, popping its head up once in a while to see if the other birds are jealous.

Screams from a soaring Red-Tailed Hawk above, and a Barred Owl in the woods behind, silence all activity for a moment.

You could hear a pine needle drop.

Until all is deemed safe, and the feeding and mating and joyous ruckus continues.

This is my favorite way to begin my day...

With the help of a robust cup of coffee, my senses are wooed to life...

And the thoughts and questions begin to ramble through my mind.

And that's how the "usefulness" question started...

I was watching a Chickadee hop down the branches of the Persimmon tree next to the deck, heading for the weathered birdhouse hanging from the lowest branch.

Many years ago we had planted that Persimmon tree in high hopes and expectations...and with an ulterior motive...

That someday it would produce succulent fruit that would lure birds in for our viewing pleasure.

At least that is what is was supposed to do...

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

How to suffer by keeping your mouth shut

Every fourth Sunday of the month I go through agony.

Self-induced agony at that.

I know it's coming, and I can't avoid it.

Nor do I want to.

Nursing Home Sunday.

From the moment I receive the Scriptures for that week, my mind becomes preoccupied...everything else takes a back seat to "Whatever am I going to say?".

For a woman who loves words, this should not be a problem!

It's not like there will be a crowd...usually a dozen or less residents show up.

And most of them won't hear what I'm saying.

And if they do, they will likely forget the message long before the end of the day!

Usually it goes something like this...

I pray. I study. I write. I pray more fervently. Lose some sleep. Wake up Sunday morning wondering what I have gotten myself into.

Who am I to think I have anything to say?

I don't.

And that's the whole point.

Every. Single. Time. I stand there and am amazed.

By faith I open my mouth.

By grace the miracle happens...