Thursday, December 14, 2017

Merry Christmas? It's just not working.

This won't be a long blog. You're busy. I'm busy. The world is crazy busy, especially this time of year. And I need to get out and ring a bell.

In order for you to understand where I am going with this Merry Christmas? It's just not  working blog thing, you need to know that this year I answered a cry from the Salvation Army for more bell-ringers. I had been asking God to show me where I could serve...I tend to get paralyzed like a deer in the headlights at all the  opportunities to minister out there and I need Him to make is so clear that I couldn't miss it. And He willingly obliged. A call went out. I heard it. And now I ring. Simple!

One thing about the Salvation Army is that it gets the job done, providing shelter, food, clothing, whatever is necessary, freely, to those in need with little going into corporate pockets. I like that. I can stand in temperatures so cold that my mouth stops working and the bell tumbles from frozen fingers for a cause like that!

But yesterday I was struggling. I don't know how other people do the bell ringing.  I've heard that some bell-ringers sing and dance and do all sorts of talented things to draw people in. But me of little talent, I just sit there and smile and wish everyone that comes in front of me a Merry Christmas!

And this is where the trouble started.

After about three days and hundreds of Merry Christmas! wishes, I began to struggle. At first I thought it was the cold, making my words slur together, But then my greeting began to sound shallow. Wrong. Out of place.

First there was the man who stopped, looked me straight in the eyes, and said, Happy Hanukah! I blinked and then replied the same to him.

Next came the sad-eyed woman that sidled up to me and stood there. She needed to tell me that her mother had died this year and the Merry just wasn't there anymore. Oh my dear, I know your pain!

And the multitude of others who had stories to tell of loss and sickness and a year that was anything but Merry. And after each story my heart grew heavier.

Between visitors I found myself singing the song, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day...repeating over and over the one verse, "There is no peace on earth, I said."

Hour after hour a parade of broken humanity walked past me. My heart cry became, "Lord, how do I bring hope into these people's lives?"  A Merry Christmas! wish is not working.

And that question has been hanging on to my heart throughout the night. And this morning it's still there.

Options have presented themselves like tidy schoolchildren for inspection...

Peace! No, they'll think I'm from the 60's and some may give me the peace sign back, and then what will I do?

The peace of the Lord be always with you! Which says more but has too many words to say over and over again to all those people. They'll think I'm drunk as my speech begins to tangle after the first hour.

Happy Holidays! Oh my, no. That's got all the makings of our secular culture.

Good Morning! Good Afternoon! Good Evening! Ugh. It not only sounds like The Truman Show, but I'm back to the same problem...Merry/Good...not going to work.

What I wish I could do is stop. And listen. And take time to meet each person where they are at...where their pain is making havoc of their lives...where their fears and questions hang them.

At times I have wanted to fold up my bucket stand and walk away. How's that for true confessions?

But I can't.

I love that so many give money, freely, to a worthy cause. And that's really why I'm there. It's the greeting that I'm struggling with.

So, this is what I've decided...

Today, I will give the gift of Presence...right there in front of that food store, next to the Sun City retirement community.

By His grace I will greet each person with a smile and a God bless you!  because only God knows where each of those precious souls are in their earthly wandering and where they need a blessing. I sure don't.

You see, they know it's Christmas. I know it's Christmas. You couldn't miss it in our culture.

But what they may not know is the reason we celebrate Christmas...that it's not about gifts and parties and busyness. If that is the only star to follow, we will end up hopeless and exhausted and broke.

Instead, Christmas is a gift of relationship...from a God who cares so passionately for us that He left the glory of Heaven to come to earth as a vulnerable infant...Who, living a sinless life, was the only worthy sacrifice for our sins...ultimately dying on the cross for our salvation. This is the message we all need to hear...over and  over and over again...not only at Christmas, but every day of every year.

The true meaning of Christmas is that God loves us so much He provided a way for us to be with Him forever...Christ Jesus, Emmanuel, God With Us.

And now, because of this Gift, we have hope every day, no matter what life throws at us.

And that is what I pray my smile and greeting will tell them.

So, on that note I leave's time to get ready to ring. Thanks for listening.

And in expectation of ringing today, I say with a full heart, God Bless You!

May the joy and hope that Christ brings be yours in abundance during this season of celebration and throughout the New Year!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The gift of a handicap

Have you ever heard the saying, "If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans?"

Well, over a week ago someone said to me, "Send me your newest blog when it's ready."

And I, confident in my ability to foresee the future, replied, "Oh it will be up tomorrow! I'll make sure I send it on to you." Laugh. Laugh.

It is now nine days later. Like the pastor said during his talk on Sunday, "What makes you think you were ever in control?"

And that is really a very good question.

I come from a long line of controlees...people who were wired to "keep it together"...a direct descendent of William Bradford who took the ultimate control and left the Old World across the Pond to establish a colony in the New World....

A Swamp Yankee by heritage...born with a bootstrap in hand and an ingrained sense of how to pull oneself up by said bootstrap on a daily basis.

The thing about bootstraps is that the more you pull on them, the stronger your boot-strap-pulling-muscles grow. It becomes second nature to pull, pull, pull. After awhile, you don't even realize you are pulling anymore.

But eventually you do realize you are tired...very, very tired. And pulling gets more and more difficult. But you can't imagine ever letting go. Pulling is the only life you have ever would life go on without your pulling?

And in that desperate moment God, in His infinite mercy, looks down upon you and plants in you a hunger for rest, which being the good controlee you are, only means you amp up your need to pull harder and make that rest-thing happen by golly!

Rest? Got it! Pull, pull, pull!

So God, in even greater mercy, steps up the trials and tribulations in your life. And you pull harder and harder...and the cycle goes on and on and on...

Until one day you can't pull anymore. And exhausted you let go, not seeing God in the midst of it, just believing that you must have failed. If you had held on just a little longer...pulled a little harder...all these trials and tribulations would not be happening.

Paul has a name for this merciful intervention by God..."The Gift of a Handicap"...

Monday, October 30, 2017

Cocooned by the will of God

It's been a long time since I've gotten excited about God.

Or anything for that matter.

I have been living in what I have called "The Year of the Great Darkness"...a year when so much has been stripped away...taken away...denied.

I have been dancing around God...eyeing Him...watching Him...waiting for Heaven knows what.

Who was this God I had bet my life on? And where was He during the days, no months, of anguish and tears and depression?

My feeble cry, my simple prayer, became, "Please, please don't forget the work of Your hands." That was it.

Some call this The Dark Night of the Soul and I have come to believe that's a fitting name for it, for the path ahead is've never traveled it before so you don't know how to get Home.

And you begin to wonder...

"Suppose the darkness never lifts?"

"Suppose you are left to wander in it forever?"

"Suppose this is the new normal and you're not sure you want to live anymore if it is?"

The verse about people in darkness seeing a great light...Isaiah 9:2...has always been one of my favorite Christmas verses. It sounded so good. So right. So Christmassy. But I never understood the horror of it until now.

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. For those who lived in a land of deep shadows- light! Sunbursts of light!"

It's one thing to maneuver around your home in a power's another thing entirely to walk in a foreign place where you are completely unfamiliar with your surroundings. 

It's frightening. I feel those people's pain. 

Now I know you're thinking, "But wait! That verse doesn't end with darkness...there's light, too!"

Yes, yes there is.

But those people walking in darkness didn't flip on the light switch. God did.

And that's what's been one of the hardest things for me to understand...this God, my Heavenly Father, could switch on the light in a heartbeat. But He hasn't. Why?

Instead, He's allowed me to wander in the dark the land of deep shadows. Why?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

When it feels like it's always winter and never Christmas

There's a line in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe that goes like this...

"Always winter, never Christmas."

Have you ever felt like that? Like day after day after day you're slogging through the gray and the wet and the dreary, thinking surely there has to be a light at the end of the much-talked-about tunnel...but finding none?

For the last four months that's what I've been day bleeding gray and hopelessness into another...looking and listening for a movement of God...but being disappointed.

It's like you've been put on hold and the silence is so noisy it's deafening...and you could scream!

To say I was feeling a little depressed...and set aside...and forgotten...would be an understatement.

Like a wild cat confined to a cage, I was beginning to pace. And roar. And lash out.

I hated who I was becoming but no matter how hard I tried, I could not fight off the darkness surrounding me.

There were many reasons for issues...a restricted way of eating that was taking away all my comfort and joy and mom being in critical condition, swaying on a pendulum between life and death...a husband in pain, awaiting a hip replacement...and on and on and on. On one of those stress scales I was probably off the charts, hanging on by a very thin thread.

I was angry at God...the God Who supposedly "Is There" but evidently not where I was. No matter how I struggled to apply all those spiritual disciplines that are supposed to yield fruit and answers, all I got was nothing. Nada. Just me, myself, and I in a dark night of my soul, waiting for the Son to rise...

And not doing it very well. Not at all.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Daring to be vulnerable

When I was in CT recently, I bought a stained glass piece at the Goodwill...the sight of a jeweled hummer perched on a branch overlooking a peaceful pond and majestic mountains brought me great a time when joy was at a minimum.

I have a passion for glass...I love how it embraces light and then throws it off in a myriad of shades of color. I have drenched my house in it...from an assortment of glass balls hanging in my windows to crystals that shower my living room in dancing rainbows when the sun comes up...all of it makes my heart sing. I'm not a pottery person, though I do own a few pieces. To me it seems heavy of body and it wants to soar but it can't get its feet of clay off the ground.

So today when I read something interesting from my devotional about broken fragments...which my stained glass piece would have been in had I tried to fly it back with me on the touched something within me. I'm eager to get my piece has been on my mind lately...and perhaps that's why this reading clicked with me. It is a little long, but it is all important...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Out of the ashes

What amazes me is how I am always motivated to write a blog post on a day that is already full to overflowing with things that must be now...time is of the essence!

I like to think it's part of God's sense of remind me Who really is in control here...and to trust Him that if I do what He wants, when He wants, He'll be faithful to meet my needs. So, chicken coop cleaning, planting, pickle making,'re in God's hands now!

Instead of my normal devotions this morning, I picked up the Pilgrim's Progress book that we are using for our group study tomorrow night, thinking that by doing this, with all I have to do today, I could easily kill two birds with one stone. Such can be my fickle thinking when I am busy!

But once again, God had the last laugh because writing this blog will take way more time than it would have for me to read both the devotional and the book!

So, let me ask you, have you ever wondered if your life is in vain? Not that you are ungrateful for your life, or you want it to end, but that sometimes it can be so hard to remain faithful in a time or situation that doesn't seem to be changing?

Or, maybe you're not seeing the purpose to your trials...

Or the fruit of your faithfulness...

And you're growing weary...and thinking it may not be worth it...and maybe it's time to QUIT.

If so, the following excerpt from Pilgrim's Progress is just for you! This classic was written in is the epic story of a man from the city of Destruction who undertakes a pilgrimage to the Celestial City and all that he encounters on the way...

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Rewriting the desires of your heart...Lord, it ain't easy!

Prepare yourself for an honest, heart-to heart blog...I need to write it but you are not obligated to read it! But, if you struggle with some area of your life, and sometimes it just feels so freakin' hard, read on...


So this morning, after a night when I should have just surrendered and gotten up and watched old movies, I read a section from Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst, a fellow soldier in the war on satisfying our deepest desires with God and not other things.

The first part talked about man not living by bread alone, and that in itself was something to think about. But then it went on to say...from her heart...

"And I don't want this spiritual journey and the physical victories I've experienced to stop. So, the very next choice I make is a crucial one. Literally, it will determine if I am walking the path of victory or compromise. One wise choice can lead to two, can lead to three, can lead to a thousand, can lead to the sweet place of utter dependence on God and lasting discipline. A place more worthy than brief vacations every now and then. A place our souls were made to call home.

A place where discipline makes disciples who truly understand what it means to delight themselves in the Lord, for the Lord has been allowed to rewrite the desires of their hearts. It's a place not wrought with sacrifice but rather a place where they see healthy choices as overflowing blessings so pure and rich, they'd never trade them."

How does God know these things? Does He read minds? Does He sit there and look in a big book and say, "AHA! Today's the day I need to smack this one in front of her?"


Don't ever tell the Lord you want to hear from Him unless you mean business. He's way too good at what He does.

So, Hilton Head is coming up next week. Usually one of my favorite times of the year. All the things that bring me joy are, bike rides, walks on the beach, my favorite garden center and birding spots...and restaurants that in the past have made my tummy sing.

And therein is the problem...

This year I don't want to go.  There, I said it. I don't want to go. Ted knows it. I know it. And God knows it. Because this year it will not be the same. And I desperately miss the same old same old right about now.

Going this year involves bringing a boat load of food, spices, oils, blenders and slow cookers and mixers and a gazillion other things I need in order to prepare what I can eat. And we are in a third floor condo!

It means doing things differently...letting go of a lot of traditions and forming new ones...all of which sounds like a lot of work to me.

And it's all the fault of this eating plan I'm following. Have I told you before how much it consumes my life? How it seems every minute of every day is either spent thinking of when I need to eat, what I need to eat, what supplement to take, or what test to monitor? And money wise? Yeah, I could build a covered deck and re-roof my house and take a few cool trips for what this is costing me.

Today I'm trying to figure it out. I went to bed last night in tears, and it was all over 2 e-mails I had saying that I will need to cook for myself on this vacation, but yes, I can cook one night for the others. We had always divided up the nightly meals to give each of us women a break...which was such a help!

And then I went on to read that one night we would be having pizza! And that's what sent me to bed in tears.

Don't get me wrong...I know the e-mails were written in love, by those not wanting to sabotage my way of's so ridiculously fine tuned that no one should have to embrace it.

And the pizza part? Hey, it's tradition! Along with ice cream in front of movies at night, and ice cream cones at Sea Pines, and lunch out with the girls after our day of bargain shopping.

You see, no matter how much people say they are proud of me, or encourage me, they can't understand how hard it is to live with a health issue that involves something you deal with on a daily basis and definitely can't live without. I mean, heroin addicts don't hang out in heroin dens when they are looking to heal, right? Or alcoholics in bars? But what do you do when your issue is food and it's everywhere and you've got to have it?

And it's such a social part of life...

And its smells hold memories that you can't stop from invading your mind no matter how hard you try...

And all the places you used to go to and love are no longer compliant and it is no longer a joy to go out, but a BIG DEAL...

Or someone says "We're having pizza!" and your world crumbles and for a few minutes or hours you wonder, "Is this really worth it?"

Honestly, I miss some foods. They were my enablers...and even though I know they are killing me, it's hard to let go of years of friendship with them and now call them enemies.

So, me and my organic coffee with coconut milk and stevia are sitting here on the deck this morning trying to remember how I felt when my blood sugar was through the blood pressure in the red range... my weight going up and up. Was it really that bad back then? I mean, at least I got to do some really cool food eating! And you know, I never knew how sick I was because of the food I was body had just adjusted itself to sickness and called it normal.

Then the Lord smashed into my thoughts and brought to mind what happened last weekend when I tried to re-introduce eggs into my diet...a simple thing like eggs! I felt like I wanted to die. Those traitors, we have been best buds for years! And now they have gone rogue, too? I'm not sure if I was sadder about the sickness they brought on, or all the things it meant I could no longer make without them.

Anyway, back to what I read this morning...

First, "Man does not live by bread alone." Well, ain't that the truth? Haven't seen bread in any form for over a month and I'm sure I won't be seeing it...gluten-free or otherwise...for a very, very long time.

But I don't think it was the bread part God was stressing, important as it is...

It was this part I shared above...

"And I don't want this spiritual journey and the physical victories I've experienced to stop. So, the very next choice I make is a crucial one. Literally, it will determine if I am walking the path of victory or compromise. One wise choice can lead to two, can lead to three, can lead to a thousand, can lead to the sweet place of utter dependence on God and lasting discipline. A place more worthy than brief vacations every now and then. A place our souls were mad to call home.

How does He know about my vacation?

How does He know that all I have to do is hear the word home and my heart melts?

I'm glad I don't have to get myself or my act or my face together to meet with the Lord this morning...I'd never hear from him otherwise!

Once again, it's all about choices...discipline (shudder)...reaping what you sow...for good or bad.

And once again I'm called to look at my life through a different lens...not the rose colored ones I wore for years...

One that doesn't see pizza and cheese and ice cream as fun foods...good foods...celebration foods, but as poison for me...

Where salads and meats and vegetables are my friends...not my enemies...who desire good things for me, and not ruin...

Where good choices (and God knows how desperately I need His strength to make them) meal at time...are the daily key to victory or failure.

I know to many of you, these issues seem like small ones...but to me they are giants...breaking the stronghold of 59 years of anything is ridiculously hard.

My daughter says, "Be honest and share" so I am.

I am not a super woman.

I am not stronger or more able to make good choices than the next person.

I'm me....fragile and weak and at times very lonely in this new way of living.

But I don't want it to rob me of my that God has placed in my life abundantly so I can remember how rich I am and why life is still worth living no matter how hard it seems.

So, today I will choose to see Hilton Head as a blessing.

Just a different kind of blessing.

And I will choose to do something else the night all the others enjoy pizza...maybe sit by the pool and read and eat a salad. Me and God.

And I will, by God's grace, do life one meal at a choice at a day at a time.

That is my choice.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Do not go gentle into that good night...really?

I've got a lot on my mind today...things that are so big and weighty and feel like they could crush me if I didn't have a strong-shouldered Lord.

All my plans to plant and clean and plan for an upcoming trip are taking a backseat to my need to sit and think and pray and wait. Funny how life butts in and flings our best laid plans into the wind.

As many of you know, my mom is back in ICU, sedated, strapped down for her own good, waiting for who knows what. My dad and sister will be going to the hospital today to meet with her doctor and talk through a plan of action.

Dad called last night, and I knew from the moment I heard his shaky voice that something was wrong. And something wrong always has the word "Mom" attached to it these days.

He wanted to talk...about life. About death. About living wills and how hard it is on those who are called to figure them out.

We talked from our hearts...a sacred place that both of us have guarded for years...him, in his Swamp Yankee upbringing where emotions were to be kept private... and me, not sure if I could risk being that vulnerable. Our relationship has become a gift...still a work in progress. God knows it had to be, for such a time as this.

So, as my world narrowed and all I could hear was his bleeding heart pouring out in words, I listened. I had no answers. I am not God, though Heaven knows that many times in my life I thought I was. All I could say at the end was that I believed with all my heart that if/when the time came to make that decision, that God would give him peace that it WAS THE TIME...with no doubts or regrets. How could anyone go on if not for that?

Like I said, no one should be put in that situation. Especially after almost 60 years of marriage.

Oh, I did say one more thing...Please don't do anything until the daughters can get there to say good-bye. I don't know why I said it. It made the words he had just shared way too real.

So here I sit this morning. Waiting. Dad and my sister are now on their way to the Mom and Doctors and words and emotions and more words and emotions. And Decisions, with a capital "D".

I have the easy part. Writing is my keeps me sane. Oh, and the other trick I have to keeping my sanity? Go to the bathroom, wherever you are, when you are stressed, and text someone for help...for prayer...for words of encouragement. I just told that to my sister and I'm sure she laughed, remembering how I accidentally left my phone in the nursing home bathroom last time I was up to see my Mom. I'm expecting to receive many bathroom texts today...

Something I read this morning keeps resonating through my was written by the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas...

"Do not go gently into that good night..."

Irrationally I find myself wanting to whisper that in my mother's ear...I see myself standing by her bedside, bending down, holding tightly on to her hand...

Fight death, Mom! Your husband and your family need you to!  And besides, it's the American Way...don't back down, don't give in, don't give up.

So I read the rest of the poem...the first stanza of which is...

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

What's funny is that I don't see my mom raging or raving. And that's not how I want to remember her. Yes, she could fight for one more day, one more week, one more month or year, but in the end, she, like all of us, must die. There's no other way to go Home.

I would not wish for her to continue on this earth forever. There is so much wonderful about this world, but there is also so much broken and fractured. No one should be here forever.

So that is where I am resting...that no matter what the outcome of today's meeting, it is good. 

And Mom, if I could say one thing to you right now, and I believe the Lord can whisper in your ear 800 miles away, this is what I would say...

"Don't rage. Just rest in His love and goodness for you. And please, please, don't be have a Heavenly Father who will never leave you nor forsake you...He knows the way Home. And your family? Don't worry about us...we have enough memories to last us the rest of our have made us rich. Whether its here or There, Mom, we still have so much to look forward to...this is just the first Act...the best is yet to come. I love you with a never-ending love."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

And I saw in my dream...a turtle...

I bet you're thinking this blog will be about a dream I had. And you're right! But before I get to the dream, which I am purposely withholding until the very end of this ramble, you will need to be patient and read the blog from start to finish, otherwise the dream will make absolutely no sense. So, be patient and read on!

As most of you know, I am on a wellness/healing body has gone rogue and has been very mean spirited for years now. My new doctor, whom I adore, has made it clear that if I want to go on living, and do it well, there are some major changes that need to take place. Boy, was that an understatement!

Last night my sister asked me if I would want to post about this nightmare, er, journey I am on and I told her a gazillion other people have done it already so why me? But this morning I thought, "Those gazillion people do not know me or get to read my humble blog" so what the hey. And since this journey is not just about eating, maybe it can help and encourage someone else who's in similar circumstances. After all, that IS what this blog is about!

So, because of you my dear sister, here goes...this comes from my journal this morning...

This journey has been so much harder than I ever thought! When I began, I was starry-eyed and in a state of denial, I am sure of it. I foolishly believed that I had the strength and will power to eat nothing but meat and certain veggies and consume untold numbers of supplements for 30 days with no problem. No diary? Who cares! Chocolate? That is so passe! Grains? Who needs 'em, there's cauliflower rice! Nuts? Tomatoes? Sugar? Small things in the scheme of life! Now I can only wonder at my naivete and self-confident foolishness. What was I thinking? 

I knew in my head that food was my "drug of choice" but I never realized how dependent I am on it for happiness and fulfillment...popcorn and cheese for movie night, taco salad on Sundays, nuts and ice cream in front of the TV, Saturday night pizza, waking up in the morning and thinking of all the glorious food options for the day and how much happiness that food would bring. Now I wake up and groan...and roll back over, sheets covering my head. No eggs and cheese for omelettes? Life is so not worth living! 

My life as I knew it has ended. This way of eating eats up my time...I feel like my whole life is spent shopping or studying or planning or's all about food...and not the kind of food that I had known and grown to love!

Now, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has brought these health issues into my life for a reason. He could see what I couldn't...that  my biggest problem was not a health one, but a spiritual one. God knows that until I crave Him more than food I will always be captive to it. My head understands this but my flesh is fighting it like a Ninja warrior...there are days I want to quit as I scream out, "Who the hell cares? If I die, at least I'll die with a smile on my face, eating the food I love." And therein, my friends, is the LIE I have been will never love us and we were never made to love food. Or anything. More than God. Ouch.

Friday, April 21, 2017

When the race seems hard and quitting's not an option

This past week I've been doing some testing for my doctor...take 2 pills for breakfast, note results. 3 pills for lunch, note results. 5 pills for dinner, ditto. For 2 days I did this.

The results were supposed to note whether or not I experienced anxiety. Heart palpitations. Any irregularities.

I almost told my doctor, as I was mentally rolling on the floor laughing, that we can save the money on these babies...I already know I am anxious! But I smiled and paid and did what was required.

All to say, the tests showed nothing...I guess he will have the last laugh.

But I'm not laughing.

You see, for several years now I have been experiencing worsening health conditions. My previous doctor put me on a gluten-free diet to help, and I guess it has to some degree. But in the meantime, my autoimmune disease has been playing hide and seek...popping up in the strangest ways...causing my body to go rogue on me.

I am not happy with my disobedient body.

So, recently I signed on with a new functional/wellness doctor who specializes in Thyroid Disease and all that means...and it means a lot.

Before our first meeting last week, I spent a lot of time studying health...specifically my health, and what the options were to ever live an energy-filled, optimistic life again.

So, I shouldn't have been surprised when during our hour long session, after diagrams and explanations and more explanations, he trounced me with the Big Remedy Plan...

No Gluten. Ha, got that down pat! No grains. Okay, that doesn't sound too hard. No sugar. Um, not sure how that's going to work. No Dairy. Wait just a you have gone too far!

Knowing I should be saying, "Wow, you are so right and I will do whatever it takes to get well again," instead I found myself saying, "What?? No cheese? I love cheese! It is my comfort food of choice!"

And from there it half and half for my coffee? No more gluten-free bagels with cream cheese? Or gluten-free noodles drenched in cheese sauce? No more popcorn and cheddar cheese and milkshakes on Sunday nights?

I do not like you, Sam I am. At all.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Standing at the edge of a grave...or...why it is better to have loved and lost.

Dearest loved one...

I felt your pain as we stood in the cold misty rain yesterday...

Staring into a deep, clay-colored hole in the forest floor...

Cardboard box by your side.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw another grave...draped in a shroud of soggy, colorless leaves...

Of another pet we had loved and lost...our never-too-smart, but dearly loved rescue dog from Mexico...Venga.

I would have given anything to spare you the pain I saw written on your face.

First Corinthians does a great job of telling us what love is...

But it doesn't touch on the heart-wrenching pain that love brings.

At times like this, it can be so hard to remember that this is not all there is...

That this cramped hallway we call life here, leads to Life There.

As Dad shoveled the clods of dirt onto Smeagol's box, a thought penetrated my daze...

Smeagol is not here! He's There...with Venga!

I could envision Venga prancing up on her back legs, goofy look in her eyes as she bent down to nuzzle Smeagol...

Who was purring with delight at finding a familiar friend...a loved one...waiting for him There.

And Smeagol was whole again!

Plump, with lungs that no longer labored for each breath...restored...and deliriously happy!

I wanted to smile and high-five a God who makes all things new, but I dared not.

"Why does God have to take the things we love?" you sobbed.

I wish I could have answered you yesterday with what I know today with all my heart...

Friday, January 27, 2017

Call the Attendant!

Blogs are born from days like these.

Be forewarned...any image you had of me wearing a halo will be shattered by the time you are done reading this!

And so the story begins...

It was the seventh stop of the day, with two more to go.

I was attempting to kill all my birds with one stone, and so far success was mine!

Thinking number seven would be a quick in and grab some medications from the pharmacy and some cheese from the Deli,

I parked the car easily in front of the store (which should have been a warning sign) and scurried in, only to be met with...

"Um, sorry Mrs. Tencza, I have a call in to the doctor's office for refills but they are not returning the call."

Say what? Seriously, this is the third time this has happened! 

It was then I knew Houston had a problem.

"Give me the Doctor's number and I'll give them a piece of my mind," I mindlessly declared.

Whoa, red light flashing....Warning...Warning.

Fumbling for my phone in my overcrowded purse, I hastily dialed the number, only to be met with a recording stating, "All parties are in a meeting and are not available. Your message will be transferred to a voice mailbox."

What the?

What doctor's office does not answer their phone? Suppose it was an emergency??

Determined that I had made a mistake and reached an unknown party, I tried again...pacing up and down the Burt's Bees aisle of the pharmacy...mind churning...eyes taking in all the fun things I could be buying instead of trying to reach these...

But again, the same message. 


It was then I heard the pounding of blood in my head...which is never, ever a good sign.
Okay, let's try this One. More. Time. 

But instead of hanging up and saving face, I left a message...basically stating that...

"I'm sorry, but what the heck is going on?? I NEED MY MEDS!"

Hanging up, I draped myself over the side of the pharmacy counter and looked the pharmacist straight in the eye and pronounced that I had given them hell and she should be hearing from the doctor's office any minute now.

As the pharmacist warily handed me 5 little pills to hold me over, I patted myself on the back and self-righteously stomped across to the store to the deli, for what should have been the simple act of buying cheese.

Now, sweet deli-girl that she was, evidently she couldn't tell low-salt cheese from the real thing and after slicing a pound and a half remembered that I did not ask for the low-salt stuff and proceeded to throw said bad cheese into the garbage pail, apologizing profusely for her stupidity.

Are you kidding?? You threw it away?? I would have taken it!!

Alright, let's try this one again. And she did...very, very, slowly.

It was at that point that I knew I was going to need an infusion of my favorite drug...Kumbucha while she sliced, I searched...2 bottles because one was definitely not going to be enough.

Back to the deli...cheese is almost

Finally! Victory! I'm outta here!

Alas, it was not to be...

I had time for one final fool-making the self-checkout.

As they say in High School Musical, "Will the carnage never cease?"

Why was I not surprised that after Every. Single. Swipe. on that infernal machine a message came up saying,,,

Call the Attendant. 

Every. Single, Time.

So, I did what any sane woman would do...

I started talking back to the machine. Loudly.

What do you mean, CALL THE ATTENDANT?? The item IS IN THE BAG!!

What is your problem??

And you know what the worst part was?

I didn't even know I was talking to it!

Not until the young woman on the machine next to mine stopped what she was doing and exclaimed,

"My, we are having an attitude today!"


I looked at her and replied, "Haven't you ever had one of those days?"

You know, the kind where you just had blood work done...your mom is in the ICU...your husband is on a heart monitor with a Cardiologist appointment're waiting on x-ray results to show why your husband has such bad pain in his hip, knee, and can't find your daughter's favorite cat...and you think it's time to find a job. That kind of day??

No, I didn't tell her all that...but I heard it screaming in my head.

And I sighed.

Out of the heart the mouth speaks...

And mine had said a mouthful.

Thanking the Attendant who had come to help me four times, I left the store and crawled home.

But it wasn't until this morning, after a good night of little sleep, that the irony of yesterday hit me...

"Call the Attendant."


Just like that poor guy in the store yesterday...available every time I needed him...

Jesus would be there for me...every single time...through all the craziness that is my life right now.

Oh, me of little faith! Was it only 3 days ago that the Lord had sat me down and encouraged me with these words?

Deuteronomy 31

It is the Lord Who goes before you!
He will march with you!
He will not fail you!
Or let you go!
Or forsake you!
Let there be no cowardice
Or flinching.
But fear not!
Neither become broken in spirit
And unnerved with alarm!

And Psalm 23

Goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life.

Which makes me think...and Lord knows I need to stop and do that more often these days...

If the Lord goes before me...marches with me...and goodness and mercy and unfailing love follow me...

What more do I need?

I am surrounded by God!

There's this hard-to-remember truth in the Bible that says when I am weak, He is strong.

I just don't always remember that when I am in crisis mode...or in everyday mode for that matter. 

I need to be reminded.

So, He sends me days like yesterday...

To remind me that I can't do this out-of-control journey of life by myself.

It would be insane and unnecessary.

And oh, so foolish.