Monday, December 17, 2018

The desperately needed gift of Hope

I woke up this morning thinking, I can't do this.

I'm weary and tired and frustrated and ready to run.

I can't dance any faster and yet the music keeps after day after day.

No matter how hard I try, I can't rise above the feelings of despair...and that if I just tried harder I could outrun the issues that are sucking the life out of me right now.

Have you ever felt like that?

Like no matter how hard you try, it's just not working?

By wiring and nature I am a Helper. God knows I wish I wasn't. Because I spend a lot of my time investing in other people and causes. Because I care. I truly do.

But what about when others around you aren't Helpers? When they are on their own fast track to who-knows-where and the rush of their speed going past you blows you aside and leaves you struggling to regain your balance?

Helpers have a major weakness. Well, more than one, but let's talk about just the one today...

We are good at taking care of everyone and everything else...

But we don't help ourselves.

When things go wrong, instead of realizing we can't control others or their choices, we wonder what we could have done differently.

We internalize other people's pain deeply and want to carry it for them, instead of letting go and allowing them to learn...often the hard way...the necessary way...the lessons that can only come  through pain and bad choices.

When Helpers are in an unhealthy it at work or at church or wherever...we absorb the negativity, thinking we'll dump it later. But we rarely do.

Helpers can be a mess.

And that's why sometimes it can feel so hope-less.

And so heavy.

And so heart-breaking.

And that's how I woke up this morning.

I needed a kind encouraging word...someone to get off their own fast track and notice that I was being sucked under the train wheels.

All I could see was a day of NEEDS. I wanted to roll over and hide...or get on a plane to AZ.

But that's not what Helpers do!

I could hear the pitter-patter of little doggy feet out in the hallway, eagerly awaiting my arrival...

Birds chattering outside the bedroom window...wondering why I had left them no food on such a cold morning...

And minutes ticking by that needed to be filled with all that was ahead on this pre-Christmas day when work was looming in late afternoon.

Well, you get it.

So up I arose...all the while crying out desperately for strength to keep-on-keeping-on for just one more day.

And then something amazing happened...a miracle!

I was in the laundry room, shifting over the load I had left late last night, when I opened the dryer door and found...of all things...

A note!!

I did a double take. No, it was real!

As I read it I started to cry. It had been so long since someone noticed me...said an encouraging word...thanked me.

I'm going to frame this note.

Because I realized, in that life-giving, life-renewing instant, the power of a kind word.

It took my husband probably 30 seconds to write out the note, but it changed my whole day...

And gave hope where there was none.

And that's a gift I think we all need... and can share....this Christmas season:


This is supposed to be the MOST wonderful time of the year. But for many, it isn't.

They are dealing with not only their losses and fears and daily struggles, but also the expectations and needs that this season brings.

It can feel so hope-less.

But dear ones, this is where we come in!

What if today we give the Gift of Noticing?

The Gift of A Kind Word?

The Gift of Thanks?

The Gift of Time?

It may take only 30 seconds to save a person's life...figuratively or literally.

I promise you, there is no greater gift you can buy.

I know.

Because I just received it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Sharks, jellyfish, and a baby in a manger

So, I think I'm getting a little insight into why the nativity/baby thing I talked about in my last blog weighs heavily upon me.

It happened this morning as I was thinking of all the things I needed to do today: a deadline to meet, cards to write out, issues that need to be dealt with, etc, etc, etc.

It was one of those, Lord, if you don't give me the strength, ain't none of this gonna to happen today moments.

And that's when the angels sang and the clouds departed and I got a glimpse into this struggle I've been having. The truth is...

I don't need a baby to get me through every day.

I need a strong man who's in control of everything.

Don't get me wrong, babies are fine. For a while. But I don't know anyone who wants their baby to stay a baby. They are needy and helpless and in spite of their being adorable beyond words, they just can't do much for themselves. Much less help you out!

And Lord knows I've needed a lot of help this year!

And this leads me to the main point of this that it has taken me a lifetime to embrace...

Friday, November 30, 2018

Stop Coming and Come!

So, I've been thinking...

About the upcoming Advent season. And all it means. And why every year I struggle with its arrival...warily eyeing it as it draws closer and closer...

All the while wondering if there is something wrong with me.

Because it confounds and puzzles me.

I must own a dozen or more Advent devotionals. I have an Advent wreath and candles.

But every year, about this time, I hit a wall. I find myself chafing and restless to get beyond it.

And then I feel guilty because seriously, what kind of person doesn't do Advent?

Well, today it dawned on me what's going on. And it all boils down to the difference between Coming and Come.

I don't know about you, but when I have company Coming, it's full speed ahead: the house gets cleaned, the fridge stocked, everything is put in order. I work hard to make my home a place that will be comfortable and welcoming. It's my way of saying, You are special to me and I'm so glad you are here!

And whether I meet them at the airport or watch eagerly for the headlights coming down the driveway, there's a sense of expectancy and joy that comes with knowing I've done my part and now I can relax and enjoy my long awaited loved ones.

But once they have Come it's a whole different story. Gone is any semblance of order! The house is in chaos: couches piled high with stuffed animals and cuddly blankets...coats and sneakers everywhere...books and games and craft materials cover all flat surfaces.

And I love it! It's comfortable and real and alive!

It's the natural outcome of what I worked so hard for...

Time to be with the ones I relax and make memories and share from our hearts.

And this, dear ones, is my question...the one I am finally asking...bravely asking...

Because I really want to know!

Why spend a whole month preparing for the Coming, when the Guest has already Come?

It's like when you celebrate a grandchild's birthday. You don't go back and concentrate on the happenings of the birth and all it entailed. No, you embrace the child where he or she is NOW...the glorious fact that they are alive and with you.

I there some ingrained part of me that unconsciously thinks I have to spend a whole month preparing for the Guest who is already here?

If that's true, then it's no surprise I get tired just thinking about it! I can keep the preparation pace up for a week or so, but after that I'm done and done in!

So what I want to know is, why can't I just celebrate the Living Christ...the One who has already stepped into this world and who is now walking and talking with me every minute of every day?

Christ with me and in Living Hope...

The One to Whom I say Thank You...every day...with all my heart. Because without Him I seriously doubt I'd still be here.

A whole month of praise and worship and adoration to my Lord!

Bring it on!

So this is where you come in dear friends...can you tell me...because I really want to know...

How do you put your head around the truth that He isn't Coming year after year after year...

But that He has already Come? Emmanuel. God with us!

What does that mean to you? How do you live it out? Appropriate it?

I know this is a different blog post. Think of it more as a phone call between friends where there's give and take and talk from the and you sharing and encouraging one another!

I'd love to hear from you! Your words would be an encouragement and blessing to me.

And while I wait to hear from you, may I share this prayer?

Father, I pray that the Light of Your Love will always shine in our hearts...and through us to those around us who, in spite of the many lights glowing around them this time of year, still walk in darkness. May we always marvel at your great love for us, 
and may your love transform us and touch all those we encounter. 
We love you, Father.

photo credit: wuestenigel <a href="">Spray and cloth cleaning for cleaning the house</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Yes, He IS leading us...all the way!

This morning I have a choice: to head outside where it's damp and cold to get some planting done or stay inside where the fire is going, the coffee is handy, and I can keep one eye on the new Nutsie feeder I just put up this morning. (I have a thing about seeing how long it takes the birds to find it...half an hour and counting so far...waiting..waiting...)

Hands down, inside is the way to go this morning. And besides, I get to spend time with you!

I missed October. Not as in, so sorry to see it go. No, I never even saw it come! But I know it must have because I had to turn the calendar over the other day to write down an appointment and realized, by gosh, that I never even got to enjoy Bastien's calendar picture for that month!

And this is unusual for me. For the last several years...five to be exact...I have had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with.  Courtesy of God. I chafed and complained and moaned and groaned that surely there was something more I could do with my life than wait on God. Silly, right?

Like it's been said, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

On good days, when I had things to keep me occupied, I would exclaim, How does anyone ever have time to work?

On bad days, I'd cry in my pretzels on how life was passing me by, and Seriously, why are You holding me captive?

For the like of me, I don't know why God finally remembered me...or was done with me...or had mercy on me...but this past month He finally said, Go. And with great trepidation I more time...for a job. At a birding store. Because I love birds and birding and all things nature.

When the owner called and told me I had the job, I literally cried. (Yes, I cry a lot.) I was not forgotten! God did see me here waiting all those years. And look at what He gave me! I couldn't imagine working anywhere else and being any happier.

And that's when it got interesting...

Monday, October 29, 2018

Where you are, that is home

This is a story for everyone, even if you don't have a dog.

Because it's a rescue story.

And all of us have been rescued.


Prissy burst into my well-ordered life two weeks ago...unexpectedly...

Popping up first in Facebook Messenger as a photo...a bedraggled looking, wide-eyed, white fluff ball...

With the words, "Do you want her?" below the picture.

My first thought was, I knew being friends with a rescuer would get me in trouble. 

My second? Ted is going to kill me.

But it was too late, I was already undone. So I spent the rest of the day working Priscilla into all our conversations...holding up her ragamuffin picture in front of Ted's face over and over again and expounding the virtues of a small dog and why she needed me. I

Poor guy, he never stood a chance.

Much like the onset of labor, her arrival didn't come at the most convenient time. I was on my way to the airport the following morning to pick up my sister when the message came in: You need to get her. Today.

So we did. And thus Prissy bounced her way into our hearts and lives...during a month that was way too full already with commitments: a wedding, a funeral, and new job training.

Like a mother forced to leave her child in day care, I felt guilty each time I said goodbye and closed the door behind me. How would she ever adjust with so much chaos and change? I repeatedly asked myself.

But she didn't seem to care. Every time we returned from a it to the store or another state...she would fling herself into my arms and smother me with kisses, her little body trembling with joy.

I was falling hopelessly in love with her.  It wasn't long before I realized that she didn't just need me...I needed her.

And that's why what happened next was so hard....

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

You can be courageous...just as you are!

I started this blog yesterday, when I was under pressure to get to my job training. With one eye on the clock I finally had to set it aside, realizing that by doing so it would probably fall into the Abyss of Unfinished Blogs....where many blogs go to die, for many years ago the Lord told me to never feed stale bread.

But today, even with everything that needs to be done before my sister flies in tomorrow, I feel like it's not yet stale and is begging to be finished. I'll let you decide if it was worth resurrecting it...


First I need you to read this quote. No cheating! I know it's a lot of words but I have faith in you!

"Anyone who has ever stood up for the truth of human dignity, no matter how disfigured, only to find supportive friends holding back, even remonstrating with you for your boldness, feels the loneliness of the poverty of uniqueness. This happens every day to those who choose to suffer for the absolute voice of conscience, even in what seem to be small matters. They find themselves standing alone.
I have yet to meet the man or woman who enjoys such responsibility.

"The measure of our depth-awareness of Christ's present risenness is our capacity to stand up for the truth and sustain the disapproval of significant others. An increasing passion for truth evokes a growing indifference to public opinion and to what people say or think. We can no longer drift with the crowd or echo the opinions of others. The inner voice, "Take courage. It is I. Do not be afraid," assures that our security rests in having no security. When we stand on our own two feet and claim responsibility for our unique self, we are growing in personal autonomy, fortitude, and freedom from the bondage of human approval." Abba's Child-Brennan Manning

The Poverty of Uniqueness. What is that you may ask? It's the call of Jesus to stand utterly alone when the only alternative is to cut a deal at the price of one's integrity.

It's the courageous determination to make unpopular decisions that are expressive of the truth of who we are...not who we think we should be or who someone else wants us to be.

Have you ever struggled with people pleasing? I have. I have spent most of my life not even realizing that I was doing it.

I think we're all born with an innate desire to want to be the very best we can be all others want us to make people happy.

And that's fine when you're two years old, but not so fine when you're 40 or 50 or 60.

Remember those middle school dances? Those excrutiatingly painful middle school dances? When you pressed yourself against the gym wall, convinced that if you made yourself invisible it wouldn't hurt so much when no one asked you to dance?

It was just you, in all your adolescent clumsiness...wanting to be noticed...wanting to be picked...wanting to be chosen. But later, when all was said and done and the lights were out and you were sitting in the back of your parent's car, you knew you weren't enough.

And thus begins the dance...not with another person, but with yourself.

I can't remember the split second in time that I chose to let go of the Real Me and embrace the Me I Felt I Should Be. Maybe because I remember so strongly that middle school dance that it was then.

Or maybe it wasn't even one choice...maybe it was a thousand and one choices I made in response to the culture and my family and my friends. All I knew was that everyone was dancing and I wanted to be on the floor also...not a forever wallflower.

So for years I compromised and watched and imitated...morphing into someone that others approved of. But no matter how much effort I put into it, I always fell short. And I was getting so very tired. All I wanted to do was stop. And rest.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

So this is what a treasure looks like?

Have you ever prayed something...or promised something...or declared something and later thought, What was I thinking???

You know, those moments of impulsivity when you are so touched...or deranged...that out it comes...

Oh, I'd LOVE to do that! Or...

No problem! Or...

Anything, Lord, anything!

Yeah, I have too.

I was thinking about that this morning as I was lying back on my Lazy Boy, watching the Cardinal pry open his sunflower seed breakfast...

Achy and oh so tired.

I love the reason that I am so tired...four days with the kids and grands. But I hate that my body betrays my heart.

You see, I have an auto-immune disease. It doesn't define me, but it sure does affect me.

I'm slowly learning to read my longer running roughshod over what it's saying to achieve in a day whatever I deem is most important.

I'm slowly learning that what I think is necessary...and what God thinks is necessary...are often at odds with one another.

I see the piles of laundry and the unpacked boxes and the gardens that need to be restored after the hurricane and the upcoming meetings and this and that and this and that all looming larger than life...

And I sigh.

And then I feel the anger creeping in...anger that my body betrays me and forces me to rest and recover when I long to be getting things done...accomplishing my goals. So much to do and so little time!

You get the idea.

Anyway, I was reading this morning in Abba's Child about the parable of the farmer who, plowing his field, found a treasure of great great, that he went and sold all that he had to buy the field. I love how Buechner tells stories...

So as I was lying there, watching said Cardinal, I was ruminating over the parable...What was the treasure in my life that was so great that I would be willing to sell all that I possessed to keep it?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Come out, come out, wherever you are!

The other day I applied for a a birding store.

It went across every instinct I had to do it, for it seems that the last bazillion times I tried to get a job or get involved in a ministry, God closed every door in my face...doors that made me feel like God had forgotten about me...had left me to drift on a perceived Sea of Uselessness. Honestly, I was getting used to the rocking of the boat and the endless horizon staring back at me. I was even thinking of making up a plaque and hanging it on the front of my boat that said, 'Why rock the boat?'

Until Sunday. When my pastor said a few things that gave me the idea that perhaps it's time to get out of the boat and start walking on land again...

Things like: "Getting well means change." Hey, I'm okay with that. After working through health issues too numerous to number, I get it that change is necessary.

What he said next came a mite bit closer to home: "Say, 'I have a _______ problem.' And then be willing to bring that problem into the light to find freedom."

Oh, that could be fun! Which one shall I start with? Walking with God through this past year has shown me I have a lot of problems!

As I squirmed in my seat, the final blow fell...the unavoidable question that nailed it all...

"Do you want to get well? If so, what do you need to do?"

Gosh, if I knew that I'd have done it light-years ago!

Pick me! Pick me!

Um, try harder? Be better? Do more? 

Did I get it? Did I get it? Huh? Huh?

Like a cat that is being immobilized in order to shove a pill down its throat, I fought the Spirit with all that was within me.

I'm thinking He wasn't amused.

And the next sentence clenched it: "Healing arrives as we 'step into it'."

It? What is 'It'? If I knew what 'It' was I would have stepped into 'It' years ago!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

I ask...Did you know you would save my life?

Did you know in that moment when you chose for your life to end, that you would ultimately be saving mine?

I doubt it. I'm sure I was the farthest thing on your mind.

But I'm still here and you're gone. And that fact that I'm still alive is what...your gift to me?

The ideal gift is from someone who knows you...what you like...what you need. And they give of themselves to give it to it time or money...or their life.

You gave me a gift of great that cost you that had I been given a choice, I would have rejected and pushed it right back at you before it was too late.

But I can't return it now. All I can do is circle around it...inspect it...push it away in anger and then clutch it in desperate hope...

Hope that you knew what you were doing when you entrusted it to me.

When I am in pain I do one of several is not "eat like you're supposed to eat"...but "eat like food is a drug and God knows I need a drug to dull the pain."

Or, I grief-walk...pushing myself outside the comfort of my home to walk/hike/rant and rave as hard as I can...the more it hurts the better it feels. I can say what I want...scream what I want...stop and sob, bent over in pain...and no one is the wiser.

Or, in my more sane moments, I duke it out with God until I'm so exhausted I let go and let Him in.

And that's what I've been doing this week. All of the above.

I have always struggled with depression. If you've read any of my previous blogs, you should know that. I wish I didn't. The problem is that I just feel pain too deeply. While others can say, "Oh well...whatever" and move on, thoughts and images stay in my mind and I feel...I swear...I feel the pain of whatever that animal or person was going through. Some people say it's empathy. I call it a curse.

My friends and family know it's the reason I can't volunteer at Rescue Shelters or be on the front line of Battles of Suffering or Loss. I wish I could. I have beaten myself up for years with the idea that good Christians should be able to do these things. Which, if taken to the obvious conclusion means that I am not a good Christian. I have come to realize that that is not true. I am a Christian who cares deeply, and who can pray and give, but whose calling is elsewhere.

But there are weeks when I let my guard down...when I hear too much or see too much...and I start to crumble. Weeks when I think I just can't live in this broken, shattered, sick world anymore. That it's all too much. And God knows I'm tired. And Heaven looks so inviting.

And for me, that is a dangerous place to be. Was a dangerous place to be.

Because over the past several months, two friends have entrusted me with that I see now are literally saving my life.

Gift number one...

Recently a forever-friend, for reasons still not disclosed, made the choice to end their pain and leave this world. And it about broke my heart. I still have dreams of sobbing and asking, "Why?!"

It wasn't until this week, when the clouds of darkness were swirling around and life was so heavy I could barely breathe, that I received a belated gift from this friend...

The gift of remembering the horrible pain this death caused...and knowing that no matter how hard life I got, I could never, ever, do that to those I loved.  

I choose life. No matter how hard it gets. Did you know that's what your death would do for me?

Gifts come wrapped in many packages.

Gift number two...

I can name this person, whereas I am not free to name the other...Sandy. Sandy Perry. A man after God's heart...probably the most vested in Christ, "love 'em and love 'em and love 'em again no matter what the cost" type person. A former biker who spent time in prison but emerged with a passion for Jesus that burned 24/7. I am honored to have known him.

We first met through Chuck Colson's Centurion Program over 10 years ago...he was the closest participant to nearby I naturally felt a tie to him. Whenever we went to DC for training, I would hover near him, so enthralled with his passion.

He and I were about as opposite as could be! Me, from proper New England, reserved, quiet, and unpretentious. Him...well, picture a biker gang member! Bigger than life and not afraid to live it...or share it... with any person in need. He's the reason I got involved in prison ministry years ago. I remember walking into the prison that day and thinking, "Sandy Perry, this is all your fault!"

He brought out the best in people. And the worst? He just loved 'em to Christ. He and his precious wife, Vicki, went on to found and run Zaccheaus House...a safe place for those emerging from prison to come to and be loved on and taught and sent out. Everything was super-sized with Sandy. And I loved him for it.

This past week he had an option for a liver transplant, but time and conditions dictated that he would no longer need one. Instead, he would be going Home to Jesus...the One he had loved and served for so long. And last night, his body finally went where his heart has been...Heaven.

And in his death, Sandy gave me the second gift....

The gift of knowing that we only have one life. And it is a gift. And we need to live it...

To do as much damage to Satan's kingdom as we can.

And that gift makes me want to fight...against the lies that blind us and immobilize us...that keep us half alive...that keep us with one foot here and one foot in Heaven.

Two gifts...from two friends...both screaming,

"Choose Life!"

Someday I'll see both my friends again. I have no doubt.

And I will thank them for giving me gifts of pain...pain that caused me to not give in or give up.

I am alive...and more alive...because of them.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Leaving, on a jet plane...don't know when I'll be back again

I wrote this blog on Sunday as our Southwest flight roared down the runway, giving us split-second glimpses of the mountains and deserts we have grown to know and love in Arizona. I'm pretty sure the truth of this blog stands firm, even as I write it out 2 days later in North Carolina...


I think this is what dying is like...leaving something behind that you love...but by faith believing that something wonderful, but different, awaits you.

Life is full of goodbyes...airports are great reminders of  this: lovers enmeshed in one last hug...mothers looking up to the sky and squeezing their children tightly to themselves as they fight back tears, sending their kids off to be with their Dad...waves and smiles and pats on the back...tears and sighs and looks of resignation...and everything in between.

Seated behind me on the plane is a grandmother taking her young granddaughter back to Chicago from a visit with her cousins. As the plane ascended, I heard her ask the little one, "Do you want to go home or stay with your cousins?" With no hesitation whatsoever, "Stay" was the little girl's whispered reply. Turning to her seatmate, the grandmother said, in a tired voice, "Not me. I'm ready to go home! My kids went away for a week while I watched the grandchildren." Ah...

We live in a world of tension. We want to stay. We want to go.

I met yet another grandmother yesterday while we were out shooting Hummingbirds...shooting as with a camera, not a gun! As we sat there together oohing and aahhing over the flashes of orange and red and purple whizzing past our heads, we got to talking. It wasn't long before she opened up and shared that she and her husband had just moved there, leaving behind their beloved home and grandchildren in the Pacific Northwest. Turning to me she confessed, with tears overflowing her eyes, "I didn't know it would be so hard."

I felt her pain and her tender heart, for I knew that I could so easily be in her place. For I, too, have a beloved home and a life full of those I love back east. Like her, I, too, am in love with Arizona and thoughts of packing my life up in North Carolina and moving there flit through my mind endlessly.

But when it comes right down to it I know, with all that is within me, that I love my family and grandchildren more than I could ever love living apart from them in Arizona.

Home is where the heart is. And my heartstrings are tied to the hearts of those I love back east.

Life is full of choices. They come one at a time: to do or not to go or not to go. And each choice leads us to a place from which there is often no return. Every choice we make moves us in a direction we may, or may not be, glad we ended up in. Often, only time will tell.

I speak from experience.

Like you, I have learned many of life's lessons the hard way...made many choices that led to things I later regretted.

At 60, the sand in my hourglass is slowly running out. As time slips away, my vision becomes goals more concise. There is a sense of urgency that comes with the passing of the long-held belief that life extends endlessly ahead of you. Death and loss have shattered this delusion. Life is short...too short...and what is most important to me is what I value most. And where I want to invest the rest of my brief time here.

Choices are not always easy. We fight daily against the world, the flesh, and the devil. It can be hard to know where our desires are leading us. Apart from God's mercy and grace and enlightenment, we are all at the mercy of ourselves.

In that moment of realizing that as much as I love Arizona...the Sky Islands and the open vistas and the breath-taking birds that pop over the Mexican border and the Milky Way that illuminates the velvet black of a night sky so dark you lose your much as I love and enjoy all of this and so much heart lies elsewhere.

I thank God for those moments of sanity when the picture becomes focused and we see...not only with our mind, but our heart...the Holy Spirit gently confirming something that He knows is best for us...even when we're struggling to accept it.

I knew with all that was within me, that it was God speaking through this woman...that He was bending down and whispering into my heart, "This could be you."

And in that moment, I knew He was absolutely right.

So here I am, on a plane at 40,000 feet, saying goodbye. Do I hope to return? Yes! Absolutely Yes! Will I? Only God knows what the future holds. For now, He has given me an armful of memories to hold close to my heart, a heart I know will be heavy in the days ahead.

As the nose of the plane levels out, pointing east, I choose to let go of my dream to move to Arizona.

And while one dream slips away, another dream fills me...hopes of investing in my grandchildren, treasuring each moment I am given with them and the children God has blessed us with...parents, sisters, friends. I  have a treasure trunk full of riches awaiting me back east.  All gifts from God.

I choose to go home. My heart lies 2,800 miles from here.

And home is where the heart is.

Shine on, dear ones!


photo credit: airlines470 <a href="">N565WN  SEA</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">(license)</a>

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The gift of Creation...from God's heart to yours!

There are a million things I could blog about from our time here in Arizona. And this devotional reading would be at the top of the list. Not a day has gone by but that God's handiwork here has screamed out, "There is a Creator who made all this beauty! None of this is an accident! None of this evolved! All this is formed out of His love!"

We have had some amazing guides on our birding with multiple doctorates in Biology and Ethnobiology and other who can leave your head spinning with all there is to know about everything from the minutest of flowers to the grandest of canyons.

And that is mind-blowing! I have no single subject that I could ever talk about like they do their dozens of subjects. To say I am impressed would be to put it mildly!

But as they have rambled on and on about how things have evolved...or how all of this is a product of chance...we have seen first hand the result of worshiping the creation and not the Creator.

I remember one fact more than any other during my time in Chuck Colson's Centurion program. It was the idea that if you took all the letters of the alphabet on Scrabble chips, and threw them out over and over again, you would spend a life time trying for just a single three word sentence. And to think of the intricacy of just the human body alone...and how each part depends on the other in an order of chemical and electrical timing that would destroy it if just that alone cries out for a Master Designer. It could never happen by chance! And then add in all of Creation to the equation? All I can do is worship...

All Creation declares the glory of God!

And here in AZ I have a front row seat to Him...from the looming Sky Island Mountain ranges set against a clear azure blue the blazing colored birds who find their way here every year from Mexico and Central the evening storms that sweep across the plains, exploding the darkness with lightning bolts that are so huge you can't help but exclaim, "Wow!"

It's easy when we are caught up in the monotony of our daily lives to get so busy that we forget to stop and see Him.  I don't want to forget all He has taught me when I go home...that the same God who is here displaying Himself in all His glory will be in Waxhaw, North Carolina too.

And He's right where you are,  also! No matter where we live, His Creation will always be calling us back to Him...declaring His love and delight in us through all He has made for our enjoyment.

Okay, I'm done! Ted and Jacki are is chomping at the bit to head out for another day of God-sightings. And I want to have a front row seat to all He has prepared for us today!

I wish you a day full of His beauty and splendor also!

Shine on, dear ones!

Friday, July 27, 2018

When you can't save someone you love from the pain

Did you know that all moms have a superpower?

It's called, "Let-me-kiss-it-and-make-it-all-better!"

It's also known as "I-would-step-in-front-of-a-speeding-train-to-save-you!"

Moms care. Deeply. Passionately. Too much at times.

From the moment we are aware of the life within us, we don our Supermom capes and with the wind blowing them out behind us, we take our stand firmly on the Mountain of Love, vowing to do whatever is necessary to protect this wee one entrusted to us against any pain or sadness.

And Lord knows we have to! I've never met a child yet who entered the world fully capable of taking care of themselves physically or mentally! As much as their crying and clinging and needs can drive us crazy, they also empower us with a feeling that we are Needed. Necessary. Able with a single leap to put that smile back on a child's hurting face.

So for 18 some odd years that super power grows. And it feels good. And it works!

Then the day comes when your child is no longer a child, but an adult....who's now busy guarding and caring for his own family. And his wife has her own Supermom cape, and ours has been relegated to mothballs. As it should be.

Until the day suffering comes crashing in...throwing loved ones left and right and leaving a wake of brokenness and tears in its wake.

And it happens to YOUR BABY!


"How dare you?" we cry as we run to the closet, frantically searching for our discarded cape, mothballs rolling across the floor.

"Show me the Monster that dare hurt my child! I shall slay it with a thousand swords!"

And God knows we mean it with all of our heart...a heart that still lives and beats for the good of our child.

But the years have humbled us...we have lived too long and seen too much. Suffering and loss and shattered dreams have become a fact of life. And band aids and kisses will never fix the pain again.

What do you do at a time like this?

What do I do at a time like this?

I get angry. And I get angry. And angry yet again.

Angry that sin ever entered the world...that it stole what was once perfect and whole and good. And replaced it with pain and suffering and death.

We all have a longing in us for the way it was meant to be. And I think Moms especially operate under this power. It's what gives us the vision and strength to do and be all that is best for our children and family.

Until the day comes that we can't.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

When compromise seems the best way to get where you want to be

Yesterday I found out there is a new birding store opening nearby, and the call is out for a part-time Manager. If you know me at all, you know this makes my eyes light up and my feet start doing their clumsy, albeit joyful Happy Dance. Doing something I love and getting paid for it? I guess I could suffer through that!

So as the day progressed, I eagerly made time to sit down and read the fine print...what would be required, duties, etc. I was moving along at high speed, checking off each requirement with an I can do that! until I got to the one that stopped me short. The one that always stops me short. The one that has caused me to be passed over before: Must be available to work weekends. NOOOO!!!!

And thus began the mind game I play oh-so-well with myself and God. Gosh, I'm sure I'd win if He would just once not play with me!

Me: Well, that's interesting. I wonder if it means Saturday AND Sunday? 

God: That is the weekend.

Me: Well, maybe they mean after noon on Sunday. I mean really, we are in the South. And going to church is a given here. 

God: Does that make a difference?

Me: But. But. But. 

End of conversation. I'm sure He would have been willing to carry it further but I've had this conversation so many times that I already know how it will end. It all boils down to this one request He asked of me many, many years ago...

Honor Me by giving Me Sunday. Through it I will bless you and others. 

And you know, it wasn't hard back then! I was too busy raising a family to care about working on a Sunday. I gladly welcomed a day of rest...a day with God and family. Such a gift!

When did I stop seeing it as a gift?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

So God, now you're speaking through Facebook?

Sometimes I want to quit...days like yesterday, when I spent hours organizing and writing a blog, only to walk away from it.

No matter how many times I tweaked it, all I saw was 'blah, blah, blah.' So I shelved it, got up from my computer, and went into the kitchen for another cup of coffee, muttering, 'I'm done. I have no idea why I do this anyway. If I fell out of the blogosphere, few would notice.' 

Ever feel like that? Like who would notice if you stopped doing what you're doing? I think more people would notice if I went on strike from housecleaning than if I stopped blogging. And this is a discouraging thought to me...because I love to write but I hate to clean.

Now that I think about it, I guess I was giving God my '2 weeks notice'...letting Him know that it's been fun, but I'm done. As I rambled around the kitchen, I made sure to let Him know my reasons for quitting...just in case He was ignorant of them:

1. Think of all the time I spend writing...turning out words that survive or die on the world-wide-web based on the mercy of timing, and Facebook, and other people's participation or lack thereof. I mean really, sometimes there are 28 views, and other times 1,028 views. Surely I could use my time in a more constructive way?

2. It's all been said before. Like the making of books, there is no end to blogs out there. Who needs one more?

3. You know I don't want to be famous...that was never the reason I started this! You made me a quiet introvert. But really, 28 people read my last blog? Is it worth all that work for so few people? And probably most of them were family who felt obligated to read it. People will go on with or without me. (Yeah, that was my lamest excuse.)

4. And while I'm on the subject, let's talk about needing an e-mail list! (This is where it really gets good!) I know You brought Hope Writers group into my life for a purpose, but they have high expectations for someone as technologically challenged as me! If I quit blogging, I won't have to worry about figuring out this e-mail-list-thing and that means there will be less stress in my life. And you told me that stress is not good! (So that's that.)

5. I could stop being vulnerable and exposed! (Ouch.) Like lying on a therapist's couch, sharing my innermost fears and aspirations, blogging from the heart is painful. And I'm so not into pain. Remember Jonah? I can identify with him...

Suffice it to say, I'm sure by now you get the picture. And it's not pretty.

So I woke up this morning thinking of my shelved blog...secretly smiling to myself...reminding myself that I was FREE! God knew I wasn't available to the Holy Spirit for any more "Aha!" moments that pushed me to the computer to write. Nope, today would be different!

Or not.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

On being named after a shoe and other thoughts on perspective...

It's all a matter of perspective.

How many times have we heard that? And how many times have we struggled to still get the right perspective on an issue? A person? Ourselves?

Let me start where this whole thought began...about 5 am this morning, the time my body usually wakes up and wants to spend time with me. Ugh. Being the non-morning person that I am, I find this highly offensive and do all that I can to shut it down...praying and naming the attributes of God alphabetically being among my favorites. I figure Satan hates that so he'll let me go back to sleep. And it usually works!

But not today. For today is my Mom's birthday...her first one in Heaven. And I'm glad for her. Of course I miss her terribly. But I wouldn't wish her back...she's in a better, more glorious place with the Lord she came to love and the many she had known and loved who had gone before her. And what a place to have a birthday party...all the cake and ice cream she can eat! Glory!

Anyway, it wasn't like this day took me by surprise. Over the weekend, my dad and I had talked about how we would get through it. And yesterday in the birding store, standing there waiting for someone to check me out, I teared up as I saw so many lovely gifts that would have brought her joy on her birthday...for we shared a love of gardening and creation that cemented our oft times fragile relationship.

Over the years, we had overcome many tumultuous times...becoming not just mother and daughter, but friends. Slowly we were learning to talk openly with one another, to hear each other's stories. But unfortunately there was still one story question I still had. But now it was too late to talk about it with her...

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The call to walk out of darkness and into the light. It's ours to share.

This past week I have been lying awake at night...thoughts and words tumbling around in my head, scrambling over each other trying to find their way out into the light. Today I've decided it's time to release them...hoping that by doing so, they will serve a greater purpose than I can imagine.

But in order to do this, I will have to go back to a dark time in my life...a jumping-off point for where I am today...back to a point in time that I almost didn't survive.

Unless you've been living in a closet, you can't help but be aware of the rash of suicides out there. Maybe not even "out there"...maybe they have come closer to home than you ever dreamed. Like stealthy night-time intruders, they forced their way into your life and wreaked havoc...smashing and destroying your safe world. And now you're trying to find your way home to a new "normal"...though God knows it will take a lifetime.

I hope that what I am about to share may save a life...or give hope...or do something I can't even imagine as I follow God into this. If that happens, then writhing under this vulnerability I feel will be worth it. 

Some of you know my story. Most don't. The part I am about to share was so long ago. But it's been engraved on my mind as a signpost that I return to over and over again when I'm finding myself lost and wandering...a sign post God has erected not only for me, but for others also. I see that now.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Keeping our eyes on Heaven...and not Death

My husband and I spent this past weekend in the lowlands of Charleston, SC with the local Audubon group...chasing birds, trying to avoid chiggers and mosquitoes, and making a 40th anniversary memory worthy of holding on to.

While the rest of the group cocked their ears and combed the sky and tree lines with their binoculars, I  was content to wander aimlessly behind them, intent on building a relationship with my newly acquired camera. I had high expectations of my new baby...I had read enough to know she was capable of great and mighty things...if only I could figure her out.

Let's just say that out of 490 shots, maybe 10 will ever be seen by human eyes other than mine. Like any new skill, it's going to take time and lots of practice and humility to acquire any sense of proficiency with it. It's a case of the camera being willing, but my being weak. 

So, this morning I'm sitting out on our deck...trying really hard not to itch the chigger bites...blasted things...and enjoying the unusual lack of humidity and heat that make walking outside in the morning here akin to stepping into a sauna. My thoughts turned to could I not worship the Creator of all this beauty around popping with color and birds of such vibrancy, bursting out with songs of praise to their Maker. It was a smorgasbord of delight...a veritable Garden of Eden! And the thought came to me...I could capture it with my camera! 

Or not. Because then the voice of reasoning set in, screaming something akin to, "What are you thinking? Have you had your devotions and prayer time yet? No? Well then, let's get our priorities straight!" So being the dutiful person I am, I retrieved my Bible and sat down to have devotions

And that's when it all fell apart. My state of bliss had lasted about one hour, and then all that I had been burdened with this past week came rushing over me like a rogue wave...bent on knocking me over and sending me flailing.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

So you say you're not making a difference?

The other day at a church meeting I heard a young mother/wife confess that she's not sure she's doing it right...that maybe she's falling so far short. You know, the "staying-at-home-and-feeling-like-you're-not-contributing-much-to-life" young mother thing?

If you've been there, you know just what I'm talking about...the endless pull by little hands...a house that never looks like the one you dreamed of when you were single...the day after day after day dying to self and feeling guilty when you don't. It's hard. And it's so easy to feel like you're failing...God, yourself, your husband, your kids.

I remember all these things way too clearly today...the daily rush of emotion and the heaviness of futility and the just plain ol' exhaustion of keeping so many balls bouncing when really, what would happen if you let them all drop?

I was in my 20's, which means it was a long long time ago. And I was all those things I just wrote and more. I didn't come from a Christian home, so I had no training in wifeing, or mothering, or so many strengths that would have helped me cope during that overwhelming season of life.

But I did have a friend. And her name was Julie. And if ever I thought angels existed, she was proof. Truthfully, I don't even remember how we met. But all of a sudden she was there. And I mean there. Present. With me. By my side. Loving me in spite of all my unloveableness.

I remember her home...and to this day I think a part of me is still trying to recreate it. She lived passionately, colorfully, fully...tables and shelves piled high with books! Flowers...everywhere! And art that stilled my soul and spoke volumes to my dry and empty spirit! Whenever I was with her I felt hopeful and life was full of exclamation points! Like maybe someday, I could be like her.

And God knows I tried. All the best in her brought out all the best in me...whether it was loving on children...or tenderly speaking of her precious relationship with Jesus...or building a Godly marriage. She gave all of herself to whomever she was with...and she always, always, let you know that she believed in you...that inside that worn out, tired out, fizzled out you, there was a dancer...and a song...and the grace to follow hard after it.

If anyone ever taught me the value of holiness in a family, the home, and the world, it was her.

Now, many many years later and a mite bit wiser, I see it wasn't so much her I wanted to be like...but the Jesus in her...the incredibly alive relationship she had with Christ, that overflowed and poured out into all those she set her heart on. And I was blessed to be one of them.

I just learned that Julie has died. And I feel like a light has gone out that this world desperately needed. I grieve for her family...for all who knew and loved her. She made a heart-shaped hole in all of us and no one will ever fill it. I'm not Julie. And you're not Julie. She was a custom made one-of-a-kind creation that God broke the mold on.

But, dear one, you can be as Julie to someone in your life...someone who's drowning and sinking and finds it hard to go on. All that God has placed within you is tremendously valuable...chances are it's not something earth shattering...something so big that the whole world is noticing...but it's there. And it's needed. Can you listen? Can you sit with someone? Can you encourage? Can you be available?

These are the things that literally saved my life.

Pouring ourselves out for others is costly....and it's so much easier to guard our hearts and our time.  Julie could have. She could have taken one look at me and thought, "This one's gonna take a lot of me, so I'll pass."  But she didn't.

And now I have 4 children and almost 9 grandchildren and an intact marriage all because someone came alongside of me...who danced in front of me so I could catch the dream.

This is my gift to you, dear Julie...a testimony of a life well, faithfully, gloriously lived! All that you gave to me, I shall do my best to pass on to others. And someday, when we're together again, you will grab me by the hand and with that twinkle in your eyes and that sparkling laugh...we will dance.

And then we'll hold out our arms to the others we have loved, and invite them to dance with us also.

A great dance festival of praise and worship to the One who made this dance possible...and to those who labored alongside Him.

You are dearly loved, my friend. Enjoy your forever Home. I'm sure I'll recognize it when I get There.

Friday, April 27, 2018

When you're tired of being Satan's punching bag

So here I sit. At my computer. Thinking that Friday is the worst day to post a blog...and of a hundred things that need to be done right now. But this is where I must matter what day it is or how much I have to do. Because you see, I need to remember something. Something very important. And like a woman who finds herself standing like a mindless zombie in the middle of a food store wondering what she is doing there...why didn't she write out a list?...I, too, must write to remember.

If the Israelites were called to remember, so must I.

Let me set the stage...

Last weekend we attended The Big Weekend Away, our church retreat up in the mountains. Our intention was to go and meet see if God had anything to take time to get away together. But having just come back from a tiring trip to a dreary and colorless Connecticut...and nursing a cold...I was less than excited at the prospect of leaving my warm and color drenched home for another round of dreariness and colorlessness...albeit this time in the mountains of North Carolina.

Going was definitely a case of the Spirit being more willing than the flesh. That and wanting to please my husband who had higher hopes for the weekend than I did...bless his heart. So, off we went...

You know, until this past weekend I had never noticed that we have a high number of extroverts in our church....but we do. Spending a weekend with a group of talkative, hand-raising, worshipful extroverts (who by the way think a Greatest Show on Earth Talent Show and 20's Dance is the absolute best way to spend an evening) is a bit of a stretch for me. Along with a bad first night's sleep I found myself ready to call it quits by early Saturday morning. All I wanted to do was slink back to my quiet, well ordered, and restful home. I couldn't see any part of this weekend ending well. But instead of running, I sat down on the edge of the bed and with tears rolling down my face, asked my husband to pray with me that somehow God would redeem this weekend and work out His will for our being there.

Or else I am going home, I muttered.  The line was drawn. Silly me, I had given God an ultimatum.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

When life is out of focus, check your lens

Have you ever done or said something so totally foolish... so uncaring that after it's out you wish you could go back and press the delete button?

I least once a day. Most times it happens in my own head, where no human bears the brunt of my stupidity. In my foolishness I believe that I can think what I want and no one will be the worse for it...until those thoughts overflow and burst forth like a machine gun, spraying their harm over anyone within range and causing great damage.

God knows that I wish it weren't so. He and I have been talking about this "thought thing" and how important it is...for my sake and the good of get a hold of what's going on inside.

Remember last week's blog about Pollyanna? Maybe that blog was a precursor to this one...I don't know. But since I wrote it, I have been asking God to help me see the people and circumstances in my life more positively...more hopefully. Like  I said to my daughter the other day, "Thirty years ago I was positive. But at 60, I'm cynical."

And I don't like it. Not at all.

So, I've been trying to turn things look at life through a different lens. Not rose-colored per se as Pollyanna sought to do, but one that removes the haze and and adds clarity to the picture. Basically, I've been asking God to allow me to see life through His eyes and not my own.

And let me tell you, it is a challenge!

Let's take driving for instance...

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

I know I'm not Pollyanna, but...

Have you ever seen the movie, Pollyanna? The one about a girl who goes through life playing the glad-game and always seeing things on the sunny-side-of-life? The definition of a Pollyanna? One who is excessively cheerful and optimistic. That's her!

But it sure isn't me!

As a child, I loved that movie. I wanted to be like her...a bright ray of sunshine making the whole world...and everyone in it...happy.  I wanted to dress like her, talk like her, be her. But no matter how hard I tried, I never could. Oh, I could keep up the effort for a time or two...or even a day or so...but in the end, I always ended up me: insecure, never sure of what to say, feeling inadequate in most situations...plain ol' me.

Maybe that's when my gift of encouragement first started peeking out of the shadows...only to be eclipsed by my fleshly attempts to drag it out into the open and make it perform like I thought it just the same way that Pollyanna did.

All I know is that I embraced the challenge that a little girl named Pollyanna could meet someone who was unhappy or in pain...and through her cheerfulness and optimism...turn that person into someone who was lovely, hopeful, and changed! She was like a little bit of yeast that turned a whole lump of sticky, gooey humanity into a loaf of bread fit for a king!

There's a lot of truth to the idea that what you read and see as a child and as an adult, leaves an imprint on you...for better or for worse. I still find myself singing that song from our kid's childhoods, "Input, output, what goes in is what comes out...input, output daily you must choose."

All this came to mind this morning as I was reading in 1 Thessalonians where Paul writes...

Friday, March 16, 2018

dear you, never give up

I have begun this post many times over the past few weeks, but each time I shelved it...knowing it wasn't right...that there was still more to be done in my heart and mind until it was ready to be shared...with you, and believe it or not, with myself. So often I  am amazed at what comes out as I sit down to type, trusting that what He's saying is what I often cannot.

On Sunday I will turn 60. Maybe it should be spelled looks less intimidating that way. I have been dancing around the acceptance of this for months now, at times dreaming of running away before it could happen...going to some exotic place where no one knows who I am or how ancient I  am...a place where I could at least attempt to outrun the inevitable and all the fears that are wrapped around reaching this milestone age.

But I'm still here. And today I realize that there's no place I would rather be. I have dear family coming in this afternoon to celebrate over the weekend, and other loved ones who will join in the party Sunday after church at Paco's go-to place when I need comfort and good food.

Being sick this week has given me time to be still, to sit and reflect and listen for God's heartbeat and not my own rapidly racing spend time pouring through old photos and breathing in all the grace and goodness that is my life...watching rainbows dance across the room each morning as I hugged cups of lemon tea, and wrapped in the stillness that comes at the end of the day as the birds flutter in for one more meal before darkness blankets the earth.

I am blessed. And to think I almost missed this truth! Yes, there is now more behind me than before me. And there's a bittersweet sorrow for all the lost opportunities of my past and for all the dreams of the future that I know now will never materialize. Time is slipping through my open hands and I can no more grasp on to it than I can hold on to a sunbeam.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

The sacrament of kindness

I wish I knew how to mark up a computer know, underline things and make side bar notations on articles I read online so I can find the important stuff later? Like I do in books...

I got up early this morning...way earlier than makes me happy. But there comes a time when all the tossing and turning and flipping and flopping like a beached fish only means you need to surrender...drag yourself out of the comfy coziness...and get the coffee brewing.

Because I'm in a semi-conscious state until coffee hits my nervous system, odd things tend to roll around in my brain...things I've had on my mind...things I didn't know I have on my mind.

Such as the word sanguine. It was the first word to push itself into my consciousness this morning. I slowly recalled that it was a word I had used yesterday in a message with my daughter-in-love. We were attempting to encourage one another which is usually hilarious as we are so similar in personality and temperament that it's like the blind leading the blind! But it's fun...and we usually triumph...and if nothing else, I love listening to her!

Anyway, sanguine. I mentioned that we were both of the sanguine (rhymes with penguin) type and that should explain why we are the way we are. But after I said that I thought, 'Gee, I really should look that word up, because just having a word pop into your head does not mean you know it'. So I Googled it, and as they say I was ROFL...hysterically. Us extroverted? Optimistic? If we were, I'm sure we wouldn't be having a conversation on encouragement! And that thought percolated in my head overnight, until it rudely woke me up in the wee hours of this morning.

So with nothing else to do at 5 am, I decided I needed a perusal of The Four Personality Types to set myself straight. Now this is probably where I am going to lose some of you, but hang in there...I promise I'll not go astray or heretical here!

Let me copy a few main points from the article I started with to show you where I'm going with this...

The Four Temperaments personality system attempts to describe a person's overall attitude towards problems, other people, and life in general in a very broad way.
There are four temperaments, which are combined into twelve pairs called 'blends'. Each person has one of these blends that fits how they are most of the time; it is constant throughout life, not a shifting mood. Temperaments don't change according to circumstances; rather, they determine how we react to situations.
The temperaments are a way of classifying peoples' emotional attitudes, the foundations of their personality. They apply in a very broad strokes way - that is, they are vague rather than specific and detailed - and make no attempt to identify every detail of a person's personality.

Temperaments are not passing moods, or phases in our attitudes. They are the foundation of our emotional natures, which stay constant throughout life (barring perhaps severe brain injury), from birth until death, even though every other aspect of our personality may change.

Our views, our beliefs, our tastes, our confidence levels... All these things DO change while staying bound to a fundamental temperament. The temperament affects how these things change.

Got it? I'll put the link at the bottom of the blog if you want to go deeper...or need things clarified. But for now, this should suffice.

Let me start off by saying that for all my life I've had this crazy image of what I should be...what I should I should act. They say that how you are as a child is a precursor to what you will be like as an adult...and by golly, they were right!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

When your heart rips open and love pours out

Didn't I just say that blogs always come on days when I have a dozen other things lined up to do? Well, maybe it's a test to see if I'll be obedient to the Spirit or the flesh. That lends a slight spiritual emphasis to the tension, doesn't it?

Today I want to talk about Buddy...the little gray, some-kind-of-mix-of-mutt dog we took in over 10 years ago. He was found wandering in a town many miles from here and first adopted by a man Ted was working for. Unfortunately this match did not work out, so guess who brought the dog home? Let it be written and known that it was not me this time! For once I was in favor of passing him on...we had just returned from Mexico and I was burned out and felt I did not need one more thing to take care of.

But no matter how hard we tried, Buddy just wasn't meant to be anywhere but here. He joined our pack as the littlest, and maybe the not-so-brightest member. He never bonded with our other two dogs who had such a close relationship that when one of them died, the other mourned. Buddy hated walks with a passion, which is one of my criteria for a good match of any dog for us. He had no special attachment or interest in any of us. The only thing he really loved was food...any time of the day or night, Buddy was ready to eat. Well, now that I think of it, maybe he was a good match for us!

Anyway, Buddy wanted us and that was that. He made it known from the beginning that he would do things his way. For that reason, we had no high expectations for Buddy, and he liked it like that...a life of sleeping, eating, doing his duty, and an occasional turn about the yard made Buddy a happy and contented pup.

But time changes all things...

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

When you haven't loved well and you know it

They say honesty, openness, and transparency make for a good blog post. We shall see.

This is one of those written-from-the-heart-I'm-not-sure-what-people-will-think-but-I'm-going-to-risk-it-anyway blogs.

The humbling kind.

The kind that I will still include in my grandchildren's book someday, thankful that they can learn from my mistakes...probably glad that I will be gone by the time they read it. Grandchildren do seem to idolize their grandparents, don't they?

So, I've cancelled all my activities for the day. I've told my husband not to come home for lunch. I've nixed attending tonight's Bible study. All I want to do is cry. And think. And repent.

There are days you can run from what God is saying, and there are days you need to turn around and embrace it. This feels like one of those Jonah Days...when God allows you to slam into a wall and you realize that you have been running in the wrong direction...moving under your own power and understanding...

But now it's time to stop. Turn around. And repent.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The beauty of an ordinary life

Winter has a way of slowing me down. I'm not into winter sports...or any sports for that matter! Well, except hiking and walking if those are sports, but probably not as usually a sport involves competition...with someone else. It's just me and my camera and my binoculars competing with myself to see how far I can venture on my rambles and explorations. And that's the way I like it.

This slowing down during Winter is something I have learned to embrace. Our winters are milder in North Carolina than the ones of my childhood in the Northeast.  I have learned to bear with our four short months of gray and clouds and cold. As they say, "If you can't beat it, join it."  My gardens and all around me are at rest...any outside work has to wait until Spring whispers her invitation for the world to awaken.

Being forced to be inside has its being more time to read my stash of books and work on photography and blogging and other interests that bring me joy.  And I love sitting in the warmth of my home watching the variety of birds that flock in to our feeders for the daily smorgasbord I offer them. They are so much easier to spot without those pesky leaves on the trees!

Right now I'm working through the book, Magical Journey...An Apprenticeship in Contentment by Katrina Kenison. Most of the book has been underlined, which means it will take its place on a specific area of my bookshelf reserved for books that speak to me. Or, as I like to think, I could have written!

They are the handful of books that come to mind when someone I know is going through something I've already walked through...the books I want to buy them so they too can be blessed and encouraged by the truth within. True book lovers will understand this compulsion!

Today Katrina talked about the beauty of an ordinary life. Doesn't that sound lovely? After all, that's what most of us have...ordinary lives. And the idea that they can be beautiful...well, it just sounds so hopeful!

I don't know about you, but I have never desired to be famous. Well, maybe in my teens for some reason but I was delusional then. The idea of people watching me and following me and being in my face sounds nightmarish to me. I am an introvert who can be an extrovert for short sprints of time, but in the end am happiest when I can return, with a deep sigh of relief, to a hidden life. Please know that I'm not against people being long as it's them and not me!

So, the beauty of an ordinary life...what does it look like?

Monday, February 5, 2018

Bluebirds and sinners and grace, oh my!

I know years go by fast for two reasons. First, it's always Thursday night and time to put out the garbage. And secondly, The-Great-Bluebird-House-Clean-out-Time is upon us...again.

The garbage thing is no big's Ted's job to drag the loaded can up the gravel driveway to the roadside. If he ever dies I will just leave it there.

But the birdhouse clean-out...that's a 2 person to do the work, and one to write down the pertinent data. That be me.

Now, if you don't have 33 Bluebird houses to clean out you may struggle with understanding the breadth of this task. It started innocently enough with a few houses. And then the babies from those houses needed houses of their own. And every year this issue has grown exponentially until now it is akin to a nightmare. For us, not them.

So this weekend, if it doesn't rain, we'll drag out the ladders and heavy gloves, the screwdrivers and scraping tools, the drill and extra plastic entryway covers, and load them all into the car along with my trusty book and pen, and set out to see what the past year has wrought.

Don't get me wrong...I love Bluebirds and I love helping them. Not too long ago they were struggling to survive development and loss of habitat. Now the Nuthatches are feeling the same pain. Don't tell my husband, but this year I have plans to put up a few more Nuthatch dwellings just to lend a hand. I ask you...can I do any less?

Last week I was out birding with friends, and we were talking about I can't remember what and I shared how the Flying Squirrels have taken over some of the houses, and one of the women said, "Oh, how cool! I've always wanted to see them!" And I said, "Well, then feel free to come along because we've given up three of the houses to them and I'm sure they're there."

And I'm sure they are there. It's another case of "Aw, they're so cute (when they're not jumping out and flying in your face as you open the birdhouse door)...and look at their little tiny babies...even they need homes so let's leave them alone." Guess who said that?  wasn't Ted.

And that's what's got me thinking this things get into our lives that may seem good, but they aren't helping matters any.