Another direction!

For those who read my blog, I am truly humbled and thankful!

I started it while my children were in school and I was trying to discern the calling in my life.

I am now very happily married but bereft my collar.  I am taking whatever path God lays before me trusting in Him.

I have a new blog, Glimpses, here on WordPress that I have decided to expand.   (commonglimpses.wordpress.com) At some point, I may copy them over here.  I need a good computer and time.  Mostly I lack time.

If you’re of a mind to, please join me on Glimpses. I’m still in the process of all kinds of things but mostly I’m living grandly because of our Lord and Savior.

Thank you!

20150827_064126-1This is one of the two peace lilies from my aunt’s funeral several years ago. I brought it to my new office in hopes of keeping it alive. I’ve done well so far. I have watered it, put fresh dirt in, and put it where it wouldn’t get too much sun.  Fortunately the fresh dirt is without weed.

And that’s life in general. We try to have the best  nourishment,  shelter, and environment to live a good,  long life.

But things happen. Some we have control over;  some we don’t.

Honestly there has been entirely too much death this year and as someone pointed out it’s only half over. A little half over.

I mourn the recent losses of family and friends. I sorrow for my children’s losses.

Yet the morning devotional associated with today’s Morning Prayer spoke to my heart in the timely, seemingly coincidental way that threads through life occasionally.

Mark 14:22-24 “Take: this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”

This Scripture assures us that we have the opportunity to live in God’s Kingdom. We are in the family of God, accepted,  welcomed, and adopted. We get to partake in something so holy and sacred…a life so different from any other.   We get to inherit everlasting life.  Because of one death, many are saved.

I still miss my brother and father dearly. I still cry on occasion. I don’t know the future but I know God’s grace,  mercy, and love are more than enough for me to be thankful.  I try to feed myself physically with healthy food, live in a loving atmosphere, and be aware of any negativity.  I try to live joyfully, deeply, richly every day because, although the eternal kingdom has benefits beyond compare, this life has incredible beauty and love which won’t come again.

I also try to feed myself spiritually,  ensuring I dwell within the community of faithful worshippers,  and pray often for guidance and protection. We don’t know when He will come again but we are told He will.

Scripture reassures like no other.

Look No Further!

PicsArt_1440587614095This morning, in an attempt to find a new view of the sunrise, I tripped over something I hadn’t seen. When I managed to move my skirt out of the way, I saw I had walked into a homeless person’s cup of water. It hadn’t been there yesterday although the sleeping pallet was.

Originally I considered posting a picture from our Date Night at Circle B of the sun coming through the trees at sunset…showing a small amount of light. My thoughts had been on the small rays of hope we find in those hours of darkness we all have somewhere in our lives. And how God is always there somehow,  some way. But then I realized the lesson was in my morning walk.

And it sorta’ goes along with the devotional lesson in the Forward Day by Day :  “God has granted safety to all those who are sailing with you.  So keep your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. But we will run aground on some island. ”  (Acts 27:24-26)  The writer was speaking of a life of faith in which we encounter rough seas. The writer goes on to say that we sometimes have to get out of the boat and enter the stormy waters because God’s plan is bigger than the boat or the waters.

So if we’re not in stormy waters, it’s a good time to be a lifeline for someone else.

Sometimes we put too much effort into looking for special ways to do good in hopes of pleasing God when our answer is right under our respective noses. Be someone’s small ray of hope, that small light in their life, that rope keeping them from drowning. It might be someone you already know or ..maybe someone you have yet to meet.

Surprises Around Every Corner

I have always enjoyed my daughter’s artwork.  The first piece I recall was an abstract one.  It was done on a simple 8.5 X 11 sheet of light colored construction paper.  It resembled stained glass, I suppose, with its dark lines separating the bright colors into geometric shapes.  I still have it in my office, along with my son’s rock painted in similar bright colors.

The one piece of artwork I have enjoyed the most was one she painted in elementary school.  It’s of my daughter and two of her friends, one of whom I still know and the other I cannot recall.  It’s a simple painting.  She chose to place her two friends on either side of her but also in front of her.  On her shirt is a large red heart while her friends have plain tops.  I know there’s a science behind children’s drawings and I know I don’t know what that science is.  But I take some pleasure in thinking she cared enough about her friends to put them ahead of herself.  That’s my uneducated guess.

My gift to her.

My gift to her.

I enjoyed the painting so much that one year I had it, and one of her brother’s poems, framed for them as my Mother’s Day gifts to them.  Much as any parent, I loved their artwork.  The painting and poem gave me years of untold delight that I decided to gift them back to them in thanks.  I think I surprised them because usually the gift-giving is the other way around on Mother’s Day.

My daughter also painted me a banner with a colorful cross on it.  Like the abstract coloring, it is in my office.  She also drew one for World Peace Day or something like that which was awarded a ribbon and honorable mention in our local newspaper.  That one is in my cedar “memories” chest where I try to store the more precious items.

But there was one bit of artistic creativity I did not keep.  And I sorely wished I had!

As she was going through her middle school years, she had asked to attend a private school.  She and her brother had attended their preschool/kindergarten school which had just expanded to include middle school.  And it was located near our new home I bought which meant she would continue walking to school as opposed to another located about 30 minutes away.  It was also next to the public middle school so she could maintain her friendships.  And…I knew from my experience as a Juvenile Probation Officer that I had no appreciation for the troubles found in this particular public middle school.  I relented and, with the help of scholarships afforded to single parents, enrolled her in private school thinking I would be avoiding the behavior that sometimes accompanies preteen/teen development.

Hahaha!  The best laid plans of mothers and women…I did not escape the horrors of a middle schooler.  She wore street clothes under her uniform.  The makeup she wore in preschool and elementary school (that’s another story) returned.  It was a time of boys and secrecy.  And other fun things which we all might remember from our own junior high years.

I always had the rule of bedroom doors being left open except when changing clothes or at bedtime.  With boys entering the picture, I really wanted the door left open as a precaution.  I didn’t want boys in her room but I didn’t necessarily want her girlfriends in there with the door closed either.  Closed doors can be trouble with teenagers.

I didn’t make my discovery until after her brother moved out and she wanted his bigger room.  We painted her new room (mostly, which is another story) and then I went to paint her old room to use as a guest room or if her brother wanted to visit.

Imagine my surprise when I closed her door and found bits of artwork all over the back of it.

She had never given me cause to look behind the door.  It stayed open when it should.  And when it was closed for bed, I didn’t need to see behind it.  Say what you will but they were responsible for cleaning their rooms so I didn’t bother vacuuming them.  I didn’t see anything shoved behind it.  So I never looked.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the back of her door before it was painted over for the tenants now moving in.

I’m not exactly sure when she painted her door.  It doesn’t matter.  Oddly, I was delightfully surprised once again with her creativity.

Children will surprise you if you let them.

Unexpected..unprepared

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So here’s something I really wasn’t prepared to go through.

I’ve moved all my life from birth until I bought my home. House to house. Place to place. Never establishing roots. A rather gypsy-ish lifestyle controlled by the government. The homes provided by Uncle Sam had bare furnishings as I recall. On Base FurnitureFunctional but not much to look at. Naturally I had dreams and ideas of how I wanted my home to look.  I bought my home as a single mother with two small children. (They were just beginning school!  I have pictures!  I cannot believe how young they were!  Where does the time go?!…. Time does pass though leaving memories in its wake.  Anyway, back to the home of my dreams….)

I remember not long after we moved in, my son was exploring outside as children will do. I had only worked on the inside by then…repainting the walls over the Christmas break while they were at their father’s house.  It was one of those warm winters where he could play outside barefoot. And ever since he could walk and get out a door (which was one year old as I learned the hard way…), he enjoyed being outside.  Oh my!   He came flying around the side of the house by my bedroom. And screamed, if memory serves me well. He had run into cacti the previous owners had planted.  That was unexpected!  Needless to say, I spent the rest of the winter and spring seasons ensuring I had every little piece of cactus out of the ground!

That same summer we had a birthday party for him. It wasn’t any big sort of party. I didn’t have a lot of money as a single mother. But there were balloons, cake, ice cream, and a few friends. And children being children, they played outside while we mothers visited. It seemed successful, if low key, and I went to bed that night feeling fairly well pleased with how it went. But not long after, I began smelling something peculiar. Having been raised that it’s not nice to call people after 9:00pm -and- not really knowing what to do, I called a dear friend in New Jersey who was up late at night usually working on projects for his parents anyway. He told me what he thought the problem was and I followed his instructions. I don’t remember now what they were but I trusted him as he was a handy Jack-of-all-trades. I was relieved and went to sleep still satisfied with my day. Until about 3:00am. I got up, awakened by the odor, MUCH stronger now, and stepped into a soaked carpet!  Long story short, insurance company was called followed by the fire department…followed by the local hazmat team. Apparently the kerosene tank in the back yard was not as empty as the previous owners thought and neither was the line capped that ran between my son’s and my bedrooms!  It seems the boys had managed to turn the valve releasing the kerosene in through the walls.  I was a bit unprepared to spend the next week with hazmat cleaning out the spill.

Home ownership is not for the faint of heart but I was determined to have my children grow up where they had the opportunity to make lifelong friends. Something I didn’t have but nor do I regret. It’s just a different lifestyle. I just wasn’t prepared for how different.

Storing Up Treasures

Love Overflowing

Love Overflowing

Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.

I read this verse from Proverbs and compare it to one in Matthew.

Matthew 6:19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.

My heart overflows these days. It overflows and spills from my eyes. I don’t know about this thing called diligence…at least in my NASB version where I find those two translations. For if you maintain diligence over your heart, you miss the joy that comes with freely giving your heart. Love isn’t always confined if it flows. These “springs of life” bubble haphazardly, spilling over rocks…rocks that sometimes sit in the way the current is wont to flow, rocks that redefine the very path of the flow, rocks that may also provide the very same path through the spills. If springs have life, they move. They recede, they swell, subside, trickle, and crash. That’s what life is.

And it’s in this somewhat unpredictable flow of life where our treasures are found. Maybe they are floating on the surface, twirling and spinning like a leaf down a gently flowing creek…sitting on the surface of our hearts like pictures in a photo album..not so memorable perhaps without the album in hand and quickly washed away by something larger, a more poignant event.  Or the treasure may lie buried on the bottom until it’s unearthed by curious, probing hands…is it a delicate, unbroken baby blanket sewn by loving hands or a scrap of what seems to be an old worn out saxophone?

A time of life supporting spring water..life ebbed and flowed, swirled and crashed. Growth occurred. New life was formed, sustained, matured, and then repeated the cycle. What kind of time?  It doesn’t seem to matter…the life cycle of a crawfish or a simple pet rabbit.  A child grows to adulthood

And while we’re being a little diligent with our heart, learning to whom we should give it and in what manner, these springs change their courses because you really can’t change nature. Springs can dry up, can’t they. Their source is compromised, drained, diverted. The life sustained by the springs cease. What, then, are we left with but dying lifeforms of those unable to move on. Scars, skeletons of what used to live there.  Fifteen-plus years of treasured memories laid to waste by the side of the road…debris, detritus.  Waiting on the garbage man who has no idea what they mean.

Thankfully, the heart remembers. Because that is where love overflows and stores up treasure.

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I don’t normally take other’s posts but this and a few others struck me as needed for meditation or better yet, rumination. Maybe you will find it to be true as well. All credit to Proverbs 31 11329846_10152965616916961_340211216136409433_n

Proverbs 31 Ministries

“Ministry — of the purest kind — isn’t about impressing others with a flawless life. It’s not about polished presentations, perfect families and always-put-together women.

It’s about daring to expose our hidden imperfections and giving others permission to do the same. Becoming a fellow struggler, faith wrestler and hand-holder who delivers zero judgment but instead offers oceans of presence and grace.

Why? Because we have a God who says we’re enough. Just as we are.” – Michele Cushatt, Author

Read Michele’s story today in our guest devotion: http://proverbs31.org/devotions/?p=3916

A dry and parched land. Of the unwanted, unusual, or unexpected.

     “Ugh. My soul longs, aches, yearns to be useful in God’s Kingdom. I know, without a doubt, I am called to serve and being without a specific ministry is horribly painful. I had one and I lost it. That death was two years ago. Now what”.
     This was my response to a question in my online Bible study. It is turning out to be a great jumping off point for my time with God.
     I am doing my best, with God’s help, to minister where I am currently planted.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m in a few good places for ministry. I have plenty to learn and plenty to share. But the soul knows when it’s not a good fit, when it’s uncomfortable.
     My go-to Psalm has been Psalm 63…
“O God, You are my God. Earnestly I seek You. I thirst for You, I long for You in a dry and parched land where there is no water….On my bed I remember You, I think of You through the watches of the night. Your right hand upholds me. I will sing in the shadow of Your wing. “
     The desert is a vast, seemingly empty, barren place.  Aloneness can be unbearable. The solitude of being in the desert can be as overwhelming as its bleakness.  It’s a place of dry conditions.  Much like the heat of dysfunctional relationships, the desert can be painfully hot. The body, mind, and spirit can feel like they’re on fire with unresolved anger, withheld forgiveness, and enveloping pride.  Desert cliffs, like those escalating problems we face in life, are seemingly insurmountable.  And there’s very little water. It’s undeniably an uncomfortable place to walk through.
     In reality the desert is teeming with life.  Not only is one alive but all sorts of creatures populate the desert- some good, some not so good. (Extra care must be taken because those pesky snakes seem to be in greater abundance in the desert places.) Admittedly, it is probably easier to hear God without the encompassing cacophony of modern, urban life. Respite or shade from the heat will be found in the cliffs and darkness. But they take time to reach and move through!  And the struggle to climb cliffs, while not fun, is necessary.  It may be in climbing a bluff or mountain that a move through the desert is even possible. Strength and endurance are built in addressing face-on the problematic cliffs. Thus spiritual muscles are developed and refined. Cliffs can also be a high place to see better. There’s hope in coming out of them. There may even be a few cliffs to navigate before reaching an oasis, verdant valley, or lush, green pastures. Without darkness, there would be no way to see and enjoy the view of the heavens above. Each star is a nightly reminder of the one that shone over Bethlehem. Stars are navigational, too. So the darkness is a good time to reflect on the day’s journey and consider the next day’s direction. Water, too, is actually abundant if one knows where to look. It’s inside the plants…and inside of us just as God exists in each of us.
     It requires resourcefulness, diligence, caution, and persistence to make it through a season or two of dryness, of little rain, of struggle.
     It’s an uncomfortable walk but God is to be found and engaged with in the desert places. Always.  Just use the map found in Scripture to avoid wandering the wilderness.
     Meanwhile I’m singing in the shadow of His wing as I walk through it.
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feast or famine..whose party is it anyway?

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From today’s Morning Prayer, “Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

We all probably have days where we wish we were doing some other task, chore, or job. I had days where I downright hated going to work. I enjoyed the families though. They were all unique. Each with their own heart-tugging peculiarities and strengths. It was the red tape, the bureaucracy, the lying, mismanagement, you name it that got to me. Sometimes I wonder if I had more faith, would it have been any different? In many ways it was a great job.  But I frequently forgot who I was working for…
 
I prayed alot. I prayed for the families. I prayed for my coworkers. I prayed for myself. I prayed for the judges, both lawyers, and commitment managers. I prayed for help and I prayed for thanksgiving. There were terrific things for which to be thankful, even in that job. But there were days I just couldn’t see past the next second.
Because I would try to be self sufficient, do it all myself. The radio host talked about this very topic this morning. A gentle reminder, if you will. 
 
Now and then I meet up with one or another of the families. It’s easier for me to tell them I care now. I don’t have to worry about crossing some ethical boundary. There are many I wish I would run across again. And so, so many I still hope turn their lives around. I am thrilled to see that many of the families I prayed for have stayed out of trouble (at least the kind that brings public notoriety). As bad as it was, I know some good came out of that job.
 
I put my heart, my life, myself into it.  There are times I’m a little nostalgic but I stayed longer than I should have. 
 
And just when I’m being nostalgic this morning, a friend posts the verses from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

A time to be born,
    And a time to die;
A time to plant,
    And a time to pluck what isplanted;
A time to kill,
    And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
    And a time to build up;
A time to weep,
    And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
    And a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones,
    And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
    And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to gain,
    And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
    And a time to throw away;
A time to tear,
    And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
    And a time to speak;
A time to love,
    And a time to hate;
A time of war,
    And a time of peace.

The verses following this?  They are entitled, “The God-Given Tasks” and “Injustice Seems to Prevail.” With these words coming at me today, I find comfort because I know God is with me.

 

My famine continues.

wilderness, desert, famine…oh my!

PicsArt_1430222691028Moses and his not-so-merry band of followers, Jonah keeping intimate company with a whale, others throughout history have had moments of a change in scenery. Moments that change their lives in great ways. I cannot fathom what Noah went through, much less Mary.

This morning on the radio, the hostess spoke about a Bible study she is undertaking that relates everyone has a ministry. I truly believe that. Everyone has a role in building God’s Kingdom… whether it’s taking out the trash that the devil brings in or bringing in laundry in the form of souls.  We are all parts of one body and every part is important, including the digestive tract.

Not everyone knows what their ministry is though. Not everyone is openly blessed with a gift for singing His praises or tending His flock. Sometimes your ministry needs to be right where you are. Brother Lawrence did very well at making KP his ministry.

Or we might have been temporarily suspended or removed from a ministry, by our choice or God’s. It may have been a temporary assignment to begin with. So we find ourselves in a wilderness, living in the belly of a whale.

It’s a difficult place to be. My gentler half told me a portion of his journey where he fought what-was-to-be for ten years before he accepted it. He’s a good man, happier, and in a much better position now.

I figure my famine is, in part, from leaving a bad place. I was hugely miserable and making others around me miserable. I have a lot of healing to do. I’ve made a good start to my way of thinking. I may have a long way to go but God will get me there.

I know this because He tells me, He shows me. The Scriptures in the picture came about through an online Bible study I’m doing where we were verse mapping. (#P31OBS #walkinfaith) I found more verses that fit but, as I told my group leader, those were the ones that stirred my heart.

Ephesians 2:10 states,  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

I am His workmanship. He is preparing me to walk in good works. I may stumble in the process but He’s got my back.