Dandelions – Human Weeds

A storm last night took out our internet signal – again, so I’m sharing Mitch Teemley’s post from The Power of Story that I can’t get out of my head.

Enjoy!

It’s that time of year. Even amid hushes of snow, the dandelions appear. How like us they are, arranging themselves about their clocks, terrified of being uprooted. Created to live for a season and then die beyond themselves, instead they push their feet into the soil and flatten their bodies against the sod. Huddling beneath the mowings […]

via Dandelions are Human Weeds — Mitch Teemley

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The Sacred Garbage Man

One of the most moving posts (and there are many) from DawnLizJones. Oh, that it moves us all.

If a picture paints a thousand words, then this one is a whole tome in itself~~

W. Eugene Smith, WWII The Pacific Campaign,1944

This photo from World War 2 is iconic and, in my mind, is one of the most important comments on war in general.  The picture, by W. Eugene Smith, is of an American Marine finding a desperate infant still astonishingly breathing among the dead in Saipan. They passed the baby from soldier to soldier until the child arrived at the top of the hill.  I wish I could find out whatever happened to the child, but have not been able to do so as yet.  Perhaps the child’s history is now lost to us.

It reminds me of how God graphically records His “finding” of the Hebrew nation:

“But I came by and saw you there, helplessly kicking about in your own blood. As you lay there, I said, ‘Live!’ And I helped you to thrive like a plant in the field. You grew up and became a beautiful jewel…”

Unhappily, the very people chosen by God took their treasured affluence in a different direction that what was intended:

“You looked like a queen, and so you were! Your fame soon spread throughout the world because of your beauty. I dressed you in my splendor and perfected your beauty, says the Sovereign LORD.  But you thought your fame and beauty were your own…you defiled your beauty…”

Idolatry of various kinds had been welcomed into the otherwise pristine picture.  The very Hand that drew them out of the mud was now being slapped away:

“They traded their glorious God for a statue of a grass-eating bull.”

And in response to the people’s freewill choices, God reveals His own:

“I let them pollute themselves with the very gifts I had given them,…”

OUCH! 

As if that’s not enough, using the gifts, qualities, and abilities God gives us for our unredeemed purposes not only equals spiritual prostitution, but also corrupts other precious ones whom God intends for His own.  What are newly birthed Christians seeing when they view my lifestyle?  Even in the Christian culture, we buy into mindsets and push our kids into activities for “their” benefit, but really…?

“Must you also slaughter my children by sacrificing them to idols?” 

I need to remember where I came from, and fix my eyes clearly on where I’m going, as well as who might be following behind without me even knowing it.  Thus, as the song goes, I am still in need of a Savior. 

“He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump.  He sets them among princes, even the princes of his own people!”

Thankfully, my history is still being written.

Ezekiel 16:6,7; Ezekiel 15:13-15, 25; Psalm 106:20; Ezekiel 20: 26; Ezekiel 16:21; Psalm 113:7  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Original Post: Inspiration With an Attitude, DawnLizJones

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Bed Head

Because of a recent conversation with Cole, I shopped for bed bargains this week.

Each of 4 sales reps all told me this is the best time of year to purchase a bed because “next week new models arrive and prices will go up.” The actual message being, “Don’t shop. Contribute to my luxury cruise – right now.”

My IL country home in 2013

‘Fact is, I’ve been casually studying ads since I left IL where I donated my wonderful Bassett double pillow top bed solely because it was ten years old. Abuse and gravity are taking their toll on my skeleton so I have regretted giving it up about 300 days a year since.

This week I thanked each each rep and took all the information home to 1. pray over, 2. research and 3. bounce my thoughts off of Cole and Izzy.

Also a fact: collecting my teensie-weensie tad of security has taken diligent care for nearly a decade. I like having some money in the bank and a couple of nest eggs here and there.

Even so, if God actually hadn’t guided me through this life day-by-day, logic and experience tells me that laying side-long across the head or foot of the bed Cole gave me won’t keep my sleep or back pain issues in check forever.

Another fact: Rising and stretching out the aches and pains is becoming a lengthy ritual again – daily.

We were all busy all week, so we didn’t discuss my bed business.

This morning I arose slightly less stiff and with notably less pain. But I was exhausted. I likely burned as many calories overnight as I do while I write (at my stand-up work station). I tossed and turned all the facts, figures and every possible scenario I could imagine.

All. Night. Long.

Sheesh.

Once aligned again and on my way to a steaming mug of warm deliciousness I read something interesting:

“Trusting Me [Jesus] is a moment by moment choice.”*

Silly me. As if I actually had to spend my entire savings immediately, I lost an entire night’s peace trying to work out not only my finances but the unpredictable details of my future. Decades ago I swore that nobody will ever make me do anything I’m not completely sure about again – especially not a sales representative.

Silly indeed. As if I didn’t know I could intentionally choose to continue trusting the God that brought me – and my nest egg here.

The old bed’s made, Latte’s gone, choices are made. I can trust God with my bed too.

Hero

For now, the little dogs, Hero and the chickens await me…

 

 

 

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6, 7 (NIV)

*Jesus Calling, By Sarah Young (c) 2004 Sarah Young, Thomas Nelson Publishing, Nashville, TN, USA

Images courtesy Pixabay unless otherwise indicated.

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Tail Spin

Last week I recognized another important reason winter here seems to drag on forever:

Izzy and the pack on clean-up day

Aside from the week between Scout suddenly going to rest and GoodGirl joining the family, I always enjoy a fine variety of canine company here on the ranch.

 

Throughout spring, summer and autumn, dogs accompany most of the people that visit for business as well as pleasure. Even strays seem to like pausing here.

Rescuing ChiuyTwo and SchnauzerOne in March livened up the tail-end of winter. And now Izzy’s grand-pup, YellowLab, joins our happy homestead at least once a week.

 

The packs happily explore the lots and pastures, ever vigilant for wayward tennis balls or Frisbees, while their humans go about whatever it is they do.

During the winter people tend to hunker down and for a while visits become rare. Long before spring I miss the dogs.

“No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as the dog does.” Christopher Morley

Sure, dogs require a little more maintenance work and clean up, but they leave little room for regret or loneliness.

“God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

Genesis 1:25 (NIV)

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Run Away Brain

Before I was fully awake I stumbled over a toy that my most recent house guests had left behind.

 

 

Moving forward regardless, even before I prepared the trace amount of caffeine I allow myself, I was fussing and fuming over something else – it doesn’t take much. I’m often amazed how, at my age and with my wealth of experience, even now I can go from quiet tranquility to untamable shrew in 4.0 seconds*.

As happens sometimes, something reminded me of a fragment of the dark, sad past. Today, instead of reminding myself that was then and this is now, and without the little dogs to remind me Someone is always listening, I soon forgot I’m not actually alone here.

Heartbeats later I gave voice to the thoughts blowing through my mind like the gale force winds that uprooted the tallest tree from the yard, and tore away half the roof on the hen house.

Yep, suddenly angry words busted outta me like a runaway train.

Annnd once again I soon came to appreciate another of the advantages of life here in Our Place: as I worked up to a full-blown rage over ancient history Jesus’ warning from Matthew came to mind – hitting me like a board across the face:

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”**

Like a muzzle check on a firing range, that advice shut my mouth and reset my reality in a heartbeat.

I no sooner confessed the open sewer line of thoughts I’d spewed into the air, asked forgiveness and then begged God to reverse any evil I caused, than the cottage radiated peace again.

With that, my latte and I found today’s place in Jesus Calling*.

Even now I am astounded by how, from the beginning of infinity God knew this morning was coming. Not only so, He also had His plan in place to comfort and help me – today and forever:

“When you focus on what you don’t have or on situations that displease you, your mind also becomes darkened. … You look for what is wrong and refuse to enjoy life until that is “fixed.”

When you approach Me [Jesus] with thanksgiving, the Light of My Presence pours into you, transforming you through and through…*”  (Genesis 3:2-6; 1 John 1:7 ) Sarah Young

Thank God we can stop run-away brains – restarting from right here and now. Oh, and can we keep early today and the rest of our pasts between Jesus, us and these walls?

Thanks!

“Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.”

James 1:26 NIV

 

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

2016 Camaro SS image courtesy of Jalopnik

*(c) 2004 by Sarah Young, Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. , Nashville, TN, USA

**Matthew 12:36 (NIV)

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Bright Week

Spring, even Easter can be like a two-edged sword in my family. I doubt we’re so unique that this should surprise anyone. At some point in life most every body I know tires of winter’s short daylight hours and long, dark nights.

Even so, my family seems to have had more than average trouble getting through to spring – so much so that several times some of our loved ones didn’t make it. My siblings and I for example lost a parent, a cousin, and two siblings before spring.

These, our first losses were when we were all very young and somehow nobody explained what happened. So, understandably our history set up my siblings and me for a sneaky darkness to come creeping around in  early March. Typically that gloom lurks in the shadows until early April. Remarkably, none of us recognized that particular annual happening until we were all grown and set in our individual ways.

Since that realization we learned to reach out to one another about the time our spirits began going down for the second time. Regardless of which of us start it, we team together to help one another through, one way or another. We celebrate the good aspects of our family and we rationalize the bad, the sad and the painful. Mostly by Easter we’ve all beat it.

This year Easter came early so my breakthrough exploded into Easter Monday.

I’m glad to have celebrated the Resurrection, our hope in glory* with extended family this year – people who know my family, our history and they’re as glad to see my siblings and me get through our struggles as are we.

 

 
 

Today I determined – yet again – to continue my campaign to celebrate Bright Week. Essentially borrowing from the Eastern Orthodox tradition, only I’ll continue to observe through to Holy Week next year. Embracing the pain and rising above it, I’m confident God shall carry me through the joy of Easter Sunday all year.

I’ll let you know exactly how this goes after I finish sorting through last weeks’ photos.

“To them [the Lord’s people who are the church] God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Colossians 1:27 (NIV, [addendum mine])

 

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My God, That Guy: Part V

“What’s going on?” the man said loudly before either of us knew what woke us – or even that we’d fallen asleep. He talked late into the night, captivating me with his stories. My mind raced between amazement that he was serious, and confusion – I mean, things he described simply don’t happen. But it all aligned with what I’d been hearing all day. I barely spoke the entire night but listened intently.

But now, something in me also sprang to life as the excited woman ran past us calling something about the tomb being empty. The man immediately bolted after her.

I had intended to leave early for the journey home, but I wound up dozing on the street next to this man. And yet heartbeats after my ears and eyes awoke, I was running after these people – I wanted to call to the man when I realized I never asked his name. I could hear their winded, excited, voices ahead of me, their feet pounded the ground and I did my best to catch up.

Soon I could see a huge stone sitting aside a carved opening in the rock,  and the woman looking in from outside. When I arrived the man walked out of the tomb and silently hurried toward the town. The woman called to him, sobbing, “I tell you, the shroud, the napkin we covered his head with were sitting to the side, neatly folded. He was already gone.”

The man called back something about guards… and not enough people to move that stone. He couldn’t have seen me. He kept walking only faster.

A myriad of emotions overtook me – entirely exhausted, every hair on my body stood on end as though the air I breathed was charged with energy. I don’t know why I walked around while there could have been guards lingering about. Still, I studied the ground until I found a level place and sat to lean against the rock wall.

002-jesus-alive

I don’t know how long I sat there until the light disturbed me. Overwhelmed with all my mind had to process in such a short time, I stood and staggered around a few steps to see the woman still standing at the opening of the tomb, weeping openly.

But the light – brilliant light I’ve never seen or even imagined, and I heard a voice, barely audible from where I leaned against the rocks, yet I clearly, distinctively heard the words from the source of the light, someone, some being seated on the stone,

“Don’t be afraid!” he said to her, “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said… And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead…”*

Frozen in place, I watched the woman turn and run where the man had gone earlier. Then the light was gone as fast as she was and a dust cloud wafted over the scene.

Drawing every bit of strength I could muster up, shelving logic as best I could for the moment, I stumbled to the opening next to the stone where the being sat moments before.

As I peered into the darkness, suddenly the same light inside the tomb almost blinded me and yet I could make out the forms of two men. They said in perfect unison, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?”**

I’m not sure what happened, I might have fainted. And yet I was more rested and energized than I had ever felt before. I recognized the sounds of footsteps swiftly approaching. Uncertain about anything anymore, I tried to not think. I climbed around the rocks again and hid. Though they all talked at once, some of the voices sounded upset, like the people that had been here earlier.

I slipped a few more feet away as quietly as I could. And yet I no longer cared why. I felt so… so relieved. I began walking, barely feeling my weight on my feet. Once past the tombs and on the road, I turned toward home. I couldn’t care about anything I left behind. Lost in my thoughts about my new friend and all he told me, all I heard from people, I could hardly wait to tell the friend I’d missed all week all I’d learned about this Jesus that was crucified.

Sure, he’ll probably think I’ve lost my senses. I don’t care. This Jesus lives!

“Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John 20:28, 29 (NIV)

*Matthew 28:5-7 (NLT)
** Luke 24:5 (NLT) Paraphrased with creative license

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Still, That Guy: Part IV

The Passover is past. The men who died on the crosses are buried. Yet, the numbers of people that seem to think and feel the same as I do is remarkable. Even if it isn’t apparent on their faces, in their countenance, all morning I heard them say so.

In the marketplace one man exclaimed to the group he was with, “…ever since I heard things Jesus said around the village and especially at the temple I see things differently. I can’t explain it, but I feel more hopeful.”

I wanted to ask him more, but that’s none of my business.

Still, I overheard similar comments all over town. “He taught like someone much older,” “…more experienced,” “wise…”

People were confused by the Jesus guy calling out the priests and scribes, how they live as compared to how Jesus lived – and died:

– The priests plotted to kill Jesus’ friend in Bethany, the man Jesus raised four days after he died.
– The priests questioned and threatened the man Jesus gave sight and his parents, the man that was born blind.
– The priests demanded Jesus’ death and freed a known felon.
– Herod actually wanted nothing to do with the Jesus trial – washing his hands of innocent blood when Jesus would not defend himself.
– One of Jesus’ own betrayed him for money, told where and when the Temple Guards would find him – and then hanged himself.
– Jesus’ last words were cries to The Almighty to forgive his accusers, saying they didn’t know what they had done.
– In his life this Jesus fulfilled the prophesies about the Messiah.

Above all, one statement I heard in particular keeps coming to mind. One woman that seemed quite sound and especially wise mentioned that Jesus said to the priests, “…destroy this temple and I shall resurrect it in three days…” She repeated how she somehow knew Jesus wasn’t referring to the building that took 46 years to build.

I wandered the streets with all these thoughts and images on my mind, still hoping to find my friend. I could have started my journey home, but I felt as if I should linger. Surely something important must have come up that we still hadn’t found one another.

While walking I came upon a man. His head bowed, he seemed positively miserable. With all my concerns, the man seemed far worse off than I. For reasons I can’t explain, I wished him a good day. He responded that the day couldn’t be worse, that all he believed in was lost. I don’t know why I didn’t keep walking, but I stopped and listened. And the man kept talking.

sad-man-with-his-hand-4272x2848_23961

He had been one of those guys that traveled with Jesus. Listening to him I became so captivated with his story I couldn’t leave. We sat, he talked and I listened. His stories about that Jesus guy were amazing. I sensed they weren’t mere stories, but facts. But then he came around to his agony today. He said he hid as his friend died; he had denied he even knew Jesus. The night before, hours after the Master had washed his feet, before the soldiers came, Jesus had told him that he would.

“But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” John 13:37 (NLT)

Image courtesy Pixabay

Originally posted on Whats Next 2016 March 26

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This Can’t Be Good: Part III

I can’t make sense of it. I feel as though I can not wake from the strangest dream – a nightmare. All week long I looked and waited for my friend, trusting we will find each other. And yet, I shared the Passover meal with strangers at an inn.

On my way to the temple, desperate to find my friend I had to wait for the ugliest parade procession ever. That guy people talked about all week, paraded through the streets. He was beaten so badly I barely recognized his gruesome image, barely able to drag his cross. Days ago a celebrity and now being treated as a criminal. Some of the same people I saw celebrating him earlier were mocking and accusing him of some vague crimes.

It’s as if people have lost their minds. How I wish I knew what has become of my friend.

Hardly anyone at the temple, I felt lost and desolate. The week certainly did not go as I expected or would have imagined. I wandered aimlessly until I came to the city wall and looked over the countryside. I saw the crowd dispersing from three crosses, a man hanging from each of them. Too far to see clearly, I am certain that guy, that Jesus in the middle. I knew he was in for trouble. But this… Bewildering.

calvary Good Fri

 

 

As I looked on from the wall, the sky seemed to fracture, the earth shook and the world became as dark at night. I was horrified. I lost all track of time. Then all I could think of was to get to the inn for the night.

Storm Good Fri

Confused and shaken, I made my way not remembering how I got there or anything I said. Overwhelmed by the images in my head, the strange, dark weather, the hideous feelings, all I had seen, chilled to the bone despite the warm day, I felt entirely alone among the strangers around me.

I don’t understand. I have done my best to be good and worshiped God as long as I can remember. And yet I wonder if I had only imagined this God. This week seems to be too much for me. I must be tired. I must rest. But I can’t shake the picture of the crucifixion on that hill. God, please help me.

 

“Who may worship in your sanctuary, Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?”

Psalm 15:1 (NLT)

 

Images Google Royalty Free Images/Pinterest 

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” Galatians 3:13 (NIV)

 

Originally posted 2016 March 23 on What’s Next

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Again; That Guy: Part II

Again I saw that guy. It’s like everywhere I go either he is nearby or I couldn’t help overhear someone that was obviously talking about him or something else he’d done.

jerusalem crowd

I couldn’t forget the priests in the temple among the debris, the image stuck in my mind. It’s like an earworm, but irrepressible. I hate the way the image makes me feel fearful, and I’m annoyed with myself that it bothers me. I’m exasperated that I haven’t found my friend – we agreed to meet at the Temple Gate. All I want is to be ready for the Passover.

I couldn’t go a block without hearing someone talking about the incident at the temple. People seemed obsessed; both excited and upset. I actually heard someone say that guy touched some blind, crippled and terminally sick people who afterward could suddenly see, walk and are no longer sick at all. How could that be? I must get to my business.

Shortly after eating, I was walking off my meal when I saw the guy again – coming toward me. I wanted to turn and walk the other way – where that guy went there was trouble. But as if the air between us was charged with some peculiar energy that drained me of my will, I couldn’t move.

The guy was not exceptionally tall, but as he moved closer he looked straight through the crowd surrounding him, right into my eyes. All motion seemed to stop – I was captivated, as if his face drew me closer. I suddenly felt as if the guy saw my entire history, knew my unspoken thoughts. I again wanted to leave, but I couldn’t. Distinctively unnerved, I wanted protection from him. For an instant a notion to call for a guard briefly flitted across my mind – I am such a hypocrite.

The moments seemed like hours and then before I knew it he continued moving on with his group. Like an idiot I stood there until I realized people were bumping into me as they passed in every direction. I checked for my bag and feeling it there I started walking again, aimlessly drifting with the crowd.

Later, making my way back to the temple, I heard people saying, “Heaven… wind… light… and Jesus.” I honestly don’t know why, but I am entirely unnerved. I feel drained, exposed, and remarkably uneasy. I long to find my friend and secure a place to stay the night.

“…A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.”
John 3:27 (NLT)

Featured Image courtesy ABSFreePic

Originally posted on What’s Next on 2016 March 22

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