Tag Archives: attitude

Reality Still

Shadow MLK
*

I’m not always the brightest bulb on the string. Sometimes I grope and grovel around to realize I must tighten my seat in the socket.

I occasionally misjudge – especially myself. Okay, I do that a lot, and can make myself fairly miserable in the process. Still working on NOT overthinking. My problem today is, again, fear – seeming like cowardice.

The latest shocker:

Meekness, non-violence is still often mistaken for weakness or cowardice. I recently confirmed this after yet another harsh self-judgement.

Digging into it I found the source of this particular fear; shame. I am sometimes ashamed for having occasionally responded to bullies and abusers ferociously.

“So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.“*1

Today me having to continuously confront my potential for violence may surprise some. It’s true. Preferring to avoid confrontations developed from those fears.

Constantly developing my trust in God helps me overcome that reality as I practice the way of the cross – strength through nonviolence.

Horrifying world events, and like many others, being “one paycheck away from becoming homeless,” I too could be steps away from crossing the line into madness, committing atrocities, and make deadly mistakes. Daily I must carefully consider and choose my way.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” *2

That’s my reality today. More than ever before I thank God, the Source of strength I easily take for granted.

Gandhi strong

**

I can live with appearing cowardly. Being slower than many people I admire is okay. Sure, to be a great thinker of stuff like many of my friends would be wonderful. I’m not. But I’m not alone either. God uses flawed humans, our friends, our heroes to shine into our lives. So once in a while, I have bright moments too. We are continuously faced with choices. Today I choose to make friends with my fear.

lincoln enemy friend

Practice makes perfect.

 

Reblogged (edited) from What Next 2016/07/21

*1 Romans 8:1 (NLT)

*2 Philippians 4:6,7 (NLT)

Images courtesy *FreeNeoWallpapers **Gandhi and Lincoln Images courtesy

 

 

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Gray Pearl – Walk #1

As we turn into the last stretch of winter I reflect fondly upon the unseasonably warm, sunny days of the Advent season here. As the sun rose I caught myself wanting to complain about yet another dark, overcast morning. Then I noticed the moon hanging over the trees in the pearl gray sky.

Awestruck. Whine diverted, I can wait on the sun.

 

Winter wonder by God.

Image by Roo (c) 2019 RapturePractice! Pub.

 

 

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Faceplant

Kyle Idleman’s book Not a Fan seriously tripped me up at first.

This kind of trip is good – challenging our attitudes. With multiple media pushing and pulling us in so many directions, regular neck up check ups are invaluable.

So on that particular morning what I expected to be an elegant swan dive into the book at the top of my stack became a shocking face plant instead.

“Here’s my point: many of us are quick to say, “Yes I’m a follower of Jesus,” but I’m not sure we really understand what we are saying.*” 

**

Thinking about it I suddenly wanted to explain myself to Jesus.

Maybe you navigate through life effortlessly. I don’t. And typically me getting out of sync with Jesus guarantees a sudden, cringeworthy stumble.

Immediately I realized that by racing to get caught up I had been forfeiting one-on-one time with God. Yet again. (Audible, heavy sigh.)

I suppose that makes me a fan.

I have been a Cubs fan as long as I can remember. Over the years as I moved around the country I half-halfheartedly followed other local teams. Still, I didn’t lose sight of my Cubbies.

So maybe I’m that kind of Jesus Fan.

But then again, Not A Fan later suggested I might be a marginal follower. As I read on my follower rating improved – some. And dropped again. And rose.

I don’t walk around with a Bible under my arm or interject Book, chapter and verse into every conversation. Okay, maybe sometimes, silently to myself. I use a Bible app most every day. But that’s not because I’m so religious (lost in church world or in Mosaic law). It’s because I LOVE people so very much I easily stray into their lives, lose sight of my own course and sometimes wind up offending someone.

Most important, while I maintain that connection with Jesus, I’m good. He sends the alerts I need. As I listen carefully He helps me hear myself, keeping me on track. He encourages me onward constantly, faithfully leading me right where He wants me – with or without my smart phone.

What’s more, He lets me think that I made good stuff happen! Good or bad, when we get together Jesus first shows me how He loves me. Then He shows me how much He loves me. He shows me what I blew up when I veered off course toward my understanding – and where He steered me right back.

And He shows me he’ll make it okay, I should try again.

Maybe without the faceplant.

Have you experienced what a wonderful God He is lately?

“… if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

 

 

Music video courtesy YouTube

*Kyle Idleman, Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus

**image courtesy Productivetothemax.com

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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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On Second Thought

Contrary to my nature, I awoke with a negative thought this morning, my body and spirit feeling uncharacteristically heavy and dark.

Not realizing it, I carried that around with me through the first minutes of the day.

Also not usual in those first moments in that hour as my brain wakes, I began examining, probing the negativity.

Hours later I’m now slightly embarrassed. After waking and walking with the Holy Spirit all these years I’m still so easily tempted to shoulder burdens God never intended for me to bear alone:

  • grief,
  • anger,
  • anxiety,
  • remorse,
  • fear…

This morning grief got a good grip on me before I even recognized it.

Thanks to God, something outside the kitchen window soon captured my attention, changing the atmosphere entirely:

clear, blue skies decorated with white, fluffy clouds!

Sometimes it’s good to be easily entertained or distracted.

With the tangible vision of a brand new day, my second thought was, “Wow God, what a fabulous day!”

God and I kicked some ideas around together a while. Now, tea is cooling, sunshine is bursting through the windows igniting the rooms with energy. As I realize today is officially the last day of winter, I’m so very thankful for second thoughts.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

 

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Character

Stuff happens. How we deal with the stuff defines us.

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

James 1:12 NLT

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Spider Struck

Spiders are plentiful where I live. Even so people being skittish about them is also common.

This morning I went on an amazing trip – in my head. Despite all the efforts I put into housekeeping, spraying all spring, summer and fall, laying bait, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera, another spider had violated my space.

In a heartbeat I was fussing, fuming, and then begging God to help me endure these seemingly ridiculous hardships.

I stormed out of the kitchen, deeply upset – over a spider watching me quietly from the stove top. Imagine the brass! Who (but another spider) could blame me for being unnerved by such a bold creature despite its small stature!

At one point I realized I’d too long entertained the idea of housebreaking Silly Suzy so she could live in the house with me and feast on the fiendish foes that have plagued me these two whole days.

 

About then I heard God’s Still, Quiet Voice say, “Snap out of it!” You see, God knows with that particular phrase I almost always laugh, envisioning Cher slapping Nicolas Cage:

And it almost worked for me – but I was close to complete melt down. Yeah. Over an itsy-bitsy spider.

Returning to the kitchen for my well-cooled mug, I noticed the spider exactly as it was some time earlier. I mean precisely there.

I am ashamed to admit my first thought upon seeing it hadn’t moved at all, was, “Great, now I have to dispose of the body…” This involves gloves, hand sanitizer, etc…

But before my brain formed the sentence, the Holy Spirit Spoke again,

“Just what is your problem?”

Like He doesn’t know. With that I stopped – everything but breathing.

Fast forward through a crying fit and more bad drama than I want to admit – you’re welcome. Once done I realized that I’ve been so preoccupied with my task list, skipping some rest here, dropping my prayer and devotional time there…

Seriously, I am getting ready for Christmas, for crying out loud! But sadly my fellowship and quiet time with Jesus, the Birthday Boy took the hit. Yet again.

I realized I hadn’t really slept well in days and that I’ve burned the midnight oil till just before dawn more nights than not.

Soon I’d washed my face and initiated some impressive groveling before God. That didn’t go far. Instead, grace and mercy swept me away.

Later, during my walk I marveled that as cold as it’s been it hadn’t snowed. Before I could finish thinking, “it hardly feels like Northwest Christmas,” I noticed flakes beginning to fall.

I turned my head to heaven, arms open, saying loudly, “Thank You God!  Merry Christmas!”

And about that spider. ‘Turns out it was actually some chamomile & lavender tea inadvertently dropped the night before.

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”
John 15:4 (NLT)

 

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Oh Love

More than anything else, I love loving. People, animals, the weather, the earth, and the varieties in all the above. But mostly I love love. I’m an equal opportunity lover. Love taking over my being is incomparable to anything else that ever happened to me. And it did’t happen to me because of anything I did.

“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding…*”

At the worst times of my life – and there have been many – love saved me from torment that would have utterly destroyed me. In the better times love showed me how to forgive, often daily, even those that violated my family and me over the years. In the best times love showed me a broader view of the big picture.

“…For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.*”

Among God’s mysteries, my life is a minuscule example of the power of love in the universe. Love is why God came in human form, took up the cross and died for such a crazy, broken species as humanity. I’m convinced that’s why love will continue through eternity. I thank God I get to help grow this love daily.

“May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God.*”

Amen

* Philippians 1:9 – 11 (NLT)

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Fruity

Almost as soon as I rose, I was a mess. My bandage was stuck to my pillow case, not my forehead and my neck hurt from sleeping on my other side. I almost always begin my day by saying aloud, “Hey, thanks, God!” But instead I was all, “waa, waa, waa…”

Clearly I needed caffeine – and prayer.

Priming the pump, I thanked God for every little thing I could see. Soon that became a stream of praise. My physical pains dissipated into oblivion, and before long God and I shared a good laugh. Yeah, at my expense. Yet again.

Today’s confession: As I brewed a pot and got my prayer journal, my feelings made me miserable. The pain, the dread, the fear, would it ever end??? I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was as if a cloud of dissatisfaction blocked any light into my soul. I didn’t recognize the scary, haggard old woman watching me from the hat rack mirror by the door. And I didn’t care if she saw me.

So, what’s funny is I’d been writing about the fruit in our lives. And suddenly that morning I could see where a few of my apples had fallen and become wormy.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22, 23 (NLT)

I often wonder if the average person goes on this insane roller-coaster ride – or as frequently. Those of you that do can commiserate with me for a moment and then feel free to snicker or laugh out-right. It’s as if we don’t know from experience what we’re like when we’re tired, wrung dry, trying to live wholly holy without sufficient Holy Spirit time.

I can see it in the mirror when I need some one-on-one time with God. Those worry lines, the furrowed brow, shoulders sloping and neck bent… Not flattering, impressive or the image of a victor!

Laugh lines are so much better. So God and I laugh at me – a lot more than I like to admit. But as I learn to laugh at myself more, take myself less seriously, I also learn to forgive myself for not being perfect. Despite a rough beginning, thanks to God I’m quite content to be good today.

“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.” Luke 6:43-45 (NLT)

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Wrestling

I’m new at farm and ranch life, so I’m learning a lot. Much of the new lessons provide great insights to everyday life.

  • As entertaining as they are, chickens are silly, entertaining creatures, but they eat weeds, bugs and provide good protein food.
  • Smelly as cattle can be, among the other benefits that will come later on, they now provide excellent fertilizer.
  • The mare was trained for herding cattle. Even without a saddle, bridle or a rider, when she sees me carrying a rope toward the pasture, she brings the cattle in. I especially appreciate her late in the day when I’m tired.
  • And did you know cows rub against anything that stands still – especially the ever-available sprinkler heads? Unless I want to toss hay, checking for broken heads is kind of big deal.

Brother and company back in the day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are no pigs on this ranch. Aside from seeing them at the county fair and driving through pig farm country on a humid afternoon, I’ve never been around pigs. But I’ve learned some about them from Brother. He raised and showed them in his youth. He knows about pigs.

Recently, as Brother mulled aloud his concern for an anonymous friend that’s going through a wringer in a romantic relationship, my mind kept returning to something I heard some years back.

“I learned long ago to never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”  George Bernard Shaw

After assuring him he told me that, he stared at me blankly for several moments. Once the point set he said, “Yep.”

Today I overslept. After coffee I quickly began scrambling to catch up with the day. Out of nowhere I remembered where that conversation with Brother went;

“If you don’t mind the slime and the smell you can go wrestle that pig. It’s a workout. But when you realize you’re not getting what you want, you get outta the pen.”

Sometimes life not going the way I expected weighs on me;

  • not seeing my offspring, my sisters and old friends feels lonely sometimes,
  • having to wait on the order of projects to finish settling in to my cottage,
  • not having the funds for things like a new mattress and a good storm door (without running up debt).

I wish I could honestly say I always keep a firm grip on reality, my expectations are consistently reasonable, I’m constantly in balance, and that I don’t worry. But like Brother’s friend, I waste a lot of time, do myself discredit by fussing and fretting about things I can’t control.

It’s all good. My new experiences and some old lessons are setting up well. Aside from recognizing when the water troughs need a power spray, I hardly notice pasture smells anymore. I’ve been close enough to pig farms and other people’s squabbles I know to keep my distance. And when prayer and quiet time with Father God remains my first priority, I can enjoy life so much more:

 

  • Gazing at the stars after a hard day’s work, enjoying the fragrance of petunias and sweet alyssum,
  • Brother’s company,
  • a relaxing walk with the mare,
  • clucking around with the chickens,

And I lose weight without wrestling pigs.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6, 7 (NLT)

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