Tag Archives: Bible

No-mo

Thursday this week was monumental for me.

I ignored my phone.

Believe it.

This alone is epic. I don’t actually suffer from nomophobia. I unintentionally walk out of the cottage without the phone more often than I like to admit. Doing so not only causes Brother Cole undue concern every few weeks or so, but it forces me to shop without my lists, I miss Kodak moments, and mess up my step count (but there’s an app for that).

Still, ignoring a notification is difficult for me. It’s not a mom thing. I admit its about living alone and sometimes needing to be needed – moreover remembered.

Astounding as it is, I’ve only recently come to fully appreciate my personal space. Until some weeks ago this strange aloneness took me to such extremes I looked for – and found – things to keep me busy.

There were chores – laundry (for one person), cooking, dishes (again, it’s just me), dusting, tending livestock (ahem, that aren’t actually mine)…  Seriously, who dusts a barn? And yet I struggled getting around to organizing, decorating or (gasp) my job!

Unsettling as this was I thought my prayer life was good – while I was actually praying. But when all my other personal needs took a back seat to anything anyone else may have wanted, any time – and there’s nobody else to blame – forget Houston, Heaven, we have a problem.

Immediately I prayed for help with this. God’s response came quickly – and actually annoyed me initially.

During my quiet time early on Thursday the phone sounded repeatedly. I assumed Cole was is a mood – it happens. We have an understanding – when he actually needs me he can call.

Hard as it was, I ignored the phone.

Later I found that not only the earth still turned without my help, but the text was actually DearFriend sharing Scripture God put on her heart for me.

The breakthrough? I realize I must choose to constantly make my relationship with God my highest priority. As I practice doing this, I get to see myself the way Jesus sees me – beloved. No matter what else. And I adore Him right back.

Ridiculous as it is, after trying to run the universe for the first part of my life, this relax-and-let-God-be-God thing is still a challenge. Still, after diligent practice, on Thursday DearFriend helped confirm I am beginning to grasp the handle on it.

So, occasionally pity parties leave me feeling slightly disappointed that I wound up living alone. Fact: God is always with me – even when I try to ignore Him, run or hide from Him. And He always graciously reminds me, this story’s far from over.

I am God’s beloved. That’s enough today.

“Praise the Lord! For he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalm 28:6-7 (NLT)

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The Flu

Weeks after everyone else on the property shook off the flu, my rendition of the bug now has me stumbling around in a fog. As Roan describes it, “I have dumb. I can’t brain.”

Fortunately the animals are unaffected. I gather the fortitude to take scraps to the chickens, skirt around all the puddles and mud on the property from all the pre-spring rains. Annnd then I return to vegetate and recuperate in my cottage.

What’s more, my sense of humor remains intact. Each time I rise and feel my brains drop to my feet, the big screen in my mind replays the “Post Mud Slide” scene from My Cousin Vinny.  The hens will at least appreciate all my efforts more than Judge Haller – or not.

Enjoy the 50-second (G rated) YouTube replay while I get some tea and a fresh box of tissues.

 

Have a happy, well weekend, bloggers!

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take [my infirmity] away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NLT)

 

Sniffle. Snort…

Images courtesy Pixabay

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Hide and Seek

I’m very careful of myself in public – in fact, leaving the ranch can sometimes be so overwhelming I will avoid it altogether. Leaving the routine, the comfort and safety of the ranch – my hideaway – to face people, to be seen or worse, to be judged can sometimes feel like too much.

‘Fact is, over the years humans hurt me so that occasionally I avoided the species entirely. I’m glad to say those few seasons were short. And the older I get they become farther between.

Truth: I actually enjoy people as much as I adore my feather and fur friends.

Over these long winter nights I came to realize that this reluctance to leave, the instinct to hide is about my secrets:

  • I desperately want to belong
  • Sometimes shame seems to choke me
  • My beloved family is a big, hot mess
  • I’m broken
  • I’m vulnerable

More important than anything else I may feel is what the Bible tells me:

“All y’alls messed up somehow. Ain’t nobody’s perfect. Nobody.” *  Paraphrase mine.

The pivotal point here being All.

Some flaws are more visible than others is all. The strongest, most organized, confident and fashionable people are messed up somehow. That includes me! So my secrets are no more offensive to God than anyone else’s. “All” means that Jesus took it all to the cross, every single mistake, ill deed, victim or perpetrator, intentional or otherwise. ALL.

More importantly, “..now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”**

So, compared to God’s opinion of me nobody else’s matters. What’s more, I can dismiss my worst feelings and opinions of myself. When God looks at me, all He sees is Jesus. I can now focus on seeing myself the same way.

Sure, I realize this is a process. I’d been seeking out hiding places longer than I can remember. I still have so far to go to get an edge on seeking God’s truth first, but when I make Scripture my focal point and not my fears or feelings the sky’s the limit. My friends can vouch for that.

Do you ever get to feeling weighed down, tired of trying or reluctant to try again? Come on by Our Place and let God’s peace help you.

* “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.’ Romans 3:23, 24 (NLT)

** Romans 8:1 (NLT)

Images (except for chickens) courtesy Pixabay

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Firsts and Lasts

I’m not sure why, but firsts and lasts most always strike me after the fact. I want to hit back, but that sets a bad example.

A last glimpse of yesterday.

 

A first glimpse of today

 

If the forecast is right the last stove fire of the season.

 

Likely the last log for this winter

 

The first rays of sun today and a battery’s last morning ever 

 

Daybreak on the last load of winter brush

 

Our first signs of spring

 

“[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

 

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A Hazy Shade of Winter

All winter these trees captivated me. Neighbor and I searched, but this was the best angle.

 

Feels like the last firewood load this year.

 

Fog quickly blanketing a hillside in town against the morning chill

 

Late winter textures at the woodpile

 

The Mouser family eyeing NewGirl, the latest addition to the ranch. This could take a while.

“[God] directs the snow to fall on the earth and tells the rain to pour down. Then everyone stops working so they can watch his power. The wild animals take cover and stay inside their dens. The stormy wind comes from its chamber, and the driving winds bring the cold. God’s breath sends the ice, freezing wide expanses of water.” Job 37:6-10 (NLT)

Original A Hazy Shade of Winter by Simon and Garfunkel, but the new mix by The Bangles does it justice.

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Drama

How strange is it that with many of my simple dreams coming true, now that I’m back living in a place of my own, my tangible daily needs all provided, every week or so I go off on a tizzy fit?

Stranger still, If I pursue the alarming issue it usually boils down to doubt or distrust. Crazy is how I still go there after three-plus decades of daily practicing God’s presence (emphasis on practice).

Fortunately, that typically takes me to Our Place where God takes over. There He reminds me:

My brand of crazy includes a flair for drama.

 

Early on in my walk with Jesus, after a dramatic run-through of an upset I would initially feel relieved. But the more I studied Scripture, put what I learned into practice and developed a relationship with the Holy Spirit, catching myself in a full-on rant would embarrass me – secretly or not.

Later I’d feel humiliated. For years I repented of my life-long habit of talking, often yelling at people not present – essentially the walls – at least a few times a week.

Too much alone time on my hands, perhaps. Whatever. Did I stop the practice?

Not hardly.

Eventually I realized something else. I relish my offspring’s (nieces and nephews’) dramatizations – especially school-age ones:

  • their experiences – upset or otherwise excited,
  • plays and pageants,
  • reenacting the day’s happenings,
  • describing events and especially movie scenarios – don’t get me started on the boys’ renditions of Monty Python movie segments.

To me these are all delightful.

My Sage Someone counselor pointed out to me how in much the same way, Father God enjoys watching His kids’ dramatics too. In most cases my personal brand of ranting is basically okay – healthy to a degree: generating fewer loops, no bloodshed, no foul.

When my present-day scenes wind down I realize I must exhale more of the past, breathe in today and trust God will work it all out as He does best, in His good time. I must daily (hourly sometimes) seriously get over myself and stay finely-tuned in to God. That way if He brings an issue back, I’ll be ready to respond as He teaches, to act, speak or silently pay close attention. We can hope. The more I embrace that reality the less often I entertain Daddy-God with a one-woman episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

I look forward to always meeting challenges or the emotional surge du-jour with, “No worries, God’s got this,” instead of scenes rivaling Survivor.

I like to imagine a someday when the pressure’s on: I’ll make a bowl of popcorn for my Audience of One. Then instead of enduring another of my spontaneous spectacles, we’ll hang out. I’ll get to watch where that episode takes the story and enjoy the live show. I can even invite friends, supporting actors…

Yeah. I’ll be good with that.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. … Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 (NLT)

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

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Our Place

Over a particularly fast-paced phase of my life, for my boys and me every facet was remarkably intense.

How I remember my boys and me on most school/work day mornings.

I gave my life to Jesus at the peak of that tiger-woman, super-ambitious, take-no-prisoners season. I did so realizing I would have to read the Bible and learn everything to know about God. I had no idea when I’d find time, but I believed I could do it. I had no idea I could actually know Him.

I remember doing my best to make a place for prayer wherever I happened to be. At first whenever all my wheels completely stopped moving, I’d close my eyes and focus my thoughts on Jesus for whatever moments we could steal – traffic signals, school pick-up zones… That worked for me.

Until it didn’t.

Jobs, kids, and more responsibilities than one working, single mom should bear made my prayer-on-the-run kind of belief system seem necessary. Soon the church became a second home. I took on yet another job in the church office. I began understanding some Scriptures and became more religious than I never imagined I would ever be. I soaked it all up like a sponge.

Essentially, I blended in to Church World. Though I felt as tired and worn as ever, people told me Jesus was doing something amazing in me. Secretly I had no idea what.

In reality I was broken, the pieces had begun falling apart. Soon I couldn’t find my mental prayer places anymore.

God changed my circumstances. My mind and my spirit began healing, but not before a heart attack forced me to either stop running or stop living. I laid down and gave God all the pieces of my heart.

As I recuperated I came to appreciate making a designated place to pray, be quiet and listen for God. At times that was a corner of a closet or a chair next to a window in the garage. Wherever it was that place became my sanctuary.

Eventually my boys accepted the new me wasn’t going away. They became comfortable with my occasional pauses, my long talks to God deep in the nights and my occasional far-away gaze (imagining the happy, carefree world I kept hearing about). Before long they stopped wondering about my new, mostly quiet demeanor and eventually they too would visit my prayer place.

The boys made homes and families of their own long ago. And that prayer place now takes up my entire home. It’s Our Place – mine and God’s where everyone’s welcome.

Are you feeling shattered? Is your life too intense?

“I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.”

Ephesians 3:15 – 17 (NLT)

 

Tiger image courtesy Imgaram

Breaking woman image courtesy Pixabay

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

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Thaw – Walk #22

Here in our little corner of the Northwest we’re beginning to sense spring is near. My walk today was to the western rise of the north pasture and back. On the way I noticed even the ground seems to be awakening from winter rest.

Last year’s 70 Challenger project out of mothballs by sunrise.

Sunrise makes its way down the trees behind the shop.

Grounds around the pasture fence begin awakening.

 

Gravel foliage springs to life

 

Steely Dan the lawn art, weary of holding down tarps on the wood cribs.

 

  “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12 (NLT)

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Ups and Downs

What a remarkable morning it’s been!

A fellow blogger at Life Continues shared some vintage photos complete with captions. I enjoy photography and I relish those times when someone else’s mind wanders in some of the same ways as mine. And I especially enjoyed her closing shot. Happy sigh.

I needed that. During the short, dark winter days we can be more sensitive than usual. Isolated by weather, spirits can easily take a nosedive.

For example, lately I’d nursed the sting of a clearly unintentional offense from DearFriend (not to be confused with DearOldFriend 😉 ). In fact, because of something else DearFriend said offhandedly a couple of times, the molehill had become a mountain in my mind. Soon I had to “walk it off” before I could spend my usual quality time with God.

Some days finding the peace that passes understanding* takes longer than others. ‘Ya know what I’m saying?

But this morning I was free of any gloomy feelings and was determined to not allow any negativity about anything – period. Then what promised to be a sunshiny day turned dark and overcast before I loaded the days’ firewood. With that disappointing change, once back inside I went to the WordPress Reader instead of working, seeking fun and lively headlines.

Comically, I was going to skip over that post. The title was a tad ambiguous so I kept scrolling. As I scrolled, I began to feel the days-old sting – DearFriend saying in passing that one of my post Headlines as it appeared on Facebook sounded negative to her. Since she’d just been through one of life’s wringers, she didn’t bother to read it.

Ouch!

But the timing this morning couldn’t have been better. I sure showed DearFriend… I scrolled back and read that new post. So there!

In that unfortunate conversation with DearFriend, time restraints did not allow for us to address my concerns for her – or her opinion of my writing. Later in my unchecked imagination, since one of my biggest fans no longer read my work I was ready to throw in the towel!

‘Fact is, I’m blessed with great friends that are consistently supportive. They understand that if I’m out of sorts there’s a good reason. DearFriend never implied she didn’t read any of my posts or that the one actually was negative. She said she had an issue on that one particular day.

Working through CPTSD issues, it’s easy to get stuck in a present day scenario. Often a moment can last for hours or days. Unable to see through the temporary fog – what would otherwise be a natural, reasonable response to new experiences – sometimes survivors can quickly slide down a slippery slope into the profound sadness of a past event or depression.

In those situations forward motion can falter and the joy of life can seem temporarily absent.

This is why friends, community, support networks, (ahem) the blogging community are essential to healing and recovery. One hand washes the other, people.

So, something I’ve learned this past year is to roll with occasional negativity, but don’t run with it. I’m learning to ask myself what I’m feeling and why. Often all I need is a simple momentary distraction:

  • Toss a ball – even better when there’s an obliging dog to chase it,
  • Positive affirmation. Say out loud, “I can do this,” “I can look from another perspective” “This is a test”
  • Step outdoors for a minute or two, loose those endorphins.

If in moments some happy possibilities don’t emerge,

  • Pick up the phone and shout out a simple, “Hey.”

Most times only God knows the grief or fear one may have just relived. More often than not with the sound of a safe, friendly, familiar voice, I’m happy to simply be alive and far happier than I imagined I could be.

Now and then we all need a little help and simple, healthy distractions may not always be ideal. Most of the time everyday life on the ranch keeps me in balance. My methods are by no means a cure-all to traumatic events or depression and sometimes distractions don’t help in the long run. After years of working with experts I’m learning to recognize when I need a life-line, so I don’t hesitate to ask for help.

I’ve also learned I actually can handle sad times. What happened back then was then. It’s not now. I can now enjoy today. The sorrow, terror and pain doesn’t actually last forever. By learning to help myself back up, I learned to help others up too.

 

What’s more, when the time is right I can enjoy acting silly with my friends, at ease with the rest of the world. Of all God has shown me over the years, I am most assured that nothing can interfere with His plans for my life – not even me.

 

“O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed; if you save me, I will be truly saved. My praises are for you alone!”

Jeremiah 17:14 (NLT)

 

* “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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Invaluable Beauty

About the time I feel entirely unproductive and worthless I find I’m in exactly the right place. When beauty grips me in the most remarkable places I can feel God nearby.

At the woodpile, for example:

 

 

“Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is ‘finding his place in it,’ while really it is finding its place in him.” C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

 

The one thing I ask of the Lord
    the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    delighting in the Lord’s perfections
    and meditating in his Temple.

Psalm 27:4 (NLT)

 

All images (c) 2018 Rapture Practice! Publications

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