Tag Archives: community

Handiwork

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10 New International Version (NIV)

Background derived from Pixabay image.

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No Better Said

I can’t resist sharing another stroke of genius from the marvelous mind of Mitch Teemley:

Fallmost

september

We’re slipping into fallmost, almost fall, the not-quite season. Perhaps you think of it as notumn, not autumn. Whatever you call it…

Fallmost has a certain wistfulness, a sweet, fleeting uncertainty. It’s warm rather than hot, soft rather than sultry. Early quitter leaves flutter to the ground, and fallmost doesn’t know what to do with them. Indian summer rides through, and fallmost is afraid to ask it to stay.

Unlike the big seasons, it isn’t sure what to feel. It knows it can’t remain the same. It longs for change, but is afraid to welcome change, knowing it will bring an end to that which is familiar, if imperfect.

The imperfectly familiar. That’s where fallmost lives. And where we live.

But it’s not where we were meant to live.

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The Queen is Dead .

Aretha Franklin

R E S P E C T and love forever for an amazing woman, and a life well lived.

A too quick overview:

In my youth Aretha rocked me into self-awareness (Ya gotta love that opening lick):

I can’t lie, my all time favorite:

“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’

Matthew 25:21 (NLT)

Feature Image courtesy Pinterest

Audio/visual clips courtesy YouTube

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Connect 2.1.0

Next month will mark my fourth year of blogging. While I prepare to touch bases with my loved ones around the country for the next few weeks, I’m taking a pause to review posts and progress. This could be fun!

From 2016July09*:

Connect

Have I mentioned lately I love the blogging community?

friends chicago

Imagine Heaven

I’m serious about that. Without getting all sappy here, the Blogosphere helps us feel heavenly at least now and then. A post rings in our souls, fills us with inexplicable joy (or at least makes us chuckle, think, rethink…) – reaffirms why we spend our time writing what we do. We comment and it goes on and on from there. Connection.

I’ve been blessed with friends I never would have imagined – and yet (unlike Erin and Roan whom I’ve known most of my life) we’ve never actually locked eyeballs. Still, these people get it. They make time to converse, explore different thoughts and perspectives. They not only work tirelessly to share life through their writing and blogging, but they Pay it Forward, help spread the good stuff around.

Today I am overflowing with appreciation for my friends. Somewhere in the blogosphere someone needs a ray of light and these folks are the brightest in my minuscule fleck in the universe.

So, this is me paying it forward today to only ten of the best of the blogosphere – from my humble perspective. If you haven’t met, stop by and say “Hi.” You won’t be sorry:

The delightful if sometimes slightly snarky CJ Hartwell at Feeding on Folly
The Great Thinker of Stuff, Mitch Teemley at The Power of Story,
The irrepressible Diane D. at Ladies Who Lunch Reviews…
Trailblazing life coach Michelle Malone at 2 R Better Than 1,
The gifted and gorgeous Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha at A Cooking Pot and TwistedTales,
Jacqui Murray at Worddreams, a military mom and my go-to friend for writing/blogging/publishing information on the spot,
Sweeter than ever, Oneta Hayes at Sweet Aroma
Mike Ridenour at New Hope for Dry Bones shares his from his no-nonsense, no excuses journey.
Let Adebisi Adetunji help you feel global empowerment at FeminineMaterz,
Anne Mehrling shares her life in the Mountains at Mehrling Muse

Sincerest thanks and love to each and every one of you – and especially those dears I couldn’t include today!

 

“He [God] makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)

*(a teeny bit tweaked)

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Not Odd

While collecting cucumbers, we overlooked many odd-looking, smaller, rounder ones until they were mostly orange-yellow. Izzy and I assumed they would be unpalatable and immediately let the hens enjoy them.

Rummaging through the twisted maze of vines the following day, I targeted the rounder, ripe, green cukes. I also found a few remaining yellow-orange ones. Some were longer, more like slicers but with a twisted tip – like a fuzzy, bumpy little tail. I also picked some that had just begun to turn yellow-ish.

Once indoors I sliced one of each shape and color and arranged them on a plate for a taste test. A dirty duty, I know…

Though the yellower skins were distinctively harder, to my surprise those cukes tasted fuller, actually sweeter than the green cucumbers.

Soon the phone rang. After the lengthy conversation I was anxious to finish my project and get to work. Even so, I went a step further peeling a slice of each kind of cucumber. Then, feeling pressed for time I sat at the table and continued my Bible reading.

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” James 2:2-4 (NIV)

Hmmm… Lifting my fork as I pondered I noticed that, aside from diameter and thickness, no slice or seed was distinguishable from another. They tasted, well, like cucumbers without much variance. Certain there was more, I continued perusing the sidebars:

“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV)

I chewed on this thought while putting the remaining slices in a pitcher of ice water.

Though they all looked quite different from the outside and came from separate vines, each of the plants came from the same bag of seeds. I suspect their only difference are the amounts of water and sunlight they get, some being closer to the treeline.

Yet they were all exactly the same on the inside.

What a wonderful world this is. How much better when we focus upon one anothers’ similitudes rather than our differences.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2,3 (NIV)

 

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Flat Footballs

About six months ago our ranch family began to grow exponentially.

First Cole rescued GoodGirl to ease the pain of Scout passing away. Weeks later SchnauzerOne and ChiuyTwo found their new home here as well. I’m no hater, but I’ve never been a huge fan of “yappy dogs.” Familiar with both breeds I was reluctant to take them on.  Still, their person suddenly passed away. I couldn’t refuse the older dogs any more than Cole could. Who knew they’d win me over – and so quickly?

So months later, the dogs and I spent the first weekend alone together in months. It had been over a week since all three dogs accompanied me through outdoor chores. As usual, I kicked a toy around for them as I moved hoses, checked sprinklers and topped the water tanks.

After the second fracas over the toy I crated the dogs to calm them. Once calm, I released them one by one and then ran them hard around the grassy yards. Having them “take a lap” worked well to help my adolescent boys sharpen their perspectives (and attitudes) – some things just don’t change.

I also added another (very flat) ball to the arsenal, allowing each dog a favored toy. Soon I noticed ChiuyTwo isn’t as interested in chasing the ball as she likes being drug from it (how I wish I could have captured that shot). SchnauzerOne doesn’t care as much about the ball as he loves the chase, and GoodGirl is passionate about playing Keep Away.

Soon we had a Football-Futbol game.

Before long endorphins rocketed through all three dogs till none actually cared who had which ball – if there was a ball in play at all! I added a gentle sprinkler and the excitement was off the charts.

Later while listening to reports about the immigration situation I reflected upon the Football Fireworks. All three of these dogs were in dire situations when they came to the ranch. They all needed a safe place to get their heads around what had happened in their individual lives, recuperate, and then make the best of it all. All three are confused about who they are now, what they want, and yet we all want to enjoy our home.

Sure, many other tasks awaited my full attention that day and I could have simply crated the dogs and ignored them. But these dogs are usually great companions and they sometimes help with the chores.

It wasn’t easy. It often isn’t. And yet we found a way to not only make the morning nice, but enjoy each other’s company the rest of the weekend.

I may be simple and unsophisticated, but I wonder if we could all learn some new tricks from flat footballs.

Happy Birthday America!

Peace.

“Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12:17, 18 (NLT)

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Pastoral Peace

By late winter I began to look forward to warm weather and grass growing in the pastures. With some of my joints achy from the cold, tossing hay every morning and evening seemed less a pleasant stroll and more of a chore.

Being the steer’s first spring alone we weren’t sure what to expect from his grazing. Soon enough the grass was as tall as the sprinkler pipes. We are blessed with friends and neighbors who are glad to let their horses graze in our pastures and get the growth under control.

We learned very soon that, GeldingOne manages his stress from the move by running. In the tall grass he broke off three sprinklers in those first 48 hours. One pipe broke underground which complicated watering the seedling vegetable garden as well as the pasture.

The quickest solution:

    • Shut off and drain the irrigation sprinklers to repair them.
    • Cut the tall grass so the horse can see the pipes.
    • Run water to garden with hoses.

Then SouthernNeighbors lent us GeldingTwo.

GeldingTwo likes being the pasture boss and compliant GeldingOne is now calm and content with his new buddy and the steer. The pastoral peace restored, knowing their horses are in my loving care the two geldings’ humans can concentrate more on working their properties. If all goes as planned, Cole won’t need to mow again for months. Win-win-win.

For now, until Cole can repair the shattered pipe, Izzy and I haul hoses and lawn sprinklers around the vegetable garden and water tanks. Every. Single. Day. It’s time consuming and more than once I’ve been tempted to complain check Cole about his priorities. Fortunately, before inserting my foot into my mouth, as I walk the property back to my cottage I see everything from a different perspective and hold my peace.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 (NIV)”

But there’s more: Being around the gentle, nickering giants lifts my spirits and calms any anxieties that often tag along with me. The sounds of tails swooshing nearby, hooves touching ground (in case there’s an apple or carrot in a pocket) soothes me like little else does. Sure, I’m moving hoses and horses, chopping cheat grass, pulling tack weeds and thistle, but I’m also keeping my back, hips and knees in good working order – and who needs to count steps anymore…

Before I’m done watering the veggies I have a clear vision of where we must thin plants, hoe or pull weeds. As with most things in life, one hand washes the other. But God uses growing food and tending the livestock as a family to fuel my soul like nothing else ever.

Annnd the life lessons continue.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28 (NIV)

Images not captioned courtesy Pixabay

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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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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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Supplements

I take nutrition seriously. In grade school I noticed the whole world ran better and life made more sense when I ate breakfast.  Now that my body has experienced the force of gravity for longer than I want to admit, nutrition is even more important to me.

Being “smarter than the average bear,” you’d think I would have had nutrition down by my mid-thirties. Instead, prolonged periods without sufficient rest, too little quiet time and an inadequate diet led me to heart failure. I’d been boosting my performance with hours of overtime, rigorous strength training, and substances  additional supplements, but my soul was starving. I thank God daily for giving me the chances to change and for leading me in the right directions.

Three decades later, with a declining metabolism and well-abused joints, finding the right balance between fuel and burning calories remain a top priority. To ensure I’m running at peak performance – okay – and to avoid ever experiencing a black-out again I’m careful to 1) hydrate 2) eat 3) exercise daily and 4) take supplements.

Even with careful attention to my diet, I discovered that my thyroid still functions quite well, but a vitamin D deficiency left me sluggish and tired. A supplement righted that within days. It seems odd that with all our scientific advancements our food alone doesn’t always provide us all our necessary nutrients, so I appreciate medicine that quickly identifies most deficiencies.

The same principle applies in our spiritual lives. As a dear friend recently told me, “All the notes I take while studying and all I hear in church don’t amount to much until I put it all into practice.”

Determination, the strictest routine, worship services, motivational speakers and affirming audios help us achieve overall good health, but they simply aren’t enough. We all need exercise and a good diet (that includes attention to what to avoid).  Supplementing our natural bodies by caring for others and maintaining a strong spiritual connection with our maker is also important.

I usually provide a good example of what not to do. Doing as I do will mostly get you into trouble. God’s grace is seriously my only hope. This world is so full of shiny and sparkly stuff, I often forget He is always with me. But almost as often I quickly remember He is always near – usually soon enough to avoid hurt or harm.

 

The best supplement ever, a relationship with the Holy Spirit, being besties with God is essential to a peaceful, satisfying and harmonious life.

“In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. “ 2 pet 1:5-9 NLT

 

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