Tag Archives: God

Hiatus

It came gradually. Like the spring storms in our region, what began as slight awareness became genuine concern. I admit, during the first few days I considered this was all about me giving up coffee. Only I didn’t plan this. I couldn’t stop or defer it either.

My usually reliable creativity began waning. My dwindling reserve of scheduled posts concerned me. And yet strangely, I felt remarkably calm. For years I’ve worked faithfully on my dailies. And for days I sent it all to the recycle bin.

I resisted, desperate to complete my lists of tasks and projects, unwilling to yield a smidgen. I wondered if this could be some mysterious new virus or bacteria. But I had no symptoms of being sick. I was not sad. My thoughts were clear. There was no hint of any crisis du jour or impending doom. I slept well and napped soundly when I felt tired. And yet I felt weary. I soon began to wonder if I was literally going mad.

I fought it every way I know how, resolved to forge onward, determined to regain my pace.

Soon I realized that for months, years actually, I’d practiced systematically slicing fragments of personal time wherever I could to produce more, serving the greater good, thinking I must work harder, do better. I hurried from one task to another, rarely pausing.

It’s not that I felt drained. Still, sparks of joy had become rare, no longer the integral element of my life. And I hadn’t noticed.

Days later, vanquished, I cried out loud, “God, I don’t understand! What am I missing?” Immediately I heard, “You.”

With that I surrendered.

I cleared my schedule, stopped work and began doing only rudimentary activities. It was hard, but I persisted.

For the time being my only assignments are animal and self care and Bible time. Even prayers are more about listening for God. After a few days I realized, I am literally living by faith, hour by hour and not by my strength or determination. This had long been my heart’s desire, but something else always seemed more important. Until now.

And the world kept turning!

This morning as I returned to the cottage, livestock munching alfalfa, the dogs happily running circles around me, I giggled. Then we circled back out to the pastures – for fun! I noticed with delight new bird nests here and there, clover flowering, tulips are opening and brand new lambs in the neighbor’s pasture.

Again I ignored the lure to work. It feels strange, but I’m okay with that today.

I don’t know when this hiatus will end, I didn’t call it, but I’m confident in the One that did.

“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT)

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Keep Juggling

A long time ago in a place far away an exceptional human became my friend. Arlene Powers has an infectious passion for living. We met when she picked me from a temp pool to work for her team of professionals. Months later we moved into different departments and then eventually left the Company, but God had glued us together forever.

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I don’t recall why we both call each other Bert – it simply works for us. Though she never said it, I suspect Bert recognized I was not your average Accelerati Incredebilis when we met. Always strong, stable, and focused, one would never know she too was familiar with trauma.

I’m frequently thankful most people can’t see feelings and confusion, but Bert does. Pain doesn’t intimidate her, no siree.

Bert recognized the clown in me and patiently coaxed her out. Regardless of my issues, she loved and respected me even when doing so was challenging. In our professional circles our dings were our secret.

Clowning was different from other performing arts I’d ever done, demanding far more work and commitment than I ever imagined. Bert’s passion for it was infectious and I came to love it too.

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But not like Bert did. As she typically accomplishes everything she sets her mind to, she designed and hand crafted the most stunningly, beautiful costumes for herself, her daughter and other clowns. Each one unique with lots of hidden pockets and props, they were works of fine, living art. Bert took the art of clowning to a higher level, mastering the craft and then collaborating on books about clowning, costuming and ballooning.

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Fellow Clowns, audiences and charities throughout the Southwest enjoyed Arleenie Beenie’s talents for years.

With Bert’s coaching I went to clown camp, trained, developed and copyrighted my face and costume, created props, helped develop skits and routines, together, solo and with other clowns. Adding pantomime, juggling, face painting and balloon art, we were your basic, all-purpose clowns.

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Learning to juggle, focusing upon only one thing, was difficult for me. For weeks Bert taught and coached me along patiently, employing an allegory that became my mantra:

A man weighing 190 pounds had to cross a bridge carrying three five-pound boxes. The bridge could hold no more than 200 pounds.

How did the man get all the boxes across in only one trip?

The answer of course, he juggled them.

The bridge is life. The boxes are our struggles, emotions and griefs. The only way across the bridge is to juggle the boxes. We can keep them all within our purview, but we must concentrate on catching each one as it drops. For me the allegory was a game changer.

Though Bert saw what I couldn’t, I’ll never forget the look on my teacher-Bert’s face as I added a third, and then fourth Hackey Sacks to my routine. She radiated the joy of accomplishment for us both.

I imagine that’s how God sees us; laughing with us when we’re just plain silly, and practicing our way through our challenges. Bert also coached me as I juggled my gushing thoughts and overwhelming feelings.

I gave up the Hackey Sacks, Nerf balls and rubber pet fish, but juggling became my personal foundational skill. While I occasionally drop some of my stuff along my way, I keep the boxes moving.

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Though I stopped performing publicly after a couple of years, Annie Roo became the biggest part of me. Over the years I became grAnnie Roo. Bert remains the Bertimus Maximus and still creates beautiful art, mostly of birds and she donates all proceeds to Liberty Wildlife and other sanctuaries. She’ll tell you she’s just doing important Bert things.

I have a living example of God’s delight in me, remembering Bert’s face as I jumped the next hurdle, mastered the next challenge.

In loving memory of
my eternal friend, Arleenie “Bert” Beenie/Arlene Powers

Signed, Bert

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)

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Squeak

20161016_125642Before the move to Texas, Squeak had been my sister Roan’s pet. Preferring to avoid the more dominant cats of our lot, he now inhabits the neighbor’s yards and pastures south of my bedroom window.

Not seeing him for weeks at a time concerned me during this hard season, but occasional sightings remind me how my family thrives here.

This afternoon I noticed him basking in the sun, staring dispassionately at me as I opened my bedroom window – for the first time since the onset of winter. His blinking pale green eyes said it all,

“Can’t you see it’s still cold out here? Roo, you’ve gone nuts.”

Inarguable, but nuts are brain food. I did the math: it was 47 degrees outside with marvelous, warm sunshine. Inside the cold radiating from the concrete floor made for 52 degree rooms.  Yeah, it feels cold now, but wait, July’s coming. Though comfortable while I move about, as I sat working the cold quickly gripped me, pushing me outside into the sunshine every hour or so. As much as I enjoy the short walks, the frequent interruptions quickly wore at me.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all He has done.”*

The many distractions from deadlines I’d hoped to meet today felt too heavy. A little while after noontime I boldly opened the bedroom window and then stood still, holding my hands open before it, checking for slightly warmer air outside.

Excited, (with only a slight shiver) I also opened the western window in the living area. Again, warmer air wafted in.

Surging with new energy from this tangible promise of long-anticipated spring, I set a timer to remind me to check the windows again in an hour, and happily returned to my desk. Rejuvenated with warmer, fresh air now pushing the candle wax and wood stove smells from the rooms, I keyed madly away until the alarm sounded. The incoming air already cooler, I reluctantly closed the windows with a shudder.

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Knowing spring is coming soon, and breathing in the warmer, fresh air are profoundly different.
 
Granted, within minutes the outside air was again too cool. But I’d placed a milestone in this crazy winter.
 
 
Inside is 54 degrees already. We made it, Squeak!
 
 

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

*Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

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Scare Scars

When I was young, I adored watching Sci-Fi movies with my Dad. When he worked nights I took it to the next level. Monster movies and horror; Dracula, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Twilight Zone… they captivated me.

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And then came bed time. I’d lay in the darkness terrified a monster would pop up beside my bed – all it would’ve taken to stop my racing heart. Pop! Ahhh…. {Hitchcockesque faces flash and fade into darkness}

A few times after Mom or Dad swept the room for monsters – hours after I should have been asleep – they announced there’d be no more monster movies. Too late. By then the monsters were in my head. For-ev-er.

And those old movies got nothin’ on today’s horror films; the trailers alone give me chills.

graph-kid-bing-jpegToday I stick with classic Westerns and prime time network shows. Seriously, grading on a curve, including my station in life and all that led to my present situation, I have solid grounds to be scared. Okay, icy-muddy ground right now. I need no additional stimuli to feel fearful.

So here’s the rub: I’ve been passionately pursuing relationship with Jesus for over 30 years. He’s proven himself faithful time and again.

“Then [Jesus] asked [His disciples], Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”*

And yet, sitting in my snug little cottage last night, a ceramic heater warming me, in the silence without a fire crackling I became very aware the wood supply was depleted. Worry, regret and anxiety began sucking the ambiance from the scene. I quickly became so distracted I’ll have to check Hulu to see who the bad guy was on Elementary, for crying out loud!

Without realizing it, I began brain-storming getting to the grove as soon as possible. Taking a sip of tea with my next thought, pain from my arms reminded me that won’t happen for several weeks and my mind spiraled from there – until the heater kicked in again.

kermit-money-pixabayThis is why Cole brought me the space heater saying, “The weather’s warming up. In the meantime you’ll be fine with this.” I however envisioned an electric-bill induced cash crisis and dismissed the heater for a couple more weeks – as I stressed my arms chopping more wood.

monster-pixabayIn truth I was afraid the little heater wouldn’t be enough, that I’d soon be cold, discontent or sick with endless sniffles – as if Cole doesn’t drop in to check on me every day or so.

Fear is a monster hiding under our beds. When we give it place it will rob our joy from even the best times. Father God knows what He’s doing. Just like a Daddy chasing away monsters so we can sleep, He sees to our every need.

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Seriously, we can learn to recognize fear, confront it and stand against it. Granted, standing in the face of storms of life is often hard. Still, I’ve noticed when we stand against fear it dissipates. Same goes for hatred and want. That’s the kind of solidarity I’m talking about. And we start with standing and then take little steps forward – in my case with as little stumbling as possible.

Hours passed this morning while I processed my thoughts around this. I had spent yet another evening feeling discontent. But then I awoke happy, recognizing the sadness was actually fear in disguise.

Depending upon others, allowing them to care for me takes some getting used to. I’ll keep working on that. Meanwhile I’m cooking some popcorn. El Dorado is airing tonight!

“The thief approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, slaughter, and destroy; I came to give life with joy and abundance.” The Voice

*Mark 4:40 (NLT)

Graph image courtesy Bing

Other images courtesy Pixabay

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Changing Things Up

 

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This morning started out amazing.

First, I slept. Yay! Then I woke up feeling exceptionally happy for no apparent reason.

With my next heartbeat I felt extraordinary gratitude. Rather than bolting out of the bed to check the wood stove, I pulled the goose down comforter over my shoulders. Annnd that familiar pain shot through my arms.

I didn’t care. I snuggled in and had a long talk with God.

I started by thanking Him, beginning with the obvious blessings in my life: good health, comfortable bed, a warm home, firewood, a variety of food…

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving; go into His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him and praise His name.” *

Soon I asked for specific blessings for my family, friends and essentially everyone I know. Before long I was back to telling God how great I think He is, how good it is to know Him.

I gotta tell all y’alls, this scenario is rare. I typically begin my days with prayer and thanksgiving for my life – from my desk or armchair with a Bible, a freshly brewed latte or mug of tea, a good fire crackling in the stove…

Me lingering in bed rarely happens. During this exceptionally harsh winter my morning dialogues have started with “Thank You, Jesus. Now, please help me,” just to get out of bed – and then I hit the floor running. Today without thinking or planning I changed things up a little.

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What’s more, I think I’m better for… Wow. Sunshine!

And good just keeps on coming.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38 (NLT)

*Psalm 100:4  (NLT)

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Benched

Today was a first. Delighted to find I had an internet signal I began exploring Hulu – in the morning.

I’ve been benched.

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But I regress. In the editing process I cut numerous details from my previous posts; the whining – you’re welcome:

  • hammering axes to the breaking point chopping logs – hard on muscles and tendons,
  • the arabesque leaps generated by snow-covered ice – interrupted by plummets into the same,
  • breaking less graceful falls, straining my arms,
  • learning the easy, shocking way the wire on the pasture fence was hot,
  • wood burning stove: seared, burnt and scalded hands, arms and ankle (don’t ask about the ankle),
  • innumerable bruises and scrapes – my favorite resulting from a log bucking into my shin.

Suffice it to say this body’s taken a beating this winter.

Yesterday I was rapidly approaching my limits with the ongoing cold. I developed a plan. I thought it was ingenious:

remington-limb-trimI’d carefully use my little electric chain saw to cut logs and fill one wood bin. Ambidextrous, I thought surely I could do that without further injuring my right arm. Once prepared for a few more weeks of extreme cold, the weather will certainly warm immediately. Things always seem to go that way. Right?

So, now compensating for my gimpy right arm I’ve stressed my left arm and both hurt.

Later, shaking her head at me, Doctor Kendra simply said, “Stop. Doing. Everything.” And then brought me her sling that belts to the waist.

Note to self; texting and keying also involve the biceps.

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.”*

After doing only the most basic chores today, Kindle being uncooperative and books actually being too heavy, videos are my last hope for resting and allow the healing to happen.

The up sides:

  • Jogging in place during the many, many advertisements, my legs and lower torso will be in remarkable shape for spring,
  • I’m inspired with new story lines – spin-off ideas from trailers,
  • I’m now nearly an expert at processing wood and survivalist heating,
  • I saved enough money to buy a couple of cords of wood to repay Cole and the neighbor,
  • Though I feel vastly accomplished for having done it, I’m done cutting wood myself.
  • As I rest I can plan to make candle/pottery space heaters to keep me snug till spring.

Oh, and I’m refining my cell’s Speech-to-Text vocabulary.

Happy blogging, friends!

“Come to me, all you who work and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

* Psalm 62:5 (NLT)

Images courtesy Pixabay and Home Depot

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Avalanch

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I’ve been home here in the northwest, without cable and reliable internet for a few months now. It’s taken some adjusting, forcing me out of habits and especially my comfort zones. With the local library, a $10 antenna, new cell device, changing my cell service carrier and careful timing, it’s working – at least until the landscape melts. I’m not gonna lie, I miss spending hours a week interacting with my family, friends and fellow bloggers on line.

And with the exceptionally hard winter I’ve taken some hits. Falls, colds, joint aches, some tendinitis, bursitis on top of my new, stylish gait from fracturing my coccyx (Hey! I got to say it again). At one point I considered what being trapped in an avalanche felt like. The next morning I realized I was complaining, aloud, actually whining at my mirror, “Really? Aren’t we done with this crazy cold yet?”

Was it me I recall saying, “I adore the four equal seasons here. Just about the time we wonder if the heat or the cold will ever let up, Bam! it does?” Yeah. I said it. Often. Coming home to the old, familiar climate that suits me best was what I looked forward to most. Not. This. Winter.

“Do everything without complaining and arguing,”*

Convicted, I was more determined to 1) stop whining, and then look for new ways to get through challenges. As I groaned zipping my jeans I thought about eating better. I’m kinda big on eating well, so this would take more than merely adjusting my diet.

I began by turning off the TV, radio, Kindle, CDs, setting aside books, newspapers and all other distractions at mealtime and while dining. Immediately I not only spared myself the smells and waste from scorching or burning my food while multitasking, but I honestly became more fully aware of my many blessings. I enjoy the challenges of “saving” a recipe, but not needing to is way better.

After a few days I noticed I ate less and enjoy food more. Soon, my jeans fit more comfortably again; remarkable after weeks without power walks and workouts while I heal. Okay, that’s mostly to avoid treacherous snowbanks, snow and ice avalanching from the rooftops.

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We’re not actually snowbound – now. Despite dark, overcast skies for days on end, the sun teases now and then lighting up the sparkling, pastoral scenery surrounding me. Life is indeed beautiful. After months of frozen white everywhere I’m determined to enjoy the beautiful quiet. And be very ready for spring.

Excuse me a minute while I check the furnace wood stove.

“For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13 (NLT)

*Philippians 2:3 (NLT)

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He’s Faithful

Featured Image -- 3282I too can attest this is so very true!

 

I too can attest this is so very true!  

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Something Good

The morning came painfully early. Literally. As the weather report predicted four inches of snow fell overnight. Covering. Everything. Here.

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On a ruler four inches doesn’t look like much. But four inches covering the snow that fell days before on ice where some melted, it equaled a lot of hard labor here at the ranch.

These are chores that can’t wait, even when other time-sensitive work calls. The plowing, shoveling, removing ice – yet again – seemed like the aftermath of a blizzard requiring all hands on deck.

 

After a hard day’s labor Eleven-Year-Old and I made snow angels – a fun debriefing for him, icing my neck and back was therapeutic for me. And I had my full day-job agenda to meet.

At age sixty-something, the next morning I regretted having abused Younger Me’s body – sorely. I felt every old injury. I’m not old, but this morning I sure know what old feels like. Compound that with more snow, ice, the additional physical activity I haven’t done in well over three years; I’d earned a good whine.

Instead I groaned quietly reminding myself this too will pass soon as I pulled up my big girl boots.

20161215_074333As the livestock thanked me for their morning meal, I continued moving through more new deep powder to the lot. Passing the truck I remembered I must help unload the rest of the wood as well as meeting a deadline – Yikes! Today.

Rather than telling myself everything is as it should be, with the backlog of work awaiting me, the voices in my head recalled negatives people spoke into my life over the years; You at a ranch? In business for yourself? Really?

Here we’re all still getting our heads around my first fall and winter back home, under new circumstances with a different household. I desperately want to help more, but I’m still learning how to. I already learned how not knowing enough can cost everyone more time and cause additional work.

I normally ignore Cole mumbling, not realizing anyone’s nearby. But this morning, without realizing it, I took his murmuring personally and felt like a burdensome slacker. However, instead of rushing to help with his chores, with my head down, I stayed my course and headed back to my cottage – for tea and prayer.

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and who carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.*”

20170110_100153I don’t know about most people, but for me learning to do just what’s needed for the day, maybe the next takes time. Safe at home now I can learn to enjoy life more, rather than constantly brain-storming, considering every possibility for the coming months – or years. For the first time in years I don’t feel like I’m in this alone. This is strange to me and requires considerable adjusting – daily.

As I prayed the Small Voice reminded me I’m in better shape than anyone but God could expect. I began recalling some of the feats the Holy Spirit and I did together since I arrived, the times we met challenges alone and mastered them, let alone my amazing history. My guys and I not only survived, but against all odds, God and I exceeded expectations of anyone that matters.

Getting lost in all the negatives, the what-ifs and the should’ve-would’ve-could’ves in life is too easy.

Isn’t life better when we look at positives instead? I’m positive I’m not broken. I’m mended. We’re all patch worked together into a beautiful, marvelous story.

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Kendra and Cole 2016

 

You’ll have to excuse me for now; Cole just came in asking, “Do I even have to come get my own coffee. Sheesh.” Translated that means he’s glad I’m here too! 😉

 

 

 

“… For those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

*Matthew 11:28

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Renewed

Throughout the holiday season I noticed some people saying, “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Holidays” and “Happy New Year.” I also noticed how sometimes it seemed mechanical, like a thoughtless, knee-jerk action.

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It was me. With winter closing in I’d been depressed. Although I had been missing the company of my sons and other siblings, I was far from sad or unhappy. I was experiencing a bio-chemical imbalance. Today I’m blessed to be able to correct that with diet, exercise and therapy. Today I pray fervently for many people I know who need more help.

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Today in my cozy little cottage my happiness is unmistakable. Sure, yesterday I didn’t bring in wood for the upcoming week as I’d planned, and then about 4 inches of snow fell as the New Year rolled in. But the wood cribs are loaded with kindling and small logs to get us through until the snowfall lets up.

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Last year I could only imagine the happiness and hope in my life today. For years I stubbornly held tight to my beliefs that God loves me even though I felt alone and lonely – I couldn’t imagine thinking about firewood. Today those hopes are realized, my faith and hopes are marvelously evidenced.

Last year hard times had Roan, Opal and I trudging along step-by-step, each of us hoping our lives could be different.

Last year I’d sigh hearing young people voice their personal dreams. I’d experienced too much disappointment to encourage them. I fell silent. Today I smile and help them so their dreams continue to grow. Last year, when I’d all but buried my hopes, my nearly-vanished dream suddenly came vividly true.

Today a new year began in my new reality.

Now I sip my latte watching Kendra make her way through the gently falling snow to the pastures. For a second I consider staying put to watch her from the window of my own snug little place in the world.

But this is my dream come true, not necessarily Kendra’s. So, excuse me for a little while, I need both hands to pull my pasture boots on.

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Thanks God!

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.” Jeremiah 17:7,8 (NLT)

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