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Love Long Distance

Despite the unusual few weeks leading up to this past weekend I had an exceptionally nice two days – which was welcome after a rough week.

Typical for this time of year, schedules must be juggled. Sometimes we must reschedule my “Grand Dates” (regularly scheduled time where my grand kids – all long distances away – bring me up to speed with the previous week). For the past two, maybe three weeks everyone I usually talk with at least every other week was unavailable to Skype, Duo, talk or text.

With the days getting longer and warmer I sorely missed our times together. I stayed busy with our gang, the pups, the pastures and the gardens. Still, I wondered how my grands fared without my input, encouragement and advice – or if they even missed visiting with me. I prayed long into the SansGrands silence.

On Saturday Izzy and I rescued our patio tomato plants from curling leaves, moving them to The Garden. Knowing the move wasn’t ideal timing, we assured our precious nearly orange tomato-lings to hang in there, they’ll feel far better despite the shock of moving.

Okay, so maybe my empathy wasn’t as much for our tomatoes. The day’s gardening finished, I returned to where I’d left off in my Bible:

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” Romans 8:35 (NIV)

The relationships I share with these amazing young humans are strong and endure occasional separations – no matter how they may feel sometimes. Still, I consider how anxious I get when my time with God gets shoved down the priority ladder. I’m a grown up (mostly) and yet I feel the burn every time my prayer time is rescheduled – or dropped.

After praying again, God’s assurance that the grands shall continue feeling the love comforted me.

I was no sooner into other chores when my phone rang. A couple of hours later two sisters and I caught up with one another. Then FirstBorn called. While waiting in a backed-up toll booth line he realized how long it had been since our last talk. We mostly prattled and reminisced some as he drove from Wadsworth to Milwaukee. By my bedtime I felt far better connected than I had in weeks.

On Sunday SecondSon’s Firstborn called. He reiterated every exciting detail of the last two ball games – that sent his team to state. And his sister, FiveYearOld, could hardly wait to describe a new growing thing she discovered in astoundingly accurate detail.

Maybe it’s just me – the ways God uses the garden and my family to bless me is amazing. Though I could hardly wait between their calls, He assures me it’s all gonna be just fine.

“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”

1 John 2:28 (NIV)

 

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Remember

“Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.*”

 

* Deuteronomy 4:9 (NIV)

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It Is Well

My floors struck me this morning.

No, I didn’t fall. The concrete didn’t rise or move at all. However the metamorphosis that’s occurred since I’ve been here at the ranch gave me a long pause today.

For most of my adult life my house simply couldn’t be clean enough, pretty enough, stylish enough… with four boys growing up around me…  Uh huh. A Psycho-Mom in the making.

Roo explains on Niece’s 1st visit, “we don’t touch black lacquer… or Italian glass… or brass…”

In hindsight I see how I drove my sons to the very edge insisting they swept and wiped up after themselves – constantly. Okay not literally – but I now realize I was too close to OCD for comfort.

So, believing this is my home now, that I actually live here happily may be a stretch for my sons.

I emerged from my parents’ dysfunctional household a huge, hot mess. Back in the day I desperately needed acceptance, approval and, dare I say it… recognition. Only perfection was acceptable. Decades later I began to understand that:

  1. happy, well-adjusted children care about stability and comfort – not sanitation standards, and
  2. God’s approval beats all others’.

After I arrived here I initially tried to keep the cottage up to my old standard. I made lists of items needing repair, sprucing up and this-just-will-not-do. They’re still on the side of the ‘fridge.

Today I noticed that I’m actually okay with daily visitors tracking assorted patterns on my floors – shoe, boot, various sizes of paws in a mixed media (mud, paint dust, dirt, grime and we-really-don’t-want-to-know). What’s more, the trails can be there for hours until I get around to cleaning – even overnight sometimes.

I’d like to say I never notice them.  Those first weeks after arriving here, Cole strolling in directly from the shop (actually checking on me), usually on freshly washed floors made me want to cry – or punch something. But now when I notice traffic residue I typically walk right over it on the way to something I enjoy doing even more than clean floors.

Housework will always be there. It can certainly wait as God and I watch the sunrise over a steaming mug, a covey of quail bobbing across the lot or the sun set after a day-long work party.

Instead of a constant stream of housekeeping I now enjoy the antics of fur kids, friends and extended family. Our combined circumstances often make the hope for my offspring coming to visit seem like a pipe dream. But instead of disappointment, sadness or occasional hopelessness, feeling how it actually is well keeps me in check.

 

Meanwhile, the pups are a constant source of amusement.

“The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important?'”

Luke 10:41 The Passion Translation (TPT) *

*The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.
Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

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Why Worry?

Naturally I’ve been reflecting upon the meaning of life this week. Not really, but I actually have been re-examining my overall expectations.

I always dreamed of life with a big family, gardens, and lots of animals on enough acreage to be self-sustaining. I come from a large, complex family, so this is no surprise.

Since my youth, life took my siblings and me through some very interesting twists and turns. For us, most changes initiated some considerable pain and confusion. We’d no sooner recover from one blow when another would strike. Mean as it sounds, those hard hits on such young humans prepared us for an unimaginable future. That seems sad. It is, but it’s also good.

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8, 9 (NIV)

Throughout our lives God’s merciful grace has been the one consistency.

Today I am our eldest surviving sibling and my generation’s first female. That could change again tomorrow, but I’m not concerned.

During many passionate discussions throughout the years OlderBrother and I agreed that though we were impecunious, from a global perspective we have lived luxuriously.

I believe God blessed us all with astounding strength and fortitude throughout our journeys. I also believe that, like both Jacob* and Job**, He broke us enough to help us endure it all.

I’ll never forget the many times over the years I messed up and missed opportunities, simply by being stubborn. I confessed those failures and God forgot them. What’s more, He stayed right on course, kept me in line and lets me think getting here was all my idea, my doing.

Daily – okay at least weekly –  I’m overjoyed to reflect upon my favorite (and some of my most disappointing) memories – What brought me to here and now. Here may not look like all that much to some, but it’s far more than most would have predicted.

God has always used the good and the sad to keep me in check.

So why worry now?

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To Him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 5:10, 11 (NIV)

*Genesis 32:22-31

**Job 10:8-13

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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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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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Who is That Guy? Part I

I can’t say why I’ve been coming most of my life. Every year. I want to honor and worship the Almighty One, but this annual journey seems futile, especially within Rome’s grip. Still, something in me brings me back.

Every year I scrimp and save to be here for the Passover. Every year I think it is going to be special. And every year by the time I get here, I am so worn and weary from trepidation, travel, the crowds of people, all clamoring to get on with it, the whole point seems to get lost. And yet I come.

jerusalem

When I arrived this morning, later than I intended, people seemed somehow livelier than ever before. I noticed palm leaves laying everywhere. I wondered if another dignitary had arrived, but looking around as I walked, I saw nothing special.

It took longer than usual to get to the temple. Once I reached the outer court that old feeling crept in again. I don’t like admitting it, but I feel conflicted, kind of resentful about the vendors lining the walls. I get that they offer a convenience for travelers who didn’t bring offerings. Ya gotta make a living somehow. Right? Still, so many times I’ve noticed inferior animals. I’m not gonna lie, I wonder how they justify that. But it’s none of my business.

After a while, I was glad to have found a space in the shade to rest a moment. Casually watching people passing through the gate, suddenly there was this guy. I don’t understand why I noticed him coming from yards away. Though he seemed to be with a group, he distinctly stood out. Steady, serene, he looked like a man with a purpose. He didn’t look particularly special, and yet I couldn’t stop watching him.

I watched his entire being seem to darken as he took in the court, his face visibly changed; he seemed to become troubled. For some reason my thoughts raced about what he might be thinking. Why? What is it about him? I don’t know him.

Though I saw the hawkers calling to him, I couldn’t look away from him. All of a sudden it seemed the whole court blew up. The guy went to a table, took a hold of one end and flipped it over! People jumped and scurried as he went on flipping the tables over, birds, animals and coins scattered everywhere.

Who is this guy?!

I wanted to run from what would be certain trouble, but I  couldn’t move. Over the noise, confusion and excitement, I heard him speak from across the court – loudly without raising his voice; intense words about his father, a house of prayer, a den of thieves. What the…?

Then I noticed the priests across the court stepping back, talking into one another’s ears. They looked shocked, confused and then outraged. The moment I looked away the guy was gone from sight. I saw an opening in the crowd and dodged out.

It’s been hours since the temple upset. Quiet now, everyone around me sleeps, but I can’t stop thinking about that guy. As if something deep within me wants to find him, talk to him, listen to him – and warn him about the priests. This is so strange. It’s none of my business.

It’s late. I am tired but I can’t rest. God, help me understand!

“I love those who love me, and those who seek me find me.” Proverbs 8:17 (NIV)

Featured Image Courtesy ABSFreePics

Originally posted on What’s Next 2016 March 21

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