Tag Archives: Jesus

Oh Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen

* Philippians 1:9 – 11 (NLT)

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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 what happened. 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. Actually apathetic. For years I’ve worked faithfully on my dailies. And for days I’d been sending 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 some 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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Passed St. Pat’s

No matter where in the world my siblings ever were, on St. Patrick’s Day we always celebrated our heritage, our family and our life together. ‘Tis tradition, don’cha know.

I admit, I did not celebrate this year, my first year back home. Three years ago, almost to the minute I’m now writing, my younger brother Seagh’s heart ruptured, he laid down his Harley, shook himself off and then walked into The Great Beyond. That moment changed everything.

We all adore our darling Seagh. Even as a small boy, he demonstrated extraordinary wisdom. We all came to depend upon him, especially when emotions ran rampant or hard times made our choices seem vague.

Over the years Seagh was always my greatest comfort, my touchstone, helping me make sense of the madness that seemed to be constantly lurking nearby.

 

 

After the years he roamed the globe he came home to the family and finally the ranch. For the brief season we were all here together I was entirely contented. I wanted us to stay together and to never leave.

But Seagh always knew something, saw something the rest of us missed. He insisted I stay close to our baby sister, Roan; “She’ll crash and burn without you.” Eventually I resigned to move on to Texas with her. Weeks later I understood why he sent me. Seagh already knew he too would be moving on soon.

Two years after his passing Roan and I were settled in Texas. Then I moved on again. We remain connected across the miles and continue on together – but differently now. Seagh dying when he did seemed to make the world a darker, sadder place and I couldn’t fix that.

It seemed.

Cole and Seagh 2012

Now Roan has Opal and her entourage in Texas. I am at home here at the ranch. I walk where Seagh walked along with Cole, Kendra and Eleven-Year-Old.

Sometimes I believe I can see the world as Seagh saw it. Very often I think I can see his unmistakable stance in the lot or where the patio used to be, one hand in a pocket, the other holding a mug, always taking in life deeply. Sure, I miss hearing him speak his few, pointed words daily. But I hear him.

I can’t conjure up his image on demand. But in the still, quiet of a peaceful day and in the midst of turmoil, I remember his words. When I don’t expect it, they come to me like rain on parched ground. Looking skyward, I soak them in, “You shouldn’t wonder about my soul. God and I are good now.”

Seagh’s death did not end him. Love lives on.

Absolutely.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. … And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1: 3, 6 (NLT)

For Seagh:

Feature Image courtesy of Gigi @ A Warm Hello.com

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Gravity

Is it just me? Or does anyone else remember falling as a child?

I tripped and fell down a lot. Okay, we can make that present tense and still be accurate. But I remember as a child how immediately after the bonk-boink-thud I’d first look around to see if anyone saw me. Even then I hoped to rewrite the story.

How times have changed.  Now we look around for witnesses in case we are hurt and want to go to court.

falling-pixabay

Over my first few months here I stumbled and tripped around the property and fell a few times. I adapted remarkably fast so life is less painful and with the full use of all my limbs projects flow much more smoothly.

At this juncture of my life I don’t mind falling; I mind the landings very much. Gravity, no woman’s good friend, is a necessary evil. Has anyone else tried indoor sky diving? Yeah! Falling can be great. Aside from that, in my experience landings generally tend to initiate a surprisingly costly, painful and lengthy healing process.

I like dancing in the breeze, with or without my four-legged companions, my arms up, breathing in the fresh air. That is until my boot slips and my torso shoots in a different direction than my legs. Again with the landing.

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.”*

During the cold season I feel every hit my body ever took – and I thank God I continue to enjoy mobility. Still, I expect my love-hate relationship with gravity shall continue – indefinitely.

20170228_123156Some of my landings since childhood have taken their toll on me. And yet, I dance in the pastures, arms out, breathing in the fresh air, Girlfriend trotting along just in case a tasty morsel awaits her in my pocket. I delight in walking with Ol’ Scout loping around me, his tongue happily flapping in the breeze. These are the moments for which I’ve lived as long as I can remember.

Today I perceive the world differently than I did as a child. I still fall, but I fear other things more than gravity; (forgetting an important appointment), hatred, disease, poverty. I still don’t like falling much, a-n-n-d I dread landings more than ever. Even so I dance, jog and sometimes run. Okay, I sprint and I walk after dusk. I am more convinced than ever before the end result is the same.

In my case that would be heaven. Thank you, Jesus!

“For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (The Voice)

* Philippians 3:12 (NLT)

Image courtesy Pixabay

 

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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.

scared-pixabau

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.

fear-pixabay

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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Run – Bliends

My marvelous friend and Sister, Jacqueline shared the joy of achieving a yellow belt in Karate-Do recently. Her recap of the story reminded me why I run.

Honestly, I’m not fast or graceful. Imagine Phoebe Buffay, only wrinkly, silver-haired in cut offs, tank top, loud electric blue Sketchers running shoes; that would be me:

In my quiet time today, before I checked my inbox, among the many other things clamoring around in my head I’d been thinking about the circumstances at home; Erin and I are as similar as a desert and an iceberg: a devout liberal and a hard-core libertarian. Comical. Right?

Arriving here this past April, the work necessary to fit me into the property seemed to loom above us like a tidal wave. We’ve made progress in our relationship, but the property is another story. Sometimes I feel like we’re trying to turn the Titanic on a dime!

Challenges trip me up daily – hourly stirring the longing for order and my usual routines.

Determined, I reflected on Paul’s words in today’s study of Galatians’ second chapter:

“I went there because God revealed to me that I should go…  I wanted to make sure that we were in agreement, for fear that all my efforts had been wasted and I was running the race for nothing.”[1]

I’m not a missionary like Paul in the traditional sense, but if I’m not reflecting the love of Jesus, I’m wasting my time and energy.

I’m not fast nor graceful. Uncomfortable in public, finding a smooth pace is sometimes laborious. Occasionally, I feel embarrassed as youngsters whiz past me, chuckling out, “on your left…”

I’m sure Erin and the cats sometimes see me as an alien. I don’t expect them to understand my need for an allergen-free environment. They don’t feel my constantly congested sinuses and the pounding inside my head as I grope around the kitchen for food, tea, coffee, etc. or my need for order and routine.

As I read on, the study led me to Hebrews (again with the running);

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”[2]

Sin can be an attitude. I can only imagine the so-called Entitled Generations[3] miss the joy of serving others. I too must constantly be on guard against negative attitudes that can so easily overshadow my purpose here, love for my crazy family, my friends and gratitude.

Eyes on the goal, I’ll keep heading toward the finish line. Love endures.

“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way.” 1 Corinthians 13:4

 

Friends episode clip courtesy of YouTube

[1] Galatians 2:2 (NLT)

[2] Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

[3] I notice the entitled mentality, a habitual behavior, is not exclusive to Millennials. Members of several current generations tend to behave as though they are more entitled, spoiled, and essentially self-serving.

 

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Parachute

talk absfreepic

Erin recently asked me if I’m uncomfortable when I’m not in turmoil about something – anything. I had to laugh out loud. Hours before I had remembered a scenario where my mother stated flatly, “Daddy’s not happy unless he’s miserable about something.” Erin had me wonder for a moment if I’m a formidable chip off Daddy’s block.

rosannadanna pinterest

 

My next thought was Roseanne Roseannadanna,* saying, “It’s always something. If it’s not one thing it’s another.”

 

In The Problem of Pain C.S. Lewis wrote, “…While what we call ‘our own life’ remains agreeable we will not surrender it to Him. What then can God do in our interests but make ‘our own life’ less agreeable to us, and take away the plausible source of false happiness?”

My Life has never been simple. In fact, my life has usually been confounding. It’s my normal.

That may seem harsh, but hardships forged a remarkable relationship with God. There were unmistakable villains in the stories, and sometimes it seems my hand came from a short deck, but my point today is  I want to please God. While my focus is upon Him I have peace.

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

That doesn’t imply that we’ll always – or ever have everything we want. I’ve always wanted a comfortable home. A house is not my highest priority, but a permanent home would be nice. Erin is often concerned about my happiness here while I care more about a stable environment.

Living with two cats makes me physically miserable. I knew I’m allergic coming in. I could go on about clutter, the property’s state of disrepair, and our health challenges, but those are circumstances. Sure, it all often seems crazy, but again those are circumstances.

toon roo erin pixabayOver the years Erin and I spent many long conversations “fixing the world,” so I know her values. Aside from health challenges, I don’t worry much about her. Sometimes she makes me wonder if her brain is firing on all cylinders. She’s always known I need an overhaul.

parachute absfreepicIn the same vein, Lewis also wrote, “…‘We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.’” I may not be giddy in our present circumstances. Still, I have the blessed assurance they can change. Until they do, as with most all things, I trust the God I am certain brought me here – and I’ll hang with Him daily. I’ll probably slip, get lost in the chaos occasionally, make myself miserable, Erin and I will likely butt heads like a couple of old goats. No worries. Love wins.

He is my God, my First Love and my friend; not just my parachute.

 

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33

*Gilda Radner image courtesy Pinterest, View Rosanne Rosannadanna clip on YouTube.

Parachute image courtesy ABSFreePics

All other images courtesy Pixabay

*The Problem of Pain. Copyright © 1940, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright restored © 1996 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

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Expectations

house picket fence pixabay

 

 

When I was young I longed for a home, family, a simple life; like the neighbors and my classmates.

I was in primary school when I realized I am different. Root, branch and leaf, my family tree is complicated.

 

It would years before I remotely understood the astounding gene pool from whence I came.  Rather than portraits of nice, normal-looking people in their Sunday best with handsome smiles, our foyer was more like the one in Disney’s Haunted Mansion in Anaheim.

 

 

haunt mansion port 1 pinterest haunt mans port 2 pinterest  *

After my second high school reunion I felt like a failure.

Thinking about it, okay after agonizing over the event I noticed a few things:

At the reunion chatting with some of my classmates, the affluent especially seemed to have their lives prepared for them. Many divorced because of boredom. Some lived on alimony or careers laid out for them with “Daddy’s organizations.” There were some whose sole contribution to society was their fashion sense. Some boasted of homes in the better neighborhoods, clothes, handbags, shoes, etc. Those were nice, but didn’t say much to me about the characters, the individuals that owned them.

After my first tour of the room I had a great time with the group in the corner that shuffled shamelessly through photos of their kids and danced like nobody was looking.

I began to understand I had set myself up for years of bitter disappointment. I had wanted what the former set of my classmates had.

About that time I met Jesus and discovered the wisdom of the Bible. One verse above others stuck with me in those early weeks,

“…I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away.”  Job 1:21 (NLT)

That was my turning point. I began to realize when I was young the elements that felt like they would crush me, my hardships actually made me strong and independent.

Sure, my life actually was hard, tougher than most people I know. Anything I inherited isn’t noteworthy, but God gave me strength, grit, determination and ultimately taught me to respect and love myself.

I pray I never stop forgiving, appreciating every aspect of my life and never stop working to be a better human. Amen!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

The House With Picket Fence image courtesy Pixabay

*Disney Haunted Mansion Images Courtesy Pinterest

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Flowing

I’d been in town long enough to miss “the gang” from church. I’m blessed with great friends, many from churches all across the country and we continue to keep in touch. But it was time to connect with the local church, meet people outside our family unit, engage in conversation and gain fresh perspectives on topics of interest.

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I don’t always find my niche right away. I’m all about relationship with Jesus, worship, studying the Bible, serving the community – and not much interested in dogma or following traditions for tradition’s sake. My habit is to return for services at each local church for at least three visits. The second church was walking distance, and an organization with which I’ve been aligned before.

Prepared for my first visits, I’d printed calling cards with my blog address and handed a couple out to people that seemed genuinely interested in the new kid in town.

RPP card

After the service on the next visit I was trying to appear casual with friendly greetings and nods while desperately seeking the Ladies Room. I saw a familiar looking woman waving and making a bee line across the crowded foyer toward me. My latte had my teeth singing Anchors Aweigh. Before I could ask her for directions she gushed,

“Roo, I’m so glad to see you! I meant to take a quick look at your blog…”

Sure I was breaking a sweat, “the best laid plans…” and “who has time to read lately? flashed through my mind.

Then she surprised me. “Well, I couldn’t stop reading. After chatting with you, I couldn’t imagine you in some of your stories!” My lower quadrant clenching, I couldn’t think clearly to respond. I smiled politely trying to not be too obvious looking past her for a sign – to a Powder Room.

Yep, she went on, “You can’t be a great-grand-maw. And some of the stories sound like you’ve been through h-e-double-hockey-sticks… I wouldn’t have guessed from talking to you… You’ve led quite a life…” My eyes began to well  – this was great for What’s Next, but all I could think of was, “Please Lord, don’t let anyone use that water fountain six feet away from us!

Even after she paused I couldn’t talk – ordinarily not like me at all. I’d talked with the lady a scant ten minutes including that very – long – moment. I literally lowered my head, checked my shoes, groping for strength and something to say more than I was actually praying. But then it came to me, the line I’d thought about for seemingly ages but never had the opportunity to say:

“Honestly, I loathe the thought of being known as ‘that poor woman who…’ Life is about What’s Next and making it better from anywhere…” For a nano-second I was pleased with the name I chose for my blog again. After a brief, dramatic pause I added, “Especially from a Ladies Room…” I hope I grinned sheepishly and didn’t grimace.

cup coffee hearts ABSFreepicsAfter I could relax again, we joked about ‘streams of living water’ and made a date to meet for coffee. She mentioned maybe I could show her what I know about blogging. That’ll keep us long enough for a latte. I have a feeling we’ll find more to talk about.

 

 

“…I see that the Lord is always with me, I will not be shaken for He is right beside me.” Psalm 16:8

 

Images courtesy *Unsplash, **ABSFreePics and original graphic by E.V.A. Lambert (c) 2016 for What’s Next

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