Tag Archives: Jesus

No-mo

Thursday this week was monumental for me.

I ignored my phone.

Believe it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hard as it was, I ignored the phone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Flu

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

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

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

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

 

Have a happy, well weekend, bloggers!

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

 

Sniffle. Snort…

Images courtesy Pixabay

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Hide and Seek

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pivotal point here being All.

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

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

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

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

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

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

** Romans 8:1 (NLT)

Images (except for chickens) courtesy Pixabay

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Drama

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

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

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

My brand of crazy includes a flair for drama.

 

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

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

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

Not hardly.

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

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

To me these are all delightful.

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

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

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

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

Yeah. I’ll be good with that.

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

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

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Our Place

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

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

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

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

Until it didn’t.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you feeling shattered? Is your life too intense?

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

Ephesians 3:15 – 17 (NLT)

 

Tiger image courtesy Imgaram

Breaking woman image courtesy Pixabay

Featured Image courtesy Pixabay

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Gibbs Smack

After the best Thanksgiving Day (all things considered), this morning I found myself having a tizzy fit. I don’t shop on Black Friday, so…

Usually by Thanksgiving Day here we can expect a light snow, rain, and Foehn or Chinook winds that keep the cold in check. This year it’s unseasonably warm.

So on Wednesday, though it was in the mid 50’s outdoors, my oven heated the cottage to 80 degrees.

Much more comfortable with the door open and fans running, I blasted Pandora mixes and danced around my kitchen like a boss. All the food prepared, ready to eat and/or deliver around dusk, I was ready for a quiet, relaxing weekend, just the Holy Ghost and me.

But this morning some buzzing at nearly every window stole my attention from my steaming chai latte and my reading. And if that wasn’t enough, the tiniest flying insect ever violated the airspace between my face and my screen.

Lemme just say here, coming in I realized that flies would challenge me. Horses within 50 yards of the doors, cattle nearby, dogs, numerous amazing-mouser felines, the oh-so-entertaining chicken house and compost piles – there will be flies. In case I never mentioned this before, the absence of flying insects is one of my favorite aspects of colder weather. Again, this year’s weather is unusual.

So, this morning I began to wonder if flies had contaminated the food I labored over… but I resisted that brand of crazy and read on:

“One day some Pharisees and teachers of religious law arrived from Jerusalem to see Jesus. They noticed that some of his disciples failed to follow the Jewish ritual of hand washing before eating…” Mark 7:1,2

“So the Pharisees and teachers of religious law asked him, “Why don’t your disciples follow our age-old tradition? They eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony.”” Mark 7:5 (NLT)

It’s a good story. But I admit:

in moments the buzzing captivated me again. Minutes later I was fully suited up, armed with flying insect spray, swatter, jump suit, goggles, mask, and hat…  With that I fully engaged.

A dozen or so casualties later, in the entire 800-plus square feet, two POWs were trapped between the screen and the sliding window and one eencie-teencie flying pest remained free. I showed him. I closed the laptop, got a hard copy Bible, another cup of chai and returned to what I’d been reading before the attack.

I’m not gonna lie here, though the near silence was nice (the POW’s were exercising their escape plan) – I was slightly annoyed by the smell of the insecticide. After a few minutes I put the mask back on (adding drops of eucalyptus and chrysanthemum oils).

I read on,

“Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.” Mark 14, 15 (NLT)

 

 

These days more than ever before God’s generous, extravagant love amazes me. In the middle of studying the Master, the greatest Love of all teaching us, I had allowed my pet peeve to distract me and trip me up. And yet, He waits patiently until I returned to Him.

Unlike some bumbling, often well-meaning mortal/earthly fathers, instead of a rod or a Gibbs Smack, I now get a gentle hand. God grabs my attention and turns my head toward what really matters – no humiliating slap in the face. Flying insects aside – mostly – not even my wandering heart can separate me from God’s love.

So, now that I laid that burden down, what pet peeve can you whip into shape today?

“But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried over all these details! There is only one thing worth being worried about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41, 42 (NLT)

 

Roasted Butternut squash with pomegranate and citrus recipe courtesy Sangheeta Pradhan

NCIS Video clips courtesy YouTube

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Meeting

This past week a friend had me laughing for hours – I’m sure he was laughing too. In an email conversation that began about blogging we stumbled upon our mutual regard for Monty Python movie quotes. It was on… quote after quote – back and forth.

“Spam, spam, spam, spam…”

Actually my sons, with their uncles/my brothers, a sister and my husband reenacted the scenes so often over the years I knew many of the dialogues by heart. Remarkably, until a Flying Circus marathon New Year’s Eve Party in 1994-95 I’d never actually seen a single Monty Python movie. Frankly, after all the years hearing my darling’s renditions, to me my gang was better. They were actually just familiar – and the subjects were well filtered.

This led me to think about all the people I talk to, have relationships with but we haven’t actually met – yet.

A little later I was laughing again over another movie scene that gets me every time. Cry-laughing I blurted out, “Lord, help me!”

Instantly I envisioned Jesus as depicted in the drawing framed on my wall: His head back, tears glistening through his fully accentuated laugh lines, His jaw wide open… I felt as though we’d been hanging out for hours.

And yet, we’ve never actually “met” in person either. Not like I’ve met most of my friends.

Seriously, I live for those moments with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. They make it so I can hardly wait to actually look into His face. I’m certain there will be silliness when we meet – happiness will gush.

Sure, I’ll have to account for some things I’m not proud of, but simply meeting Jesus on earth leads me to believe He will be standing close by us all in our final moments. I wonder if then, between our last breath here and opening our eyes on the other side is when we’ll account for the sad and bad choices of our lives – those moments I dread. Why not? God’s time is nothing like ours. And besides, there will be no sorrow or pain in heaven.

Whatever else awaits us, I’m certain uncontainable joy will overtake all else in God’s presence. Go ahead, try to get your head around how the best laughter on earth can’t even compare.

“I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” “ Revelation 21:3, 4 (NLT)

 

Monty Python images courtesy Pinterest, and Feature Image courtesy Fungyung.com,

Michael Keaton in Multiplicity courtesy YouTube

Jesus Laughing image by Praise Screen Prints (c) 1977  as He appears on my wall ;>

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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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