Tag Archives: mental health

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, I get a Gibbs Smack. A gentle hand grabbed my attention and turned 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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Out of Hiding

In a recent conversation Ten-Year-Old and I discussed what to do in case of a threat.

We fondly reminisced how as a preschooler he loved hiding. We both admitted we still like to.

Without sparking unnecessary imaginings, we agreed upon several threats where  hiding (and whistling for your trained, pet dragon, of course) is his best first line of defense. Knowing this stuff is important.

So, you’d think I’d know better by now. And yet, during my day-to-day activities I somehow delude myself to think God’s got my back, but I’m in control of my life. Pfffffft! That’s dragon for “you idiot.”

I can think of several points in my history when, rather than risk anyone seeing that I wasn’t completely in control, instead of calling for help, I put on my game face and toughed out bad situations. I hid.

We all craft our secret hiding places knowing they won’t actually help us deal with genuine threats:

  • We stay in bed too late, forcing ourselves to rush – again,
  • We take another portion because it tastes good knowing our clothes are already uncomfortably tight,
  • We stop at the bar instead of getting home where we’re needed,
  • We take another dose of medicine even if it’s early,
  • Rather than saving, we buy yet another pair of shoes,
  • We simply deny anything scares us or that there’s any problem at all,
  • We stuff anger, not willing to risk making things worse,
  • We make excuses for abusers rather than seeing them as they are…

I’ve been there and done it all, a world-class hider. I know how easily we sometimes cause ourselves more stress, wasted time, or risk unnecessary hurt by standing against a threat alone rather than ask for help.

However, the momentous occasions when I called out to God for help were complete game-changers – life changers actually. Even when I didn’t believe He heard me – when I called Him, and listened for His answer, things worked out.

Decades later, He still works it out whenever I get over myself and ask Him for help.

Are you hiding? Don’t stay there alone. Call out for help.

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)

Image courtesy Pixabay

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Supplements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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Crowing and Growing

I mostly wake up happy and often amused.

 

It’s Darrell’s fault.

 

An adolescent rooster, he first found his voice around noon one lovely summer day. Then he began some serious practicing.  All. Day. Long.

Gradually he began announcing the new day just after dawn. Now he starts around four a.m.  I once wondered if I’d sleep in without him, but it’s not an issue. Once I fill a mug, I actually like easing into the day as the sun rises. Besides, Darrell’s bio clock will stabilize before winter rears it’s testy ol’ head around here.

Today Darrell got me thinking about how much I didn’t know coming in here and all I’ve learned.  Despite all the changes, and aside from my impressive but minor injuries, we made it through my first year relatively unscathed.

Now that we’ve all settled in, with fewer chores and less distractions I get to concentrate on my relationship with God, practicing His constant presence*.

I don’t know about most people, but for me this is going to take lots more practice.

This morning Sarah Young** encouraged me with her perspective (excuse my paraphrasing):

  • All people fail.
  • Don’t flip out when you do.
  • Keep trying.
  • Try seeing yourself as God sees you.
  • He sees “the progress we make every time we reach out to him.”
  • Celebrate every tiny success.

 

Darrell seems to get this. I’ll keep working at it too.

 

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)

 

*The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence

**Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence by Sarah Young, November 01

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Nothing and Everything – Repost

Our internet service has been uncooperative, (go figure, I’d recently commented that it’s improved).  Today I’m resigned to sharing an early post from Blogging U and The Next Best Thing.

 

nothing everything

I was born in a Chicago suburb, surrounded by generations of family. We’d drive station wagons and family sedans along paved roads through gentle slopes lined with lilac blossoms in spring, and various maples, oaks and elms year-round. Every weekend the entire family gathered at one or another’s home.

Family gatherings gradually changed after we all moved to Phoenix. My grandparents and aunts settled a half-day’s drive away, my parents, siblings, and I into a square pink house. Brother and I started school in a dry, hotter climate walking by ocotillo, acacias, and towering oleander walls.

Our playgrounds gradually replaced weekly visits with family. For weeks we explored livestock pastures, citrus groves and our favorite toys were ropes tied to enormous, friendly trees which we climbed to swing across the canals.  Later we practiced lying about swimming in the precarious waters.

Late in the summer before I was to become an upperclassman at our grade school,  we left my grandparents and aunts’ families behind. In two cars with trailers, our parents drove my five siblings, our German Shepherd a box full of her 12 suckling pups and me across the dessert to southern California. Home became a three-bedroom apartment where there were more trees, but no yard. Dad and Mother both went to jobs immediately.

Very used to caring for one another, my siblings and I faced the new climate, society, a much faster pace and being strange, new kids in metropolitan schools. Brother and I entered junior high.

Cool wasn’t about the weather anymore; either you were or you weren’t. In jeans, t-shirts and gym shoes, my main concern was hand washing laundry and having dinner ready before bedtime. Brother became cool. He stopped being my pal and was mean sometimes. I was not cool. To him I became nothing. Still, we had four other siblings  and the dog that didn’t care about cool. We somehow got through our new life together, day by day, some days worse than others.

After an eternity of a few months we moved into a house in a much nicer suburb. Eventually Brother discovered the bus lines to the beach, and he went there often. Though I missed him, I appreciated his absences.

Two years after coming to Los Angeles, one midweek day Mother pulled us from school and took us to Crystal Cove near Newport Beach. The fresh ocean air lifted me from our life and for the first time in months I could breathe. Tide pools, waves, kelp beds, sandpipers and sea gulls sent my senses and my imagination soaring, changing everything.

Through the following years I didn’t get to the shore often enough for my liking. Whenever I could, I dug my feet deep into the sand as though that would keep me from spinning off the planet. The beach became my sanctuary and the God I knew as a kid in the dessert met me there.

Often enough I came with nothing, only to gaze where the sky meets the ocean. Between that horizon and my feet I found everything I needed.

In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
    he saved me from all my troubles.”  Psalm 34:6 (NLT)

 

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Reblog: Wearing the Millstone

Once again Mike Ridenour at New Hope For Dry Bones addresses one of my personal frailties, and hits it out of the park.

http://wp.me/p8sgJt-DO

Roo’s feature image courtesy ABSFreePic.com

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Interval

Maybe it was the headlines, autumn even more manifest on my walk earlier, something I ate – or didn’t eat. It could be that Nickle and The Deuce are already back in my apartment. Perhaps because I’m missing my kids for the umpteenth time today – and it’s not yet noon. Regardless, work called and I answered.

Moments later I marveled that after all the years of work fixing what broke, I was stuck again.

Forget about why; the ear worm remained. Ultimately I caved, picked up my guitar as if I could already play it.  I listened, carefully and then just rolled with it –

 

and shared it.

 

You’re welcome.
 

 
 

 

“You made me; you created me. Now give me the sense to follow your commands. May all who fear you find in me a cause for joy, for I have put my hope in your word.” Psalm 119:73, 74 (NLT)

 
Video courtesy YouTube

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Response

I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back I now marvel over how quickly I’d reacted.

In the moments leading up to reaching my coffee pot I went from motivated to a mess. And I admit, I wanted a villain, someone to blame for my upset, let alone the difficulties that were certain to snowball.

Yes, friends, although I kept my bright red espresso grind coffee container out on the counter for two days – for the sole purpose of reminding me I must grind more coffee – that morning the stark reality that I’d entirely run out of coffee blindsided me.

It got worse. Not only was the strongest caffeine source in my kitchen some aged (however delightful) white tea, Deadline had advanced from the shadows of the cottage and towered over me, sword drawn over it’s obnoxious head. Annnd we had a villain …

Duh – duh – dunh.

This was quickly developing into one of those emotion/hormone-packed, full-on-drama mornings. I had already suspected that in hindsight I would wish to somehow erase it all from the eternal hard drive as if it never happened. A wise woman would have paused the whole day there. Not this one. Not that day.

Still, two mornings back I’d added coffee to my Needs Now List. Between breaks and staring blankly into space, for the subsequent forty-eight hours I planned my run to town. I try to economize wherever possible and make the most of the trip. This usually works very well. Until it doesn’t. Until that morning.

So, there I was, bravely forging onward sans caffeine, thinking I had a good handle on everything in my ken. Strangely predictably, it became the worst morning ever, something unexpected had happened. Forget happened – I felt like someone hit me across the abdomen with a five-foot long 2 by 4.

The car was gone.

Duh – duh!!  {Roo jumps behind the wall as if sensing a predator nearby, but seeing and hearing none, she then lets out a loud, agonizing shriek, “Why God? Why, without coffee?! scaring away any other life forms from the area…}  Okay, I sighed deeply but imagined screaming loudly.

Assumption:  Since Brother sometimes changes our arrangements, routines and moves things without telling me or giving me a heads up first. He took the car for the day without telling me.

The Lie: Brother doesn’t actually give a care about me.

Reality: The evening before Brother had used his vehicle (ahem, that he keeps mostly for my use), parked it in the back of the lot, and then forgot to press “send” after composing a text to me. Therefore, I didn’t receive his text advising me the night before.

Reality Check: Even though Brother’s mordant veneer momentarily confuses me and annoys me often (like most siblings I know), he also surprises me with thoughtfulness and sensitivity on occasion.

Granted, me without morning caffeine is scary, but it is not the end of life as we know it. Not hardly. However, for those few minutes that morning, before the exchange of texts set me back on track, I had wasted a morning’s worth of energy being extremely upset. A black hole sucked a huge chunk of my life away from us – over nothing.

Later, with a triple-shot/double vanilla latte in hand, I took a time-out with God. Deadline would just have to chill. After some needed time by the riverside I was actually glad for that wake up call.

Roo 1995 Columbia River

There God showed me that with my roots now beginning to unwind I have a better grasp of life than ever before. And yet, once a year  week  occasionally I jump to conclusions, assume the worst, and quickly follow with the big-ol’ lie at the core of it all that God really can’t care for me.

Silly ol’ Roo.

My eyes watered from what felt like a stinging punch in the face. Seriously, I checked for blood. Finding none, He then went on past my faults, deep into my needs. He showed me I have indeed come a long way in every facet of my life. Even so, I lived so long in darkness, ignorant of His love for me, we must also allow for time to adjust to light. Whatever my degree of healing, I was severely damaged back then and I am still quite human now.

He went on:

He noted how I now recoil far less frequently than ever before, that I now voice my upset feelings too – mostly appropriately. Then He assured me that some day soon fear, sorrow or anger will not overtake me with the mere thought of darkness. Then I’ll have learned to respond rather than react.

God says so. While I continue to trip up, and can’t feel it yet, I can believe it.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

I can believe it for me as well as for my siblings, other brothers and sisters on their healing journeys.

Today you and I are the only ones to know how short-sighted and down-right silly I was earlier. Shhh…

“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Rom 5:2 (NLT)

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Joyride

I doubt anyone would be surprised to hear I’m easily sidetracked – quickly taken off course from my intended goal. There’s just so much to see, learn and do in one lifetime. Can anyone relate? Anybody?

Despite my initial intention, concerns this morning took me to the Scripture verse that always assures me that all is well or soon will be,

“‘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.'” Jer 29:11

 

That verse hit the mark so squarely for me I wanted more. I backed up to the previous verse, and out of curiosity (Yeah, and wanting to avoiding another task), I looked up the Biblical timeline too.

“… This is what the Lord says: ‘You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again.'” Jeremiah 29:10

 

This led me to reflect upon my past ten years, moving our household all over the country – eight times. Before each move, I prayed, recruited prayer partners, I checked and rechecked because honestly, moving – yet again – seemed crazy. Even now, in hindsight I sometimes wonder, “Really God?” But what brought me back around to my initial thought today, blew away the haze and made everything seem crystal clear to me. That was only ten years, not seventy!

In my experience every time I think I have a special insight into what God is doing in my life or around me, in hindsight what He actually was doing was bigger than I could have imagined, and some of the stories are still not over. Things that concern me now seem like nothing compared to what I faced back then.

However unclear circumstances may sometimes seem, I’m absolutely certain God is in control and that He’s guiding and growing each of us.

What felt like an hours-long exploration today, brought me back on point in minutes. Those unexpected turns made today’s reminder even more meaningful.

I may trip up over something silly again in minutes, tomorrow or days from now. In fact, its a safe bet I will. However, I now have another degree of that Blessed Assurance that not only will the silliness be short-lived, but God will see me through it. What’s more, He’ll allow me to keep the silly stuff just between us.

 

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Eph 3:20, 21 (NIV)

 

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Rearview

For the second time in my recent history I’m delighted for having gone out of my way, when doing so made little or no sense.

I thrive on variety and spontaneity, so there likely have been many such occasions. Always pushing forward, I rarely noticed, so these two instances stand out.

I wanted to drive to the opposite side of town to attend church services with my friend, instead of staying in my neighborhood. With gas prices skyrocketing – again – and some extra expenses popping up this seemed silly. There was no special occasion, speaker or program, I simply wanted to meet my friend at the church we attended together years ago.

Still, by Thursday I made a date with Dear-Old-Friend. By then I had forgotten all about how my tomatoes weren’t ripening and the wilting pepper plants.

Had I not followed my heart:

  • I would have missed people bringing their garden surplus to church. I forgot I could bless others by taking the extra fresh, homegrown, organic veggies,
  • I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to drop off any of the eggs I’d brought (and almost forgot about) at Dear-Old-Friend’s house, so I wouldn’t have also stopped at the peach grove,
  • I would not have had the extra fresh, wholesome food to give to a young family I met along the way – in dire need of it.

That was just this past weekend, but it brought to mind another seemingly crazier decision I made three-plus years back:

Had I not left my home for weeks to stay with my siblings, to be their housekeeper while Sister recovered from surgery:

  • I would not have witnessed firsthand the importance of daily covering my family with prayer,
  • My younger brother Seagh and I would not have bridged the gap that had formed over the previous years,
  • Seagh and I would not have “solved the world’s problems” as we did every few days or so,
  • We all would have missed the precious family time we shared for the last time, before Seagh died (four months after that visit),
  • Sister would never have gotten over urging me not to come.

Ordinarily I would have resented Sister telling me not to come, rejecting my offer, and stayed home. But knowing she was overwhelmed, frightened and concerned about my situation too, I ignored that particular request.

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” Galatians 5:16 (NLT)

Seeing more of the big picture takes practice – daily. Personally, daily Bible study and prayer helps me meet each day with solid footing and broader, clearer vision. Alright, alright; I manage to deliberately step into my days more effectively prepared about Four days out of seven. Even so, the consistent practice makes for a good way to live.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 (NLT)

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