Tag Archives: perspective

What Next

Reblogged from my initial launch post (slightly tweaked):

world color pixabay

The world is changing.

Yet despite the many changes, some important things are the same as when I was a child – a very long time ago. I’m talking about what makes the world go ‘round; what makes us happy.

Above all the violence, tragedy and the madness, more than ever before I see people care about people. The technological advances in my lifespan alone, the blogosphere all have presented us with more opportunities, advantages that were unfathomable as I was growing up.

world technology pixabay

We have gone global. Our family, friends, and neighbors – our community have become immense.

Honestly, from my limited perspective life occasionally seems overwhelming; health issues, ecology, economy, strife… We all have dark days when the world feels hopeless. And yet the globe continues to turn, the sun keeps rising on a brand new day.

neighborhood walk pixabay

My dear, sage friend Zoe once said it best: “Every day, you walk out your door, really look around you and actually look at the first person you see. You smile, say good morning, maybe help carry out the trash…

…The possibilities are endless and it all begins with simply getting out of our heads for a moment, pause, ask the simple, forgotten question, ‘Can I lend you a hand?’ You continue on your way, but you did something.”

world hands heart pixabay

Even when it feels like we’re at the end of our ropes, we can get radical and possibly change the course of a day, a life – the world. We start by simply responding to the question, What Next? What can I do to make things better, right where I am right now? I suggest we do the simplest next right thing and go from there.

 

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Jesus, The Bible (NLT), John 16:33

 

Images courtesy Pixabay

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Alley

To clear my head from the hard weekend, I shifted gears and started my work day at the WordPress Reader. Checking in on the blogosphere community lifted my spirits, as usual. My prayer time enhanced, perspective improved, I noticed the common thread – we are shaken.

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Later, during my first hourly circle around my block, a figure stole my attention – of someone sitting on the ground a few feet into the paved alleyway, head bowed, quietly weeping. The person looked like any of the numerous street people who frequent the avenue north of the street on which I live. Ordinarily I would have passed on by, but something about her stirred something in me.

Following my gut I stepped closer, asking if she needed help. With a sweep of her arm she waved me away, but I clumsily persisted. Reluctantly, she said she had just heard about the tragedy in Orlando.

Again, I recalled the scenes from Monday’s newscasts and held back my own tears. Awkwardly I blurted out, “I know how you feel.” To that she turned her head toward me. From the long, tousled hair covering her face I heard, “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Impulsively I sat down on the pavement next to her. In due course I said, “Maybe you’re right, but I’m horrified just the same.” Surging with energy I felt uncomfortably feeble, not knowing if the stranger understood I referred to Orlando, and not my sitting by her. My mind became a blank slate. She didn’t respond. I simply sat there.

I silently asked God for direction, but heard nothing. And yet, I began to feel conspicuously at ease. We sat together in silence. Well after my tail end went numb, she wordlessly got to her feet, her head still low, and she walked away.

Fumbling to my feet I watched and noticed she didn’t look back. After the dozen-plus steps she turned the corner toward the busy street, out of view. Scant moments later I resumed walking the same direction. When I rounded the corner she was nowhere in sight.

I can’t tell you what the time meant to her. I continue to pray she’s not alone – not in her feelings or in the world. Hours later, I now wonder if angels also weep.

 

“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” Hebrews 13:2 (NLT)

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Catching Phrases

alphabet cubes

I’ve been reflecting upon pop language, or catch phrases.

Common catch phrases today:

  • Baby daddy/baby mommy (single parents)
  • Bae (before anyone else/anything else)
  • FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • Troll (the updated, viral version of the essential stalker)
  • #hashtag (anyone not familiar… never mind)
  • Lit (very intoxicated – so, not that much has changed)

This led me to examine what’s changed over the years. I have changed distinctly since I was that young. For example, I grew up with such phrases as:

  • “Easy come, easy go” (not necessarily good),
  • “Do as I say, not as I do”
  • “Trust and obey”

no time fussing fighting

And a little later on:

  • Make love not war
  • Flower Power
  • God is dead
  • Busted (You got some ‘splaining to do*)
  • Up in Smoke (original plan diverted)
  • “This tape will self-destruct in five seconds”** (something to be kept secret)
  • “Book’em, Dan-O” *** (coolest phrase ever – to be interjected whenever possible)

white smokeLater still, I adopted a new favorite that translates the point clearly today:

  • Blowing smoke… (into a body orifice or loose clothing – implies a degree of deception)

Fortunately, I survived my youth, so thanks to God, I continued to grow in body, mind and spirit.

Along with three new generations of humans I learned that the world has more dimension than our perspectives of our early years.

As a more seasoned adult, I discovered what I had once considered absolute truth was not necessarily fact. New interests in history, global current events and especially politics expanded and gradually overshadowed my passion for Natural Science – and later shifted back again.

By my early 30’s I began to recognize the collation between God and Natural Science. I began to find peace, at least in the world of my mind. That trend became my normal.

From my present perspective, aside from the draft and cyber space, not that much has actually changed. People continue to be misled, confused and angry. Decades later the scars veterans bear from warfare are ever present; PTSD among other wounded warrior’s statistics steadily rise.

But now, having come around to seeing the beginning of my life’s circle, my newest favorite expression (from Bob Goff) struck a chord in me:

“…And how could God think of me as His beloved? But then I remember Jesus said to one of the guys with Him that he was a rock even though He knew this same guy would deny ever knowing Him. I don’t think Jesus was blowing sunshine at Peter when He did that. Instead, I think He was calling something out from inside Peter.” ~

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    • Blowing sunshine. I love that!

One truth I now hold dear is that God has proven to be very alive, present and quite visible to those who still seek Him. And at the moments I need Him most, He reminds me of His promises with each new sunrise.

However eloquently worded, I simply don’t have time anymore for anyone blowing smoke anywhere. Especially during the current presidential campaign, with politicians and other contenders blowing the same egocentric banalities as always.

I’m glad there’s genuine hope for tomorrow. I want to focus upon truth and blow vibrant, altruistic sunshine.

Sure the world seems to be in a horrible mess. I can look at the mess or I can walk in sunshine and trust that actually, it’s all good.

 

Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed!” Joshua 23:14 (NLT)

 

Terms courtesy The Odyssey Online.com  If they don’t fit, talk to Odyssey

~ Taken from Love Does by Bob Goff, Wow, What A Hit!: Copyright © 2012 by Bob Goff. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com.

*I Love Lucy  Television Series 1951 – 1957, “Ricky” Desi Arnaz to “Lucy” Lucille Ball
**Originally from Mission: Impossible, Television Series circa 1966
*** Hawaii Five-0 Television Series from 1968 – Updated version in 2010 (advanced photography, but not quite as cool)

Images courtesy ABSFreePic.com

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Back On Track

roller coaster 3I’m gonna be honest, I began this piece from a posture of pain.

Reflecting upon a recent Sunday morning after a long, restless night. I had gone to a loved one wanting only a moment together. Simply put, I got an emotional kick in the gut instead. With that I felt like giving up on the relationship – again.

I’m usually pretty good at recognizing that I’m not the only human alive that’s confused, afraid or hurting – and I can be hyper-sensitive. That morning, feeling the sting of rejection, I quickly withdrew to get ready for church.

Despite the daunting I’d wrestled with the entire night before, I began feeling a little better in my busyness. I’d waved the offense aside, still not realizing I’d been derailed for some time.

roller coaster 1

I admit, seemingly rude, insensitive behavior, particularly directed at me by my loved ones is my right Achilles’s heel – yeah, I have two. Usually getting over that kind of slight takes me hours of speculation, denial, self-examination, confession, repentance… You get the idea. Still, I try to keep in mind that  “forgive us our debts (and offenses) as we forgive [others]*”  prayer and take the responsibility seriously.

So, without forgiving, putting hurt feelings to rest, there’s no way I could muster the nerve to go into the amazing presence of God and find peace in this crazy world. Getting there begins with prayer – fervent, effectual prayer from a pure heart.

I took a moment to shake it off again and clear my head. I picked up Bob Goff’s book Love Does**. Typically his light, lovely stories bring a smile at the very least and usually a hearty laugh.

Opening to the page where I’d left off earlier, words soon seemed to jump off the page at me:

“When you read the Bible, the people who loved Jesus and followed Him were the ones like me who don’t get invited places. Yet Jesus told His friends they were invited anyway. In fact, He told them that the religious people weren’t the ones who decided who got into heaven and who didn’t. He said the people who followed Him should think of themselves more like the ushers rather than the bouncers, and it would be God who decides who gets in. We’re the ones who simply show people their seats that someone else paid for.”

Bam! With the new perspective of my earlier attitude, having barged, uninvited into my loved one’s space I became humbled. She hadn’t come to me. Though she can own her attitude I realized my reaction to a perceived slight. I compared it to the person I want to be, stopped right there and got to my knees.

Later, during the ride to church I digested the actual glory in the whole scenario. God orchestrated the entire morning, likely the challenge I couldn’t put away the night before, if only to open my eyes to a truth I’d been overlooking:

“I’m more than a loser human, a Jesus fan and a wannabe Christ follower, I’m an usher to heaven’s gates!”

Have mercy.

That morning at church I payed closer attention to the people I see every week:

The friend, a mom who goes out of her way to drive me to church on the days both of my household vehicles are unavailable. This woman has a family to care for, a job and is our Small Group’s journalist. You gotta know she takes some hits. And yet she prepares, sometimes days before to secure my ride.

The friend who unfailingly seeks me out to hug me and share whatever time we have together. Another busy mom and grand mom, she also checks that I have transportation when I need it and she texts me notes of encouragement every few days.

The young grandmother, part of the church leadership team, head of the huge Visual Arts Department that includes the Worship Team. In her position she’s usually under somebody or another’s close scrutiny. Yet this woman always makes a point to say hello to me by name every time she sees me, asking how I’m doing. And she waits for my response.

At home I found a lengthy email from a foreign missionary friend who manages to enjoy the messages I send her in pigeon German, and she faithfully assures me she will pray for me too.

SONY DSC

Maybe I’ve gone over the top. Even so, I feel redeemed – yet again. I actually feel empowered to take my place at the Grand Entrance to heaven’s arena. We bloggers often refer to our roller coaster rides. I am especially delighted to share this one. Arms up, ready to scream for joy as the train creeps over the arch to the next drop and roll.

For the weeks since that Sunday I’ve been prepared for my days. Prayed up, my metaphoric vest neatly pressed, name badge, FORGIVEN, in place, flashlight charged and ready to stand with other believers, to show people the way. There’s a huge difference between feeling like we’re okay and actually feeling wheels rolling on the rails.

It’s good to be back on track.

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9 (NLT)

*The Bible Matthew 6:12 (paraphrase)

**Taken from Love Does by Bob Goff Copyright © 2012 by Bob Goff. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com.

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Falling In To Place

I must confess. For me the New Year didn’t actually begin on January the first. It didn’t start on the first Monday in January, or the first work day of the new year as I’d intended either. For me it dawned on the 7th – an otherwise nondescript Thursday.

Most notably that day did not go as I planned – something that would normally feel to me like the earth tilted on its axis. Instead I welcomed the change.

I’d been laboring over a book manuscript during my first year of blogging. Learning more about the mechanics and enjoying the experience, I wanted more – more followers, more comments, more feedback… I down-shifted. Ambition took over and before I realized it, I had become obsessed. I didn’t feel like the world was falling apart, so I felt better.

I’d been staring into the monitor till my eyes dried and my head hurt six days a week, letting my fitness and health care slide for days in a row. I’d been constantly thinking, reading, studying, cyber surfing until I realized I hadn’t even walked outside the house in too close to a week – yet again.

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What’s Next followers might remember The View From Ground Level. And you’d rightly assume I’d learned from that experience. Or not. My breakthrough moment came the day before Christmas Eve. I realized I had performed the rudimentary holiday preparations my phone apps hounded me to do, but not much else to welcome in the season. This is very not like me. Instead I worked, telling myself I was about to reach my dream.

Right about that time I noticed an old feeling lurking around just outside the shadows. It had grown bold, stepping closer into the light. I wasn’t enjoying my life or my chosen career. Instead I had been working it, telling myself I must work harder so I could get where I need to be, and then I could relax and enjoy my life.

Blind ambition had taken over. I banished that little monster after surviving a heart attack in my mid-thirties. A little ambition, in check is typically good. This time around I was plain stupid. Literally, doing the same thing again and again expecting different results. This past year I’d be hard-pressed to prove this is not my typical MO.

During my year-end break I realized my main concerns were work and want. Although I celebrated Christmas Day with my household, thankful that hard times hadn’t robbed us of that joy, I was pensive, intense and remarkably not joyful.

My Ghost of Christmas Future appeared to me in the form of the “God-hat” I had tossed away long ago when I gave my life to Jesus. I realized I’d walled myself in and despite all my positive self-talk, laborious prayer rituals, and my enlightened perspective, I had become stale, dismal and worn.

At that point I put on the brakes. The next day as tornadoes swept past our neighborhood, I pulled some post ideas from my drafts folder, added a little bling, ran the proofreader, named the files with post dates and saved them as drafts to publish from my phone. And then I walked away from my desk for the year.

Josey coffee Annie SprattFast forward to the first work day in January. Within minutes I noticed my neck and shoulders immediately tighten with that familiar, old pressure to perform, produce, provide. Instead of rowing in my chair to loosen up, I walked away holding my hands skyward. I made a cup of chamomile, and then sat in my prayer closet. I hung out with God till we were good again.

Rather than diving into my projects, the Reader or my manuscript, I started up the old laptop I use for business records.

I created a workbook; month to month spreadsheets detailing my financial plan for the year. I scheduled out the birthdays I’d observe, travel allowances and holiday budgets. Then I compiled my tax paperwork. I allocated every available dollar, checked the super-coupon site, purged my coupon folders, and drafted a back up plan to cover any ‘what-ifs.’

Relieved but not entirely satisfied, I overhauled my digital files and reformatted my back up drive. When that was done I wrote a long letter to my brother and his fiancee. I gave myself permission to not work. I lived.

What’s unique about that first day of this new year is I felt fine taking my life at a my pace again. I liked the unfamiliar, but comfortable peace, knowing what I have to work with and what must wait for residual income – essentially anything but food and shelter. But as billions around the globe can attest, my circumstances could be far worse.

Instead of my daily dread, that nagging drive to produce a monumental, world-changing post and manuscript, tabled and annotated, by my self-imposed deadline, I coasted. Rather than cracking the whip, screaming for the muse, I snapped my fingers to Pandora Radio and cruised through the day. It felt great!

sunrise walk

The next morning I slid into my work-out garb, slammed down some nutrients, stretched and walked out the door. After a luxurious shower and prayer time I ate a legitimate breakfast, made a pot of tea and calmly walked to my clean, orderly desk. Yes, I pinched myself to be sure I was awake.

Instead of my work day starting at five, it was nearly nine a.m. and I wasn’t falling apart. I felt like the over comer I’d been most of my life. Blind ambition put to rest, I’m enjoying life with God in control again. As I watched the birds and the squirrels quarreling over territories, I listen for orders from my High Commander. Knowing they’ll come in the perfect time, I can relax and work on my manuscript – at my pace – in God’s time.

 

Just Be Held, Casting Crowns
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIZitK6_IMQ

 

“So don’t worry about these things… your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:31-34 (NLT)

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Catch Up Over Coffee

While I adore the idea of meeting up with you all, I’m too much of a realist. We’d have to meet somewhere public and I don’t know my new area well enough to know some wonderful, quirky place with superior food and drink to meet yet. I will have to arrange to have one of the cars, which doesn’t always happen on anyone else’s schedule easily. Face it, we’d settle on texting photos, on our coffee breaks. Still, anyone in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is welcome to come by. Call first, of course!

So, since we’re planning this date to share coffee together in the not-too-distant future, I can get to the local Starbuck’s which is now also Teavana – yeay! You are most likely aware I cut myself off of any form of caffeine and processed sugar after ten-ish. So tea, especially herbal blends are kind of a big deal in my world. That way you don’t wonder if I’m not a gremlin after midnight, manning the captain’s chair inside the head of a robotic costume.

I don’t give a care about what cups they’re serving around their beverages, I don’t frequent non-fair trade coffee shops enough that I feel any guilt or remorse (again, walking distance), and the atmosphere is almost always pleasant. Not only that, if we embarrass or offend anyone there, no one there will ever recognize us again. Besides, being new in the community and far from other friends and family, my speaking skills need remarkable warming up before conversing. You get to start!

Josey tea Carli Jean

While we share tea together I’ll be delighted to hear what’s new since the last time we talked (Skyped, whatever). I’ve learned (finally) that listening is actually more important than talking, or entertaining as I tend to do. While I have become adept at systematically changing names to protect the innocent in my stories, many of my dialogues and short stories come from simply listening to the people around me – with a little splash of creative drama now and then, just to make it interesting. Besides, I am literally so weary of my story where it is right now, I’ve been writing it in the first person the way I thought it would go starting two years back. It still sucks at times, but I feel better a lot more often in my fiction.

While we share tea together we’ll go over the last week’s global events and the news from each other’s localities. Getting trapped behind my side of my nose makes me forget the many different perspectives on the other side – your side of my nose. What’s more, the world isn’t quite as frightening on your side of my nose as it is in here! Over drinks together we get a better grasp of reality, examine truth for what it is and find better balance in the world today. As Ellen (you remember meeting her) used to say, “we must get together and talk through the world’s problems, fixing it all over a pot of tea (or a bottle of wine) soon. Balance. It’s all about balance in all things and one simply can’t do it alone.

While we share tea together I’ll torture you with the details of building my blog, the amazing things I’m learning about the mechanics of WordPress, the people I meet and the fun I’m having taking the Blogging U. classes. I’ll pester you for ideas to write about and how to promote myself where I haven’t already. We won’t talk about that episode last spring when I put into action a clever promotional idea, but the officer thought I was soliciting. I played the Grandmother card and he let me go. Whatever…

While we share tea together we’ll discuss the latest fitness challenges I’ve tried out and diet discoveries have come to light since our last visit. Surely something there will help me shed another five pounds so I’ll be back to normal body weight six months after I start lifting and boxing again. If I’m still breathing, of course.

While we share tea together I’ll tell you the actual discoveries I tried and work well for me in my overall health care (like coconut oil), especially during the last bout with cancer – ugh. It’s all gone and all good now, “… I said, knowing I gained five pounds the last six weeks. (The physical therapist ordered me to not walk every day). I couldn’t believe she was serious about that until I popped one of the sutures in my calf going down the stair too fast. Note, it was only one stitch.”

While we share tea together I can tell you the secrets to spotting poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. I never heard of the latter either until I Googled homeopathic treatments, not wanting steroids. I can also advise you (after my second contact – they actually are bigger in Texas) how to treat the rash before it spreads – take the steroids. The End.

While we share tea together I’ll only be dull a few minutes boasting about my thirteen adorable, amazing grand kids, my marvelous sons and my heroic daughters-in-love. I promise only to show photos from my phone if you ask. And you know better than to ask just to be polite.

While we share tea together I’ll tell you the wonderful, interesting new ways I’ve learned to meet new people in Texas (not counting that soliciting thing). We’ll probably even touch on how I found the best church home (third time was the charm). You will be amazed that I’m not on the Worship Team and remember that’s where I served primarily for the last thirty years. We’ll talk about the good old days and we’ll look forward to what’s coming up ahead.

I’ll bet you can hardly wait. Hey! Where are you running so fast?

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