Tag Archives: Writing

Still, That Guy: Part IV

The Passover is past. The men who died on the crosses are buried. Yet, the numbers of people that seem to think and feel the same as I do is remarkable. Even if it isn’t apparent on their faces, in their countenance, all morning I heard them say so.

In the marketplace one man exclaimed to the group he was with, “…ever since I heard things Jesus said around the village and especially at the temple I see things differently. I can’t explain it, but I feel more hopeful.”

I wanted to ask him more, but that’s none of my business.

Still, I overheard similar comments all over town. “He taught like someone much older,” “…more experienced,” “wise…”

People were confused by the Jesus guy calling out the priests and scribes, how they live as compared to how Jesus lived – and died:

– The priests plotted to kill Jesus’ friend in Bethany, the man Jesus raised four days after he died.
– The priests questioned and threatened the man Jesus gave sight and his parents, the man that was born blind.
– The priests demanded Jesus’ death and freed a known felon.
– Herod actually wanted nothing to do with the Jesus trial – washing his hands of innocent blood when Jesus would not defend himself.
– One of Jesus’ own betrayed him for money, told where and when the Temple Guards would find him – and then hanged himself.
– Jesus’ last words were cries to The Almighty to forgive his accusers, saying they didn’t know what they had done.
– In his life this Jesus fulfilled the prophesies about the Messiah.

Above all, one statement I heard in particular keeps coming to mind. One woman that seemed quite sound and especially wise mentioned that Jesus said to the priests, “…destroy this temple and I shall resurrect it in three days…” She repeated how she somehow knew Jesus wasn’t referring to the building that took 46 years to build.

I wandered the streets with all these thoughts and images on my mind, still hoping to find my friend. I could have started my journey home, but I felt as if I should linger. Surely something important must have come up that we still hadn’t found one another.

While walking I came upon a man. His head bowed, he seemed positively miserable. With all my concerns, the man seemed far worse off than I. For reasons I can’t explain, I wished him a good day. He responded that the day couldn’t be worse, that all he believed in was lost. I don’t know why I didn’t keep walking, but I stopped and listened. And the man kept talking.

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He had been one of those guys that traveled with Jesus. Listening to him I became so captivated with his story I couldn’t leave. We sat, he talked and I listened. His stories about that Jesus guy were amazing. I sensed they weren’t mere stories, but facts. But then he came around to his agony today. He said he hid as his friend died; he had denied he even knew Jesus. The night before, hours after the Master had washed his feet, before the soldiers came, Jesus had told him that he would.

“But why can’t I come now, Lord?” he asked. “I’m ready to die for you.” John 13:37 (NLT)

Image courtesy Pixabay

Originally posted on Whats Next 2016 March 26

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This Can’t Be Good: Part III

I can’t make sense of it. I feel as though I can not wake from the strangest dream – a nightmare. All week long I looked and waited for my friend, trusting we will find each other. And yet, I shared the Passover meal with strangers at an inn.

On my way to the temple, desperate to find my friend I had to wait for the ugliest parade procession ever. That guy people talked about all week, paraded through the streets. He was beaten so badly I barely recognized his gruesome image, barely able to drag his cross. Days ago a celebrity and now being treated as a criminal. Some of the same people I saw celebrating him earlier were mocking and accusing him of some vague crimes.

It’s as if people have lost their minds. How I wish I knew what has become of my friend.

Hardly anyone at the temple, I felt lost and desolate. The week certainly did not go as I expected or would have imagined. I wandered aimlessly until I came to the city wall and looked over the countryside. I saw the crowd dispersing from three crosses, a man hanging from each of them. Too far to see clearly, I am certain that guy, that Jesus in the middle. I knew he was in for trouble. But this… Bewildering.

calvary Good Fri

 

 

As I looked on from the wall, the sky seemed to fracture, the earth shook and the world became as dark at night. I was horrified. I lost all track of time. Then all I could think of was to get to the inn for the night.

Storm Good Fri

Confused and shaken, I made my way not remembering how I got there or anything I said. Overwhelmed by the images in my head, the strange, dark weather, the hideous feelings, all I had seen, chilled to the bone despite the warm day, I felt entirely alone among the strangers around me.

I don’t understand. I have done my best to be good and worshiped God as long as I can remember. And yet I wonder if I had only imagined this God. This week seems to be too much for me. I must be tired. I must rest. But I can’t shake the picture of the crucifixion on that hill. God, please help me.

 

“Who may worship in your sanctuary, Who may enter your presence on your holy hill?”

Psalm 15:1 (NLT)

 

Images Google Royalty Free Images/Pinterest 

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” Galatians 3:13 (NIV)

 

Originally posted 2016 March 23 on What’s Next

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Again; That Guy: Part II

Again I saw that guy. It’s like everywhere I go either he is nearby or I couldn’t help overhear someone that was obviously talking about him or something else he’d done.

jerusalem crowd

I couldn’t forget the priests in the temple among the debris, the image stuck in my mind. It’s like an earworm, but irrepressible. I hate the way the image makes me feel fearful, and I’m annoyed with myself that it bothers me. I’m exasperated that I haven’t found my friend – we agreed to meet at the Temple Gate. All I want is to be ready for the Passover.

I couldn’t go a block without hearing someone talking about the incident at the temple. People seemed obsessed; both excited and upset. I actually heard someone say that guy touched some blind, crippled and terminally sick people who afterward could suddenly see, walk and are no longer sick at all. How could that be? I must get to my business.

Shortly after eating, I was walking off my meal when I saw the guy again – coming toward me. I wanted to turn and walk the other way – where that guy went there was trouble. But as if the air between us was charged with some peculiar energy that drained me of my will, I couldn’t move.

The guy was not exceptionally tall, but as he moved closer he looked straight through the crowd surrounding him, right into my eyes. All motion seemed to stop – I was captivated, as if his face drew me closer. I suddenly felt as if the guy saw my entire history, knew my unspoken thoughts. I again wanted to leave, but I couldn’t. Distinctively unnerved, I wanted protection from him. For an instant a notion to call for a guard briefly flitted across my mind – I am such a hypocrite.

The moments seemed like hours and then before I knew it he continued moving on with his group. Like an idiot I stood there until I realized people were bumping into me as they passed in every direction. I checked for my bag and feeling it there I started walking again, aimlessly drifting with the crowd.

Later, making my way back to the temple, I heard people saying, “Heaven… wind… light… and Jesus.” I honestly don’t know why, but I am entirely unnerved. I feel drained, exposed, and remarkably uneasy. I long to find my friend and secure a place to stay the night.

“…A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.”
John 3:27 (NLT)

Featured Image courtesy ABSFreePic

Originally posted on What’s Next on 2016 March 22

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Who is That Guy? Part I

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

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

jerusalem

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

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

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

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

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

Who is this guy?!

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

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

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

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

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

Featured Image Courtesy ABSFreePics

Originally posted on What’s Next 2016 March 21

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Seventeen

Do other writers get stuck on a thought, a word, a number that has nothing to do with the current project or task? Anyone else ever struggle to break free from such a grip? I recently resisted a momentary nemesis for days till I turned and met the foe head on.

Fact: Much of my life has been unimaginable to most folks. Several decades ago I realized I was on a collision course with a bleak future. After a series of failed attempts to redirect I got help. It took years to find the right counselor, but for about eight years now I’ve been keeping notes from sessions with the best trauma counselor ever. We’ll call him Rob.

Months ago when Rob pointed out a few concerns, suggested I could be depressed, and insisted I see my doctor, I stopped. I thought hard, prayed harder. And then I stopped longer.

I dread the thought of being known as “that poor thing who…” I write about my life because, well, it’s what I know best. Seriously, I write my stories, my experiences in the hope they help and encourage others. Writing helps me make sense of the grand scheme of things. Plus there’s the perk I get when my work sometimes reveals a bad attitude, it checks me like a friendly punch in the face. Hopefully those that grew up with numerous brothers understand the concept.

This brings us back a little while to shortly after the snow and ice melted here at the ranch, when I hit a wall. That actually had less to do with me injuring my arm and shoulder chopping wood (seriously, don’t all great-grandmothers do that?). The wall had more to do with the preceding twelve years.

Have I mentioned having driver’s licenses in three states within the last two calendar years? Yeah, that’s a lot of moving around. And each move directly resulted from one crisis right after another. When I pointed out this profound revelation to my Go-To Girl, my sister Roan (my on-and-off house mate), she replied,

“Yeah. So?” 

Not the response I expected. She was on her lunch break two time zones ahead of here, so she may have missed my point. We mocked the topic sufficiently enough to laugh it off and we returned to work.

So, after circling back to Roan’s question for a couple of days I set all my other projects aside to seek solid answers.

 

I handle most challenges better when I can break them down to physics, mathematical formulas – or Sun Tzu*. I did the math:

 

 

In the last 20 years Roan has (to my knowledge) moved x times, 6 of which since were her daughter was born, the last six within the past 7 years. But for 17 years she and her daughter were rooted in one place.

Then I again reviewed my nomadic history. Again with the number 17.

  • I was 17 when I married my sons’ father.
  • For 17 years I lived with (and moved around with) my husband.
  • I have lived at 17 different addresses. Seventeen.

Only because of Roan can I imagine living in one dwelling for seventeen years. In my entire life I’ve never lived in any one place for 4 years. That’s a staggering amount of moving around! Additionally some form of drama generated each move and often changed my family dynamics; broken hearts and broken bones (some mine), husbands left, sons outgrew the nest, a heart attack here – loved ones died there, banks became less sympathetic… I tell ya, some hits were hard. But I moved on.

So, our life has been astoundingly complicated compared to most people we know.

So, that itinerant life is over now. And yet, I’m having trouble getting my head around the concept of being home, that I won’t be packing up and moving again in a while. Rob and I figure it’ll likely be three years before it actually sinks in. I marked my digital calendar just in case.

So, days after the aforementioned chat with Rob I visited my Naturopathic Physician. Thanks to our decades old relationship we quickly caught up and then we agreed;

  • I’m tired,
  • I’m possibly slightly traumatized,
  • undeniably I have much to be sad about,
  • but I’m not necessarily depressed.

She studied my blood-work and my DNA evaluation (yes, I happened to have it on me), prescribed a course of supplements and then we went out for tea. Within days the dark heaviness lifted, but I continued to take the time I needed to simply be for a while.

So, the cast in the main house has changed, Kendra and Twelve-Year-Old moved away, but we’re all adjusting. The show goes on. My journals are busting at the bindings and I’m back to working on chapters again. More important, I give myself lots of grace. I walk away whenever I want. And within a couple of hours I walk back – usually feeling lighter. I’m sure there will be more hard days. But it’s like Brother tells me often, “Just settle down. You’re not going anywhere.”

So, today I smile as the mare and the cattle call to me when I step outside my door. I giggle as the hens flutter-waddle to the fence cackling. I’m sure it’s all about me – not the grain, scraps, hay, carrots or apples I bring them.

Most important, hearing how my stories help others also helps me. Having shared the experience with other writers/bloggers, the bobbing and weaving and working it all out, I feel so much better now.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

*The Art of War, by Sun Tzu.  Just in case my humor missed the mark, I translate much of Sun Tzu principles into Biblical scripture – and disregard the rest.

Images courtesy ABSFreePic.com

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Still Workin’

Yeah, it’s been a while. Originally I imagined this imposed hiatus would be a week or two.

We plan – God laughs.

It turns out I’d carried a lot more baggage home with me than I’d realized. And surprise, I’d gotten so used to carrying it all I hadn’t noticed the the weight. As it happens, hurting my arm and shoulder wasn’t entirely a bad thing. I had to lay a few things down and I’ll tell you, sometimes doing that right can be a long process. I’m determined to stick with it and not need to do this again!

 

Still, I enjoy my new life on the ranch, despite how it humbles me – daily. So much to learn, such astounding lessons.

 

 

I finish the chores early in the day so I’m back to work on my chapters now: Write – edit – edit – edit – submit.

I don’t have my head around my new What’s Next format – yet – but I don’t want anyone wondering if I’ve gone off the rails either.

So for now, enjoy the link to what feels like my life’s sound track from Mandisa and keep checking in!

 

“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT)

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Keep Juggling

A long time ago in a place far away an exceptional human became my friend. Arlene Powers has an infectious passion for living. We met when she picked me from a temp pool to work for her team of professionals. Months later we moved into different departments and then eventually left the Company, but God had glued us together forever.

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I don’t recall why we both call each other Bert – it simply works for us. Though she never said it, I suspect Bert recognized I was not your average Accelerati Incredebilis when we met. Always strong, stable, and focused, one would never know she too was familiar with trauma.

I’m frequently thankful most people can’t see feelings and confusion, but Bert does. Pain doesn’t intimidate her, no siree.

Bert recognized the clown in me and patiently coaxed her out. Regardless of my issues, she loved and respected me even when doing so was challenging. In our professional circles our dings were our secret.

Clowning was different from other performing arts I’d ever done, demanding far more work and commitment than I ever imagined. Bert’s passion for it was infectious and I came to love it too.

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But not like Bert did. As she typically accomplishes everything she sets her mind to, she designed and hand crafted the most stunningly, beautiful costumes for herself, her daughter and other clowns. Each one unique with lots of hidden pockets and props, they were works of fine, living art. Bert took the art of clowning to a higher level, mastering the craft and then collaborating on books about clowning, costuming and ballooning.

Beenies1 beenies

Fellow Clowns, audiences and charities throughout the Southwest enjoyed Arleenie Beenie’s talents for years.

With Bert’s coaching I went to clown camp, trained, developed and copyrighted my face and costume, created props, helped develop skits and routines, together, solo and with other clowns. Adding pantomime, juggling, face painting and balloon art, we were your basic, all-purpose clowns.

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Learning to juggle, focusing upon only one thing, was difficult for me. For weeks Bert taught and coached me along patiently, employing an allegory that became my mantra:

A man weighing 190 pounds had to cross a bridge carrying three five-pound boxes. The bridge could hold no more than 200 pounds.

How did the man get all the boxes across in only one trip?

The answer of course, he juggled them.

The bridge is life. The boxes are our struggles, emotions and griefs. The only way across the bridge is to juggle the boxes. We can keep them all within our purview, but we must concentrate on catching each one as it drops. For me the allegory was a game changer.

Though Bert saw what I couldn’t, I’ll never forget the look on my teacher-Bert’s face as I added a third, and then fourth Hackey Sacks to my routine. She radiated the joy of accomplishment for us both.

I imagine that’s how God sees us; laughing with us when we’re just plain silly, and practicing our way through our challenges. Bert also coached me as I juggled my gushing thoughts and overwhelming feelings.

I gave up the Hackey Sacks, Nerf balls and rubber pet fish, but juggling became my personal foundational skill. While I occasionally drop some of my stuff along my way, I keep the boxes moving.

Beenies1

Though I stopped performing publicly after a couple of years, Annie Roo became the biggest part of me. Over the years I became grAnnie Roo. Bert remains the Bertimus Maximus and still creates beautiful art, mostly of birds and she donates all proceeds to Liberty Wildlife and other sanctuaries. She’ll tell you she’s just doing important Bert things.

I have a living example of God’s delight in me, remembering Bert’s face as I jumped the next hurdle, mastered the next challenge.

In loving memory of
my eternal friend, Arleenie “Bert” Beenie/Arlene Powers

Signed, Bert

“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT)

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Bliends – Meet Mesca

Change world mesca

I met Mesca at Psychochromatic Redemption early in 2015 in a Blogging U course (go figure) and her blog continues to fascinate me. With her provoking HIP Photography, poetry, excellent book reviews, prose often set to music, and conversation, she offers “a bit of everything…”

love paints mesca

Debuting as Psychochromatic Inception, Mesca jumped into blogging with both feet sharing her stunning imagery style, multi-genre tunes, a potpourri of fascinating information and unmistakable emotion. She later evolved to rename her blog Psychochromatic Redemption and raised the bar.

Schedule a visit for some enriching me-time soon and enjoy.

“…I know God has made everything beautiful for its time. God has also placed in our minds a sense of eternity…” Ecclesiastes 3:11 (The Voice)

 

Images are property of Mesca/HIP Photography/Psychochromatic Redemption and not to be shared or otherwise duplicated without prior written permission. Thank you!

 

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Bliends – Lunch

diane duke 2

Even before Jacqueline Oby-Ikocha’s fabulous introduction post, I was already certain Diane Duke would be a friend for life. From inception, Ladies Who Lunch Reviews, Etc blew up with “a little lunch, a little wine and a LOT of talking.” Immediately faithful followers gathered regularly, but I can attest the numbers hardly begin to bespeak the quality of her fabulous blog.

diane duke 1A fellow Illinoisan, Diane amazes me as she gracefully plows through happy times and hardships equally. Cancer doesn’t even seem to thwart her. Her eloquent accounts on life, the fur kids, the ever-amazing and entertaining JP, poetry, sizzling romances and mysteries, books, etc. are sure to interest, entertain and often amuse. I’m not gonna lie, I get a little jealous of her sometimes. 😉 Kidding. Mostly.

diane dukeMost of all I appreciate how Diane personally interacts with her readers. We may never know how she remembers details about so many people (notes, maybe?) and yet she does with her personable style and distinctive undertones of fun. Comment threads as well as her posts and stories inspire and send me on my way in a brighter direction for the time spent with the Ladies.

Need a suggestion for a good read, a reality check or a mirthful moment? Pop on over!

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Go Cubs. Go!

“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14 (NLT)

Cubs logo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

All other images are private and aside from reblogging or reposting the article in whole, are not to be duplicated without prior written permission. Thank you!

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Walk #3

In my Neighborhood

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Walking with my head lowered, my cap visor pulled down reflected how I felt after examining my finances. Suddenly I nearly bumped into a man standing at the edge of the sidewalk. I startled just a smidgen, but looked closely at the shabbily dressed, but immaculate looking man of indeterminable age.

He smiled.

He said nothing and I felt comfortable stopping a scant few feet from him. Looking into his smile I felt a weight lift. In heartbeats I forgot my troubles and the mood of my day changed. I asked if I could take his photo for my blog about our neighborhood. Hands in his pockets, he didn’t move but his smiled broadened. I snapped, thanked him and began walking again – the sun would be hot soon.

A few steps later I looked back to wave but didn’t see him. In my newfound peace I felt a little sad he was gone, but then I too smiled. I am blessed. As I envisioned his smile again something shiny in the grass caught my eye:

homeless memorial

“Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.” 1 Peter 3:8 (NLT)

 

Images are from my private collection and aside from reblogging or reposting the article in whole, are not to be copied without prior written permission. Thank you!

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