What’s up God?

No photo with this one…wouldn’t know what to use. Need to find one which is all question marks to express what I feel.

I’ve shared what the last couple years have been like for us with it’s many trials and concerns. And I have no illusions about how well I handled what life threw at us. In retrospect, I realize there is so much room to have lived it all out in a more Godly manner. Now, know that I do not feel condemned. God does not condemn but He does guide us to wisdom. I finally realized that I carried so much weight on my back that did not need to be there. I have a God who was more than willing to carry the load. I simply stepped in and did it for HIm…not the brightest of moves. Everything gets easier when I give it to Him…lighter load and a river of comfort flows when I do.

Now a couple more stressful trials have come at us and I find myself worrying and plotting and planning…again, me trying to fix life! You would think I could learn but the burden on my back tends to bend me toward the ground where I walk with clay feet,looking down.

So while I am in this position, I think I will drop to my knees and have a talk with my Savior. And i will leave the burden I strapped to my back there for Him to carry from here. He knows my future. I believe He loves me with the dedicated passion of a father. I believe He longs to make hear my voice speaking His Name and sharing life with Him. He calls me to intimacy, a tender place where we are in one accord, one purpose.

Surel goodness and mercy will follow me, hunt me down and stay with me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever…..refreshing, peace filled and content.

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New Chapters

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September 1, 2013, Sunday. It’s hard to believe August has flowed into September so fluidly. A summer breeze blew most of last month, teasing in the coming autumn. Soon leaves will begin to drift to the ground, hardy mums will decorate porches and around mailboxes. I love the autumn as I see the hills change their green summer dress to ones of reds and yellows.

As much as I profess to love change, it comes hard for me. Most of my life found change to be a painful thing. Changing schools to face a world full of unfriendly strangers, loosing loved ones through death, friends moving far away. Well you get the drift, change stinks.

But does it really, when it is stripped down to the barest of essentials? Changing schools gave teachers a chance to see why the little girl was struggling. No one did, but they had the opportunity and must speak about their missed chances with God. Friends dying or moving forced me to be less dependent on them and more on God. This is perhaps one of the greatest challenges in my life. As I write I am convicted that I went to them more often and more quickly than I did to God. Unable to walk away from a good paying job, god slammed the door shut. why? Because I kept trying to pry it open. The familiar draws us in but God pushes us to the challenge of change.

Life is all about new beginnings, or chapters. Each day a clean page if I want one. I can keep writing on a dirty page, but why? My life has the potential for greatness. There are reams of paper for me to write out my story for all the world to see. And no matter how joyful or sad it might be, it is written with the steadying of his Holy Hand.

So, as one season closes and another opens, it is time to embrace change. It is time to say thank you to God for giving me seasons, sometimes taking me on a road leading from trouble to blessing. Life is not dull and mine will be a good read.

Words

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I have been struggling with what to say. Prayed about it, ruminated over it and finally realized that words are the issue. The phrase, “just sayin'” keeps cropping up. I also hear, “Well, to tell you the truth”. “Just sayin”” seems to be tacked on at the end of a particularly critical phrase meant to hurt. Guess the idea is to take the responsibility for their painful words off their shoulders. Doesn’t work. And “to tell you the truth” indicates that there are times we don’t tell the truth. Talk about labeling yourself!

Words carry the emotion attached to them and penetrate the soul. I cared for an elderly woman with dementia. She didn’t know the names of her children. When visitors arrived, a gentle voice said, “Hello Mama. How are you today?”. Suddenly alert, she replied, “Richard” as she took her sons face in her hands. Cherished words of love penetrated the dark wall of dementia and brought her joy.

Conversely, there’s not one of us who does not recall a hurt issued in our childhood which lingers in our hearts. Old wounds not cleansed grow and fester into something ugly. Ever met a bitter soul? That is an infected wound, often from childhood. There is nothing sadder to see than a life wasted in bitterness. Sick and vulnerable, the elderly have often shared painful memories from their childhood,as I cared for them. Words spoken fifty or sixty years ago still carrying weight. So sad. Those word wounds have never healed and here they are, nearly on their death beds, sharing that pain perhaps for the first time.

Give weight to your words, guard them carefully, share sparingly and with deliberate intent. Speak carefully over and around those you think cannot hear you. Hearing is one of the last senses to leave us. Words delivered from our lips matter. They heal and they wound. Speak love.

Disappointment

Disappointment.

Reading the word makes my heart physically heavy within my chest, my throat tight and a tear wells up, ready to fall. Why? About what? Almost always over things. A house I wanted and the deal fell through. A “new” used car I thought I had to have. Things. I have been blessed upside down, inside out and all around and yet I want more and more. You would think I’d learn. Yet, I struggle, like most of us do.

Yesterday we visited with friends who face a disease which is devastating their future. He has a rapidly progressing dementia, Alzheimers Disease. She has had to face losing the man she has loved for decades though they live in the same house and sleep in the same bed. Her daily companion and best friend is leaving her. That is disappointment.

A young friend is facing cancer with the fear that if it spreads, her children will be left behind. Hearing those words, facing that fear, now that is disappointing.

As I write another friend sits in a hospital bed and his concerns are not about chipped woodwork or a room that needs painted. No, his concern is for each labored breath and how soon he can receive his next breathing treatment. His prognosis, disappointing.

Matthew 6:21 says, “FOR WHERE YOUR TREASURE IS, THERE YOUR HEART WILL BE ALSO”. Treasure? Perhaps each moment your hear your name on your husbands lips and connects when you look into his eyes that is your treasure. Perhaps a clean bill of health and long days with your children and their children is abundant treasure. Perhaps hoping for and receiving a day of easy breathing and attending a family wedding one last time, yes that is treasure. Love. That is the true treasure we should spend freely only to find it replenished beyond our measure.

My treasure? A family to love and to receive love, my God who saved me and loves me extravagantly, the opportunity to share with you all. Precious treasures. Hope and the belief that our future is good. Hope and love never, ever disappoint. Search for your treasure in each day.

I Know Who I Am

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Our evangelist friend, Johannes Amritzer is visiting our church this weekend. When he visits,the air crackles with excitement, much like when a little brother comes home to visit. He is a blue-collar sort of guy with an accent like Arnold Schwarzenegger. His appeal to me is that he is not ashamed of who he is or what he believes. He is unabashedly a lover of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and walks it out.

I wonder when we became ashamed of what we believe. This morning Fox News played the national anthem at six A.M. Laugh if you must, but when I hear the national anthem, on TV or in person, I stand up and most often place my hand across my heart. Nascar people have this down pat and I tear up at the beginning of every race. I don’t watch beyond the fighter jets fly-over, but I love that part. Lots of service people and resistance fighters died for freedom. So why does it feel so odd to be patriotic and respectful of our national anthem?

And when did we become ashamed of being a dedicated to Jesus Christian? People get uncomfortable when you talk about faith and give you that polite but why don’t you shut up look. At service last night Johannes talked about being covered in Jesus and the Father sees us through Him. Jesus and I are seamless. I cannot tell where I end and He begins. Some days it appears there is more of me than He. Other days He shines in me. How sweet that people get to see what He looks like in my every day life. If I am ashamed of Him, others may never get to know Him. What we say, do, who and what we are ashamed of makes a difference. All of us are leaders, so be aware of where you are leading.

I know who I am and what I believe and I am not ashamed.I watch a sunrise or sunset in freedom. Thank you to all the military who continue to keep me safe and the flag waving.

Thank you Jesus for loving me. My prayer is that I make You look good!

What to do with all my stuff?

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Contemplating a move to another home has made me painfully aware of all my stuff. Suffocatingly aware.I once heard a well to do physician call himself “poor” and he meant it. Finally I told him I had been poor and he was not poor.And we can argue all day and exchange war stories about our poverty. I was the oldest of ten kids, Christmases were disappointing, a kind word for it. There was always enough food, we were amazingly healthy, had shelter and were together. Our folks tried hard and did what they knew. Some kids want to become a teacher or a model when they grow up. Not me. I wanted to be lady when I grew up. I emulated the ladies on TV and they were ladies. Donna Reed, Loretta Young, elegant even in every day situations and they lived in beautiful surroundings. Ladies have dishes that match, they have matching flatware, they have napkins, they dress a certain way. There are standards to be reached. Now, my standards were fairly modest but they still required things.

And God has graciously given me favor. I love pretty, whether is is a vase of blue hydrangeas, the color of a sunset or crystal on a candle lit table. Somewhere along the line this got ahead of me a bit. Stuff never became more important than people. Thank you Lord! Artistry is one of my gifts and I bring order and beauty to my home. I’ll redecorate a shoebox. That makes me happy. But this is where stewardship comes into play. What am I to do with all my stuff?

Did you notice the lighthouse on this post? That pays homage to my friend Barbara. She loves lighthouses. Photos and wall hangings, her shower curtain, all sport lighthouses. Some years ago she inherited a bit of money. Totally unexpected. What did she do with it? She sent her nephews to college. She reminded me of Joseph in Matthew. When the magi brought expensive gifts to Jesus, his dad didn’t go out and buy a herd of camels or move them to the better part of Bethlehem. All equivalent to moving on up to the east side or a new Porsche. He sat still and waited for God to tell him what to do. Turned out it was money to flee to Egypt with his family. It was get out of Dodge money. I tend to do what I want and then ask God what to do or to bless my idea. Having clay feet gets me in trouble sometimes. If my God wasn’t so gracious I’d be out of luck. I confess, He forgives and I try to do better because I want to please my Father. He made it simple for me.

Another friend’s mother gifts her with enough stuff to supply several families. Her obsession renders her incapable of self-restraint. Unable to curb her mother’s behavior, my friend realized she can use this to benefit others. She sees herself as a conduit. Stuff comes to her through her mother and she holds it until she sees someone who needs it. She trots down to her organized basement and comes out with bounty. Her mothers need to give is fulfilled, and my friends need to supply others is fulfilled, and those in need have their need filled. There is a lot of filling going on there. My friend could have sold it on E-bay but instead saw an opportunity to serve.

It’s not wrong to have a lovely home or possessions. God often blesses us with such things. Abraham was rich. David was rich. Wealthy women helped support Jesus ministry. He allowed them to participate. And that is what we are called to do with our resources. With our abundance do I support Jesus ministry? Do I tithe to my church? Do I feed the poor? Do I even care if kids have lunch or supper or a place to go after school? Jesus is allowing me to participate in His Name. Do I?

Guess I know what to do with my stuff. Yes Lord!

Peace In The Middle Of The Storm

It has been stormy here in Cat’s Spot. I call this Cat’s Spot because it is where I have chosen to stand in life.  A director says, “go stand in that spot, stage left”.  Hindsight is quite a gift and I have learned that when I listen to God’s Voice, life flows gentler despite the torrential down pour of trials.

MATTHEW 2:13 AND 14 talks about an angel of God instructing Joseph during a dream. He was to take little Jesus and His mother and flee during the night to Egypt because Herod planned to find Jesus and kill Him.

Was Joseph shaking in his sandals, in a cold sweat, or maybe  wondering what he had for supper that caused this fearful dream? Was he going to give Mary an earful in the morning.  Was he?  We are told that he “got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt”. In the middle of the storm Joseph was going to follow direction. Why?

Joseph had a history with God. He decided before this storm that God was the leader in his life and he listened when He spoke. No major decision needed to be made during this crisis. No wondering was it God’s Voice. So what did Joseph know about God? First, he knew who He was and had a relationship with Him. They talked. Joseph knew His Voice and felt safe with Him. He knew that God had his good at heart and could be trusted. When a storm rages and you are pummeled with rain and hail it is tough to make decisions about who to trust. Decide ahead of time.

Secondly Joseph got up in the middle of the night. He did not stay in his bed  tossing and turning, wondering and fretting. He got up and followed instructions. The Bible is one great big love letter, history lesson and instruction book. God loves us enough to fill us in on how to make this journey. But first you have to decide what you believe, who you believe and then commit to it.

Thirdly we see that Joseph left in the middle of the night. He followed instructions immediately. There was no, “Hey Mary, I had this dream and I think we’ll head out for Egypt in the morning. Yeah, I think it was God”.  He woke them, loaded up the donkey, hitched his cow to the cart and off they went, traveling under the stars to safety.

And finally remember this, God provided for the journey. The three magi had left behind extraordinary gifts which would finance the trip and support them until Joseph, a carpenter, had a chance to get a job. God always makes a way to do what He tells you  to do.

In the middle of the storms here at Cat’s Spot I have gotten wet from the fierce rain that blew in sideways. God is my protective umbrella and the core of who I am is dry. My feet may be wet but still firmly planted on the Rock. Even if I slip and land on my tush, I am still on the Rock and safe. God provides all I need for this journey Home called life. If I listen to His Voice and follow His direction, in the end it will all fit together beautifully.

Peace, I love peace. it spills over into the lives of others. Jesus brought me peace in the middle of turmoil, a quietness in the center of who I am. Storms will rage but I will listen, hear and follow His direction and my ship will arrive safely in port. Peace is a sweet thing!

 

A Voice of One

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It’s my birthday and I turned fifty-nine. How that happened I do not know. I am sure I was thiry just last week and the week before that, twenty. But I have discovered that over the last few years, my voice has grown. My corner of the world, Cat’s Corner, is a small spot but it is mine. Each of us, unique and created by a God who loves us, needs to have their voice heard.  To feel silenced or invisible is insulting. So the world may or may not like what I have to say, but say it, I will.

Be prepared to hear from a woman of faith who has found her identity and is anchored on the Rock but is learning to fly. As a leader of women, cleansed within, I am beginning resemble my Savior and brother, Jesus. As I put make up on this morning the face reflected back at me looked like it had walked this earth fifty-nine years and had weathered some torrential rain. The spirit shining from with in had nary a line. It was light and free, ready to take flight.

Come along with me and let’s see what God shows us. Let’s explore life together as I enter my autumn years. There will be glorious color and texture, crispness and clarity to life. Don’t you just love it!