Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lessons Learned From the Backyard

My office window looks over the entire backyard...pretty much.  It is a second story view so, I can see quite a ways and it is a beautiful. I haven't always appreciated the view. When we first moved to this rental house I was laser focused on a building that needed to be torn down. I later found out from a granddaughter of the original owners that the building was where the small livestock were kept. The actual part of that building that was so very offensive to me was the very first outhouse… interesting but still ugly.  Our first family visitors to this house/home were our first born child, his wife and two children, our beloved grandchildren. I made a big dinner for us and it was a lovely fall evening so...I suggested we have dinner outdoors on the deck. My son looked off into the backyard and remarked "There's the million dollar view!"  I thought he was being sarcastic. He wasn't. It wasn't until I looked beyond what I had considered an eyesore...and saw a breathtaking view. Now, I look beyond the building that STILL needs to be torn down...and see the view because my lesson is:

You should look beyond shortcomings because usually there is something beautiful just past what you are seeing.

We have a beautiful deck on the back of this house to go with that beautiful view. In fact...most of the houses on the street have back decks, or back porches, or even wrap around the whole house porches to accommodate this view! At first when my husband and I would take our dogs outside in the backyard, we would notice the house next door and that everyone indoors would be outdoors in the evening. They would sit on the porch, rocking in the rocking chairs, rockin’ and starin' at us. Bob and I finally pulled up two chairs and faced it in neighbor’s direction and stared right back...thinking... How rude? Two can play this dumb game!  They should come over and welcome us into the neighborhood! We are the new ones but instead...they are just rockin' and starin'. About fifteen minutes into this fruitless endeavor ...Bob looked behind him. He then suggested we turn our chairs around and appreciate the view...that our neighbors were enjoying. Our neighbors never did welcome us into the neighborhood although after I went and introduced myself, they do throw up their hands now and wave at us. But...we sit out on that deck and enjoy the view, a glass of wine and each others company most evenings. The lesson for me was…

To take my joy in what is happening around me, Life is too short for petty grievances and it is rarely about me anyway!

Recently I was talking with a friend and she remarked about how deep I was. I was a very thoughtful thinker...she thought. As a drove home on Cloud nine, I was thinking ...what a lovely thing for her to say and what a wonderful thing for me to be. I came upstairs to my computer and I then opened an email to this blog... and there...was a comment. A person was commenting about what a shallow so and so I was. I immediately left Cloud nine and felt defeated. I hadn't changed. I was still me. the space of a half an hour my mood and my self esteem had changed.
 The thing is I am neither deep nor shallow. My lesson in this...

People will see you based on their perspectives. You be yourself. Be authentic. Show up. Ponder praise and criticism ...and gain what wisdom you can. But remember...beyond the Outhouse is a million dollar view. And when people stare sometimes it has nothing to do with you... it is just their view beyond you!

I want to be the person looking for the million dollar view. I want to be the person who will turn my chair to see the other person's point of view. But...mostly I want to sit on the porch in the evenings in the back yard, drink in hand, beside the guy I love and ponder!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

5 Books that Changed Me (Part 2)

I posted on Facebook a picture of my 5 Life changing books and I later Blogged about how the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman changed the course or direction of my life. Here is that post!

The second book I mentioned is a type of Bible. I would like to digress a little bit here…You can never control how others perceive you…NEVER. This has been a difficult lesson for me. AS a person who likes to communicate and understand others, I don’t like to be perceived as someone who judges others, labels others. But…I do want to be as authentic as I can be. I am a Christian, and by that I mean I try to follow Christ and his example. I do believe in Jesus, God, and Holy Spirit. I believe in the power of prayer.  I accept others who do not and many of my friends are non-believers or have a different religion as myself. I love them they are my friends. Here is my disclaimer of sort. This is my walk. You may walk beside me and question and challenge me because that is how I grow in life.  But…you may not bully me or others in the name of your faith or lack thereof. I am not preaching right now, I am not qualified to preach to another…I am telling you about a book that has been life changing for …me.

My second book, Serendipity Bible for Groups came to me as a gift from an associate pastor at the church I was a member at and when she handed it to me…I hadn’t any idea how meaningful this book would be for me. This book is always the book I have in my hand whenever I teach anything, study anything, and discuss anything about a scripture. It is not the only Bible I use but it is always the first. Her reason for handing it to me was simple…she wanted me to become an adviser for the youth at our church and I was skeptical that I was the right person for the job. I think that pastors learn this overcoming obstacle technique early in their training class entitled Pastoral Recruiting 101. It was successful, I did feel equipped whether by her gift or her powerful prayers. But this book along with leading small group study groups...changed my ideas and the course of my life. There is a quote at the beginning of the book that says it all for me…

Serendipity is the facility of making happy chance discoveries.
Horace Walpole , 1743

What is wonderful about this book is that the entire premise is that scripture is meant to be shared and discussed in a small group setting. The Serendipity dream as also stated in the front of the book is of building a Christian community through small groups. This Bible is one of many resources designed to help small groups get together, get changed and get going! Notice the word…CHANGE in that dream.

I have had many, many changed thoughts and feelings because of discussions centered on this book. For every scripture passage there is an opening question that encourages you to share with the group about where you are today. The next week question instructs on digging what this passage means and a final question reflecting on how you can take this meaning out into the world you live in today! This exercise is explained with another great quote by Anton Chekhov, 

Putting a question correctly is one thing and finding the answer is something quite different.

My greatest time of learning has been when I attempt to facilitate a group, it is through asking questions and listening to others answer them that I have learned the most. This book, The Serendipity Bible, many years ago gave me this insight into myself and made me a lover of small group ministries. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit, or Spirit God ...those "chilly bump" moments when you hear something spoken by another that resonates within you. Through my experiences with small groups I have learned to listen to others and be open to what others think in a way that I had not been before. I have felt supported and loved during challenging times and celebrated during the happy times. It is amazing that this wonderful, thoughtful, challenging Pastor gave me all of this by handing me this book that I hold today.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

If I Made Time for a Hobby...

If I had time and a place to do a hobby it would be A Finder of Old Things. These used treasures would be restored ...lovingly,  and kept...and displayed. Because for me...

                      they are a symbol... tangibly so, of God's redemption.

We live in a throw away society. Things are literally made for obsolescence. Our market place is made for this. Get the latest. Get the newest...just in time for Christmas. We want shiny.We want new... and on and on... Until next Christmas when it all begins...anew.

I love finding things other consider discarding. I love finding things that some consider trash. I love old things. The time I spend pondering a new purpose for an object, a new color for it,  or even the actual hunt for such a creative, so fulfilling and so passionate a time that I consider this would be my dream job!

I understand the allure of new...besides being well, is also a clean slate. No broken parts. No mistakes. No stains, no scratches and no tears...and no nasty history. It is perfect.

In the bible there are more than a  few stories where God discards people. A few women turned to salt, a nasty, nasty flood, a poor fruitless fig tree...and Judas. These stories do not speak to me. The stories that speak to me are of redemption. Give me Moses, give me Elizabeth, give me Peter...Give me Paul. Where God used a broken, mistake ridden, badly stained or a badly dinged person for a better purpose. He found a purpose for old "used up" women that others thought finished. He used men who were not "good" but who were more than a little scratched in character. These are the stories that are meaningful to me...they tell me I still have a purpose. And while others may think me old, broken or riddled with mistakes...I know my God ponders over me as I ponder over an object thinking...

How can I use her differently? How can I make her new again? How can I  renew her life...again?

Mama’s Losin’ It


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Finding my Way

In the past two years I have exhausted myself into trying to make Virginia my home...and still have Florida be my home. I have driven south and north at least 15 times, and got on the dreaded airplane at least five times. My desire to see my family trumps fear of flying, hands down! And I have a big fear of flying...they say your likelihood of dying in a car crash is greater than dying while flying and while that may be true the likelihood of my flapping my wings and flying without aid of airplane is nonexistent! So...while I would rather drive, I would forgo my fear of flying to be with my grandchildren, children, parents and siblings. I could easily write non stop about being homesick but there is no challenge in, this is the post that I put a happy spin on my circumstance and dwell on those unexpected joys that I have found in this place called Virginia.

The first wonderful thing about Virginia, is that my friend Brenda lives here along, with her husband Mike and her two children. We have known one another forEVER. She is an amazing person who makes amazing events memorable while photographing it all. We share a love of old things and the joy that comes from making them beautiful again. We love decorating, creating, celebrations and we love each others families. Our husbands are friends which is nice as sometimes that doesn't happen...sometimes frankly...the guys get dragged out on couple's dates and they act like dead weights. Not our nice that I have this amazing person live so close to me now. I am lucky.

The second wonderful thing about Virginia is my husband's amazing family lives here. His parents have passed on but all his other extended family still live here or nearby. They are kind and loving to me and recognize I struggle...and so far have not been frustrated with my moaning...and you know... the other word that accurately describe my behavior that I am unable to type 'cause my Mom reads my blog. My husband's family owns 150 acres on a mountain surrounded by national forest. It is amazingly different for this city girl.  I am lucky.

The third wonderful thing about Virginia is that I found an amazing church. It is full of intelligent people who think of the word "Christian" as a verb and they are the "doingest" people I have ever met. They were not shy about putting me to work, keeping me busy...literally trusting me with the keys to the building. The love I have found here...has saved my sanity. Three women in particular have made sure I have lunch dates, a place at Christmas to go to, and literally, in one case... a shoulder to cry on. You are proof to me that God came before me and made a way for me. I love you all at Trinity.

The fourth wonderful thing about Virginia is the people. While the locals are a little slow to warm up to you...if you persevere and put yourself out there, which I will find the kindest people. I love to talk with people and I have had some amazing conversations...filled with family history, faith, and love of country. This is not an original conclusion but there is a slower rhythm to small town living that large towns no longer have and I have enjoyed the feeling of unhurried. What a gift I have discovered in taking your time, sitting on a porch watching fireflies, squirrels and deer move about until only the lights of the stars illuminate your evening. I am lucky.

The fifth wonderful thing about Virginia is its unexpectedness. They have a marketing slogan..."We like it Wild" meaning the hiking trails. The hiking is AMAZING!  For is wild. It is an adventure...this life is so unlike my life in Florida. I am used to instant, quick, and easy. Accessible, comfortable, warm are the adjectives used to describe my life in Florida. Virginia is more challenging...remote, rugged ...and mountainous. I feel like things have been turned upside down ...and indeed they have. Three years ago..I thought my life would be one way and it turned out it will not...and that is sad. But, also it is an exciting adventure. It is a chapter not yet written in a book...that I can't wait to read. I am blessed!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Thanksgiving to Remember

 Sometimes I think the really happy memories we have and remember...don't really start out so happy! Sometimes, it starts out stressful or tragically wrong and then all works out and you remember it as if looking through rose colored memory glasses. Then that awful moment becomes funny, amusing, and a treasured memory. Or, maybe that is a crazy coping mechanism that I have developed and if that is so...then I thank God in heaven on high that I possess that crazy gift!
My husband and I are what you may refer to as..."competitive holiday cooks" or  "bossy-get-the-hell-outta-my-kitchen" types! We literally have to take turns with our holiday cooking..."You may have Thanksgiving and I will have Christmas!" to which the other person will respond "And, I will watch you and critique your every move at Thanksgiving and you will micromanage the Christmas Spirit right out of me!" In the picture above it is my turn to cook but as you can see...HE is in my kitchen...and he can't decide whether to finish washing his hands or choke me!
The particular Thanksgiving I remember and am thankful for started out awful...the middle was awful but like a great three act play...had a great finish! 
My husband was being picky, bossy, and testy. At least that is how I remember it! I was having a difficult time...I was menopausal and the doctor thought a bit of Zoloft would help. It didn't unless my crying at the drop of a hat was an improvement over say...picky, bossy, and testy! The Hubby was hovering which was making me nervous...and I had 15 for dinner and a complicated menu. I wanted him out of the kitchen...and I wanted him to read my mind and take out the kitchen trash...without you know coming into the kitchen. He finally had had enough of my mood and snapped back...which I accepted all wounded warrior like.
When my guests including my Mother, Grandmother,and Father arrived. The tension in the air was significant and everyone felt it. I was holding onto my tears with a feather-like grip. My father took one look at both of us and said " Boy, is she giving you a hard time?" And.I.burst.into.tears! leaving all the guests, all 15 of them ...and running into my bedroom...crying hysterically! My father saying to anyone who would listen "What did I say?" What did I say?"
I cried for only a few minutes...when in walked my mother and grandmother who did not say anything...just hugged me. I kept saying that I didn't know what was wrong with me over and over...They both said it will be okay. I cried and cried. I finally called in my oldest son who conveniently had just turned 21. I handed him a $20 and said go get me a bottle of wine. "What kind?" he said helplessly. "Any kind. Just make it a white wine!" (And that day marked the first day that I drank wine with dinner at Thanksgiving...which now has become a lovely tradition.) But the memory I have that makes me so very thankful...was that at my worst...snotty nosed mother and grandmother showed me such love! That out of the awful "how do I get out of this bedroom with all my guests in the other room" feeling was resolved with my grandmother, mother and I walking in arm and arm and greeting everyone with...A Happy Thanksgiving!

Mama’s Losin’ It

There are Five Books That have Changed Me

  There are five books that have changed the course of my life at different pivotal  moments. They transformed my thinking and doing... three of then profoundly so, at least in my mind. Ask yourself what books have changed you, transformed your thinking...and moved you to action. These are my books, I was surprised by the list...but this is my list. 
My first book came to me by way of my husband, during a very difficult period...what I thought was the end of our love affair. While we were both really nice people who happened to be Christians...we were in fact two Christians who were not nice to one another and we were unhappy, desperately so unhappy. We were separated with the emphasis on separate. We no longer lived together and I was heartbroken. 

Out of the blue, I mean not expected at all... my very much "separate from me" husband appeared at my work with two bag lunches in hand. My co-workers were concerned that I was leaving to go with him...not because they thought he would harm me but because they did not want to see me hurt further. I am not sure why I agreed to go with him...there was a kindness in his eyes I hadn't seen in a long time.

We sat in silence for awhile, awkward silence... awkward, awkward silence! Finally, he spoke. He told me he had listened to an interview of Gary Chapman on the radio. He is an author who had written The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to your Mate.  I was stunned into silence. My two biggest complaints in our marriage were that he did not value our marriage and that he acted like he didn't love me. Not only had he made me lunch, he bought the book and suggested we have lunch together everyday and read this book together. And that is what we did.

He would show up each day, having made two bag lunches and wait while I finished up what I was doing...we would go to a park which was close to where I work and eat and discuss and read the book. There were a lot of hurt feelings on both our parts and discussing this wasn't easy...but we did it.

The premise of the book is that we all express love differently. This way of expressing love, our love language is learned from how our parents expressed love to us as a child. Obviously, couples are raised in different homes and many times we are "speaking" different love languages. We had different unspoken expectations of each other and we had failed to express love to each other in a way the other could recognize it.

The five love languages are: Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Quality Time, and Acts of Service. In reading this book together we discovered why when I would buy him something and he would criticize me for spending money...I would be wounded; why when he fixed something for a neighbor while my "broken whatever" remained broken...I became furious! We knew instantly that when I had made a joke in public at his expense why he became distant...AND when we stopped touching each other...why we had separated!

My love languages are Gifts and Acts of Service...that is how I give and receive love. And Bob tries daily to learn this new language. Bob's are Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch...and I am getting really good at these! This book...Gary Chapman's written words changed the direction of my marriage and the course of my life! 
What Five Books changed your life? My next Book...Serendipity Bible for Small Groups!

Five "Ronda Changing" Books

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Some(one) I Am Thankful For...

I could write for days about what I am thankful for..."My blessings" are many. I immediately think of my grandchildren but then I would need to start at my children...without children I wouldn't have grandchildren. When I think of children I think of my husband...without children. Well, for me that was how it worked! But...when I think of my husband...I think of my parents and how supportive they have been all my life. I didn't realize how supportive until I think of myself as a VERY young girl, ME wanting to marry equally young guy...back to husband! Husband it is.

My husband is kind, thoughtful, handsome, sensitive, loving, and hardworking...most of the time. Sometimes, he is a jerk. Even then he is my best friend. It has not been an easy marriage. We have worked hard at our marriage. While that is not romantic is the truth. And...that is what I am thankful for: That I have married someone who loves me in spite of knowing all the truth about me. He knows me and yet, still loves me.

Bob has seen me at my most awful. I mean God awful...and I don't mean "Woke up, Bad breath awful" although he has seen me that way! I mean broken. Sniveling and full of despair. Lost and without faith. He knows every secret. ( No...he is not Santa!) He knows every bad thing that I have ever done or said. ( I promise he is not Santa)
And...still he reaches for me in the night.

I have forgiven him of much and would forgive him of anything...because he has forgiven me. I will never take our messy, crazy love story for granted! We have worked for it and it is ours and ours alone.

I am most thankful for my husband, Bob.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Trying to be Grace...

Which is easier for you to do... Seek forgiveness or To Forgive? Pick one and then ponder why?

 My husband and I are opposites in this area. He struggles to seek forgiveness but yet he is the most forgiving person I know. He never holds a grudge...never. He struggles to seek forgiveness but he does do the work. I am quick to be sincerely sorry but ...I struggle to forgive others. I revisit past wrongs and like a hot iron...I don't touch them. it takes me awhile to forgive and ...forget.

It is amazing to me as a believer to realize that gift of grace is given so freely to me as a child of God. Humbling... I have learned so much watching my husband and then myself struggle differently with this issue. I think as we struggle to show grace to others and to ourselves then that is where God's love manifests itself tangibly in our lives. If you can do the difficult thing with God's help...then you truly understand the gift that has been given to you.

So, today...Who do you need to forgive? or Who do you need to seek forgiveness from? I pray that you find reconciliation and forgiveness no matter which side you are on! I pray that you will be patient with yourself and others as you experience God's grace while understanding that it is a process of might sting a bit...but so worth it! We can all be graceful...some of us trip and fall down more than others...but we can get back up again.

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

Juliet from Romeo and Juliet

I have quit swearing as a New Year's Resolution for 32 years in a row. I am not very good at it...I mean not swearing. I am good at swearing. I am not good at not swearing. I blame the British.You see, as a formative teenage girl, I lived in England. And in England...everyone swears all day long. At least that is what I remember and that is when it started for me. I still admire anyone who can  confidently let forth with a good, properly placed expletive...if you must swear...say it with gusto and bravado!

 Have you ever bumped into someone accidentally? You didn't mean just found yourself trying to occupy the same spot as the other person at the same moment. I involuntarily apologize...always! Now, granted I am a "serial apologist" but that is another blog post. Recently...I did bump into a young woman and I immediately said  "I am so sorry" I tend to do that as well! I am never just sorry...I am so sorry! The young woman replied... (this is good) she replied "WTF" ... she said "What the F&$#!"  I smiled because while was funny. I then said "That would be me, I would be the "What the F&$#!" and as I walked away I could hear her saying "Oh God I am so sorry!"

Not five minutes later standing in line...two woman stood talking. One woman was telling the other a story and as she veered towards the climatic conclusion of her tale the other woman responded with " Are you "$hi&&ing me?" and the other gal said "I $hi&" you not!"  For some reason at the time and even now...I think "Wouldn't it be funny to have that in a Shakespearean play?"

When I turned 50, my daughter went with me for me to get a tattoo. She had exactly the one I wanted and where I wanted it. She said that it did not hurt that much...she said something about bee stings. Now, I was having them put an Ichthus, the Christian symbol on my foot. A large man sat behind me getting a very large tattoo on his large bicep. He smiled, further proof this would be easy-peasy! As we started I said such swear words that people thought I had Tourette syndrome. Every time he stopped inking...I would apologize. "I am so sorry!" and when he would begin...I would start swearing, again. I remember my daughter clearly saying "Oh Momma, No!" It was all over in 10 long minutes. The man getting the large tattoo said nothing but his smile said everything. The tattoo artist made some remark about irony and I just got the "HE double hockey sticks" out of there! If it didn't hurt so much...I would get a St Peter's Rooster on my other foot!

Last week my daughter was telling me, over the phone about something that had happened as I rode in the car with my husband. He could only hear my side of the conversation. As I said "Huh!" He started to laugh...and then said "You know when you say Huh...You really mean WTF!" And it was true...I have started using other phrases instead of my go-to swear words. I say "Whhhhyyyy?" instead of "F&$#" and "Pooooooop" instead of "$hi&" and I shake my head and say "Bless your heart!" for "You are an "A$$"  It is my hope that my legacy for my grandchildren will not be..."The grandmother who swore like a drunken sailor on shore leave!" but rather a kinder, gentler version of me! I shall keep trying...

It would seem others have a problem with swearing, too. You hear it all the time! It does bother me that others swear but not as much as it should though...I should be shocked, horrified, and so...disappointed. Since, I am giving up swearing ( I am.) I approach swearing much like a person who has given up smoking does second hand smoke...I inhale deeply. I wish there was a group similar to AA. It could be called SA, Swearing Anonymous. And we could admit that we are helpless over our addiction to a properly placed swear word. We would admit that we have harmed others in our use of those words and we would make amends to those we have harmed...Yes...we could.


2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Stayin' Alive at 55

"The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected."
~Robert Frost

I have a birthday coming up and for the first time "stings a bit"! I usually take  birthdays in stride sometimes with excitement, I mean birthdays are exciting! I am, however finding this one to be difficult to be excited about. I will be 55 years old. Most days I don't feel 55 years least what I thought 55 would feel like. I have been asking myself goofy questions like "Do 55 years old's do that?"  "Would a 55 year old wear that?" "How should I act at 55?" "I suppose, I should grow up now...buckle down and get a real job!" (actually, it is way past time for that one)

It seems natural at this kind of a "milestone age" or is that "millstone age" that an inventory of such happens.I am not normally a person who looks back at life and ruminates mistakes and yet, I have caught myself doing that. What if I had done this instead of that ? Would it have been different? think, and ...yet?

Normally, while I can be an emotional and a passionate person...I can also be a very logical and a list making kind of a girl. "Can I still call myself a "girl" at 55?"..... Yesterday, rather than shoo these feelings aside with a "you-shouldn't-feel-this-way" mantra...I decided to ride this tide of emotions out?  I made  a list of everything I had deemed a "mistake" and I set about thinking about not just what had happened but my actions that had led up to it. Then I listed the other choices I could have made, those paths not taken by me. I had prepared myself for a really awful afternoon, a pity party peppered with an afternoon of cold regret. I was surprised. Yes, I had made some mistakes but not as many as I had first thought. And when I considered the other choices I could have made given the information that I had at the time and with the proverbial...What I know now insight! It wasn't so bad...not nearly as bad or as difficult as I thought it would be. Hindsight is 20/20. I have done far! I am actually very grateful for my life and all the great opportunities I have had.

Turning 55 next week will be fun after husband and my best friend have already done it! And did it well! We will be in Florida with my family having a barbecue pool party and I will be thinking about how blessed I am and ..."What kind of a bathing suit does a 55 Year old wear?"

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Mother, the Warrior

"The Supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting."

"Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak."
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War

 My first inkling that my mother wasn't nearly as dumb as I thought she was came later than sooner, which lets you know just how dumb I am. I should have know she wasn't dumb when she out maneuvered me in every covert operation I ever tried to do. I was a good teenager because frankly... I knew I couldn't get away with anything. My mother is the brains behind my parent's partnership and my father does the heavy lifting. My mother parented by gathering Intel and then turning it over to the FBI
 ( Father Believing to be In charge). wasn't until I had my first child that I realized she knew everything and I knew nothing...

It seems silly now that I had thought my mother weak, I thought because she would not engage my father in arguing that she was not strong. I remember thinking, as a teenager while he verbally assailed my mother in an argument that I felt I could have easily won ..."Fight back...Mom!"  This underestimate of my mother's tactics was my undoing. I did not, nor did my father realize that my mother had already won the battle. We did not understand she had out maneuvered him and he was just poorly negotiating his defeat. I am my father's daughter and I am proud of him...and while my father has actually been to war, it is my mother who could have written The Art of War. She gathers her Intel while never divulging her source. Her interrogation methods put our entire Homeland Security to shame and she always, always chose her battles carefully.

All of this...I realized after the birth of my first child. The feeling of holding your child in your arms and knowing that you are inadequate for the a humbling moment. The deceptive weight of a new born in your could something so small...weigh so heavy on your being? The realization in that moment that my mother took care for me, kept me safe, nurtured me, prayed for me and all the while she battled dark forces including those parts of my worst nature. She did all of this faithfully with God's help...She fought the good fight! She gave me the example that I tried to follow but often...I wished I had read her copy of The Art of War.

 Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.

Friday, May 10, 2013

I Choose to be Beautiful...Today!

I am more beautiful now at almost, soon-to-be… 55… than I have ever been before. And I have every expectation of being more beautiful as I become older! Am I conceited? No... because I understand what it means to be beautiful.

     When I was younger, when I was told that I was beautiful, I would tuck my chin downwards, lower my gaze, and shake my head from side to side. I did not feel or even understand my beauty. Later, during my thirties, I would qualify the compliment with…Well, I look good, for my age. But, now I know. I know I am beautiful BECAUSE of my age. I say that with my head held high, my eyes looking directly into yours.

Beautiful comes from a life loving others, caring for the well-being and comfort of not just you but also that of others. Beautiful doesn’t have to be the center of attention and yet, others will gravitate towards you. Beautiful isn’t about the exterior although as you feel beautiful inside, it becomes more visible on the outside. Beautiful is an outstretched hand, a warm embrace, a full bodied laugh, a kind smile, and a confident sense of who you are. It has understood disappointment but still has hope. It has felt sadness but does not allow it to linger and become bitterness. Beautiful is not stagnant.

Beautiful, as a child of God means that I seek His will for me life. I want to serve others as part of Jesus’ commandment to love one another. And when I do, a passion reflects God’s love through every feature of my face and when it is seen by others it is recognized as beautiful.

Beautiful isn’t an adjective to be used only for the young or for the past. Nor, is it a past tense adverb that describes a yesteryear life but rather a present tense verb for today. A word that should be exercised daily! It is a choice for today, tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day…I choose to be Beautiful.

Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.
1Peter 3: 3-4 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Lighting by God!

Yesterday I was part of a group who skyped with a  young woman who is interested in having the church I attend host  a ministry she is involved with. My first impression of her...right off was that she had a beautiful smile, attractive face ...and very little make up on. The latter impressed me as I am ready to drop makeup from my bag of tricks although I do think ..I would be showing more bravery at my age than she does at hers! Whatever!

As I was driving home I thought about our talk and that my initial impression of this young woman was wrong. I realized she wasn't just attractive...she was in fact beautiful. She is beautiful. I spent the drive home listening to classical music on public relaxing and conducive to pondering. I pondered why this woman's beauty wasn't my initial impression or rather why as the hour long skyping progressed she did seem to actually grow more beautiful as our conversation went on. And it occurred to me it was her passion. It was because she was speaking passionately from her heart about something she loves and feels called by God to do.

She spoke quietly, carefully but passionately about this ministry and as she did she seemed to become lit from within. She was glowing. Perfect lighting...very little makeup...very inspiring...very beautiful. As I think of her...I am a little envious of her beauty. Not the exterior kind...but that kind of beauty that comes from within. I feel inspired by her passion, her calling ...and her beauty, that real beauty from God! I won't be dropping my blush and lipstick quite yet...not until I feel passionate about my calling.  But, I do want that special "lighting" that only God can give...until that time arrives...maybe it's Maybelline!

Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.
1Peter 3: 3-4

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

If You Can't Say Anything Nice...

I can say that I have never had a gentle quiet spirit. I do think as I have aged I have become less argumentative, more reflective, and less confrontational. I am not sure this is the attitude that is pleasing to God but I can assure you it is...more pleasing to me. This attitude, which is to say less than before but still not altogether gone does make life easier for me and I suspect those I encounter. But, I wonder if this is more of a response to aging rather than any real growth on my part as occasionally...I still find myself in the midst of conflict whether it be with another or raging within myself. Am I aging like a "fine wine"? or Am I losing my "Fizz" and going flat like a soda left opened for far too long?

There is a young lady I know who has a passion to change the world and she boldly speaks out at the injustices she sees...and I know all of it springs from a pure place of her faith. She just knows in her heart that IF you only would listen to her that you would realize, as she does that an injustice is being done. She reminds me so much of who I was. She causes me to to recall a time when I believed that I could make a difference... lately...I choose to walk away and not speak my mind. I don't feel this is the gentle quiet spirit that God finds so precious. I suspect it is apathy.

Recently, I was in a grocery store and witnessed an unkind encounter. An older Hispanic couple with a child, a boy of about 9 were paying for groceries with food stamps. They were struggling to navigate a process, which seemed new to them. The clerk, a young man patiently came around the corner and with a deference associated with respect to older people spoke to them in Spanish. I was moved by his patience. I had already liked this young man and this just reaffirmed my "good taste" in people. It was then that I became aware of the huffing and puffing of the woman behind me. It was then that I heard her nasty comments...It was also when I started to pray silently. "Please God...please let me be silent!" As he bagged the couple and child's considerable groceries...her nastiness grew louder and I prayed more fervently while biting my tongue! "Please God, let me be silent. Let me respond as my husband would!" Immediately a voice within me said "Bob would NOT remain silent and I have not sent Bob...I have sent you!" It was all that I needed. I turned and asked this woman "Are you okay?" She seemed stunned as I whispered "Because you are embarrassing all of us including that little boy!" "They are buying groceries as you and I are doing AND that young man is doing a fine job waiting on his customers!" and I smiled my biggest, most sincere smile as I addressed her again..."If you are in a hurry, you may go ahead of me!" And I meant it...and she did go ahead of me.

I try everyday to be better at this human experience...sometimes, I am better than other times. But, in all the experiences I have whether I succeed or is in the discernment process, the time I ask God to help me that I feel closer to him.  I pray that I will find the balance between being apathetic and attaining a gentle quiet spirit...which is pleasing to God and everyone else in grocery line!

Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.
1Peter 3: 3-4

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Give Me a "B"...

The bible verse at the bottom of this post is my pondering verse for the week. I chose it awhile ago to write an essay on actually I have been pondering it for awhile. As often happens with me and my pondering something will happen in the news or more closely, an event will occur in my life that I see directly through the filter of the verse....serendipity some will say but I feel God and his gentle pull!

Recently a woman wrote a  blog criticizing a young woman who cheer leads for a sports team...her criticism was based on nothing more than the young woman's physical appearance. I won't point out the young woman or the woman who wrote the blog who sparked the debate because frankly it is stupid but what really troubles me is this girl on girl action. Life is difficult for young women in this shallow, consumer driven commerce...where media tells you that you are only as good as the last new outfit you bought. Where real beauty is often overlooked in favor of the best of photo shopping. Why in God's name would a woman EVER criticize another woman based on such a shallow kaleidoscope of a view? Why?

If this is our gauge for beautiful, if we accept this photo shopped idea of beauty not just for ourselves but for judging becomes something that will never be attainable, it will always and forever be illusive to us. We will have set up our lives and that of our daughters to never be able to behold beauty, not in ourselves or in others.They will live in a world that acknowledges and celebrates only one kind of  beauty, perfection.  Today, many people do not recognize beauty in all of its varied images. We must reject and speak out that beauty is not perfection...that beautiful has a character and uniqueness that belongs to each of us. We must be able to see it first in ourselves and then in others...look closely. I will acknowledge that for some of us you must look very closely to see it...but it is there. It is timeless, it is forever...and it is made by God.

I shall keep working on my gentle quiet spirit...and so should that nameless blogger! The cheerleader...she is perfectly beautiful!

Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.
1Peter 3: 3-4

Monday, May 6, 2013

I Like Your Shoes!

 Hubby and I were walking through a department store quickly, in a rush and very task oriented ...when I glanced around and realized we were in the shoe department...and an "Ahhhh" of inner joy escaped my lips. I tried to keep up with his pace but he became aware he was leaving a "man" behind while on mission. I was in full shoe-orgasm. Our goal was no longer our goal but we had competing desires. My desire wasn't even close to his agenda for the day...No time for my retail shoe therapy!

My sweet grand-daughter inherited my love of shoes and at a young age would go into my closet and find my most expensive, most fancy high healed shoes and prance around the house. I understand this...that desire and the satisfaction. I love the design of shoes, the creative process that must go into the actual design of the shoe but more importantly I understand how a beautiful shoe can transform not just the look of your leg but your attitude. She may not understand any of that...she just knows what she likes and she likes shoes! As a toddler she would compliment women on their shoes..."I like your shoes" she would confidently tell them...reminding me how I will stop others including a total stranger and let them know of my approval of their shoe choice.

Why? I don't know. I have always loved shoes...I will suffer pain all day for a beautiful shoe. I consider it a sacrifice for love... love of a of me...hmmmm vanity. More importantly ...When is enough ...enough? My grandmother tells this wonderful story about how she was driving her car in town while in traffic and a beautiful hat in a store window caught her eye. She described the hat in detail, much the way I can describe shoes. As she gazed longingly for this hat, imagining it for her very own... she ran into the back of a car. Her lesson she shared with me was that "her vanity" caused her an expensive lesson in auto repair. I love the story...I love thinking about my grandmother as a young woman who thought her life could be transformed by a hat!

When we moved to Virginia from Florida, we packed all of our things...some for storage and some to move to temporary housing. When you need to pack things and more importantly decide what is worthy of taking with you and what is worthy of actually paying a monthly storage see you may have attached some very strong feelings to inanimate objects. I realized that while I consider these shoes lovely...I had too many. And too many emotions attached to an item that was frankly just a means to not be bare-footed. Gasp! They say clothes don't make the man...well, fancy shoes shouldn't make the gal!

I want my grand daughter to still indulge her love of fancy shoes but I want her to continue to know where her real sense of worth comes from ...not from external sources but from her jaw dropping inner beauty. The child exudes joy and her bubbling laughter tells all the world that her very life is a testimony to God's creation. She doesn't just walk into a room...she strides confidently looking for all the beauty she can see! She does that with bare feet, with flips flops, or any fancy shoe she loves!   

I want to be like that!

Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.
1Peter 3: 3-4

Friday, May 3, 2013

Where Does the Love Go?

A short post this morning...because while I have plans this morning I also, have made a commitment to myself to Blog. Once a day. Monday-through Friday with my pondering/ meditation  scripture to inspire and guide me (see below) and hopefully to get "more good" at this writing thing.
I have a few dear friends in mind this morning. They are divorced. I was there in the beautiful beginning and later watched the crash and fall of their love. And while I have seen some couples evolve and keep the love albeit in another form theirs seems to have changed into pure hatred. When I think of them both...I want to remind them of what I saw in the beginning and ask simply..."Where does the love go?"

I also know of a family bitterly divided and not speaking to one another. I was there when that beautiful baby came into the world and KNOW how loved she was and still is..."Where does that love go?"

I imagine a box filled with lost and found love...waiting...just waiting...Some poor girl left her love on a park bench and when she returned to where she left it, it was gone. Some guy dropped his love like keys that fell from his pocket..and now can't retrace his steps. If love could be a tangible piece of property would we give it more respect? If we could transfer it like a piece of property...would we value it and treasure it more. If we could work hard and then be paid in love like currency...Would we see the wealth of the emotion?

I have seen people that have love, and then toss it away. While others never seem to find it and spend all their days searching. Where does all that thrown away, misplaced, and lost and forgotten love go?

Micah 6:8
  He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Love is All You Need!

I have been thinking about love...a lot these days. Many reasons. First, my husband and I have a anniversary coming up in a few months and I have been nostalgic about us. The story of us. I think he really is my soul mate and the love of my life. Big love...romantic love...dramatic love...quiet, strong love...I have been blessed to have found that in my life....and all with him.

 I have also been blessed with friends who I have a  strong bond of respect and love for ...people who I would drop everything and go to if they needed me and I know they would do that for me. Those who have proved that during big or small crisis's they are in my corner no matter what. 

I know the love of having children. I know what it feels like to love someone with such a fierce protective love that you would become savage to protect it. I have felt the unconditional love of my children that even when I failed them...they still hold my hand and call me mommy. That totally undeserving kind of love that is simply given with no expectation.

I have been equally blessed to know the love of grandchildren. I feel love and joy of the purest sense when I am with them. It is a time spent without the burden of responsibility or the guilt of parenting. I simply need to protect and love them and have FUN. The time I spend with my grandchildren is the nearest I can be to heaven on is love personified!

But, the love I am most thinking about today is the love of my grandmother. I knew she loved me but not until I had my own grandchildren did I fully understand her love for me. All the time she spent with me, all the words she said to me, all the prayers that were said for me...all of it showing the depth of her love for me. Of all my blessings...she stands out. I am blessed she still is in my life...she still lives because of the good care and love of her two daughters. Although she struggles to remember details...sometimes her stories come back to her and she shares them out loud with us. As she talks, we all remember...the love...the love...the love!

Micah 6:8
  He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What Does Love Look Like?

I lived in a larger city when I lived in Florida, a city  which was a suburb of a much larger city and now I live in a small town. All cities have homeless. My husband and I have always felt a calling and love towards the homeless population and we have served this population in both communities. My heart is filled with love and compassion when I am in their midst and I can say without judgement in my heart that when I see a homeless person I am seeing a life that is broken and hurting. I believe God made us for community and while we are not always loving and caring towards each other...deep in our core that is our purpose... to love one another.
But, we do not always love one another. We aren't always loving. It is the same in the homeless community. Some are loners, some couple up and others band together to become make-shift families. Some of them take advantage of each other, some are bullies and some become victims. Most of them are just trying to get-by...not much of a goal but they have forgotten how to make goals or have failed so many times they have stopped believing themselves capable of achieving that kind of milestone. It is not a pretty community. Yet, I have a story I carry with me in my heart from last cold, so cold winter that is beautiful. A story from two homeless men that lets me know of God's love.
I was standing greeting the guests as they signed in, near the opened door way. It was cold and I remember feeling a little ashamed that I was wearing such a nice coat while many were not. One man came in and I recognized him, I smiled and he came over and shook my hand. Immediately I knew he was intoxicated. He smelled, he swayed and he slurred through our short conversation. I directed him to the coffee. I poured him coffee and asked him how he took it and after it was made, we walked together to the table and sat down. I mentioned how cold it was. He seemed surprised which is something I am use to...I seem to always feel colder that others do. But, I had misunderstood his surprise...this was different. He at first seemed perplexed. Then he said out loud "It is cold, isn't it?" and I nodded. As he turned his head from side to side looking around the room he  commented "It will be below freezing tonight!" I agreed it would. He finished the coffee quickly, then standing to his feet,  he said someone's name out loud and another person commented that he wasn't there. Both homeless men began looking serious, concerned and sober. Then the man announced he was going outside to get this man.The woman at the desk cautioned him that if he didn't come back in 10 minutes he would be locked out for good. The man said simply "He can't be alone outside tonight in the cold!" I tried to talk to him, to no avail. He left. In what seemed like an eternity but was less than 10 minutes he walked in doing an awkward two-step... staggering  and dragging a nearly unconscious man. I ran over and put the very cold, very drunk man's arm over my shoulder and helped this man get his friend to a warm bed. I listened to him cajole and encourage his friend to bed. Telling him..."You will be fine! Sleep well." 

I listen to some people make disparaging comments about the homeless when they know that I volunteer. Some of the comments while mean, are even true but I have learned more about God's love from the homeless population that those people making those comments could ever teach me. We are made for community and we are to love one another.

Micah 6:8
  He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Reading the Bible...the Joy of My Life.

One of my joys in life is reading. I think if I remember correctly while I was learning to read...I actually had trouble with it. The teacher needed me to read aloud and I was terrified of making a mistake in front of, the great joy of my latter life was plagued with fear, stress and devoid of any joy at my introduction to it. I honestly don't remember how I discovered that you could read to yourself without others hearing became one of the life defining moments of my life. I actually now read many books to my husband as he enjoys being read to. My love of reading extends to reading the Bible. I love stories told well and the Bible has great stories told well. Now whether you take all those stories literally is really your business and God' it is mine. I do believe it is the inspired word of God but I do not take it literally.
This does not mean that this book does not inform my life, challenge my thinking and direct my life in a way no other piece of literature ever has or ever will.  For answers all questions with the help of God who is still talking.

Does this make me perfect? Uh, no! Does this mean I will agree with you because you read the Bible and call yourself a Christian? Also, no! I am completely astounded when I read or hear of other Christians speaking out unkindly about certain groups. I am frustrated with my fellow Christians who yell and scream unkind things at political rallies forgetting my own culpability. The bible is full of imperfect people failing miserably at being human beings and yet...time and time shows God loving them still. 

I believe when we, God's people are in the zone...that great one in spirit feeling, we feel kindly towards others.We feel compassion, we seek justice for those who need help in having things made right for them. And because we know what its like to fail miserably while trying to do the right thing...we are humble. Always. nope some days we can't see or make sense of our lives or others. Sometimes...okay a good many days we let fear overtake us. But, true faith in God produces kindness, compassion, justice, and humility. And as we go to work, as we sit with our family, while we worship in our churches or serve in our community we should strive to show that faithfulness to God and to others.
How do I know this? Because a long time ago a prophet named Micah told of a time when corrupt leaders had no compassion or respect for those they were supposed to serve. They were taking advantage of those people. Micah called the people out, telling them want God wants from us.  It is a cautionary tale for
Micah 6:8
  He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Be Good!

 I called my Mom this morning because I was upset about a circumstance and needed to "wonder out loud" to someone on how I find myself in this particular circumstance. My mother did her usual "Huh..huh" sounds to let me know she is listening, she cares but...she says little in the way of taking sides. And that IS why I called her. I want to be heard and I do want good counsel and I will get it from my mother. She is on my side and I know that but she would never encourage me to do something that would be wrong for anyone...not just me, her daughter but anyone!

I am a strong willed person and that usually serves everyone including myself well...sometimes it does not. Sometimes, I get stubborn and my anger gets the best of me and I forget that there is more than one side to a situation. So, my mother listened and after I had shed a few tears and a few swear words (sorry, Mom) and we told one another we loved each other...she ended the phone conversation with "Be Good!"
"Be Good!" I thought. "Be Good!" what does that mean in this situation. Does it mean to be quiet? Does it mean to ignore it?  No.It does not mean those things.  I know what it means because the same God that informs my mother informs me. I am not to sin in my hurt and anger and if I do I am to seek forgiveness. I am to be just with those who harm me or hurt me  in a way that shows I LOVE mercy and I am to be humble in my walk with God. Two words from my mother that meant a lot to me..."Be Good" ... and I can with God's help!
Micah 6:8
  He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Marriage...a Piece of Cake!

Yesterday, I opened my email and found an email from a fellow blogger who said that she loved hearing about my marriage. That, I had a wonderful marriage and that we seemed so in love and had such a perfect marriage. first I thought ... Do I have everyone fooled?  Then I thought, really...I am quite the liar. God, she can't talk to our kids! Next thought, but who the heck wants to hear the truth. The truth is ...I don't know what the perfect marriage looks like although for years I would peer at other marriages like window shopping at a designer store. Love that...but could never have it...too expensive!

The truth is ...we married young, had struggles with everything. How to make money? How to make love?
 ( making the time, not the technique...we did know that) How to communicate? You pick any topic...and Hubby and I struggled to navigate our way through it. We didn't just think about giving up...we did several times! Although, we did not divorce...once was close. Have I shattered that picture perfect image NOW?

We have in essence a true designer marriage! It turns out all that window shopping I did...I wasn't looking at all the backroom preparation that goes into that beautiful dress in the window. It starts with an idea. Then the drawing board and lots of stops and starts, with many discarded images cast aside. Then a mock up of cheap fabric with a hope of something beautiful...but then it doesn't look quite right or hang just the right way. So, a nip here and tuck there. If you are very lucky, if you pick the right have a beautiful dress that looks great. My point is it is a process...and doesn't work. end up feeling like a crumpled, discarded mess on the floor.

 My heart goes out to all those marriages that don't work out  because no one gets married thinking someday I will get divorced. You think you will stay married. I know the disappointment, fear, and sadness of the realization that my marriage was a failure. I can still remember the first argument my husband and I got into...soon after we married. It was about me putting or rather not putting the cap back on the tube of toothpaste. He seemed unreasonably mad and that made me bigger mad...I can do bigger mad better than anyone! I still do. I thought then we were headed for divorce because we argued then.

I would love to say that was our biggest argument but we had more complicated things than a tube of toothpaste to negotiate through our marriage.My regret is that our children saw most of our fights. My parents didn't fight in front of their children nor did my husband's. Now, the flip side of that is you don't get to see how those disagreements are worked out.I am pleased to say that by the Grace of God my kids do seem to work through their disagreements...they have all chosen wonderful spouses who we all adore.

Here is my marriage advice. There are no perfect marriages. They are hard work and matter how hard you work they don't work out. For us....when we couldn't rely on one another which was many times...we relied on God. I have been married 36 years this July...and it has been wonderful, awful, so-much-work, joyful, rewarding and a lot like the civil war! I sometimes marvel that we are still together and I then I think...Thank you, thank you God!  Of all the things you have given me...thank you God!

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

He is With You Always...But Where Do You Go?

Last night I went to hear and see a presentation about two separate individual's experiences of Hydo-fracking in two separate parts of this country. This kind of stuff usually makes me angry and I toy with the idea of not going...but, rather sticking my head in a book, any book! I don't want to have to see or feel anyone's pain. But...I have to go.  I have volunteered to bring cookies and set up we go. As I go, I pray silently. Lord, be with me as I listen. Let my heart not once again go to a place where I am troubled about things I can not control, can not fix, and a place of anger that robs me of joy! Amen.

A few minutes later, as I ride in the car with my Hubby..I think. I should say that prayer again. Lord, be with me as I listen. Let my heart not once again go to a place where I am troubled about things I can not control, can not fix, and a place of anger that robs me of joy! Amen. But, this time...I pause after each request..

Lord, be with me as I listen. ( I am with you always!)

Let my heart not once again go to a place where I am troubled about things I can not control, can not fix, and a place of anger that robs me of joy! ( I am with you always!)

So, I went and listened to a kind man who owns land in Montana where Hydro-fracking has turned his beautiful land into a site unfit for humans, animals, and agriculture. He is not a polished speaker but rather a person who is telling his story so others will know. I think how lucky I am to be here, how blessed I am to be part of a faithful community who cares and how fortunate I am to hear this man's story. Afterwards, I thank him. He smiles a humble smile. I realize he is quite shy and this must have taken a lot of courage for him and then I do recall that after he finished he practically sprinted to a woman's arms where she embraced him in a protective hug. I feel a little ashamed that I didn't want to go. I am glad I did. His story, his face, and his smile will stay with me.

I am off to walk/run and have a little talk with God.

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Listening to the Right Voice

This morning as I climbed the steps, with my hot coffee in hand to go to my office-with-the-perfect view...I thought about what I would blog about. As I sat down... I took one look outdoors and I knew.  I would have included a picture of my office's perfect-view however the office has less than perfect Internet. Today that Internet seems to be the equivalent of dial up and since I have a date with a track to run...I am not going to hang around waiting for this picture to upload. So, that is my blog post. My beautiful view, timing and disappointments...and trust.

My view is of beautiful farm land, rolling hills, barns with tin roofs that mirror the sun on sunny days. The tree tops are filled with birds today, mostly cardinals.I also have a clear view of our bird feeder which the squirrels attack daily. This amuses me to no we have two large Black Walnut trees in the yard and the fattest Squirrels in all of Virginia but they want the birdseed. I have a beautiful view but some days I look outside and I am profoundly sad about what I don't see...I miss my Florida. I am still mourning a life that is not to be.

My timing is off these days. I am running and it was much easier in my twenties...than in my fifties.I  can't seem to find my pace. I had a break through recently and I shared it with my husband telling him how I have found the secret to running. "Really what?" he said. I replied in all seriousness my "You don't stop!" He laughed. As I run, my whole body screams stop doing this. "Stop running!" yells my right hip. My lungs cry out "You are going to die, if you don't slow down!" My heart pounds out "!" But...the secret is to keep running! Stay the course.

I was having trouble trusting my inner voice, let alone the many other outside voices. I began to feel a disappointment with myself and others, and my frustration with what I couldn't do, couldn't control, couldn't seem to bear was growing . It was then the time for me to sit, stop looking outside and close my eyes and listen to the only voice that truly matters to me. I need to listen to my creator's voice...God's.

Then and only then can I see His beautiful creation, the joy in my situation, know that I can do all things with Him...and trust that His Grace is sufficient.   Have a beautiful day! I am off for a run!

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sit Down, Listen up

I have many flaws, so many in fact I forget some of them until oops, there it is, that's right... I do that! Why do I do that? And then I vow to do better... be better. I try, I really do.

But, I am a good listener. I am empathetic. Your stories stay with me. I put them away in my heart...and bring them out shamelessly when I need them to inspire, to educate, motivate, encourage, and navigate my journey.   

I visited yesterday with an American Veteran who is a little bit older than myself possibly, mid 70's if I am doing the Math correctly...( oops, a fault of mine. I suck at Math) He was 19 during his first tour of Nam (Vietnam) in 1959. So let's see that is three and carry the one...He is 73. He had lots of stories to tell and I am an avid listener. Towards the end of our conversation, it was clear he appreciated my listening skills as I heard war stories that I wish I were not taking straight to my heart. I tried to just listen and nod. But, at one point it was useless...I can only be who I am. My eyes filled with tears and I said that I was so sorry...and I am. He bowed his head and said " It is okay. It was a long time ago. And war is hell. No one should experience war."

But we do go to war. When I say "we"...I mean mankind. Not just United States of America. But, when I say "we" I do think of my family. I think of me. My father served in Vietnam and I could relate to so much about what this man was saying although from the perspective of a little girl of about 9 years old. I went back in time hearing my Mom and Dad talk over the phone/radio saying "over" after each sentence acutely aware  that a radio operator was listening and transferring the call; and then not caring that anyone heard their words.. The long periods without mail and then all at once a floodgate of mail all out of order. The fear. I felt fear. I was a 9 year old girl who was afraid her father would not come home. I was afraid my father would die.

My father does not tell war stories to me. In fact, I think he has only spoke of it to my Mother and to my daughter-in-law when she interviewed him for a paper she was writing in college. He did tell me one story during a recent difficult time in my life. It wasn't graphic. But, it was enough for me to realize that during that time father and daughter had fear in their lives for the very same reason. The Veteran that I listened to last night spoke about his fear, not his bravery although clearly he was brave. He spoke of being only 19..."What the hell did I know?"

I knew almost nothing at 19 but thought I knew it all. I am 55 and I am convinced I know nothing at all. But, I am a good listener. Your stories stay with me. I put them away in my heart...

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Spring Cleaning

I am Spring Cleaning... this is Wikipedia's definition of Spring Cleaning:

Spring cleaning is the practice of thoroughly cleaning a house in the springtime. The practice of spring cleaning is especially prevalent in climates with a cold winter.
The most common usage of spring cleaning refers to the yearly act of cleaning a house from top to bottom which would take place in the first warm days of the year typically in spring, hence the name. However it has also come to be synonymous with any kind of heavy duty cleaning or organizing enterprise. A person who gets their affairs in order before an audit or inspection could be said to be doing some spring cleaning.

As, I said...I have been Spring Cleaning. Recently, currents affairs here in this country where I live overshadowed this household task. In fact, for me everything kind of came to a screeching halt. The bombing of the Boston Marathon was such a senseless tragedy to me. It was pointed out by well meaning, good people on my facebook post that this kind of senseless violence happens all over the world all the time. Indeed, my very own husband came home saying much the same.These sentiments only frustrate and make me angry... not because I don't care about the rest of the world because I do. But rather like someone who is trying her best to keep time with the music, their clapping wasn't to my was out of sync with my heartbeat. My heart was beating for Boston, my heart was beating for an eight year old boy, for his mother, his sister and his father. For all those who were killed or hurt that day.  In fact, I can say I have been keenly aware of my heartbeat all during this past week. I am trying to dance to the music ( all the outside voices) that I am hearing all around far, not very well.It is difficult for me to hear everyone right now.

I have been running. Trying to get my out of shape 55 year old body ready for a 5K. On Tuesday, I ran and cried so hard that I thought my heart would jump out of my chest. Without too much melodrama here...I wondered if my heart would just completely miss a beat and I might collapse as I struggle to run and breathe and keep a heart going a thump... thump... thump...  My steps were out of time, my sobs off tune and yet I kept running.I must have been a mess as a stranger asked "Are you okay?" I nodded as I went by.

 The loss of children is particularly sad to me. The fact that the men who are suspected of doing this are so young has only made me more sad. The way many of my "facebook" friends have responded has further made me sad. When I am so sad and don't know what to do...I ask  others to pray with me. Those who don't know how to pray or don't believe in it...think I need to listen to their voices.

But, back to Spring Cleaning...I need what is essential not frivolous. I need to feel light, see light, be in the light. I mean this literally and figuratively. I am taking stock of stuff. Does this still work? Do I need this? Would someone else find use or joy out of this object? In the midst of it...I took stock of me. How can I be of use? How can I be a joy? Do I still work at being good at who I am or am I trying to be what others want me to be?  I need to run my own race at my pace...humming my own tune while tuning others out.

I wish all the world peace. I pray for the world's peace. But, today my heart beats for my part of the world.

Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9