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 others...so, 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 but...it 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's...as 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 me...it 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 again...it 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 ...me.
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. Yes...well....at 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 fabric...you have a beautiful dress that looks great. My point is it is a process...and sometimes...it doesn't work. Sometimes...you 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 sometimes...no 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 chairs...so 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 end...as 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 "Quit..now. Quit...now!" 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 beat...it 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 me...so 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