There really is Good News!

It’s been a long stretch of COVID and waiting and even though I didn’t feel bad I didn’t want to give it to anyone else. Then I gave it to Elaine, which made me feel terrible, and she had it longer, so we were both in the tube of seclusion. 

We did get to enjoy a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day corned beef dinner on the 17th. And a rousing game of Farkle that night! (Try not to be jealous.) We count all the small joys here. And we really do find things to laugh about. Lately we have had to look harder. 

Thankfully though, we have come out the other side. The elusive sun has broken through every now and again which has been the only thing keeping us just out of one after another “come-apart” moments (as they say in the South). A term I have only recently learned and now have happily adopted. It has truly been a winter like no other I’ve ever experienced here in California. 

The good news: the reservoirs are filling up and it does the heart good to see a physical manifestation of all that rain (and flooding). And another good thing yesterday, I was able to go prom dress shopping with my niece and her mom and after about 10 dresses, we found “The One.” 

And speaking of world news lately. Everywhere you look it seems the whole world is having a “Come Apart,” when what we really need is a “Come to Jesus.” As Christians we know that God has everything firmly in His grip, all evidence to the contrary when we look at the world and the news. It’s disheartening when we see our own communities affected by it all.

Our faith though, on a practical level rewards us, because there are moments when in the midst of slogging through life, we hear a song, or see something magnificent in nature and we know, that we know, that we know. The Good News that Jesus brought is still here. Still just as real.

It happened today. I heard a song on the radio and I felt Easter like a sunburst in my heart. You know that feeling when you want to shout it out and share it with the world? Like when you have that awesome church service you want to share so bad, and you invite a friend, and they actually say yes. Or when you see grownup people being baptized.

He hears you friend. Don’t despair, He’s got this. Just pray a small prayer like Anne Lamott talked about in her book, “Help, thanks, wow.” It’s all you need. He will hear you. 

I hope this is okay sharing these lyrics because this is the chorus of one of the songs I heard by “We Are Messengers” 

It’s in the empty tomb

It’s on the rugged cross

Your death defying love

Is written in Your scars

You’ll never quit on me

You’ll always hold my heart

‘Cause that’s the kind of God You are……

Yes, indeed. This Lent, we celebrate again that the Father gave the most precious thing He had to redeem us. To draw us close to Himself. And Jesus said, “Let’s do this.” 

Hang Onto the Good

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

Joy does not simply happen to us, we have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. Henry Nouwen

I had to dig myself out of a hole on Monday. I simply wasn’t ready to get up and do it all again. The way I described it to E. was a slow panic attack. I felt paralyzed by life. So, I just called in sick and rode it out. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen every now and then. The endless gray we’ve been having hasn’t helped. Add that to the fact of living in an even smaller space than usual, due to the awning on the slide-out being worn. It has to be fixed and the RV place will charge an arm and a leg for something that takes about 30 minutes.

We may try to do this ourselves. It can be done.

This is the valuable thing I have learned from depression. It is temporary. And there is no shame in medication if it’s needed. Some people of faith think that if you pray enough, or praise enough, or read the Bible enough, you won’t be depressed. One of my former Pastors got very exasperated at that. There is no shame in medication. I have taken Zoloft twice in my life and it has been just what I needed at the time.

That being said, each of us is different, and sometimes we have to find our own way out. We can help each other do this. Many things help me. Sometimes just a simple walk can do wonders. Getting out, seeing people, going to your favorite diner. Sometimes I use writing to write myself out of a hole. Going to the library for me is a simple but great outlet. Being around books has always leveled out my mind. When that fails, I know I’m in trouble.

The pictures above are some of my recent finds. One of them was a pet memorial bench. Later I went back left some flowers. And the drawing is a portrait of me by one of my “girls” at school. She was giggling as she drew it! And on a recent drive looking for the newest free library we found one built like a robot. When you open it, the lights flash. An engineer must live there.

And last week we went to the movie, Jesus Revolution. I highly recommend it. It is not shmaltzy or cheesy the way so many “faith” films can be. It’s a true story from an incredible time in history which I partly lived through growing up in the 70’s. It will make you laugh, cry, and cheer. People in the audience broke into spontaneous applause at the end. How often does that happen anymore?

Another thing that tremendously helps my mood is limited exposure to the news.

“The Good News” that Jesus brought us is still every bit as real as when he walked the earth! Sometimes I need to remind myself of the big thing that makes everything else worth it.

Peace and greetings from my little corner. Lori

Welcome February!

……..the way is cleared, and we can go on……(a snatch from my journal)

And it’s February!!!! That means my daffodils will make an appearance soon. The ones I take a picture of every year are popping up and I can see little bits of yellow poking through the magnificent green. Also, a dear friend has passed, and I still can’t believe she is gone. None of us can. She was ninety-three and she was done with life, but we were not done with her. I know this life is just a vapor of time, a slice of eternity, but Annie, you were just so darn alive. Today would be the day you would have driven here in your Prius to visit my aunt. Your absence is felt keenly.

We miss you so……

Here is a picture of her (on the right) along with my aunt and another friend, all of them 90 or older.

I’ve been reading the book of Job in the Message version. I have always loved that particular book, but the Message expresses it in such a clear and simple way.

God answering Job:

“Why do you confuse the issue? Why do you talk without knowing what you’re talking about? Pull yourself together Job! Up on your feet, stand tall! I have some questions for you, and I want some straight answers. Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much! Who decided on its size? Certainly, you’ll know that. Who came up with the blueprints and measurements? How was its foundation poured, and who set the cornerstone, while the morning stars sang in chorus and all the angels shouted praise?

At first it seems like God is very hard on Job but in the end, God sides with Job and not his friends. So much so that God addresses Eliphaz (bad friend) in exasperation. He turns to him and says:

“I’ve had it with you and your two friends. I’m fed up! You haven’t been honest either with me or about me–not the way my friend Job has. So, here’s what you must do. Take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my friend Job. Sacrifice a burnt offering on your own behalf. My friend Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer.”

Thank you, Jesus, that we are done with THAT messy business.

Death swallowed up by triumphant Life! (Jesus) Who got the last word, oh Death? Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now? 1 Corinthians 15:55

The World Can Swallow You

That is if you let it. The world can swallow you whole. It gets to be too much sometimes. And at times there are just no words. They simply will not come. Dry as a desert inside, that’s what it feels like. The start of this year was one for the books. California made the news and not for the bizarre reasons it usually does. This state can be downright embarrassing sometimes for many political and other ridiculous reasons. Or maybe you love all those reasons.

This time it was a massive storm. Series of storms, rather. The rain just wouldn’t stop. Coming from the Pacific Ocean there were about 9 storms one right after the other, producing what is called a Bomb Cyclone. I had never heard of that term, but we are all too familiar with it now. Whole communities were flooded, and freeways were shut down. In this town alone, we had around 100 plus very large and very old trees fall causing massive damage and in some cases loss of homes and lives. When the sun finally came out it was like a miracle. We are safely on the other side now, but the fallout continues in the aftermath.

The neighbor lost a huge Cottonwood, and my aunt had a tree guy come and eliminate a possible catastrophe. This was a 50–60-year-old tree that we have watched bend and sway from our vantage point in the Motorhome with no small sense of dread and panic. Its two massive neighbors fell over the last historic storm in 2017. My brother’s house also flooded and so did a good friend of mine’s.

In other news, I got a call from the Dr. right before Christmas that the spot I had removed came back as Malignant Melanoma. I was in the aisle of Walmart when I got the call and my world just shifted like it does when you get unexpected news like that. I have since had the diseased part removed (I hope enough) I get stitches out Tuesday. We also got a call from Elaine’s brother that two of his friends had passed away. One of them in these recent storms. He wandered away from his cabin and they found his body the next day, frozen.

My Aunt also had a terrible fall on Christmas morning that she is still recovering from. Nothing broken, miraculously so, since she is 90 now. And my current student at school (I am subbing for another aid that is absent) has had two seizures since coming back from Christmas break. It’s very upsetting to watch but I am thankful for our school nurses who are wonderful and were there in minutes. She usually recovers pretty fast but it’s harrowing. I can’t imagine what her parents go through.

All this to say, that this world can be a very hard place sometimes. And it can swallow you whole if you don’t have something to anchor your soul. But this is the good part.

Everything can change in an instant and we can be surprised by joy and wonder even though our circumstances themselves haven’t changed much.

Take this morning, for instance. I had nothing, no words at all. But as I read my Scripture in the quiet of dawn, a candle lit in the middle of my heart. It felt like JOY. And also, we got a new laptop, and I can finally have the luxury of sitting at the table posting this blog instead of having to go out to the garage where the main computer is. Amazing what you can get used to if you have to. I almost can’t believe it’s the eighth year we’ve been living in this box. It’s been hard and we are ready to be done with it. Few people get how hard it is. They think we have been on some kind of vacation. Well, I would suggest that they try using the laundromat every week, along with dumping the “shitter” and worry about propane and a million other things.

But I digress……Back to JOY. It’s what I’m feeling right now, and I am so very thankful for the Lord and His words that are living and sharper than anything and able to beat back any darkness this world and Satan can throw at us. I wonder things. Being in a state of wonder is not a bad thing. It’s how we learn. Why do we capitalize Satan, anyway? I personally don’t think he should get that “billing.”

To change the subject, is anyone watching the Chosen? It seems to be a global phenomenon and I’m glad for it. It seems to be turning people’s hearts and thoughts to the REAL Jesus and that’s very good.

Finally, if you, dear reader, have stuck with me this far, I thank you! There is still so much beauty and goodness in the world, and I sincerely hope this day finds you seeking the miraculous in each moment.

The Lord bless you and keep you…….Lori

*****I call the bird in the picture “Chocolate.” He visits me on the fence.

First Sunday of Advent

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has dawned upon you. For behold, darkness covers the land; deep gloom enshrouds the people’s. But over you the Lord will rise, and his glory will appear upon you. 

Nations will stream to your light and kings to the brightness of your dawning. Your gates will always be open; by day or night they will never be shut. They will call you, The City of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. Violence will no more be heard in your land, ruin or destruction within your borders.  

You will call your walls Salvation, and all your portals, Praise. The sun will no more be your light by day; by night you will not need the brightness of the moon. 

Already, it’s the first Sunday of Advent. Another year drawing to a close. We had a restful Thanksgiving here camping on the California Delta. Today we will pack up and go home, back to the familiar routine, which can be comforting in its own way.

As I opened Dad’s prayer book this morning, a picture of the two of them came fluttering out. A picture of them both in front of a tent on one of their many camping trips. They are both beaming, happy. That’s how I think of them now, their souls basking in Heavenly light. 

The passing of time is keenly felt to all of us here below, but we are grateful for these times when we can pause briefly from our labor. From this time forth, let the crowds go crazy looking for the perfect gift spending money they may or may not have. 

I will seek God’s rest as much as I can.


When Church Happens

He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:14

I went to church but I didn’t go all the way in. To be honest, I just didn’t feel like hearing another sermon. I have heard it all before. I have sat and filled in the blanks dutifully, like one more task I have to check off. Done. On to the next thing.

I miss the interaction. I miss how at my old church they would ask if anyone had a burden, a need. And then others standing by would surround them, touch them, hands like gentle doves lighting on shoulders, backs…….. and the Pastor would pray. Sometimes they would cry and we would want to cry too. There is something powerful about the laying on of hands…..passing the Spirit from one to another.

It unifies us all.

Somehow I can’t escape the feeling that we are leaving with our burdens intact. There might be a burning need right next to me, and I would never know it. An inner cry for help like a dial tone unanswered.

We leave as the islands we are. Untouched. Still carrying the heavy load.

I wonder and not for the first time if the Spirit is not quenched with all our organization. Just one Sunday I wish the Pastor would stop and say, “Now everyone turn to your neighbor, not the one you came with, the one you don’t know, and pray for each other for 15 minutes.”

And I miss the altar call. Some say it’s just not needed anymore. It makes people feel embarrassed, singled out. But I disagree. I feel like it’s what draws us all in, and holds us together. Makes us remember when we were the one propelled out of our seat, and how that aisle looked impossibly long.

And when it was just you and the Lord, and no one else. And somehow, you know that this one thing, this one moment will change the course of your eternal destiny. What in the world matters more than that? I believe churches are robbing their congregations when they take this Holy moment away.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the church more than ever. When I miss it, something is wrong. But I also think that church happens more often than not after we leave the building.

As we sat yesterday with old friends, listening to all they have been through since we had last seen them I felt church happen with the exchange of tears. When she said she was finally getting help in dealing with the death of their little boy. That little boy who was their whole world and in some ways still is.

I can see how that little boy is so alive to them still. And how if he knew what a shadow his death made on their marriage, how sad he would be. I wish I would have told her that if he knew his Mommy was finally getting help, that he would smile from Heaven.

We talked of how it will never go away, he will never go away. But you learn to make some kind of peace with it. And go on for others who still need you.

Church happens when love happens, and not just on Sunday. But over coffee, in between classes, in parking lots, in school buses, everywhere God is.

It happens when we remember the Cross and what was done on it, for us. And that every single thing we bear in this life, He already dealt with.

It was nailed to the cross when He was.

In light of that, we stand at the edge of eternity every day. And with each day, no matter what we have to handle, our gratitude can’t help but grow.

We just can’t stop counting the gifts. Join me today? And Ann at Holy Experience here.

Pass It On

I quietly crept in the dark, coffee in hand, to my AM sitting spot out on the swing, cat on my heels, padding soundlessly. We have turned back time once again, at least our clocks have. Well, not all of them, just the smart ones on our IPhones. The other ones know the truth and stalwartly guard it until we manually force the hands back. I wondered why I was awake earlier than usual, then I remembered. 

I sit and Sister rides the movement like a surfer and settles, waiting for her morsel of frosting from my other morning addiction. She has a sweet tooth like me. Nearby an owl is closer than normal and the staccato who-who-whooing is the only sound I hear. Away in the distance one answers back in a slightly different tone, never the same. I marvel at that. At all God’s creation. I think of this time as a kind of church without the human parishioners. 

I am privy, once again to a small feeling of familiarity. Of how it must have been in pre-sin Eden. When all was newly perfect. Before the lethal question that still rankles our present world. “Did God?” The spirit of doubt puts us all on a precipice of nagging gloom. It is the thing that always destroys our peace. 

But right now where I sit, there is silence and wonder and knowing that God is still keeping perfect order behind the scenes. High above, I hear the rumble of a passing plane. After that, a train rolls through. Then, a rustling in the redwoods announces the presence of a gentle wind. It’s a sound I never tire of hearing. It always produces a peace but also a feeling of melancholy from memories of happy times camping in Yosemite. 

When I hear the wind sigh in the pines, I remember golden afternoons when hikes were done, showers were taken and dinner planned, those breezes would come through before the hush of evening. That sound will forever solidify those times for me. 

I watch the tops of the trees bend and sigh, myself.

A neighboring tree answers. 

“Pass it on,” it seems to say. 

And it was answered by another and another, until the message was spread throughout the whole earth.

And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that He had done. Genesis 2:3

365 Plus 1

“I just heard “She’s gone” in my sleep” 

“Mom passed on October 2nd, 2021, at 3:40 AM”

As I opened my iPad to write this post, these were the two statements I had recorded here 365 days ago yesterday. A whole year and millions of breaths since her soul passed into Heaven, taking a part of mine with it. I hadn’t remembered the day, but my sister-in-law did. For some odd reason I thought it was the 6th. 

Maybe somewhere inside I knew. I had chosen the morning to finally box up her photo albums and clothes she had saved of mine that I had in my car partly because I didn’t know where else to put them or maybe I just wasn’t quite ready to turn them loose. 

I’m still making a weekly pilgrimage to the cemetery to do the flowers and it’s weird because I never wanted or felt a need to do this with either Grandparents or even my husband. Then again, there are no rules in grieving and that’s okay. Even as I thoughtfully arrange my Hobby Lobby bouquet, I have to smile, because I can almost hear both of them say, “Give it a rest already……”

Life stops for some and keeps going for others. Inexplicably. This morning I came across a blog post someone else wrote that I had to share in the aftermath of hurricane Ivan, you can read it here. As I very well know, there are no guarantees we will get another day. That makes today the most important day. Inhale deeply, everyone! 

Don’t just walk, see things when you walk. If you are in good health, thank God. If you aren’t, thank Him even more that He is with you in it. He once walked this earth and felt all the things you are feeling right now. If you are feeling despised and rejected, remember He was too. 

I’ve been reading Ezekiel, talk about a crappy job assignment. None of us has the right to complain! Year after year, they didn’t listen to any of his warnings. I venture to say that none of our employers has ever had to lay on our left side for 390 days, and an additional 40 on our right (for the sin of Judah). And even when they finally did concede that he had been right all along in his prophecy, they still didn’t act on it. 

There is a message there for all of us. Basically, we Christians are all little Ezekiels. We know there is Something and Someone better after we leave this place we call home, but too often we remain silent and distracted by the world. Ezekiel warned and obeyed until it hurt. 

Sometimes I don’t know why or how I can keep a lid on my wonder at God and how good He is. But if these words can be a little leaking of hope and joy out into the world then there is redemption in that. 

I leave you with these words from Paul.

“Finally, brethren (sistren too), whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything is worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8

Do Words Still Matter?

What words could I add? 

In light of all the suffering going on in the world right now, what words could I possibly add that would make any difference at all? It’s a question that writers everywhere ask. The answer, thankfully, always comes back the same, and has throughout history. Words matter a great deal because the written (or spoken) word will always have tremendous power to change. Even if that change is a barely detectable shift in the heart or soul. And there will always be readers. In my formative years, there were no computers, no iPhones. We had each other. Real faces, real places. And the things we read in books. We had no choice but to use our imagination. 

Flash forward to 1996. I started work at Intel, Corp. For 20 years I worked alongside many others deep within the heartbeat of the technological age. Together, we built the chips that made it all go. I remember back then people said we would be living in a “paperless” world. And now, in 2022 we are drowning in more paper than ever before. And thankfully, bookstores have not become obsolete. Libraries are still being funded. All is not lost. 

When you look around at our current world situation, it would be easy to lose hope. Character seems scarce. Crime is off the charts. And yet, we honor a beloved Monarch who has passed into glory. We honor and pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth because she embodied great character and values not readily seen much anymore. She had the role thrust upon her in her youth, and instead of resenting it, she rose to the challenge and continued to do so for 70 years. Splendidly. 

Also as Americans, after 21 years we must pause, at least at some point in our waking moments today and remember 9/11. We all remember where we were that day. 

On a more personal note, we have just gone through a massive heat wave here in California and yesterday we were released at last and out from under the 100 plus temps for the first time in several days and weeks. For quite a few days we have been hotter than Arizona which is very rare. 

Just being able to take a walk without sweltering was like a miracle. There is something so redeeming in it. Getting out, off the phone, away from the barrage of voices that can so often cause unease and weariness of soul. Come away with Jesus on the mountain and pray. Even He, being God knew how important that was. 

And read. If you haven’t read Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” I wholeheartedly recommend it. It will restore you to all things good, worthwhile, precious and true.  Most of all, read the Word that matters more than any others. His. Peace and Blessings, Lori

Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Psalm 119:105