Extraordinary Grace


This is a thankful post on a day we celebrate things like that. It’s about a regular day, yesterday, which was just about perfect. To start, I was off work and the anticipation of having five days off contributed to a general feeling of well being. That in itself is something to give thanks for. In addition we had a real honest to goodness storm with rain and wind. It wreaked havoc with leaves, branches and debris in its wake, but the air was fresh and clean and I took deep life-giving breaths as I stood on the river bank.

The river rolled by looking so smooth and pure I had to stop and say what I call an “awe” prayer. It’s the kind of prayer that is more just an exclamation of exultant joy at the beauty that God has given us. The yard was a mess. I dragged a few big branches to the river’s edge and threw them in. I took a few photos and then went back up our little hill to the Motorhome.

The floor Elaine put in looks fantastic, gives it a whole new look. It was a real pleasure to see that ugly linoleum gone. I found a classical Christmas station which was very pretty but was a bit melancholy so I switched it to Smooth Jazz Christmas and that added to the general feeling of well-being.

After we got ready to tackle items on our list, we went to breakfast at the Hollywood cafe and as usual the staff was wonderful and the food was excellent. We had Joe’s special which was scrambled eggs with hamburger, cheese, fresh spinach with hash browns and toast. We stopped by the Animal Shelter to measure the shelf for the carpet for Coco. Last time I was there he had a terrible trying to get a grip on the slick shelf.

After that we got all the stuff on our list including baseboards to finish off the floor. We had a great time getting everything on our list. I saw some truly miserable people at the grocery store which made me sad for them. I have been where they are.

There was a time not so long ago where I was unmoved by everything. It was a tough time. I didn’t care about reading, nature, anything that usually lifted my spirits. If not for Elaine (and lots of prayer) I don’t know what I would have done. She patiently told me to snap out of it and that made me laugh despite myself. Seriously though, it took lots of prayer, counseling and “motoring” through it. And the Doctor put me on a low dose of Zoloft, which I still take. There may be a time when it’s right to go off of it, but for now it’s working for me.

I guess that’s why I am so grateful for the good days. I remember the despair. There are many more good days now and I enjoy going to the library once again. People wonder why I go every week, but it’s like a tonic to me, even with all the homeless hanging around there. I am happy books make me happy again.

The end of the day had a bit of drama but nothing that tarnished the day for me. The opportunity presented itself to give Mom a hug and that was appreciated. We ended the day with a bit of Amaretto, a yearly Christmas treat. I fell asleep to the sound of rain again. It was marvelous.

It put me in mind of another day a long time ago when Mom and I had a good day together and we were listening to Susan Boyle sing “A Perfect Day.” Mom said, “This was a perfect day.” I told her, yes indeed, it was. 

It lives in my memory, and so will this day. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving from my humble Prayer Closet.

Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. Rainer Maria Rilke

I’m Still Here

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He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4 

I remember the times when remembering brought comfort. Now my memories have turned against me; they remind me of all I have misplaced.  Once they were sweet traveling companions on my journey. The good ones I would turn over and over like a worn river stone, keeping them close.

Hold me like one of those well worn stones, Lord

Once my mind was clear and sure, now it’s a labyrinthian nightmare. I used to know where I was in my world and where I was going, and now the path is hidden from view. I can’t seem to find my way. I’m not myself. I don’t recognize the person I have become and yet I still know who I used to be. That’s the worst part. 

But this I do remember, this thought holds me:

You are all around me on every side; you protect me with your power. Your knowledge of me is too deep; it is beyond my understanding. Psalm 139:5,6

Help me remember who I am in You Lord. Thank you for holding my place in line until I find my way home.

Remember when you loved me? Remember when you didn’t want to escape who I’ve become? I still love, I’m still here, I’m still me. Do you hear me? Do you see my desperation when I try to follow the thread of conversation? I ask questions because I’m trying to find my way back. I’m lost in my own life. It has become easier not to talk, and yet I am so lonesome for the conversations we used to have. I am quiet on the outside and shouting on the inside. 

I feel guilty all the time because I can see you get frustrated and I don’t blame you. That’s why I ask over and over if I said or did something wrong. Because I feel wrong. Everything feels wrong and I feel bad for you. Once I was the one who held our world together, made it all work. I was the encourager, the cheer coach, the mender of clothes and hearts and skinned knees. The engine that could. 

There were days I couldn’t keep from singing. Now I spend my days looking for familiar landmarks. I long for safety. One thing remains the same. Immersed in His Grace, I find comfort knowing that my Father has not left me. He has kept the treasure of who I used to be. He holds me fast even when I can barely hang onto myself. 

“We will too Mom, we will too.”

This is dedicated to you, Mom. You are still our anchor. 

Cherish the firsts and inbetweens my friends, because you never know when they will become the lasts.

Genesis 1:5

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“God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.” Genesis 1:5

This morning I awoke surrounded by darkness with only a faint promise of dawn in the sky. I heard two owls calling to each other and recognizing this as a magic moment, I hastily fed cats (first and always first) and then made coffee.

It was chilly so I grabbed “wooly” as I call it. The big guns when it’s cold, the LLBean terry. I fully intended to pray down by the river in the Prayer Closet but as I sat there with my steaming mug I realized the owls were up here, not down there.

I sat on the Motorhome step transfixed and thankful that I could partake of a little miracle. I listened to the symphony as the staccato calls volleyed back and forth, one a slightly higher tone than the other. I thought once again about the dawn of creation and how perfect it all must have been. I sat and prayed a prayer of thanksgiving right there on that little metal retractable step. Holiness happens everywhere. 

I marvel that I even know the One who created all this. It’s nothing I did, and that fills me with an even bigger sense of gratitude. The fact that we love Him only because He first loved us is a testimony to His matchless Grace.

As the light increased, other birds joined in the chorus. A train rolled through town with a melancholy wail. The owl pair dispersed further down by the river and I followed. They settled in the trees across the river and I saw one high up in the trees. The sky was leaking pink from the Heavens. The owl swooped over to a neighboring tree, startling and scattering the vultures gathered there. Then he (or she) flew back over. After that I only heard the one call.

We are witnesses and fellow partakers of all that God has created, my friends. And it’s all a prayer of Praise from the vast storehouse of His nature. As this world gets louder and louder, before the TV and the talking heads, and the traffic and the insanity: 

Turn Him up, and everything else out. Feel problems slip away just for a moment……..throw the door wide open to let the free air of sanity and His peace back in. 

Prayer is what happens when we’re not trying to be eloquent…….just speaking the simple language of thanksgiving for whom we live and move and have our being. 

A bit later I pulled on sweats and drove to the lake and walked along the shore as light filled the sky.

It’s mornings like this I feel blessed beyond measure. It’s not easy living in an RV at times. I feel an ache in my heart when I look at the trailer that holds all the stuff that used to fill our home. Then again, I feel incredibly grateful to be here right now.

And right now this moment? It’s all good.

A breath between life

 

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How long we wait,  with minds as quiet as time…..Thomas Merton 

It took half a day or so to work its magic, the sea. I tossed and turned the first night, rolling thoughts over and over like the waves themselves. The next morning I let the beach release me from all that was troubling. I let myself fall under the spell of the sound of the surf, rolling, crashing and thunderous. 

I marvel once again at a Creator who would put so many mile markers right in front of us for us to find Him, thankful that He reveals Himself to me this way.

I remember when I was a kid, how that first glimpse of the straight blue line of that body of water against the horizon filled me with an excitement I could barely contain. Like an old friend it beckoned. Then, it was all the other stuff mixed in too. The Boardwalk, the Merry Go Round, the Taffy window. Now, I need only the sand under my feet and that pounding relentless surf.

Some say it’s just gravity that keeps it from flowing onto the earth, but I know the voice, the power behind it all. There was a time Job had questions and God had answers. All of us at some point have questions attached to our grief, our suffering. I ask why my Mom has to navigate her way through this betrayal of her memories. She remembers when remembering brought comfort.  Now her memories have turned against her; reminding her of all she has misplaced.

But the most important thing is she still knows the answers and so do I. Some things we just won’t understand this side of Heaven. She still knows her God and that He is supremely good and that never wavers for her. As she told me yesterday, “She still belongs to God. He still holds her.”

I walk and walk. And I let the surf wash over my inner soul. The deep place where the Holy Spirit rests in the quiet. I hear God’s reply with each step. And it’s all the answers I need. 

Who enclosed the sea with doors when bursting forth, it went out from the womb; when I made a cloud its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and I placed boundaries on it and set a bolt and doors, and I said, Thus far you shall come, but no farther; and here shall your proud waves stop? Job 38:8-11

Yes, the sea has worked its magic once again. We are blessed to be able to come back to this place. This peaceful place that has come to seem like home. Doubly blessed to have someone to share this leg of my journey with. 

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This is the mysterious thing about prayer.  It often happens even when you’re not intentionally trying to pray. It’s like riding a bike. If you thought about everything that goes into it you would probably not get yourself down the road. It’s like the other morning, wide awake at 2:00 AM. “I should pray,” I thought. “Why can’t I be more like those “Holy” people who get up and pray and seek God in the middle of the night instead of finding something to eat or drink or read?”

And this is the crazy thing. I got up and started talking to God about just that. Sometimes the best prayer sessions start when you’re not even trying. You’re just talking to the God who created you. Who knows us better than we know ourselves.

It’s reawakening to the knowledge that as believers, we stand saturated by Grace.  And that Grace never leaves us. Not even when we feel undeserving of it. We know we are undeserving and that leaves us breathless with thanksgiving once again.

This is the intimacy the Psalmists knew:

In the morning O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” Psalm 13:5

For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.” Psalm 116:8

And my favorite:

O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thought from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with ALL my ways. Psalm 139:1-3

I like to think prayer is what happens while we’re making plans to pray. You don’t have to have just the right setting or the right moment. The time is right now, today. In every moment; every time we thank Him for the weather, the birds, our health. Prayer is giving words to our very breath, as Acts 17 says: “In Him we live and move and have our being.”

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted and it feels good. If I can only move one person closer to knowing God with my words, then it’s all worth it.

Just One More

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Just one more moment of quiet as light fills the sky
One more to feel Your Presence, to know that You have never left
Never will.

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One more moment of Gratitude in this place not only feel Your peace
But know it.
Every “thank you” we breathe reaches you as Praise.

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In the quiet of the morning.
Piano hymns softly round out sharp edges to the harshness of life
Before it fully arrives.

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I step gingerly so as not to disturb the pond of worries that never quite
Go away.

One more cup of coffee, Oh to make it last.
Ready for the day.

Blessed beyond measure.

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These Dreams…….

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The Bible talks a lot about dreams. Joseph, Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar, Solomon, Moses, The Magi and Pilate’s wife to name a few. All these and many more had dreams in which they were directed themselves or told by God to direct or warn someone else. Joseph’s dreams got him thrown into a pit by his brothers. Pilate’s wife had a nightmare concerning Jesus and when she awoke she told her husband that Jesus was innocent. I have read many accounts of Muslims having dreams where Jesus appears to them.

I have always dreamed a lot. I have talked about my dreams many times on this blog.  I am a worrier and a normally anxious person. I appear calm on the outside, but my insides churn and that spills over into nighttime. All my life I have had dreams where my teeth get loose and begin to fall out. And I think most of us have these kinds of normal dreams where we go to school or work without clothes on, or we forget where we are supposed to be. Or that we have missed the last month of assignments.

One time I had a healing dream and I awoke healed from Anorexia. I say healed because I knew the second I got up that God had healed my mind. That morning I ate scrambled eggs, maybe even toast. Then the tough work of healing my body. That took a lot longer.

Some dreams linger throughout the day and are much more powerful than others. When I get these, I always pay attention and open my heart to the Holy Spirit to see what it might mean or what God is trying to speak to me about. This time I believe it was to convey an attitude of remembrance and gratitude for what He has done for me, for all of us as believers.

The dream itself was vague and I was in a group of people and activity and nobody I know was in the dream, all strangers. But there was a crime and I was somehow responsible. And I was shunned by the group and I remember the shame, and hiding under a table so they couldn’t find me. This next part is what I struggle to find words for, for I was subjected to the most powerful feeling of forgiveness, mercy and healing from that same group.

I remember how fully they embraced me, how incredibly loved they made me feel. Almost as if I could feel God’s touch through them. I am basking in the afterglow of that feeling now and I thank God for reminding me of just how deep His love and mercy for me really is.

I think most of us are extremely hard on ourselves. Yes, God wants us to look into our hearts and evaluate our lives, but He also doesn’t want us to be so hard on ourselves that we chain ourselves to guilt. The great freedom of the Christian life is that we……are…….forgiven! Sealed for the day of redemption.

And that’s my message for today friends. Embrace life, embrace forgiveness, embrace a new start. The world’s message is believe in yourself. The Bible tells us to believe in the “Him” in yourself.

My dear children, you come from God and belong to God. You have already won a big victory over those false teachers, for the Spirit in you is far stronger than anything in the world. 1 John 4:4 MSG