Words

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The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they pour forth knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out to all the earth, their words to the end of the world. Psalm 19:1-4

There is a time when silence has its own magnificent language, you can’t adequately explain a sunrise, or a full moon rising over the earth. You have to see it, and once you see it you have to answer the question: “Who did this?”

I love words. I love the art of crafting them on paper. I love reading what talented writers write. I use them to try to capture my feelings which are much of the time tangled and twisted inside me.

Writing is my way of making sense of my world and the world around me. They are necessary to use them to have good relationships with people, especially the ones we care about. But sometimes I wish we could just read each other’s hearts and know each other’s pain and struggles without all the words because sometimes words just aren’t adequate.

We could just sit in the silence like you do with a dear friend watching a sunrise. You know that feeling when at the same time you have that sharp little intake of breath when you see it…..”Oh…..” “Wow….” “Will you look at that?”

I could receive your heart and you could receive mine and all would be clear, nothing confused, like a sunrise. And we would say….”Oh….” “Yes…..” I see you clearly now. I understand.

And all would be well.

When we pray, something kind of like that happens. It’s something miraculous. As Christians, we reach out to the Holy Spirit of the God of the universe. We reach out on behalf of each other when we don’t know what else to say because the Holy Spirit knows the canvas written on each of our hearts.

He speaks with groanings too deep for words to the Father about us. He knows we don’t have the right words, but He does. He always does.

Prayer for today:

“Lord, I give you everyone in my circle today. Give us all the peace that passes understanding. Give us new strength for this good day, for they’re all good days because you are here with us. Help us to help each other in the right ways. Get the clutter out of our hearts so that we can see you and each other more clearly. Help us to love one another with Your love. Thank you for words and thank you for sunrises and sunsets and all this beauty around us. Help us never forget to notice it. Tamp out the worry and fear that threatens to overwhelm us at times. And help us always to know the future is in your hands not ours.” In your Son’s matchless name, Amen.

 

 

Tea and toast and self preservation

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Yesterday I fought through my route, feeling sick. I felt better at the end of the day but today I awoke still feeling puny. I needed a day for tea and toast. I am washed out, washed up. Stressed. I am so very blessed. Elaine made me scrambled eggs and bacon and my Zen tea. The kind I used to get at the Intel cafe when my life was ordered and predictable. Today I am missing my old uncomplicated life. From a distance the stress I had there seems minute.

It was a beautiful weekend at the ocean, in one of our favorite places. It didn’t disappoint…..it never does. Moss Landing is a little fishing village along the Pacific coast by Monterey, California. There is no shopping, and only one hotel. Nothing to do but eat at Iconic Phil’s Fish Market and walk for miles on the beach. It was just what we needed.

And, after hemming and hawing with my finger on the “Book Now” button on my IPhone for an hour, I decided to do something I have wanted to do for years, I went on a whale watching charter. After I got over the strange reaction from the motion sickness patch the night before, we headed out at 7:00 AM the next morning. And we were rewarded with whales! They didn’t get as close as I thought, but we saw them. And I didn’t get sick. On the way out I wanted to hear John Denver’s, “Calypso” played loud over the speakers.

The sea was rolling and some fog swallowed us up for a time, but it was magical to be in their playground.

Our last day we had another lunch at Phil’s looking out over the Pacific. We collected a few shells and bits of seaglass before packing up and heading home. We were greeted with warmer temperatures when we got there. At last we were settled in. I called my Mom and her voice was tight with stress.

Then I got the horrible text that I didn’t deserve and that I wasn’t expecting. Welcome home……Can I go back to the ocean please?

And I have been sick for two days. Yesterday, I quit fighting and took a day off  and went back to bed. Some days you have to take care of yourself and let others take care of you. Last night I crawled into the peaceful magic back space in the Motorhome with my book and fell into a dreamless sleep. I awoke to “Dinner’s Ready” and the sound of Amazing Grace playing on the smooth jazz station where we have never heard it played before.

Sometimes God gives you exactly what you need right when you need it.

I am guarding my heart today and yet I hope God will show me how to keep it open enough to extend grace. I am learning that protecting myself is okay.

 

Going Deep

 

Let your light so shine....

Usually that refers to a football move, but each Advent that rolls around I think of it. When everything starts to turn crazy and drivers honk and jockey for parking spaces and people turn ungracious my thought is to “go deeper.” Jesus was born into a world filled with pushing and shoving and strife. He was also born into a world with a deep chasm between the ruling Superpowers in Rome and the common people just trying to get by.

Yesterday morning I sat huddled with my first cup of coffee, and gazed blearily at my phone for a connection, a signal of life out there. The little candle flickered from where it sat on the Motor-home console (we call it the fireplace).

Lately I have been feeling like part of my creative soul has been snuffed out. The words that used to flow freely have fled and I have missed them. Earlier I had fallen asleep and dreamed of buried things. I awoke feeling smothered.

As I rested there in the pre-dawn hour, I heard a ping from my phone and saw a friends post and as I read the words, tears came along with them. You can read it here.

Do you ever feel as if God answers prayer through someone else’s words? I felt as if someone had just leaned toward me in church, holding out their advent candle to light mine.

I wasn’t happy about the sorrow in his message, but I did identify with it. No, it was the hope he held out. The light that came along with it. His words reached across several states and touched a chord in me. “He feels it too.” And just at the precise moment I needed to hear it. Jesus said that only an adulterous generation needs a sign, but He also knew a sign was necessary. “Behold, a virgin will conceive…….”

This to me is the hope of Advent. That somewhere in the cloisters of our hearts there is the reality of deep peace. That is the reason Jesus came. Reconciliation and the promise of peace. The Holy Spirit resides in each of us as believers, but I believe it is possible to stifle Him with the residual refuse in our minds and hearts.

Advent is cutting through all that and clinging to the miracle. Throw the trash out! Lay it at the curb, better yet the cross! God is doing a work in each one of us. He has taught me this year that prayer is not the prescription that insures circumstances in my day will all fall together perfectly. In fact, sometimes the days where I have prayed most earnestly I have had the worst days on record.

The more important thing is that prayer has a bigger effect on the long term. It goes beyond the surface where we can’t always see, digging trenches in our hearts that change us for eternity. God doesn’t wait around to answer our prayer so that events conspire to work out for our benefit, but rather, He hears our every prayer even before we pray it. Even the ones as small as a breath.

When Jesus came, He was the universal “I understand and hear you” answer for all time, for all of us. He came almost unnoticed into this world yet Heaven couldn’t keep from a birth accouncement puncuated by miracles. This Christmas I pray we can set aside the stress and clamor of the world in the quiet moments and remember the miracle.

Let every heart prepare Him room, for He made room for us.

“And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” Acts 17:26,27

It’s Friday but Monday’s coming….

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Philippians 4:6-7  do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Last night was Friday and now I join the throngs saying, “TGIF.” After having spent years doing 12 hour shifts and enjoying a string of 3 and 4 day weekends at the end, I am now working a five-day week. I do have to qualify that by saying it’s only a four-hour day. Before you laugh yourself silly at my puny four hours, let me tell you that I lost sleep, cried, prayed, and worried myself sick for the first two weeks I was there.

There is a truth about me that surprises some people because I can come off as being very mellow, relaxed and easy-going. The truth is that I can tie myself up in knots over things that someone else may not spend even two minutes worrying over. Even things some people consider fun, I can turn into a turmoil of gut wrenching anxiety. It can be crippling.

It has taken me 57 years to realize that the only thing (person) big enough to handle my anxiety is God Himself. Trying to smother it or medicate it doesn’t work for me, it just comes back bigger than life after the haze wears off. For those of you taking medication prescibed for anxiety or depression, this does not mean you. There are times when this is needed.

This is what I think…….That we are all of us in recovery in some form or another, and I think it starts at birth. From the moment we are pushed into this life, it starts.

What are you in recovery over today? I have learned to embrace my need for help with this thing. I got help. I had five free sessions of counseling when I left Intel and it’s the best thing I ever did. That lady “got me” the very first session. I think God sent her.

Please don’t ever let anyone tell you it’s weak to get help. It’s the strong who realize when they need it and take the hand of support that’s offered.

I am learning not to live for the weekend, but live for the day because sure as anything,  I know that these two days will fly by and I will be set down smack dab in the middle of Monday before I know it. And God will meet me there too. That is what He’s been trying to tell me for 57 years now, and I have made some progress. There was a time in my life when I would have walked, no……run away from anything that put me way out of my comfort zone.

But God waits outside your and my comfort zone. And He’s here on a beautiful Saturday too. Live in the here and now, where Jesus tells us He is.

Forgive me, Father for putting other things on the throne of my life. Things like worrying about my own failure. You have already given me the tools to complete the tasks I need to do. Reel me back in from myself. You are all I ever need. Thank you for a friend who looks out for my good. (Elaine) Everyone needs someone they can spill their worries to without fear. Now I do the same to You, Lord.

Thank you for this good day that You have made. How dare I look at how you hung the moon, placed the stars, keep everything in motion and still not trust you! 

And thank you, Marty Unruh for your artwork, my friend. We did pick the right verse!

How we can best honor the children

Delighting in the way....

In church yesterday there was a Dad sitting a seat away from me. Right next to him was his little boy, around aged 8 I would guess. I couldn’t help but notice that when we stood to pray or sing, that Dad had his arm around his son……and not in a casual way, tightly…….like he didn’t want to let him go. In fact, everywhere I looked, I seemed to see people holding their kids a bit closer. The question keeps framing itself in my mind…….How can we best honor to these children too soon gone?

The parents will be going through a horrific memorial service today, and it will be unspeakably sad. But the truth is, they will need our support much more in the months and years to come. When all the shock has worn off. I know this. They will need the support of friends and family. They will need to talk about how wonderful their kids were…….even when it makes others uncomfortable. By letting them talk, letting them remember, we honor the special light that belonged to their child and their child alone.

And we need to keep going and never give up, for them. They would want us to keep standing up for what’s right, and to never stop fighting that battle. Being light in a dark work is the most important thing we can do for them, and for our own kids. We need to be the answer for them, and the answer always holds hope

Most of all, we need to keep enjoying life, as they were surely doing their last hours on this earth. The excitement of Christmas hung in the air at that school.  I remember that feeling oh so well. I remember the Christmas concert we gave, and the big reindeer I got to decorate with red, green, and blue glitter when I was about their age. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. And I think my parents did too. My Mom didn’t even mind the glitter that fell off everywhere that thing went.

If their voices had not been silenced by evil, I could imagine them saying to us all……..”Don’t be sad.” Kids hate when people are sad. And they are very happy now.

They would say, “Let’s go outside and play.” And they would teach us to run and jump in puddles and remember how that felt. They would teach us how to love all over again. Yes, the best way we can honor them is to honor the kid still inside us and be a beacon of light in a world that can be very dark sometimes.

It was a good day yesterday……and it felt good to have a good day.

Sitting at Cost Plus sipping my tea, I glanced at my phone and saw that I had a new voice mail from my brother’s phone. It was my niece and a big goofy smile spread across my face right there and my heart melted when I heard: “Hi Lowwie, C’mon call me kay…..call me Dad’s phone, Daddy’s phone….thank you, bye.”

And I never ever want to erase it. I want to freeze her innocence forever. I also thought of the kids, whose innocence was taken and yet now is perfectly preserved in Heaven, where nothing but innocence and love live on.

I called her back and we had a conversation in which she told me about her “babies, and baby kitty and Mima…..” and how we are going to have a party when I get there.

And later, as we made Christmas bags for the kids on Elaine’s route, her kids she calls them, I thought of those kids again and how right it was to be doing that for them.

So today, I will carry on and treasure the kids in my life, and yours. I will have a good day and do kid things and continue to shine the light of love whenever I can and hold out the hope that we always have in Christ.

To honor them.

And to honor Him.

A future of hope from Isaiah

The Wildness of God

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

God Wants You

You who bring good news to Zion,
go up on a high mountain.
You who bring good news to Jerusalem,
lift up your voice with a shout,
lift it up, do not be afraid;
say to the towns of Judah,
“Here is your God!”
See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power,
and he rules with a mighty arm.
See, his reward is with him,
and his recompense accompanies him.

The One True Light...

He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.

The little lambs that were lost to us this week, are safe in the Good Shepherd’s arms today…….that is how I derive some measure of peace about what happened….please join me in ongoing prayer for the families, especially the parents.

Lori

Photos from google images

Fighting the Change

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30: 19,20

I awoke this morning with a familiar feeling, one I didn’t like. I was flat. Not happy, not depressed……just flat. I am in the beginning stages of that place in life known as, dare I say it? “the change.” Sshhhh, I won’t say it out loud. I didn’t use bold face type or big letters. It is not a real uplifting topic for women, (or the men who live with them.) But it is a reality.

I had a choice in that moment. To settle for how I felt, or to fight for something better. That is what it really comes down to each and every day. A choice for life or death. Victory or defeat. So I got up, grabbed some coffee and sought life in the pages of the book that was lying on the floor by the bed. The one that gives life…….I flipped open to Corinthians and there I found this verse:

“For thanks be to God, who always leads us to triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place, for we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2:14,15

God has taught me that I don’t have to settle. I don’t have to slog through the day feeling like this.

I can have victory in Christ.

As I rustled through those pages, I started to feel more like life and less like death. And I realized something else. If I had settled for that feeling?  I would have missed the beautiful fragrance that the people in my life are giving off,  because they are making the choice to get up and give life to me. And I don’t want to miss it.

I don’t want to have to apologize because I have been so focused on myself that I don’t see the hurt in your eyes for being ignored, not appreciated, not valued.  

We all have heard about muscle memory. Trained athletes know it. The muscle remembers. But so does the mind.  

That is what I remembered with tears this morning on the way to work. I remembered how I had to fight for life after my healing from anorexia. The healing of my mind had to come first, but then I had to begin the long battle of healing my body. You don’t starve your monthly cycle away without having to work hard to get it back.    

I remembered getting up in the dark before anyone else was awake, and running….just running. In the cold and in the dark all I heard was my feet slapping on pavement and my heart pounding, my breath coming out in puffs. I didn’t want anyone to see me because I felt I was repulsive. I had ballooned to 125 pounds from 80, largely from fluid buildup that came from wreaking havoc with my hormones.

But morning after morning, I got up, I went out, I fought back.

And today, I can smile on that victory. Because God heard the prayers of hurting parents, and He heard me too, down there hitting the pavement. He was with me.

Later, after I felt a bit more confident my Dad went with me. It was good, just he and I running together. And someone else I didn’t even know was watching too. I later learned that my future husband watched us run from the window of Flame liquors where he worked for years. After we met he told me this. Life is amazing isn’t it?

I can rejoice now in the suffering, because of the victory at the end. Because much of life is getting back up over and over again, no matter how you feel and fighting back, because you know life is always worth it.

Restoration and light and life waits at the end of the road. And once we’ve come through? We can help each other find the way out.

When you have had part of your life ripped away is when you begin to know the true value of it.  

All over the world today, people making the choice. Some even when it would be much easier to choose death.

Choose life with me today?