Climb on the saddle …

” You trained me well. You broke me, a wild yearling horse, to the saddle. Now put me, trained and obedient, to use. You are my God.” Jeremiah 31:18

John WayneFor the pasts three days I’ve worn a shawl of sadness on my heart–not the overwhelming feeling of wanting to cry, but a feeling that nags at me. I’m sure if I looked up the stages of grief, sadness is one that continues throughout the grief cycle along with anger, denial, frustration, etc.

A couple of days ago I called my friend Cindy, who was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. I’ve been wanting to call her, but at the same time, I didn’t want to open the valve to all the emotional feelings I’ve been going through. But I call her because I wanted her to know I was thinking of her, praying for her, and that I love her dearly.

I’ve never been on a horse saddle. They don’t look comfortable, nor safe without a seat belt. But life’s like that. If I hadn’t mustered up the courage to call Cindy, I would have missed the opportunity to take an emotional ride with her. But in Cindy’s way, as a loving caregiver, she didn’t let me fall off the saddle. We spent precious time catching up news of her family, her medical treatments, what’s on her bucket list, and where she is with her spiritual life.

Dear Lord, give me the courage to climb up on my emotional saddle. Amen.

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Your voice …

words“It’s true that I [Paul] don’t have their voice, haven’t mastered that smooth eloquence that impresses you so much. But when I do open my mouth, I at least know what I’m talking about.” 2 Corinthians 11:5-6

Turn on the TV and your ears become filled with the sound of voices–especially people arguing  about everything from religion, politics, finances, and even sports. I tire of listening to people argue and wonder if those who argue the most were the least heard during their childhood. It seems once their voice was found, they enjoyed exercising it.

As a child I was an introvert–probably dwarfed by my older brothers. Gradually throughout my life experiences, the true extrovert came out. I believe it peaked when I discovered the craft of writing, which led to public speaking.

I took personal and spiritual growth classes which gave us time to journal our thoughts and share with the rest of the group. One evening I read a short narrative, and after discussing my writing, the leader of the class said, “You have found your writer’s voice.” This was the first time I had heard that writers have a “voice,” an author’s individual writing style.

The Bible is a book of voices–words penned by witnesses or from messengers sent to  speak for God to guide us on our faith journey. It is good to “find our voice” but it comes along with responsibility to use it wisely.

Dear Lord, give us a voice to share the Good News. Amen.

 

 

 

 


 

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Filling your belly …

“You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat. Matthew 5:6

FoodOne thing I have observed from wild and domestic animals is they eat to survive, not survive to eat. With all the cooking shows on TV, and all kinds of restaurants in our towns, it appears we are a nation of  “foodies” who survive to eat.

Since my stomach surgery, I have had to adjust the amount and types of food I can digest and fit into the category of eating to survive. But unfortunately, I am a stress eater. When I’m working on a project, or under other kinds of stress, I wear a path to the kitchen and search for something sweet to eat, like cookies. The next trip to the kitchen is for a salty fix to keep from wanting more cookies, which turns into a crazy cycle.

After Glen died, my body reacted to the shock and grief with digestives issues, and for a few weeks, I had no appetite and had to watch what I ate. When I physically began to feel better, I returned to stress eating for instant satisfaction and to avoid the empty place in my soul.

I am grateful that I never chose alcohol or drugs over cookies and chips to feed my soul. That would have created an even bigger problem than belly fat.

Lord, help us feed on your love and grace at all times. Amen.

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All bark?

“Steer clear of the barking dogs, those religious busybodies, all bark and no bite.” Philippians 3:2

PretendThe other day as my daughter and I were leaving the house, I asked, “Aren’t you going to lock the door?” She laughed and said, “Do you really think anyone would enter the house with two 70-pound dogs barking their heads off?” Teva and Chaco are fierce barkers, but would lick you to death before mauling you. I consider them good “alarm” dogs only.

I’m wondering how many people I know are all bark and no bite, too. When I was a kid the German pastor at our church occasionally, during a sermon, would pound his fist on the pulpit and raise his voice, but during Luther League, he was a big soft “papa.” He did get his point across in and out of the pulpit.

I think of Donald Trump and how he barks a lot when out stumping for support. Is there a “no bite” in his personality? Recently, I heard him interviewed, and when asked about his demeanor said something like this, “I don’t have to act presidential until I am the president.” He knows his performance on stage has brought him attention–especially by many who never were interested in politics before.

I doubt if anyone can pretend to be one person and suddenly act differently 24/7, just as a dog cannot be taught to not bark or bite.

Lord, help us discern the motives of those who bark the loudest. Amen.

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We must take risks …

“Don’t gamble on the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, hocking your house against a lucky chance. The time will come when you have to pay up; you’ll be left with nothing but the shirt on your back.”  Proverbs 22:26-27

winstonchurchill124653Fifteen years ago when Glen and I moved to Arizona we bought a single-wide mobile home instead of putting money into renting an apartment until we decided where we wanted to live in the valley. Three years later, we decided to buy a home and spent weeks looking for something we could live in forever.

We found a home in Sun City, and when the seller dropped the listing price $10,000, we jumped on the deal and settled into our “forever” home. (If you want to make God laugh, tell him your “forever” plans.) Three years later (in 2008), the housing market took a big nosedive around the country. Our financial advisor recommended we try to short-sale our home that had depreciated 50% and cut our losses. When this failed, the house went into foreclosure—a word that had not been in our vocabulary. We had gambled and lost.

We can’t get through life without taking risks or gambling on purchases, relationships, or businesses, etc. Through the grace of God, there is life after losing something we thought to be “forever.” So, we gambled and purchasing a foreclosed home, knowing there are no guarantees of it being our forever home.

Thank you, Lord, for second chances, or more, in life. Amen.

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Clothing doesn’t make the person …

“There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.” Matthew 6:25-26

clothesGarage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores are my favorite places to shop. On Father’s Day, Susan and I went for a drive and found a huge garage sale with more clothing than some department stores. I dug through stacks of garments and found three skirts for fifty cents each. They looked brand new! When I put them into my closet, I felt a sense of pride in all the items I have purchased in the last month at thrift stores and the sale rack at T.J.MAXX—pants, capris, shirts, and skirts—which all together cost less than one nice garment at Macy’s.

Today as I read the scripture above, there’s “more to your outer appearance than the clothes …,” I had a moment of “buyer’s remorse.” I was reminded that God doesn’t care what I wear and I doubt if anyone else does either. So, why all the new clothes? Perhaps my recent clothes buying-spree has a deeper meaning. Am I attempting to toss out my former self, like a stained blouse, and move on to a new life?

Certainly, a new outfit makes me feel good about myself, but five new outfits can’t change the fact that I am moving on alone.

Lord, I am grateful you can see through my attempt to clothe my body to sooth my soul. Amen.

 

 

 

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What’s in your junk drawer?

“…. You may think you have cleaned out the junk from your lives and gotten ready for God, but you weren’t hospitable to my kingdom message, and now all the devils are moving back in.” Matthew 12:45

imageMy daughter Susan said every time she’s moved, she dumped the contents of a junk drawer into a storage tub. She’s moved many times, and I’m sure the tub is filled with interesting items. Today I’m thinking about stuff in my junk drawer back home. It’s probably  similar to Susan’s stuff–unidentifiable screws, keys, batteries, bread bag ties, a game piece, coupons, etc. Most of it could be tossed, but I keep them “just in case.”

My mental junk drawer looks more like this: Unresolved issues with a long-time friend, feelings of inadequacy, fear of failure, resentment of missed opportunities, a worthless worry box filled with “what if’s,” and guilt for all the times I’ve disappointed people I love.

I pray one day my junk drawer will be replaced with a “blessings” drawer filled with people to pray for and answered prayers, plans for future volunteering opportunities, and a never-ending abundance of love, peace, and joy.

In Matthew, Jesus referred to the “junk” in the lives of the Pharisees. They wanted Jesus to believe they had dumped their “junk drawers,” but because they failed to change their ways, Jesus told them the Devil would eventually move back in.

Lord, help us dump our “junk” drawer and keep it from filling up again. Amen.

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Honor the man who gave you life …

“Pay close attention, friend, to what your father tells you;never forget what you learned at your mother’s knee.” Proverbs 1:8

imageIt has been ten years since my father passed away at the age of 91. The unique part of his story is that many times throughout his life, he was hospitalized for heart issues. When I was thirteen, One Sunday morning my uncle came into our house and woke up my three brothers and me to take us to the hospital to see Dad because they didn’t think he would make it. Well, his heart was tough enough to withstand hours of beating around 200 beats per minute and for him to continue to work well into his 60’s.

I guess I thought Glen would live to be 90 also. Why not? His heart was good, no apparent cancer, and his vital statistics and blood work were solidly within the healthy range. However, one can be healthy but without the ability for the lungs to move oxygen through the body, one cannot live.

So today, on Father’s Day, I’m thinking of two good fathers–my father who taught me values of working hard for what I want and to be faithful to my beliefs and my husband, who wasn’t the “Father Knows Best” type of guy out playing catch with his son or teaching his daughters to dance, but the one who showed them one doesn’t have to be heard to teach.

Dear Lord, bless all the fathers for who they are and how they have contributed to their families. Amen.

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Covered with grace …

“It’s common knowledge that ‘God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.’” James 4:6

imageFacebook brings back old posts at random, and today this message surfaced from one I posted five years ago: “When God takes something from your grasp, he’s not punishing you, but merely opening your hands to receive something better.” The unknown source of this statement added, “The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.”

Not for one minute have I felt God punished me from the loss of my husband, nor anything else that has not gone my way. Instead, I feel God is opening my hands and heart to good days ahead.

And, God has never failed to keep me covered in all my prior ventures–some which I later chalked up as  “If I known then what I know now, I might not have ….” When I followed Glen to California, within weeks of graduating from high school, everything fell into place–a temporary office job I found with no office experience, shelter in a YWCA with cooking privileges, and even connecting with my mother’s best friend from elementary school who lived close by and treated me like a daughter.

Now as I venture into new territories and adventures, I will hang on to the promise that God will not take me anywhere that grace won’t follow–and change my course when necessary.

Thank you, Lord, for never-ending love and grace. Amen.

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Having it all …

“Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say. “More, more.” I have God’s more-than-enough, More joy in one ordinary day. Psalm 4:6-7

IMG_0157 (2)As I flipped through the June 6 edition of People magazine, a story of Steve Harvey captured my attention… “From Homeless to Having it All.” Having it all… Really? I’ve worked with editors of a major magazine and know the writer of an article has little control over the title. I doubt if Steve Harvey would say he has it “all.” His fame certainly is part of “all,” but not everything. Fortune buys him everything he wants, but he can’t buy it “all,” and he is quite content with what he has.

It made me think of what it would mean to “have it all.” Even Jesus didn’t get everything he wanted. People ignored his preaching. His disciples fell short of his expectations. He probably didn’t get a bath when he wanted one or a good meal every day. He had a mission in life, and it wasn’t about him getting what he wanted. It was about giving so that others could have a chance at a good life.

I have neither fame nor fortune, but I have more than enough—family, friends, shelter. food, and adequate resources and possessions to be self-sufficient. But if I didn’t have my faith, I’d have nothing. Life would be joyless, less meaningful, and I’d have nothing to look forward to in the future.

Dear Lord, help us to realize when “enough” is having it all. Amen.

 

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