Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: From Jesus Calling to A Praying Heart

Looking back at the tapestry of 2012, two important threads I see from the first day to this finale are Jesus Calling and A Prayerful Heart.

I bought the Jesus Calling daily devotional book for myself for Christmas last year after learning about it shortly after my Dad died in late October of 2011. Not long into the year, I bought the Facebook app that offered quick and constant access to the narrative and Scriptural reminders to trust God and to thank Him in every circumstance.

A Prayerful Heart was a Christmas gift from my niece. She lives in California, and we have only met in person once or twice, but she managed to give me a gift that enriched my spiritual development in a major way this year.

I don't yet have new devotionals for 2013. I know I will continue getting and reading daily emails from The Upper Room and also the cultural commentary the Denison Forum, which has a strong prayer focus. And I will continue to read two daily readings from 12-step devotionals.

A part of me feels anxious about not having something new planned and ready. One that I've thought of is My Utmost for His Highest, which I'm pretty sure I bought years ago and never read, although I have no idea where it is. Or maybe this should be a year to commit again to read through the Bible.

But the lesson I take from this year's spiritual journey is, since it is Dec. 31 and I don't yet know, then it is OK not to know or have a plan. One of the things I've seen over and over this year, including in its final weeks, is that my plans just seem to provide God an opportunity to show me a better way. But He also shows me that better way when I don't have a plan.

Not knowing need not be a problem. That's true with what I plan to do today -- and it's true with my plans for a new year, including what new disciplines I might feel inclined to undertake. It's true with what to do about nagging health and pain issues that have arisen in the past year, and it's true about long-term and ongoing issues such as indecision, selfishness and insecurity that manifest in strained relationships, lost opportunities and an uncomfortably cluttered personal environment.

What I'm trying to express is that it does me no good to think I must find the way to resolve any of these issues. What I'm learning over and over, reinforced multiple times in this past year, is that my role is to put God first, to seek Him, to love Him, to thank Him and to trust Him. The changes will flow -- and are flowing -- from that. It's simple but not easy. But it's a pathway I pray I will never leave -- and I do trust that it will lead me to be more generous and compassionate and loving, to God's glory.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas every day -- and an everyday Christmas

When my heart is grateful, everyday is Christmas. When my heart is grateful, I see gifts from God all around me. 

Sometimes the gifts include things that go as planned:

-- Mom's visit. 

-- the Christmas cantata. 

-- caroling.

-- Christmas shopping. 

-- Dec. 23 worship and Christmas celebration with my mom and all the family in Texas.

Sometimes the gifts materialize as things don't go as planned:

-- The forecast of a Christmas Day blizzard caused us some concern as we were packed up and prepared to head to Texas late Dec. 22. We had left plenty of food and water for our kitty, but what if we got stranded? How grateful I am that I could call, at that very last minute, members of our church who live in our neighborhood. They were available and willing to check on Bridget and also pick up our newspapers.  

-- The Christmas Day blizzard forecast eventually changed the timing of the gathering with my husband's family. We were still able to have that celebration, also in Texas, but a little sooner than planned. Then we raced back to Norman ahead of the storm. I was able to attend an amazingly spiritual Christmas Eve candlelight Communion service ending at midnight at my church.

-- Christmas Day for us, and for many others I know, ended up being, with just a dusting of snow, slightly white but mostly uncharacteristically quiet. More than once I thought, and later heard others say, it didn't seem like Christmas. 

That's pretty much what gave birth to these thoughts. Without the family gathering, it didn't seem like Christmas. But it got me to thinking more about what Christmas should seem like.  My heart was still filled with the warmth and joy of spending time with the bunches of loved ones in the family and also at church.  But now I had the gift of a chance to more deeply contemplate God's great gift of love through the birth of His Son, Jesus, Who would become the Savior of the world. 

And it reminded me that His gifts  of love and life and joy and peace and ever-present help are with me always. And there are so many other gifts if I will but look and see and accept. Another awesome aspect to God's gifts, whether on Christmas Day or everyday, is that these gifts actually grow as we share them. 

As this Christmas season and year wind down, my heart's desire is to stay aware of, grateful for and generous with God's gifts, to His glory. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Grateful for God's great gifts

At Christmas and always, i am grateful  for God's great gifts:








--Salvation through His son, Jesus Christ. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Start with one true sentence

This may be  just more random stuff. I'm still struggling to find words and time to express in writing.

Here's the deal: My mind keeps telling me that if I'm going to post something to a blog, it needs to be provocative or witty or compelling in some way. And many times I don't think I have that in me.

But I have to remember that for me, for now, the first role of the blog is the description from which the term comes: a web blog or online journal. It's a place where I write about things that were meaningful to me. It's for my record as much as anything.

Inspiration from Facebook Monday came morning, via The Writers Circle, quoting James A. Michener: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” (He didn't say every sentence had to have a verb.)

-- Preparing for Mom's visit. The miracle of the sleepable bed. As late as 5 p.m. Friday, and maybe 6, I was wondering whether Mom would have to sleep on the sofa sleeper in the living room instead of the bed in the front room. But I said a prayer and kept working at the front room. And somehow, before I needed to head to the train station at 8:30, I had the bed cleaned off and made, with enough space for her to walk on a vacuumed carpet! And I had time to clean the bathroom she would be sharing with the cat and also do some other things. I would have never thought all that possible at 5 p.m.

-- The carolers in the rain at the train station.

-- Mom willing to go to choir rehearsal, Gene's banquet and then to hear the cantata.

-- Dropping my phone and breaking the front glass. I don't have time to get it taken care of. Fortunately, it still works right now. But I'm aware of risks that I am taking that could leave me without my phone and mobile connection to so many things I've come to rely on.

-- Thinking I lost my credit card for the second time since September, in conjunction with buying gas. How relieved I felt to find it in that pocket. Yes, I prayed. Yes, I rejoiced when I found it!

-- Where to even begin this week. Remember the miracle of the sleepable bed.

-- Am I gaining weight? What am I going to do about it? Being aware is an important first step. Even a little extra weight brings along too many other problems that I just don't want to deal with. So -- why doesn't thinking of that keep me from grabbing one more bite? Even at Christmas, I don't want the problems that overeating bring. I pray for help and see that God can help me and is, through prayer and understanding people.

-- Reaction to Connecticut school tragedy. There really are no words. First-graders and their teachers? My first reaction: What is wrong with this world? I actually posted it, adding that it was a rhetorical question that I didn't really want people to comment on. For some reason, when I hit post, it did not show up. That's probably just as well. Even in the face of such a tragedy, God is God, and God is good, and He works through His people. I pray for all involved, which in one way or another is everyone in our society.

-- Response to my picture in the paper. I continue to be pleasantly surprised when people congratulate me after seeing a picture taken more than 10 years ago and that continues to show up in the paper in connection with a copy editing award I won earlier this year. One of the thoughts it brings: Yay, they still see the newspaper! Many of my friends no longer do.

-- The interconnectedness of things.

-- The scatteredness of things. I wrote that because I'm including a response I wrote but didn't post  to a Facebook comment about the choir's "lovely performance": I do hope and pray it was more than a performance. If it's not about the message, we are wasting our talent and breath. But I'm probably just drawing on memories of some past cantatas I've been involved with where part of the listeners' role was to extend grace to a struggling choir and pray for God's glory to rise above the noise (or lack thereof, sometimes!)!!!

Facebook summation of weekend: What a grand weekend for me! I love it when my Mom visits, and since she spent much of her time sharing along with me the fellowship and music of some of my favorite folks -- the Goodrich church choir -- well, that made it even grander. And we got to hear Gene give a talk, which we both found interesting. My only regrets: I didn't get a picture taken with Mom at our beautifully decorated church, and Gene woke up sick Sunday and was not able to attend church to hear the cantata.

Hope springs eternal, and I need that hope as I enter another week with more to do that I know how to get done. I will remember not only the miracle of the sleepable bed, but also the miracle of Christ's birth in a manger and God's great gifts of love. Joy to the world! The Lord is with us!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Motives, regrets, still learning, still sharing

This starts with notes jotted down during and after church, and continues with whatever comes ...

-- I regret missing the celebration of life at my church in Norman for a photographer whom I did not know personally, but who apparently touched the lives of many, many people I know and care about professionally and at church. But I had to think about my reasons for regretting not attending, considering that I don't think I knew him at all or his family very well, even though they attend the church. Were my reasons selfish? It seems so. I didn't know him. But I know many people who knew him. And it was at my church. Ultimately, the reason I didn't go is when it was the morning after my work shift that ended not that many hours earlier. But I still wish I had gone. I don't know how many times this will have to happen before I learn: Go. Be there.

-- On the other hand, I also struggled with not going to what I still consider the home church in Gainesville to see my great-niece as Mary in its Christmas pageant. I knew there would be pictures and possibly video, but those don't capture the special moments for a sweet little girl and her younger sister before, after and as they did their part to share the story of Christ's birth. But in this case, I can say "Go. Be there." still played out, but it had a different tune. I went instead to my church in Norman, where the children's "What Christmas Means to Me" program  blessed me in a special way, especially as I watched two precious young sisters who reminded me of my young great-nieces and their even younger cousin, and how sweet it is to watch them grow up learning the traditions of the church. The service also included baptisms of two equally precious little sisters. And to cap it all, our choir director sang an aria from "The Messiah" that likely will make anything the choir can do for its cantata next Sunday seem pale by comparison. Fortunately, it is not a competition. God can be glorified in all, and I believe He was and is.

-- Perhaps an even bigger capstone  to the worship service for me was what happened afterward. I had no thought of picking up an Angel from the Angel Tree ministry. I was just trying to find out if anything was left to buy from the youths' bake sale. But the person I asked thought I was asking about Angel Tree. I almost said, no, that's not what I was asking, but I caught myself, and quickly asked to see what they had. I ended up buying size 8 clothes for a 4-year-old girl who has at least one parent in prison. As I thought about that today, I couldn't even imagine what it would be like to be 4 years old (or any age, for that matter) and have a parent in prison. It brings tears to my eyes to realize how blessed I and my family are -- and yet I struggle with selfishness. I worry about giving too much and end up giving very little of my money or my time. Seriously. Sadly. And it's very hard to break the pattern. I'm grateful for one small step and praying for more progress in this area. (And -- I also found the bake sale leftovers and bought something to support the youths.)

My prayer is that God please help me not be selfish as I experience and share His blessings. And may I continue to grow and learn from missteps, trusting God to work all things for His great good.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Time to get ready -- and fear not

It's Advent. Many United Methodists as well as lots of Christians from other traditions use the period starting with the fourth Sunday ahead of Christmas as a time to reflect and prepare spiritually before Christmas, which at its heart is a celebration recalling God's great gift of His only Son, to save from sin the world's people, whom He created and loves.

Some years, I've been all in with daily devotionals (some of which used meditations that were written and shared by church members including myself) or other practices with an Advent theme.

This year, I really didn't think I would do anything extra for Advent. I recently took on a spiritual discipline that includes writing down each day a goal and also looking back at the day just passed to identify some service I did; some surprise from God; and two things for which I am grateful. This is supposed to be simple, but I've found it to be fairly challenging, especially trying to identify something I've done in a day that might be considered service. It has been a good exercise, though, and seems to be one more step toward clarifying what is important in my life from daily and longer-term perspectives.

Today is the ninth day of that exercise, and what I've seen so far is that it seems to be helping me go beyond what I might have done some other days. More than once I've had to stretch to identify something I would call service, and one day, I just said I couldn't identify anything. I mean, is having a good attitude at work really a service? But that's all I could come up with one day.

By the weekend, I was choosing to do things that just a few I days ago I wouldn't have bothered to do. Among them: socializing with two groups of friends, conversations with sisters and meeting my husband for a meal on Saturday. On Sunday, I went to a church meeting I hadn't known about in advance and really didn't want to take time to attend. But its timing seemed somewhat custom-made for me, and so I went, and I was blessed in unexpected ways.

This all comes amid some changes at work that don't affect what I do, but do affect some of whom I do it with. And change typically unsettles me. Plus, this week I'm on an unstructured vacation time -- lots of things "on my list," but nothing I have to get done -- which in the past has often ended up with me feeling lots of regret for wasted time and opportunities.  I was feeling my most unsettled Friday night and pretty much dreading the week ahead. But one step and decision at a time, I feel blessed. The hardest part will be accepting that whatever I do is enough. God truly tells me it is, but I'm not always a believer.

Back to Advent. I think this is probably covered in my new writing exercise, but for this period, I want to be sure and do at least one thing each day that I would not have done if not for this focus. Yesterday, it was the church meeting. Today, I hope it will be followup correspondence with two friends.

I need structure and guidelines and goals, and yet I feel apprehensive about not being able to live up to expectations when they are in place. But, again, I think of Advent, and Mary's response when she was told she, a virgin, would give birth to a son -- the son of God. Was she afraid? Maybe initially. But soon a song poured forth from her heart. (See Luke 1:26-55.)  And she has been blessed through the ages.

I don't think God has anything like that planned out for me, but I do think He has a plan. I continue to pray to humbly seek and trust and obey and praise Him, knowing that fear is overcome by faith (even though I may not realize that until I look back!).

Monday, November 26, 2012

Unexpected blessings

The blog is becoming a bit of a burden, so I may need to take a break.
And yet, the things that are going on that keep me from writing are things I would like to be sharing.

The problem is that, as meaningful and satisfying as it can be for me to express myself in writing, most of the time it is not easy. It is painstaking and time-consuming.

The Thanksgiving week was full of such examples.

-- What seemed to be unrelated occurrences, tied to past accolades, brought together from their separate ways three women who really do share a strong bond of friendship.

-- The complexity brought by not taking a day off from work helped me   appreciate more something simple like Thanksgiving brunch at IHOP with my husband.

-- A clear answer to prayer emerged. I'd been praying for several weeks -- maybe months now -- to make a step of progress in my 12-step recovery. More recently, several positive signs were present, and Saturday and Sunday brought the opportunity to say a prayer and take action! Taking this step is scary for me, yet I see God showing me all along the way that it is time and He will bless my faithful response.

-- The first prayer walk in more than a month was just one more unexpected blessing of Thanksgiving Day. Even though I volunteered to work my usual night shift, I not only was able to share a morning and a meal with my husband, I also was able to take a walk on a glorious fall day. Something about that walk along the neighborhood trail and around the pond infuses by spirit and recharges my soul. I am most likely at such times to pray for everyone and everything on my "list," and also to smile and sing aloud or silently as my heart overflows with praise, gratitude and joy.

There are many others, but the to-do list beckons as I continue to strive to balance prayer and faith and expression and self-care with service, responsibility and accountability.

And yes, the blog was on the list; it just wasn't high enough that I thought I would get it done today. But when I sat down to read and write in my prayer journal (after the cat jumped in my lap and commenced to purring, the prayer soundtrack), the words somehow inspired me to pick up my iPhone and start composing this little note.

The words were about walking with God over a lifetime. The writing prompt was to express some of the things I love about walking with God.

What I wrote:

... I am never alone.
... I see Your glory wherever I look.
... I have hope.
... I can do all things and believe all things are possible through You.
... I feel Your love.
... When You are big in my life, I am not a problem.

And wow!
Thank you, God, for one more shower of unexpected blessings! May I use them to Your glory.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gratitude: Don't take it for granted

I'm grateful that, for the most part, I don't take God's grace for granted.

And I'm grateful that, when I do start to take it for granted, not only does He love me anyway and continue to extend grace, He also offers me precious gifts of new opportunities to see His goodness and to glorify Him.

I will be writing more about this soon, God willing ....

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Lessons along the way

It's another blog deadline, and I've about decided I'll never get this on the track I had hoped to take. November 5 was the third anniversary of That's The Spirit, and all I can say is: It is what it is.

Well, no, that's not true.  I can say more. And so I will!

What I write and share here is helping me grow as a person. It helps me look for the good and express gratitude. It helps keep me accountable. It helps keep me humble. It helps keep me hopeful.

I'm still so far behind on the things I want to write and share. I'm pretty sure I will never catch up. And once again, I really don't have time to spend here today. The past two weeks have overflowed with examples of how God works all things for good if we -- including me -- will only seek Him and open our hearts and eyes and minds and lives to receive Him. I don't even know where to begin in listing them.

-- I thought the first anniversary of my Dad's death would finally bring the flood of tears, and even more so when, less than a week later, my Mom's oldest brother reached the end of his earthly journey that included some final steps similar to Dad's. But tears didn't flow. Instead, there were just continued opportunities to live and love and remember and move forward with family and friends.

-- I thank God daily for my Mom and the amazing woman she is. God truly blesses me through her. The chance to make the 985-mile trip from the North Texas farm to Fort Stockton in far West Texas and back to the farm with her was just one more example. I see so many ways in which she is a peacemaker, and this is what I desire to be. I've seen her grow more and more into this role over the years, and that gives me hope that I, too, can do it. I also admire and seek to emulate her examples as optimist and encourager.

There is so much more, but this is all I have time for. I cannot describe the peace and gratitude I feel this moment, even as so many things -- insurance questions, work, messy house, all kinds of decisions -- continue to be unsettled. I trust God to show me the way through, as He has done in the past for me and all who seek Him. I thank Him for His mercy, love and grace. I pray to know and do His will, one moment at a time, to His glory. And now, I must go forth with joy! I'll probably be singing along the way. Thank You, God.

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."  (Matthew 5:9)

"Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing." (1 Thessalonians 5:11 NASB)

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."   (Galatians 22-23)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


So, yes, there will be more ...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thinking of heaven and faithful witnesses there and on earth.

I know the reason my thoughts keep drifting to heaven and that amazing cloud of witnesses there is because my Dad joined that faithful throng one year ago today.

My Dad. Charles Davidson. The Psalmist's son, making me a daughter of the Psalmist's son! No wonder Psalm 23, "The Lord is my Shepherd ...," resonates continually in my life, and never more than today.

I also have a cloud of godly witnesses on Earth, and they bring meaning, focus and joy to this journey. Many are known to me, including my family and dear friends. But others I only know through those connections -- and nowadays even sometimes the earthly witness comes through the unlikely channel of Facebook.

These are a couple of the ties that bind that have lifted me in unexpected ways in the past year. (I hope I get the details right; feel free to correct me if I don't, so I can set the record straight.)

-- Jesus Calling daily devotional by Sarah Young.

I was introduced to this by my Mom, right after Daddy's Oct. 30 passing. She said she was uplifted by the words for Oct. 30, including:

I am with you. I am with you. I am with you. Heaven’s bells continually peal with that promise of My Presence. Some people never hear those bells because their minds are earthbound and their hearts are closed to Me. Others hear the bells only once or twice in their lifetimes, in rare moments of seeking Me above all else. My desire is that My “sheep” hear My voice continually, for I am the ever-present Shepherd. ...

Rather than Psalm 23, the Scripture was John 10:14, 27-28: "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me… My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”

As for the cloud of witnesses, Mom had told me she was sent the Jesus Calling book by the godly, recently widowed grandmother of one of her grandsons. I think I saw Mom reading from the devotional or heard her comment on it a few other times before Christmas, so I ended up buying myself a copy to start the year. I now have it as a phone app, too, and read the Scriptures and meditations daily -- often more than once. They focus me on seeking and staying in and being grateful for God's presence, and to trust Him and thank Him in all things. It continues to be transformative for me. And my sharing of how it has helped me has also connected with at least a few other people seeking the same kind of renewed focus on and trust in God. Does that mean I'm also part of the earthly cloud of witnesses? I am humbled and blessed.

-- The plant I brought home after Daddy's celebration of life. But alas, I am out of time, so I will have to write about this later. Stayed tuned.

For now, in closing, I'll just again express my love and thanks to God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, my own Mom and Dad and the great spiritual witnesses in heaven and on earth.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Thinking of Charlie D. -- Yes, that's my Dad

Tuesday will be the first anniversary of  my father's death. One of the requests he made when he knew his days were numbered was that I come up with a song about Charlie D.'s farm, to the tune of "E-I-E-I-O," to sing at the gathering after his celebration of life. Yep, that's my Dad! That request, which was fulfilled with great help from my youngest sister, Amy, on the lyrics, has been very much on my mind, along with other memories from his life, especially that last couple of years as God graciously carried our family in His loving arms.

Of course, my heart still feels heavy with the loss and there is an empty place in my life that will never be refilled on this earth, but my strongest feelings when I think of my Dad are just how grateful I am to God for His blessings to our family and the moments we were given and still get to cherish and love and be there for each other. Daddy wasn't perfect, and none of us are, but God's love that binds us truly can and does overcome our shortcomings, even as we can strive to do better. I thank God for His loving presence and blessings, and continue to pray daily (or close to it) for my precious mom and all of our family.

Charlie D’s Farm

Ol’ Charlie D he had a farm, EIEIO
And on that farm he lived his life, EIEIO.
As a little boy, as a family man
And he made it pretty clear he'd be there to the end.
Ol’ Charlie D he had a farm, EIEIO.

Charlie Davidson had a farm, EIEIO.
And from his dad he learned to work, EIEIO.
Hauling hay bales here, working wheat fields there.
Herd the cows, feed the pigs
Lots and lots of farm chores.
Charlie Davidson had a farm, EIEIO.

Ol’ Charlie Davidson had a farm, EIEIO.
And to that farm he took his wife, Siegmund, Alice Ruth.
With a milk plant job, workin' night shift there
Wearin' whites, smelling whey
To feed a growin' family.
Ol’ Charlie D he had a farm, EIEIO.

Ol’ Charlie Davidson had a farm, EIEIO.
And on that farm they raised six kids, EIEIO.
With a Becky here and a Barbie there
Here a Mike, there a Pat, then they had a Kathy.
Turns out 5 was not enough,
So then came Amy Lou.

Ol’ Charlie D he had a farm, EIEIO.
And on that farm he had some cows, EIEIO.
Plus hogs, chickens, cats and dogs , EIEIO.
With a moo moo here, an oink oink there, a squawk and a bark and then a lot of meow
Ol’ Charlie D he had a farm, EIEIO.

Ol’ Charlie D he had a farm, EIEIO.
And on that farm he taught his kids the value of hard work.
Pulling sunflowers here, grooming show stock there
Building fence, catching calves
Loving land and family.
Ol’ Charlie D had a farm, EIEIO.

Dear Charles B. Davidson had a farm, EIEIO
And on that farm he lived his life, EIEIO
Watching grandkids grow, seeing great-grands born
A legacy, stretching far
On and on and onward.
Old Charlie Davidson had a farm, AND WE LOVE HIM SO!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sometimes God makes His message very clear

Sometimes, God makes it really clear where my focus should be.

This is how it unfolded Friday.

Reading this:

The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  (Exodus 33:14)

in Jesus Calling made me think of one of my go-to Scriptures, which speaks directly to what I need today:

(paraphrased) Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.

Then I read on Facebook:

"You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you."  
 (Isaiah 26:3, NIV, Copyright © Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV)

And then in my Upper Room devotional:

"Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace — in peace because they trust in you." (Isaiah 26:3, NRSV)

And so, dear Lord, I pray to do so: to keep my focus on You. I desire Your peace. Please help me live to Your glory, today and always.

(Another interesting note: My A Praying Heart journal reminded me of the importance of prayerfully reading and meditating on God's word, clearly an important part of getting Him back to first place in my heart and life. So, I went to the full chapters of the excepts referenced above. The Exodus passage included Moses' cry for God to "Show me You glory." This was also part of Tuesday's A Praying Heart devotion, and it noted how God showed His glory in His goodness. This stuck with me, and now it seems to be reinforced. Things don't always fit together, but it seems to help me when they do. And my daily prayer continues to be: Thank you, God, for Your mercy, love and grace. Please help me know and do Your will, one moment at a time, in all things, to Your glory. I thank You for Your presence. I trust You, Lord.)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Truth, consequences and matters of perspective

I continue going through a weary phase. I find myself not wanting to do anything.
Sometimes taking a break is the right thing. I did that weekend before last, because my body was physically exhausted and in pain. Even then, while I skipped some commitments and tasks, I maintained a base level of activity.

When it's more of an emotional weariness, finding that balance between taking a break and taking care of the basics is just as important.

The thing I was aware of today is that there are physical and emotional consequences for me if I don't take care of some of those basics.

For instances:
-- I'm really tired of going to physical therapy and doing additional back exercises at home. The therapy is time-consuming and several of the exercises are uncomfortable. But I like the consequences of not going even less: right-side pain below and left-side pain above where my spine has that significant curve.
-- I've been wanting to watch a few new TV series in recent months, including "Dallas" a while back and last Wednesday and last night, "Nashville." But I know what happens when I start watching TV series or soap operas. I get hooked in and start building my schedule around them -- and then feel guilty for wasting my time and even tireder.
-- When I'm tired, weary or overwhelmed, I have that natural tendency to reach for a pick-me-up snack. The things I reach for are supposedly healthy. But as I've written many times: For me, if hunger isn't the problem, food is not an answer; it just adds to the problem. (It's somewhat similar to the issues involved with watching serial TV.) But the temptation still comes around, and sometimes I act on it.  And then I am heavy with the load. The days I manage to "keep it simple" foodwise, I always end up feeling better afterward. Always! I'm praying to stay focused on God to nourish my spirit instead of turning to mindless eating today.

And here is some perspective for me:
-- Think of the mess I'd be in if the Texas Rangers were still playing baseball. I don't want to think God took them out for my own good, but the thought has crossed my mind more than once.
-- I was complaining about how insurance is handling my physical therapy costs, and now I've learned it would be the same even if I had ended up going to the hospital emergency room and perhaps eventually for traction or back surgery. I'd have to meet my deductible before percentages and co-pays kick in. The interesting perspective: That goes to show how long it has been since I've needed medical care beyond office visits, lab work and services and treatments covered by co-pays.

In closing, a Facebook friend posted this along with a note that Wednesday was the anniversary of when Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. It reminds me of Martina McBride's song "Anyway," which is one of my favorites. And it speaks to why I keep on keeping on.

People are often unreasonable and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
-- Mother Teresa

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Timely Words

I am grateful for many sources of timely words of inspiration in my life. I especially treasure these pearls of wisdom and hope when I'm going through what I call a slump, this time apparently the result of general tiredness of mind, body and spirit, along with (or perhaps fueled by) some physical maladies. These are some that have been particularly helpful in recent days:

-- Upper Room Oct. 8, inspired by Colossians 3:12-17:  "It is much the same with what we learn from God’s word. We can read the Scripture, highlight favorite passages, and make notes in the margins of our Bible. We can attend Bible classes, hear sermons regularly, and discuss what we’ve read. But actually doing something with God’s word is the real work, the evidence that we have read and studied the Scripture. (Written by Pat Rowland, Tennessee)

-- Jesus Calling, Oct. 9, had a beautiful reminder that even though I'm making great strides on keeping my focus on Jesus, which indeed pleases Him, He is distressed when I complain. And the timing was perfect, because, try as I do not to complain, I had found myself doing it more and more. The reading, supported by Philippians 2:14-15, suggests that when I am tempted to grumble aloud to others, I should take it to Jesus, instead, trusting Him to restore His thoughts in my mind and His song in my heart. 

-- Upper Room Oct. 10: Jesus said, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4)
"Like the soybean and corn sprouts sending the roots into the soil, a Christian’s action is to delve into God’s word, the Bible, in order to grow spiritually and to produce fruit. The fruit grows when we spread the good news and lead people to Christ. We can do this by telling our story — what God has done for us. Sometimes we use words; but always we can tell our story by living so that others can see Christ in us. Just as emerging plants receive the sunlight, we want to receive what God sends our way to strengthen us and encourage us for whatever lies ahead." (written by James H. McKelvey, Tennessee)

-- Voices of Recovery, Oct. 11: Just the words I needed to read to remind me that eating over stress, pain, tiredness, frustration or any other problem doesn't help solve the problem. It just adds various other problems. "My Higher Power gives me the choice to be able to say: I don't want to eat that, to go down that path. I know what will happen." I don't always make the right choice for me, but this reminds me that I have experienced the reality that when I do make good choices with food, things go much better. Abstinence from compulsive overeating, for me, really is the softer, easier way.

-- A Praying Heart, Oct. 10, which I read last night as I was wondering how I would get everything done I thought I needed to do before work today. It is titled "Dealing With Distractions." The Scripture is Proverbs 4:23, as presented in The Message: "Keep your eyes straight ahead; ignore all sideshow distractions."
Among the suggestions of the meditation: "When you find yourself wrestling with distractions, you might want to try praying the distractions. That means offering up to God any errant thought that might come to your mind."

-- And then perhaps the most timely, shared by a Facebook friend on Oct. 10, although I can't figure out the source: "The Bible never once says 'Figure it out' but over and over says: 'Trust God.' He's already got it all figured out."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Missed catches and second chances

My efforts to get to a Texas Rangers baseball game this past weekend and then continuing to cheer for them as they squandered what seemed to be their destiny as three-peat American League West champs provided more lessons than I care to count or have time to write about right now. In fact, I don't have time to write about any of them, I realize as I look at the clock.

But I have to write something. So I'll go with this for now:

The Rangers collapsed at the end of the season, just enough to miss out on winning the American League West pennant. They are in the playoffs, which starts with a one-game wild-card match, for the chance to play a series with the top seed. (In an interesting twist, they will be playing Baltimore, a team with a roster filled with Rangers rejects and managed by one, as well. This may not bode well with the way things are going!) The Rangers needed two wins in their final six games to win the pennant, and they only came up with one win. It's one thing when a team lets a championship get away because of injuries or another team playing better. But watching these games, it looked like the Rangers lacked focus. They had chances to win almost every game and squandered the opportunity. What is up with that?

The thing about me and sports, though, is that one way I justify watching them is to take away life lessons. One of my lessons from the Rangers' last 10 games or so is that I have no control over what the players or the manager do. There were some decisions that for the life of me I cannot figure out what they were thinking -- were they thinking at all? It looked like the manager had lost his mind a couple of times -- but that's how baseball goes. I have no control over their decisions or actions. But I do have control over mine.

One of the glaring miscues Wednesday was when former MVP outfielder Josh Hamilton missed a routine catch, allowing two runs to score. Over this troublesome span for the Rangers, this once-sharp player just hasn't been with it. Wednesday's gaffe was painful to be watch.

But I was quickly aware of my own missed catch from the night before. I am a copy editor, and before I left work Wednesday, I saw that there was a correction being printed on a story that had been edited Tuesday and was in Wednesday's paper. A reporter had written billion instead of million in the first paragraph. And -- you guessed it -- it was a story I edited. In my defense, I can say the deadline had been crazy and I didn't have time to think about each detail as much as I would have liked. But I do remember thinking: "Billion? Hmm. That sure seems high." When I read the rest of the story, I was able to rationalize it could be right. I didn't work out the math, but I decided to trust the reporter and think, yeah, that might work.

When the newspaper makes mistakes, we run corrections. The mistake wasn't my fault, but a part of my job in which I take pride is making great catches. (I did make at least two otber significant ones that night.) But I feel as if I blew a great chance. I hope that rather than become paranoid, I can redouble my focus and follow through when I have questions.

The second takeaway is that even though the Rangers blew the race for the pennant -- which would have earned them a tangible title that couldn't be taken away even if they crumble in the playoffs -- they do have a second chance for what may have been their bigger goal this season: Winning the World Series. It looks like a very long shot, but the last two years, when the Rangers were in the Series but didn't win, the title went to teams that started as wild cards. I won't list here the multiple reasons why the Rangers' situation this year is much less promising or inspiring than those of the Giants in 2010 or the Cardinals in 2011, but the Rangers do still have a chance. At least until tomorrow night, when they play that one-game match.

I get second chances, too. Part of what I don't have time to go into right now are events of the weekend that included some miscues on my part. I hope to share them soon. Through prayer that helped keep me aware of God's presence as well as attuned to His guidance and strength and protection and security for my life, everything turned out OK. God blesses me when I turn to Him in prayer and seek His guidance and do my best to trust and obey, and in all things praise Him and give Him the glory.

I pray to stay focused on what I can control or at least influence: My actions. My words. My attitude. My prayers.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A reason to celebrate

In an ideal work world, all hardworking, dedicated workers would get to decide when to give their two-weeks' notice and go out on their own terms, probably after a farewell reception and, at the place I know so well,  getting an original work of art signed by co-workers. 

But after 53 years of living and 31 years of professional employment (one year at a starter job and 30 with my current company), I know it doesn't always work that way.

So, on a a recent Thursday, I shared this little note with my co-workers:

Thirty years ago today, on Sept. 13, 1982, I began spending 38- to 40-plus hours most weeks at what was then known as The Oklahoman and Times. I can only think of one person for sure who has been here in the NIC all that time, but there probably are others. So many of those who were here then have gone, and many others have come and gone.

Given the way employment is these days, and even more so for journalists, I'm glad to still be here. I have had many roles, from reporter and assistant metro editor to religion writer/editor, and now I am editing, proofreading and doing some layout ....

Again, given the economy and our industry, I don't know if I'll be here by the time of my official service anniversary (I didn't go full-time until October 1983), so I decided to have my own little celebration.

At 4 p.m., I'll put cookies, candy, nuts, chips, dips and a few veggies on the table ....

***And remember, if you reply, please send it just to me and not to all. Your co-workers will thank you. No need to reply or say anything to enjoy something sweet or salty.***

The following weekend, I started trying to express why I needed to do this. I think what triggered it was spending the previous week on a 30th wedding anniversary vacation trip that included visiting people I had not seen in a long time. Of course, we tried to catch up on highlights in our lives, including in our careers. That provided lots to talk about, especially since several of us met as journalists.  I loved the conversations.

Afterward, I was aware of some second-guessing about choices that I've made that have led me to where I am right now professionally. But I worked through those fairly quickly, realizing that, any time I have considered doing something else, when I prepare my "balance sheet" of positives and negatives, staying where I am seems right. At first out of desperation and now out of faith, I've always prayed along the way as I've encountered questions, doubts, challenges and crossroads at work. Looking back, it is easy to see that God has used my relationship with my career to help refine my relationship with Him and to trust Him as my ultimate employer. That has provided a sense of hope and security, especially in times in which involuntary workforce reductions have left what to me looked like some of the most skilled, productive, cooperative, willing, dedicated and loyal employees without jobs -- and without the appreciative send-off their years of service deserved.

So, on that Thursday, I said another prayer and hit "send" on the email, casting to God my lingering fears that I would appear vain or attention-seeking. (Is it clear yet that that's not what this is about at all?)  I'm glad I did. Co-workers old and much newer seemed eager to respond graciously -- and I learned there are about 10 in the "news and information" center who have been here as long or longer than me.

The timing also was significant for me because it was the day before I had to have my desk cleaned and belongings packed -- not for a move out of the office, but to relocate to a different floor. Moving is typically a traumatic, down to the last minute process for me, and inviting all those in person and email responses slowed me. But they also seemed to help facilitate what became the smoothest move I've ever experienced.

I may never get that card bearing one of our staff artists' original work reflecting something about me and my years of service, accompanied by signatures and well wishes from co-workers, but God helps me see that as I continue to give my best at work and in all things, seeking to glorify Him, the material things matter less and less. He also helps me see that even though my skills as a reporter (which it's hard for me to imagine now how I ever survived that role!) and now a copy editor are needed and valued, what is  more important is that I strive to maintain a positive, cheerful, helpful attitude each day. I can only do that through faith in God, starting with prayer, strengthened by worship and Bible reading, and blessed as I follow through in action.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Milestones and transitions

I can't think of a month I've ever had with this many milestones and transitions, except perhaps September 1982.

Sept. 1 -- Vacation starts. First meeting at my 12-step group's new office. Spending time with a friend at Arts Festival Oklahoma.

Sept. 2 -- back at my church after missing two Sundays there.

Sept. 3 -- we're off for a vacation to San Antonio by way of McKinney and a visit with a longtime friend in Belton.

Sept. 4 -- 30th wedding anniversary, celebrated along the River Walk in San Antonio.

Sept. 5 -- not going to let a possible health issue slow me down!

Sept. 6 -- catching up with another longtime friend.

Sept. 7 -- after leisurely days and nights along the river, a jam-packed whirlwind return begins. First stop: Aggieland, visiting the newly opened after remodelling Memorial Student Center and  staying through the first Midnight Yell of the SEC era.

Sept. 8 -- busy day of visiting, starting at niece's house near Waco  at 2 am, continuing with husband's sister in McKinney in the afternoon, then meeting their cousin from Florida, for the first time in about 30 years, in Dallas, and finally heading north to my mom's for the night.

Sept. 9 -- more visiting with the cousins, then quickly to eat with mom and more family before returning home to Oklahoma.

Sept. 10 -- a welcome extra vacation day before heading back to big changes it work. If only I had taken time to resolve the health issue!

Sept. 11 -- back to work. The countdown is on for desk cleaning in preparation for the following Monday's move to a different floor.

Sept. 11 -- uh oh. Health issue demands attention. If only I'd gotten antibiotics Monday. Surely this fever will break soon -- and it did.  Little did I know the energy would stay zapped much longer.

Sept. 13 -- back to work after just missing my 4-hour shift on Wednesday. And will I celebrate a personal milestone or not? Yes, I will! Cookies, candy, chips, veggies and dip to share with co-workers in honor of the 30th anniversary of when I started regularly spending usually more than 40 hours a week at the company I work for. I feared it might seem vain or something to call attention to my anniversary, but I also knew co-workers always appreciate good chocolate and other treats. I'm grateful I followed through with what seemed kind of a crazy idea, even to me.

Sept. 14 -- cannot leave work until my space is packed and ready to move. Deadline work is finished about 12:30 am. Departure achieved at 2 am.

Sept. 15-16 -- exhaustion. Not sure if it's aftermath of health issue or stress of moving and the emotions of so  many memory-producing milestones. Probably both. Something about the work move prompted me to call another friend I haven't talked to in a while. Got answering machine. Good even to leave a message.

Sept. 17 -- moving day. And everything seemed to go smoothly. Anything that seemed to be problematic was quickly resolved. I am grateful and amazed.  And so it continued every day of week one.

I still cannot find words to express how grateful I am for all of these experiences. I'm far from perfect in my journey as a Christian, but I've prayed all along the way, and I continued to have faith and look for the good even when obstacles or interruptions or distractions arose. And things always worked out for good. This is so different for me. Traditionally, change and moving paralyze me with fear and anxiety. And getting sick along the way would typically set me back even further.

Despite all the positive changes for which I am so grateful, I know this is just a foundation. I am praying for willingness and ability to shift my focus from so much on myself to more directly on others. Right now, God still seems to be guiding me to share with others as He works on me. So, I continue to wait and watch and pray in faith to see where this all leads.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Waiting .....

I desperately wanted to publish a worthwhile post this week and not another placeholder, but I just cannot do it. I prayed in faith for God to help me make sense of what I was trying to express, and the answer I seemed to get is that it is OK to let that topic  wait. It's OK to just check in this time. But it's still important to check in.

Life is full and rich. I feel gratitude for several recent experiences and insights, and great hope and joy about so many things. But I'm also physically and emotionally exhausted for a variety of reasons.

My biggest fear is that I will forget some of the details of these experiences before I can get them expressed in writing. (Yes, writing helps me remember.)

With prayer, faith and action, everything else has managed to turn out beyond what I could have hoped, so I choose to believe this will, too.

Looking for inspiration just now from one of my daily devotionals, I read this title for tomorrow's entry: Waiting for His Very Best. Hmmmm. Right before I saw that page, I was thinking I needed to find some guidance about waiting. And here it is. "Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord." (Psalm 27:14)

The combination of the title and the Scripture help me believe it will be worth the wait, to see what God has in store, for my words and my life.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

No vacation from trying to find words

Is blog deadline still in effect  when I'm on  vacation? The answer should probably be no, that I can take a break,  but I still feel like I want to post something, even though I don't know what to write. I keep thinking and hoping some little tidbit from the trip will come into sharp, simple  focus, but nothing has. Maybe that's because I also took a bit of a break from intentional, focused prayer.  I read my devotionals and prayed each day, but I seldom made it through the whole list, and my focus was very weak. I did give thanks many times each day and also sought God's direction. I just missed devoting time solely to God.

I think I need to post even these few musings about posting to ease the transition out of vacation. That will also buy me time to compose some more meaningful reflections on an anniversary vacation that was relatively simple but so rich and fulfilling. I can quickly express gratitude here to God  and feel the peace that continues to come from doing even simple things such as responding to the urge, I believe God-given, to try to find words.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

September's song endures

As I turn the page to September
I'm grateful to take time to remember
Rich blessings of friendship, family and spirit.
Sweet music of life: To hear it! To share it!

I am feeling nostalgic. Gene and I, God willing, will celebrate our 30 anniversary on Tuesday. But for the first time in 59 years, Mom and Dad won't celebrate their anniversary this month. That hit me when I was reading the anniversary list in the September newsletter for their church. I felt the same sadness when Daddy's name wasn't on the March birthday list. It's part of that transition in the first year after a loved one's death.

As for me and Gene, I feel humbled and blessed that we've come this far. As delightful as some people make love and marriage look, statistics bear out that it isn't easy, and relationships don't always last. We've had our share of struggles, but before push comes to shove, we somehow manage to kiss and make up. The good far outweighs the bad, and the future remains as bright as we will let it be. I thank God and Gene and also give our families a lot of credit for that!

(For some of my past reflections on the sweet music of life's Septembers, click on the link to my 2010 post;postID=5331822284127896412. The song endures.)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Simple Things, Part 2

Yes, it is possible to compromise and lower my expectations and still go through a period of feeling disappointed, frustrated and really having to struggle to not be resentful. Talk about a test of faith and trust in God. This is it, big time!

I don't understand why certain things in my life are the way they are. I pray in faith for wisdom and understanding, to know and to have strength and courage and willingness and ability to do God's will, to His glory. My attempts to run ahead of God and try to resolve things my own way never end up working. Waiting on and trusting God has always ended up being the right choice.

I want to blame or lash out at another person, but Scripture and prayer remind me that reflects a lack of faith and trust in God. My other tendency is to drift into self-pity or self-loathing -- Woe is me. ... What is wrong with me?... Somehow this must be my fault! -- with the same realization: that faith and trust leave no room for despair.

I feel sad that a time I thought would include excitement and eager anticipation has turned into another ordeal. Something I thought would be simple now is seeming impossible.

But I believe nothing is impossible with God.

So, I will continue to pray, to seek to know what God would have me do and communicate (and how). I will trust Him to be with me and guide me and love me. I will praise Him as I wait or as I act. I trust that He is at work. I pray that He will find me faithful in my part, whatever it turns out to be.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The journey continues

As the final weekend of August arrives, with a busy schedule of events that includes family and friends and church in Texas, my mind is very aware of where I and the family were one year ago.

I reread my blog post from Friday, August 26, 2011, "Choices for Such a Time as This." My eyes moistened as I read, but I also realized I've never had a flood of tears in the year since my Dad's terminal cancer diagnosis and subsequent death. I am aware that flood still could come. But it also seems possible that instead of a flood, I will continue to have prisms, a combination of teary eyes, smiles, gratitude and the light of God's love and presence through family, friends, faith and precious memories. I cannot thank God enough for how He prepared and accompanied Mom and Dad as they led the family through that time and has continued to guide us in the days since.

Among the things I wrote at the time:
In the face of a beloved one's dire prognosis:
I choose hope.
I choose gratitude.
I choose to walk by faith.
I choose to see the good.
I choose to let God lead me.
I choose to believe God has prepared me.
I choose Jesus.
I choose love.
I choose life.
I choose joy.
None of these choices will automatically make things easier. I believe they will make things better.

I am humbled and blessed to realize that not only did I state those choices, I have followed them and continue to build upon them in my life, prayerfully, one day at a time. I thank God for that and pray to continue to do so.

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! O what a foretaste of glory divine ... Perfect submission, all is at rest. I in my Savior am happy and blessed! ... This is my story. This is my song. Praising my Savior all the day long.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Appreciation for simple things

A renewed appreciation for my appreciation for simple things unexpectedly blossomed within me following a conversation with a loved one.

The truth is, my appreciation for simple things grew out of repeated disappointment over the years about not being able to have or do or accomplish what I thought were the greater things. And for a long time, this seemed like a shortcoming, a failing, a weakness and was a source of frustration. Why can't I have, do or accomplish what I want? I mostly bashed myself with the question, but I did also raise it to God and to people closest to me.

People who know me won't be surprised that I feel certain God answered that question for me as I turned to him in desperation but also faith, and slowly began to read and hear and really absorb His word and try to put it into action in my life.

The recent conversation helped me see anew a part of a transformation that I'm not always even aware of anymore.

What a joy it is to realize that, for the most part, the feelings of frustration and disappointment seldom hang around very long any more.

It might seem like all this means that I've lowered my expectations, and I have thought that along the way. But for today, I don't think that is the case. I think God calls each of us in a personal way, and part of His call to me has been this journey that includes longing for greater things and learning to be content with simpler things. That includes what I discern to be my calling or purpose: to prayerfully encourage others and to express what's on my heart, through words and music and actions, as God leads me, which often involves the acknowledgement of my shortcomings and weaknesses. I thank God for the continuing lessons and blessings.

This timely reminder from Scripture was included with a reading from Jesus Calling this week: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things."  (Philippians 4:8)

How interesting! I just saw what comes before that Scripture, which is so totally what I feel this moment: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your  hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7)

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." (Psalm 119:105)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Grateful, blessed -- and yes, apparently, obsessed!

-- Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.
-- Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God almighty! All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea .....
-- Grateful and blessed.
-- Praying in faith.
-- Oh what a wonderful morning for a summer walk, with it still in the 80s and a nice breeze at 10 a.m.

These are some of the thoughts that floated through my head during my walk Friday.
For reasons I don't understand, this week has been amazingly free and easy, and I am so grateful to God for that.

There are so many joys and blessings I want to share, that I don't even know where to begin. And one of the joys and blessings is that even in the many areas that aren't as smooth as I would like them to be, I can, for today, still experience the joy and light of  God's love and presence.

I know a big accomplishment for me was getting the front bedroom straightened up just enough that Mom could spend two nights with us last weekend. The room is by no means organized, and I had to move some boxes to the living room to clear enough space for Mom in the bedroom, but it is a great start for work I am determined to continue so that others also can come to visit.

As much as I wanted Mom to stay the second night, I feared she might get bored Sunday afternoon. We don't have company much, and it was too hot to do any of the things I would have liked to do such as walking on the neighborhood trail around the lake. But we went shopping and eating and had a great time. And then I took her to  the train station Monday morning. Even beyond words and activities, Mom's visit, including attending church with me, infused my soul and spirit with something rich. I thank God for the blessing of my Mom and her faith and that she took the step of faith to extend her trip one more day to stay with me, even though she'd been in Oklahoma almost a whole week.

God has shown me many times in preparation, during and after Mom's visit how He is faithful to guide me and make good things possible in my life. The weekend and the time since has been an affirmation of a  discipline I continue to develop: Seeking the Master instead of seeking to master circumstances of my life. (That concept was expressed so well this week in Sarah Young's daily devotional, "Jesus Calling," with the Scripture from Proverbs 3:4-6.)

(That was before 2 p.m.; now it's after 2 a.m. And now I must post this, even thought it's not really finished. I didn't have time before I went to work, and now it's well past midnight -- but I was lying in bed and thinking about this, and could tell I wouldn't be able to sleep  until I finished, saved, posted and shared. I'm not sure whether the fact that I got up, turned on the computer, let it get revved up and now I'm trying to finish this -- I'm not sure whether that's a positive or negative step for me. I'm having flashbacks to when I was a reporter and sometimes had to give up on a story. My blog deadline is arbitrary, set by me. But I have this inner feeling that I either need or just really want to honor the deadline, and that by doing so, it will make it easier to move forward. Waiting until tomorrow to finish this would set me back. There is a sense that it's better for me to do something and move on -- rather than wait until I can do something better.

I strongly believe God is very much a part of this and look forward to seeing how it will continue to unfold.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Confessions of a spiritual chikin, Part 2

I didn't go out of my way to go to Chick-fil-A to "eat mor chikin" on Wednesday, but I did disrupt my Wednesday routine to skip going to Target. I actually thought I would go to Target anyway, because they have at least one thing I get each week that I can only find there. But I couldn't shake the thought it would make me not only a spiritual chikin but a hypocritical spiritual chikin. (See CSC, P1.) Because I really do believe God's ideal for marriage is one man and one woman for life. I know lots of other situations occur for any number of reasons, and some seem so very understandable and justified. But I can't get myself to think that means God has changed His mind. I do believe He looks upon each of us with compassion, even when we stray from His ideal, which He knows I often have and do, including as I have crossed what I consider moral lines I never, ever thought I would cross. And even though I could totally rationalize my choices and behaviors and felt free and entitled at the period of what I consider my worst transgression, I could never convince myself it was right, nor did God lead me to see how it could be right, as I never stopped praying, even when it seemed so hypocritical to do so. (What this has to do with Target is that the company is openly supportive of gay rights. And I do realize that support for gay RIGHTS and support for a traditional biblical concept of marriage need not be mutually exclusive. I also know that issues related to how that support is expressed are very complex and can be divisive.)

Meanwhile, I DID go to Walmart on Wednesday, which I figure people on both sides of this marriage debate could tell me a number of reasons why it's a bad place to spend my money and not a very good Christian witness at all. Which just confirms what I already know: I'm still much more self-focused than spiritually guided on many aspects of my life.

So, I continue to seek God's guidance as I try to live purposefully as a part of His creation. It hasn't gotten easier, and in fact this is being a very difficult time. But I believe God is leading me and teaching me and preparing me, and I pray to stay focused on Him. I thank God for His presence in my life and in this world, and I trust Him to work all things to His good, to His glory.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Confessions of a spiritual chikin

My spirit is tired of all the bickering about politics and economics and morality and what's right and wrong. I have my opinions and beliefs on the issues of the day, but I've become hesitant to express them, especially at work or on Facebook.

If there is a safe place, I'm thinking my limited  readership blog should be it. As far as I know, everyone who reads it knows me pretty well and appreciates my musings and loves me for who I am and refrains from judging or condemning me, at least to my face.

So, I will carefully and prayerfully weigh in on the Chick-fil-A situation and why I will or won't "eat mor chikin" there Wednesday and questions it has caused me to ask myself.

You probably know the story. Chick-fil-A president and CEO Dan Cathy was quoted in an interview with a religious newspaper explaining that the company, whose stores are closed on Sundays, is run on biblical prinicples and supports family values. Apparently, when asked to clarify family values, he expressed that he started with the biblical design founded upon the marriage of a man and a woman.

For some reason, at least the way I see it, people who don't agree with and/or support and/or adhere to that viewpoint of what the Bible says took offense, and many have accused the owner of hatred and hate speech. Meanwhile, supporters of  Cathy and his stand have been just as vocal in criticizing those who would criticize  Cathy.

This troubles me, and part of why I am troubled is that the divisiveness of the uproar has torn me between joining in and staying silent.

There are two reasons I've avoided hitting "like" on Facebook posts I agree with concerning this.

First is that it seems to have just become a lot of noise, a follow-the-crowd mentality: "Maybe I can't do anything else, but I can 'like.' " Even though I do follow my share of crowds, I've noticed that I'm pretty intentional about my Facebook likes and dislikes and comments. (That's a whole other blog posting I hope to get to soon.)

The second reason is more complicated. I can't say for sure whether it's that I don't want to offend anyone or whether I don't want to defend my views or perhaps I'm just lazy.

My first thought when this came up was that I would buy food for work. But then I realized that could be construed as hate speech by some at work? So I won't.

Then I thought I'd just go eat there, alone or with my husband, to show support. But my reason I won't do that on Wednesday -- dubbed Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day by former Arkansas Gov. and former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee -- is much simpler: lack  patience, in expectation of long lines. Instead, the commitment I've made to myself is to stop in at times in the days and weeks ahead when the lines return to normal lengths.

Above all, in this and all things, I continue to pray to know and do God's will, and to trust Him to show me. And not only that, but I will renew daily prayers for God's will to be done not just in Heaven but on Earth.

Regarding some of the issues of the day, I really don't know for sure what His will is for me or the world. I'm pretty sure His will in both areas involves love and grace and forgiveness and justice and compassion. But I'm pretty sure it also involves truth: His truth. Exactly what His truth is isn't always crystal clear to me from the Bible. This is why I feel He calls us not only to pray, but also to interact and study and serve and worship with others also seeking to walk confidently in His way. And if that involves sharing a meal at (or at  least from) Chick-fil-A in the near future, that's all the better!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Can this faulty memory be Redeemed (or Saved! Saved! Saved!)?

Shortly after I posted my blog Monday, as I was headed out the door for work without time to do anything about it, I realized I had made a significant mistake based on a faulty memory.

The song I remember so vividly hearing the Southern Baptists sing in Salt Lake City and also at an Oklahoma City convention center wasn't "Redeemed" by Fanny Crosby. It was "Saved! Saved!" by Jack P. Scholfield. That makes more sense as to why I associate the song with Baptists rather than my Methodist upbringing.

But it doesn't flow nearly as well with that blog on the theme of Redeemed. It did, however, trigger a lot of thought and a little research on the relationship and differences between saving and redeeming and being saved and being redeemed. Between dictionary definitions and theological views, I'm confused enough I won't even pretend to have it figured out.

It does seem that from a Christian standpoint, you have to be redeemed (Jesus paid for our sins by dying on the cross) before you can be saved (we confess our sins and accept the Risen Christ as Lord), which is the opposite of what happens in the trading stamp process, where you have to spend money to get stamps to save and later exchange for goods.

And it's fascinating to me that God would let my memory play that trick on me, that I would write and post my blog with the concept and lyrics of "Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It" instead of "Saved! Saved!" and not be able to address it for two days and still not really be able to fix it. I do think there is a reason, and that it will be revealed to me when the time is right. That seems to be how God works in my life, and I am grateful that I am becoming more trusting that He is in control even when I am confused and clueless!

To conclude, here are the lyrics of the great hymn "Saved, Saved" (with this aside: one of my very important goals to accomplish by the end of this year is to learn how and start giving proper attribution/Internet links to the information I grab from online and other sources for my blog; but I'm not there yet):

I've found a Friend, Who is all to me,
His love is ever true;
I love to tell how He lifted me
And what His grace can do for you.

Saved by His power divine,
Saved to new life sublime!
Life now is sweet and my joy is complete,
For I’m saved, saved, saved!

He saves me from every sin and harm,
Secures my soul each day;
I’m leaning strong on His mighty arm;
I know He’ll guide me all the way.

Saved by His power divine ... Saved, saved, saved!

When poor and needy and all alone,
In love He said to me,
"Come unto Me and I’ll lead you home,
To live with Me eternally."

Saved by His power divine,
Saved to new life sublime!
Life now is sweet and my joy is complete,
For I’m saved, saved, saved!

Lyrics and Composer: Jack P. Scholfield, 1911

Monday, July 23, 2012

Redeemed: A whole new meaning for me

I was pretty sure today's topic was Called to Pray, but instead some notes I've been making and quotes I've been saving involving "redeemed" are pushing their way to the forefront.

I think for most of my life what came to mind when I would think of the verb "redeem" would be what you do with S&H green stamps after collecting a bunch. You would get them at grocery stores and other places, and then could exchange them for a lamp or a toaster or I don't remember what all else. I can still picture redemption center in Gainesville, Texas, on California Street, as I was growing up. But those memories seem very long ago for a 50-plus-year-old.

As an adult, my main thought has been with "Redeemed," from the concept of a hymn that I associate more with covering Oklahoma Southern Baptists during my time as religion editor than from my Methodist upbringing. "Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child and forever I am. Redeemed! Redeemed! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; Redeemed! Redeemed! His child and forever I am." I can really hear all those Baptists singing it at the Southern Baptist Convention in Salt Lake City, likely led by Oklahoma Baptists' longtime music leader Bill Green. Looking up the lyrics right now though, I see that they are by Fanny Crosby, who has a lot of hymns in the Methodist hymnals, so I'm not sure why I wasn't more familiar with this great hymn.

Anyway, the words "redeem" and "redeemed" and "redemption" have started to show up a lot recently in my Christian walk. It seems like my first real reawareness of it was with a fairly new song on K-Love Christian radio. Big Daddy Weave's "Redeemed" includes these lyrics: "Then You look at this prisoner and say to me 'Son, stop fighting a fight that's already been won.' I am redeemed. You set me free. So I'll shake off these heavy chains, Wipe away every stain now I'm not who I used to be. I am redeemed."

While that song has been capturing my spirit, resonating deep within on some continuing questions and challenges of life, I came across this on July 11 in the Denison Forum daily email I receive. I don't remember what specific new cruel tragedy he was addressing here, but it doesn't really matter. I know it opened up a new understanding to me.

Here's what Jim Denison wrote: "The next time you see a tragedy in the news, would you take a moment to pray for those involved? Ask God to redeem what He allows, and volunteer to be His healing hands in your hurting world. Your ministry make not make the evening news, but it will gladden the heart of your Father forever."

The Scripture from the Upper Room the same day included, from Psalm 31: 1-8:  "In you, O LORD, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. ... You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name's sake lead me and guide me,  take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. ... I will exult and rejoice in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have taken heed of my adversities, and have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place."

And now, today, Denison offered this, in reflections about the tragic killings Friday in Colorado: "Like the grieving pastor, I don't know why God allowed the Aurora tragedy. But I do know that he redeems all he allows, even the horrific misuse of freedom he gave us so we could love him and each other (Matthew 22:37-39). And I know that he is grieving with his children wherever they hurt today."

As I try to draw this to a conclusion, I think of two other songs that have held meaning to me for a long time. One is from Handel's Messiah (and of course, it is from Scripture): I know that my redeemer liveth.... (I remember being surprised to learn this was in Job rather than almost anywhere else in the Bible; I realize it may be other places, too. Good thing about this informal blog is I don't have to do all that research before I publish! Maybe I'll update later, for the record!) The other is Nicole C. Mullen's "Redeemer," which she sings so majestically: "I know my Redeemer lives! I know my Redeemer lives. Let all creation testify, Let this life within my cry, I know my Redeemer lives!" (And toward the end, she sings just as powerfully: "I spoke with Him this morning," which always brings it to present reality for me.)

I guess that is how it wraps up for me today. There is a lot of what seems like confusion and inequality and injustice and just things that it seems hard to imagine how God really is in control of it all. But for today, and by faith, I know that my Redeemer lives. And thanks to some powerful recent insights from Scripture and commentators, I know that He can and will redeem and in fact is redeeming all that He allows. I lift my prayers and life to Him, that I may live to His glory, in support of his great work.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Willingness Formula

This could be titled (or subtitled) "It Only Takes a Spark ... Part 2." I think I've written on it before. But it has stayed with me in the past week, as I've continued to make progress on praying and acting to stay out of stagnation, even as I am so aware (from constant reminders) of how easy it is to fall back into the negative patterns.

In a word, the willingness formula, for me, is prayer. "For Today," an Overeaters Anonymous daily devotion book I've been reading for more than 20 years, expresses it in a way that has continued to ring true for me: "What is the willingness formula? Prayer. When the miracle happens, I watch a defect evaporate, a task easily done, a problem solved. God does for me what I cannot do for myself."  This is the Jan. 20 reading, but it's one I often return to, any day of the year. Before giving the formula, it perfectly describes the leadup for me: "When a job or situation or personal problem seemed too hard, I used to say, 'I can't do it.' In OA, I have tapped a source of power greater than myself. All I need to start the action is willingness. Sometimes willingness comes easily, sometimes it is locked head-on with defiance. Then I feel heavy with the load."

Growing up in loving, Christian, church-going family, I've always had the power of prayer in my life, but I guess I needed a 12-step program to get the escape mechanism out of the way enough to begin learning to really seek and trust God. In the years since that journey began, the spiritual experience of church, organized religion and Christian fellowship (and family and friendship!) has blossomed amazingly.

Blossomed. Where did that word come from? Well, it brings to mind a flower bed, which I have no experience with. But I know that for the plants to blossom and flourish, they must be tended properly. The same is true of my spirit. I pray for willingness and ability to stay on this path of seeking God, trusting God, obeying God and praising God, to His glory.

Monday, July 9, 2012

It only takes a spark ....

Maybe it was all the news about the wildfires in Colorado and elsewhere. Or maybe the Fourth of July fireworks. Or possibly just the blazing heat of summer. For whatever reason, familiar song lyrics have been in my mind a lot recently, including today. "It only takes a spark, to get a fire going ....."

What's really ignited my thoughts on this is the summer slump I've been stuck in. Somewhere in June, I started to stagnate. You could see it in my blogs -- more placeholders than real posts. You could probably detect it in my Facebook posts, notably by their reduction. Typically, if I can't think of something positive to post, I avoid posting. If you have been around me, you may have noticed more of a tired look and attitude than cheerfulness, energy and optimism.

As I've prayed and meditated and still seemed stymied in knowing what action to take to reverse this, the thought "it only takes a spark" became increasingly common. One of the things I realized is that a spark can fuel a destructive force just as easily as it can lead to productive light, warmth and energy. A spark of tiredness can lead to less healthy choices, including how I spend my time (reading the Bible and praying versus watching or reading about soap operas; sitting and doing nothing rather than walking or tackling even a small chore or lying down for a nap) and what I eat. I still haven't actually watched "The Bold and The Beautiful" since before Easter, but I've found myself reading the updates online, and yesterday actually paid money for the CBS Soaps magazine! (Gene saw it when I got home and asked, WHAT IS THIS? I had to laugh (he knows I've supposedly given up soaps), and maybe that bit of personal  embarrassment/accountability will help break the obsession.) I haven't eaten things with real sugar, which for me can be like a drug, but that sugar-free Blue Bell Bunny Tracks ice cream has been on my mind every day since even before I bought some to leave at Mom's while I was there weekend before last!

Perhaps no one reading this understands what the big deal would be about wasting time on soap operas or giving in to a troublesome food (or just continual obsessive food thoughts), but I think it's just as likely most people do have their own things, large or small, that sometimes can trip them up in a big way, leading to a negative, hopeless, depressing outlook. And the question becomes: How do you put out that negative fire or harness it into a positive force?

Well, even as I continued to struggle, I knew the answer. "It only takes a spark ...." Keep praying. Keep reading the Bible and meditating. Keep being around positive people. Keep talking and listening. Keep walking and/or pedaling -- even if it seems like what I really need to do is clean off that cluttered chair, desk or table; when I know that's not going to happen, I'm better off taking a nap or walking instead of just sitting and doing nothing or surfing the Internet or getting a snack. Make a healthy choice. And keep making even the smallest healthy choices until one actually ignites the spark into a positive force for good. I also have to remember that if I don't tend the flame once it's ignited, it will go out -- or go out of control. Yes, even positive energy can become destructive. Yes, that means that even if I get tired of following my spiritual disciplines, I really do need to stay with them, because without them,  my life goes out of control.

This is a start. I do believe "It only takes a spark, to get a fire going. And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing."  And I believe this, also from the song "Pass It On," written by Kurt Kaiser some  40 years ago (and which I  learned in high school all those years ago): "That's how it is with God's love, once you've experienced it. You share His love with everyone. You want to Pass It On." 

I'm feeling a more positive already, for which I thank God.

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will."  (Romans 12:2)

"When you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."  (1 Corinthians 10:13)

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."  (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NRSV)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A patriotic placeholder

Another placeholder? Yep, it's looking like that's what it will have to be. Unless God has a surprise waiting. A neat thing that often happens, though, is that usually even in a placeholder post, He does provide some nugget of insight that helps brighten my week. I'm writing this on Tuesday before Wednesday's blog deadline on another week that has an awry work schedule, with no sense of routine. And several things I tried to get taken care of today (Tuesday) came up short and right now just seem like I wasted my time. (Maybe the payoff will come later.) 

Now, it's Wednesday, July Fourth, Independence Day. I am at work until midnight. That means what I wrote yesterday is what we get today. I tried to come up with some patriotic insights, and even that is just not happening. If you are on Facebook, you can probably find more than enough there. I may still post a picture of the patriotic cat shirt I'm wearing. But maybe not.  I know I'm grateful to live in America and for the freedoms we have here. I am grateful for those who make sacrifices to defend our liberty and the freedom  of people around the world. I pray that God will continue to bless America and its people and leaders. I pray to know my part in that.

As for my slumping attempts to blog, I have to keep remembering, especially, Monday's great reading and Scriptures from Jesus Calling. An excerpt: Let Me show you My way for you this day. I guide you continually, so you can relax and enjoy My Presence in the present. Living well is both a discipline and an art. Concentrate on staying close to Me, the divine Artist. Discipline your thoughts to trust Me as I work My ways in your life. Pray about everything; then, leave outcomes up to Me.
The Scriptures are Psalm 5:2-3 ("Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation") and Deuteronomy 33:27.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Just a few words

I would like to write just a few words, but it seems as if even when I don't know where to start, one word always leads to another, and the result is far from few.

I made a plan for Monday and lifted it up to God in prayer, and He laughed. I wasn't able to get the cat into the carrier for a trip to the vet, and news that my uncle died put the rest of the week's schedule in flux. I guess I did accomplish one thing on the list, taking some steps toward finding a new dentist and cancelling an appointment with the old.

Now I feel like I'm getting a cold or something. It's that sensation where I feel really, really tired and have tightness and some itchiness in my throat. But here goes my mind again: I think it could just be effects of tension and stress and lack of sleep, although it seems I'm getting adequate pillow time. I'm trying to relax, rest and drimk more water. So far I've been able to withstand most of what goes around physically, and I'm working toward that result again even as I pray!

Above all, I feel God's peace and presence and love, and for that I am so grateful. Words of Scripture referenced in daily devotionals and by friends and family members keep me focused. "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want ... He restores my soul ... He leads me on paths of righteousness ... He comforts me..."   I had a day or two in which I sensed I had started just going through the motions with prayer, but I think I've moved beyond that.  Readings on successive days in A Praying Heart helped me focus on why I pray and why I don't think it is in vain; and then to see where prayer fits into my "calling." I guess it helped renew my sense of purpose in prayer, where I'd fallen into just recitations of gratitude and praise and daily concerns. Such recitations are important but are so much more meaningful and powerful when focused in faith.

And, yes, this started as -- and really still is -- what I call a placeholder blog post. Just a few words to meet a deadline. With that mission prayerfully accomplished, I can go on to the next thing and the next and the next and the next -- and maybe along the way it will bring me to the more insightful kinds of essays I prefer to write but that are few and far between! I thank God for the hope He gives in this and all areas.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lessons from sweating and fretting

Miracles. Choices. Decisions. Sweating the small stuff. You mean I could just flip a coin? These were some of the themes of my prayer,  meditation and journaling since Sunday. They are rich in meaning. But I'm having trouble with application.
I'm still stuck on reminders from the days before Sunday: "Do not fear ..."  "I will not be afraid ..."  "Be strong, do not fear ..." I still feel as if I'm running away from God, resisting His guidance, letting fear rule. And I don't even know what the scary thing is. Maybe I'm just afraid of the uncertain and unknown. 
I continue to pray for willingness and ability to know and do God's will, but the answers remain elusive. And so I wait: "I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope" (Psalm 130:5).
But as I wait, I also have general guidance, even if it doesn't seem to answer my specific concerns: "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" (Micah 6:8). And I have hope: " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future' " (Jeremiah 29:11).
I"m still having trouble with these, but I won't give up:
-- "Learn to laugh at yourself more freely. ... Relax and know that I am God with you. ... Just as parents delight in the laughter of their children, so I delight in hearing my children laugh." From Jesus Calling on June 17,  with scriptural reminders from Proverbs 17:22 (a cheerful heart is good medicine ...) and Proverbs 21:25 (she can laugh at the days to come).
--  "But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You" (Psalm 5:11). 
How I long for my joy and peace and confidence and faith in the Lord to outshine my fears and doubts, not just occasionally but on a consistent basis? And yet, even today, I was guided to the Scriptures in 1 Kings 18 and 19 about Elijah, who one moment was confidently proclaiming that God would send fire from heaven, which He did, and the very next week, Elijah was running for his life, exhausted, depressed and praying that he might die. And how did God respond to that prayer? With a still, small voice -- a whisper -- and then clear directions. 
And so, yes, thank You, God, for being with me, even when I sweat and fret needlessly. I know You continue to work with me and mold me into what You would have me be. And I continue to pray to be willing to let You have Your way, to Your glory.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Status updates

A big part of why I started the blog was because after I joined Facebook, I realized I often had more to say than worked as status updates. To some extent, That's the Spirit is my expanded Facebook page.

And so, here are some updates on previous posts:

-- I'm really wanting to forget about my commitment to chew less gum. You might think after more than five months of staying within a boundary, the urge for more would go away. But it hasn't. And with high stress/hecticness going on at work for another week (Go, Thunder!), it would be easy to rationalize that reaching for more gum is much less harmful for me than any number of other options. But the bottom line is that none of those options work for me. Fortunately (I guess), when I fail to remind myself, reminders come in other ways, such as recent physical repercussions. And so I continue to make the effort to follow the discipline I've learned works. It doesn't mean it's easy. It is worth it.

-- To me, it's even more amazing that on any given weekday, it would seem more natural than not to turn on the TV to watch "The Young and the Restless" and "The Bold and the Beautiful." But that's another path I've been down too many times. I know where it leads: wasting precious time. (I think I gave these up the week before Easter. Truly nothing lost from my life, and still sometimes I yearn to catch up; to see how those folks are doing. But part of the stupidity is I never like where they are, so I keep watching to see if it will get better. I think that's a definition of insanity!) Now, the new "Dallas" series in prime time is tempting, and some friends have posted on Facebook about it. But I just don't think I dare even take a peek. And another sign of progress in the TV area: I turned off the Rangers when the game was over tonight, without watching the postgame show. And that was after a win!

-- Briefly on the cat: Good far outweighs bad. But even as I write that, I'm too aware that, unfortunately, any bit of bad has strong and lingering effects. It's hard to say whether we're making progress. I tell myself we are. I think we might not have these issues if I'd switched to the new vet long ago. The hardest thing still for me is not letting Bridget sleep in the bedroom with us. I find myself making sure she has lap time before I go to bed, as this seems to keep her from scratching at the door as much. It would be so much easier if I could just go to bed and let her jump on the bed and snuggle in. But the risk of her peeing on the carpet in there just is not worth it. I'm continue to explore options. Also, the pill ordeal is over for now, as we were able to take her for a shot to cover the final two weeks. That's a relief all around.

-- Faith journey: I'm going through a phase of feeling insecure, incompetent and irrelevant. This despite assurances from Scripture and those who write about Scripture that God created me, and I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and He delights in me and that is more than enough. Cast your cares ... Do not fear ... Do not be anxious ... Trust the Lord ... I'm grateful that He loves me and delights in me even when I feel fearful, incompetent, irrelevant, fearful, doubtful and anxious and bound by my plans and attempts to structure life. He's shown me that these feelings will pass, especially if I keep my focus on Him and continue to seek to know and do His will. This gives me hope to do just that.

-- From Jesus Calling, June 7: Who is in charge of your life? If it is you, then you have good reason to worry. But if it is I, then worry is both unnecessary and counterproductive. When you start to feel anxious about something, relinquish the situation to Me. ... I will either take care of the problem Myself or show you how to handle it. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV) -- This was Monday's Scripture in A Praying Heart, which was very, very timely.

"Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, 'Be strong, do not fear.'" (Isaiah 35:3-4) -- This is tomorrow's. Very timely, again, I would say.

Lord, please help me know and do Your will, one moment at a time, in all things, to your glory. I thank You for Your presence. I love You, I praise You. Help me continue to grow in faith and trust in You, also to Your glory.