Wednesday, December 31, 2014

In the moment: New Year's Eve

I am so tempted to end the year by looking back at what I wrote a year ago on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day (if anything). I am trying to resist that urge. 

My goal is to stay in the moment. I can look back tomorrow. Or some other day. Or never. 

For the first time I can remember as an adult, I have no inclination to stay up to greet the new year. Maybe it's because I'm battling a cold. Or maybe because I'm tired
(exacerbated by the cold). Or maybe it comes with being 55. 
(It's most likely the cold; I certainly hope my future includes some fun New Years Eves!)

I feel amazingly peaceful this moment. Some habits of the past year are likely key. 

I continued daily reading from the Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young. She has written at least two other devotional books, but for me it seems best to keep it simple by reading the same one again and again -- at least until I feel led to try something new. That's how my mind works. The message I get from her writing and the Scriptures she includes is to trust God, to feel His love, peace and presence, and to thank Him. She reminds me of my great need: the peace of Christ's presence. 

I added daily use of the First 15 guide by Craig Denison. The goal is to spend the first 15 minutes of each day in focused prayer, worship, praise and meditation. I didn't always get it done first thing, and sometimes it ended up being pretty unfocused. The guide has been good for me because it repeats Scriptures for reinforcement. 

And there's that crazy recent addition of the #healthy65 Holiday Challenge, which for me meant reducing my gum consumption by half at least two days a week. I quickly committed to do it every day, and that discipline has influenced other positive decisions through this 51st of 65 days. 

This year has given new meaning to a slogan that has been part of my life for close to 30 years: one day at a time. I think I had viewed it as a negative (is that the best I can do?), but tonight I see it more positively, an opportunity to look for and be grateful for the blessings of each day. 

I'm sure I've quoted this before in a year-end blog, from My Urmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers: "Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. ... Leave the irreparable past in His hands, and step out into the irresistible future with Him."

I pray to build upon this foundation, to God's glory. 

Wrapping up Christmas

Christmas with family was blessed, fun, peaceful, heartwarming and humbling. 

I had dreaded the logistics of working into the evening on Christmas Eve, going to an 11 p.m. worship service then getting up fairly early Christmas Day to head to McKinney for an overnight visit  with my husband's family. After the Friday return to Norman was a Saturday trip to Stillwater, and, likely, a swing by Greenwood, Ark., before returning home again to Norman on Sunday. (I really didn't even give much thought to what looked like a small chance of snow.)

If it were up to me to make all that take place smoothly, I'm pretty sure it would not happen. But by the grace of God and with amazing support from my husband, the moments unfolded calmly and gracefully. 

Gifts of presence included talking and listening; patience; smiles and laughter; and advice only when asked. 

My new iPhone with a better camera and extra memory let me take pictures with abandon -- and many of them captured fun moments with siblings, in-laws, nieces, nephews and "grands." 

Gift-giving and receiving often stress me out, and the preparation certainly did this year as well. But the new and appreciated conclusion this year was satisfaction with gifts given, instead of the usual

Meanwhile, I was humbled to receive way too much. All I could do was say thank you. (I also made a mental pledge to start getting rid of some of my accumulated possessions, and I have made early efforts toward that.)

One of my gifts was the trip to Greenwood. It was as if God put it on my heart to carry some of the Stillwater festivities to those unable to attend. 

A thought that comes to mind is that a person cannot outgive a God. I was trying to be less selfish, but it seems even my smallest efforts toward others returned blessings to me. That was not my intent. But how can I not be grateful?

Throughout the Christmas festivities, starting with the choir cantata on Dec. 14 and continuing with the Christmas Eve worship service and several of my daily devotionals, a prominent Scripture was John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."  It's not a traditional Scripture associated with Christmas, but it really gets to the heart of the reason for the season. 

How does one respond to such a gift? Share it. But how? I continue to pray to know how and to do it. 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

All is well -- Joy to the world!

I wondered what it would take to finally feel like Christmas. 

Giving cards and little gifts before leaving work helped. 

Hugging my husband who was busy taking care of my preparation while I worked. 

And then that picture of some precious nieces, their faces bright with beautiful smiles.

And now I'm ready to worship with my church family at a Goodrich.

All is well. Joy to the world. The Lord is come!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Better Days (act as if ... )

I went from this on Wednesday night: 

This is at least the third time I've encountered this Scripture today. I really need it. Struggling with various aspects  of depression, tiredness, sadness, disappointment, frustration  -- and guilt and shame for feeling and then insisting on sharing those things. I know it will pass. But when? Soon, I hope. I want to feel the joy and peace I know God has for me.
(The scripture was Romans 15:13 -- 
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.)

To this on Wednesday morning:

The sun comes up
It's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass
And whatever lies before me
Let me be singing
When the evening comes

Bless the Lord oh my soul
Oh my soul
Worship His Holy name
Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I'll worship Your Holy name
-- "10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)" by Matt Redman. 

With some Psalm 23 and Page 353 (Dec.18 reading) in the OA Voices of Recovery in between: 

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want ... He restores my soul ... Guarding, guiding all the way ... With blessings overflowing, His goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life ... And I will live with Him forever. 
-- The New 23rd lyrics, modified 

There are those gray, bleak days when I don't feel like doing what I need to do to ... I'm tired of the effort. I want to give up. But I stop and reflect. If I quit making the effort, I'll slide backward. And backwards, for me, means ... mental, physical and spiritual anguish. ...
So I pray for the willingness to do whatever my Higher Power nudges me to do. Then I get my body in motion and do it! ... And then once again, I experience the healing and recovery. 
-- Voices of Recovery

The slogan "when all else fails, act as if" also came to mind today and probably helped. 

But, above all, faith and gratitude. 

Hope springs eternal. Morning by morning, new mercies I see. Great is God's faithfulness. 
-- Lamentations 3:22-23, paraphrased

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oh. No. (plus) Oh. Yes. (equals) O.K.

I thought the blog deadline was Thursday but then it seemed like it just might be tonight. So I checked. And it's tonight. 

To write or not to write: that is the question. Or maybe, since now I am writing, the question will be whether to post. And the answer is pretty certain, given my past performance. I will post, but it will probably be pretty meaningless. 

I'm not sure where my time is going. I feel as if I'm letting more and more things go, and still I keep getting more behind. I've had many things I wanted to write about -- including the Christmas cantata, caroling, selfies, hair, clothes,  hoarding and emotions. Plus, I'm more than  halfway through my #healthy65 Holiday   Challenge, having completed 35 days of reducing my gum consumption by half and using that as a springboard for other positive choices.

So much seems positive and hopeful, and at the same time, my stress level is as high as ever as I wonder how I will  get all done that I need and-or want to do by Christmas and the end of the year. 

It's going to be OK. I know it is. It always is. I pray and I have faith, and God knows I try to know and do His will and live to His glory. And even though I tend to think I'm falling short and dishonoring Him, He keeps working things for good and showing me His blessings. 

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.
Psalm 150:6

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:6

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:7

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My #Healthy65 Holiday Challenge update, Day 28/65

My #Healthy65 Holiday Challenge goal started out as reducing my gum consumption by half for two days per week. It immediately became my desire to meet this standard every day. I've been going along pretty well with it, even as it has continued to take intentional thought. (If I didn't think about it, I would easily slip back into continuous chewing, as annoying as that is, even to me.)

For some reason, today, Day 28, I found myself wondering if I'm being honest. I think I may be playing mind games. For one, I was downplaying the amount of gum I previously chewed, and therefore set my target low. That means I've had some wiggle room, which I have used. (I can go over my target some and still be reducing my consumption by half.)

Anyway, the thing I realized is that I feel guilty or bad or ashamed of myself if I go over the lower target.

I don't want to feel guilty or bad or ashamed of myself. But I have a tendency to do so, and not just involving what I consume. In recent weeks (maybe the four weeks of this challenge?), I've really been working myself over mentally, second-guessing most of my thoughts, feelings, actions and attempts to express. High on the list is that I'm still as self-focused as ever, letting fear or just blatant selfishness hold me back from being a more generous and serving person. (Oh yes, I've also given myself a pretty good mental thrashing over a spell of forgetfulness and losing things that is driving me crazy, even though the good news is I've ended up finding most of the misplaced things!!!)

Unfortunately, in the process, I see that I have a tendency to judge others just as harshly as I judge myself. And I think I may express those judgments more than I realize, especially at work but also in other areas.

I want to lighten up. I'm not exactly sure how to go about it. I think that is my next goal, to find a way to be less judgmental, critical and negative, and more gracious, supportive and affirming. I'm pretty sure I can only do that with God's help. And so, as usual, I will pray, then try to let go and let God, and give Him the glory.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Praying in faith

Having a cold was not on my priority list for the start of December. It happened anyway. As colds go, it hasn't been bad. But combined with winter weather, an uncomfortably cold office, and stress from a variety of sources, it's about wiped me out. 

The stage was set Saturday -- Nov. 29 -- a day of contemplation and some tears, including with a dear sister in Christ who understands all too well. ... Feeling helpless but never hopeless. Grateful and blessed. And loved. Rich blessings of family, faith and spirit. Sweet music of life: To hear it! To share it!

The stronger symptoms of the cold came that night. Fortunately, the amount of water I drink and other methods seem to keep a cold's drainage from settling in my chest or head, so by Monday I felt remarkably better.  That doesn't mean there's not a steady stream of mucous and especially lots of tiredness. 

As a result, I've been less successful in dealing with emotions and stress. 

Even my prayers seem feeble and unfocused. It's all I can do to pray in faith -- I literally express to God that I have faith He knows my cares and concerns, and  I trust Him to take care of them. I trust that if He needs me to be a part of His work in an area, He will guide me and equip me. 

By the end of today, I was also reciting the Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. (Thy will, not mine, be done.) Amen. 

None of this seems easy right now. I'm not feeling the faith I claim. It's more like   acting as if. And there is value in that.

Meanwhile,  I feel so much tension in my body. Would crying make me feel better or worse???? 

I feel as if I need to bawl, but I fear if I start I will never stop -- or it really won't help, and then I'll just also have a headache and red, itchy, puffy eyes. 

And so I continue to pray in faith and trust. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I desperately wanted to post something for Thanksgiving, but I could not find the words, and now it's after midnight, so unless my blog's time stamp is still messed up, it's Friday already. 
They need to be shared. 
I was grateful for a day with just my husband and myself at home. I've been going through a busy stretch at work and on weekends, so a day of rest was appreciated. 
But at the end of the day, something is missing. My heart needs me to reach out and touch  my extended family and beyond. Why is it so hard, especially to serve those beyond my family? And why am I so hard on myself?
I thank God for this day of rest and realization. 
And, obviously, I still have not found the words to express what is on my heart. It was worth trying. It's worth posting to show myself that I tried. And now it's time to let it go and head to bed. 
My heart overflows with thankfulness and love for God. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

#healthy65: Day 14 of 65

These are some  thoughts at the end of the second  week of my #healthy65 challenge:

I am thankful that I could choose not to participate in the wonderful Thanksgiving potluck at work and not feel deprived or pressured. I am grateful I can make choices that are healthy for me. Some days I don't. But for today, I did. 

I posted a version of that on Facebook, as an affirmation and somewhat of a commitment. I almost didn't post it, because I worried someone might think I was judging those who indulge in such feasts. That was not my intent. 

I think potlucks are  wonderful and sometimes I do participate. But I know how I am with food. The combination of a 10-hour holiday-week workday, stress and all that wonderful food would have been disastrous for me. I would not have been able to stop eating until I felt miserable.  I'm pretty much all or nothing, and when I acknowledge my tendencies and make choices based on the realities, the results are good. 

So, why don't I always do this? Who knows? Human nature, I guess. 

That brings me to another observation on Day 14 of my #healthy65 challenge. I've continued to achieve my gum goal daily instead of just twice a week. It hasn't gotten any easier. Today was another day I did not think it would be possible. But I'm on a roll, so to speak, and I really do not want to lose the positive momentum. So, I prayed, tried  and trusted -- and at the end of a long and hectic day I had only chewed about 54 little pieces of gum instead of the former norm of 112 or more. And I feel better for it, one day at a time. 

My final thought for tonight is that whose-ever idea it was to do the Dayxx of 65 tally was crazy. Fourteen seems like progress -- but 14 out of 65 looks like almost nothing. But on I trudge. More gratefully than it probably sounds in this post!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Seven healthier days? (#healthy65 Day 7)

This is mainly a checking-in post. It's the end of Day 7 of my #healthy65 Holiday Challenge. To my surprise, I've achieved my goal of reducing my gum consumption by at least half each day. (My goal was only to do so at least two days each week.)

I'll confess the amount of gum I'm talking about: It was typically 96 to 128 of the small squares of Dentyne Fire. That's up to eight packets of gum. For seven straight days now, I've chewed 56 pieces or less. I cringe to think of how much I'm still chewing, but I know it is a major improvement.

I don't see myself ever completely giving up gum, but I hope to never go back to chewing more than I am now, and I would like to reduce further.

Right now, it's still very much one day at a time to not go back. I really thought I would do it today. It seemed like it was going to be more gum or more food -- and before the day was over, I suppose I did eat a little extra. That is a related part of the goal that I'm actually still trying to figure out. I can eat a little more food in exchange for the missing gum calories. A serving of dairy and a serving of veggies are healthy choices. But many days I forget that. Maybe that's why I'm waking up feeling hungry.

Coming days and weeks will include many challenges for me to fall back into the old habit, grabbing another piece of gum without even thinking. It's only by thinking that I don't grab the extra. But the same thinking that is required to keep me from chewing more also takes my thoughts to a higher plane. This isn't just about gum. It's about a healthier way. It's about discipline. It's about hope. It's about gratitude. And I am grateful.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

#healthy65 Day 1

Even my lame gum goal is not easy. I still will not say how many pieces of Dentyne Fire gum I typically chew in a day. Cutting that amount by half as part of the Healthy 65 Holiday Challenge took an amazing amount of focus. But I did it.  And along the way, some other things somehow fell into place as well. The top of that list is that I left work on time so I wasn't late to choir practice, breaking an annoying habit. 

When I bought my midweek groceries, I replenished my Dentyne supply as if I don't expect to be able to cut back every day. But I am going to try. I think any number of charities will appreciate the more than a dollar I will save each day. 

My goal is just twice a week. I might as well try it again tomorrow and see if I am on a roll. It can't hurt. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My #Healthy65 challenge

A colleague has launched The Healthy 65 Holiday Challenge, and I want to participate.

Juliana Keeping began writing about it last week on her blog, and she officially started her 65-day push on Monday. Her intent is to go from Nov. 10 through Jan. 13 doing at least one healthy thing each day, with a goal of something greater.

From her introduction:

The goal is to do one healthy thing a day beginning on Nov. 10 and ending on Jan. 13. You can define what “healthy thing” means. It can be a choice that is physical or mental. You are free to do the healthy things in any combination, whether your goal is to cut back on caffeine for a week and see what happens, walk at lunchtime now and again or give kale a chance — at least once. If reading soothes the mind, that can be a thing. If drinking a glass of wine and spinning Johnny Cash soothes the mind, that can be a thing. Want to try yoga/Zumba/hip hop dance? This is your excuse. A thing can be anything that you know contributes to your own wellness — the mind, the body, the soul.

For those who want to participate, these are the steps:

Step 1. Think about what you’d like to get out of this. (For Juliana, 65 is a symbol of her nearly 2-year-old son Eli's chronic illness, cystic fibrosis, which at times has been referred to as "65 roses" by children who had trouble saying the name. "Doing something healthy with the number 65 in it feels like a move of solidarity with the CF community," she says. Also, 65 days provides plenty of days before, during and after the holidays to establish good and healthy daily practices.)

Step 2. She suggests writing down your goals, and keeping them simple, not extreme.

Step 3: "Do at least one healthy thing per day for 65 days starting Nov. 10. Feel free to do more than one."

Step 4: "Make sure to tell us about it." She suggests using the hashtag #healthy65 on social media, including Facebook.

Her column ran online on over the weekend but didn't run in print editions of The Oklahoman until Tuesday. I asked her if that meant a person could start Tuesday or Wednesday or whenever and extend their 65 days accordingly, and said she said yes, of course.

So, I want to start Wednesday. But I'm still stuck on writing down some simple, not extreme, goals.

Why do I want to do this?

When I first read about Juliana's challenge, it piqued my interest. Over the years, with the support of church, family and a 12-step program, I've incorporated many healthy practices in my daily life, including eating fruits and vegetables and limiting fats and sugar; prayer, meditation and Bible reading; exercise; and journaling.

But I've been very aware recently of some things that continue to weigh me down, even if they don't add actual pounds to my frame. I don't get enough sleep. I chew way too much gum and eat more carrots than any human could really need. And while I don't eat sugar, my consumption of artificial sweeteners has concerned me for some time.

Might the #healthy65 community provide the extra incentive for me to improve in one or more of those areas?

But which one? I pretty quickly felt doubtful I could achieve goals of improvement in any of those areas. If I haven't with my 12-step program, why would I with this?

Yet, I can't shake the desire. So I signed up. And I haven't given up.

So, even as I'm up past when I need to go to bed to improve on my sleep, I'm trying to define some goals.

-- Two days a week, I will chew at least 50 percent less gum. (And no, I'm not going to say how much I usually chew, but I know the amount and will be honest about whether I achieve this.)

I must admit: This is agonizing. IS THAT THE BEST I CAN DO FOR A GOAL?!?!?!?! Yes. Sigh. My hope is that, by even attempting this, I might feel empowered to do more. And above all, not give up.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

I voted. Now what?

About 13 hours ago, I joined the ranks of my Facebook friends who posted a link showing that they had done their civic duty and voted in the mid-term elections.

I added the comment: "OK, me, too. Still uncertain on a couple of races. And I have to check the state election board site for the judges and county races. Seriously, if I don't know who is on the ballot by now, should I even be voting???? (I do know who is on the ballot, but that still doesn't help me decide. Is it better to flip a coin? Or should I leave that one blank?)"

One friend noted that to leave a race blank is to vote for the winner, and expressed surprise that I was uninformed.

I replied that I wasn't so much uninformed as unsure and skeptical. "It seems like in a lot of cases, no matter who wins, nothing really changes. And the more I dig for information, the more confused I get. In some races, candidates and their supporters on both sides make a good case. And in a few races, neither side really wins my confidence. But I will vote. And pray!!...."

Disillusioned is the word that comes to mind now to describe how I felt.

A post on the Denison Forum by Jim Denison offered some guidance and perspective. In a nutshell: "Ask yourself before voting: which candidate is most likely to lead in accordance with God's Kingdom purposes? Research your options; learn the candidates' positions; seek the Spirit's guidance. Then vote as though the election depends on you, and pray for the winners as though their effectiveness depends on God."

I'm also praying for the citizens. Although I'm glad the elections are over so that the campaigning -- on TV and radio, in the mail and over the phone -- comes to an end, I'm concerned about the great frustration being expressed by people who were hoping for change that did not occur, at least in Oklahoma. What will it take to turn bitterness and frustration into productive, effective action? What will it take for the winners to listen to the side that didn't win and hear those concerns, rather than just view victory as a mandate to run roughshod over the minority viewpoint?

I truly think only God knows. But I pray to discern what He would have me know and do to be a positive force for good as a citizen and as a Christian.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Shepherd, the Psalmist's Son and My Daddy's daughter

In a rare scheduling occurrence, I knew two weeks ahead of time when I would be attending what I consider my "home" church, where I spent most of my growing up years and where my mom and other family members still attend.

So, I did what I do, which was to ask if it would be OK for me to do a solo. My request was granted, and I began trying to choose a song.

I love to sing, but I am not a confident or trained vocalist. My heart says sing, but my mind often tries to talk me out of it. And that can make song selection difficult. For the most part, through the years, singing special music at church has become a spiritual adventure. The processes of song selection, practice, second guessing, finally singing it and trying not to keep doubting typically provide many lessons and insights. This time was no different.

I think the first song that came to mind was Mark Altrogge's "I Stand in Awe of You" (Ecclesiastes 5:7), a relatively new one to me that has words and a melody I love. "You are beautiful beyond description, too marvelous for words; too wonderful for comprehension, like nothing ever seen or heard. Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom? Who can fathom the depth of Your love? You are ... majesty, enthroned above. And I stand in awe of you ..." I have at least two hymnals with the song, but searched in vain to find either. At the same time, I wasn't convinced this was the song I would sing. I continued to pray.

Somewhere along the way, the thought of singing "Blessed Assurance" came to mind. I don't remember if this was before or after I realized it would be the Sunday before the anniversary of my Daddy's death (what is it now? three years ago?). But that song, which i sang at the celebration of Daddy's life, didn't seem right for now, either.

On Friday, as I read my favorite Jesus Calling devotional, one of the referenced Scriptures was the 23rd Psalm. And I became pretty sure that's what I wanted to sing. So I started looking for my sheet music of my favorite version. I could not find it, either.

Most of the time, along this journey, I end up finding my copies of the music, and that becomes a confirmation of my song choice. This time I did not. But I found ways to practice both songs without the music. When Sunday came, I wasn't sure which song I would sing. But I ended up singing "The New 23rd" by Ralph Carmichael. And it was the right choice.

I could beat myself up, wondering, when will I ever truly learn to just trust that God is going to work everything out -- and therefore I can skip all this stress? But I think it's possible what seems like stress I go through is maybe a refining process. I do know God works it for good.

I was grateful to be reminded of, and to share in music, the message of Our Lord as a gentle shepherd, as described by the Psalmist David, the man after God's own heart, and with whom I feel a special kinship through the name of my father, Charles Davidson, making me a daughter of the Psalmist's son.

"With blessing overflowing, His goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life. And afterward, I will live with Him forever in His home." ("The New 23rd" by Ralph Carmichael)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


One of the things I looked forward to on a leisurely trip to  San Antonio was shopping for artsy Aggie clothing and accessories. To my surprise and confusion, about all I could find was the burnt orange of Texas Longhorns. 

I finally figured out why. (And my deduction was confirmed in my mind when I found lots of Texas Aggie gear in suburban north Dallas on the trip back to Oklahoma.)

Longhorns are iconic Texan. Longhorns go beyond the University of Texas the same way Sooners transcend OU. So, in touristy areas, of course people are selling and buying - banking on -- the icon. 

Texas A&M and Okie State are more specific to universities. I get that. And it also helps me understand, as someone who still considers myself 100 percent Texan despite having spent 32 of my 55 years in Oklahoma, why I relate more to longhorns than Sooners. 

It's just the way it is. 

Fortunately, sports team gear in North  Texas (except for Gainesville, which seems to market more toward the Red River Rivalry between Oklahoma and tu) is fan-driven, so I was finally able to add the desired couple of pieces to my Aggie gear. 

Meanwhile, I'm especially glad that  bluebonnets also are iconic in Texas. I supported a few local artists by picking up some small pieces of work. 

What I didn't find  but would have had to buy was artwork that beautifully showed  bluebonnets, a windmill, a cat and maybe a mailbox and-or a barn. Oh, and toss in the Lone Star flag for good measure. 

Maybe next time. Even with all that burnt orange, I'll be glad to make a return trip to San Antonio, hopefully to again spend time on the River Walk, not far from the iconic Alamo. It does my heart good. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

If not for fear ....

If not for fear:

-- I would pledge $40 a month to K-Love, the listener-supported Christian music radio station I tune into every day in my car. (But maybe it's wisdom: How do I know someone isn't getting rich off of the donations? Or maybe it's love: I'm not sure my husband would want me to give that, and I don't want to rock the boat by asking.)

If not for fear:

-- I would express to more than my husband and a few very close friends and family members how troubled I am about certain cultural/spiritual issues .... But I am fearful, and I am now deleting the heart of what I had written about what I honestly wanted to express ... editing it in vague terms, to say, in my heart and soul, I am so FEARFUL for our nation. To me, it looks as if Americans -- including lots of Christians -- are defying the word of God that supposedly is our blueprint for life and relationships.  I know I do and have done some things that I think God clearly disapproves of, based on my understanding of God and the Bible. I can get myself to think God understands why I do what I do, but I can't get myself to think he approves. And so I strive for something better. I think the message is clear on selfishness, gluttony, greed, laziness, caring for those in need and other issues I struggle with, including fear. I can't fathom deciding that what I perceive as my weaknesses in those areas are just who or how I am and that I should accept them. I press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ ... (Philippians 3:14)

On that note, if not for fear:

-- I would put people first (visit and help the homebound, grieving, sick and those in need -- my list is so long). Instead, I keep thinking I have to get my own house in order first. That's wise, really, isn't it? And it's showing commitment to my husband, who would love for my house to be orderly! But when I see how little progress I am making toward getting my house in order, I have to wonder.

-- I would eat more healthily.

-- I would take on freelance writing projects.

-- I would pursue more music.

-- I would have cats.

-- I would trust health care providers. What's with my skepticism of doctors? The latest has to do with blood work that shows a deficiency for which my doctor sells the supplement. Sigh. Is the skepticism based on fear, wisdom or something else?

That was 9 a.m. Oct. 9. At 11 pm or so, I pledged $40 a month to K-Love. I am totally trusting that God will make this OK. I listen to K-Love every time I am in my car, which includes a 25-mile commute to and from work and five miles to church. The music and messages help me stay focused on God. And it does sound like the ministry helps carry the gospel and hope to others. I want to be part of that. This seems like a positive step.

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." 1 John 4:18

I want to be perfected in God's love.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
(Hebrews 12:1–2)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The way it is

The following excerpt and the Scriptures are from the Oct. 5 Jesus Calling devotional by Sarah Young. This morning I thought they would inspire a blog post to help me meet with my self-imposed weekly deadline, but nine hours later, I'm not so sure.

"Accept each day just as it comes to you, remembering that I am sovereign over your life. Rejoice in this day that I have made, trusting that I am abundantly present in it. Instead of regretting or resenting the way things are, thank Me in all circumstances. Trust Me and don’t be fearful; thank Me and rest in My sovereignty."

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:6–7)

"This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Actually, the excerpt and Scriptures did shape my day and help me refocus on God as needed rather than just keep trying to figure things out in my head.

Some aspects of fear, resentment and regret have been sidetracking me recently, but today I had a greater sense of acceptance and peace, for which I am grateful.

Other themes for the day involved simplicity and truth.

Craig Denison's First 15 devotional series finished up a week on the simplicity of love. I think this may be one of those times where the cumulative effect of the week of focus on those Scriptures was more powerful than any given day.

Among the takeaways: 

 -- may you discover today a wonderful life rooted in love-based simplicity;

-- love-based obedience to God;

-- the joy of a love-based life ("You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." Psalm 16:11; "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:13);

-- all God asks of us is love;

-- His love has set us free. (Romans 7:4, "Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God." Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.";

-- God's love has redeemed me;

-- God's love pursues us.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Seasons of change 2

The season has officially changed from summer to fall, and now the month is changing from September to October.

Sometimes I think I wish life's transitions were as simple as turning a calendar page.

But few are, and maybe that's for the best.

I've been aware this week that I've still not really adjusted to my husband being retired from his longtime office job and now working from home in a part-time job that involves a lot of travel.

By the time I get accustomed to him being gone for a week or 10 days, he's back for a couple of weeks. And then I'm again trying to adjust to me going to an office job and him not doing that.

Add to that a new perplexity, my awareness that several people I know have changed or are changing jobs and many seem to be ending up in better situations.

Should I? Is there something better out there for me? Sometimes I get so frustrated where I am.

And that's when the realizations about my great fears -- of writing, of failure, of change, of not knowing -- overwhelm me.

But ultimately, I think even though it may seem like fear, the central part of my instinct says it's God that keeps me where I am, which means it's not time for me to make a change. I sense His purpose for me where I am. Deep within my soul, it still seems the message is: Wait. Be patient. Have faith.

I keep thinking I need to figure out my life, but the answer to my prayers keeps being that God must not want me to get it all figured out.

And so I will wait. Trust. Have faith and seek morning by morning God's new mercies. And thank Him.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Psalmcat stirrings

It's been a week since I again became catless after sharing my home with a kitten for about five days. I didn't think that's what would be on my mind when I sat down to write, but seeing last week's post has stirred the Psalmcat.

It became clear in the Jazzy experience that the time was not right for me to have a cat. But since then, many other things seem to have become less clear.

I feel a longing for something, but I have no idea what it is. And fear keeps me from digging to find out what I'm longing for.

The presence of that fear surprises me, because I know my faith is growing, too.

And I continue to see evidence of God blessing me and using me, even as I fall far short of what I think He would want me to be doing.

On Friday, the day after letting go of that kitty I wanted so badly to be able to keep, my First 15 reading's theme was "Encounter God Through Thanksgiving." The worship song was "Bless the Lord O My Soul (10,000 Reasons)." The Scripture was Deuteronomy 8. All affirmed that the sense of gratitude I had over my time with the kitty and being able to let her go was a gift.

The day after that, the Jesus Calling devotional provided just the right Scriptures and words:

-- "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:17–18)

-- From the devotional: When little things don’t go as you had hoped, look to Me lightheartedly and say, “Oh, well.” This simple discipline can protect you from being burdened with an accumulation of petty cares and frustrations. If you practice this diligently, you will make a life-changing discovery: You realize that most of the things that worry you are not important. If you shrug them off immediately and return your focus to Me, you will walk through your days with lighter steps and a joyful heart.

-- My response: Once again, the Jesus Calling devotional has a timely message for me. I'm not sure how God does that day after day and year after year. Oh, right, maybe that's because God is God!! He knows my needs (and yours and yours and yours) and is faithful to provide. I love Him and trust Him and thank Him. May I forever worship, adore and praise Him. (And one of my needs seems to be devotional guides that help me focus on Scripture.)

Other helpful Scriptures as I've continued on my way:

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)

"The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him." (Exodus 15:2)

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5)

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." (Hebrews 10:23)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Still acting on faith -- and no more Jazz (:

Less than a week after I was so surprised and giddy to unexpectedly have a kitty, I am once again a cat lady without a cat.

I'm still trying to make sense of it all.

I am praying and trusting God.

Some of the issues involved are too personal or hard to understand -- much less describe -- to write about on a blog.

But there are some things I want to chronicle, for my record.

Having a kitty makes me happy. There is a void in my life and house when I don't have a kitty.

Having a kitty stirs complicated emotions within me and also some areas of tension with my spouse.

This may have been a catalyst -- to remind us to face some things we had not dealt with in more than a year and a half without a cat. In less than a week, and without Gene even being here, it was clear those issues still exist.

I've been kidded about overthinking things. But this seems to confirm what I fear will happen when I am spontaneous.

As I said, I'm still trying to make sense of it all. Yes, I was impulsive last Saturday in saying I would take her. But I've seen in the past year or so where planning gets my husband and me (too often, that's nowhere!), so I guess I decided it was time to try something spontaneous. Prayerfully, yes, but ultimately, trusting what seemed to be a nudge from God.

I cannot express how much I wanted this to work out. But some troublesome realities of the situation began to emerge quickly, and new challenges arose each day.

Eventually, just as clearly as I had felt I was supposed to welcome the kitty, I knew I needed to be willing to let her go. The major factor was that I was having to leave a less than 4-month-old kitty alone too many hours of the day in a house she was unfamiliar with. She was developing some bad habits, and I wasn't with her enough to channel her energy more positively. My attempts to teach her in our limited time together seemed to be making her afraid of me.

My friend had mentioned in passing that someone else had said they wanted the kitty (after I had her), so Wednesday, I called to find out more about that. This is how my mind works: I want the kitty, but now I'm aware that taking her may have been a mistake -- and what if someone else is supposed to have her? And how will I know? Unfortunately, this wasn't any clearer after our conversation. But I think my friend was now concerned about whether my home and I were a good fit for the kitten she called Minnie and I had renamed Jasmine/Jazz/Jazzy. She said she would find out if the other person was still interested on Friday.

But on Thursday, I received a text saying she might have a home for the kitty. And by 3, she just needed to know when I would be home so she could come get her. And by 7:30, that adorable, playful precious Jasmine, the Jazzy Jazz cat, was gone from my home.

Among the things I've learned or relearned:

--It doesn't matter if I have a cat six days or 13 years, and whether the kitty is dying or going to a new home, letting go is hard.

--I would not sacrifice the time with her to avoid the pain of letting go and renewed loneliness of again having a catless home.

--I can have faith without understanding. I believe God is at work in all things -- and that He is working for good.

At least I feel certain she is going to a loving home. All of my other experiences of letting go of a kitty have involved death.

Sometimes I can get my mind around it: There's no reason to be so dramatic and emotional. I realized I'm gone too much; I hadn't planned this out with my husband -- and now someone else had expressed a desire to have the kitty. I should be and am grateful.

But then the sadness returns.

After five days of sharing pictures and upbeat posts on Facebook about this wonderful kitty, today I offered this: Sadly, my latest kitty update is not very Jazzy. I gave the kitty -- now Miss Minnie again -- back to my friend who brought her. I guess it just wasn't meant to be. I do view the few days I had her as a precious gift from God. I pray her new home will be a better fit. ... I'm sad, disappointed -- and still grateful. Sigh.

And I'm still trying to make sense of it all.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Acting on faith and all that Jazz!

I woke up Saturday thinking it's about time for me to seriously consider getting a kitty. I know Gene and I have said we wouldn't have another cat until we retire to the farm, but I had started trying to think of ways that it might work for us to again have a kitty here.

Then my sister posted on Facebook about how, with the colder weather, her kitties are enjoying lap time more. It made me think of how this house, too, seems colder without a cat. I was starting to form a plan in my mind ...

After a meeting I attend on Saturdays, several of us were talking, and I mentioned that the colder weather makes me think it's time for me to have a kitty again. I was not even considering the possibility of getting a kitty that day ....

But a friend mentioned a kitten had found its way to her house -- and she already has four cats, and one was intolerant of adding a new guy. I know what that is like, because my most recent cat had been totally unwilling to accept a new feline arrival.

As my friend described the kitty, I had the feeling that God was orchestrating this. I had said a prayer earlier about a different situation, just lifting it up to God and pledging my trust and faith in Him to show me what to do and how. I sensed I also should be prayerful and trusting with this.

Even though I had not planned to get a kitty, everything seemed right about it -- except that my husband was traveling and we had not even talked about this; and the house wasn't kitty ready; and few if any of those many those things I needed to do to get my act (and house) together before taking in a kitty again had been taken care of.

But in my mind, the only question was: How will I tell my husband? Maybe I could say she just showed up? I actually considered waiting until I had the kitty before I called him, but decided I needed to call first. But he didn't answer. So I left voice mail, and a text. And then I called the friend with the kitty.

"Does this mean you'll take her?" she asked.

"Yes -- but you need to bring her here. I can't come get her. I might need to be able to say she showed up here."

So this kitty, which I only knew was a female who was sweet and playful and good with the litter box, was on her way to my house. I didn't even know what color she was. I braced myself to love her regardless.

Quite soon, my friend and her husband arrived with the carrier. When I looked inside, I saw this beautiful, silky cinnamon-color sweetheart. I opened the door, and she came out exploring.

Part of not having the house ready was that, despite our best efforts to clean our carpet, we hadn't replaced it, so I know she could smell Bridget. Her little nose was so busy, checking everything out. And before I knew it, she was exploring the cubbies and platforms of the cat condo that had been used by our three previous cats. She checked out the inside of both recliners, the plants -- she managed to let me know quite quickly just how unprepared I was to bring a kitten into this house.

But my gut feeling is that this is meant to be. We can do this. I set her up a home in the guest bathroom -- which already had become the cat's bathroom with Samantha, Teddy and Bridget, if not also Cinnamon.

She spent her first night there, and also the three hours or so Sunday while I was at church and buying groceries. Right now, I'm thinking that's where she will be tomorrow while I'm at work. Eventually she will have the run of the house, but she has some learning to do first.

Am I ready for a cat? I doubt it. I would still be making excuses. But I think this is an act of faith. I pray it is. And signs continue to affirm that.

I talked to my husband later Saturday. He wasn't thrilled with the news, but he wasn't upset. He said what I knew: This is not how he would have gone about it.

So Jasmine aka Jaz aka Jazzy (and formerly Miss Minnie) and I have a lot of work to do to show Gene that this was not a mistake. I think, hope and pray we are off to a good start.

Having a kitty is an act of faith for me. But so was not having a kitty. I guess none of that should surprise me, because life at its best for me is just that: one act of faith after another.

I trust God to lead me and guide me. And for this moment, this crazy cat lady thanks God for the silky cinnamon furry, purry sweetheart that has made her way into my heart and home.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Seasons of change

Here I go again. I'll start by mentioning what I hoped to write about, and then I'll see what I end up with. What I had in mind: something about the ALS ice bucket challenge and spending time on Labor Day working on a treasured homestead in Texas; quiet time with close family members; a simple anniversary celebration with my husband; weather that seems unseasonal to me; too many things to do at once; and so much tempting food. Will I choose one or go in some other direction?

I am a creature of habit and am most comfortable when life is routine.

Life hasn't seemed routine lately.

And it's all good.

That doesn't seem like a routine reaction for me. But it is a good reaction, and the more common it becomes, the better off I am.

For instance: I think summer should be hot, winter can be a little cold, and spring and autumn are best experienced quite mildly. In the South Central U.S., spring is green and includes rainy days, and the end of summer starts to be dry, brown and yellow.

This afternoon when I walked, everything was so beautifully green and growing, even though the neighborhood lake is still low.

Yesterday, when I needed to be two places at once and another place not long after that, meaning lots of coming and going, the skies opened to pour out about eight-tenths inch of rain. Which was wonderful, until on one of those comings, as I was headed into the church, late (after spending a few moments at the other event that started at the same time), I dropped my iPhone and a bunch of brand-new choir music in a puddle! This was after I noticed, before leaving the house, that the belt on the exercise bike I ride faithfully every day had broken.

The me I know best would get all frustrated and be thinking at that point that nothing is going right. But that's not what I thought yesterday. I knew it really all was good. Seriously? Thank You, God, because that reaction is not my own.

Perhaps that attitude adjustment is a fruit of pretty much daily trying to spend time in prayerful focus on God, using Craig Denison's First 15 guide, among others. After reading Friday's devotional, I wrote: I want that!

Sept. 5, First 15: "James 1:2-4 says, 'Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.' If we will allow the Lord to redeem the trials and testing we endure in this life, we will begin to bear the fruit of joy in the midst of any circumstance. Unshakable joy is our portion."

Today, I thank God for the taste of that Joy I received this weekend.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Surprise! It's been a year!

Wow! What a year it has been. This time in 2013, I was doing last-minute shopping and crazy packing/planning before leaving early the next day for flights to London and the start of that amazing 10-day cruise along the Western  European coast aboard the Crystal Serenity. Usually I'm very aware of such "anniversaries," but this one had slipped my mind until someone at church this morning wished me a happy anniversary. Sure enough, the wedding anniversary had slipped my mind, too. That's when I thought back to last year, when I was aboard the ship somewhere in the area of Bordeaux, France, and Gene was home in Norman, Oklahoma. 

That's how the past 12 months have been -- filled with surprises, blessings, frustrations, challenges, memories and forgetfulness. 

Three factors seemed to play big roles. 

One was the cruise. I had to decide quickly whether to go on this promotional trip available through work -- and to this day I'm not sure I made the best choice. Some of my personal chaos since then I clearly link to that decision and its aftermath. 

Another was my husband's transition with his early retirement from a state job to a part-time, work-from-home role as a contractor for a national organization. For a 20-hour-a-week job, it has keep him very busy, including a lot of travel. I've enjoyed getting to go along on some trips and will do so more in the future. We knew the transition would be significant. I think we both are looking forward to next year and a better sense of how to plan and balance work and some retirement opportunities not tied to his job. 

And the third is the cancer diagnosis of my sister-in-law. When I was in Arkansas for the birthday of their youngest  daughter -- my goddaughter -- a year ago in August, things were so normal, as far as I knew. But by Thanksgiving, everything had changed with a cancer diagnosis. I've been blessed to be one of many family members and friends sharing this precious journey. I've wanted to be there so much more, but I'm grateful for every visit I have been able to make. So often, the timing has been amazing in ways than can only be divine. Through a very difficult year, the family's faith has remained strong. Their determination to pull together through this and fight for healing and strength continues to inspire me. And again today, I pray in faith that she soon will have some pain-free, quality time with her family. But until then, we praise God for His blessings that allow them to see the good in every day and situation. I believe with all my heart that a positive breakthrough is just around the corner. Our job is to remain faithful. 

And that is what I try to do every day, in every situation. Sometimes I fall far short, and God in His great mercy loves and accepts and blesses me anyway. 

I was tempted to write that I hope the coming year will be less chaotic and stressful for me, for my husband and for my brother's family. But I'm not going to do that. I just pray to stay close to God, come what may.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Causes and effects

I had hoped to write a light piece tonight about causes, effects and unintended consequences, but one thing leads to another, and the result is that I am out of time before I even get started!

I will say that the Texas Aggies start their new football season playing on the new SEC Network on Thursday, and we prepared by upgrading our cable to digital so we could get that channel and some others (outdoors and fishing!) of interest to my husband. I was eager to get the network and excited to have it. But almost immediately, I became aware that it's even harder to decide what to watch now. So far, I've been forced to keep it simple, because I haven't had time to explore all the new programming available.

Meanwhile, the game starts at 5, so it's good that this system has a recorder. But when will I even watch it? Now Gene tells me we can record six shows at once? Really? Last Saturday, I was flipping between three games (Texas Rangers, Dallas Cowboys and Johnny Football's team), and I could have been recording all three! Tomorrow, I can record the Aggies and the Dallas Cowboys. But again ... really? Do I even want to spend time on this? The good thing about such recordings is that, like an iPhone picture or Facebook post, there's nothing wrong with capturing it in the moment. I can always delete it later.

Of course, lurking in the back of my mind is the thought that none of the teams I follow have been doing too well lately. How will I feel if my beloved Aggies follow that pattern? I just want it to be enjoyable to watch, and it really is more fun when they win.

As with so many things, it's up to me to decide how I will spend my time and what effect I will let sports outcomes or anything else have on my thoughts and moods.

Achieving a healthy balance would be a cause for celebration!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Holding on to promises

This is another catch-all post. I'm convinced that I will only ever write anything that pleases me if I keep up the discipline of writing something on a regular basis even if I have nothing to say. As it turns out, I sometimes don't know whether I have anything to say until I start writing. More often, I think I have something to say, but cannot figure out how to express it and can't justify spending too much time trying. That's the case tonight, and I feel the desire to go to bed prevailing over the desire to write about my weekend.

In the meantime, I continue to be grateful for the promises of Scripture, including:

-- "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." (1 Peter)

That was related to the Aug. 15 meditation from Craig Denison's First 15: "He heals past wounds and forgives present scars."

It prompted me to write out this prayer: "Lord, I need Your forgiveness. And I have it. Thank You. I love You. I want to live for You, in joy, obedience, love and service. Humility. Lord, I need You to help me forgive myself for how I am about how I am. Or help me to live with it. I pray all things will glorify You. Amen."

-- "And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

More joy

I continue to get daily reminders to not let anything rob me of the joy and strength that come from the Lord. 

This week's spiritual theme turned to forgiveness, and still joy crept in. It wasn't in the words of the devotional, but is one of the clear, continuing outcomes.  

Wednesday's 12-step meeting referenced our journey on the road of Happy Destiny.

That was followed by  Thursday's reading from an OA devotional book: "Here we experience the great truth that when we let go of our need to control people and simply allow our Higher Power to serve others through us, we receive an abundance of strength and joy." ("Voices of Recovery," p. 227, quoting "The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous," p. 106)

And I'll close with my thoughts about a quote from the video played for Sunday school, attributed to John Wesley, which I am probably just paraphrasing: "Preach  salvation until you have it, then preach salvation because you have it."

I apply this to my effort to continue to focus on the joy that comes from my relationship with the Lord. I will preach it until I experience it, and then I will share it because I have it.

Friday, August 8, 2014

The joy of the Lord is my strength

Happiness and joy have been key themes in my meditations and Scriptures this week.

Today, the messages included a commentary on Pope Francis' top 10 tips for bring joy to one's life. Among the guidelines were some that I already had been striving toward, with varying degrees of success: Live and let live; give of yourself to others; move calmly; maintain a sense of leisure; avoid being negative; set Sunday apart; and work for peace.

Although as I write this on Friday night, I am tired and have a headache that is related either to a toothache or sinuses, overall I have felt energized this week as my mind has settled often on this verse: "The joy of the Lord is my strength" (Nehemiah 8:10.)

Often, my mood lightened as I found myself thinking: "How awesome is that? Returning my focus to the Lord brings joy, and in that joy is strength."

It also came in handy when I found myself starting to moan about tedious extra tasks that seemed to interrupt my routine this week. The Lord. Joy in the Lord. Strength in joy in the Lord. And eventually, I was grateful for the ability and opportunity to do the task, even if it seemed tedious.

Now, the Scriptures and meditations don't solve another dilemma I continue to battle: that I always seem to run out of time. So far, I've gotten no clear answers to my prayers to either help me not be so easily distracted, or to be quicker and more efficient at each thing I do. Instead, I still get stuck making even minor decisions, and then fretting as time fritters away. And one unexpected occurrence -- a phone call, rain when I expect sunshine, someone missing a day of work -- threatens to derail every bit of progress.

But even then, before I go to bed and when I wake up, I return to the guiding theme: The joy of the Lord is my strength.

These are some of the Scriptures I encountered this week that helped me stay focused on the joy God offers:

"And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10)

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." (Zephaniah 3:17)

"May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy." (Colossians 1:11)

"There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy." (Ecclesiastes 2:24-26)

"You make known to me the path of life;in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The worst ever

 No clear thoughts have emerged for a blog post tonight. I don't know whether it's because I watched "Sharknado" and "Sharknado 2," or if perhaps that's why I watched the silly movies. I made a conscious choice to allow myself to have them on, even as I continued to do some tasks at hand. Maybe I thought watching would inspire a blog post. As it turns out, there's no inspiration. And it's time (past time) to turn out the light. So that's all I have tonight -- or at least that's all I'm going to write, even though it feels very disappointing  not to push on through. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Clearly not an answer I would have chosen

All I have to post this week is some insight from today's My Utmost for His Highest (Oswald Chambers)  reading:

"If a person  ... desires knowledge and insight into the teachings of Jesus Christ, he can only obtain it through obedience. If spiritual things seem dark and hidden to me, then I can be sure that there is a point of disobedience somewhere in my life.   ... (S)piritual darkness is the result of something that I do not intend to obey."

This convicts me. It hits me right where I am stuck. I've had some pretty clear insights into what God would have me do in some key areas -- and I am flat-out resisting. 

As I wrote Thursday morning:
I say I trust God, but I don't act like it.
I resist: 
-- Letting go of something very important to me, trusting God to redeem it;
-- helping with Bible school or other service:
-- visiting people (shut-ins, neighbors, the sick, etc.);
-- focusing more on Gene and less on me, including phone/Facebook, food and exercise. 

So far, I guess I don't trust God enough to just do these things. But I hope and pray that He can and will move me to that greater level of trust that leads to joyous obedience. I believe He is. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Still trying to figure it out

July 18, 10:30 pm: New dilemma: I know I can't know everything. But I wish I could at least know what it is I need to know. 

How do I figure that out? What  do I need to know?
That seems to be a major dilemma for me: What do I need to know???

July 19, 9 am: 
In other words, WHAT IS IMPORTANT?
This applies even to my stuff, be it clutter or treasures. 
I know I need to seek my answers in prayer and Bible reading. 

July 20, 4:20 pm: And now that I think about it, is that a new dilemma, or just more of the same. I think probably the latter. 

And the answer always the same: Word of God.