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INDEPENDENT

Ruby the cat and Chanse the dog. Gingerly getting along while Dad gives the love.

I grew up in a household with a vocal Democrat mom and a quiet Republican dad. They were married for almost 60 years; proof that people with different ideas and beliefs can coexist, and even love, if they are mature and have a heart, and know that there are times when it’s best not to talk about it.

I’ve been a registered Independent for decades because there are weaknesses in both parties that produce maniacs. Screaming, name calling, mocking, destruction, and other behaviors of disrespect will not be tolerated. My ears close like a door on a windy day.

My mind weighs the facts given by both sides and is most swayed by a kind, relatable, educated, biblically authentic, and God-honoring position. There are too many who quote the Bible without having actually read it. There are too many who use the Bible as a hammer to pound their personal views instead of offering it as a beacon of truth, righteousness, and discernment to make choices that are honoring to God and all people. I know because I’ve done both at one time or another. The damage and confusion I caused is what made me yearn to know more about the Bible and it’s historical significance, the symbolism, and how it all ties together over thousands of years of cultural differences and political warfare. There really is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Is it even possible to honor all people in our choices here on earth? I wonder because every compromise creates a resentment. Every win creates a loss, and every filling creates a void. I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.

For everything there is a season
and a time for every activity under heaven:
 a time to give birth and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted;
 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build up;
 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
 a time to seek and a time to lose,
a time to keep and a time to discard;
 a time to tear apart and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Jesus is the greatest Independent that ever existed. That is, he isn’t swayed by public opinion or popular consensus. His only dependence is on God Almighty. By the power of the Holy Spirit, He sifts through all the muck and bares the raw Truth with the intent to purify, and then He lets the individual with a softened and repentant heart make their own choice.

Our equality is in how God loves each and every one of us and allows us to choose to follow Him or not. He loves ALL of us. It all boils down to us paying that love forward. We all have something to give. Let’s do our part.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for my independence which allows me to choose dependence on You in every season of my life.

Featured

God’s Blessings

I woke up a bit after 3 AM this morning and God blessed me.

Normally when I beat the earliest of birds up from their slumber, I just try to go back to sleep. But this time I picked up my phone and opened Instagram. Instead of scrolling, I saw someone on the “suggestions” whom I know but haven’t spoken with in a while so I checked out her profile.

There on a sparsely used page were a few photos, and the newest one was posted exactly twelve minutes before I woke up in the wee hours of the morning. While it didn’t tell me much, it told me enough, and it soothed a mother’s heart.

It never ceases to amaze me how God works in our lives even when we least expect it. Enjoy the journey.

He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen. Deuteronomy 10:21

Gray Glory

Gray hair is a crown of glory, found on the path of righteousness.

Proverbs 16:31

In my youth, I never considered gray hair to be a good thing.

There were always the jokes about growing another gray hair from worry or how your kids turned your hair gray from who knows what, but I don’t remember hearing that gray hair was a sign of righteousness.

Having hair that started graying in my late 20’s, I started dyeing it and continued for decades. It was only when my hair person told me my hair was about 90% gray that I decided to take the plunge and chuck the processing that had turned into a bi-weekly ritual with root touch ups in between.

I was told at the time about eight years ago that there wasn’t a gray dye on the market to color my hair and hide the roots while my processed reddish brown color grew out (now it’s popular for young women to dye their hair gray. Go figure).

She suggested “low lighting” which of course is the opposite of “high lighting” in that it adds strands of a darker color than your base color. It didn’t make sense at first to do that. Wasn’t I trying to get rid of my fake color to go all gray? But low lighting was a good choice because it was more of a controlled addition of color that added dimension to keep my roots from being obvious as I grew out my hair to glorious gray. It worked so well I only had to have the low lighting process done one time, and not once did I feel self-conscious about having roots because they were disguised so well.

THIS is why multitudes of women go to hair care professionals. Many a distraught DIYer has graced the salon begging for repairs of a dye or bleach job that went amuck, and they pay far more than money in damaged hair than if they had gone to the salon in the first place. I did okay for years doing a simple home color process myself but no way was I going to mess up my hair with anything more complicated.

All this talk about hair…is it really that important? I suppose in the grand scheme of life it isn’t, but most women consider their hair to be a source of comfort or embarrassment, like an old friend. We talk about it, play with it, and compare it to others. We caress it or fight with it. It’s a blessed woman who is at peace with her hair in it’s natural state, which brings me back to what the proverb says about gray hair and righteousness.

Every stage of life offers strengths and benefits. When we are young we have vitality, energy, and physical strength. As we travel the path of life we learn as we go and our wisdom grows as the strengths of our youth diminish. Our gray hair is like a badge of honor that shows that we’ve been blessed with a long life; hopefully, a life of righteousness full of wise choices and a humble esteem of God before all else.

Even our hair.

THE CAULIFLOWER STORY

Have you gardening enthusiasts ever had a plant that you gave up on because it wasn’t thriving and didn’t look like it had much of a chance?

My planting was a cauliflower.  It was back in 1991.  We lived in a house in Southeast Denver, an older neighborhood of 1950’s cookie-cutter houses that had nice big yards for playing kids, barbeques, and gardens.  In the back, we had a huge vegetable garden, herb garden, strawberry bed, dwarf cherry tree, and raspberry bushes.  In the side yard, I had a cutting garden where I had planted several varieties of annual and perennial flowers for the birds, butterflies, and me!  I totally loved digging in the dirt and seeing what I could grow in this Colorado climate that is so different from Iowa where I grew up.

This particular year I had decided to try growing celery and cauliflower.   The celery took too much room in the garden as each plant needed a “mound” in which to be planted upright so the stalks could develop safe from the sun and elements.  So I needed to find a place for the cauliflower, which also required ample space.  This location was found in the cutting garden behind the lilac bush.  I made sure the lighting fit the requirements and gave them plenty of food and water.  I babied those plants until mid-summer when I realized I had miscalculated my time for planting because they were not holding up under the summer heat.  They were cool weather plants….duh.  I let them go; no more water or food.  I concentrated on nurturing the celery.

Skip ahead two months to September.  It had been a little cool but nothing too uncomfortable.  Most of the garden was spent, having been harvested already.  One particular day, it was rainy, and I was depressed.  I had been sober almost a year and that being said, recovery is not the easiest task to do.  Seeing one’s self and life with a clear head and honest evaluation could depress anyone!

My cutting garden was visible from the kitchen window and I stood there for quite a while crying, just watching the rain fall and the birds eating at the bird feeder. After a while, the rain turned to snow, and not a light one either.  It was coming down heavily and was quickly  covering everything in a white blanket.  As I stood there watching, I told God, “I really want to die but I’m too scared,  it’s up to you….would you please just send down a big bolt of lightning and take me out?”. (Yes, my dramatic flair is at it’s best when I’m sad.  What can I say?!!)

I looked out the window at the birds flying back and forth to and from the feeder… up to the bush… down to the ground…..hopping around in the snow………wait a minute…….what……no…..I tore out the front door and around the house to the cutting garden, and behind the lilac bush, covered in snow with just a small patch visible, was the biggest, most beautiful, white cauliflower I had ever seen!  How could it be?  I had completely forgotten it was even there and hadn’t given it any attention for weeks.  I saw its huge leaves growing but how could I pass by it several times a week without noticing its white growth? It was a miracle!

I was amazed at its beauty.  It was huge…about the size of a honeydew melon, and pure white, no blemishes.  The only reason I saw it when I did, camouflaged with snow, was because I was at that window, focused and praying to God , and He gave me His answer.  I recognized that, and because of it my mood was lifted immediately.

What a gift!  I thanked God for answering me in a way I could understand and for giving me the most tasty, succulent, cauliflower I had ever tasted, for dinner that evening.  I had a totally new perspective and appreciation for the creativity of the Lord’s answers to prayer, and even for what might be considered to be His outrageous sense of humor.

My Lord rocks!

Psalm 66

18 If I had not confessed the sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19 But God did listen!
He paid attention to my prayer.
20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
or withdraw his unfailing love from me.

(My written experiences are for me, my kids, and family.  If anyone else happens to enjoy them, I’m honored.  If not, it’s ok!)

Water Of Life

Do you remember the last time you felt like your heart was splitting? There is such a paralyzing heaviness you almost feel like you can’t breathe, and if you somehow manage to draw a breath, it is saturated with your tears. It feels like you’re drowning.

How do you get out of that? Do you apply the nearest Bandaid fix, or do you perform major heart surgery complete with a staple, glue, and stitches lock up and hope for the best?

For those who cling to the promises of Jesus Christ, we don’t have to hope for the best because we already have it at our disposal. The best healing is brought by way of prayer, and more than likely, God is going to guide us out of our misery by leading us into the light of love for others.

Recently I suffered a loss. Through circumstances beyond my control, I was put in the position of having to make difficult choices that would affect relationships near and dear to my heart. Those who are believers know all too well the struggle to put God first in our lives while making everyone else happy at the same time. It doesn’t work out that way sometimes. And our hearts break.

While I sat here trying to figure out why and how this could be happening, I finally asked God, “What am I supposed to do with this”? “Can’t I be happy for just a little bit? My battle weary, scarred heart is stretching these old sutures to the limit. Please pull me through this and teach me what You want me to know”.

I haven’t felt so alone in a very long time.

UPDATE 2/24/2021: I’m looking around and find this draft that I wrote several weeks ago but have very little recollection of writing it. I do remember the pain. I have news. My friend and Savior, Jesus Christ, took my hand and led me out of that darkness and into the light of reason, reality, hope, and love. No, it’s not all better, but I am eternally grateful for God’s patience, peace, and unconditional love. God’s love never fails.

WHAT A PAIN IN THE BACK!

It happened after a fairly routine medical procedure for those of us who are older. Something went amuck.

Seriously, I had a colonoscopy five years ago and the next day I was perfectly capable of doing my daily routines. But this time, my lower back went out and stayed until I considered sending a posse to find it.

The ability to bend, roll over, sit, stand, or walk for extended periods was gone. The only relief I had(I’ve been told I was blessed)was lying in bed and sleeping relatively pain free. After a couple weeks of steady decline, I notified the doctor and he scheduled more tests and scans to try to find out what was going on.

Well, just like when you take your car in for a funny noise and it ends up being something else that costs an arm and a leg, we found something else that probably wasn’t causing the back problem. I thought, “Just keep mining for gold! There has to be something in there that’s causing my pain”!

I had read online many good tips from seasoned chronic back pain sufferers and it seems the best course of action was to take an NSAID like Advil along with an ibuprofen like Tylenol. I ran it through my doctor as the older you are, the more NSAIDs are discouraged because of complications. It helped but not enough, and I couldn’t understand why the pain seemed to be getting worse instead of better. The prayer warriors were dispatched.

On week four, it finally occurred to me (thank you, Lord) that maybe the time-release extra strength Tylenol wasn’t delivering enough ibuprofen at once to combat the pain and inflammation. I got hold of some 500mg per tablet BackAid Max and took that with the Advil and it was almost instant relief. After 4 days, I am feeling almost like my old self and am cautiously weening off the doses as I do a bit more activity each day and continue to use the back saving tricks I learned from this experience.

As of now, I don’t know what hurt my back but I suspect it was all the jumping in and out of bed the night before the colonoscopy. The next time I have one scheduled I will be sleeping on the floor or the recliner during the “purge”. I’m thanking the Lord for this experience for several reasons.

First: I have much greater empathy for those who suffer from chronic pain and mobility issues. Until it happens to you, you don’t know.

Second: I learned how to ask for help for the simplest of things like putting food in and taking it out of the oven, looking for something in the back of a cupboard, or picking something up off the floor. A hot bath feels good but then there’s the problem of how to get out without pain. Showers are better.

Third: I never realized how many things I drop in the course of a day! I have one of those apparatuses that picks things up but it wasn’t always handy, so I started leaving items right where they dropped and my wonderful hubby would pick them up in passing. He knew.

Fourth: Putting on pants and socks, and tying your shoes is torture. I learned to wear low cut socks and slip-ons. My jeans went on hiatus and I got some of the stretchy pants I said I would never wear. These days, stretchy pants don’t look like the ones Grandma used to wear and they are in style! Just make sure they are not too tight or the wiggling to get them on is going to kill you.

Fifth: Remember that long, delicious, full body stretch first thing when you wake up? I had to be satisfied with a careful stretch of the legs, and rolling over was in slow motion in a completely relaxed state. Doing either of these simple actions the wrong way would painfully shock me into full awareness. Same with getting into or out of bed. My bed sits 36” high due to a 14” mattress. I got a small wooden foot stool to help me get a leg up so I could learn how to crawl into and out of bed while keeping my back straight.

Sixth: Get a bidet. Trust me.

Seventh: None of this is sexy. Everything doesn’t have to be sexy. Love is sexy.

The important thing is I’ve gleaned whatever good there is to learn from the experience and hopefully, I”m better prepared if it happens again. I’m grateful, so very grateful for my husband and all the prayer warriors who prayed on my behalf, and to be able to share with my words anything that might help someone else going through the same thing. As an old friend once told me long ago, “We all need each other so very much”.

To God be the Glory.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

I Noticed…

Parents are resilient people.

Most of us like to think we did a decent job of raising our children but for those of us not quite sure about that, we crave a little confirmation now and then. I’ve heard many stories from parents who were surprised at how badly they misread their children’s earlier signals that were painfully clarified by their hearts in adulthood. Here are some of the things parents noticed.

I noticed…when I heard you tell your friends your Mom was pretty cool.

I noticed…when I heard you tell your friends your Mom was a witch.

I noticed…when you lovingly placed a homemade card on the table for Mother’s Day and my birthday.

I noticed…when I got nothing, not even a phone call for either day.

I noticed…when your boyfriend changed everything about you until I no longer recognized my daughter who would no longer speak to me unless it was in expletives.

I noticed…when you called me upset and needing to talk when you were having a fight with your spouse and I listened, and then told you to go back home and work things out.

I noticed…when you came home looking beat up. You were.

I noticed…when you were excited about something that happened in your day.

I noticed…when you did something insensitive to someone who loves you.

I noticed…when you needed us to love you and you let us.

I noticed…when you got involved in something humanitarian, and then cringed when you did something unsavory.

I noticed…when you wrote nice things about me in your book report for school.

I noticed…when you left me out.

I noticed…when you asked me for what you wanted, instead of your dad.

I noticed…when you went to him for advice.

I noticed…when you were afraid to tell me the truth.

I noticed…when you trusted me with a painful secret.

I noticed…when you said you wanted something and you usually got it.

I noticed…when you gave your last dollar to a friend who was taking advantage of you.

I noticed…when you held the door open for someone.

I noticed…when you rocked babies to sleep like you were an old pro.

I noticed…when you didn’t return my calls, texts, or emails for weeks at a time.

I noticed…when you played favorites.

I noticed…when you were doing things you shouldn’t have been doing. Yes, I knew.

I noticed…when you ignored my boundary requests in my own home.

I noticed…when you struggled because you ignored my advice.

I noticed…when you made difficult decisions responsibly.

I noticed…you, all of you, warts and all, and I love you and always will.

Did you notice…anything about me…other than my faults?

There comes a time, when all is said and done, and all that’s left is the memory, not as we remember it but as it was, and we have to take that shred of reality and live the rest of our lives knowing that is all we have left.

It never had to be that way.

What If…

A Pieceful Life: Wishing you….

A friend posed the question if all the frills of Christmas including the gifts, decorations, trees, and food, were taken away, would we still be celebrating?

I love giving and receiving gifts and all the glitter of the season, but I also love the SPIRIT of Christmas that prevails during the month of December. No matter what words someone greets me with, I know in my heart MY celebration is about Jesus’s birth, yes, even if we don’t know the exact day he was born. It doesn’t matter. Christians are celebrating Jesus’s birth!

The gift of remembering with a small, heartfelt, written letter or card and caring enough to give of your time is more than some ever receive and is the gift that keeps giving for a very long time. I still have the handmade cards and letters my kids made for me when they were little and they make me smile to this day.

A smile or kind word to someone who is downtrodden could be the best gift ever for you both. What about letting someone else have the pleasure of making the dinner and serving you? How about giving people the benefit of the doubt and offering some mercy? That’s a BIG gift, right there. So many people need forgiveness and compassion, and sometimes they don’t even realize it.

It’s these little things that make a person feel loved and esteemed. The older you get, the more you realize this because you are winding down on accumulation and seeking the significant parts of life. Fancy trips, new cars and houses, and giant RVs are nice but in the grand scheme of life, they are meaningless.

What would the world be like if the spirit of Christmas spilled over into the rest of the year? I like to think it would be a much better place where people could see beyond themselves to touch the heart of another person, whether they like them or not, or it’s convenient or not…even blood relatives.

Love ya, Humanity. We can do this!

 Merry Christmas!

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