Thursday, August 14, 2014

Land of 40 ~ Love Story

I am really in the fourth decade of my life now.  Hitting 40 was indeed a milestone, and now I pass the first marker of this 4th decade.

I can't say that with much hoopla, to be honest.  Lately I am looking a little more carefully in the mirror for lines that were not there yesterday, thinking more about how many days it's been since my last good work out and that it only takes three days of non-aerobic work for your muscles to begin to atrophy.  Ugh... I don't want to look old, but I feel older!  My body is not wanting to move like I did a few years ago.  I even got bi-focals this past year, which at the time made me happy cause I was having a hard time seeing but that is what OLD people have!

41.... oh man.

But, I enjoyed my birthday with many well wishes on Facebook, and many texts, a skype call and a few phone calls.  I feel loved.  I feel thankful.

And, I am noticing that a year is moving along much quicker.  I now see the year ahead as 180 school days until summer comes again. Yes, I loved my summer and a year counted off in school days is much  easier to measure.  Yet that means Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, and Christmas, and Spring and then... we will be finished with another school year.  Oh summer, how I love you.  Then another birthday will pop up... I can wait on that, I don't want it to come that quickly.

I hope, and pray that the days between now and then will be full of life and love.  I hope, and dream of love to come, as I hope every year, that maybe this year a love story will be written.

But this year.... I will realize a greater love story for you see I want to love more.

You see, I am grasping His love for me more and more, and as I do that I realize my purpose more and more, and that is to love!

He has a purpose for me this 41st year: To love more because I am loved.   I believe that may be the secret to living, for when we love and know we are loved, we live!

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand
    when I awake, I am still with you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ConnectedSoulGrief ~ Robin Williams

My soul is so grieved over the loss of Robin Williams.

It seems so odd that I would feel such grief over someone I did not personally know.  I know many grieve this loss, and deeply so.

So this morning I stopped and asked, why does this affect me so?

He connected with my soul.

There was something in Robin Williams, the characters he brought to life, that connected with something in me.  He made us laugh indeed, but his dramatic performances also made us feel, there was such an authenticity in his characters.   Some of my favorite films were Patch Adams, Good Will Hunting, Awakenings.   Some of his roles were not exactly where I stand on my values and convictions, so I can't endorse everything ethically and morally.  Sadly and obviously, the spiritual state and direction of our culture is expressed in the arts.  Yet as an actor, he was able to embody and connect us to the cry of the human soul; he voiced, questioned, made us feel, ask and laugh.  He bridged souls, hearts and emotion.

But maybe it was his deep pain and loneliness that truly connected us all. He laughed and was a delight, as there was a gentle, touchable soul behind his blue eyes.  He seemed to be the kind of person who could be that friend you could enjoy a long walk on the beach with, or sit silently in the backyard to watch the stars.  He was so transparent over the pain behind the humor, we could have been transparent right back.

Many years ago, I saw a clip from a stand-up act he did, within the few minutes of his routine, he made a very crass joke about our human form and design.  He mocked The Creator's design.  In that moment, I saw such agony and anger in him, towards God.  A sad soul, searching, asking, demanding and lost, laughing through the pain.

I saw the anguish of his soul and my heart broke for him.

I don't know if Williams ever really saw or heard his Creator as a Redeemer, Savior, Lord, but he hurt, so he made it funny.  We laughed along, maybe because we identify with the pain.

My heart breaks now as I know he has stepped through the veil of eternity, facing his Creator now.   The One who designed him, wonderfully and uniquely.  His Maker did hear, did see, and does love him.

He Loves You, and sees and hears...

I prayed for Williams over the years.  The day before hearing of his death, I had a random moment in which he came to my mind and I prayed, or I think I prayed, for him.  I wish I would have prayed more.

Now I pray for his family and all of us left who feel such deep grief as I.

And I must rest the unknown in my Makers arms, and trust eternity with God who is compassionate and gracious, full of mercy and truth.  He alone is God, and there is none other than He.

"But You, O LORD, are a God full of compassion and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in mercy and truth." Psalm 86:17

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gifts of Summer

Good Morning!

It's a lovely quiet morning, and I am soaking in every little second of being home, on a Tuesday, with no real demands, agenda, project, job or responsibilities screaming down my neck.  For now, that is... and I love it.

I even slept well last night.  Which is a gift, since REST is from the Lord.  Yes, I must admit anxious nightmares have been flickering through my nights, stirring me to action, as school is about to start up again.  It's my minds way of dealing with fear of "oh no, it's just around the corner" and I will have to face the end of these lovely do-what-I-want-to-do days in a week.

What a gift this summer has been! It has been a full, very productive, eventful, surprising summer!  From summer house projects, family time, reconnecting with old friends, trips all over, meeting and making new friends, to leisure mornings like today: Thank YOU Jesus for refreshing my soul!

"Refreshing" is the word that my soul has repeated when asked how my summer has been, a refreshing gift!

My soul indeed has been replenished with each day.  I desired to spend special time with Him, and I did cut out a few days to go away, seclude myself in a private, other-than-home destination, a place called "Whispering Willows" yet the whole summer was wrapped in His love.  I just wanted to share and rejoice over His goodness to me.

One thing that has been rising like air bubbles from the depths of my soul, is a settled joy over where I am.  So much of my life I have felt as if I was on a daunting search for where I belonged.  I have lacked a true sense of belonging that I just assumed that was embedded in me, and I would not feel at home until Heaven, which is partly true.  Yet, I love that I feel like I belong here, right now.

Sure, there are a few things I would still love to come to fruition: a more formal use of my counseling degree which would utilize the gifts God has given me more fully, meeting the love of my life and marriage, to list a few.  But, God is over all that, and He is drawing me deeper into His arms of love, His sure hold on my life, and He is sovereignly working out all these things.

Funny how He gives us hope for these things, in the oddest of moments.  One morning as I was doing whatever I needed to do around the house, I was in the bathroom, picking up or cleaning or something not-to-personal and His whisper came, "In a moment I can do it."  Of course, my mind was thinking on "when will You bring him into my life..."  I can still see the towel rack, the edge of the shower curtain, the place my feet were planted, as He put this knowledge into my being, like living knowledge.  That kind of whisper that gives you a solid place to stand, and doubt just vanishes.

I love His Whispers...

How else did He refresh me?  Glad you asked! 

This would be my affectionate nephew Colby!
I love this boy!  Next time I see him he will be all grown up!
The Lord brought people my way this summer!  Family, of course, was a blessing.  I spent a week in Florida, limiting my contact with mostly family.  It was definitely a sweet treat to my heart. What a gift to have siblings who share a deep love of Jesus, live for Him and share the spiritual blessings of peace and joy.  I don't take this for granite!
Here I am in Iowa with Seth!
I have never been (except when I was in Africa) in such a rural place.
The Lord also brought some very dear, old friends around and through my summer.  I have a wide sphere of friends, and some are far away, sporadically connecting, but what joy and blessing they are to me!
 new friend, Allison and old friend, Danielle
Something new also developed this summer in the arena of friends; close neighbor friends!  I have a lovely group of friends in the area yet I have longed to have friends within walking distance.  This summer several new friends have popped up within blocks of my house!  I love that I can go for a walk and spend an hour or so with someone just over the hill, and no car is required!
Sailing with my new friend Mia!

I completed a few projects this summer as well.  I am going to create separate posts for those. This post is long enough as it is.  So, stay tuned!

So, I worked on house projects, spend time with family and friends, and loved life this summer, resting my mind from the worries of the school year behind me.

I love His Refreshing Gifts to me this summer.... Free days, Family, Friends, and fun... :-)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sifting through Normalcy

Because it's May and I have not posted one single thing in a few months, I figured it was time to blog.

School is almost over, literally five more days of frizzy with pre-adolescents.  One look into every teachers eyes and you will see that we are all staring at the finish line.  This leg has taken every ounce of energy in all of us.  The kids are so ready to be free from school, books, teacher's dirty looks and visa versa.

As this last week finally arrives, I am so thankful for the year behind, that victory and joy was experienced, and much was learned.  Honestly, I can barely wait to sift through and apply the lessons I learned from the blood, sweat and tears of the path behind me to the year in front of me.  AND I am greatly anticipating the weeks of summer in between to rest, revamp, reconnect, retreat, refresh and refill my depleted mind and soul and NOT think about school!

Something I want out of this summer is a special time with the Lord.  I have seriously been pondering  some kind of "retreat" or special refreshment with Him.  Like any love relationship, I want some special time focusing on Him by turning off all other noises, to intentionally, expectantly listen to what He has to say.

In the midst of this year-long marathon, some rubbing and sore spots have risen in some very normal areas.  I want Him to assist me as I look over these tender spots.

One place I have felt some rubbing is the area of normal life routine, in normal places of occupation.  This feels a little odd to me; I have always envisioned a supernatural life.  Sometimes I feel I am in a whole different world.  What does my faith look like in this normal arena?  How do I share my faith, when, with whom, how?  What can I do to stay sharp, focused and in love with Jesus?  Where is He in this normal life?  He has been my sustenance, and yet... this is new ground for me.  It's challenging at every turn; in a way, this is very good!

Loneliness is another normal sore spot; I have felt it before but it has come with a new side to it this past year.  This past Christmas, I felt He gave me a new perspective of my singleness: to live single instead of living as if someday I would be married.

I love what He gives: Perspective.

 Even so a deep desire for a long-term "bestie"wanes and rises as the daily tide; it's a place in my soul I have laid before the Lord many, many times.   I want someone to share my normal days with, the ups and downs, little and big joys, and most importantly, my love of Christ and living for His Kingdom.  I don't know if he will ever materialize, but I hope so.

It has been my habit to invite Him into that place of desire and yearning.  He continues to meet me, and encourage me in that very vulnerable place, which in itself is an amazing gift.

I love how He meets me again, and again.

I continually seek Him for help to be strong and grateful for what and where I am, to trust His perfect and loving knowledge of me, and His favor to bring that man who is perfect for me, to me soon!

Sometimes, in my normal tender, vulnerable places, my seeking is in tears.  He promises He holds my tears in a jar (Psalm 56:8).  They are not wasted, what a comfort!  Tears are good for keeping the heart supple and soft.

I want Him to be glorified in me, today, in this normal life, in my normal tender spots, in a Special Way because His Plans for me are GOOD and his plans include today! (Jeremiah 29:11)   I trust His purpose and will, will be done.

That is normal for His Kingdom, for He is the Living God!  

His Spirit lives in me through Christ, which is anything but normal.  He called me to be in the world but not of it... so that sets me up for a Supernatural, anything but normal life!

That is exciting!

And I love that... too.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A journey from Anger to Happiness

Hey, did you know its International Happy day?

I did not even know there was such a thing.  You either? Well, I am glad I am not the only one.

It's been a while since I have written a noteworthy post; I know you all were enthralled with the snow day pictures and the New Year's update.  Yet I have not posted anything from the inner workings of Tammie in a while.

Mostly, its because I have been run over by a full time job called teaching.  My days are very long, my work demanding in every way, and the end of most of my days look like me crashing on the couch five seconds after walking in my front door before going to bed a few hours later; very non-typical Tammie.
Sailing is my favorite :-)

So, I figure it was time for a heart-to-heart post: What is God doing post.  Simple, non-detailed answer: A LOT.

So here's to keep'n it real:

First, it's been a very hard year (school timeframe).  The "aha" moment for me in the Fall was, "it's a hard place, not a wrong place."  You can read about that here.  Yet God in His gentle compassion and love did this.

Since January I have faced more challenges from external sources, which have triggered internal frustrations.  Then I got frustrated that I was frustrated.  Then I swung between spewing anger and internal rage causing me to behave unbecomingly, and in my opinion, unacceptable.  Anger is not my friend.  A few years ago I remember (with such clarity now) saying to someone (I have no idea who), "I don't really get angry..."

Time to swallow those words.

Knowing that anger is a secondary emotion I have spent much time examining my soul, asking God to show me what is under this anger.  For several weeks I saw nothing except a cloud of frustration.  Anger is an emotion, emotions are not wrong but it is what we do with those emotions that can be wrong.  "Be angry and do not sin" is a hard verse to apply when you are very tired, human and blind to your own stuff.  Most of us are, and we need help to see behind, beneath and around our anger.

God, in His Grace showed me... Grace and Truth.  Some of His finest ingredients! (John 1:17)

First, He showed me through a conversation with a colleague, that I could apply some grace (not their word but it meant the same thing) to some areas.  I was upholding some high standards; very few were reaching them.  I was working hard to help these be attained, and when those were not met, I would feel the pressure of failure.   I was getting really tired of pushing and pushing others to meet those standards.  My colleague showed me how I could lower the standard a bit and it would make it easier on everyone.  He was right.  I drove home that day rejoicing over grace, as I realized it had been nearly killing ME.

Second, the undercurrent of frustrations in my being were prone to erupt and burn hot like volcanic lava.  I was seeing fruit from the state of my soul, it was not pretty.  So... through a dream and a short conversation God has brought some light.

A small almost unperceivable light, almost too simple, yet has grown brighter and continues to light up my darkness.

The conversation went something like this:

"What vulnerable emotion is under that anger, Tammie?"... my friend asked.

"I am just frustrated at this, at that, at them..." I said.

"Tammie, take your eyes off of those things, those are outside of you.  What's the emotion in you saying, what is the anger guarding and protecting?"

"It seems too simple, but... I am a failure."

I was almost immediately overwhelmed with the emotions that flooded out as I said those four words.  Even now, I feel the tide rising in me.

"What's the Truth, Tammie?" my friend pushed.

It was hard for me to say what I knew I should say, "I am not a failure".  In that moment, it was like the eyes of my soul looked around inside myself.  Everywhere I looked in my soul, on every place, I saw those words etched.

My friend and I ended our conversation.

God and I continued that conversation all through the night.  That statement was like a layer of fat attached to the tendons of my soul, but whatever I did, it was still attached, ugly and immovable.

The next morning, I sat before the Lord in our quiet place and I asked Him to speak to this new knowledge I had gained through the episode the night before.

In the quietness, He whispered not "you are not a failure" but....

"I will not fail you."

It was the most wonderful thing I could hear!   

Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
27 For, behold, those who are far from You will perish;
You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You.
28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.

Psalm 73:26-28

 It was not about me, because Yes, I do fail!  But He Gives Grace...

My failures do not define me and through my dream, I realized I don't have to hold onto them!

I am not a failure; I am a Child of God...

By this I know that You are well pleased with me,
Because my enemy does not triumph over me. 

Psalm 41:11

He sees me just as He sees Jesus.  

Now that is something to be Happy About!!

Happy International Happy Day!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Welcome Spring

I snapped this this past week as I was sitting in traffic downtown.  I think it may have been on Thursday, the first day of Spring.  I had my sunroof open, soaking in the wonderful warm weather, blue skies and new season.  I did not mind the 5:00 traffic jam as it let me appreciate the earliest of blossoms on these trees.  I shot this through my sunroof.... straight up into the sky.  

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Details

It's Valentine's day, a day to celebrate love and relationships.  From my red couch to yours, here are a few of my thoughts and endeavors on Valentine's day:

First, I am enjoying another snow day, yes our third day at home because of the massive winter storm.  I am trying not to eat myself out of my house.  Funny how my appetite explodes when gray clouds cover the sky, a chill hits the air and activities are limited to movies, homework and reading.  Not that I mind that...

Today, I woke with a peaceful happy heart and mind.  Joy gushed up upon seeing the sunshine glisten over the snow, especially after two days of cloud cover and lockdown.  I am suffering a bit of cabin fever so I was ready to move!

 I cooked up my favorite pumpkin pancakes for breakfast.  This was a good morning for pancakes; I did not even burn them!

Kitty and Sasha are enjoying me being home.  Kitty is still not use to these colder temperatures.  She is such a baby.  I think she takes after her momma...

Here is where I found her this morning...

It's been a while since I have had multiple days at home without a list of things directing my time.  It has been rather nice.

It's also been a little lonely, and when loneliness comes knocking, haunting thoughts and insecurities threaten to crowd in and clutter my little cozy haven.

I think it is actually good to allow our downtimes to be a time to listen: to know the state of your soul and the tone of His Voice.   The whispers of the soul, and His Spirt come in the stillness.  They can stir up longings, questions and things unresolved; it can be a daunting and difficult experience.  The Lord is our Guiding Light and Solid Rock, "He illumines my darkness." Psalm 18:28

So, yesterday started with some uncomfortable and unpleasant emotions.  My time in the Word stated well what my soul needed to say:

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.O my God, in You I trust,

Do not let me be ashamed; 
Do not let my enemies exult over me.

Indeed, none of those who wait for You will be ashamed;
Those who deal treacherously without cause will be ashamed.

Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,

For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.
Remember, O Lord, Your compassion and Your lovingkindnesses,

For they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;

According to Your lovingkindness remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

Psalm 25:1-7

God and I took a journey through my mind, heart and emotions. As the day carried on, He gently walked me over and through the sticky places (slough of despond!?), safely landing me in a solid, spacious place of truth and peace, even laughter(joy!).  Last night as I watched the Olympics, chuckles flowed out over things I found humorous on TV.  I was so thankful for what the Lord had done.  He had replaced the cloak of heaviness with a garment of praise.  
The wrestling of my soul did not really have to do with singleness, though it did have a few touchstones to that area of question.  For that reason, I found this article from Desiring God very encouraging.   
He is a patient teacher.  The Lord's love is unfailing, and unfading;  unlike beautiful flowers that may or may not be received today.  

He is faithful, good, and powerful.  
For that reason... I can post this little song I heard yesterday.  He knows the desires of our heart - whether it be for a husband, a baby, answers to questions or resolution to messy relationships or circumstances - HE IS OVER THE DETAILS.  He knows what He is doing...  
And He is faithful to do what you can't do.

Happy Valentines!

May you find a peaceful, spacious place through any journey you may be on right now, a spot to  dance and celebrate His beautiful strong love for You!

“I have loved you with an everlasting love;  Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness."

Jeremiah 31:3