Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Sunday

I love Palm Sunday!

I savor this day because of an experience I had when I was 14; I was a resident student at a place called "Edgewood Children's Ranch" - a wonderful place God tenderly deeply set my feet firmly in Him.

On this day, my dorm mom, Terry Hotalen Newman, woke us up, wearing her usual African wrap, waving her hands in the air, telling us how in Africa, the villagers all gather palm branches, and come to church singing and waving them high, celebrating the events of our Savior!  Somehow, that vision planted in me such a vibrant excitement of this day!  Jesus came to town, on a donkey, and God revealed Himself and allowed Himself to be lifted up, in praise!  The whole earth recognized HIM that day... a week before His being lifted up on a cross and resurrecting... from the dead!!

Ever since, I feel such a wonderful celebratory anticipation of Him on this day!  It's almost, almost, as exciting as Easter!

Are we celebrating and welcoming HIM into our work, churches, homes, and lives today?  Am I anticipating HIS powerful presence in all areas of my life today?  I want to... so I lift my heart, mind, eyes, and hands... all of me up to recognize HIM... and welcome, celebrate, praise and make way for HIM to come. 

Come Sweet Jesus...bless this day!

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
    because he has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
    and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free, 
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him.  He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

  Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Friday, March 18, 2016

Piles or People

It's Friday night, and I am home, and I hardly know what to do with myself.

You see... I am so happy to be home because the last 2 months, I believe I have been busy almost every single weekend: weddings, trips, retreats, guests staying with me - busy, busy, busy!  So much so, my house, my laundry, my yard have pretty much gone by the wayside. I am feeling that horrible feeling most females can identify with: I AM A MESS because my house, my yard, my life seems to be a pile of disorderliness!

I literally started having a meltdown this week, my to-do list was growing, and I was feeling weak and overwhelmed... all because I have not had time to take care of me. Yeah... i can hear some of you mom's of young kids saying, "I can't even remember the last time I took care of me..."

Well... being single, remember... I am the only one who takes care of everything... even if "everything" doesn't include kids and a husband: I still have to pay the bills, go to work, do laundry, clean the house, keep the yard, cook, grocery shop and watch my budget, take care of my car, etc, etc, etc.  Okay, so we all can learn a lesson or two about balance... my heart goes out to single parents, that is for sure.  I don't even know how they do it!

All-in-all... I am so very blessed!  Blessed to have so many blessings to juggle!  Trips, celebrations, community group and church, a home, clothes, food and friends to fill my weekends; the mess and disorder may get me by the throat at times, but you know what... it's okay.  It will be cleaned, washed, put in order, and dealt with... and it will wait for me patiently, though it may grow a layer of mold or dust may pile up as I do other things; people are more important than being perfect and pristine.  Right?

I have to remind myself of this; one of my dearest friends I grew up showed me how precious this concept is and fleshed it out.  She is the model of loving others and being with them - all there - and not letting the pile of dishes distract her from others.  She said once, "it's(the pile of dishes) not going anywhere, it will be there when I get to it..."  what a gift.  Thank You Becky...

So, I often call that to mind when the parent in my head starts ranting and raving and I start reacting to that voice. 

Even so, I am so thankful for a free weekend at home.  After getting home - I fell out on my bed and slept for over an hour (it's been a week!) - I got up, and cleared and mowed the back yard, burned brush, and generally got a head start on my list.  I relish the idea of enjoying my beautiful backyard patio, with the sunrise, the early signs of spring, coffee, and Jesus in the morning; I can hardly wait!

Friday, January 15, 2016

January 2016 ~ Golden List

Good Morning!

This morning's Golden List...

1.  Celebrating and enjoying a day off: love that I had no alarm to wake me.  Dark January chilly mornings make for stay-in-your-pj's-longer and coffee that much more cozy & delicious.

2.  I so appreciate the community of friends God has given to me.  I love that these relationships are maturing in depth of insight and love.  I enjoy making new friends but I am so thankful the rich deeper levels of intimacy that grow through walking with others over a good length of time.

3.  God's provision:  I have had to deal with some ...shall we say... interesting circumstances of late, and I see God's hand holding me as I worked through making decisions, having conversations and taking actions which would be hard for anyone.  He is good in providing me the strength, support, and insight for each step.

4.  My furkids:  they bring a smile to my face each morning with their own little personalities, neediness and antics.

5.  Buckwheat pancakes.  Just yummy :-)

6. Good book to read.  Some good reads of late: Unbroken - this was so good I couldn't wait to get home each night and read for the evening... finished in 4 days of evening reading!  Reading now: Eve by WM. Paul Young, the author of The Shack.  It's interesting so far... but I am moving much more slowly through it.

7.  Cozy hand-made slippers:  They are several years old, and I have definitely worn holes in the bottom, I love them so much I want another pair... but don't know where to find them and I don't know how to knit!

8.  Margaritas.  I know... I am not a proponent
of drinking, nor have I consumed much in my 42 years... but recently I daringly tried this drink and discovered why people love it: it's delicious!

9.  Journaling and blogging: what a gift to be literate, to be able to express our thoughts and feelings through written form.  In teaching ancient civilizations, the gift of language, education and literacy is one of the transforming factors of a civilization.  Words are powerful...  The Word changes lives.

10.  Chapstick:  how magnificent is the soothing moisture rich coat of a good stick of chapstick over dry, hurting lips on a winter's day.  It's the simple things....

11.  Timothy Keller Messages: I have been listening to his messages over the past few weeks. He was a name I had heard often from friends and other solid sources... finally joined up with his podcast channel.  A great way to soak up Truth and wisdom as I get ready for my day.  Good stuff!

Monday, November 9, 2015

November Golden List 2015

Oh goodness!! I sit here in my cozy quiet room, "oatmealing" after a long Monday. I feel so stirred with joy, happy energy... yet not enough energy to actually go running or anything.  But... I do want to write.  It's been so long that my normal writing juices are not really flowing but I can't let this blog go dormant week-after-week, month-after-month! So... I will start with my "Golden List" theme I have used on occasion to see how it goes....

10 Things I am thankful for Today....

1.  I am so thankful for rainy days...weeks... well, it's been rainy and grey so long around here lately that we are beginning to called it "Seattle of the South!"  But...something about rainy days just feels cozy and romantic and I am embracing that!!

2.  Change of Seasons... This year I have noticed more how darkness falls so early...and, I have fallen in love with the soft lights of the city, the reflection of the lights on water, the way dusk quiets the earth... it's just very sweet to my soul this season, which in others it has not been so enjoyed.  This year is somehow different... and I am thankful!

3.  New from Old!  I went shopping this weekend and found some bargains!! A lovely lace, long-flowy white cardigan!  It's so feminine... and goes perfect with a few old things I have... making new fun outfits!   I should take a selfie....

4. Adventures coming!!  I am going to Mexico in a WEEK!!!! AHHH!!  Planning, prepping and anticipating a GREAT time, a Blessed time... as I join a team to bless some TCK's and enjoy warm, sunshine!

5.  Dancing!  I have been contra dancing more of late...and it's always fun, and makes me want to get better so I don't feel like such a clutz!

6.  People... today being Monday, colleagues ask, "how was your weekend?"... this morning I found my response was "Oh, it was SO FUN!"... and.... I knew it was because of the sweet people interaction I had - from coffee dates, dancing fun, church, and visiting friends. I am so blessed to have friends!

7.  Long, healthy finger nails.  :-) I am pinching pennies so no time or money for a manicure, so I am thankful they look nice au naturel!

8.  My students... truly enjoy and love my pupils... and find myself just smiling over them, even when they are cray-zy!!!  They keep me young.....

9.  Bonfires... fireplaces....

10.  My chiropractor... yeah, that's random but it's a happy place for me... it always makes me feel better, always encourages and challenges me to be healthy and make good choices... Everyone should do it!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Summer of Clarity

"Grace that is greater than all our sin..."  Bart Millard melodically sings through my speakers...and I feel the comfort of that Grace fall over me, reminding me of the great lessons of grace I have learned these last few years.  God is so very good to me.

So as I enjoy another ginger snap cookie dunked in my evening tea (oh so good!)...I am filled with a deep thankfulness.  What a sweet place God has brought me into... after so long and deep a struggle these past two years! 

These past few years have been very challenging, evidence being here: absence on this blog.  I confess, it was all I could do to keep myself up straight and pull my foot out of the mud to take one more step, to push through another day.

Through these past two years, I have felt emotions rise in me that are usually very dormant, controlled and to some degree understood, yet here they were rushing up, dark and threatening.  As I sought to work through these, through my daily battle, I was very aware I was drying up!  My soul... was brittle and crackling.  I missed the sweet, rich, abundant spring of life and freedom of the previous years of being a student, with less structure and few demands on my time, work, and performance.  Serious thoughts of major job shifts daily taunted me... yet I knew, I had to work through this dry, hard season: I wanted to OVERCOME and walk in victory.  I knew my biggest hurdle came up from within myself, and not my circumstances.

So this past summer I planned some serious strategic time with Jesus: I went to Maine for a week with the sole intention to sit with Him... and meet Him and heal my soul.  Now, of course this is a process... but it's an invaluable practice to pull away with Jesus!  
Sunrise in Maine
A few things happened during my time alone and with the company of my dear friend, Mardy, who joined me the latter half of the week.

One, I struggled with the quietness.  I prepared my heart and mind, I shut down distractions, I felt free to enjoy the activities around me: climbing, kayaking, taking photos.... alone.  I anticipated something GREAT and BIG to hit me over the head.  God doesn't usually come loudly though... He whispers and waits.  So, I felt the angst in my soul... "God, I am listening!  What are You saying?  Where are You?"  As I paddled down the river in my one-woman kayak, my soul struggled.  It did not feel good.  I wasn't lonely, just very aware of being alone.  I stopped for lunch and the story of Elijah came to my mind, and his experience in the cave.  And a whisper came... "quietness is my gift to you..."

Isaiah 30:15 "This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it."

Wow.  I embraced it and let go of the struggle, and enjoyed the GIFT of His presence.

The rest of my week was a gentle, gracious, sweet gift. My friend arrived and her company blessed the spontaneity, rest, and food of my time.   Our conversations were good, her presence was easy and complimented what God was doing in me.

One piece of wisdom and revelation that came through our conversation was that I don't apply grace to myself very well, when God and no one else really, is demanding perfection.  God accepts me in my messy, quirky, ways.  Why don't I?  It was insight that I put to practice, and grace feels so good.  As I extend grace to myself... I find I extend grace to others that much more.

So over the past few months, I have reflected over the past summer, my time in Maine, and the struggle over the past two years.  God has given me more clarity, of who I am in Him and what I am to be.  He indeed has a plan for us, we are designed to know Him, and do the works He created for us, each individually unique and fulfilling.  This has been such a gift to me.  Clarification makes decision making so much easier.  It's a yoke yet an easy one, as it fits me so well.  I have new, fresh sense of joy and anticipation for each day.  It's not about my title, its about who He calls me to be, and living it out in the circumstances I am in.

This summer, I could feel the sweetness of His Favor and love replenish and soak into the crackling, brittleness of my soul.  The soft, gift of grace filled my heart and brought new Life, fresh perspective and deeper thanksgiving.  Now I am experiencing overcoming joy and victory where I am, like beyond explanation!

Just as Esther received the position of a queen in a foreign land: it's a unique time in history.  God is working, His hand is moving and He will act.  My desire is to be part of His Work, in the place He has put me.  It's wonderful to grasp His love with greater understanding, and Who I am to be so I can pour His love and grace out through my life.

And...I would not want to miss that opportunity for "all the tea in China!" (my dad use to say that to me... "I wouldn't trade you for all the tea in China!")

Monday, July 20, 2015

Flip on the Lights again ~ Light on Singleness

"Coming home is always wonderful and lonely..."

I just messaged that to a dear friend on Facebook.

Here I sit, mid-morning, feeling droggy (i made up that word) as I look over the next few days.  My house is cool (thank you LORD for a/c!), Sasha is snoozing on the rug at my feet, and it's just a gift of quietness... and alone-ness.

I have just spent the past five days traveling to Florida, visiting family, enjoying time off to go, visit, and connect with those I don't see as often as I would like.  An odd stomach bug attacked while away so I have returned a bit more drained of energy than normal.  Though the lonely-feeling is normal; my house is covering only me, not having a housemate makes it feel very lonely.  So, I am praying for God to fill my yellow room with just the right personality!

Yesterday, on my return drive, I was delighted to catch a sermon.  I think it was John McArthur, which I have not actually ever heard before, though his name sounds familiar.  He was preaching on I Corinthians 7, and he was doing a pretty good job in dissecting and teaching it.

Funny how sometimes a phrase jumps out and grabs you; maybe it is something you have read, heard or even said yourself but a moment in time comes when the Spirit of God plugs in heavenly energy into it and it sparkles and glows with new light.

"Singleness is a gift, and it is good.  Are you handling your singleness as a gift, and running with it as far and as fast as you can?" Later in the message McArthur pointed out marriage is bondage:  now when I hear "bondage" I don't usually think positive; it's really a neutral word!  So, let's look at it that way... when you are married, you are bound to another person.  That can be positive and negative.  I know, this seems very obvious, but these words fell into my ears and down into my soul in a very fresh way.  Singleness does not mean we a void of relationships, but -if walking in the Ways of Christ- void of marital intimacy. 

I like it when God flips on His heavenly lights and gives my mind and heart greater perspective.  I have not even been thinking about this topic lately, well, not deeply anyhow.  I am always aware of being single... and coming home to an empty house seems to highlight what is not there.  Though, I can say I was very thankful I had no "bondage" last night when I crawled out of my car, with an undeterred focus on getting myself as quickly as I could into my bed.  Exhaustion has a way of harvesting that kind of rejoicing over my singleness!!

When the morning light awakes me, the stillness of my house embraces me; it can start feeling not so wonderful of a gift.   So...I move, feed the dog, make breakfast, read my Bible, forgo coffee as I have no cream, but make a lovely mental plan to utilize a gift certificate for a cool coffee joint downtown... and life begins to feel and look much better.

How can I utilize this gift of singleness!  It is a gift... and God wants me to unwrap it and enjoy it every day!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Eve

Man it's been a long while since I have blogged.  I have been in survival mode, fighting through, keep'n my gaze high as I can, sloughing the mud off and out of my eyes, and trusting that there was some reason for this trench.  Things have been shifting in me in the last few weeks....

I am starting to dream again.  I am starting to gaze through the grey and see sunshine and possibilities in the clouds!  Yet, I believe it's more than mere possibilities, I believe its the edges of the reality of who and what I am.

I have learned a lot.  God has given me mooch-o much, that I can't hoard - hoarding kills life.  So, I want to share all HE has given me and proclaim that HE DOES give life abundantly.  He has created us to live... to glorify and honor our Maker.

That is what I intend to do, starting now.

Since you are trekking with me, you have seen my journey, my "a-ha" moments and dismal days.  I have fought many years to "find" my purpose and calling, all the while believing that I (we all) have a significant purpose in being here, now!

So I am following some advice that has come my way, it lies at the core of what I believe in... but I have lacked the guts to follow.

From this day forward, I am moving towards what gives me life and energy and laying down the white flag on all other endeavors which have drained me of joy.

No more defining "life is hard" because hard is letting circumstances define my days; hard says I am weak.  In some respect, yes, I a very weak but I believe through Christ, I am more than a conquerer, I am strong in Him and who He designed me to be.  Now, when I try to be something I am not... well, that is weak, that is hard.

This evening a dear friend shared a website with me, someone who uses her passions to fuel her living - monetarily and significantly.  I read a few things on her site, and this blog post about NOT FIGHTING rings true in me.

I have faced down a lot of fears in me, the lie that states "I am not enough" or "I am not acceptable" - Through the truth of who God says I am:

Today, I am choosing to live in my Maker's Design of me - His Daughter, His beloved child - forgiven, chosen, blessed.

Won't you join me?