Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Things

I'm officially typing this on my new lap top.  This seems pretty nice although I am not too keen on Windows 8.  Not to worry that always seems to be how I feel about new technology.  At first I hated the keyboard on my Nook and iPhone.  Now, I don't give it a second thought.  Finding everything under different tabs is still an adventure.

The wind is something fierce today.  The Wonderstruck Challenge is sunset.  I think I may have to pull one of the beautiful sunsets from Israel.  When we didn't have all the houses behind us, we had great access and viewing to the sunsets.  Now we get better sunrises since we have green space to our east.

While at the doctor office yesterday I finished up reading One Word Can Change Your Life.  It is a very quick read but full of interesting concepts and exercises.  Sometimes we can get overwhelmed with resolutions and by the middle of January we have broken almost everyone of them.  With this you chose one word.  You seek and ponder and pray over what that word should be and then you have your word for the year.  Even if you start in June, you just do that word for six months and then start the process anew.  I had several different words rolling around in my spirit but slowly but surely I had my choice down to two words. I told Dena the words I was considering but before I had heard back from her, I had made my choice and her email confirmed that I had picked the right word for this year.  I will probably do a separate blog post on this as I am doing the research and completing questions.

On Sunday Roy and I headed back out to Brookwood.  I had been out there Saturday while Roy worked on setting up this computer.  I wasn't gone nearly enough time.  Anyway, I told him about the Christmas decorations that were 75% off, even some of the very ones we had looked at and thought about buying in December.  I figured that the ones I liked would have already been purchased by now but when I saw the area with the outdoor stuff I was so excited to see the two main pieces that we liked were still there, barely.  Two ladies were looking at them and they decided they would come back after they ate and purchase them. Hah, the one who has already eaten lunch gets the prize.  While I went to find a cart two others started looking at what we wanted to buy but they walked on and I grabbed up what we had looked at and a few other pieces.  We got the stuff and then put it in the car and heck while we were out at Brookwood we might as well go inside and look at the indoor Christmas decorations that were 75% off.  We found two really cool reindeer  red glitter and some other decorative items.  As we were checking out I heard a lady say, someone bought the outdoor decor we wanted and now those two bought the reindeer we liked.  I didn't have the heart to say we were one in the same when it came to 75% Christmas purchases.

I have another round of doctor appointments tomorrow.  Since I will be in the area I hope to stop in at Trader Joe's.  I have only been to the one in Nashville and had a great time.  Sprouts will be opening in March out here in Rancho de Five.  I am more excited about their opening than Whole Food.

Leadership meeting was good this morning.  I thought the homework this week was more interesting and to tell the truth, easier to answer.  I love our sharing and praying time.  In the back of my mind I always wonder if I am doing a good job, if we cover the subjects in core group or if I am a tad lighthearted.  In the mail today I had a handwritten note from one of the ladies in the class and her note was so encouraging.  My word of the year came into play with the note and experienced once again God's confirmation that I am where He has planned all along for me to be.

OK, I better save this cause I have no idea if it will publish correctly or not.  Off to find an Israel sunset to post on FB and Twitter.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Wonderstruck-You-Do Something That Makes Your Heart Happy

Today's Wonderstruck challenge is You.  Well, actually it really not you when I personalize it, so it's me.  We are to take some time to do something we enjoy and experience God's presence

Life is one of God’s greatest wonders. Much of your life is spent giving, serving, and working. But today the challenge is to do something that makes you—just you—feel rejuvenated, refreshed, and joyful. Maybe spend some time outside. Or, grab a meal at your favorite bistro. Spend time knitting or enjoying your favorite craft. A coffee date with a friend. A great novel. Spend time today doing something that makes you grateful to be alive and rediscover the abundant life that awaits you each and every day. Even if it’s something simple. It doesn’t have to be complicated. But, it does need to be something that makes your heart happy.

How funny, it has to be something that makes your heart happy and being grateful to be alive.  I went to the cardiologist office this morning so that is my You time.  I believe this is the first time I actually got to have my original appointment and not be rescheduled.  So, I dressed in my second uniform of choice, after my dark jeans and jean jacket costume, denim shirt with a tank top  and jeans.  I try to make it as easy as possible for them to do the EKG.  It was a happening place at the doctor's office.  Once again I was the youngest one in the waiting room that was actually a patient and not there to accompany an older adult.  Ernest, the guy who asks all the questions and does the EKG responded when I told him that, you could use the opportunity to network with people who are experiencing the same thing.  Uh no thank you, I am trying my best NOT to become one of them.  EKG looked great and that is due to the wonderful meds I take but one particular med is one that and these are the words of my learned, professional doctor, you are too young to be on these for very long. It is very hard on the kidneys and liver.  I experience so many bad side effects with it and I will not bore or gross you out with said effects.   So I am going to have ablation surgery in February, several weeks away.  I love how they tell you the benefits and then in hushed tone tell you the five things that can go wrong. 

Another part of the day that made my heart happy was the funny conversation that I had with Peggy this afternoon.  We must have talked on the phone for 45 minutes.  That might be our longest phone conversation ever!  We were both laughing so hard at the myriad of stories we were telling each other and once again we made the vow not to become "one of those cranky old ladies."  We want to be fun and not so cranky as we age. 

My heart was happy yesterday as my crazy friend Debbie and I texted.  She was having the dreaded procedure that the Doctors like you to have over the age of 50 this morning.  I felt so much better about my morning after hearing about hers.

I could not believe Downton Abbey last night.  It did not make my heart happy. What???!!!  I was DVRing it, so the first time I watched it...live on PBS... I was talking with Dena.  I was paying attention to our conversation but watching the TV and I couldn't believe what I saw and I knew I had to watch the DVR as soon as I got off the phone because surely what happened, didn't happen and there would be a surprise just like when Matthew wasn't paralyzed and walked or we found out it had all been a dream on Dallas.  Or finding out House Hunters is fake and so is Storage Wars.  So, I am watching it with sound on the DVR crying, the snot cry as I not only watched but heard the story play out.  In the midst of the most riveting scene when Lady Sybil is in the throws of some darn good acting, Roy stands in front of the TV, what????, and asks me like I am not sitting there crying, did his pants and shirt look good together for the office on Monday.  I am wildly gesturing, get out of the way, move, don't ask me anything and I prepared to throw the remote at him, but then he would have the power and I looked for a book to throw.  He then proceeds to sit with me, not to watch the show, but to watch me....crying.  I don't cry very often.  He wasn't even trying to sneak peek, he sat there, not blinking and watched me cry.   Afterwards, he started making fun of me...crying at such a thing.  I came this close to reminding him about his movie emotions from 'When Peggy Sue Got Married."  He was a hot mess but of course back then in the 80's we didn't say hot mess.  It was a tad embarrassing as we left the movie theatre. 

Yep, all the above made my heart happy, well except for Downton but remembering Roy's movie emotions did make up for the sadness.  I felt close to God through all of this especially when I was aggravated at Roy...I felt close because I was confessing sin of wanting to throw something at Roy and not thinking very nice thoughts.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Well it's a new day out here on the prairie.  The fog didn't materialize and we are enjoying March temperatures in January. 

We met our neighbor who lives behind us yesterday.  A purple football accidentally came over the fence and into our yard.  So the father and son had come to retrieve it.  They were very nice but their English was limited.  They are from India.  So a mission field just over the fence instead of across the world.  Earlier in the week I found a tennis ball on the patio and since I didn't take this as a sign from God to start playing tennis again, I threw the ball back over the fence taking a guess from the angle it landed to which yard to return it to. 

After months and months of research of iPads, tablets and small lap tops we finally made our decision and purchase yesterday.  It came down to what I really wanted the device to provide and we went with the small lap top.  I have a Nook that I love and an iPhone, so I couldn't see getting an iPad when writing was the main reason for a purchase.  So, I have a new lap top.  Learning how to use Windows 8 and where everything is hasn't been very easy.  In fact Roy sent me out while he loaded the computer because nothing ever goes right when it comes to computer set up.  My thinking is turn it on, it should be ready to go.  So, I went to Brookwood.  Easter decor is up and available for purchase which I did.  Christmas is 75% off so we might go back today and look at a couple of outdoor decorations that we had considered paying full price for in December.   When I got home Roy seemed a bit frustrated with the whole process which is a complete surprise because he is so detail oriented and tedious jobs do not aggravate him at all.  We had planned on grilling out last night but because of the frustrations we opted for Mooyah hamburgers and sweet potato fries. 

It was MS 150 training yesterday and a lot of roads were blocked off for bike use and intersection traffic patterns controlled by law enforcement.  I needed to get over to old Katy to Katy Art and Frame.  I took several things over there last week and the one piece that means so much to me from Megan and Erin, well, the framing I had picked had been discontinued, so I went back and picked something else.  While on that side of the tracks and with all the bike traffic, I stopped in at K T Antiques and found a ornamental metal piece that will fit in with the piece we bought in Franklin, TN for our bedroom wall. 

So far so good.  I haven't been called by the Cardiologist office to reschedule my appointment on Monday.  There is usually one rebook at least.  I am eager to go because I learned something on the trip to Israel, my parameters to move and exist are far too constraining.  I didn't realize how much activity has been cut from life in order to feel better in doing nothing.  My sense of balance is not better like I had believed pre-trip.  Fatigue still dogs my steps at the least little exertion out of the normal.  I can feel my heart really trying to work hard and then really trying to go back out of rhythm.  It is an exhausting process and when that is added to the fact that most meds I am on slow me down considerably, it seems to me it is time for a change.  On top of all this I cannot get my knees worked on until the old ticker is doing much better.  Because of all the heart meds, I cannot take any pain pills.  Physically, it has been a drag but spirit wise, my attitude and approach to life is very optimistic.  I have read much more than usual and the time of silence and thought has been welcomed. 

The Wonderstruck challenge today is Letter.  We are to write a letter of gratitude to God.  Happy to do so.

Hebrews homework is calling and I've been avoiding the call.  Guess I'd better take it.  Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Journey Through the Afternoon

All is quiet out here near the ends of the earth.  Well, actually the ends of the earth goes farther west now.  The farm to market road nearby that gave the in the country feel is alive with houses both under construction and complete.  The newest section of Rancho De Five is full of building activity.  It won't be long till neighborhoods will be sprouting up around Hunt Retreat.  (Hunt Retreat owned by our church back in the day was out, way out, in the country.  Now the reality of housing growth will soon be at Hunt's backdoor.)

Among other books I am reading is The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton.   The book is described as "A thoughtful and anecdote-rich meditation on how trips can alter us in unexpected ways."  It is an excellent read to accompany my study of roads, paths and journeys in the Bible.  Alain is a travel writer by trade and his descriptions of his world travels gives the nudge in the spirit to travel the world but he equally gives words to travel that happens inside our minds and through our thoughts as well as creatively traveling about in familiar settings and seeing them with new eyes.  This book is weaving nicely into Wonderstruck.  In the chapter on Anticipation there were many sentences that caught my attention but I will whittle those down to be concise.  Every good travel website and brochure is crafted and then marketed with the thought of the artful and beautiful travel.  Pictures of beautiful beaches, mountains, five star hotel rooms and the like fill the brochure as well as our mind.  We fixate, if the travel brochure or website is doing its job, on the lovely, the calm, the serene, the sublime pleasure of being anywhere else but home with the all too familiar. 

"Artistic accounts involve severe abbreviations of what reality will force upon us.  A travel book may tell us, for example, that the narrator journeyed through the afternoon to reach the hill town of X and after a night in its medieval monastery awoke to a misty dawn.  BUT, we never simply 'journey' through an afternoon."

Instead of using his description of what journeying through an afternoon might look like, I will use our experiences of journeying to Israel.  We had our flight itinerary and the quick connection in Atlanta had some of us concerned that we could make the plane but maybe not our luggage.  The hurry up and wait to board the plane and then the hurry up because the plane is waiting and threatens to leave without us.  It is realizing it is better to travel out of Terminal C then Terminal A-better shops and food in C.  It is crammed quarters in economy and a mish mash of people constantly moving about the cabin.  All the sudden we develop OCD and constantly check for our tickets, passports, wallets and any and all paperwork that we will need for orderly travel.  It is long lines in customs, weary from little sleep and little stresses along the way.  Then we finally rejoice our luggage made it, we put it on the bus and settle into our seats...now the pictures and artful photographs come back to our perspective of what we hoped our trip to be.  We left from Houston and journeyed throughout the day till we arrived in beautiful Tel Aviv....with stops in Atlanta and JFK.  Of course no one, not even us want to dwell on the' journey through the afternoon.'  It is a deceptive sentence journeyed through the afternoon.  There is no such thing as journeying through an afternoon.  The nitty gritty of travel, frustrations, delays, mild amusements and the like, fill the time frame. 

This reminds me of Philippians 4.  Paul says he has learned to be content, he knows how to live, and he has learned the secret of living in every situation.

11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 14 Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.

 I think the first part of Philippians 4 might give us insight in how we can learn and know to be content with whatever we have, with plenty or little.  Paul didn't include the details of this journey through the afternoon here in Philippians, but he did here.

II Corinthians 11
I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. 24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches.

I don't know after surviving and going through the above circumstances and situations that I would be so joyous to proclaim I have learned, I know the secret.  I do know that situations and circumstances that have been painful and full of hurt for me have now become helpful when encouraging others who face similar things.  There indeed is an afternoon's journey in so many areas of my life.  And through mistakes, twists and wrong turns, through pity parties, anger, injustice, wounds, damage and harm, it didn't come to me instantly but with prayer, wise counsel and scripture in time, I have learned, I know the secret.  Really, it really isn't a secret but doesn't it sound good and enticing? 

And since we are right here in Philippians, this thought is for free.  I don't think we really understand verse 19, My God shall supply all my needs.  I haven't ever heard anyone speak or teach from this passage and say, in your generosity, like the Philippians to Paul, because of this giving spirit, God will supply all your needs.  If we don't attach generosity to this verse, I don't know if we are taking it in context.  Through the years I have heard so many 'claim' this verse in the midst of intense need and yet they are tight fisted, stingy and not very generous.  I'm not talking about money, but generous with spirit, words, acts of kindness and gentleness.  Paul seems to be saying thank you for taking care of me and in the same way God is going to take care of you.  I think this goes both to individuals like Paul and in ministry, like Paul.  Being generous doesn't always mean giving to an institution but to those who are under employed and don't qualify for any type of assistance whether it be from church ministries or government.  We sit with and talk with people who are straining to make ends meet every week at church, but we don't have a clue, unless we take the time to listen and to observe a little because generosity from an individual or family might help and minister. 

15 As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this. 16 Even when I was in Thessalonica you sent help more than once. 17 I don’t say this because I want a gift from you. Rather, I want you to receive a reward for your kindness.

18 At the moment I have all I need—and more! I am generously supplied with the gifts you sent me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Night Catch Up

I need to catch up on the Wonderstruck challenge.  I've been doing it but not posting anything about it.  The three days I need to catch up on are sky, stillness and dream.  With the last few days being so beautiful and dare I say spring like, doing all three at one time is not difficult.  Yesterday's challenge was stillness and Thursdays sometimes can be the busiest day of the week but I grabbed sometime yesterday afternoon to be still and know that He is God.  Looking at the sky and appreciating the beauty on Wednesday brought about such deep thankfulness for the foggy hues to the deep blue with puffs of white clouds.  Dream, today, has kind of been on the run.  This challenge is doing what it is intended to do, drawing me nearer to God and the wonder and awe of who He is. 

Roy took today off because we had workmen coming to our house.  He took advantage of the early morning and went to Good Ole Boys for breakfast.  He had jalapeno cheese grits and crab and shrimp tamales.  There is more standard fare, but that's not what Roy enjoys for breakfast.  It is now evening and he just ran to the store for ice cream.  He says breakfast has talked to him through his stomach all day.  I had a 10:00 pedi appointment but when I showed up, they didn't have me down.  In hindsight, I knew I must have had the wrong salon because when I asked for an appointment with Lisa the lady told me she only works on Saturday and Sunday.  It dawned on me, where I go is not open on Sunday.  Fortunately, Lisa wasn't booked at 10:00 and I got to have my regular visit with her.  Checked in with Roy after my appointment and work men were still here, so I ran over to Home Goods and found a few things I had no idea I needed for the house. 

Once all the guys working around here left, Roy and I grabbed lunch at Spring Creek and then headed over to Lowe's.  Ah yes, the joy of trading in an empty propane tank for a new one (this means Roy will be grilling again) and some top soil to fill in a couple of places in the yard where water has a tendency to stand.  We talked of making a few other stops on the way home but opted for the direct route home.  We were both so tired and I could feel the draw of a nap coming on. 

Last night I met Dena for dinner.  Both of our schedules have been a little hectic so we were both happy to find a Thursday night free.  Great fun and great conversations.  And I will add, great fajitas and grilled shrimp. 

I cannot even begin to express my love of choir and the direction and guidance of John Bolin.  We had a productive rehearsal as we went over a number of new songs for the spring.  I loved his encouragement of legacy and what a godly legacy looks like.  He read twenty off the top of his head sayings his father had instilled in him.  I'd like a copy of them.  Some were deep, some were full of common sense, and quite a few of them were rather funny. 

Since the temps are supposed to be rather nice tomorrow, I will probably finish clearing out the back flower bed and think through what I would like to plant this year.  Whole Foods opens on Wednesday and I read in the paper this morning that this Whole Foods will have a grilled cheese bar.  Now that is going to be something.  Then Spouts is opening in March and soon it will be time for the produce stand to open.  Going to be a healthy spring, well I guess grilled cheese isn't that healthy but it is good for the spirit. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wonderstruck Challenge-Relationship

Buddy is a very funny cat and for a cat that doesn't like any change on our part, she is full of change on her part.  Every couple of weeks we have to find her new hiding spot and we have to be very discreet about it or she will up and find a new one.  She has some habits that don't change, sitting in front of her food and water dish when she wants a treat, crawling onto my lap during the day if her paws are cold and on my arm if her paws are cold in the middle of the night.   She goes to her sunny spot in the mid morning and her hiding spot of late is on a blanket under our bed.Everything else she does is subject to change.  Right now her habit is wanting in the shower after one of us has taken a shower.  I didn't think that cats liked water. 

I had a Baylor dream last night.  Throughout the years I will dream I'm preparing to go to Baylor or I am attending Baylor.  The dreams vary from year to year.  Maybe I dreamed about going to Baylor last night because I watched the movie Rebbecca yesterday and the first line of the movie is, "last night I dreamed of Mandalay."The gist of the dream last night was, my father said he would let me attend Baylor and I was to give him the bill.  (in these dreams I am always the age that I really am in real life)  I had only registered for classes and hadn't paid any other fees or bought books.  I knew that my father would be quite upset at the cost and he would renege on his promise.  I fretted and worried in the dream because I knew the rug was going to be pulled out from under me.  Then Roy, like that segway, told me (still in the dream) why are you letting your father do this when you know I'd pay for you to go to Baylor in a heartbeat and you would go in style.  I woke up very pleased with the outcome of the dream.  Maybe I had the dream because of our discussion of Hebrews 9:16-18 and the example of a will and it only goes into effect when someone dies.  Someone in our group mentioned that having a will and providing for loved ones was such an act of immense love and that statement pierced me.  Throughout they years my father has held his will, both literally and figuratively, over our heads.  Bottom line is, he loves his money more than he loves his family and wants to control life from beyond the grave.  His money is his identity and the passion of his life. His threats and retracted promises no longer interest me but when we discussed wills and God's love, it caused a little burst of recognizing the sad truth of my father's life. 

So all of the above is to get to this; the Wonderstruck challenge yesterday was relationships. 

Wonder Challenge: Recognizing the person who is special to you, upload a photo, phrase, or shout out of love to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or your blog. Don’t forget to tag your friend and use hashtag #LIVEWONDERSTRUCK

I am so thankful for my husband Roy.  He is thoughtful (mostly), funny, generous, and compassionate.  His desire is always to walk in God's love and glorify God living out his daily life.  I am sorry that early on in our marriage I didn't appreciate these qualities and that I was more interested in winning the argument of the month, day, or moment.  He is a plan man and when one is not really a plan woman, you appreciate that he is thinking ahead.  He has goals and I am happy to report that my getting him to quit asking me what my goals are has finally been accomplished.  He knows I have them, don't like talking about them.  His love has made me a better person.  He is one of the smartest people I know.  He doesn't complain when I snore, wish I could say the same but I have a feeling my snores are cute and petite, not the loud rumblings he can produce.  He has had to take on a lot since my illness that began in 2008.  He is wonderful and I love him and I am so thankful for him.  My therapist once told me that I didn't make the mistake that most women can make, I didn't marry a man who is like my father.  She said many women do and they are looking for approval from the "type" of man their father is.  Early on, I knew that approval is never coming from him, so move on.  I am so glad I did, move on and meet the love of my life at Pennzoil in downtown Houston. 

I am also so thankful for friends.  God has always given me the best friends and all that they bring to life.  Where would I be without their love, counsel, laughter, wisdom and joy? 

And I will end where I began, Buddy.  She is one loved kitty.  Buddy came into our lives, even when we all thought she was a boy, at the right time.  She is a delightful cat, still full of whimsy, but I am ever so thankful that she requires even more sleep now that she is older. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Wonderstruck Challenge-Silence

Yesterdays Wonderstruck challenge was silence.  Silence is not hard for me kind of like fasting last Sunday night because I usually don't eat dinner on Sunday night.  So when Pastor Gregg called for the Sunday evening fast...I didn't squirm.  On jot and tittle interpretation, I did have a snack because nothing was said about snacking but I fully understand what he was calling us as a church to do.  So if something amiss happens from my snack of a few pretzels before bed, I am truly sorry.  But back to silence.  When I have a day like yesterday, being at home ensconced, I rarely if ever turn on the TV or radio or music.  I love the silence, well except for that ringing in my ears, but that cannot be controlled.  It is more like a cicada sound, not ringing but once again I digress.  We were encouraged to express our silence, that seems like an oxymoron, in a word, phrase or picture.  I decided that to express my silence before the Lord that I would take a picture of the fog yesterday morning.  Somewhere in between that thought and missing the fog because it had burned off, were good intentions.  Fog is the perfect picture of silence to me; it slows everything down, except for a few wild drivers on I 10, it muffles the sound of cars, it casts the everyday scenery into a different light, and if you are in the fog you must keep focused.  Instead of looking at the big picture of the road ahead, your vision is directed at the few feet in front of your car.  So in my cone of silence and fog yesterday I heard quite a few things.  For one, I have been meditating on a passage in Deuteronomy, yes I am that spiritual she said laughing.  One phrase in particular caught my attention and I have been thinking about that phrase for the past four or five days.  Are you ready for this because you know it is coming, I was in a fog concerning this phrase, I could not get my brain or heart around it, but I knew it was important for me to understand.  I sometimes forget that Roy has all kinds of Bible software and commentaries on the computer as well as the volumes of commentaries, dictionaries, and study books behind me in the bookcases, you know because of the fog.  I began combing through a few of the books but could not find anything definitive on the passage but then...on a whim, I pulled out the chronological NLT study Bible I had bought last fall and low and behold, it had an explanation of the phrase and even better yet, it was an explanation that I could understand.  So I got out some paper and began writing the meaning of the phrase and how it applies to life and living a set apart life.  It all came together in the silence of the morning which is nothing like the song Call Me Angel of the Morning.  See the ADD is really bad today. 

Another moment of silence came this morning here at the computer.  I was all ready to blog, read some FB and Twitter when I discovered the Internet was down.  Now that my friends will really silence one.  I thought about going over my homework but that wasn't going to hold my attention, so I opened my Bible and read a passage in James.  Oh and I did it the way they all tell you not to do, but I just opened up my Bible.  It was just the thing I needed to read this morning and it dovetails into the phrase I had the ah ha moment about yesterday.  Love when that happens.  The Internet came back up later and I am happy to see it and catch up but I am also thankful for that morning silence with my ears attuned and my heart ready to receive that personal touch and the wonderful aspect of this to think over is, this was happening all over the world,  to many people,the personal touch of God.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Wonderstruck Challenge Catch Up and Choosing Joy

Now to catch up on Wonderstruck, the challenge.  On Saturday we were to see God in His creation.  The sunrise on Saturday was a great beginning to see the wonder and awe of God in creation.  Saturday was a picture perfect day of creation here on the prairie.  I also saw the creation of God in the creativity of friends and the beauty they bring in word, art and music.  Sunday morning the drive from our home to church was a thick, massive cloud of fog.  Vision was so limited.  The fog made the usual beautiful and almost unrecognizable.  Roy commented that the fog transferred us into thinking we were driving in the country when the reality is, we are surrounded about with a great cloud of witnesses in home after home after home. 

Sunday, the Wonderstruck challenge was to see God in forgiveness.  Forgiving is another name for God.  There isn't any real thing as forgiveness unless it is based on the fact we need a Savior to mediate between sinful people and Holy God.  Margaret's emphasis on the challenge was being willing to forgive ourselves.  We've been talking about this in Bible study because we are in Hebrews and are in the chapters about the High Priesthood.  Another important part of forgiveness is forgiving others.  I think this can only be done if we walk in God's love.  We are willing to say we forgive but in our heart of hearts we will still punish the one who has caused offenses to us.  The opposite of love is not hate but fear, self-centeredness and dare I say it after writing about it last week, apathy.  Forgiving actually releases us from a dark, lonely prison.  Many think if we forgive that we have to be best friends with the one forgiven.  Not so.  It is our spirits set free from bitterness, anger, going victim, jealousy and the like. 

This past weekend was one of our more social weekends.  Friday night was choir camp.  Great fun being together again and the added gift of the evening; friends joining choir.  I didn't go Saturday morning because it would have been too much since on Saturday evening we had a Life Bible study party to attend.  Great fun!  The dessert exchange is so much fun, same premise as a white elephant exchange, two steals and locked on the third.  We brought home delicious cupcakes.  Sunday morning the choir sang two deep but upbeat songs.  We even got to repeat a song at the dismissal.  I went to Roy's class.  They are studying Galatians and chapter 4 tied in hand in hand to Hebrews homework this week.  As we were leaving we ran into David and Emily.  We went out to lunch and had a fun-filled time.  Love that our conversations cover the deepest topics and yet we all are so quick to laugh with each other.  We might have or might have not been a little loud yesterday.  We were off to ourselves at a table in the bar area.  No alcoholic beverages were consumed, it was ice tea and Diet Cokes all around.  We were not drunk as others supposed and David stopped at one table and apologized for our ruckus.  It was an older church set of people and as Roy and I brought up the rear I heard one man say, they were drinking margaritas.  Uh no, joy of the Lord verses unjoyful, legalistic table...I will choose joy every time. 

It is another foggy day in Rancho de Five and it is beautiful but I can say that from the safety of the confines of home, not being out on the road.  Today the Wonderstruck challenge is silence.  Love me some silence.  OK, I'll be quiet now.  No really, starting......now. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Not so Usual Afternoon

The later part of our afternoon didn't quite end the way we had planned.  We went to church this morning and afterwards had lunch with David and Emily.  After Roy and I got home, I took a nap and Roy ran some errands.  There are always some kind of "chores" to be done but before we tried to check a few off our list, Roy was going to take a walk around the lake.  Much to my surprise he came in after only being gone fifteen or so minutes and he did not look happy.  He stopped and talked with our neighbor across the street who was madly working in his garage.  The neighbor told him that due to all the land clearing on Greenbusch, rats are migrating looking for new places to make their homes and some of those Bedouin rats had scouted out his garage but a lot of them had taken up residence in a garage down the street.  This garage was filled, almost hoarder like, but it was toys and Christmas decorations and stuff they didn't know what to do with.  We thought these people were moving because we saw a U-Haul in front of their house.  This news prompted Roy to action, he began going through the garage, putting out rat poison, throwing away anything that might be of interest to unwanted boarders.  We are breaking HOA rules and have already placed our trash out in front of our house.  We are willing to be written up. He doesn't think we have had any visitors because he hasn't seen any evidence.  He pulled out all the dead flowers and some alive ones out of a large raised garden in the corner of the backyard.  Think we will have the preventative service from the bug people.  There goes my iPad.  Tonight I have been playing with Buddy keeping her hunting skills up to snuff.  Roy took a couple of things to storage and when he got home I greeted him with the news that two outlets in the kitchen were not working.  He looked at the breaker box and didn't see anything wrong but he wanted to flip this one breaker thinking it would help.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  I cannot tell you how freaked out I would be if we were plunged into darkness with the fact there are gypsy rats out there looking to freeload in garages or attics or gardens!  Ugh!  I'd rather move the toaster and get the whole thing figured out later. 

It is about time for Downton Abbey so I will not be able to cover the Wonderstruck challenge, so I will have to catch up tomorrow.

When things like the above happen, I am always wont to quit or move or give up.  Roy is so assuring that all this comes along with home ownership and this all goes along with living off a green space and a water feature. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Road to Wrong Conclusions

Yesterday afternoon was a little bit hectic in the hour or so before I left for choir camp or retreat.  We knew the Home Team guy was coming by our home to do the quarterly bug spray and outdoor inspection.  Love that the spray dispensers are on the outside of the house and the bug spray is dispensed all throughout the walls with the tubes that were installed while our home was being built.  They were also doing the free mouse inspection.  I am all for that.  While they didn't find conclusive evidence that our attic had become a winter retreat for Mickey and the gang, there were a couple places in the insulation that could or could not be mice related.  So, the bug guy and Roy set traps in the attic just to be on the safe side.  Roy thinks it is a racket just to get you to pay for them to put wire mesh in front of weep holes and around vents on the top of the roof but he also thought the mosquito spraying was a racket but we didn't see near the mosquitoes that friends who did not spray experienced.  In the midst of all this the Fed Ex man dropped off a package and I brought it in.  I was in the kitchen and heard the front door open and instinctively I said, "Roy?"  The door shut without any verbal response.  I rounded the corner into the entryway and there were several boxes stacked by the front door and through the glass darkly I saw a silhouette of a man who I believed was the UPS guy.  I was a bit taken back.  Would UPS just walk into your house?  Did I scare him when I called out to Roy?  Did Roy tell him to put the boxes inside?  I felt so violated and contemplated what to do, who to call and did this have any further safety implications.  Roy was in the front yard when I was leaving and I told him about my UPS fears.  He started laughing, he saw the boxes by the front door and put them inside for me.  He was the silhouette that I had seen.  In that small space of time my thoughts had certainly gone down the wrong road of conclusions. 

How many times have I gone down that road, of faulty conclusions?  Too many times to name that's for sure.  How many times have I practiced conversations that never took place?  I fight the DNA in me that could take totally unrelated circumstances and weave them into a flawed assumptions.  Now since the bug man came and talked of mice, every dead leaf on the courtyard, every shadow in the house, any little noise, if Buddy stares too long at one place, gets my attention.  I am focusing on the fear of something and that's not good. 

Sometimes we can do that with words spoken to us or attitudes that we think we've detected that are rooted in fear.  There are times when strong words hurt but the source of the words might not really be directed at us but the words are spoken out of frustration and things we don't even know about from the speaker of the words.  We all can carry a lot of emotional baggage.  Sometimes we might just have carry on problems but there are other times we are willing to pay for all the extra bags to make the trip.  Been there and everything in between.  I know that in one of the most difficult seasons of life, it was all I could do to get up and go to work, I could "turn on" for brief periods a personality and then go right back to dealing with the difficulties of everyday living and trying to make sense of everything that overwhelmed me.  It was a time that I was so depressed and my therapist wanted me to take anti-depression meds to take the edge off of my emotions, but Roy asked me not to start down that road.  During that time I said things that came from depression, tiredness and the lack of joy.  Many forgave me, some said they forgave me but they really didn't and others ignored my lack of joy and a pretty sad and sorry attitude knowing I would get back to normal sometime...hopefully soon.  They loved me along every step of the way. Recovery was a long, difficult battle that left me both scared and yet more empathetic for those whose spirits go so deeply away.  I also know from experience you have to make a more empathic and conscious decision to choose joy.  Paul said in Philippians 4 I have LEARNED to be content in whatever state....

Last night my friend Candy and her husband came to choir.  Diane W had invited and had asked them for a long time to come and give choir a try.  Candy was so funny when I saw her, she had on her jean jacket and she said I wore this tonight in honor of you.  Love it!  Conversations about our go to uniforms with so many friends has been really a lot of fun.  Everyone has a different uniform of choice but the truth is, we all have them. 

On this beautiful sunny day I have been working around the house and I got a big chunk of my Hebrews homework done.  We have Roy's Life Bible Study class party tonight.  For those of you who have not had Sunday School renamed, we are going to a Sunday School party.  Instead of gifts we do a dessert exchange complete with stealing and plotting to come home with your dessert of choice. 

Today's Wonderstruck challenge is creation, but I'm just going to have to write about that tomorrow.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Wonderstruck-Time, Hope and Afterwhile

It is a quiet morning here on the prairie.  The sun hasn't peeped over the horizon yet and construction noise on the last few homes being built in our neighborhood hasn't begun.  There is a little bit of down time before getting ready for an appointment later this morning.  I am praying for others that are not facing such a quiet morning today. 

Yesterday's Wonder Challenge was time.  We are to name two things that we won't give time to in exchange for better stewardship of the time we have.  This was a difficult challenge for me not because I don't want to give something up it's because I have given up so much to live in the parameters that need to be with my health.  I have to say no to a lot of fun things or things I really want to do in order not to be overly fatigued.  Granted, I do waste time some days and can justify it but I am going to be more diligent to use my time around home to be a better steward or should that be stewardess?  Oh well, but I want to use my time and materials wisely.  There's a flash back from back in the day report cards. 

Today's challenge is hope. 

Wonder Challenge: Sometimes music brings hope and encouragement into situations that may seem hopeless. What is one song or album that brought you restoration in difficult times? Post, tweet, or pin your favorite song, album, artist, or lyric that inspired you. Make sure to include #LIVEWONDERSTRUCK so we can find you!

These lyrics by Kirk Franklin ministered to me in a season of hopelessness.  In that season I would listen to this song and cry like a baby and those of you who know me well, know that I am not a crier.  The lyrics helped me to see hope.  The song helped me work through my disappointment and sadness.  I can hear this song now and it has become a victory song.  The words are so true and I hope you find hope in the lyrics just as I did and then claim the song as a testimony of victory.
After a while, after a while
This too shall pass
After a while
Scars will heal, you’ll love again
It won’t hurt you after a while
It won’t hurt after a while

[Verse 1:]
Stuck between if and when
You pray and tried
But still no end
God’s purpose soon you’ll understand
It won’t hurt you after a while
It won’t hurt you after a while


[Verse 2:]
So when the pain has come to an end
And now your heart is whole again
Help someone who needs to know
That it won’t hurt them after a while
It won’t hurt them after a while
It wont hurt them after a while

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Me Apathetic? Really, I Don't Care

I have taken another step down the road toward mediocrity today.  I have gone with the tried and true pedestrian uniform of women who haven't a clue what to wear, dark pants, a shirt and jean jacket.  At least I wore a black and white top to kind of spice things up.  I am not criticizing you if this is your costume of choice.  It is mine many a time but I always think surely there is something more in the closet that might involve color or imagination.  I find myself making this choice when I want to play it safe cause I'm not really sure what to wear or when I am flat out too apathetic to care to wear anything else.  My hairstyle falls into the same category.  I kind of want to go back to shorter hair and longer hair isn't a good look on me, so I'm stuck in the middle.  Hair that falls a little below my ears and is curled under or left to natural wave and curl.  It's the style of women my age when you haven't a clue how you'd like it to look.

So mediocre uniform of the day led me to this next great insight.  The Wonderstruck challenge today is Reflection.  We are to pray and ponder what holds us back from experiencing the wonder of God in our everyday lives.  This morning as I began to pray and honestly I thought this might take all day to know what holds me back, the word came like a lightning bolt...apathy.  Not a total surprise to me at all.  So I sat here in my black jeans, black and white top and jean jacket living out apathy in the real world and getting a great word picture from the Lord...I am apathetically dressed today. 

The road of apathy and mediocrity.  That's where I find myself too often.  Really, the success of light packing for the Israel trip has less to do with organizational skills and more with I didn't care.  Of course now seeing pictures from the trip, I should have cared.  The dictionary defines apathy as the absence or suppression of passion, emotion or excitement, lack of interest in or concern for things that others find moving or exciting. The reliable jean jacket is usually my choice when I haven't planned my outfit the night before.  Being ADD, choosing an outfit the night before helps me stay focused in the morning. I Characteristically, I find myself often at the other end of the apathy spectrum.  It is what my therapist likes to call my fearless zone.  That was my zone of choice for too long in life and it is a dangerous place to be.  Lots of times I am in the fearless zone here on the blog because I write things that maybe I shouldn't but then I don't care.  Of course you knew I had to say that.  Many times people thank me for being authentic and honest here on the old Monablog and truthfully, I don't know how to be anything else.  On our trip to Israel something funny was said on the bus and Janie said, Peggy and Nancy, don't go there.  Of the three of us, Janie has more filters on her words but she was thinking in the same direction as we were. 

Since these first few paragraphs have been a long and winding road and maybe a bunny trail or two, let's get back to the subject of being and living #wonderstruck. 

"The wonders of God surround you. Prayerfully spend some time reflecting on those things that prevent you from awakening to the wonders of God. Write them down, and then ask God to remove those obstacles that prevent you from experiencing him more. Ask God to make you supernaturally aware of the Spirit’s presence and leading over the upcoming weeks.
Wonder Challenge: What are the challenges preventing you from experiencing God’s wonder? Turn those challenges into a short prayer. And, if you feel comfortable, share it with others who can pray alongside you."
  Margaret Feinberg, wonderstruck challenge. 

You see it's not that I want to be apathetic but it can many times become my default setting.  Some people's default setting is making rules for themselves and everyone else and mine is,' Ha, who cares about your silly rules.'  We go to our defaults when we are especially tired or stressed.  My mornings start out well with seeing the wonder of God, especially if I am traveling but as the day wears on and my pain increases, my attitude goes to default, who in the heck cares?  It could be due to what I am trying to fight everyday, not to become one of those people whose view is always through their pain and that is the first place they go to find God and see His wonder is in their pain.  My pain is physical.  My view is sometimes skewed in that I have to look down a lot when I walk because when I had that mini stroke with the heart thing, my sense of balance is off, very off.  So how can I see the wonders of God going on all about me when I am looking at the ground and my feet? 

So, now that I know that apathy keeps me many times from experiencing the wonder that goes on all around me and my prayer is that He will remove that obstacle that keeps me from knowing Him and being in awe in ALL that HE IS.  Benefit with having to watch every step?  My heart shaped rock collection is growing. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Faith, Irony and Wonderstruck Reflection

On our return home from Israel we came through customs at JFK.  I think all international flights from all over the world land at 5:30 in the morning there because the customs line was long...l.o.n.g!  Long line but we seemed to make some progress.  One of the guys on our trip came over to get us, telling us to leave the line and go to the Quick Connect line for those of us making quick connections to our destinations.  Dena and I kind of stared at him like deer in headlights.  I don't know about Dena, but I was processing this info and almost too afraid to leave our place in line in case this was all a horrible, horrible mistake.  Because the line had doubled behind us and I feared having to start all over again.  I don't know if we left the line in faith or due to the fact that David is urging us to come on.  Of course going to the Quick Connect line was the right decision because an announcement was made to the long line we just left that it was shift change and their line would not be moving for thirty minutes.  Our group was processed and free to go to baggage claim and a very thoughtful gesture by those who were waiting on us, they pulled our luggage so we were able to pick it up and deposit it with the nearby Delta Airline desk.  A side note, so many in line were questioned for several minutes as they processed through with the custom agent.  I was directed to a line where the agent looked like my long lost sister.  She looked at me and asked, "Did you have a nice trip?"  Then she stamped my passport and I was on my way.  I never was so happy to have frizzy, way out of control hair, glasses and extra pounds around the waist, she had compassion on me. 

As we were going through our homework yesterday in leadership meeting, we were having lively, interesting discussion.  The commentary on our lesson gave us historical facts of the duties of the High Priest and the tradition and ritual being observed, animal sacrifice for sins, that had been given by God, was over 1500 years old.  Of course it was difficult for these Jewish Christians to leave that behind and walk into the fulfillment of the law, Jesus.  Some of those believers wanted to go back to what they had known before Christ because it was comfortable and because radical change is difficult sometimes.  We in this post modern age can sometimes be so hard on those early believers.  Sometimes we think, well if it had been me and I had seen the resurrected Christ, I would walk in total obedience but human nature tells us differently.  My goodness if I couldn't leave the long line because it was comfortable and the Quick Connect line was unknown, I might have been one of those in the early church that said, well, let's believe and practice both just in case.  Yea, walking by faith not sight, that has always been so easy for me, Nancy said NEVER!

An ironic circumstance happened Monday.  I was on the way to Target and nearing one of the lakes or water features on Rancho de Five Blvd.  A group of ducks, a group of ducks is called a badelynge, bunch, brace, flock, paddling, raft or team. Also, one might call it a dover of ducks.  If it's a group of ducklings (i.e., they've recently hatched and are being looked after by their mother), it is called a brood,( thank you answers.com.)  Anyway a badelynge of ducks congregated near the side of the street.  One duck flew to the median and I immediately slowed down fearing another duck would leave the comfort of the flock and go with the rebellious, I'm going over to the median duck.  Sure enough a duck took flight toward the median but it didn't clear the truck ahead of me to the left.  The duck hit the truck and was thrown high in the air like it was doing cartwheels.  It landed on the street and since there was a car next to me, I had to pass over the duck.  I am so glad I drive a SUV because I cleared the duck as I drove.  Both the truck driver and I put on our brakes...cause I'm thinking does one stop to help a wounded, but in all probability a dead duck, a duck out of water?  CAn CPR be done on a duck?   I burst into tears, crying for that duck and for the ducks left behind to mourn the loss of such a beautiful and fine quacker.  By the time I got to Target, I had composed myself and as I saw my reflection in the glass of the doors, the irony hit me.  I was wearing my Duck Dynasty t-shirt that I got for Christmas.  On the way home I didn't see the duck...I am sure it was picked up and made someone a fine duck dinner.

Walking in the Footsteps of Jesus came yesterday.  This is going to be one of those books that I will deliberately read slowly.  It is not a long book by any means and I made myself put it down last night or I would have read the whole thing.  Two great books to read in a row, Walking and Wonderstruck. 

Day two of the Wonderstruck challenge is reflection.  This is from Margaret Feinberg's website, the link is in yesterdays post. 

The wonders of God surround you. Prayerfully spend some time reflecting on those things that prevent you from awakening to the wonders of God. Write them down, and then ask God to remove those obstacles that prevent you from experiencing him more. Ask God to make you supernaturally aware of the Spirit’s presence and leading over the upcoming weeks.
Wonder Challenge: What are the challenges preventing you from experiencing God’s wonder? Turn those challenges into a short prayer. And, if you feel comfortable, share it with others who can pray alongside you. If you include #LIVEWONDERSTRUCK in your Facebook post, Pinterest pin, Tweet, or Instagram post, we can help encourage you in prayer.
What’s your prayer? Example: God, help me remove busyness from my life. I want to #LIVEWONDERSTRUCK
Tomorrow: TIME
And, if you haven’t ordered your copy of Wonderstruck yet, it’s not too late! Here’s the link: http://mar.cta.gs/04w
Join us during the 21 Days of Wonder Challenge and awaken to the wonders of God all around. Learn more, here.
Receive notifications for the 21 Days of Wonder in your inbox each day. Click here to sign up and receive a bonus eBook: Wonderstruck by Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wonderstruck Challenge

The Lawn of the Month man left me an interesting note on Friday.  No, we didn't blow away the HOA with our beautiful yard and landscaping complete with the required number of plants, shrubs and trees thus winning some kind of yard recognition.  We found LOTM on Angie's list.  He keeps the grass green and is in battle with weeds and the like in our yard.  He had done the applications and left the bill and the note.  If we wanted to defeat the nut grass in our yard, we were to turn off our sprinkler system for a month and let the yard be dry here in the semi winter season in Rancho de Five.  We have turned off our sprinkler system in the hopes of defeating nut grass.  Lord knows I have enough nut grass in my life.  If you are looking for someone to fertilize and de-weed your yard, Lawn of the Month is great.  He mainly works in the Cypress area but comes over to Katy once a week.  When he first started working on our yard he told us this would be a 9 month to a year process for getting rid of the weeds.  There were no quick fixes IF you wanted a healthy yard.  He left a few other directions about our yard that appealed to me not only for hints of a beautiful yard but because there are so many spiritual applications in what he wrote, but this will have to suffice for today.

I am doing the 21 Days of Wonder challenge.  You can find more about it here, http://margaretfeinberg.com/  Today's challenge is Beauty, to see the beauty of God.  We were to take a picture or post about what we see.  This morning was leadership meeting in CBS and it was also brunch day.  I love looking at the 35 or more women who work and serve together.  Our discussions are lively and our prayers earnest.  We always say or end an email with Love you dearly, from the heart.  We are all different ages, different denominations and different personalities yet the unity and love of Christ is evident.  So I saw beauty today just like in

Psalm 133

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of David.

1 How wonderful and pleasant it is
when brothers (and sisters, sisters added by me) live together in harmony!
2 For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
that was poured over Aaron’s head,
that ran down his beard
and onto the border of his robe.
3 Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
that falls on the mountains of Zion.
And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing,
even life everlasting.
There is also beauty in a cold January overcast day.  Makes sitting by the fireplace cozy, it makes my lap more inviting for Buddy (cat) and it makes my cup of tea even more delightful.  I'm not having high tea, more like medium tea.  I would write low tea but with all the commercials for Low T, that thought takes it in a whole nother direction. 

Monday, January 14, 2013


One of my favorite roads is the scenic drive from Cleveland, TN to Asheville.  At one point you can chose the longer drive through Maggie Valley or keep on the main highway and go through Waynesville.  Each way has its own merits.  At Thanksgiving Roy and I took the Waynesville route and had a delightful time in downtown Waynesville.  We finally got to the Mast General Store.  There is one in Asheville, but the parking is horrendous in Asheville and we give up and go back to the Inn on the Biltmore Estate and that's not a bad thing to go back to.  The first time I traveled on that road was about ten years ago and is one of my very favorite stories, which has now become so embellished, is when Dena and I decided to take this road as the first leg of our journey to return home.  We stopped at a little store just a short trek from Asheville.  We found Nehi sodas and bought some peanuts for a snack.  We got back on the road and we were listening to a CD that had some great tunes that had the opposite effect on both of us.  The music jazzed me up, I was driving a little faster than I should have been.  Dena, well, the music had a calming and quiet effect upon her.  So, we get behind this slow car, probably a mini van (well it is in my embellished memory) and I wanted to pass it.  Did I mention while driving a little beyond the speed limit in the Smokey Mountains I was also multitasking to the hilt.  I was drinking a Nehi, scanning the CD, eating peanuts...you see the picture.  In the embellished memory I was doing all those things and more, talking on the phone, reaching in the back seat for something...I would say texting or checking social media but those things were just the gleam in some computer nerds eye way back then none the less, I was doing that while I began to pass the dreaded mini van in front of me.  About halfway around this van I begin to wonder if the rather large obstacle coming toward me is a huge truck or is it the train which parallels the road to our right?  From the corner of my eye I can kind of see Dena tensing up over my NASCAR type move, so I decide not to voice my fears that we were headed for a head on collision with a dump truck.  Fortunately, it was the train I saw and there wasn't a chance we would be driving head on into it.  After we had finally arrived at the safety of the Interstate, I confessed my fear on the road to Cleveland to Dena.  Over the years when feeling overwhelmed but feel like we are up for the challenge one of us will say, hey it's like that time on the road, I was changing channels, eating peanuts, drinking a Nehi, talking on the phone, getting something out of the back seat while passing a mini van.

Road stories intrigue me.  I love reading articles about the art of a road trip.  In my heart of hearts I am really a hesitant traveler that is unless it is someplace I really want to go to.  Packing and thinking through a wardrobe sometimes slows me down to inactivity and then with a last minute burst of packing I only hope everything that needs to be packed has been.  Really the most successful packing of recent times was to Israel.  I don't enjoy flying, yes it gets you there faster than by car but all the hurry up and wait wears me out.  It is hard to really converse in an airplane but road trips can make the conversation flow.  Roy and I have had some of our best conversations to and from Biltmore.  Roy says riding in Seqyisha is like traveling in your livingroom. Now in our younger days the conversation wasn't so great...not so much.  Road trips back then meant confined space to argue over things that didn't even really matter.  Remind me to write about my Big Gulp experience in OK with Roy. 

Why am I writing about roads?  Who knows, but the subject matter has intrigued me of late.  Being in the Holy Land and being in all the geographical areas found in the text and maps of the Bible developed my sense of what all these travels meant for all beloved and not so beloved people in the Bible.  So I'm thinking from time to time I just might write about roads on the old Monablog.  Not new subject matter but I can promise there won't be any titles like, joy in the journey, journeys with Jesus, keeping pace with Paul, barnstorming with Barnabas, living large with Lazarus, miles with Mary, more mileage mayhem with Martha or any other cheesy kind of titles. 

At some time in life we have all taken a trip that we do in a countdown until it is over.  It is making a mental list and as each occurrence happens you mentally check off and think only a few more things until we can finally leave.  Happily, I haven't been on one of those trips in a long time.  Since I am always behind in using a devotional, I caught up this morning.  Once again I am using Jesus Calling.  January 12th hits me right where I am thinking of roads and travels and the benefits and side effects of both. 

"Let Me prepare you for the day that stretches out before you.  I know exactly what this day will contain, whereas you have only vague ideas about it.  You would like to see a map showing all the twists and turns of your journey.  You'd feel more prepared if you could somehow visualize what is on the road ahead.  However, there is a better way to be prepared for whatever you will encounter today:Spend quality time with Me.

I will not show you what is on the road ahead, but I will thoroughly equip you for the journey.  My living Presence is your Companion each step of the way.  Stay in continual communication with Me, whispering My Name whenever you need to redirect your thoughts.  Thus, you can walk through this day with your focus on Me.  My abiding Presence is the best road map available.  Exodus 33:14; John15:4-7.

I would also like to add He is better than Siri on directions and the way. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Saturday Repose into Sunday Morning Thoughts

I must be getting over jet lag, I got up at 6:00 am.  This past week I've been wide awake at 5:00 am.  The house is quiet.  Roy has gone to Bible study and Buddy has wandered off to this week's hiding place.  On my second cup of coffee and just finished a delicious breakfast of cinnamon toast.  If the weather holds, later today we will cart Christmas decor to storage and then have a late lunch of fajitas.  I love these kinds of Saturdays, with no urgency and nothing we have to do.  Next weekend will look much different than today, so I am taking it all in. 

I pulled out my copy of Going Places With God this morning and looked through it while eating breakfast.  I cannot say enough good about this book.  His travelogue essay at the end of the book is a must read for anyone who has gone, is going or wants to go to Israel.  He puts it all, spiritual, emotional, physical and thinkafal (hey, I was going with an al theme with the words and had to complete the theme) together in such a well written essay.  I don't think I will ever look at the maps in the back of my Bible in the same way.  Truthfully, I don't think I will ever read the Bible in the same way. 

Yesterday I made my appointment for a sixth month check-up and discussion of the next step in this heart journey.  This whole heart thing has been such a roller coaster ride.  Gets better then a new problem crops up, gets better and another new problem presents itself.  The trip was an eye opener because I really thought I had overcome a lot when it comes to fatigue and the like, but it opened my eyes that daily life can be couched in parameters, dictated by Doctors, as only a temporary state.  When pressed my numbers were up and down the chart.  I cannot take care of getting new knees until I get a better running heart.  There's a Sunday School lesson in there somewhere.  I can't do required cardio because of the condition of my right knee.  It's a circle and I am looking forward to the repetitive cycle to cease and move onto a straight path. 

My good shepherd from Bethlehem came Thursday.  Actually, the real good shepherd came almost 2000 years ago so really it is just my olive wood shepherd came.  He is still out in the garage and I need to unwrap him and find a place where I can see him.  Thinking my reading room would be the best place.  I also got a couple of cute olive wood lambs to go out in my lamb collection in the casita bedroom. 

Sunday Morning
****Taking down Christmas and getting it to storage took up the bigger part of the morning.  Our unit is right by a door so unloading in the drizzle wasn't too bad.  We did a pretty good job using our space and still have some left for any miscellaneous things that we might like to put in it.  I'm finished with laundry but have a few things I need to put up before it is all done.  I did unpack the olive wood shepherd and he looks great in the reading room.  Need to rearrange a few things in the room to better utilize space but I'm happy that he makes a fine addition to the room. 

I worked on homework last night before watching SF beat GB.  I also started reading the OT again starting with David and then going back to the 40 years in the wilderness marking each time I see the word wilderness.  This past summer I did something like that with the words path, journey, travel and way.  My take so far, lots and lots of references to the wilderness.  I know that personal and spiritual growth happens in the wilderness and I'm not a wilderness scout, always looking to be there.  In fact, I have spent a lot of time trying not to be in the wilderness.  After the Israel trip I am blown away by the hard, dry and rocky features.  I totally pictured something else. 

We are taking a sabbatical Sunday today, our last for a while.  Both of us are fighting off getting a cold and being with germie people who don't stay home when they are ill is not a good thing.  It isn't because we want to sleep in although I'm awake and Roy is still asleep.  Buddy is with me trying to help me write.  A good result of my trip is that Buddy has found out she can sleep other places beside my arm.  There's a part of me that is a little sad but the longer time of uninterrupted sleep has been rather nice. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pilgrimage-The Primacy of St Peter

"At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, beside these same waters at Tabgha—near where the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter sits today—a dumbfounded Peter had fallen at Jesus’ feet after a miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:1-8). Now, three years later, another miraculous catch had occurred.

When the disciples reached shore with the catch in tow, they found a charcoal fire already laid, with fish cooking on the “Mensa Christi.” The only other time the Greek term for “charcoal fire” appears in the Bible occurs three chapters earlier, where we read that Peter warmed himself in Caiaphas’s courtyard in Jerusalem—and, out of fear, denied ever knowing Jesus (John 18:18; 21:9). Now, Peter sat in an awkward déjà vu.

After breakfast, Jesus called Peter by the same name as when they had first met and asked. “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” (John 21:15).

One of the reasons I love going to the Holy Land is because I get to see geographical connections that often have spiritual implications. Jesus took Simon Peter back to Tabgha—to the place where their relationship first began, to the place of grace, where a miraculous catch had pulled from Peter a confession: “I am a sinful man!” There Jesus reinstated Peter and reminded him of his purpose. Just because Peter had blown it didn’t mean it was the end of the line. Instead, it was the beginning. Time to start over. Whenever I go to the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter at Tabgha, I remember how important it is to return to the basics. Sometimes it’s helpful to start over and to realize that in spite of our failings, we still have a purpose in life. We should never quit."

This is a quote from Wayne Stiles book, Lands and Lessons of Christ.  I used his book Going Places with God as a devo last summer in preparation for my Holy Land trip and I have just ordered his book Lands and Lessons of Christ.  My favorite place we visited last week was the Church of the Primacy of Peter because the Lord has used John 21 as a milestone marker in my walk with Him.  Every year I pray and ask the Lord for a specific scripture to pray and meditate upon.  In 2001 it was Luke 5:1-8 and in 2002 John 21.  I had no idea at that time that those two passages were even related to one another.  Encountering these passages made an impact on my heart and life.  As Margaret Fineberg says in her book Wonderstruck, "one glimpse of God changes everything."

The bottom line of this story for me is; I wanted to walk away from tennis back in 2001 but I knew in my heart of hearts there was some unfinished work that needed to be done before I could lay tennis down.  In John 21 Jesus has risen from the dead and He is waiting to ascend to the right hand of the Father, but what is He doing in the in-between time?  Making breakfast, frying up some fish and serving warm bread to the boys.  He is meeting with them at the same spot where some of them first encountered Him.  In front of the other disciples Jesus reinstates Peter, forgives him, challenges him and loves him.  He is offering the opportunity for Peter to begin again...New.  So He asked me, while you are waiting can you just fry up some fish?  Can you serve right where you are, even though it is not where you want to be?  As it happened I was able to leave tennis at the right time and began working part time at church.  Part time led to full time and I thought this is what Jesus had in mind all along for me, to be full time staff and serve Him there.  For the first few years I loved going to work.  I never wanted to miss a day but somewhere during those years, the joy and the wonder of serving diminished and working at church became just that, another job only the job carried spiritual implications.  I learned in many ways church work is no different than working at a worldly job.  Only differences; the salary was considerably lower and playing the" spiritual card" to get ones way was rampant.  You start expecting to never have to pay for any conference or trip or get together sponsored by the church.  Many times you didn't go to conferences or programs put on by other areas of ministry at church, because you were sick of being up there all the time and you couldn't attend as a regular participant.  The same people bugged you and they expected you to drop everything to take care of a last minute request, even though you had deadline work to take care of.  Sometime along the line I stopped depending on God's strength and served out of my own weaknesses and insecurities and I noticed too many others had chosen the same way of serving as well. 

John 21 had kind of become a theme for me when it came from transitioning from tennis to church work.  But, it is so much more than that.  Yes, it includes that time, but the eternal truth of starting over and knowing we still have a purpose in life is the recurring refrain.  Jesus reminded Peter on that spot and He used that story to remind me.  Rauof was looking for someone to read the chapter as we gathered at the Primacy of Peter spot there on the Sea of Galilee.  Dena nudged me and said you should volunteer and thus I did.  While reading the chapter out loud to the group, I unexpectedly teared up, momentarily stopping not only to gather myself but to express gratitude to God silently to be there at the spot, reading the passage, and thankful for His work that began back in the day that these verses became alive and life to me.  I could have stayed there much longer than we did.  Being baptized in the Jordan held no appeal to me, the second one took when I was 16 and I hate to mess with it, but if they were offering to be baptized at that spot, I would be the first in line.   

In these past years having retired from church work due to health reasons, I thought John 21 was only for that period of time but standing there last week was a place of grace for me.  Frying up fish and serving when you are waiting for the next transition, is for all times, for all areas of life.  After the last couple of years feeling directionless I am again seeing my purpose and work in the kingdom of God.  I am energized and frying up all the fish I can where ever I can.

The entrance to the grounds of the church states that this is holy ground and then adds no shorts allowed.  Kind of ironic isn't it...Peter stripped down for work, for fishing.  I should have taken off my shoes, holy ground but rocks along the shoreline prevented me from doing that.  I took off my shoes in my heart. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Just a Few More Thoughts

Today is the first day of getting back into a regular routine.  The days haven't held any pressing appointments or the like, so I have gone through them at my leisure.  I was too jet lagged to go to Tuesday leadership meeting but I came to Bible study today and it was fun being a participant.  Donna did a great job in facilitating our group and Jennifer, teaching director, sat in.  Our group had perfect attendance which is not bad for the first meeting of the new year.  Afterwards Peggy, Kathleen and I went out to lunch.  For friends who have just spent a lot of time together on a trip we weren't in too big of a hurry to leave Lupe's.  Sounds like I made a good decision on not going to Rome. 

I just about have all the Christmas decorations packed up.  This weekend Roy said he would help me rearrange some of the storage bins and then we will take them over to the storage unit. 

It is hard to believe that Jerusalem had snow this week and that storms had washed out some of the very roads we'd been on.  The weather was perfect when we were there.  I have loved having the luxury of time to think about last week.  I didn't go with the thought that I would get a 'word' about specific situations but knew to expect the wonder of God being in the land He made and chose for His people.  I feel like I have a better understanding of the land and how God uses His land even today to fulfill prophecies.  Maybe even coming home with a new appreciation for God's timing.  I'm still contemplating and praying for specific conversations that occurred during that week.  Sometimes we have to get out of our own backyard to gain new vision and perspective.  This year seems to be the year of new beginnings, a new thing, a new walk and a new way to live.  Love the verses to be prayed through that He has given for my year and for the year of close friends.  I've been reading through a book that Roy gave me this summer about the Holy Land.  It isn't a travel guide but it is more like a book that holds your interest much more after the trip. 

Jerusalem is a whirl of activity and so much to see.  Tiberius was a welcomed change of pace.  Loved our boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.  I could do that several times on a visit.  Many of us commented that we now understand why Jesus would retreat for renewal and for ministry in and around this area. 

Maybe tomorrow I will write about my favorite place on the trip.  Haven't sorted through it all yet. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Little Moments-Pilgrimage Part 3

It's the little things.  Really, this trip had a lot of big moments and they were awesome but this trip had a lot of little moments that I will think of and cherish in the days ahead.  Since my ADD brain has problems thinking in a clear, concise manner, there will be no particular order or importance of order in this post.  It is writing it down when it comes to mind.  I have already had a million thoughts since that last sentence and then having sip of coffee, none of the million stuck.

John Bolin tells a story of college days touring through Canada on a bus.  I assume it was his CBU choir and they were crossing through the beauty of the Rocky Mountains around Banff and Lake Louise.  He was taking it all in, the immense beauty and majesty of the region, when he turned to look in the back of the bus.  People were sleeping through the best part and he couldn't believe that.  If memory serves, he roused the sleepers encouraging them not to miss the glory and beauty.  I love that song Don't Let Me Miss the Glory that we sing in choir.  So, even as tired as I was some days, I didn't want to sleep on the bus as we motored along the highways in Israel.  We saw camels, sheep, lots and lots of rocks, people, businesses, and the like.  A note to those of you that might travel to Israel in the future; sheep and large rocks look alike from the bus and although I got some great pictures of sheep, I also got some great pictures of rocks thinking I was capturing the pastoral beauty of grazing sheep. 

Enjoy the company of those you travel with.  This is the first group I have traveled with that didn't have one cranky, grouchy person who demanded attention and generally made an a** of themselves.  One night Peggy and I were talking about this when it dawned on me, maybe I was the person that was getting on every one's nerves.  Not because I was cranky, although I know how to do that, but because I slowed down the group.  In my younger, athletic days I certainly didn't have patience with a person like I have become.  Our group genuinely enjoyed one another, laughed together, stood in awe together, and loved celebrating the four birthdays on our trip.  When Raouf or Wanda Jean weren't talking on the mic at the front of the bus, we were all engaged in conversations.  Billy and Janie sat in front of Dena and me.  Roy and I have been friends with them for a long time but over the past 15 or so years, even though we attend the same church, our paths didn't cross very often.  I had forgotten how much I enjoy their company and conversation. Enjoyed spending time with Melinda.  We go way back all the way to Married Young Adults.  At Ceassera by the Sea, David Bolin had just sang the first verse of How Great Thou Art and the acoustics were great.  Peggy quickly assembled Janie and me to accompany her on the second verse of the song and our verse came with choreography by Peggy.  What a blast!  Although I do not want to see a video of it.  Most evenings at the hotel, after dinner, Peggy and Kathleen would drop in our room.  On Thursday night Dena got to be a party to and observe the script writing process with Peggy and me.  In fact, Dena gave us one of the best observations and we used it.  I loved meeting and making new friends.  I also enjoyed getting to know church people better, you know the ones that we only know by name.  Lots of little moments that became a huge unexpected blessing. 

The quiet and peace at the Church of the Beatitudes.  It was one of the only places we were given time to pray or read on our own.  The garden is made with so many niches to feel alone with the Lord.  I chose a spot next to honeysuckle bushes because honeysuckles remind me of a good part of my childhood and also, I was on level ground.  Loved the attendant outside the restrooms there.  She had a little dish and you were to leave money for usage of the facilities.  As I was digging through my wallet to find some money, a man breezed past the attendant.  She began banging on the table to get his attention because he hadn't paid.  Hey, that man doesn't know it (he wasn't in our group) but that visit was on me.  Just paying it forward and it was worth it for the lady to stop banging the table with her fingertips. 

I didn't remember the Dead Sea being so blue and so inviting.  If ya didn't know it was the Dead Sea and jumped right in, you'd have a big surprise. 

While we waited for those who were finishing up their time on Mt Multiplication but I kept wanting to call it Division...the bread and fish.  Jesus multiplied the fish and bread to feed the 5000 but his disciples divided them up into baskets.  Let's just call it the Church of Holy Math.  Anyway, some of the guys in our group began throwing a football with a couple of local boys.  I think Wanda Jean even added in some of her stellar cheer leading moves.  It was a great moment that play transcends language. 

I went to Israel thinking that I would be Diet Coke less.  It was not so, I had several along the way.  Best ones were the DC that came in glass bottles.  It's the little things. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pilgrimage Part 2

Last night I downloaded my pictures from Israel. As Roy looked over my shoulder I chattily shared with him where we were in the Holy Land. Funny thing, after a few pictures I had taken there were a whole bunch I hadn't because Dena had taken them. Most of these pictures had come as a result of a journey up and on stairs or steep uphill trails and more and more each day I had to decide whether to try or not. Roy was laughing so hard because in the narration and description I would say, I have no clue what this is about, Dena took this picture. This was actually the first time I had looked through them and realized I sat on the side lines a lot in Israel. I am not complaining because usually something really good happened while I was waiting for everyone to traverse hill and dale to see ruins and rocks. Those times were used wisely in that I could reflect, ponder over and think about all we were seeing and learning. I used the time for prayer and many a time I was just trying to slow my heart rate and breathe deeply to oxygenate my blood.

Bethlehem was hard on me, more specifically the Church of the Nativity. Tiny little steps with no handrail. I took in the irony that the priests were wildly enforcing the no hat rule even for women yet in the corner of the birthplace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was a huge trash bin, handcart, push brooms and dust pans. Hmmm....something a little out of whack here. Loved the Catholic side of the church much better. In 1988 when I was in Israel with the choir, the whole hole in the ground in Bethlehem was a bit of a disappointment for me. This time was no different except the information we were getting from our guide. Totally opened up my understanding. Even though I lagged behind the group in step I could hear Rauof. We were the first group of his to use the Whisper. It is an earpiece so that we can hear him directly and not through a din of noise.

Bethlehem was tiring but Tuesday just about put me in the tomb, whether it was Lazarus' or the Garden Tomb, it didn't matter. Of course I could get to Laz's because others would be carrying my dead, lifeless body and I wouldn't have to deal with heart rhythms and bad knees. Originally, we were to do the rabbinical tunnels in the evening and I knew I could stay at the hotel but due to scheduling mistakes, we were there bright and early Tuesday morning. Very, very interesting but I made the mistake of wearing my fleece top over my shirt and right off the bat in those long tunnels, I began to get hot. Then the stairs got to me and as Roy pointed out to me on Saturday, I have never fared well underground. He has the stories to tell of our vacation adventures to caverns and the like. So, while I learned a lot, I also depleted a lot of energy that I couldn't afford to lose. We finished up the underground portion of our program and went outside to the Western Wall. To tell you the truth, personally I have never felt good about going up their with the orthodox jews to pray or to mainly watch them. Felt that way in 88 and 2012 wasn't different. I sat back a ways and took in life at the wall from a far and life up close and personal in the square. We made our way to the southern steps, which was the exit from the Temple. Jesus would have used the exit and stood on the steps. I sat where Jesus walked...loved being there and thinking through the magnitude of it all. Soon we were back to our bus to go to the pool of Siloam. I waited after the teaching while the rest went upstairs, now you know why I waited, to get a closer glimpse of the spring or pool or whatever it is now. They also looked at Hezekiah’s tunnel but I had been fortunate in 88 to actually walk in the tunnel from start to finish. The hour I was dreading was close upon us, waiting in line to be on the Temple Mount from 12:30-1:30. While we waiting in the bright, warm sunshine, several bar mitzvahs passed us by. The drum beat enticing; it was like having your own drum line. Honestly, everyone enjoyed and took pictures of the first 3 but lost interest after that. Some shared the bread they had bought from a vendor since none of us had eaten lunch, while we stood in line. Peggy and I found shaded spots as the line snaked slowly toward security. I think I was the next to last one let in. We had all of 5-7 minutes to see everything. I saw the ground. By this time I was really fighting my irregular heartbeat. It would race 90 to nothing and then make a nano second stop which caused my heart rate to plummet. Kathleen was so kind to walk with me and let me hold onto her elbow. Peggy was worried that Kathleen and I would be locked in. When we turned the corner and I saw the number of steps we were going to have to climb I said the 'S" word. Nancy cussed, I Nancy 11:6. That I lived to tell this story while being so close to the Holy of Holies, which was somewhere beneath our feet, God must have had compassion on me. I hurt so bad and was breathing so shallowly, I began to cry. If you know me, I have a HIGH pain tolerance but this; it was too much for me to take. Dena said that is when she knew how badly I felt. Kathleen encouraged me along the way and she said to me, "what is the worst they could do to us? Shoot us?" I responded, "Yes, please." We got yelled at by men with guns as they told us to get out! I assume that's what they were saying. To tell you the truth the loud tone never changes in Aramaic. Saying a passionate love you and a passionate shout down, get off our property you stupid infidel do sound the same.  Not that anyone told me that they loved me in Aramaic on the trip.  It's an assumption.  We were out and found ourselves by St Anne's Church and Stephen's Gate. The owner of the tour company had accompanied us and he went to get his car and take WJ and me back to the hotel. Peggy sat me down on some slick concrete pillar and went to get me a Diet Coke. It was the best thing she could have done. After a wild ride through Jerusalem back to the hotel, WJ said she would call me when it was time to go to the Garden Tomb and I told her if I went, that's where I would die. So I went to the room and fell into bed around 2:45 and I woke up at 7:00, right before everyone returned. Mike, the owner, told me that if I needed a Dr he would take me to one because at a hospital it might be 24 hours before seeing anyone. He also told me to order room service, but rest sounded a whole lot better than hummus at that time. Dena, Peggy, Janie and Kathleen made me laugh and Dena and I ate dinner in our room. Peggy asked me on Wednesday, did you think you were going to die? Yep, I really did. On Wednesday you knew I was feeling a lot better because I didn't want anyone to shoot me, I wanted to live to see Tiberius.

These posts are going to be all over the place and hopefully when I feel like I have told the story, I can wrap it all up in a cohesive thought.