My sun porch

My sun porch

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Somebody's knockin'...

Somebody's knockin'...

Yesterday, I was driving to the store, listening to the end of a very interesting audiobook, when I thought I heard someone knocking on a door. I turned off the audiobook and listened again. At first I didn't hear anything, but then I heard it again, a very quick  and distinct knock, knock, knock, knock, knock. I started looking around. Was someone in the car with me? I didn't see anyone. Visions of "the little people" popped into my head. I kept listening but I never heard it again. I know it was probably just a sound my car made as it was warming up. Probably needs a tune up. But that sound has stuck with me.

After breakfast today, I was feeling a little  restless, so I went for a little walk around the house on this pretty, late December morning. I started taking pictures of little things I saw as I explored. I have this white lilac bush at my front porch that I am considering taking out because it has hardly bloomed at all in the last several years. I noticed that it looks like it's getting ready to bloom. This crazy Ohio weather is confusing! I snapped a picture of a budding branch. Later, as I looked at the pictures I took, I noticed the buds against my front door. The knocking popped into my head again,

For several years I have felt...restless...expectant...unsatisfied...waiting for SOMETHING. I don't know why I feel this way. Like the picture above, I feel like I bloom at all the wrong times. Perhaps I have been in the middle of some sort of midlife crisis. I don't really know who I want to be when I "grow up." I don't WANT to feel like this...I try to feel content with my life. I am surely blessed with family, friends. a good job, a busy life. I just can't shake this feeling that I am supposed to be doing something...

Who was knocking? Who was trying to get my attention? God and I have always had a good relationship. I listen for God's voice in my daily life and I watch for his messages, like the crosses in the sky He sends me occasionally for encouragement. Is He trying to tell me something? How do I know?

As a new year approaches, many people search for a new beginning. Perhaps that's all it is. New beginnings are a good thing. 2016 has been a strange year. Maybe 2017 is knocking, enthusiastically wanting to come in a little early. That's fine with me.

Whether it's God, opportunity, a new year, my car needing a tune up, the "little people" living in my car or something I haven't even thought of, I'm going to keep an open mind and keep listening for that knocking and be ready to open the door. I'm ready for an adventure!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Love every WHO...

"The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." -- Mark 12:31

"But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you," -- Mark 5:4

WHO are you commenting about on Facebook-
complaining about they way they live?
WHO are you angrily yelling about,
refusing to forgive?

WHO are you developing opinions about,
from only what you see on a screen?
WHO are you learning to hate,
from only what can be seen?

WHO are you protecting yourself from
when you carry that gun in your purse?
WHO do you openly fear?
WHO do you openly curse?

Look at that those that make up your WHO,
the ones your actions show that you hate.
Look at WHO you complain about,
the WHO your comments berate.

These human beings that make up your WHO,
the ones you treat with disgust,
Are the neighbors Jesus talks about
when he says that love is a must.

Are you taking the side of the cop,
and hating the WHO he shot?
Do you know about the WHO that died
when tempers were hot?

Or, do you talk with loathing
about the WHO in dressed in blue?
 "Black lives matter," and you want revenge,
But his life matters too.

Your WHO may be a politician,
your opinions you love to share.
There is venom in your speech, 
but you don't seem to care.

You are certain your opinion is right,
everyone else is dead wrong!
If people would just agree with you,
this country would be strong!

Instead of speaking with hate
though the computer keys,
we should follow the lead of Jesus
and fall to our knees.

Stop spewing your hatred
all over Facebook and Twitter.
Stop gossiping and complaining.
Stop being so bitter.

Our great country give us freedom,
freedom to say what we want.
But that freedom of speech
doesn't mean we should hate and taunt.

Love and care for your neighbor,
as you would care for you.
Pray for your enemies,
and love EVERY WHO.

Dear Loving Father,
I thank you for this beautiful world, but I pray that you change hearts all over that world! There is so much hate, so much fear, so much needless and senseless destruction and death...It is sometimes painful to live in this beautiful world you gave us. Lord, please help people to learn to LOVE their neighbors and treat EVERYONE with care! I am sure your heart breaks at the hate you see in this world. I pray that you will break the hearts of those who carry so much hate, and open those hearts instead! I can't change the world, but I can live my life in LOVE! Please give me the wisdom, strength and HOPE I need to continuing to loving every WHO that I come in contact with! In Jesus' precious name, Amen.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Life Lessons from the Ocean - Part 3 - A lesson in humility

"For I am the Lord your God, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar - the Lord Almighty is his name." -- Isaiah 51:15

Standing in the ocean, not far from the shore at low tide, the water was only at my knees. These waves aren't so bad! I walked further out. I looked to my left at the pier and I was almost equal with the end of that pier. The water still only came up to my waist most of the time. The pull of the ocean at my feet was stronger. I could feel the tug of the current, which usually pushed me back to shore, but now seemed to be pulling me further out to sea.

I became emboldened and faced the waves. Here at the "breakers" where larger waves would boil and roll up in front of me,  it was like seeing the birth of a wave. My writer's mind thought of my ocean/life analogy and I decided to pretend I was fighting with the ocean. It was throwing bad stuff my way. I jumped over waves, dived underneath, let them crash into me...never had I felt so powerful! No wave was going to take me down! I walked on a little farther, not listening to my husband calling for me not to go too far. I yelled at the waves, "Come on! Is that all you've got?!" I laughed at the next wave that slapped against me and knocked me back a few steps. I wiped the salty water from my eyes and enjoyed the powerful feeling! What fun! How exciting to feel like you can take on the world! I let a few more bigger waves hit me! I pretended to be Muhammad Ali, dancing around the waves. "Come on waves! I float like a butterfly, sting like a bee!" I laughed at myself, dancing in the waves...and then it happened.

I had gotten too cocky. I took my eyes off the oncoming waves in my little dance of power and a huge wave hit me from the side, knocking me off balance. I fell backward, just as another large wave rolled on top of me. I went under. I could feel the sting of salt water in my nose and throat. I felt myself flailing around, trying to get up. I thought I was drowning! It caught me so off guard that I couldn't think straight. Then I remembered it wasn't that deep and I stood up. I coughed and sputtered and got my feet planted firmly in the sand. As I got my bearings back, the waves kept coming and I knew I had the get back to shore. I turned my back to the waves and walked as quickly as I could toward to the warm sand. My husband just thought I was taking a break, waved and kept swimming. He had no idea I had just cheated death.

Well...cheated death might be a bit dramatic. But at that moment, lungs full of salt water, eyes and nose stinging, and legs like jelly, I felt near death. Each step felt like a mile and my chair on the beach looked so small. I HAD to reach it! I kept trudging along, the current pulling me, taunting me, making fun of my weakness.

When I did make it back to my chair and my towel, I plopped down, blew my nose and laid there for several minutes, thanking God for saving my life. My cockiness and greed for power took me under. It's addictive, that power. Once I conquered one big wave, I wanted more. I fought the waves instead of respecting them. I taunted them. I do not want to be that drunk with power again, even if it is a make believe battle with the sea.

Dear powerful Father,
Thank you for this lesson in humility. I am but a speck to your power. When I learn to respect that power and rely on it, instead of letting a little power make me cocky and stupid, you will use that power to protect me and support me. That is a good lesson for anyone on this earth. Thank you for your amazing and wonderous creation. Amen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Life Lessons from the Ocean - Part 2

"Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me." -- Psalm 42:7

When you are standing in the ocean, enjoying the coolness of the water and and the warmth of the sun upon your skin, there are times you feel strong enough to face the on-coming waves head on. You walk toward them and feel like you and take on the tallest wave. You see the waves coming...the small ones that break past you and the big ones that try to take you under.  You think, "I've got this!" It's a powerful feeling to be that strong and prepared!

Sometimes the really big waves come together. A strong one almost knocks you down, but you stay strong. But before you've had a chance to wipe the salt from your eyes another wave is right on top of you. This one might take you down, but your reaction time is pretty quick and you pull yourself right back up. And then yet another wave is right behind it, ready to devour your weakened spirit. The undertow is too much for you at that moment and you go under. Salt goes up your nose and burns your eyes and throat. You feel like you can't fight anymore and you want to give up. But you grasp onto whatever fighting spirit you have left and you stand up.

In these times, you are too weak and recovering to feel strong enough to face the waves. You turn your back to them and deal with them as they come. The small ones might break around you with little trouble, but the big ones still come and beat you up when you don't see them coming. You aren't prepared and just to weary to care.

Sometimes the ocean gives you moments of rest in between the waves. Those moments are peaceful and you can catch your breath and just float along. You watch the waves crash around you, maybe taking others under, but your area is calm and peaceful. This peace doesn't last long, but it gives you rest so you can prepare for the next round.

It is important to remember to never go swimming in the ocean alone. When multiple waves have weakened you, a friend will lend a hand and help you walk to the safety of the shore. That friend will help you walk across the painfully sharp rocks and shells that come right before the soft sand and will get you a comfortable chair on the beach so you can rest up for your next swim.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Life Lessons from the Ocean, Part 1

"The sea is His, for it was He who made it, And His hands formed the dry land." -- Psalm 95:5

Today I am blessed to be sitting on a balcony outside my hotel room, looking out on the beach and listening to the constant crashing of the ocean's waves. I am working on writings that I began last year at this time about how the ocean is like life. Over the next few days, I will share some of those words with you. 

1. What you see when looking at the ocean is never the whole story.  There is so much going on beneath the surface of the ocean. Creatures live their lives under water that we never see by only looking at the waves. Don't we do the same thing with people? We only look at what we see on the surface and judge them. We have no idea what's going on in their hearts and minds. 

2.  Looking at the ocean, you see the waves coming from all angles, and not always straight on. The waves of life - the trials, problems, frustrations and challenges come at you from all directions. Just when you are looking and waiting for something to hit you from one direction, something you are not anticipating at all hits you and takes you by surprise.

3. Sometimes those waves coming at you are small or even medium sized and you can just jump right over them and enjoy the feeling of weightlessness in the process.

4. There are times, however, those waves are big and knock you down. The thing is, you KNOW there are always going to be big waves. When you get knocked down, you don't have to drown...STAND UP! When you are near the ocean shore, the water isn't that deep. Remember that when you are going under and pull yourself back up.

More of my thoughts tomorrow...Blessings, by friends!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Cicada Lessons

Samuel Orr, a filmmaker.  Published May 28, 2013, Youtube.

"O Lord, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures." -- Psalms 104:24

They were crawling all over me yesterday at two outside parties I attended on Memorial Day, and they creeped me out! I had flashbacks of when I was 15 and Doug Trout and Darren Cummings put a shell down my shirt and scarred me for life! Yesterday,as we sat in the shade of a large tree, there were times the song of these creepy creatures were louder than our conversation. They really are strange critters, with their weird red eyes.

As we sat there complaining about them, a friend said that he thought they were a tribute to the power, mystery and reliability of God. Those bugs KNOW to crawl out of the ground every 17 years...not 16, not 18, not 12, but 17 years. You can COUNT on them. 

Contemplate the mystery. People across the world and over thousands of years have also contemplated them. The cicada is a sacred animal in their Chinese culture, and they are considered to be a symbol of resurrection and rebirth.  An Italian myth describes a story of a young woman with a beautiful voice. It is said that her voice was so beautiful that when she died, the gods missed her voice so much, they allowed her to return to earth every so often as a cicada so she could continue to sing to them. There is also an ancient Greek ode to the cicada that says, "We call you happy, O cicada, because after you have drunk a little dew from the treetops you sing like a queen."

Puts a little different spin on the creepiness of them, doesn't it? I watched the video I posted above, and was also touched by the life cycle of the cicada. They live underground for 17 years and emerge with one hatch, mate and continue the life cycle. I love the picture of thousands of them marching UP the tree...reaching up as far as they can. Some die before they reach their goal. Some never make it out of their shell. But...some make it out and spend the rest of their short out of the ground lives searching for their purpose and sing, sing sing!

I have seen the cicada phenomenon twice before in my life, but this year it has come to mean more to me. Maybe because I realize I have less time left in my life, or maybe I just think too much. But, I want to use the example of that weird, creepy little creature in my own life. I want to keep searching for my purpose, march onward and upward, marvel in the mystery, power and reliability of God and sing, sing sing!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

An invitation


"There I will go to the altar of God, to God - the source of all my joy. I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God." -- Psalm 43:4

My practice in the morning is to turn on my music to get me going. I listen in the bathroom as I get ready. I listen as I eat my breakfast, and I even listen as I am doing my devotional time. In the morning, it is always inspirational music that calms my soul. However, this morning, I am again thinking about quiet...and focus.

I had a conversation with a friend last night about Sabbath...the need to rest. This morning I am again thinking about fasting from social media for at least one day a is such a distraction for me! I know that I know this, but I can't seem to do anything about it! My morning devotional had me look up the verse from Psalms above. As I read it, it seemed like an invitation to me. So, I turned off the music and just remained QUIET for a few minutes.

In that moment of quiet, God gave me the sweetest music I could need, a bird was right outside my window singing boldly in the early morning light. It was beautiful! I was reminded that I don't need social media or my Pandora music station to get me going! God provides what I need! He is my source joy!

Oh, Lord, thrill my heart with you today. Be my joy and delight! Please help me clear my life, my mind, my heart and my soul from all the many distractions I allow and I create in my life. Encourage me to be QUIET once in a while...more often...and know that you are God and give me everything I need! Thank you Lord for the invitation you sent me this morning! It has been gladly accepted! Amen.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Planning to Plan...

"Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." -- Proverbs 19:21

Hello friends! It has been almost a year since I last wrote in my blog. WOW! I knew it had been a while, but I didn't realize it had been a year! There are many reasons for this lapse in doing something I truly loved doing. One reason may be I was lacking in inspiration and motivation. I just didn't wake up in the morning burning to write I didn't write. So what was the reason for THAT? Time is also a factor. I have been so busy in the last year, the last six months especially, and I just didn't have the time to sit down, collect my thoughts and write them down. I tried once again to do the Nanowrimo challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November and failed at that too. I just couldn't seem to carve out enough time to do it.

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately...what? You find that funny? I know, I think too much all the time! My pastor challenged our whole congregation to choose a word to focus on this year. As he was speaking, one word jumped out at me: PLAN. I think the reason I lacked motivation AND the reason I don't have time is that I don't plan my life very well. For the most part I am a very organized person, but planning my days just wasn't something I took the time to do. See what I mean? It's all about time. I was making my life all about me. Yes, I was doing many things for many people, but maybe all of those things were being done because I don't know how to say no and I want to please everyone all the time. Both of those things are character traits that have plagued me all my life, but this last year I have taken them to new levels.

That old adage, "I haven't planned to fail, I have failed to plan," really works when describing my life recently. I have failed to adequately plan my time, money, meals, my exercise, and my career so all of these areas are not where I would like them to be. What am I doing with my life???

One of my favorite Bible verses, Matthew 25:21, begins "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant!...'  It is one of my favorites because I LONG to hear those words from my Father God when I am finally home with him in heaven where I belong. I want my creator to be proud of the person I was when I was here on earth, so I try hard to be a reflection of Jesus, loving and serving others. Perhaps I am trying too hard. Perhaps my Father will tell me "Well, you tried very hard, but you missed the point!" Oh, that is NOT what I long to hear!

One of the goals I have for myself professionally is to be in a position of leadership where I am able to use the skills and talents that I have developed over the years to motivate people to be the best selves they can be and to make a real difference in an organization and in a community. I have tried to "lead where I am" but, so far, every time I try find that place where I belong and can meet those goals for myself, it never happens exactly the way I thought it would. Is it because these are MY plans for myself and not GOD'S? Is it because I have failed to plan and adequately take care of the resources that God has placed in my hands? The last half of Matthew 25:21 says, "You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things." Have I not been faithful enough? Does it go back to my lack of planning and just letting life take me where it wants? Is that why I constantly feel worn, weary and lacking? Questions! Questions!

I think I have found what I want to write about in the coming days and weeks! Perhaps I need to see what God has to say about planning and time management and study his word, searching for wisdom, guidance, inspiration and motivation. Maybe I need to write about my journey in time management and planning to help myself and others too! So, now I am PLANNING to write! More to come!