Monday, January 30, 2012

Blogger Blahs

I dare say, I've got the Blogger Blahs.  Try as I might, I have absolutely nothing sage, or sound, or simple, or sassy to flesh out here.  Mind you, I've thumbed through photos, considered a few devotionals, dug around the old memory bank, prayed, flipped through a book or two and checked the calendar.  I've even attempted to glean something from current events. 

Lackluster is the best description for what's ruminating (or not) in my thoughts.  It means:  lacking in sheen or brilliance, or vitality; dull, mediocre.  Not exactly sassy.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cactus Diaries

Here I am, roosted among friends 
& family in SUNNY Arizona.
This is a welcome alternative 
to ice storms & power-less homes, 
and great fun to boot.

Our church family here have hosted
some great gathering events.
As a result, by Saturday I'll be 
moving into my next larger jean size.

We sisters have talked non-stop,
with no end of words in sight.
Today will be yet another
such gab-fest.

The downside to my sojourn is
that I've had limited or no access
to the internet.  Downside?
Well, maybe just a minor 
inconvenience.

I will return to WA State over 
the weekend and begin catching up 
(& checking up) on all of you.

Until then ... you are in my 
thoughts & prayers.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dog Sled Diaries


What a week it's been in the Pacific Northwest!  Many of you have seen news footage of the snow & ice that assaulted us - - a rather rare phenomenon for this part of the world.   On the one hand, a very welcome & magical wonderland.  On the other, a wicked descent into all things cold & immovable & crunchy. 

For several days we were without power or ... rather ... I was without power.  Hubby left town before the storm's onset, having made his way to a conference in WARM Palm Springs a few days prior.  That meant the pioneer in me kicked into roughing it gear; and rough it I did! 

Some 500,000+ people in the region have been without power for several days.  The storm's rarity-quotient means few, including utilities & road crews are prepared for such as this.  The fact that it included an ice storm meant the assault was particularly virulent, packing a one/two punch!

On Thursday I managed to disable the automatic garage-door-opener to pull my Toyota Highlander out onto the banana peel streets in my neighborhood.  It handles well in most conditions, and I was hopeful it would make it to my sister's so we could run a few much-needed errands.  That's what pioneers do (cheesy grin).  We actually had a good time since we had most roads to ourselves, but I was glad to return home before the temps plummeted again into the 20s. 

All through each dark night it was eerie listening to the ice-encrusted Pine Trees giving up their snow & ice-laden limbs with loud cracks, followed by equally loud thuds as they fell to the ground.  I had visions of one-such thud coming through my roof, and that to disturb my sleeplessness. 

Well, I survived the ordeal - - for surely it was all of that!.  In fact, yesterday my son delivered my sister Dolores & me to the airport where we proceeded to board a plane for Phoenix to meet up with sisters Barbara & Carol.  With a very convincing and certainly Christian neener-neener we bid farewell to the white world beneath us. 

I survived AND I escaped to live another day ... this one in Phoenix.


P.S.  Years ago I purchased a crank radio, and I can tell you I was very grateful to have it as a link to the outside world since I had no T.V., no internet, and even no phone when my battery went dead.  If you don't have one, all I can say is "get one"!  They're relatively inexpensive & a must have

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Big Stumble

We all stumble in many ways. 
Anyone who is never at fault in what 
they say is perfect, able to keep their
whole body in check.  
James 3:2



The headline read:  U.S. Marine Corp Soul Searching After Video.   

Souls are a fairly significant place to initiate an investigation.

You have probably read or heard about this disturbing story yourself; this cadre of U.S.  Marines that have come under scrutiny for their hideous desecration of deceased, Taliban enemy combatants.  I doubt they have any inkling of the avalanche they'd create with this snowball.

The guilty parties consisted of a few - four in all - and today the Marine Corp has the herculean job of clearing it's once pristine name because of their actions. In addition to the soul searching, you can be certain there will be a fearless & thorough investigation about what went so terribly awry - and this to ensure the avoidance of so egregious an act in the future.

How sad that the behavior of so few have blighted the name of so many.  In this instance, their actions have even imperiled ALL American military & citizens.  Our enemies now have new fuel to fire their anger.

As I've considered the story and the requisite soul searching it's engendered, I cannot help but connect THAT dot to another...

It is equally sad & disturbing when reports roll in about a believer's fall from grace (I'm not keen about that term as grace is grace; we don't climb UP to it, so it's hardly possible we can fall DOWN from it; but for lack of another analogy I'll stick with it), especially when that fall involves a public figure like a pastor or priest, or someone with a significant ministry, media post, etc.  Highly visible descents get huge public coverage.  

More than a mere stumble, these nosedives are often so hideous as to receive much scrutiny & legal action - as well they should.  Trouble is, that scrutiny and it's companion, disdain, are often directed at Christianity in general, and God in particular.  Like those wayward Marines, a few Christians call down disrepute upon the many, and even upon the Lord Himself. 

It's not my place or intent to render judgment against them.  God knows I've had plenty a slide of my own!   Besides, we onlookers rarely have the whole story.  So this is as much a reminder to self as anything:  none of us very far from a fall, and a serious one at that.  

It's troublesome when guilt for the crimes-and-misdemeanors of a handful - be it Marines or Christians or any other entity - falls on the innocent.  And Who is more innocent than He Who was judged, found innocent, killed anyway (for the fallen, be they Marines or Christians), so that grace itself would never, ever plummet?    

It is the very reason we who believe do not condemn the falling or fallen (even if the fall-er be ourselves).  It is why we protect our testimony & witness ... not to gloat or strut or to crown ourselves worthy  ... but to esteem the Name above all names.

The soul is always a good place to begin any investigation.


Do not destroy the work of God 
for the sake of food. All food is clean, 
but it is wrong for a person to eat anything 
that causes someone else to stumble.  
Romans 14:20

Lord, the LORD Almighty,
   may those who hope in you
   not be disgraced because of me;
God of Israel,
   may those who seek you
   not be put to shame because of me.
For I endure scorn for your sake,
   and shame covers my face. 
Psalm 69:6-7


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Revisiting Destiny

Last November I shared a story about a chance encounter with a young man by the name of Andrew.   As I walked away from him that day, little did I know that our paths would cross again.  

It's been nearly two months, but that's exactly what happened this week; and again just outside the Ross Store where first this man-warrior made entry into my heart.

Often I have thought of that day ... and of Andrew.  Whenever I drive near the store I always peak to see if he's there's; disappointed when he isn't.  I watch young people as they walk along the sidewalks, wondering if I might spot him toting his guitar.  When he comes to mind, I pray for him. 

On Tuesday, I took stock of my white turtleneck and decided it had to be replaced.  I'm a T.J. Maxx, Marshall's, Ross sort of girl, so I dashed into the closest of the three and there scored the needed turtleneck at a bargain price.   

As I exited the store, a faint though familiar strum of a guitar beckoned my attention. I glanced quickly to the right, and there sat Andrew, right where I'd left him November 15.  He was sitting on the sidewalk, his guitar case open in front of him, and singing a lovely tune I later learned he'd composed.  He wasn't there when I'd entered the store, but there was no doubt he'd settled in during the time it had taken me to make my purchase.

I almost ran. "Hi Andrew.  Do you remember me?  I'm the lady that talked with & prayed for you last November."

The recognition was immediate as a huge grin formed on his acne spotted, handsome face.  "Yes ... yes, I remember.  I also remember how much you helped me that day."

For the next ten minutes I caught up on Andrew's life... 
  • His friend's mother had sorta adopted him (his words) & was looking out for him.  She had even bought him a Christmas gift - - a hoody he was proudly wearing, and which I assessed to be his ONLY Christmas present.
  • He'd enrolled himself in a class to help with the getting of his G.E.D. - - a class he proudly reported that he'd paid for all by himself.
  • In order to make good on his G.E.D.-getting, he has been rising early in order to walk an hour to get to his class.
  • His parents still aren't doing so well, though he didn't elaborate much. 
  • He got a haircut.
  • He has no siblings or family members in the area (in response to a question I'd posed).

On we chatted as I asked more-and-more questions about his life, his music, his aspirations. 

Time came to leave and once again I asked Andrew if I could pray for him.  His "yes" came so quick it make me laugh out loud; and as I knelt next to him he leaned into my arms like my 19 month-old grandson sometimes does.  My heart both soared & ached.  I found it extremely difficult to pray aloud with so large a lump impeding my speech.

Lord, thank you for Andrew, and for again allowing our paths to cross.  What a dear & talented young man he is, and I thank you for that.  Thank you for protecting him, and for again making known to him Your love.  I believe You have an incredible plan for his life, Lord, so please help Andrew as You direct his steps.  Help him to walk in the way You would have him go.

With an "Amen." spoken, Andrew looked with his tear-filled eyes into my tear-filled eyes.  He said:  "Wow, that was so full of love & kindness it made me cry."  

"I know, Andrew; I know.  That's what God's love feels like, and He obviously wants you to know all about it.  If you get your hands on a Bible, be sure to read Psalm 139.  He wrote it for you."

As I readied to leave, I handed Andrew my phone number, telling him as I did:  "If ever you need someone to talk to, please call me".  I don't normally take such risks, but something compelled me to hand it over. 

Just as I'd felt the last time, I had a hard time keeping it together as I drove home and throughout the remainder of the day. 

Today I have concluded that there will be another chance encounter with my musician friend.  

Chance.  In God's economy that's as good as certainty,  So it is with certainty that I plan to purchase Andrew's first Bible.  I will keep it in my car for the next time our paths cross; and cross they will.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bedrock

No, this post is not about the mossy, dinosaur laden, rock-quarry burg inhabited by Fred & Wilma Flintstone - - although you must agree that Bedrock might well be a fine place of origin?

Origins.  Now that's the real context of this post.  

Bedrock is the bottom line; the very place from which things emanate, including origins.  It's where I've intended to go this year, as if set upon a real trek towards a real destination - - as real as Fred & Wilma's hometown, or my own.

Today's bedrock:  trust.  


All over the blogosphere I have encountered many of you visiting that place.  Some have claimed it as their word for the year.  Others have connected it to an AHA! moment.  Still others have felt compelled to remind us of it's value.  And don't we need reminding?  No matter the reason, many of us have come home to trust, a bedrock position if there be any.

What about trust makes it such a seminal element?  

Here's what I have concluded:  Without trust, none of the other bedrock locales are easily located, much less visited. Without trust, we do not have faith; we do not obey.  We cannot see past our own devices.  We mistakenly crown someone or something else (aka bank account, good looks, etc.) that cornerstone from which we derive security.  So long as it or they stay put, we trust.  They move, we're shattered.  Not very bedrocky.

Thus trust is bedrock; the sure foundation for those needful things that simply must begin there.  We may crown some other with it's prestigious title, but genuine trust takes a dim view of any & all counterfeits or usurpers.

Oh, that's not to say I don't trust people or things.  I trust my car to start & perform according to the manufacturer's specifications provided I give it proper care & maintenance.  I trust my Social Security check will arrive on time provided the government doesn't go bankrupt or deem me unworthy.  I trust my bathroom scales to reveal the true nature of my late-night refrigerator raids.  

But all those aforementioned trusts are conditional.  Their bedrock is based on some other bedrock; something required to keep them foundational, and even functional.  Not so true bedrock.  Like gravity, it is sure & solid & steadfast no matter what; and whether or not I place my trust in it or not.  

Bedrock never hinges on me.  

How simple would life be were I to simply trust that which alone is trustworthy?

Now this I know:
The LORD gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
Psalm 20:6-7

Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.  
Proverbs 29:25  



Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Thing of Beauty

Reaching deep within the reservoir where my memories are stored, I discovered anew something quite old yet refreshingly youthful.  I dare say it is as beautiful today as it was when first stored in the keeping-place. 

In my youth, the grade school I attended allowed the "big" kids (7th & 8th graders) to attend the Seattle Symphony twice a year.  The first time I had such an opportunity I was anything but enthused.  Mostly I was excited about the bus excursion that would allow we prepubescent energy balls to giggle & wiggle to & fro.  Then, when I realized I was to sit in a balcony, I knew I had been born for such a heady experience. 

To my surprise & amazement, the bus trip & beckoning balcony were nothing as compared with being captivated by the symphony's performance.  Never had I sat in the presence of so many musical notes, each & all colliding to create the most fantastic sounds.   I was smitten.


Beauty comes at rare times and in rare forms.  It's not always easy to see or to hear, or even to define.  But we know it when we come upon it.  It is then that we place it carefully into the reservoir that is quintessentially for beautiful things.  Then, on days like today when we're rummaging around for a beautiful thought or remembrance, there it is. 

I've heard it said:   "Beauty is to love what Christ loves.", so that's become my subscription.   I have concluded it to be the vital ingredient in all recipes calling for beauty.   No doubt that's what Bach, Mendelssohn, Handel & other Christian composers had in mind when they orchestrated the great, stirring & beautiful instrumentations that seized me as a young girl.

Some say "Art imitates life".  I'm not so sure. 

Where beauty is concerned, I have concluded - rightly or wrongly - that life imitates art.

Thus it is that the year to live beautifully insists I discover new and anew all that Christ loves.

... whatever is true, whatever is noble, 
whatever is right, whatever is pure, 
whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

Friday, January 6, 2012

What Sisters Do

It never occurred to my parents that their four daughters would one day find themselves spread out, far apart.  Theirs was a community of proximity, where family lived & held tightly together.   Mother worked hard at that tether.  She watched for fraying & tatters, applying lavish doses of nurture & love (sometimes with a sharp tongue) to ensure her girls were a permanent thread in the fabric that comprised our collective lives.  She took no easy road & made no lazy effort to gather & foster her brood.

Today we four sisters live miles - - states & countries - - apart.  Yet proximity is not an issue.  Funny how easy it is to remain connected when one purposes to do so.

Two weeks from today we four shall gather in Arizona where #2 sister, Barbara resides.  #3 sister, Carol will make her way from Mexico, while #1 sister, Dolores & I (forever #4, the baby) fly the friendly skies from here in WA State to join them.  For the better part of a week we will do what sisters do, at least these sisters - seize the opportunity to fortify bonds, checking for ourselves those frays or tatters that occupied our mother.  We will laugh & chatter, pour over God's word together, shop, munch & make memories.  It is to honor each other, but to honor mother & daddy too.  They would be proud.

So am I.


Sisters are different flowers 
from the same garden.  
~Author Unknown


 
She is your mirror, shining back at you 
with a world of possibilities.  
She is your witness, who sees you at your worst 
and best, and loves you anyway.  
She is your partner in crime, 
your midnight companion, someone who knows 
when you are smiling, even in the dark.  
She is your teacher, your defense attorney, 
your personal press agent, even your shrink.  
Some days, she's the reason you 
wish you were an only child.  
~Barbara Alpert


 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Year to Live Beautifully

Though we travel the world over 
to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us 
or we find it not. 
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


I made it!  I jumped (in truth, I slept through) the divide between 2011 & 2012 and lived to post another day.  

In my email inbox this morning is the usual conglomeration of needful and not-so-needful stuff.  I wonder when all the deals & web-busters & year end super sales will subside, although now they've morphed into new year's super sale ads ad-nauseum.  

Being the curious sort, I opened one such email - - an ad for vitamin supplements (and boy don't I need them these days?).  I didn't get far before stumbling across the retailer's proclamation assigned to 2012:  The Year to Live Beautifully.  

Unbeknownst to my solicitor I knew I'd found my marching orders for the coming year as if the Lord Himself had handed them to me - and they had nothing whatsoever to do with vitamins.  

For weeks - since long before Thanksgiving - I've been pondering ... and journaling ... and waiting ... and praying about what would be my 2012 focus.  So it was no blah ah hah! with which I claimed this. 

How does one center their intentions on living beautifully?  It sounds easy, just like the ad promised.  But, as Simone Weil tells us, that sort of beauty, "always promises, but never gives anything."  And I'm no fool - - such things may work for a season, or in the world of strong arms & better digestive health, but the world's proclamations are the very antithesis of what is beautiful in God's economy. 

Nothing in human life, least of all in religion,
is ever right until it is beautiful.
~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

So it is that I claim 2012 as The Year to Live Beautifully.  Such beauty will require treatments beyond what is offered at the spa, the health food store, Victoria's Secret or the jewelry counter at Macy's. 

To discover a flaw in our makeup is a chance to 
get rid of it, and add a new line of
beauty to our life.
~ Billy Sunday  

It's not that I haven't sought to live beautifully before.  Surely true believers everywhere make this a daily aim.  In reality, ours is a quest to live beautifully always.  Period!  But this particular summons has a different feel to it.  While affirming all those other days & ways in which I've sought to honor the Lord, this year I will make it my focus to find my way to the bedrock of virtue.  He alone knows the way.

Living Beautifully is (but not limited) to ...
  • be of good courage
  • let my light shine
  • wear the Law of Kindness upon my tongue
  • be content without condition
  • craft noble plans
  • consider & prepare for the Lord's return
  • speak truth-in-love whenever doing so will honor both hearer & the Lord
  • walk out my days, face-forward & with confidence
  • listen more; speak less 
  • give everyone the benefit of the doubt
  • look for the blessing beneath both sunny & cloudy skies
  • never overlook an opportunity to offer hope & encouragement

Wishing you a Year to Live Beautifully.    


The flower of youth never appears more beautiful 
than when it bends toward the sun of righteousness.
~ Matthew Henry 

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
   And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
   and to walk humbly with your God.
~ Micah 6:8