Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Standing on the Edge of Joy

My Words of Intention for the week:


For a few weeks now, my mind has been hovering over a single thought - that I am standing on the edge of joy. 

Fragile and vulnerable, like the birds on my feeder in this tentative spring, ready to take flight at the first sudden movement or noise unfamiliar.

Then last night I found myself standing on the sidelines of joy, so close I could reach out and touch it.  The occasion was a small, simple wedding. I had been unusually tired in the afternoon and struggled to find something to wear. Nothing fit and although the end of April, it was cold outside. I imagined myself in a reception hall, shivering and longing for home.

From the moment we stepped inside, although chilly, the warmth of twinkling lights and genuine smiles wrapped its arms about me and drew me in.

The ceremony itself was brief and then an interlude for photos ensued. The bride and groom took center stage for their dance before the food was served. I stepped closer to joy. This was no ordinary dance. The music swirled about them as they began their intentional ballroom waltz, faltering steps at first, then moving into the magic of their moment. All stiffness fell away as they gazed with unfiltered joy into each other's faces. Closing with a swirl and a twirl, the groom then pulled his bride close to him, enfolded in his arms as they both faced the crowd for the finish. It was priceless.

When Hubby got a phone call an hour later to come in and fix a trailer tire, I reluctantly dragged myself from watching the ripples of joy continue to spread from guest to guest on the dance floor.

What made this wedding so special?

Was it the groom who waited for the perfect girl, the sweetness in her every step, the simplicity with which it had all been planned? Or that he day before, this very family gathered for the funeral of a beloved grandfather, most unexpected.
And now they celebrated unashamedly.

Beth Moore says that Joy and Anguish are tied together, moving through our lives hand in hand. I watched this played out in this family before me. Joy was winning.

So I begin my Word List for the week with Joy. Daily circumstances, reports, emotions, worries, sufferings within and without battle to pull me away. There is always a war.

I sat at my table thinking of 2014 being the year of divine reversals. Could it happen this quickly? Back to back. Can God step in and turn anguish into joy overnight?

I don't have the answers but this I know for sure:

I want joy to win.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Chicken Soup, Snow, and a Little Prayer

Here is the scene from my front window this week. Winter doesn't want to let go and people are groaning under the burden. Slippery roads, chilling temperatures, and lack of sunshine are dampening spirits. It's been a difficult April as we long for spring.

My words for this week's intentions were:


If you read my posts from last week, you may notice that the first three words were my intention last week. This week I added knowing. I was in the midst of a quiet meditation and that word dropped into my spirit.

I often turned my thoughts toward these words each day. They seemed to ground me. 

I also found my prayers formed by Psalm 91 daily, especially for my granddaughter who has many things changing and happening for her right now. What I loved was how worry grew wings and took to flight as I prayed for her each morning. 
I prayed Jeremiah 29:11-12 over my daughter and family, the Numbers blessing over my family, Psalm 92 and Psalm 112 over hubby and I, and a number of promises over my sons and their families. 

I've been fighting an achy flulike bug the last few days, so chicken soup was on the menu. I love to read but honestly I am getting stiff and sore from sitting in this chair. I found myself here at 2:00 this morning when I couldn't sleep. 

The forecast is snow again tomorrow. Oh, I do pray that this is the last of it. Then  I think of those experiencing terrible storms in our country and whisper a quick prayer of thanksgiving for my blessings.

My quote for the week came from a pastor. He said God's words to him were, " I didn't bring you here to fix this church but to love the people."

Words to live by. Stop trying to fix people, just love them.

That's a taste of my week. Until next time.

Changing My One Little Word

It's funny how God works, never like I think. This is Easter Sunday evening and it hasn't been our typical Easter. Looking back over the  years, Easter has been marked by sunrise services, in younger years home to see the kids hunt for their baskets and get ready for morning service. If you asked me to tell you my favorite Easter sermon I can't. As a matter of fact, the one Easter that sticks in my memory I didn't go to church at all. That was a day that God taught me about forgiveness and the true meaning of Easter. 

Today was another non-typical Easter. We didn't attend church, although I had planned to do so, Instead I fixed a nice noon meal of salmon and salad while Hubby welded a trailer that had to be repaired unexpectedly. Then we went to the theater to see the movie, "Heaven is for Real." I read the book, but the movie touched me deeply. 
Spoiler Alert: I am about to give away a line at the end that nearly caused me to sob. 
"He (God) crushed my pride and opened my heart."

I know what that feels like.

That brings me to share my decision to change my "one little word" for 2014. I had chosen the word "Here" for this year and it has helped to keep me grounded and centered, but its never felt quite right. When I read the preface for Brene Brown's book, "The Gifts of Imperfecion", there was one word that kept calling to me. I read those seven pages three times over and every time I felt the same pull. Now I know what it means to have my word choose me. I've said this before about books I have read- I choose some and then their are those that choose me. 

Wholehearted chose me. I have been praying a prayer every day for a few weeks prior to picking up Brene's book. 
"Lord, give me an undivided heart."
One day while praying this prayer, I realized that this would mean being wholehearted.

Even though we are four months into the year 2014, I know this is right for me.
I am not certain all that it will look like to be wholehearted, but I know that it will mean being open, real, and brave enough to trust myself.

"The universe is not short on wake-up calls. We're just quick to hit the snooze button." Brene' Brown

I wrote in the margin: "I've been hitting mine for years."

What will it take for me to live this life of wholeheartedness? I am not sure but I intend to find out.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Power and Presence

I am totally resisting posting another picture of snow, which I awoke to this morning. Icy roads, blowing snow, and some nearby communities on flood watch. I am posting a picture instead of a sunset in Bar Harbor from last summer. I loved this picture. Finally today I ordered a curved glass photo of this on Shutterfly to remind me everyday how much I loved the experience of taking those photographs and enjoying the moment of peace and beauty.

I told you that I would keep you posted on my intentions for the week and fasting the news. It has been amazing. First of all, after two days, I noticed a difference in myself. I haven't felt so heavy hearted. Last night instead of the news and before the Voice, we watched an amazing cinematographer and the photos he took in slow motion. This was on Oprah's Soul Sunday and I had taped it. It was gorgeous! Rather than crying over the horrible tragic events of the day, I was celebrating the beauty available to us. 

Then today I watched several videos on Easter week with Rick Renner who knows the original meaning of the scripture because he knows the language so well that it was written in. I studied a bit as well.

When Jesus left Gethsemane, the place where he struggled to the point of sweating blood (which does happen medically), he moved into a place of Power and Presence elevated. Hundreds of soldiers fell to the ground in that Presence and Power when Jesus said two words - I AM. He healed a man's ear, a boy was raised from the dead (possibly the naked boy with the linen cloth),  and later Pontius Pilate was amazed and shocked by Jesus. Pilate was one of the cruelest rulers in Roman authority, yet after Jesus refused to defend himself three times, which is automatic guilty in their court, Pilate fought for him not to be crucified. That was not the norm for Pilate. There must have been an incredible Power and Presence of God. 

What struck me was that the Power and Presence factor seemed to be revealed more clearly after the surrender in the garden. Oh, I love that thought. Following a season of surrender, a season of the Presence and Power of God more clearly revealed in my life.

My intention for this week - to walk in God's favor, open and wholehearted.  Continually turning my thoughts to these words is making an impression on my path, on my choices, on my spirit.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Setting Intentions

I'm writing this post on Monday afternoon but you will see it on Tuesday. When I wrote to you this morning, I was talking about fog. This afternoon the sun is shining bright and beautiful! When this posts on Tuesday the forecast is for major rain. So there's the weather here in northern Maine.

I've been thinking about something my trainer said to me about setting our intentions. This morning i searched for words to describe my intentions for this week. It's a little test as to whether this has any effect on my life or not.

My words are Favor, Open, Wholehearted.

I am going to be on the watch for God's favor this week, his love and care in the big and little things.
I'm going to be open to new things, new ways, new people and healthy foods.
I am going to gauge what I do and how I feel by this word- wholehearted.

I recall a little phrase that I used to say all the time- "What I need comes to me." Pondering that puts me on the lookout for God's provision.

One thing about being open is knowing what to be closed to i.e. toxic pictures, people, and foods. 

I'm setting an intention to fast the news for this Easter week. I don't even like it, but Hubby does and its something we do each evening as we eat supper. This week I suggested we forego the news and try a few different things. I taped Jesus of Nazareth, which is hours long, so that's an option. We could go visit a friend if Hubby feels better, or try a drive, weather cooperating. I am praying over this one, for sure.

So we will see how it goes. I will keep you posted.

Sunglasses in the Fog

"Turn toward the light and truth of what I say about you. " A Confident Heart by Renee Swope

The truth is I have been looking at the mountains all around me instead of who God is and what He says. I have been living in a shadow of past feelings, guilt turning to shame, instead of in the truth of who I am. 

I read a story this morning about a sick little girl in an Japanese orphanage run by missionaries. The little girl heard a message preached of how God moves mountains. She longed to see the ocean from her window but a mountain obscured the view. She began to pray every day for God to move the mountain. Other children joined their prayers. The missionary told her that the message was a metaphor for problems not literal mountains. Later the missionary had to leave for several weeks. On her return, to her amazement, the mountain was gone and a clear view of the sea remained. Because of soil erosion, the workers needed the dirt of the mountains to build up the sea coast and took it down. The little girl could see her beloved ocean before she died.

Where is my faith, that faith of a child? Forgive me Lord and let your favor rest upon me this week with faith to look to the God who moves mountains. 

If you read yesterday's post, you can see shadows hovering over me like the fog outside this morning. But as I have been sitting here reading the scriptures and stories and meditating on the many thoughts of weeks past, the fog has been dissipating. 

I'm late getting ready for the gym so I'm grabbing my sunglasses and heading out the door, thinking about new intentions for the week ahead. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

To Dance Once Again

I imagine that I am getting as tired of posting snow photos as you are of looking at them. This one was taken yesterday when it was sunny but it has been snowing the past three hours here again today.

Hubby has been sick all weekend, so he spent most of the time sleeping, which he is doing right now. We were supposed to go to Portland to my grandson's birthday party and my daughter-in-law's pageant, but we cancelled. Hubby wanted to press through but I couldn't get peace about it. The minute we decided to stay home, the peace came. I don't understand it totally, but I know he needs the rest.

It has been hard today, to know that we are missing an important time in Lori's life. I'm sure our grandson was too busy with friends to really miss us, but we missed being there for him, too.  It is not always comfortable to do what peace commands. 

I remember telling my hubby years ago that it would not always be easy to travel back and forth as we get older. I was hoping to nudge him into a move closer to our kids at the time. Now here we are.

Our hearts are heavy for Hubby's sister and her spouse today as well. They are going through a seriously difficult time in their lives with physical battles. 

So I opened Ann's book to Chapter 5. (One Thousand Gifts)

"And every moment is a message from the Word-God who can't stop writing his heart."

I know His heart is love. 

I think of the terrible bus crash this week and the teens that lost their lives or our military being under fire on our home soil or the high school student who took a bullet for his best friend. What is happening in our country? We are surrounded with heartbreak. 

This is hard eucharisteo.

Are you crying Jesus? Is your heart breaking for a world so broken? A world that struggles to receive your love? 

"I'm right here." 

I hear you whisper.  

There are days that life hides grace, the wearing of each moment and trial as heavy armor, causing plodding steps. 

A friend tells me she danced in church today, hooking arms with a sister, giggling like four- year- olds. I forget what it's like to giggle. My dancing shoes, wherever they are, lie covered with dust. 

This is the year of double. He is the God of restoration, of divine reversals.

 In this week leading to Easter, I ask for resurrection power to touch my soul, hubby's soul, bodies and eyes and hearts with grace. Restore dance to our feet and giggles to our lips, Jesus. You turned water to wine at a wedding. Why? They would have survived without it. You entered their celebration, undergirded their joy. Jesus,  we need  Easter miracles, joy deposits, water into wine.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sometimes I Just Can't

I was reading Henri Nouwen's book today "Turning My Mourning into Dancing." He gives a definition for compassion from the original words meaning "to stay in the suffering." He goes on to explain that this is not giving words or directives to people but simply to suffer with them.

I find this is not always easy and sometimes impossible. I turned away from a friend this week. Not because I wanted to, but grace I needed to stay in the suffering with her ran out. I'm not proud of that, but I am acknowledging my limits. 

I, too, have suffered thus I want to be a woman of compassion.  I sense my whole being longing for joy, for relief for the ones I love. I pray for divine reversals, turnarounds, miracles. I celebrate slivers of silver linings, anything that holds forth hope

I don't know about you, but all around me, family and friends are suffering. I'm not talking about little things but big things. Cancer, difficult marriage, a child dying, fear, and hurt and rejection. There are no shortcuts through these things. They have to be walked out, often while broken. My heart guides me, each woman whose arm I slip through mine by holding her up in prayer whether by phone or in person, touched in some small way.

I pray for the limitless God to be seen through my limited life. I feel weights lift as I acknowledge that I cannot stay in the suffering with my friend, but I know the One who will. He says to me, "It's okay."

It is better to admit this than to try to rescue her with my advice, to move her before she is ready. Too late this time for such wisdom but I am learning.

I pick up Brene Brown's book, The Art of Imperfection. She is writing of compassion, too. 

"Compassionate people are boundaried people." 

After witnessing so much hurt this past year, I wanted to always be a healer, always reaching out, never turning from a need. I am finding that this is not possible. I am imperfect. I am weary. I am in need of healing and grace myself. Even Jesus rested and got alone and I am far from being Him.

Just as I type these words, a text comes through from a close friend at the end of her rope. I simply say that I love her and will utter a prayer.

I lift my eyes from the keyboard to my window where the sun is shining in and I remember to be grateful for all that I am blessed with in this moment. I must count gifts to survive. I smile and there is hope.

Monday, April 7, 2014

At the End of the Day

It's after 11:00 at night and I am tired. It has been a busy day ending in multiple challenges. I am trying to wind down, so in opened my iPad to check a few favorite places, including Jamie Ridler's Monday challenge "I Made This." 

I remembered snapping this photo today in the grocery store parking lot. I never tire of seeing the Amish horse and buggy. They always bring a smile to my face and cause me to breathe and slow my pace a bit.

This is the only creative thing I was able to do today, using a photo app tonight to change it to black and white with a tinge of vintage. Perhaps I will be able to turn away from the things that weigh me down from this day and smile as I post this picture.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cathedral Moments in the Here and Now

"Life is not an emergency. It necessitates living slow." Ann Voskamp

I am savoring reading One Thousand Gifts once again, this time aloud. Did I mention that already? I ask with a smile. This morning in my readings, Ann mentions cathedral moments. Oh, these don't take place in a church but under the sky and on the earth, where we place our daily feet.

Brene' Brown says that part of the problem with us here in America is that we are constantly striving to be extraordinary; so much so, that its not okay to just be ordinary.  

 To live, love, joy, suffer, cry, care, give in the ordinary days of life.

For years, decades really, my cathedral moments were spent in church. I counted them as works toward being that extraordinary woman of God, always striving toward her, never quite measuring up.
Over the past year and a half, I can count the times I've been in church on both hands twice. But my cathedral moments are more than I can number.

Here are a few of those moments from the past week:

  • back to the gym, walking a mile, listening to God
  • Kate confirming the path to take for me nutritionally
  • simple answers to prayer
  • making smoothies with my sis-in-law
  • reading a good book
  • saying a prayer over another
and my favorites:
  • cuddling with Lily in the rocker, reading a book
  • Ken's arm around me, close, sharing her life and concerns
  • Amber's smile and excitement for a new possibility

For those of you who are worried about me and my lack of church attendance, I plan to go back sometime, but never like before. Every morning I rise and spend at least two hours with Jesus, my Bible, my books, my journal and prayer. Nevertheless, it is in the living of those words I hear and read where it really matters. 

It is in the "Here" where "eucharisteo" (giving of thanks)  transforms thorns of life into beauty of grace. 

"The body and soul can synchronize." Ann V.

How long has it been since your body and soul lived in sync? 

One of my favorite verses used to be "In Christ, I live and move and have my being." Acts 17:28

I was perpetually striving and fighting to find that place. I'm here now.

In Christ, my body and soul are in sync. I listen to my spirit.

I read something this week. If you keep pulling to the right or the left, there is a strain, a heaviness but it is staying right here, under Christ's yoke, where there is a lightness, a peace.
I have not always done so. 

When the Bible speaks of Naaman, it says that he was a valiant man, but he was a leper.

Beth Moore talked about that this week and encouraged us to write our own sentence.

Mine would go something like this.

She was a woman of faith, but she was a struggler.

I want to stop struggling. 



I am an ordinary woman with an extraordinary God.