Monday, March 31, 2008

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cemeteries

While in Pensacola, two of the things I wanted to do, included cemeteries.  I wanted to find and visit the cemetery that has the plot that contains most of the family members on my dad's side.  

After looking and looking (the church that originated the cemetery no longer exists;   its' name has changed, thus making it hard to find), we found it and Mark was kind enough to photograph the 10-12 headstones of the great-aunt and uncles, grandparent(s) and great-grandparents.  Since I have so little family to begin with and do not speak to my parents, all of this information (from names to dates of birth and death) is lost to me.   With photos, I have at least some record of things.

The other outing I had planned, was to visit what I had been told is the oldest cemetery in Pensacola (which is pretty dang old, since Pensacola is pretty dang old).  St. Michael's Cemetery is full of interesting monuments, headstones, mausoleums and iron fences.  Here are some highlights...
If this sort of thing creeps you out or is distasteful, sorry, but it's time to move along--lol!

OK. So what if I change the lyrics to reflect how I hear it in my heart?

Yesterday has past
now let's all start the living
for the One that's going to last

Yes we all know it's better
Yesterday has past
now let's all start the living
for the One that's going to last

(Cat Stevens--lyrics from "Changes IV")
There. How's that?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Somebody stop me!

I am a blogging fool. No children in the house. Yes, you read correctly. No. children.

I have had more time to myself in the last 24 hours, than I have had in a looong time. So, I have begun to think and blog and think and blog. I've posted multiple entries to both blogs today.

One of the things I am pondering, is that in 365 days and some change, we will be empty-nesters.


EEEEGADS GADZOOKS!

I need a plan. I am a planner/goalsetter/listmaker. I am panicking. Already.

What do I want to do when I grow up? What have I put off? Dreamed of? What have a been unable to do when my first and most important job was raising children?

Writing. Love to write. Always wanted to write a book. Have children's book series in mind. Have written the first one. OK. Writing.

Travel. Israel. Egypt. Brazil. Anguilla.

Own an RV. Corny, I know. Simply a solution for visiting 6 far-flung children.

Mission trips to VN. As often as our finances allow.

Adoption. My not-so-secret secret wishprayerhope. Not looking likely, but God has surprised me before...

Live someplace where we can earn better money and enjoy natural beauty. Someplace our kids would think was cool enough to visit with some regularity. Evil plans and clever tricks.

Get fit. Has to cease being about weight-loss. Must focus on health benefits. I do not want to live the next phase of my life overweight (even a little) and declining in energy and strength.

Scrapbook. The one girly thing I enjoy. Alannah's senior things. Our family history.

Change careers? Lactation consultant?

Change the venue of my career? Private pediatric practice? Continue where I am?

Live overseas? Live and *work* overseas?

Volunteer? What things am I passionate about?

Peace Corps?

Recreate my LifeList Of ThingsToDo (Facebook ate it). Work toward making things happen.

Ugh. Why does all of that just seem like filler? Fluff? Yuck. It all seems like just diversionary tactics to fill my time till I die. OK. Back to "holy dis-satisfaction". Now what?

Hey, Lord? I'm sincerely asking.

What's next?

Easter Fun!!!

Coming Soon...


Abby is coming home for her Spring Break!! She should be arriving any minute at the airport. Looking forward to seeing her with Rachel, Caleb and her dad. Suh-weet.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bouncing in my Brain

Since I listened to this CD on the way home from Florida, it has stayed with me. I always loved Cat Stevens' music and for some reason, this is the one whose lyrics I can't stop pondering.

Don't you feel a change a coming
from another side of time
breaking down the walls of silence
lifting shadows from your mind

Placing back the missing mirrors
that before you couldn't find
filling mysteries of emptiness
that yesterday left behind

And we all know it's better
Yesterday has past
now let's all start the living
for the one that's going to last

Yes we all know it's better
Yesterday has past
now let's all start the living
for the one that's going to last

Don't you feel the day is coming
that will stay and remain
when your children see the answers
that you saw the same

when the clouds have all gone
there will be no more rain
and the beauty of all things
is uncovered again

Don't you feel the day is coming
and it won't be too soon
when the people of the world
can all live in one room

when we shake off the ancient
shake off the ancient chains of our tomb
we will all be born again
of the eternal womb

(Cat Stevens from the CD "Teaser and the Firecat"...lyrics to "Changes IV")

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Nothing. I got nothing.

That is, no more insight regarding what my nagging feeling of holy dis-satisfaction is all about.

I keep waiting and watching for some clues...but so far?

Nada.

(image courtesy of Jacci Howard Bear http://desktoppub.about.com/)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Nagging Desire...

to...

What is it exactly?...

to write something?, experience something?, be something?, learn something?, do something?...

significant?, life-changing?, cool?, important?, eternal?...

Arrrgh!! What is it, Lord?

(God, in an exaggerated stage whisper, "Phew. At least she's finally *asking*. Now we can get somewhere").

Around my house


I love these.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Strongholds

I am realizing how difficult it will be to "take every thought captive" after such a long absence from the battle.

I am flabby.

I am ill-equipped.

I am weak.

I am rusty.

Good thing He is none of these.

Must arm myself with scripture and worship.

Must suit up for the fight.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NKJV)

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Meme from Megan

You
Can.
Only.
Type.
One.
Word.
(its harder than it looks)

1. Where is your cell phone? dunno.

2. Your significant other? Mark

3.Your hair? blonde-ish

4. Your mother? dunno

5. Your father? dunno

6. Your favorite thing? family

7. Your dream last night? ummmm?

8. Your favorite drink? water

9. Your dream/goal? author

10. The room you're in? living

11. Your ex? singular? pass

12. Your fear? abandonment

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? elsewhere

14. Where were you last night? home

15. What you're not? competitive

16. Muffins? any

17. One of your wish list items? lotto! :~)

18. Where you grew up? various

19. The last thing you did? petcare

20. What are you wearing? sweats

21. Your TV? IMAX

22. Your pet(s)? Scout

23. Your computer? Mac

24. Your life? contempletive

25. Your mood? improved

26. Missing someone? brother

27. Your car? van

28. Something you're not wearing? br* (ewwww, TMI)

29. Favorite Store? Goodwill

30. Your summer? busy

31. Love someone? Jesus

32. Your favorite color? yellow

33. When is the last time you laughed? nanosconds

34. Last time you cried? dunno

35. Who will/would repost? dunno

In Christ Alone

This is my favorite (currently) Easter song.

Usually by the time the lyrics are proclaiming, "...then bursting forth, in glorious day, up from the grave He rose again!", I am flying!

Here is a cool version of the song. It's a little long (almost 6 minutes), but includes lyrics and cool video clips.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Evidence Unseen

Anybody notice the spiritual climate change God has wrought in me?

Wow.

That Sonrise on the beach was just what I needed.

He is RISEN!!!!


Since becoming a Christian at age 30, Easter has been my absolute favorite holiday (holyday). Most folks prefer Christmas and see it as the time that God delivered His promise to all people. And of course, that's true. Sort of...

For me, Easter is the absolute, total and perfected fulfillment of God's promise--not only that He would send His only Son ("For God so loved the world..."), which He did at His Christmas birth, but that this Divine God-Man, Jesus, lived a perfect life of submission, including a tortuous death on a cross, was dead for three days and was resurrected, showed Himself to others and ascended in Heaven among many witnesses, making the way for us to follow Him into eternal life

Now, that! is a promise fulfilled.

Every Easter (until my kids just couldn't stand it anymore--and out of respect for their feelings), I used to bound up the steps of the building where we held our Easter service (the town civic center), and reaching the top step, would turn, arms raised to Heaven, head thrown back and yelling triumphantly, "HE. IS. RISEN!!!!!!!"

Didn't care who saw me (we routinely had over a thousand attendees for our Easter celebration), certainly didn't care who heard me (the louder the better, I felt). I only knew that I must proclaim the miraculous triumph of Easter; God over Satan, life over death, good over evil, eternal salvation and redemption from sin-- and for me, that meant yelling the truth of resurrection.

He. Is. Risen.

Today, I am tired. We arrived home at 2:00 AM after a grueling day traveling home from Spring Break '08 (which was awesome, BTW--visit the other blog for more coverage on that story). Still being jazzed on energy drinks (since I never consume caffeine, they *really* affect me), I unloaded the car and was the last man standing, until by 3:30 AM, I was finally unwound.

So here I am, a few hours later, awakened by His Spirit in time to celebrate Easter in my favorite place, with people I love. And out of respect for my children's feelings, I will not run excitedly and yell triumphantly. Sigh.

But I will proclaim the miracle of His life, His truth, His salvation, His divinity, His resurrection, His Second Coming, until I cease to live on this earth.

I know what He has done for me. I know that I was unable to do for me, what He did for me, in an instant, alone, on my couch. I was changed in an instant.

Really.

Radically.

I have never been the same since.

Really.

Truly.

Ask those who knew me then.

I have used this brief explanation (the long story short version of my conversion); I know what it is like to despair without Jesus and I have known what it is like to despair *with* Jesus. And it is not the same at all. Not even close.

I have learned how to tell others about Christ, using scripture and Biblical reasoning. For me, I find my personal story of my personal transformation, my personal first meeting with our very Personal Savior to be the best evidence I can give for my faith.

So, I will proclaim LOUDLY on my blog (out of respect for my children's feelings) and in my heart and *quietly* to those I meet along the way today, that, "HE IS RISEN!!!!!!"

He is risen, indeed.

It is finished.

Even so, come quickly Lord!

He Is Risen
by Greg Olsen depicts the following Bible story:

As she wept outside His tomb, Mary Magdalene was the first person to whom the resurrected Christ appeared. Radiant in the early morning light, His hands and feet scarred from the nails, He stoops to comfort His friend:

"On that first Easter morning, the Risen Lord, Himself, reassured a sad and questioning Mary Magdalene that He is real and that, yes, He lives!"
-- Greg Olsen

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sunrise Journal Thoughts

*****This is a little more personal than the things I tend to share, but I feel like the experience was so special to me, I would venture to put it on the blog. Be kind. :~) This is my style of journal-writing, such that it is.*****

The Son was resurrected in my heart this morning. The glorious nighttime sky/stars were pushed little by little, into the glorious light of daybreak. I was torn, loving the velvety darkness and the sparkling diamond sky, not wanting to see it go or to have it end. Intimate.

And yet, the sunrise.

I knew would be a display like no other. For the longest time, I was able to have both…the few brightandmorningstar(s) on the black backdrop and the promise of morning.
It occurred to me that the stars are not gone, have not vanished, simply because they fade from the sky for a period of time each day. The sun chases them with a more intense light, but they continue to illuminate another world, another sky, another’s darkness.

Neither is God gone, when His presence is dimly seen. He is also still present, still pointing the way, a night-time compass for those who read the stars.


The color had been building, intensifying in one spot. It was easy to anticipate exactly where the sun would emerge.
The soft hues, to more intense, then another softening, then sunrise! The sunrisen color palette was purplish, pinkish, golden, orangey-red.

I loved the way the sunrise started in one place; the pink moving across my line of sight slowly, like a warm embrace. Just prior to the sunrise burst, it enveloped me in a 180 degree hug.


The sun literally burst forth on the horizon!!! I clapped my hands (quietly, so as not to waken my family), then forced my fists into the air, part worship, part victory dance. I grinned big. I closed my eyes, lifted my face toward God’s.


I kissed the Son.


I wanted to take a picture, but literally had to resist the urge several times to run and grab my camera. I had the sense that missing even one minute of this glorious display would be to waste it, to minimize it.


It felt as though it was meant for me. My Father. Loving me. Welcoming me. Home.


When I finally did succumb to the desire to quick! grab the camera, I (of course) found out that it must still be in the car. Left behind. By design.

The focus of the sunrise/Sonrise was not to be on capturing it, in order to remember it. The focus of the sunrise was to awaken my long-held, darkened spirit, with the wonder and majesty of a new day.

I feel better spiritually than I have in a very looong time. Awakened. From my coma. From my desert. From my despair.
Light. Illumination. In my soul.

Not about what God is doing and why (although I still desire to know), but simply (hugely) that He *is* doing and "because”.


Because He loves us.


Because He created us.


Because He knows me.


Because He created me.


“I love you, because you are mine,” I have often told me kids.


God, my very own, perfect Papa, told me He loved me this morning.


I love you, too.


Amen.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Good Book--updated and blather-heavy

This post should be longer and more fleshed out to cover all that is running through my head this AM. In my in-box was a prayer request from a dear friend who is going through a custody battle and divorce.

As I gave her my written assurance that I would pray, I remembered that I had "anchor verses" from the times in my life that I had gone through the same nonsense.

As I ::gasp:: opened the Bible! to seek the verses, so that I could share them with her, I was struck by a pasage of Scripture that I had highlighted at some point (I write all over my Bibles-comments, questions, dates, etc.):

Jeremiah 9:24

"Thus says the Lord,
...but let him who glories, glory in this,
that he understands and knows Me."

What acceptance I feel from reading that verse! Like letting out a breath I have held for soooo long.

Gotta go. More later.

It's much later...wow.

I think the reason that the verse above struck something in my heart was that I have struggled so with not understanding what God is doing in this season of my life and why.

When I first met Him, I was in a place of pretty desperate need and of that need, was born an amazing sense of intimacy. I felt that I knew God, my Father; Jesus, my Savior and my friend, the Holy Spirit.

I talked to God constantly; God talked to me (through the Bible, in my dreams, through friends, through sermons and teachings and studies, through circumstances, through nature...you get the picture). I journaled. I read. I worshiped. I learned. God and I were best friends.

I stayed on that mountain-top with God for the first 12 years of my Christian life. It was awesome. Others spoke of desert experiences, of cooled passion, of distance from God. I honestly had no idea how they could even say/believe/feel such things.

Because it had never been my experience, I just assumed I'd dodged a bullet. I thought was was special-er; God's favorite. Perhaps, because I had messed up so much *before* my conversion, I was to be spared additional heartache. Made sense to me. (this is the part where wise, seasoned Christians are throwing their heads back, roaring with laughter. God is likely smiling, as well. hehehe).

Anyhoo...three years in the desert later, I do not *feel* God often, I don't read His word (often), I have no idea what He is thinking or why He is acting the way He is (or isn't). I am confused. I am distant. I am lukewarm. I am weary and empty and dazed. Good times.

At this point, the Christian guilt machine has kicked into gear. As if it is not enough to simply be in the desert, we have to self-deprecate, whilst there. Sackcloth and ashes and all that.

The thoughts go a bit like this, "I wonder why God is giving me this desire in my heart, if He doesn't intend to fulfill the desire. Would He purposefully frustrate me? I bet if I read my Bible more, He'd move in my life. I remember when I was on fire for the Lord, it was amazing. Why can't I be like that again? If I would only trust Him more, I could get past this. I wonder what it is I'm supposed to be learning? If I would learn the lesson more quickly, I could get back to where I need to be"., and on and on and on.

So, I guess I've felt as though I (lately) was/am a big disappointment to God. I was embarrassed by my weaknesses. My struggles. My doubts. My inability to "just get over it". Or to just rest. And trust. And believe. Ugh.

Ever notice that even passive things (receiving and rest, for example), require active acceptance? This is work, people!

So, all that to say, it made me feel pretty darn good to read the verse above that says that it is OK to be the way I am, to ask questions, to doubt and search and seek and test.

I do want to know You, Lord.

Remember when?

Jeremiah 9:24

"Thus says the Lord,
...but let him who glories, glory in this,
that he understands and knows Me."

(photo is of my own beloved Bible)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Oh? The Mystery?

The Mystery (which was not specifically spelled out in the previous post) is this...

how does one hate one's own flesh and blood enough to do hurtful, hateful, harmful things to their child (not only when the parent is young and perhaps, inexperienced), but then threatens and carries through with continued hurtful, harmful and hateful things, when the child is an adult (and the parent is no longer young and inexperienced)?

How?

Well...

and *why*?

The Slow Unraveling of a Mystery

I mean, there is no mystery about the facts. I do not speak to my parents. Haven't for years (approximately 10).

Neither does my only sibling. For reasons that are unique to each of us and for many that we share.

But unexpectedly, I have been given a glimpse into my father's family of origin and wheedoggies, am I ever floored by the eerie similarities my cousin and I share with our respective fathers (who are brothers).

And the dysfunction that exists in their family is very similar to mine. Unfortunately.

And up until yesterday, I had no idea that this family struggled with anything, other than a divorce (hardly remarkable in this day and age).

Had I heard this cousin's accusations and had I *not* experienced many/most of the same things myself, I would have thought she was cuckoo (not a medical term).

Wow. I was always (with my sibling's support and agreement) certain that ending the relationship with my parents was the right one. I just had no idea that other family members were making the exact same decisions, because of the same awful reasons.

So sad.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Comfort

1. He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.

2. When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.

3. Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.

4. His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

("He Giveth More Grace" by Annie J. Flint)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Recycling

Here is a post from an old, private blog I used to keep.

Yes, I really do think about these sorts of things

I even write them down.

And now, I even share them.

Anyone wanna add their wishes, hopes and prayers? Come on...play along!

In Heaven....

Things I'd Like to Be/See/Experience in Heaven:

1). Play in the Clouds.

2). Pet all the animals you never got to pet while here (baby everything, tigers, dolphins, giraffes, rabbits, squirrels, otters, etc.).

3). Do gymnastics like I used to (and even better).

4). Fly (so cliche).

5. Swim under the sea.

6. Touch a star.

7. Do math well and easily (talk about a miracle!).

8. Play instruments and sing well (with no effort or practice).

9. Meet all my relatives, especially the ones that cared for me when I never knew them.

10. Meet all the children and grandchildren I never knew for generations after me.

11. Sleep in a castle.

12. Stomp grapes (oh, wait! that's for here on earth).

13. Eat fruits and foods that are beyond the tastiest things on Earth; I know God’s got some surprises for us!

14. Meet: Jesus, Peter, Helen Keller, Louisa May Alcott, Anastasia Romanov, Anne Frank, Diana, Gilda Radner, Miss Robin McGraw (could still meet her here on earth, I guess), the woman at the well, Rahab and....

15. Sleep and be fully refreshed--no pain in the morning!

16. No allergies/asthma, endo/PMS/menopause, fibro/arthritis/fatigue, pudgy belly/stretch marks, double chin/age spots/glasses.

(and just so you know, I know that there are scripture
and theology that gives us a glimpse of heaven
and I know this sort of stuff ain't in there.
Again, I'm just playing with God here, in my mind.
I don't think He minds...)

Kelley and Doug's Wedding

Kelley and Doug's Big Adventure (also known as getting married and blending a family)

(Kelley, after figuring out the hard way that her mic was still on lol)
Kelley is my larger-than-life friend. Small town Iowa girl with a worldwide world-view. No fear. No hesitation. Has friends around the globe. Can go anywhere and make a home.

Yesterday, she married Doug. He is the perfect one for Kelley, of this we (her friends) are sure. We made sure. Because Kelley matters to us.

She has been a single mom for 11 years. She has watched all of her girlfriends and sisters marry. She has done our hair on our wedding day. She has watched some of us divorce and some of us remarry. And she has been there to help, cry, pray, eat, laugh.

Yesterday, in true Kelley style, she pulled off a larger-than-life wedding. Easily the most personalized wedding I've ever seen. Easily the most female attendants (there were 21 of us!!). All five of their children. All choreographed into a thing of beauty. Remarkable.

What they have done is not, nor will be easy. They will have 5 teens and tweens in the house at once. Oh dear.

But of this, we are sure...God is the author of this love story. And He will be the Hero to sustain them on the days ahead and to praise in the joyous moments.

And when the going gets tough, we, her friends, will remind her to carry on and to be encouraged, because we know her marriage is from God. Because of this, we made sure.

Bashing my own Christian


Sigh.

My cyber-pal, Nicole noted recently that the blog has been quiet. {waving toward Portland} Thanks for the inquiry.

It's true. There's nothing on the blog, cuz I'm stuck and tired and contemplative and as a result, mildly self-loathing.

I'm looking back, remembering and looking ahead, grieving.

And that makes me miss the present.

Gotta get my head on straight. The battlefield of the mind is strategic territory.

Sometimes, it feels like mine has been captured by the enemy. And I am a weak, starving, brainwashed POW.

Pray-ers? Step up, please...I feel like the walking wounded.