Apr 12, 2015

The Week In Review. The Funny, The Ridiculous and Please Pray for All My Friends...



Canine Papilloma Virus
photo by Peter Sheik

I am sitting on my back deck, the sun wonderful, yet making it hard to type. The temps will hit the low 80's today. Behind my house is a church by a name that is too long to remember and attended by people who's voices sing rich and clear and cannot be contained inside brick and mortar.
Hallelujah, can I get an amen?!
Easter was a week ago, a high point of our first year in Nashville. The hubs and I opened our doors wide and forty people walked in. If you know me, you know I had a smile a mile wide. It was glorious as each person has a story, some I know, others I plan to know. They painted a beautiful picture of Easter for me.

This week offered me the chance to meet two local artists, one who's art work greets you as you enter our house. We drank tea from cups that my grandmother and her friends drank from forty years ago. It was sweet moment. These women, singers, songwriters, painters, teachers, showed me a glimpse of their world and I am richer for it.

The week brought opportunity to meet with young women, struggling with hurts and fears, some trying to take them down for good. Each week I meet someone struggling, believing lies, yet trying to claw their way to freedom. It is one of the main reasons we have chosen to live here, to be a voice of Truth and grace. I am not sure where this will lead, but if I am being obedient, trusting God with the details, then I have no worries.

Life is full of hard moments and caring about others, praying for them is serious, heavy stuff. Yet God is wisdom and love and grace and He allows laughter and joy and even silliness to fill our lives some days. He carries our burdens and brings joy to our souls.
A week is not all one feeling or one opportunity, but a variety of experiences that make us rich.

Yesterday the daughter and I tried a new place for brunch/lunch. The hubs was stuck in Oz on call and I never arrived in Oz because of the week's horrendous weather in those ten hours that separate us.
I reminded him today that he is probably better off not being here as the Monday morning airport commute will be a zoo, with 70,000 NRA folks trying to depart our fine city. This would mostly annoy him as he is not a gun enthusiast, possibly the long years spent in Newark, trying to save peoples lives from gun shot wounds. He might consider embracing the locked and loaded mentality, but I wouldn't put all my ammo in that basket.
He is however married to a woman who carried a pistol permit in N.Y. and an Illinois Foid card and knows where the bullets are. He would go for a golf club no doubt.

Back to brunch. The daughter ordered something that one might put ketchup on.... a burger. She asked for ketchup and the waiter, with a haircut and beard like an amish farmer, kindly stated they didn't carry ketchup. My daughter quickly smiled and said, "Is this a stance you guys are taking?!" He and I burst out laughing. He repeated her line walking away and later brought us some home made barbecue sauce.
Seriously, Nashville farm to table restaurants..... stop taking yourselves so seriously. It's exhausting.  Besides, most of us grew up farm to table with grandparents who grew gardens the size of your city lots. These people knew the value of good food and a buck. Remember the depression? Of course you don't. Me neither... but it happened.
These folk also had the good sense to buy a bottle of Heinz 57.... Instead of making their own out of cooked down, smashed down, labor intensive, tomatoes.

It was all good, he was nice, and the best was him walking away repeating her words. The hubs says she missed her other calling, Alexandria Badass Coleman, Attorney At Law.

I'm learning since our move that my husband cannot be trusted.... with a credit card. He has always been a saver but since he quit cable TV he is out of control. Never did I think I would welcome the $200 monthly cable bill.
Three seasons now he has bought Broadway Series tickets for a city neither of us live in. Yes, I kind of think he is the most romantic guy ever for doing this, but don't tell him.

This morning he asked me if I wanted to go see a Preds/Blackhawk Hockey game. What?! No. I'd rather have liposuction or a new road bike or well, anything but a hockey game. That's nuts buddy... and expensive.
An hour later he sends me confirmation of ticket purchase and something about... A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. He was headed to his closet to look for his Blackhawk Jersey. I think I got rid of it during our last move. I mean come on, those things are weird, right? Don't mention this to him if you see him.
So if you see me Friday night, I'll be the one with the cow bell... not, and something slightly more attractive than an oversized sports jersey with an unbendable logo on the front. Speaking of bullets, I swear they must be bullet proof. And what's up with hockey season anyway... it never ends!

The week would not have been complete without the birthday parade that occurred down the street yesterday. It was a combination Mardi gras, birthday, drag queen, best three minute parade I've ever seen, all in honor of someones 60th birthday.
Beads were thrown, cheering occurred and I imagine much imbibing and revelry was had as they paraded on to the Lipstick Lounge, a local joint.
For the record, I want a parade for my 60th birthday! Many, many, many moons from now. Geesh.

The weird person highlight of my week was last night. We took the two young weimeraners to the dog park as the sun was setting.  At one point I glanced over to the doggie water fountain and saw this dude stooping down, cupping his hands in the communal water bowl. He lifted hands to his mouth and drank up... then repeated, saying with much bravado to those staring at his crazy #$%, "Hey, it's not gonna hurt you."

Minutes later I watched him bypass the entry gate and jump the fence. He then reached over and pulled his dog up by the arm/leg pits. Hmm. Perhaps a phobia to fence gates or latches or.... other dogs. He did state to someone, "My dogs not real good with other dogs, so watch your dog." Dude, why are you here? It's a dog park. Friends, your voting public.

The best, the belly laugh of my day was when another dog walked by the water bowl and lifted his leg, while other dogs happily continued to drink. I wanted to shout,"Hey buddy, come back, I have a treat for you." I'm sure he would have scooped it up stating, 'It's sterile you know. "Speaking of hoping things are sterile...

I hope you had a week full of joys and blessings and celebration. Keep looking up and remember to fill yourself with Truth, so when you meet those who are hurting, fearful and afraid, you can share out of the overflow of your life. Make good choices and don't always feel you have to drink out of the water bowl.

Apr 1, 2015

And Then I Remember... The Wonder Of Him.







My written words come slowly. Seeking His face each morning, asking to see Him new, filling me with His Spirit, so I will understand. That words will find themselves on paper. I plead with Him to keep me from my foolish ways, remaining silent, I wait. There has been a long silence. I am okay with this. 
My thoughts are full, but there is a place inside me, that recognizes when I ask to write His truth, it is like asking to understand the night sky or the intricacies of a baby growing in her mother's womb. 
My words are inadequate to Whom I speak of.

Asking to speak the truth of the God of the universe, I am humbled, bowed low to think how dare I. We speak so easily of the One who made all, knows the hairs on my head, the breaths I will take, the One Who gave His body up for us. In return we throw around  His name as a cast off sweater, taking it on and off as the need arises, always our need... no thought to the cost.

Many mornings I have started to write of the wonders He has shown me this year. Wonders in the way of people. The way I count wonders.
The wonders who nurture me, fill me with hope. The names grow and I am every time... every single time... changed. My joy is increased. He has shown me His steadfast love through those He brings my way. My joy, hope and resolve for this life is increased when a new wonder enters my world.

Yet, I hold back because words are inadequate to explain who He is and what He has done for me. The season of Easter brings Him so close, the pain, the gift, the joy. All because of me and also for me.  This morning I read...


Isaiah 53:4-6
"Yet, He himself bore our sickness, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. 
But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities, punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. 
We all went astray like sheep; we have all turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of all of us." 

Then I read...

Luke 23: 33-38
"Then Jesus said, "Father forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing. And they divided His clothes and cast lots. The people stood watching and even the leaders kept scoffing: "He saved others, let Him save himself if this is God's Messiah, the Chosen One! The soldiers also mocked Him. They came offering Him sour wine and said, "If you are King of the Jews, save yourself!"
An inscription was above Him:
This Is The King Of The Jews."

I am speechless my friend. How do I begin to write what He has done for me, saved me, protected me, provided for me, in this life, this day?
In this year... when all things were new and scary?
When my needs and hopes were met by Him, because He cares for His daughter. 
He died for my sins and I still turn my back on Him in my selfishness more times than I will ever admit. 

The King Of The Jews loves me... His daughter. He hears every word I cry out to Him and each morning I have new hope and joy because of the Truth that He is who He says He is... and that horrible cross that held His mangled body was real. 

And then I read Matthew 25:40 where Jesus talks of taking care of one another.
"Truly I tell you what you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

And I remember...
why He gives us voice. 
To love, encourage, nurture, set free,
those He brings along our path. 
Friends, we are free to live in Him. 
Free from death, anguish and uncertainty. 
And then... I remember,
I must live these words He left us.
Or I do not truly believe in Him or His ways.
Oh... dear God,
how I have failed You,
when you have never once failed me, turned away from me, only.... always giving me more.
More hope, more joy, more of You.

As I think of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, may I bow down in humble gratitude for what my Savior has done for me.
May I think on the words He shared with us, calling us to be changed because of His sacrifice. 
Sacrifice demands change. His sacrifice changed the world and conquered death.
His sacrifice deserves a change in me.
May I think on the Wonder of Jesus each morning and remember why.

The King Of The Jews Loves Me... and You.
Celebrate Him. 






Mar 20, 2015

Henri on Love... No Words Necessary


Henri Nouwen said,

"We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them."

There is a little book of Henri's that I read each year. 
In The Name Of Jesus.

When I want need to be reminded why, who and what I am... I open this book, the words leaping across my heart, clinging like a vine, digging into my soul, where I find new breath... reminding me to live a better story. 

Henri reminds me,
"It is Jesus who heals, not I; Jesus who speaks words of Truth, not I; Jesus who is Lord, not I."

"Jesus has a different vision of maturity. It is the ability and willingness to be led where you would rather not go."

Henri strips away pride, replacing it with vulnerability precious to my faith, important if I am to be available for the Kingdom...
 brushing shoulders with another soul, offering a word, a moment, to love another human being.
What could I offer you today more important
Than Love?

Henri hungered after the things of God, never buying into the ways of man.
A Dutch Catholic priest who came to the U.S., taught at Notre Dame, Harvard, Yale. 
He lived among Trappist Monks, the poor of Peru,
yet what he did next...
he traveled to Trosly, France and ministered at L'Arche, 
 a small community of adults with developmental disabilities. 
Later to Canada, serving a similar community.

Twenty years an academic, to a small community...
"Harvard to L'Arche, from the best and brightest, wanting to rule the world, to men and women who had few or no words and were considered at best, marginal to the needs of our society. It was a hard and painful move..."

He goes on.
"The first thing that struck me when I came to live in a house with mentally Handicapped people was their liking or disliking of me had absolutely nothing to do with any of the many useful things I had done until then. Since no one could read my books, the books could not impress anyone...

In his new role Henri says...
"I was suddenly faced with my naked self, open for affirmations and rejections, hugs and punches, smiles and tears, all dependent simply on how I was perceived at the moment."

Henri calls this the most important experience of his life. People, without pretense forced Henri to discover his true self.
He saw the value of these precious souls who would throw no accolades or roses at his feet, who showed him true love in Christ. 
Simple, unadorned, pure.
Henri's life reminds me of all that I desire to accomplish. 

"The question is not: How many people take you seriously? How much are you going to accomplish? Can you show some results? But: Are you in love with Jesus?"

This is All I am here to do.
To be in love with Christ and share the Love that He Is and Does. 
This will be enough.
It has to be.


Mar 10, 2015

A Year... The Winds Of Change And Not Wasting The Opportunity.

March marks one year that my husband and I decided to part ways... well, not in that way.
 In the best of ways, if there ever was one. 
In a way that seemed to call out to us... live differently, daringly, trust Me, I've got plan for you two, and it will prosper us. 
The us being the kingdom of God. 
Kind of how we have trusted God all the days of our marriage. We haven't always done conventional, typical. 
Does God call us to that?
I've never found typical in scripture, more so in man made wisdom... live safely, comfortably. Don't take too many risks. 

This means we live apart more than together. I have no words to describe how hard this can be or the peace that God has given us. Surely, God is good and His plan can be trusted. 

Yet, I remind my husband the day he is over this, decides he wants his wife back 24/7 he needs to let me know. I will trust that if I hear those words, God is in it. 
You see, my husband is a glass half full, or overflowing kind of guy.
He sees the choice we make as one that is honoring to God... even when we are unsure of what exactly it is God is calling us to do.
You may be thinking... then what the heck are you doing? Why? What's the deal?

When you are planning things with God, you wait on Him.
Instead of plowing ahead, you seek wisdom, discernment. If you want to do a work that will last, with excellence and eternal results, you wait for the Master to give directions. 

It took a year for the dust to settle, for the hubs and I to create a new routine, to be ready and steady to go forward. Many times it is better for the game to come to you. Use your giftedness, abilities and wait for the return. This is how you find your sweet spot, that place that God has put you, to serve Him. 

At least for me this is how it is happening.
One of my passions is helping women recognize their God given potential and giftedness, seeing themselves as Christ sees them. Creating a community of women that seek to build one another up, living in freedom from the lies and hurts that some have been sold as truth. 

Bring a group of women together that have an interest, whether young or mature in faith, it will be amazing what will occur. Leaders will rise up, hearts will open, forgiveness and healing will be found. This is community and this is what God has delivered in my lap.
I have a choice... and yet do I?

This is what I am praying wisdom and discernment over... in these moments.
It is what wakes me in my sleep, seeking clarity and a desire to do His work with excellence. 
I look to Hebrews to remind me why...

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus..."
Hebrews 12:1

My desire is to run this race in front of me, with passion, endurance and the eyes of a runner looking to the finish line.
Oh yes...Jesus, let me fix my eyes on You, and Only You.

A year from now I will look back and read this. 
Will I have moved forward in wisdom, doing a work God has delivered to me?
In truth, what I have asked Him for... do I recognize it as answered prayer? 
Or will I have wasted another opportunity?

What is God calling you to this year and will you grab hold of it and honor Him with excellence or look back with regret next year?










Mar 4, 2015

Do You Think The Disciples Had TB?


I wrote this post back in September of 2013... in my other new town. In this new town I have decided I can no longer do anything that involves getting a TB test, as I'm convinced they are watching me... whoever they are.



A few weeks ago I went to one of our local hospitals for training to become a volunteer Chaplain.
I am comfortable around people who are hurting, sick and in need of encouragement. This fills my soul and
I thought perhaps this would be a good fit for me in my new town.
I know I need to stop calling it new... but it still feels that way.

The training was going so well and then I was asked when I had my last Tb test. I felt like I should have an answer for this question but I was dumb struck. 
I mumbled something like, "I don't know, maybe when I was a kid, maybe at birth, wait, um, no, I have no idea."
Brilliant answer.

They sent me to Occupational Health for a blood test. Easy peasy.
Until they called the next day with the results. 
The nurse explained that I tested positive for TB and that I would need a chest xray. 
Wait, what?
I asked her if these tests were ever wrong as I was sure I did not have TB. What is TB anyway? I asked if it was serious. Really.. I said those words.
I said a few other stupid things. 
The nurse joined in as well.

"Well, I've never actually had anyone test positive so I am not sure what is next. You have to register with Public Health and they will counsel you."
Wow, thanks for the reassurance. 

Wait... am I now on a watch list? Do I get a leg bracelet? Can I enter school property? 
What do I need counseling for? 
Is there a detox program included? 
Is there a spa involved? 
My mind was whirling.
WebMD was sure to put my mind at ease, right? 

We set up an appointment the next day for a chest xray.
I texted my hubby and said, "Guess who has TB?"
He replied...."You do not!"
Actually, that is his response to 90% of the stuff, i.e., intelligent words I say to him.

I remember telling him that his 4 yr old son had a hernia. It had popped out in the bathtub and I gently pushed it back in, realizing what it was.
He came home from the hospital that night and replied, "He does not!"
The boy turned 20 last month and hubby is still giving me the same reply. 
Slow learner.

I went for the xray. The tech gave me a CD and told me to take it to my Public Health appointment. The one I did not plan on going to. Come on.
Instead I took it to my hubby and he gave it to his radiologist to read.
It came back clear. This means I have no active TB but possibly had it as a child and my healthy body fought it off. A common occurrence.

Two days later, I receive a phone call from Public Health wanting to set up an appointment with me, while explaining the levels of treatment available. Nine months or as short as four months, while needing to go into the clinic once a week to take the multiple course of heavy antibiotics.
Maybe it's me, but it seems we are getting a little excited before we know the end of the story here.
Slow down sister nurse.

I am driving during this discussion and the hubby is next to me. He is turning red, while saying, "You are not taking those treatments." 
Now I know I'm on a watch list.

Meanwhile, I am still waiting for the call from Occupational Health telling me it was clear. 
It's been two weeks. 
They tell you they will let you know and then nada, zilch.. they leave you in a dark room with no light switch and no exit. 
Not everyone is married to a Doc who can ask his radiologist to look at a film.
It seems some may have fear or concerns and be left waiting, for weeks. 

I mentioned this situation to a friend and her response was priceless.
She said, "Imagine what diseases the disciples had."
I laughed out loud.

I imagine they had more aches, pains and diseases without cure than I could count.
We know Paul asked three times to have the thorn in his side removed. We don't know what his health concern was, but if Paul asked three times it had to be considerable.
That guy was a stud. 

They probably had some Hyssop oil as well as wine and myrrh for pain. 
Hmm... sounds similar to today.
Let's face it, some days there isn't anything better than two Advil and a diet coke.

Makes me wonder if I would have said to Jesus, "My head really hurts today, I'm gonna lay here with my wine and myrrh compress till I feel better"... like the next century.
What a wimp. 

How do we keep from becoming so pampered and spoiled that we are useless in sharing the Gospel of Christ?
We fill our bodies with comfort and ease, but our souls are empty without Truth. 
We have lost our saltiness.

The disciples, though far from perfect, should give us hope. 
They were common men accompanied by common women... but they were shining lights to those in need of a Savior.

They fought about stupid things, like who should be first and where they should sit.. and according to the above picture, nicknames were an issue.

They were just like us... and yet so different. 
They did not put their needs first.
They gave up their lives, for a Savior they didn't quite understand.

They did not have the comfort of an extra tunic, or a bed to lay their head.
They were at the mercy of others. 
We would do well to lean on one another instead of our compresses and medications.

We are who He calls us to be, the common man and woman... created in His image and purposed for His glory. 
Christ sees us as shining stars and precious jewels.
He asks us to be obedient and purposeful for Him... even in distress and uncomfortableness.

I am grateful for modern medicine and advil.
I'll always be a wimp compared to the early disciples, but I recognize God does not compare me to them.. or you.
He expects me to do what He puts in front of me, regardless of headaches or TB.
And thank goodness for WebMd. That cleared up a whole lot of questions. Yikes!

What is holding you back today?