Two Steps Forward, Twelve Steps Back

pexels-photo-631986.jpegLife throws some pretty serious punches. Just when one is convinced there is growth in areas of struggle, something or someone comes along and you’re back where you started.

You may even begin to believe those lies you once threw away. You may even wonder if there is anyone (in this world) in whom you can trust. Were the whispers about you true?

But, here’s the thing. Even though you may feel like you are back at the starting gate, you aren’t. Through everything you’ve gone through, you’ve learned. Learned how to overcome. Learned it isn’t what people around you think of you, it’s what God thinks. Talk to God to clarify if the thoughts/feeling are from Him or an attack against you.

It may take a bit of time to recover, but it is doable. Slowly, but surely you’ll get back to where you were. Don’t let others make you feel guilty for your retreat, it’s okay. Cry out your emotions–you know, the ones you’re allowed to feel because no one can tell you how to feel. Those emotions are yours, and yours alone, to deal with right now.

So, when you’re ready, lace up those walking shoes. Hike up your drawers and look ahead, not behind. I know it is difficult but you can do it…one step at a time.

“We are not what we do. We are not what we have. We are not what others think of us. Coming home is claiming the truth, I am the beloved child of a loving Creator.” ~ ~ H. Nouwen

Oh, English Language . . .

Raise your hand (in the air like you just don’t care) if you’ve ever thought you knew the name of, oh…let’s say a dance, and it really wasn’t what you thought it was named.

This morning, as I watched a morning news show, the hosts played a video of a poor, poor fella who mispronounced a word in the puzzle on a game show. (I’ll take a “t”, Pat). Here is the video. Yes, I was just as confused as he looks in the video.

I, personally, thought the game show messed up the spelling. Because we all know it is Flamingo Dance and not Flamenco. Or so I THOUGHT. Oh, my word. In my 51 years of life on this planet, I honestly thought it was FLAMINGO.

If one really thinks about it, now that I know it isn’t flamingo, it really is quite comical to think of a flamingo dancing the Flamenco! I mean really funny. Clearly.

Learning. That is what it is about, folks. Or embarrassment – either way. Tomato, tomato. Flamingo, Flamenco. flamingo

Also, as a bonus in our little learning fun today, did you know Flamenco is the Spanish work for flamingo? I know, right? No wonder I’m so confused. You’re welcome.

What word/words (trust me I have many) have you thought correct when it really wasn’t? 

Remember

Opening my inbox after work a few days ago, I was greeted by an email from a person in the writing group I attend.

It said, loosely translated, “Remember this season that written words matter and change the world. Read John 19:19 thru verse 22.”

I don’t know about you, but when someone tells you to read a section of the Bible, curiosity takes over.

Is your curiosity taking over, too? Well, fear no more…but, first here is what is happening before the set of verses we’ll look at in a minute. Pilate, a governor, ordered the flogging of Jesus. Pilate reluctantly ordered Jesus’ crucifixion. He couldn’t find anything to charge Jesus with, but the mob-scene mentality of the crowd won. The soldiers took over and made Jesus carry the cross even though he was beaten and weary. Now we pick up on John 19:19-22 . . .

19 Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews. 20 Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. 21 The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”

22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

Words DO matter. Did you catch that? Pilate wrote in other languages, as well so all could read, “Jesus of Nazareth, The King of the Jews.” And, the micro-managing chief priest tore into Pilate saying it should read “…CLAIMED to be King of the Jews”.

Isn’t it funny how one word can change everything? One word. Pilate may have given into the crowd but he was holding his own in saying, “Look, I meant what I wrote so leave me alone.” Or something sassy like that.

Words have tremendous power — to divide or bring together, to stir up or calm down, and to claim truth. And, it was one man, leaving out one word, who finally had enough and stuck to his guns.

May we, who play with words, who speak words, realize the power those words have on others. May we use our words bravely, kindly, and lovingly.

As you reflect on Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for you and me, may we always be in awe of His love for us.

Easter Cross what love is

Bonus:

For the storyteller:

Tell the story
of the mountain
you climbed.
Your words
could become a page
in someone else’s
survival guide.

From the book, Storyteller: 100 Poem Letters by Morgan Harper Nichols

 

Sunday Rest?

Normally Sunday is set aside as a “day of rest”. Yet, I find myself thinking of what lies ahead this week. The busy business of appointments and getting ready for an overnight guest this coming weekend. My mind is busy planning as it seems to do without fail.

When our children were little, advice from mature moms rang, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Like a good student, I’d listen and try to do what they said. Did you catch that? Try to do. After the put-baby-in-the-crib-without-waking-up-baby contortionist moves, I’d try to sleep, too. Yet, my mind never quite got the sleeping memo.

My mind would not shut off. I should be doing: laundry, dishes, planning the evening meal, vacuuming, recording baby milestones, and so on and so forth. Do, do, do. We are a culture of do.

Transparency alert: Even during the sermon this morning my mind refused to stop. Yes, I followed along in scripture reading. Yes, I heard the sermon, yet, my mind wandered to and fro . . . eventually coming back to the sermon and then it would go off on another adventure. Even if I’m resting my body, my mind is a stubborn one. One I’m still trying to figure out how to control.

Am I really resting if my mind is running a marathon? How do I hear God’s voice in all my mind chatter? Perhaps upon waking is when I seem to hear from God–my mind hasn’t awakened yet?

How do you “shut off your mind” in order to rest? Or hear from God? Inquiring minds really do want to know!

Come to me

Finding My Way Out Of The Middle

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I participated in a little thing called NaNoWrMo (National Novel Writing Month) this past November. It was a dark and trying time. I’m not dramatic.

I pumped out a whopping 1,667+ each day except Thanksgiving (because come on!). I met my goal — finishing. Finishing has always been an issue for me. But, I did it. I gained confidence and a really terrible cold/cough (but let’s not talk about that six to eight week nightmare).

Allowing my novel sit in a corner and think about what it has done…wait….letting it sit for December and half of January, I finally began the first round of the editing process. I have no idea if this story will ever see the light of someone else’s day, but I feel I need to finish this first round of edits. You know, finishing. Don’t quit. And all that.

Here’s the thing. I’m in the middle. The same middle, when writing, made me want to quit. It was hard. Quite frankly, I was surprised. It was kind of like the awkward teen years hard. I assumed the beginning or end would be the worst. Silly, silly girl. That middle is not a nice girl.

Editing that same middle? I am so discouraged. I’m not being dramatic. Seriously. There are inconsistencies, dialog and more that has me questioning this whole writing thing.

Yet, this is something I MUST wade through. I must dive in deep and swim to that ending. So, I am letting it sit for a few days (not weeks) with plans to return in an attack mode; clean it up and make it beautiful.

I’m learning about myself through this process. Writing a book has been a dream since I was in Junior High. But, maybe it has never been about the book this whole time. Maybe it is the journey of writing turning into the journey of finding me.

Whatever you, my dear reader, are doing or working toward, don’t give up. Will it look like you planned? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it’s not about the finish, maybe it is about the journey in the middle. Because . . .

One needs to travel through the ugly to get to the beautiful.

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The Real Struggle in the Real Hard

I never want to write anything political. It’s not me. And, I want this blog to be a place to escape from the world for a minute or two. Yet, I would be remiss if didn’t address the happens of this week, this year and sadly many years before. This post just wouldn’t let me alone, so, I write . . .

Children dying at the hand of another, Police Officers shot and some killed, shoppers gunned down, children and adults taken, and the list could go on. Our world becomes smaller every day as news and video footage of events quickly show up in our lives. Even our “safe” communities are in question.

I ache for those left behind, the parents, relatives, classmates/workmates, those who reply the scenes every time eyes shut. When will it end? When did another’s life not matter? This is not a race issue. It’s a people issue.

Let’s not give satan a stronghold in this . . . evil will not win.

The cry, “What can we do?” is real and loud. If I look at the big picture, I quickly become overwhelmed. Yet, the problem is a big-picture. Is it too late to start small? Is it too late to open up a one-on-one conversation with people next door, in our own communities?

I don’t have the answers. I have many questions. In the drowning waters of this life, there is hope we must swim toward and grab on tightly. There is faith in a loving God who is weeping along with us. A faith which believes we are not fighting against man but against the spiritual forces of evil in a fallen world. (Ephesians 6 and Genesis 3)

Is it too simple to think love and kindness are the answers?

Will you join me in praying? Praying for the people. Praying for the action He would have us do. And, the patience in the timing.

Amen and amen, Dear Jesus.

 

How to avoid…

It began innocently enough. Mend an article of clothing or clear a path in the snow for household members. Wouldn’t want someone to catch pneumonia from walking through six inches of snow, in a snow storm, now would I? How cruel do you think I am? Exactly.

Feed the dog and cats, then shovel. And, hey, might as well shovel a path to the cars, and clear off some of the snow. And throw a few snowballs at the dog. Nose running (you’re welcome) and the dog ready and willing to fly down the basement at the opening of the back door, we were done in more ways than one.

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Mending. Must.mend. Oh, the humidifier needs to be cleaned! I missed cleaning it last week so it surely needs to be done, right now. This definitely comes before sewing. Definitely.

Then, a lull in the storm. Huh, good time as any to clean out the drive with the snowblower. Yep. After many attempts to keep said machine running, after I figured out where in the world to put in the key, I was “happily” blowing snow. The dog thought this was all for him, of course, as he thought it was fun to either catch the snow or run a head of the snow. Or get in my way — same thing.

As I was fighting the snowblower, I decided this counts as a workout. No treadmill for me today. Win-win. I mean, why double up on the cardio at my age. Oh, wait…

pexels-photo-212269.jpegWalking past the item to mend (yes, it was “only” one item–don’t judge me), I remember I threw bed sheets in the washing machine before shoveling the sidewalk. In the dryer they flew. Need to wash the blankets. If you’re going to have clean sheets on the bed, you must have clean blankies. It’s a rule.

Edit, I need to edit my book. It won’t edit itself. Oh, wait, need to read the chapters sent to me by oldest daughter who finished her book. Beta-readers unite! Quietly. So I can read. And concentrate.

I eat an early lunch because “cardio” snow-blowing and move on to editing. But, need a cup of coffee first. With creamer. Now editing. Why is the dog barking? Need to look out the window. Wait, what????!!!! I hear the snowplow coming down our road for the first time today. At noon. This requires watching to make sure it is real! It is. It does exist!

Okay, editing my book. It is going good and then I realize I should call my dad and make sure he is okay. By now it is 2:00. Prime nap-taking time if there ever was any. I take the chance. I think I woke him by the sound of his voice but he says he is making cookies and was getting a pan out of the oven.

pexels-photo-301972.jpegI ask dad if I should come over and get his mail for him. He says he can drive out to the mailbox. I ask again. He tells me the same story. I ask if Hubs should stop on his way home from work and get his mail for him. He says he can do it…a little more forcefully this time. I drop it. Obviously his ninety-year-old brain was not picking up on the I’ll come over and get your mail code which would have actually become, Give me all your cookies. Wait, maybe his ninety-year-old brain really was on to me after all.

I’ve been tricked! Do we have any chocolate in this house? Or cookies? Cupboard doors open, close and a loud sigh is heard throughout the world.

Hubs will be home in less than an hour so I begrudgingly get the item which needed mending. I get out the thread, needle, and scissors. Slowly. Sadly. Wait, the mail person just dropped off the mail in our mailbox (across the road). I need to get the mail before Hubs gets home. I can do that for him. I have the day off of work so I can surely get the mail so he doesn’t have to. Yep. I’m that good wife. And, the sidewalk needs to be cleared again since it is getting warmer and the snow stopped. Gotta get that clear.

With ten minutes to go until he arrive home, I bravely thread the needle and plunge into the mending.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is you to avoid sewing/mending for as long as possible. Or maybe how to avoid editing? Hmmm…(shrugs shoulders) either way, you’re welcome.

P.S. Did you know I hate to sew?