… fighting to be… free

Would you believe I asked Google this morning… are birds happy? I was watching a male red cardinal out my window; he looked so bright and cheerful. I thought surely birds are happy.

Would you believe Google answered “yes, birds have feelings and emotions.” If you have watched these winged creations at your feeders, then you have seen them fight and make known the pecking order of their particular species… you know they show emotions.

But it is their happiness, a contentment, I wondered about. It appears they display these feelings, too, as they flit and fly, enjoying the oiled sunflower seeds always provided for them.

I wondered about birds basking in the sun and enjoying breakfast as I had spent time earlier contemplating Psalm 119:32… “I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” I love the imagery seen in this verse… I am free to run, to love, to fully live. Surely all birds are free to fly, to soar as their Creator gave them wings.

Later this same morning, I heard frantic fluttering and discovered a small brown bird stuck on a glue board hidden in the garage to catch “bad spiders”. Oh no, I moaned as I called the man who always rescues the victims I am afraid to touch!

I wondered if birds are able to fly again if they have been traumatized and abused. (Click on photo to see the anguish and despair.)

Tom carefully picked up the sticky cardboard, holding the bird gently while pulling his skinny little legs from the glue paper. Holding my breath, I squealed as the bird flew to a nearby bush. “He will gradually wear the glue off, and he should be fine,” Tom assured me.

Jesus said these words. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow nor reap or store away (seeds) in barns, and yet, your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6: 26)

As I watched the freed wren hop around the pine straw under the forsythia bush, my thoughts flew to the victims of childhood sexual abuse. (That’s where many of my thoughts have been these past two years.)

Will they fly? Will they be set free to run to the One who loves them so? My book, A Journey from Scared and Scarred to Sacred… sharing hope with victims of child sexual abuse… will be available on Amazon, Monday, January 16th  or, perhaps by this weekend. Also, it can be ordered through any book store, I understand. This 150 page book unashamedly shares that complete hope for victims can be found in knowing and receiving God’s love. (My personal story is included, along with bits of Tom’s and my love story!)

A paragraph from the Foreword reads: The devastation caused by this evil likely will never be fully measured or understood. It crushes the innocent; leaving them wounded, broken and scarred. As noted in the pages that follow, the number of known victims is astounding. But the number of those who suffer in silence likely goes beyond our comprehension. How do we grapple with the fact that we are encountering these wounded people every day and never know it?

Readers, my dear readers, this is a very real issue in our very big world, but also in our own small worlds. May I use this blog post today to invite you to share with me in the belief we can intentionally offer hope and healing for millions of men and women living today, scared and scarred in their worlds. May I ask you to order a book, or books, for those you know who need to discover this hope. If many books are ordered this weekend and Monday, we can make a statement… that we care and we want to give hope.

My prayer for anyone caught on a “glue board” fighting to be free,  is that they will find hope and healing in this personal book. And I in no way simplify or minimize the tragic and horrible result of this terrible crime, and the hurts it causes.  They are massive. I and other victims share the hope we have found.

… running free…

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… speaking Christmas…

“I was so angry,” my brother and I were having a tearful conversation three days ago. “I was mad at everyone, even you. Everyone had left me. Daddy had been gone for three years. You and Nancy were married after graduation from the boarding school. Then Cindy and David were gone to the same school. I was alone. I planned everyday how to run away.” He went on to tell me he got in a fight daily at school when others taunted him about the issues of our father leaving the family.**

“Every day, every single day of that school year I heard negative, awful comments about the fact of my father’s desertion and how poor we were, more often from the teachers. One teacher would repeatedly voice such disdain, ‘Your father was a clergyman; how could he do this?’” Or, as she was counting lunch money for the students, ‘I know you’re poor, but surely you can find money without me having to count pennies.’ This was in front of the entire class.

“Oh, I was angry…

“Then one day, I heard words that changed my life… forever.”

At 16, my brother enrolled in the same boarding school as I and other siblings had attended; he was still angry and planned on leaving the school as soon as he could figure out a way to do so. One day, soon after classes began, a teacher asked him his name.  He confessed, almost shamefully and she exclaimed… almost joyfully.

He remembers…

“You are one of the Brannons; you are the brother of Nancy, Barbara and Cindy. Wow! They are over achievers, and you are their brother. (Nancy and I had graduated earlier) You will make it.” She encouraged him further and went on her way.

She had no idea she had diverted a life crash!

Do you ever wish you could take words back? Or knew “then” what you know NOW. I  wonder if those teachers at my brother’s first high school knew their negative, demeaning words were destroying a young life. We can forgive words, but they are never forgotten. How grateful I am for the forgiveness given me for words rashly spoken.

My brother credits the words of Miss Hyder, the teacher that asked his name, as words that literally changed the very course of his life. “I was suddenly proud I was who I was, and I no longer wanted to run away.”

One kind word can change someone’s entire day… (quote, source unknown) or their life.

Our words matter…

“You look awesome,” Almost song-like, kind, happy words mingled with the bright colors of Christmas as I was putting my groceries on the counter last week at Sprouts in Franklin, Tennessee. I looked around to see who he was speaking to. “It is you… I am telling you, you look awesome.”

Now why would an outgoing, well dressed young man say words to cheer an older lady’s tired heart? At 8:00 at night, after a long day of many stops and starts, they were surely nice to hear. I’m pretty sure I didn’t look awesome, but those words heaped joy and a tiny bit of excitement for the evening.

I think he knows how to “speak Christmas.”

“Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24).

So, I’ve been thinking these last days… words are an amazing gift we speak into the lives of strangers, friends and most of all… to our family.

While reading the Christmas story in both Luke and Matthew, I smile at the words the angels spoke. In each chapter, words replace fear with joy; kind, patient words. To Joseph, to Mary and to the shepherds. (Luke 1, Matthew 1, Luke 2). Their words spoke affirmation to Mary in Luke 1:30; words granted Joseph the confidence he needed in a most difficult situation; and the angles promised hope to the shepherds.

Oh… to speak as angels this Christmas!

“… speak words that are helpful for building others up according to their needs, that they may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4: 29).

My brother was a success in life, and now, in his later years, with an incurable health issue, he remembers with tears, “Miss Hyder’s words changed my life… forever.”

… let’s speak Christmas this year and all year…

** (coming soon… you will meet my father in January, 2023; my book, A Journey from Scared and Scarred to Sacred, will be available on Amazon).

 

 

 

 

    

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… thanks living…

A repost of … thanks living…

Dear Blog readers, this initial blog published without me doing one thing. I have no idea how that happened; I looked up and it said “post published!”  I think you received it without the photos and a few additions made. I am sorry for the inconvenience.

Yes, Thanksgiving, America’s celebration every fourth Thursday in November is over. I heard a newsman say the morning after the holiday,” Thanksgiving is gone; now the focus is on Christmas.”

Can days of thankfulness ever be gone? Over?

I like to believe thanks living lasts a very long time. Those of you who have my Whispers book of ABC’s or you can buy it here  know that I can make lists all day long with the simple joys of life; in fact, I can go from Apples to Zucchini in minutes or Acorns to Zebras! So often I am overwhelmed with gratefulness for small delights and for the people in my life from Abigail to Zoe!

Recently I realized I had taken for granted the ability to trust. And I was not sure I had ever been thankful, really thankful, I  lived in trust. It’s one of those things most of us think we do quite well.

“I can’t see one thing out there… can anyone see what is ahead?” I whispered to myself. The small window of the plane revealed nothing but fog. Thick, gray fog.  What can the pilot see?  Does he know where we are going? How does he know? What is  in front  of  us? As the plane jumped over bumps in the air, tossed around like a large beach ball, I  could see no further than the edge of the plane’s wing. I questioned my trust odometer.

What does one trust in… now? I mean, what can you possibly trust when you are 30,000 feet in the air, and all you see is nothingness. When the plane suddenly burst through clouds and finally landed, I breathed again.

But I did do my homework. Pilots fly with VFR rules (visual flight reference) when they can see what is ahead; they are not allowed to get close to a cloud. When they can’t see anything around them and clouds prohibit any vision, they must trust something. That’s when IFR… instrument flight rules… go into effect.

Pilots, flying with IFR instruments, cannot trust themselves; they cannot even trust the instruments totally. They are in constant contact with a controller on the ground, monitoring the flight. He is the one guiding the plane through the clouds. Hours of experience and training convince them to trust their instruments, but only with the guidance of the controller.

I had one choice… to trust… in the pilots trusting their instruments, who in turn were trusting the persons on the ground, watching their instruments.  Wow…

As a side note, when pilots first start to fly in clouds they get “the leans.” It’s a sensation that makes them think they’re flying straight and level, when in fact they may be turning and climbing or descending. This is spatial disorientation. The consequence is that the plane continues to turn and descend gradually ending in a spiral dive and crashing. Pilots, such as J.F. Kennedy, Jr. crashed in this kind of situation. (aerocorner.com/blog/what-is-ifr-in-aviation/). Instrument training involves learning to overcome these sensations and trust their instruments are giving good information. Flying, without the right instruments, when there is no visibility is practically impossible. A pilot caught in a cloud must trust 100% the instruments and the controller… no matter what.

This is such a lesson for me. Maybe for you as you wonder who you are trusting in when there are no answers.  I have made a new acronym … or new meaning of IFR in these times when clouds, heartbreaks, circumstances cause impaired vision… when we can’t see what is ahead. When we can only lean back into the airplane seat and trust the One who watches the clouds.

IFR… Invisible Faith Reigns. It’s really all we have. What else can we do, but trust in the One who controls all instruments.

“Some trust in chariots and some trust in horses, but I trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).

On this first day of December, I am full of gratitude for the ability to trust during the darkness. “Let him/her who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the Lord and rely on God” (Isaiah 50:10).

… thankfully trusting…

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… sharing a heart issue…

I wonder, oh, I wonder where the little faces go…                                                                     … that come and smile and stay awhile and pass like flakes of snow.

This is not one of my normal blog posts; thank you for granting me this privilege to share this massive issue in our communities. Yea, even in the world.

We lost our second child a few short hours after his birth; he was a preemie and oh, so tiny. He was our only child born with an abundance of black hair; I can see him still.

One of the cards we received during those days was imprinted with the words above; I have never forgotten them. But I wasn’t quite sure why I awoke this morning with these words softly stirring my heart.

Then I remembered… my last thoughts last night, even my last words to Tom… “Can you believe 276 million of India’s children are sexually abused?” Over 69 percent of the child population in that country!  Evidently, I went to sleep with my heart shattered for the children of India. (Statistics change yearly, and though this is reported from 2016, I doubt there is much decrease in the numbers.)

India has the dubious distinction of having the world’s largest number of sexually abused children with a child below 16 years raped every 155th  minute, a child below 10 every 13th hour and one in every 10 children sexually abused at any point of time.  https://journal.rostrumlegal.com/child-sexual-abuse-in-india-a-dark-reality/

And I read an article later informing me that most of these children never— that’s never, get over what was done to them.  Does anyone?

Some of you know I have been writing, working, interviewing victims on the subject of child sexual abuse for months now, telling my story and theirs. Is it possible we can stop this global crime against our children? If the 42 to 60 million survivors in the United States(now adults) living today can begin to speak out… then maybe we can bring attention to this issue and, in turn, cause a revolution.

Media currently present testimonies of former victims, now adults, speaking truth. Faces of hopeful Olympian gymnasts, wet with tears, recently revealed their loss of dreams as they relived the horrors of abuse at the hands of their once respected coach/doctor. We hear stories daily of childhood sexual abuse in the largest religious organizations (i.e. Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist and others) around the world. Or in the smallest offices. Cover-ups are being uncovered. Parents, family members, politicians, professionals, celebrities, scout leaders… and church leaders are realizing secrets are not secrets… any longer.

Because we are telling.

(The above paragraph is found in the introduction of this book on sexually abused children)… A Journey from Scared and Scarred to Sacred.

My heart broke over the loss of my little one’s face, yes. But it breaks over all little faces… the scared children that become scarred adults.  It is suggested 400,000 babies, male and female, born this year, 2022, and the next year, and the next year, and the next… will be abused sexually before their eighteenth birthday.

Each piece of research, each site I read… no matter the date or decade… all point to the same staggering numbers… one in three girls and one in six boys (some report it is one in five boys) have been sexually abused as children.

So today I am seeing little faces, living in fear of those they know and trust. Did you know less than 10 percent of abuse is from “stranger danger?” Children are crushed by family members and friends of family.

I wonder oh, I wonder what will happen to the thousands of  the faces of little children… abused, afraid and alone in their pain.

The book, available soon, with its facts and its stories, brings awareness to the ugliness, but most importantly offers hope to those who are living today, still carrying the shame and guilt in silence.

As I prepare my launch team, would you be willing to join? It would require a bit of time… not too much. It does require heart and passion.

“Jesus took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them.” Mark 10:16

 

 

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… anchored…

Today, I think I want to be a spider.

If you suffer from arachnophobia, you may have already stopped reading this blog. Though I have a healthy respect for spiders, and don’t want them in the house, I am not afraid of them.  I usually remove them to the gardens where they are most beneficial. I have learned to identify the harmful Black Widow and the brown recluse and avoid them when possible.

Of the 46,000 different species of spiders around the world, there are only 30 who are considered dangerous to us humans, causing seven deaths a year. Maybe we shouldn’t be too afraid of these invaders living peaceably among us. Without spiders in our world, our food supply would be in trouble.

I read that spiders in the house are most useful for eliminating other insects.  In a perfect world, I wonder if we would have any insects inside.  But alas, it is not a perfect world, so we need a few spiders.

A large garden orb spider… outside… is teaching me life lessons this week; I “listen” and learn from sights and sounds around. The first night I saw my new friend spinning like crazy. I discovered this one is most likely a female as large female orb spiders usually eat their spouses after mating! Whew! Tom is glad I am not a spider!

I watched as she created a masterpiece quickly… in the dark.Early the next morning, I noticed the piece of art was gone… she had devoured the protein and moisture from the web for her survival and found a place of safety. She hides from any predator looking for her, preferring to catch it in her web later.  I have watched this scenario for days. She works tirelessly in the darkness, and shelters in a curled leaf in the day time.

Every night at dark, this spider fashions a stunning piece of work; each day it is what sustains her physically while she rests secure.

I am as fascinated with the result of her night’s achievement as I am of her resolve to stay put in a crisis.  The web was flawless, constructed with purpose for her survival in the night.  Analogies do break down… I don’t want to work when I am to sleep…

But am I productive in the darkness? The darkness invading much of the culture these days surely allows me… and you… to transform our surroundings into something beautiful.  If we are anchored.

One early morning, I loosened, noI pulled most of the anchors holding her web… she never flinched from her resting place.

Various species of spiders have many differences, but they all spin silk. This silk is one of the strongest materials in the world; it can support a weight of up to 10,000 x its own weight, and has been used for everything from airplane wings to surgical sutures. There are seven kinds of silk, but I want to focus on the dragline type.

Dragline silk is used for anchors, for building the web, for forming cocoons, for flying… spider flying, that is. Yes, they have been known to cast off and propel for miles. Compared to super-glue, dragline silk has been known to stop a bullet.

Wow, their anchor line is very strong!

I really don’t want to be a spider, but what a strong lesson for me as I watched her stand fearlessly when danger approached.

A gentle whisper, “You must be like this spider… have the strength to hold on, no matter the winds blowing around you and your family.” I have to intentionally listen. Yes, yes. “We have this hope, (this Jesus as the light of the world… my words in italics) as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6: 19

I stood by the tree, the wind whipping the leaf to and fro, affirmed in the gentle reminder, “I am your hiding place; I will protect you from trouble and surround you with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7

… snug and anchored…

 

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… life is in the looking… back

I’ve thought much about looking today since my last blog… read here. I am not sure we can look at all in front of us today without a looking back.

We would never get very far driving down the highway if we didn’t occasionally take a glance in the rear view mirror. Tom says, “I want to see if there’s a cop back there!” Observing what is behind us lets us know if it’s safe to change directions, when to make a change, or to proceed in the same way. Lessons are learned as we look in the past.

Some say… don’t look back; you’re not going that way. But looking back, reflecting on positive memories is a good thing. Perhaps it is helpful, to reflect on the negatives, too— if we don’t stay there long.  Remembering gives pause to consider life in the Now. We need to make time for looking back…

Sometimes “your memories” show up on today’s Face Book… a year ago ‘today’, five years. Recently one surfaced on my page from 11 years ago.  What do you do when you see a memory? Smile… cry?

I cried two weeks ago  as I read a friend’s text. She shared the latest results from her husband’s MRI; she was bringing him home for the time he had left. I love this sweet couple—Tom and I married them! The laughter, the joys, the love shared. What a beautiful gift to look back into the wonders of life.

She had posted on Face Book this September 10 a repost of that same date in 2011 with the words to all of us: A sweet reminder to never take those simple moments for granted. Her post eleven years ago on September 10 … A beautiful cool morning on the porch with a cup of coffee, a blanket, and my sweet husband. So blessed!

At his celebration of life service this week, smiling with tears, “I am so full of gratitude for our years together.” She is looking back and will always look back on sweet memories.

Looking back on this journey, even  in regret, enables us to focus in reality for the tomorrows. Pausing to reflect can strengthen trust for today as we remember how we overcame difficult experiences.  A friend shared these words with me when I was overwhelmed with sadness in leaving Vienna. “Barb, don’t cry because you’re leaving; be thankful… smile because you came.” (Proverb attributed as an Indian proverb, a Spanish one and Dr. Seuss.)

When I look back, I see faces… from every church we have loved,  from every place, from many countries… in Vienna, Austria, in Copenhagen, Denmark. And I shout… “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy…” Philippians 1:3 This map is a daily reminder of beautiful people in our lives; each dark pin represents the country of someone we love.  I pass it a hundred times a day, smiling in thankfulness.  Looking back can be healthy when we remember the wonders. “Remember the wonders He has done.”(Psalm 105:5) “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you have planned for us no one can recount to you… there are so—o—oo many…” Psalm 40:5. I am thankful for the wonders… past ones, and those in the Now.

Forward living is the goal, but without a glance backwards every now and then, would we question which direction to take? Of course, we all have regrets, things we did, or should have done or didn’t do. Looking back allows gratitude in remembering the forgiveness we have been given for mistakes.

Looking backwards gives direction for today’s journey. Backward views of the wonders bring peace. Questions, mistakes, dreams shattered bring tears. Both are necessary to understand which direction to go.  We find contentment in looking backwards at the beautiful scenes in the rear view mirror. We gain strength as we accept the broken pieces in the mirror, stronger with each lesson.  I often struggle these days  looking too long at the broken pieces in family as I  ponder the ways and whys of looking back.

“You live life looking forward. You understand life looking backward.” – Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher’s comment on life.

We’ve all heard that elephants have excellent memory; this is because of their large brains… very large brains. Their highly developed hippocampus and cerebral cortex give them exceptional recall power, enabling them to survive in the wilderness. And to live long. Their episodic memory makes it possible for them to recall what happened during an event years before. Then, they are prepared for the Now. With all that amazing memory load, they have been known to remember kindnesses or mistreatment from people or other elephants for decades.

I don’t want to be like an old elephant; I only want to remember the goodness of others, the kindness and forgiveness given me.   As I glance backwards in gratitude for the wonders, I hear a whisper “… do not dwell (make your home) in the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” Isaiah 43: 18

Something beautiful, something new is discovered when… looking back.

 

 

 

 

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… life is in the looking…

So, it’s early Monday morning, and I am walking down our country road; I see all the litter decorating the edge of the corn fields, tossed haphazardly by the happy weekend travelers. I moan. And fuss, wondering when I’ll have time to come back with my gloves and litter bag.

Focus… focus, Barb. Look at something besides the discarded pieces of the past.

… life is in the “looking”. I had been thinking on this phrase from my reading. (Eric Gilmour’s words) So where was I looking? What was I seeing?

What is the first thing you see in this scene?  Be honest, now.  I asked Tom, and he immediately said, “Why, the can, of course.”

After hearing a whisper to focus, I saw the morning glorys… those wild flowers that grow along country highways… you only see them in the morning. The mature corn stalks were ribbonned in blues, pinks and purples. How could I have missed beauty and focused on the trash?

Look is a simple word… how many times a day do we say it? And we look constantly… at what? But it is in looking… considering what I am seeing, what I am focusing on. It means to gaze, to wonder, to be surprised. To focus on the wonder. Where do I give my attention?

… life is in the looking… to stand in awe of what I see, to sense His very presence in the circumstances of daily life…

Earth’s crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God:                             But only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. Elizabeth Barrett Browning  from Aurora Leigh

The Hebrew word yirah translates awe… respect, reverence, worship.  It is often translated fear, as well, depending on the context of Scripture.  Of course, there are times when we stand trembling in the presence of the Lord, but for me, I want to walk barefoot seeing life through the windows of awe.  “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

“One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” Psalm 27:4. Have you wondered how you are to gaze… how you are to see… Him? This God who is not flesh. Is not human.

Do you see the God of morning here?  I look into  the very Life of today, and  gaze into the very presence of a holy God. His protection, His nearness, His constancy shouts in this part of our yard.  For me, this moment… this photo embodies the very nature of a God who loves, who lives. … this is life lived in “looking”…

… walking barefoot…

(You might have another phrase for life is in the …                                                                       in the hearing, in the thinking, in the writing, in the loving… what would you say? )

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… finding beauty in the storm…

What a powerful storm we had one night this week.  Rain had been promised for days, but always evaded our area; we watched black skies circle around us and heard thunder rumble near us. Rain never fell.

We have been so very dry with a few sporadic showers (see… watered…) these extremely hot weeks while many of the southern states endure heavy downpours. I have been wishing for rain; I didn’t want a bad storm. Just rain.

But, finally, the storm came, waking me in the night. The brightness of constant zigzag lightning rolled with loud thunder as I watched and listened… in wonder. According to scienceabc.com some people see these high powered electrical charged strikes as majestic, while others  are utterly terrified at the bright bolts.

Some see the beauty of the storm… some fear the effects.

NWS Jet Stream estimate there are about 40,000 storms a day or almost 16 million a year. Now, that’s a powerful amount of wonder. Or terror. Though I have a deep respect for lightning and flooding, I see incredible beauty in a physical storm.

Is it possible to discover the beauty in a storm… a life storm?

Who wants a disturbance of power or a downpour of pain? We demand slow, gentle days filled with light breezes… you know, just enough of those to balance and encourage our growth. Can I/you delight in the high winds of fury, upsetting our well ordered lives?

Of course not.  Where… then, how… do we see the majesty in a storm?

When my children were little, even when they were teenagers, I made sure they would be home if a storm were forecast. I wanted to be sure they were safe. This weeknight when constant lightning and thunder caused anxiety (I snuggled real close to Tom), I knew some of my children were out in a storm. Unprotected, getting drenched.

I think God whispers…I want my children safe?

I read the story, again and again, in John 6:16-21(also in Matthew 14:22-27 and Mark 6:45-51).The disciples are in a major storm, and these seasoned fishermen are having great difficulty in keeping the boat together. The winds toss them to and fro, up and down.

It is His words that bring a smile. Can you see beauty as He crawls into the boat with the fearful fellows; I hear beauty as He speaks… and the words are comforting to their spirits. To my anxious heart. “It is I… don’t be afraid. Take courage.”

Tom and I have children and grandchildren out in a storm… one that can cause a storm to rage within us.  And these words, “Take courage. It is I”… holding you two together. Take my hand, and find beauty in this. (italics mine)

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord who has compassion on you” Isaiah 54:10

It is not always easy or possible to find beauty in the storm, but I want to try. I am determined to “see” God in all of life, to hear His whisper of promise… It is I; don’t be afraid. I am here.

Tom and I were driving in a storm this week, and suddenly right before us was this brilliant rainbow. Seemed we could almost reach out and touch. I realize seeing a rainbow evokes various meanings, secular, mystical, spiritual. Some feel it denotes peace, a new beginning, or an inner awakening. I can never see one without thinking of the covenant the Lord made with Noah; it was a sign of promise.Beauty exploded on the highway, amid fast traffic and peppering rain.  God is involved in the details of life, giving peace and assurance… wherever and when we “see”…

“He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals His thoughts to man, He who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth—the Lord God is His name.” Amos 4:13

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… watered…

It has been a long dry spell… a very long dry spell.

It’s as if my bones are dry and brittle. We just need water. Well, I do. So one morning 16 days ago… it has been 16 days… I stood outside and let refreshing rain wash over me. I needed to know it could rain again; as it had not rained for three weeks before this night’s downpouring. As of today, July 23, it hasn’t rained since July 7. With daily temperatures soaring into the 90s.

Dryness… it’s much on my mind this summer. Our part of western Tennessee borders on drought conditions.  In fact, 40 of America’s 50 states are currently experiencing some form of dryness, according to data from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Contrary to the 1971 song by the Carpenters, Rainy Days and Mondays have never gotten me down. I love rainy days, especially on Mondays. I am sure there have been times I moaned at too much rain, but I promise to never again complain; now, I am thankful for each drop.

Would you believe there are some places much more dry than our own brown grasses. Aswan, Egypt, receives 0.0338 inches annually.  I cannot imagine living in the driest city on the planet… Arica, Chile. The Atacama Desert, north of Santiago, Chile, is the driest nonpolar desert on Earth, receiving less than a millimeter of rain every year. Or what about Dry Valleys, Antarctica, the world’s driest spot.

Then there’s the other extreme— rain most every day, all day.  A city in India… Mawsynram, receives 11, 871 mm or 467 inches of water falling on them every year. Oh me, those living there have devised full bodied umbrellas made from bamboo and banana leaves to work in the fields …

Too dry… too wet? Often it is our inner peace, in emotional areas where subtle dryness begins. As with weather patterns affecting the rains, so circumstances in life cause spiritual  dryness. And sometimes, we have no idea we are parched.

It has been a long dry spell…  very long, very dry. I long for God as I long for rain.

“O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

Events in June precipitated more dry places. Extra events added to current family heartaches. Tom and I finally were gifted with Covid! Two deaths, (one of a young friend and the other of a family member) evoked questions. Multiple reactions to strange unusual allergens, an effect of Covid (doctor believes), resulting in a strong infection requiring  strong antibiotics. (Which make me tired. Or dry!) Can I blame the month of June with its various adversities on the dryness of my soul?

Though rain is absent in our area, on our grass, the potted plants on my patio look beautiful and green; they are thriving. Why?  They are lovingly watered every day. Even as I know and understand this truth of continually being refreshed and watered, I have realized there are things I cannot “make happen”; I cannot fix life’s weather patterns. Dry happens to all of us. Everywhere.  And it’s OK… if you seek refreshing rain.

We watched the documentary of the 1930s’ Dust Bowl to understand the human toll of  dryness. The phrase, “if it rains” was the hope in those hard, dry times. Everything depended on the rain coming. And it didn’t… for years. Not any measurable, consistent rain for almost a decade.

“if it rains”… how often Tom and I have uttered these words lately; “if it rains…”  The Rainmaker  is often quiet; I listen. Faith is developed while we wait for the rain (written on a page in my Bible, well, it really says while we wait for the answer.)  So I wait.

For years, I have been confused about or have misunderstood Psalm 42:7 … “Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls…”  You know, it’s a verse we read and move past quickly.

“If you have shallow sorrows, you shall receive but shallow graces; but if you have deep afflictions, you shall obtain the deeper proofs of the faithfulness of God.”  Words spoken by Charles Haddon Spurgeon April 11, 1869.

Deep calls to deep…

In my younger years, I could not swim in deep waters. Yes, I had needs… the mundane needs of a happy family.  I floated in shallow waters. A deep need longs for a deep remedy; now, I find myself thirsty. My deep need… begs for God’s waterfalls.

One must be silent to hear the whispers in the roar. It is incredible when the thundered whispers of God’s love and graces are heard as you plunge into His deep. During these dry days of being watered, I do not want to sink, but to glide through His mighty waves.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26 ESV

“The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” Isaiah 58:11

(Thank you, my patient, caring readers, for staying connected . I pray you are swimming in His deep.)

I am being watered…

 

 

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… can I praise?… or will I praise?

“I think you seem quite despondent,” honest words floated over the ocean this week.  “Your last blog indicates you are not doing well.”

Who… me?  So I ran to check in with Mr. Webster. There was my picture beside the word… despondent… loss of hope. Don’t you love it when a friend tells you the truth, instead of  telling someone else.Most of you will understand the current low days. Help me know how you are getting through the days.  Just seems so difficult to keep all the music stations playing positive praise songs… all day, all night.  My station seems to find the sad songs… Where have all the flowers gone…

Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle multi-racial mega church addressed this very phenomenon in his sermon this Sunday.  I think he must have known I would be listening.  This man, 81 years old and pastor of this church for over 50 years, has had his share of difficulties  and discouragement as the church has grown from 30 people to well over 16,000 members. He told of a time when there was a cross roads and the church could go no further without six million dollars. Would you believe God provided almost immediately.  And we doubt. We cry.

When I was younger, when life seemed somehow more fixable, I danced in the storms. This Pollyanna sailed through Lyme Disease, Q Fever, Tom’s bout with cancer. After all, we could DO something about those things.  Now, I cannot do anything to fix the brokenness…

He had some funny remarks about the woes of Republicans and Democrats in the political issues of today… but  it was when Cymbala said, “I understand. I’ve been where you are, where many of you are… now. ” It was then I knew I could listen. He went on to tell of a time in his life a few years ago he wasn’t sure he could go on. “Every time the phone rang in my office, I would cry. I mean, I would just cry at the ring of the phone. My father-in- law literally carried me to the pulpit area one Sunday. I could not do it on my own.”

I trust authors and preachers who are so honest they let us cry with them. Or friends. Pastor Cymbala  mentioned the ways… all the many ways… we are discouraged  these days. I mean how many of us have known of a classroom of children murdered?  Or a grandfather with his four grandsons shot to death in his cabin. I so related to each one, but Cymbala kept coming back to the truth—did God bring you through the last battle, the last heartache?

I admit.  Sometimes it continues to be difficult even knowing God is here, He can fix life.  I  can’t…

I cried with the Brooklyn choir Sunday morning as they sang… and sang.  And sang again.  “With every breath I take, I will praise you Lord. With every breath I take, I will praise you, Lord.” You would laugh, well, maybe not, if you could hear me sing these words with tears.

Join me as we sing, mingling our tears with one another.

And a verse for me this morning, “I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.” Psalm 104: 33,34

 

 

 

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