. . . struggling . . .

Continue reading

Posted in early morning thoughts | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

. . . celebrating the pain . . .

It has been two months since I have written.  Is it because there is nothing to say?  Or perhaps my day hours have been filled with grand and glorious tasks for others, and there is no time or energy for writing.   I know there are bloggers who develop a business on line and yearly earn thousands of dollars–even millions!  They are consistent, generous with gifts and offer something to sell.

I am not one of those.  I am surely not consistent 🙂

I can only share my heart. A part of  life, and today, I share the pain. I have deliberately kept silent as to not be vulnerable.  T.D. Jakes says, “why do we work so hard to not be vulnerable?”   He adds that we spend so much time and energy getting ready for tomorrow while disguising ourselves in the present. Why do we hide who we are and how we are breaking?

And too often we cry alone. . . (how thankful I am to share tears with Tom.)

. . . celebrate the pain . . .

Wow.  Now, that’s a novel verb for this situation in which we find ourselves.  Who would give anyone advice like that?  I found the following poem recently while preparing a study on David celebrating before the Lord when the ark had been moved to Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 6)

“Live in the now with all its problems and its agonies, with its joy and its pain. Celebrate your pain, your despair, your anger.  It means you’re alive. . .”  Clyde Reid, Celebrate the Temporary.   The entire poem is attached at the end.

I have never thought of celebrating pain. Have you? Celebrations are fun, happy  occasions.  They are parties, full of joy. Of more than a hundred synonyms  associated with celebrate, the majority are defined with praise. Is it possible to praise this season of pain?

Lately, I keep myself sheltered within a safe place. It’s easier. But oh, what I have missed.

. . . the Now of life.  When I cannot embrace this season of pain,  I have missed many now moments.  If I am numb to the pain, then I am also numb to the tiniest moment of joy.

Why are we so afraid to share our breaking hearts? We all have them. Or we will. Life happens, and we cry. We would rather read about happy events;  let’s ignore the pain. I encourage you to share your heart ache with another or listen quietly as they share theirs. May I add, don’t give advice–give yourself.

Today I will celebrate–the reality that I hurt. The fact that I am alive.  And I celebrate the Lord Jesus who gives life and joy in this season.  I can choose to embrace the pain while praising the One who is still in control, who whispers His love in the darkness.

“My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.” Psalm 145: 21

I dare not miss a moment of the NOW. . .

Celebrate the temporary

Don’t wait until tomorrow, live today

Celebrate the simple things

Enjoy the butterfly, embrace the snow

Run with the ocean, delight in the trees

Or a single lonely flower

Go barefoot in the wet grass

Don’t wait until all the problems are solved

Or all the bills are paid. You will wait forever

Eternity will come and go and you will still be waiting

Live in the now with all its problems and its agonies

With its joy and its pain

Celebrate your pain, your despair

 your anger,

It means you’re alive. Look closer,

Breathe deeper, stand taller

Stop grieving the past- there is joy and beauty

Today

It is temporary here now and gone

So celebrate it while you can

Celebrate the temporary

From Celebrate the Temporary by Clyde Reid

 

Posted in early morning thoughts | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

. . . in which world? . . .

Hoof clops invade the morning stillness.   I watch the buggy pass the house, and I fancy I live in two worlds.  With the Amish–living without automobiles, electricity, running water, cell phones. . . no mirrors!

We live near a large community of Amish, the oldest order of this belief who settled in Lawrence county, Tennessee in 1944.  About 250 families have chosen to live here, but perhaps they only survive in this culture.  They live in another world, regarding the conveniences most of us use and enjoy as worldliness, the chief evil of life.  Isolating themselves from outside influences, they desperately  conserve the heritage of their past.

Am I missing something. . .

I listen a long time, realizing with each clop growing fainter that life, real life, needs to be slower, slower. . . slow.   My ears strain to hear the last sound as the hard wheels rattle a determined tradition of an old world.

20180420_115515

(this was my parking buddy at Kroger’s last week)

“Can your heart be in two places?” I asked Tom, one evening when we arrived home from one of our worlds into our other world.

“I think not”, he smiled. “You can’t for sure.”  He knows me.  Since December we have been living in two houses, in two worlds, every week–a hundred miles apart–one in Lawrenceburg where we retired in August 2016, living between cow pastures and corn fields.  The other in Lebanon near all the amenities of Nashville where Tom returned as Associate Pastor at Immanuel Baptist.

In our current living arrangement, I’m often confused in which place I am!  I know I had celery in the refrigerator–just not the one where I need it NOW.  I realize I cannot be at home  in both places. I am more at home where heart things surround me, wrap me.  Where the floors creak ‘welcome home’ and memories murmur.

Some of you will remember the T.V. series, I Led Three Lives, based on the true story of  Herbert Philbrick.  He was a citizen of the community, a Communist, and a counter spy for the F.B.I. Not even his family, his church, his friends suspected his covert  activities.  For nine harrowing years, he cautiously stepped into each day frightened. . .

As believers anticipating an eternal home, can you and I be fully home in this physical world?  Should we be?  There is a longing for the other world, the one we call home. For the something more. . .

Our Amish community has found a way to live in this world but not be in it. John says in 1 John 2:15 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. . .” We live in two worlds, but which one do we love.  I wonder how many lives we lead in those two.  Tom and I joke about leading three lives these days.

And Paul cautions us to “not be conformed to the world, to the patterns of the world, to be transformed. . .” Romans 12:2.  I imagine  it may be difficult for the Amish to live simply, without conveniences — or not. Perhaps the pull to the other world is stronger than the desires of the flesh.

The words of the old song whisper . . .”this world is not my home; I’m just a’passin through. . .”

In which world are you living. . . NOW?

 

Posted in early morning thoughts | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

. . . desperate. . .

Easter morning dawned more in sad reflection than in a glorious celebration.  Lately there have been too many ‘why’ questions,  too many reasons to give up. How painless it would be to surrender to the hurts of life.

There has to be more. . .

My tears mingled with the bubbles in the sink as words of Michael W. Smith’s  Breathe hung in the atmosphere:  “This is the air I breathe, I’m lost without you; I’m desperate for you”–  jolted me to examine my desperation level.

A desperate squirrel (squirrels are always desperate, aren’t they?) raced up a small tree near my kitchen window. His idea was to jump to the bird feeder about six feet from the tree exactly as he had done the day before.  He didn’t know  the feeder had been moved two feet to prevent that possibility from happening again.

This feisty tree climber recognized something different; you could sense his nervous calculations.  I counted the times he scaled the tree, observed the distance, scampered down, up again, switching to another limb.  He prayed. (You’ve watched a spiritual squirrel stand with folded paws as if praying.) More than a dozen times he made this trip–up, down, more frantic each time.

Then suddenly, he scampered up the tall, stronger trunk in the center.  And jumped . . .

20180412_092656.jpg

Splash! He landed hard on the ground, missing his goal about twelve inches.  Do you think that stopped him?  For an hour he repeated these obsessive climbs and jumps. Each time he fell short. I had to abandon this scene for church, but now more encouraged. If a squirrel can try such an impossible feat-over and over and over, surely I can confidently walk into the NOW.

I can’t give up.

“Listen to my cry for I am in desperate need” – Psalm 142: 6. David encourages us in his transparency before his Lord at a time when he is fearful for his life.  Hiding in a cave from Saul who wants to kill him, David is not ashamed to cry out to the Lord for mercy, for refuge.  I cry, too, before the Lord, trusting that it “is He who knows my way, when my spirit grows faint within me.” (verse 3)

Dark, muddled circumstances of life can blind me momentarily, blocking the sunshine. Hiding the reality of God’s promises.  Sending me to a cave, my prison. It is then I examine my responsibility in this situation of despair. My heart may be breaking, but I, like this determined squirrel, must continually  seek God through the pain.

. . .desperate. . .

. . . you know, I think it is good to be desperate every day for the One  who leads with light and truth. I walked this morning down our country lane (we are living in two worlds currently –one where the squirrel lives and the second one, here with the country road), singing loudly, “this is my Father’s world.  I rest in Him complete.   This is my Father’s world

. . . still desperate. . .

Timothy Keller’s prayer on Psalm 142:  Father, your Son was no Stoic.  He was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.  He was constantly weeping, sighing, and exulting in spirit.  I confess that I either deny my emotions, trying to put on a good front, or let them simply carry me away.  Show me how to bring them honestly, yet submissively to you. Amen (Timothy Keller, The Songs of Jesus, page 353. )

. . . after thought. . . I noticed the grass beneath the feeder was trampled perfectly flat when I returned home Easter Sunday.  How many times had that determined squirrel jumped and failed?  I think he may have bruised himself badly or broken a hip.  He or his two buddies have yet to return to the tree.  Did he give up?   But that’s another blog  🙂

 

 

Posted in early morning thoughts | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

. . .anniversary ramblings. . .

I was 16  . . . going on 17.  “I am going to marry that fella,” I whispered to my friend Rosemary in church the last Sunday in August, 1962.

And so I did.

How did I know this young good looking ‘kid’ wearing a traditional crew cut of the 60’s would indeed be my knight in shining armor. We soon discovered that this was the beginning of a storybook journey . . . a daily adventure walking in step these 54 years.

“If I look for imperfections, I can find them, can’t I?” I asked Tom yesterday when he came into the kitchen where I was painting cabinets. I am a frustrated painter as I agonize over the drips, the tiniest nail holes that must be filled, more rough places to be sanded. I paint and repaint.  Then do it all again.

“Yes, you can.  Look at the whole picture, enjoy the room, just do your best.  This will never be perfect, Barb. There will always be drips to clean up and redo, more sanding to be done.  Don’t focus on the negatives.”

Good words, I mused as I remembered something I had read early morning pondering my blog of the day–wondering how we arrived at this 54 year occasion. Words from an article by Shana Schutte with Focus on the Family seemed to sum up what I had learned very early in marriage.  She was told by her mentor when she began dating a particular guy, “If you focus on all that he is not, you’ll miss what he is.”  (Sort of like the lesson in the kitchen, too 🙂

Early on I just believed that Tom was perfect. No doubts. I was young and immature, right? By the time I understood more of life, a truth dawned. Of course, he wasn’t perfect. But by never focusing on his imperfections, those things he wasn’t,  I did not miss all he was/is. And if I could have changed anything negative, even one tiny thing, he would not have been the Tom I chose. Surely there were times I failed in this, but Tom quickly reminded me–:-)

 

Tom’s first funeral in his pastorate was for a young husband and father of two boys; he had been mowing his yard, went in to rest, and died of a heart attack. Tom has had numerous funerals since that day, but that first one set a tone for our beginning years: I will live and love you today, this NOW.  We may not have tomorrow.

 

Psalm 133 is a beautiful song for marriage.  “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity” (v1). When two walk together, united in tears and laughter, strong against the winds that would destroy and divide, fragrant precious oils fill each space; needed moisture gives relief to the dryness in life.  These verses do not give promise to marriages alone, but this truth is revealed to our communities and the world . . .  as believers  sacrificially and selflessly  live, love and walk together in unity.

And “yes, yes,” I whisper again, “I ‘m going to marry this old man.”

. . . one of my all time favorites about 12 years ago. . .20180313_110438

Posted in Marriage memos | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

. . . barefoot . . .

For as long as I  can remember, a  field of  wildflowers beckons  me to toss my shoes  and . . .run. . . or a string of puddles after a heavy rain is a temptation to run through.

. . . do you remember as a child- running with total abandon?  How free. No thoughts of where, how or when.  You just ran with laughter, with joy.  No destination. You ran with pure joy. . .

. . .  barefoot.  you must be free of shoes to fully enjoy.

Walking and running barefoot seem to be a new ‘in’;  it’s a trendy thing.  Not only can it cause better foot muscle development for children,  it can be beneficial to your heart health and advantageous for joint pain.  Who would have thought? You can read many articles on the benefits of going barefoot from the Huffington Post, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/health-benefits-walking-barefoot_  or https://wellnessmama.com/walkingbarefoot  and others.  Don’t let some of the new-age concepts/words steal possible health benefits and fun of running free.

Image result

So yesterday after all the rains in Middle Tennessee this February month, I did some puddle-jumping!  I ran through our yard full of deep puddles. And I laughed. I wish I could run often through the fields, through the puddles with the wonder of a child–looking for more.   I know it is there-this place of more; it is not disguised or hidden.  But time and toil as an adult rob me of this running, this seeking.

“I run in the path (barefoot) of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32. I sit in the quiet of mornings, my soul bare, ready to run for the more of wonder for this day, this NOW. It is in the freedom of running in His commands that we find the joy, the more of the moment.

The song, “we are standing on holy ground” always finds me with my shoes off.  How can I be here on holy ground with my feet covered in tight leather or canvas?  I think I may go barefoot all the time 🙂

You may not be as childish as I!  But I encourage you to unshod your heart to be totally free and open to NOW.

Running today. . .

. . . barefoot . . .

Continue reading

Posted in early morning thoughts | Tagged , ,

a valentine for you . . . just you . . .

I remember spending hours as a fifth grader sorting through those little packs of Valentine cards, choosing just the right one for a special class mate. It was a long, arduous process.  I had to make sure the card said precisely what it should say to the exact person.  You know. I had to make sure a little boy wouldn’t get the wrong message!!

Then the next morning I was so excited as I dropped the finished cards into a decorated box in my classroom. And waited for all the cards I would receive.

It seems now there is a battle raging in some states to ban such a silly, needless, costly tradition.  After all, it might hurt someone’s feelings if they happened to get a ‘not so special card’ or perhaps, they might not get many.

Memories of that long ago celebration of specialness bring smiles.  I guess I was never traumatized by not getting less than someone or not receiving the prettiest ones. My small decorated paper bag was full and that made me happy.

Today, Valentine’s Day is marketing madness.    (click. . .on Valentine’s

I have a Valentine for you this year.   If this day is one of giving joy and appreciation for a special someone, then let’s imagine that Jesus has given us the greatest Valentine imaginable. Everyone is included; no one is left out.  You and I are the most important person to Him. . .

Image result

photo: crosstheworld.com

For God so loved the world, that he gave His only Son. . .John 3:16

Tonight on this eve of acknowledging those special, lovely people in my life, I am thinking of YOU.  My blog readers are either incredible, love filled memories of my past or lovely present moments of today, and I am grateful for you. I wish for you, first, a day of celebrating the love of the Savior,  and then a time of smiling at how thankful I am for you in my life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments