Monthly Archives: May 2015

The Great Country Caper or the Hundred Acre Rock and Weed Sanctuary

Another memory resurrected.

Laughter: Carbonated Grace

Queen of Manure Tea

I’ve mentioned that my husband and I both grew up in cities and that our move to our own hundred acre paradise was a lot like the old TV series, Green Acres. Dreamer that I am, I had a vision of a bountiful garden, horses, chickens, maybe a cow or two.

My husband did not share this vision.

The kids bought into the animals, but not the garden part. But, by using the art of friendly persuasion, threats and bribes, I got them to all pitch in and with the help of neighbors with a tractor and plow, we put in a half acre garden that first spring living in the wilds.

It turns out that all those delightful forest animals the children enjoyed finding and watching, are not a gardener’s friends. We began to learn the fine art of warring with nature. Reading magazines on being earth…

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Hungers of the Heart by Richard Watts

WHEN LOVE BREAKS THROUGH, WE ARE SUDDENLY ABLE TO ACCEPT OUR WEAKNESSES AND FAULTS WITHOUT COMING UNGLUED.

“Hungers of the Heart” by Richard Watts.

 

Watt quotes David James Duncan, who tells about his search that finally brought him to hollowing out a place in his heart about the size of a thimble. Duncan continues, “When I was twenty, in India one day, I turned to God with embarrassed sincerity and said, ‘ Would you care to fill this little thimble with anything?’ and instantaneously, -almost absurdly really, – an undeniable, unimaginable, indescribable lake of peace and love landed on my head in reply.”

Watts continues: “This experience that Christians call grace breaks into the anxiety, confusion and self-doubt that trouble us and frees us to journey along a path toward becoming a real self. ….It need not be as sudden or dramatic as Duncan’s. We need not be “born again;” we live in God’s grace simply by virtue of having been born. Whether for us a breakthrough comes as we look up to the stars, ponder the mysteries of DNA, find someone who loves us, help heal another’s hurt, take a risk for justice, (recognize our limits and helplessness, hit bottom, are forgiven by someone we have harmed* my additions) the experience of being accepted restores us to our real selves.

The paradox is this: that when love breaks through, we are suddenly able to accept our weakness and faults without coming unglued.

We come to accept that even our best impulses are tainted by self-interest, that we pretend to know more than we really know, and to “have it all together” when we really don’t. We begin to see that our strengths are really also our pitfalls: ambition that enables us to achieve can result in a stunted personal life with little time for love and friendship, the pride that allows us to walk in dignity may also keep us from acknowledging our mistakes; the charm that opens doors for us may lapse into shallowness on which we depend without seeking deepening, growth and newness; the intellect in which we trust may mask a denial of the emotions, which one day erupt in us in discomfiting force. (Our tendency to respond to life emotionally may help us understand and reach out to those who are suffering, but since emotions are short term, we may make our choices based on them with consequences that are destructive in the long run.* my addition )

The wonder of grace is that we are increasingly able to see ourselves as we really are without despair.”

And that is the first step to becoming free to grow and change in ways that give us more balanced, appropriate and grace-filled responses to life.

 

Ode to Those that Climb the Mountains of Disabilities

A granddaughter and a great-grandson graduated from different high schools this weekend.  They each beamed with pride as did I.  It has been a long and arduous journey for both of them.  One suffered the confusion of spoken language that Autism brings and the other the confusion of written language that Dyslexia causes.

They were blessed because they each had caring parents and grand-parents, special teachers and even therapists. But ultimately the challenge was theirs and no one else could do it for them.  They made it because they persevered.

I never was sure that the hours I spent trying to help them made anything easier for them, but it formed a bond for me with them that will always keep them in my heart in a deep tender spot soft from tears unshed and I pray that I will always be in theirs, even when I’m no longer here.

Their journey isn’t over and neither are the challenges they face, but their graduation days mark an accomplishment that few can understand.  Often it has meant struggling with things that seemed simple to others, so their amazing achievements went unnoticed and unsung.  And because their differences set them apart, they often walked alone, unnoticed and unaffirmed.

But those of us that have shared their journey know that while others jumped small hurdles, they climbed mountains to get to the same goals.

We saw and heard the fears, discouragement and frustration they overcame, so we celebrate their achievement as unsung Olympian Medalists in courage, determination and perseverance.

Faith and Reason: Gifts of God

Do not let your reason limit your faith, but also do not let your faith limit your reason. God gave us both to use in an ongoing, open-ended dialogue. It is hubris to think we know enough to limit any possibilities. But it is total rejection of the gift God gave us, as those made in His image and likeness, to not use our intellect to explore His creation and to grow in our understanding and appreciation of it and Him.

Empathy vs Lack of Borders

One of the struggles in life is discerning the fine line between empathy and lack of borders. Some of us seem to be born without borders.

That often leads us to acts of kindness, but it can also simply overwhelm us from needlessly taking on everyone else’s pain.  If we can’t find a way to separate their suffering from our own, we may reach the point where we finally begin to avoid even loved ones who are suffering.

Empathy allows us to understand their pain and comfort them with that understanding, but doesn’t require us to take it on.  Empathy frees us to care without judgment. It is a paradox that part of becoming whole is developing a sense of self independent of others, while recognizing that we are all of equal value in God’s eyes.

Jesus both suffered and died for us. He knew the pain of being human:  the emotional pain of rejection, abandonment, being a victim, humiliation, experiencing failure, physical pain from torture and a painful dying. He lived in our humanity and walked in our broken world. He saved us from the permanence of death, but not from suffering. He said, “Pick up your cross and follow me.”

He didn’t say, “Here’s your get out of suffering free card. But neither did he say, “Carry everyone else’s cross.” Even though there are moments, when like Simon of Cyrene, we can help others carry theirs, we are not called to take on theirs, only our own custom made one. Suffering just comes with being human though our choices can increase our personal suffering.

Sometimes, after I have repeatedly and futilely tried to save someone I love from the consequences of their bad choices, I begin to avoid that person.  I need to escape both my own addiction to playing  savior and the overload of their pain on top of my own.

My challenges are: to accept suffering as part of becoming whole, to develop a sense of self as separate from even those I love, yet to recognize that we are all one in God’s eyes, and finally, to fully accept that removing the consequences of another’s self-destructive patterns of behavior simply rewards and reinforces it.

We can comfort and love others without judging, but we can’t save them. They may need healing or even deliverance which takes repentance and grace. Ultimately those are between them and God.

Does God Still Speak to Us?

My husband is a very good man. But he didn’t really “get” my kind of relationship with God. To him God was a judge, not a friend. Religion was about following the rules. As long as your “do right” list was longer than your “do wrong” list, you’d be okay.
But he sometimes envied me for my sense of God’s presence and the joy I experienced because of it.
So one day as he was driving to work, he decided to pray. He said, “God, Eileen says you talk to us if we listen. I’m listening. Say something.”
At that very moment he heard a siren and saw a blue light flashing in his rear view mirror. Then the policeman pulled him over for speeding. As the policeman took his license and went back to his car to write out the ticket, Julian thought, “Oh, boy. I can’t wait to tell Eileen about this answer.”
Then the policeman came back to him and said, “Mr. Norman, I am going to tear up your ticket. You were going forty-three in a thirty miles per hour zone, but while I was writing your ticket almost every car that went by here was going as fast or faster than you were. Try to be more careful from now on.” And with that he tore up the ticket.
Julian is a visual concrete thinker, not a words or theory person. What a perfect concrete visual illustration this was of the Scripture in Romans 3:23
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But they are now being justified by his free grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ.”
Thanks to Jesus Christ, God tears up our ticket.

However we came to God, we have each in our own way given our lives to him. But I’m afraid that when I told God to take my life and make me into the person he wanted me to be, I was sort of hoping it was going to be the kind of person I wished I could be. Like maybe, thin. Thin is good. And certainly confident, instead of a wus. But God seems to have his own priorities and so far thin and confident don’t seem to be on his agenda.
Because of my preconceived ideas, I think I often miss what he is trying to do in my life. But there are some experiences that even I recognize as answers to that prayer.
When our five children were still young, my father-in-law gave us a side of beef for Christmas each year. One year we had friends who were starting a new business. They had seven children and money was in short supply. So, we decided to share some of our beef with them. I loaded a basket with hamburger, pot roasts, short ribs and even a couple of round steaks. But every time I started to reach for the sirloins and rib-eyes and T bones. I drew my hand back. I dearly love steak and there were many years in my life when I couldn’t afford the good ones. I rationalized that with seven children steaks just weren’t practical. The other cuts would stretch further. So I didn’t share any of the expensive steaks.
The very next weekend we were getting a work related free stay in one of the cabins Julian had designed for a State Park. I left the garage door up about a foot, so the cat could come and go to get his food and get out of the rain. When we returned two days later, all seemed to be just as we had left it, until I went to the upright freezer in the garage to get some meat for dinner.
The bottom two shelves, where all the expensive steaks had been, were completely empty. Everything else was still there.
Believe me. I got the message: Share your best, not just the things you value least.
I asked God’s forgiveness, but also admitted that I would really, really like to know how He did it.
A couple of days later, a neighbor who lived a block downstream on the creek that ran through our back yard, told me excitedly about all the mysterious steaks her dogs were happily devouring in her yard. She exclaimed in dismay, “My dogs are eating sirloins that I can’t even afford.”
Later that same day my next door neighbor casually mentioned that Michelle, the three year old from across the street, had been playing in our yard and crawling in and out of the garage while we were gone.
Evidently frozen steaks make great boats to sail on a creek and only the expensive ones were in her reach.
I was so relieved that she hadn’t gotten trapped in the freezer, that I no longer begrudged anybody, even the dogs, the best steaks.
Some years later the nuns at the rural school where I taught protested that I needn’t have given them such nice steaks in their Christmas basket. Hamburger would have been fine. I assured them that I really did need to give them some steaks with their hamburger.
Sometimes it takes more than just Scripture for me to get the message.
.

immortality

we all cling to the hope
we can pass it on
leave something behind
whatever it is we value
or even just a whiff
of ashes riding the wind

it doesn’t really matter
we don’t just disappear
we split into a million
imperceptible shooting stars
faster than the speed of light
bouncing back off
the edges of the universe….

what a ride!

The Power Of A Single Step

Read and remember, all my grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Morning Story and Dilbert

Morning Story and Dilbert Vintage Dilbert
May 4, 1994

He possessed a five-day supply of food, a Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress- his two treasures, a small ax for protection, and a blanket. With these, Legson Kayira eagerly set out on the journey of his life. He was going to walk from his tribal village in Nyasaland, north across the wilderness of East Africa, 3000 miles to Cairo, where he would board a ship to America to get a college education.

It was October 1958. Legson was sixteen or seventeen, his mother wasn’t sure. His parents didn’t know exactly where America was or how far. But they reluctantly gave their blessing to his journey.

To Legson, it was a journey derived from a dream – that fueled his determination to get an education. He wanted to be like his hero, Abraham Lincoln, who had risen from poverty to become an American president, then fought tirelessly…

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