Feeding the wolf

Sunday sermon 7.11.20

The story is told of an elder Cherokee man telling his grandson of the battle that goes on inside of every person. He said there are two wolves battling.

One is evil- it represents anger, envy, jealousy, regret, arrogance, self pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

One is good – representing joy, peace, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

After hearing about the battling wolves within, the grandson asked his Grandfather, “Which one wins?”

“The one you feed”, was the response.

Consider that for a moment in regards to your soul and spirit. Which one wins with more frequency in your life? Your soul or your spirit.

The one you feed, is still true.

Our soul is who we are; our mind, emotions and will. Our spirit is the home for God’s spirit and makes contact with God.

We find ourselves living between these two howling wolves. The soulish one, where we live according to our emotions, fears, understanding, senses and reasoning; and the call of the spirit man urging us to line ourselves up to God’s Word and standard.

The Apostle Paul states it this way,

I do not understand what I do. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Romans 7:15-16

Yet, he also challenges us in Galatians 5 –

So I say, walk by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (soul). For the flesh desires what is contrary to the spirit, and the spirit what is contrary to the flesh.”

Galatians 5:16-17

The one you feed will grow, become stronger and influence your decisions and take over your life. It will become the lens through which you see everything, including your abilities, dreams and purpose.

My heart has been crying out lately for people to arise and feed their spirit.

Your spirit is yearning for food. Crying out like that musical, “Feed me, (Seymour)”. Your spirit needs nourishment. What are you feeding it? Is it starving?

For some that means beginning at step one and igniting your spirit by allowing God to make it alive by being saved, reborn.

Others will need to spend more time in the Word, prayer, study, outreach. Some need to shake off the passiveness and and extend the kingdom more assertive and boldly in their lives.

There are those who need to make some things right, get things in order, deal with issues truthfully.

As you feed your spirit, you are actually cutting off those soulish desires, habits, and thoughts, shutting down those out of control emotions. And, your hungry lil spirit man is enlarging.

If you’re looking for a great spiritual meal right now, you may want to spend some time in Romans 8 and Galatians 5. Then take whatever steps you need to each day to intentionally feed and grow your spirit.

Pray, read, talk with others, study, reach out, help others – these are all healthy ways to feed your starving spirit.

You will find new strength, insight, passion, purpose, faith, and boldness as your spirit grows and your emotions are trained.

In your howling battle within, which wolf is being fed?

Cheers to you.

Musings on Moving

Everything in the universe is moving. It never stops.

Everything is moving because there are forces at work causing that movement; forces like gravity and electromagnetism. If there were no forces at work, there would be no motion.

The Earth itself moves through space at a rate of 30/km sec. In the time it takes you to read this sentence, it will have moved 450 km- about the width of Ohio.

Earth spins on its axis at a rate of 1,000 mph, and a jumbo jet moves at 500 mph, about half as fast as Earth spins.

Movement is fundamental to life. We move our bodies to express wants, needs, emotions, thoughts and ideas. How well we move and how much we move determines how well we engage with the world.

We are advised, for the benefit of our own health, to develop a body that moves well. Our bodies are designed for movement and we must defeat the sedentary life.

Sir Issac himself, three centuries ago, submitted 3 revolutionary ideas about the laws of motion, which as we now know are the foundation of modern physics.

Remember these?

  • Things cannot start, stop, or change directions by themselves
  • When a constant force acts on a massive body it causes it to accelerate
  • For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

I hope I haven’t lost your attention … but this moving issue is vital to us. Let’s look at these life lessons we can glean from the facts I’ve shared above:

  • Movement is a constant in life. Things will move, change, rearrange, and relocate. Embrace it. Move with it. Adjust. Be fluid & flexible.
  • There are forces at work causing the movement. Some you support, others you don’t; pick your battles and fight courageously. Not all forces are good.
  • In the big picture, the speed of the movement isn’t the priority, it is that the movement is actually happening, albeit, often apparently slow.
  • We were designed to move and engage the world. You can and do impact, by your motions, those around you.
  • If you are an object at rest, a greater force will definitely act upon you to get you to move.
  • Don’t be surprised if your motion accelerates, that’s good! It means a constant force is acting on you!
  • Expect opposition and resistance when you move out, move on and move in. Newton told us about that too.

We need to understand, the world will not stop moving/changing. If the Earth stopped moving, the atmosphere would still be in motion at Earth’s rotational speed of 1,000 mph and the trees, soil, rocks, buildings, even your dog, would be swept into the atmosphere.

Movement/moving, changing position or thoughts over time is part of life. It will not stop.

As you feel the world swirl around you and whirlwinds blow past you, know that there is a Greater Force acting and willing to act on your behalf.

Learn to move with that Greater Force and keep on accelerating.

Cheers to you.

When all is stripped away

What do you have?

When the accolades, excesses, superficial and shallow are gone, what remains? When the cupboards are bare, the accounts low, and energy depleted, what is left?

What is it that is important? Is it things, memories, accumulations, accomplishments or status? Maybe deeds, holdings, achievements or awards?

When all is stripped away, what matters most and still stands, and will always stand?

What values do you hold true to? What characteristics do you cherish, honor and hold in high esteem? What truths are immutable? What ideas are solid yet evolving?

Who are you, deep inside, when all is stripped away?

Who are we as a society, when all is stripped away?

This is your bedrock. This is our bedrock.

Bedrock = the lowest point; solid rock underlying surface materials; fundamental, basic or relaible

What is it that can never be taken away from you? Your family?

What is it that cannot be taken away from your community, your nation?

Now is the time to see very clearly what is important, valuable, worth fighting for and burning at our core of who we are.

Remove the filters, reduce it all to the basic common denominator, and stand strong and unapologetically for those very values, ideals, truths!

If you do not, you, your family, your community and your nation may very well change forever into a place that you no longer recognize, prize, or desire.

When all is stripped away, I want to stand proud and unashamed for the principles, characteristics, morals, ideals and mores that I am built upon. When all is stripped away there are “these truths” that I hold as self-evident and I will not compromise them. No matter what. And I will not allow anyone to rip them away from me.

When all is stripped away, I will answer to the One who made me for who I am and what I did with what He gave me. And I will stand proud upon those things of eternal value.

When all is stripped away, what about you? Who are you? What do you stand for? What is important you you? What remains of value?

Cheers to you.

Acknowledgement

Can you recall a time when you were totally ignored? Have you ever worked for a boss who was sparse, rare or void of positive recognition? When was the last time you walked into a small shop having not received eye contact or a welcome from the worker? Who were you speaking to last when they skipped right over your feelings and emotions and went straight into “fix it” mode?

How did these scenarios make you feel?

Contrast them and the feelings they evoke with that of the Zulu’s, who’s most common greeting is, “SAWUBONA“, which translated means, “We See You“. (My husband and I experienced this first-hand when we had the privilege of spending time in Kenya and Tanzania.)

The greeting “Sawubona” represents the Zulu communities philosophy of seeing each other fully, not with just visual intake but with value and acceptance. Their seeing includes not just the person, but their gods and ancestors. The Zulu realize the need to see each other slowly and as they are. They have prioritized how to feel and listen to others.

After being greeted by “Sawubona”, the response usually is, “Shikoba” which means, “I exist for you”. Wow! What acknowledgement!

This is more than an exchange of greetings or pleasantries, it represnets a deep-seeded value for the community that says, you matter to us, we totally accept you, and trust you. It symbolizes the importance of directing attention to another person and embracing their soul.

Sawubona reminds them to see the other person as they are and pay attention to them.

The Zulu believe fellow humans exist only if others see and accept them.

In our Western society, we have missed this. We greet one another with, “How are you?”, and barely listen for a response. We fail to see each other slowly. Most of the time we fail to acknowledge one another as we should.

This word acknowledge/acknowledgement has been powerful to me of late; both in its possibilities and its cost.

With its absence comes a cost. When we fail to acknowledge people, when we ignore them, don’t listen to them, fail to recognize them, we devalue them. We are saying you don’t matter to me, and they hear I don’t matter at all.

When we acknowledge people, look them in the eye and give them our presence, we are valuing them and assuring them that their life counts, what they have to say is important.

In your family, haven’t you seen this? The simple act of acknowledging a loved ones’ feelings, position, or emotions yields great reward, for understanding begins to flourish because acceptance and recognition has been granted. Both parties have SEEN the other. Both parties have given and received.

When we allow someone to be fully seen, we are giving them a magnificent gift of being who they are, without fear or hiding. Yet, we too are receiving a gift, the existence of another valuable child of God.

The gift of presence, acknowledgment, recognition, Sawubona, is a gift we all have the power to give. It can and will change lives, one person at a time. It can and will validate, and strengthen relationships as well as defuse, and neutralize jealousy, envy and other damaging emotions.

Who doesn’t feel encouraged, accepted, and better understood when someone acknowledges them? It gives energy, purpose and resolve to keep on working, and not give up. It helps us to feel validation although agreement may not have been reached. Acknowledgement empowers.

Those sound like things that we all want. Don’t they?

Give (acknowledgement) and you shall receive.

Cheers to you.

The Heart of the Father

Sunday Sermon 6.20.20

Everyone of us have at least one thing in common and that simple truth is we each have a biological father.

That father, his presence or absence, strengths and weaknesses; all he is and all he is not, have shaped our thoughts, ideas, expectations, confidence, predictions, trust and image of what fatherhood is and what fathers do.

In addition to the biological father, some have had the imprint of another father (or fathers). Other men, who have impacted the views, feelings, impressions and perspectives of how a father acts, speaks, relates, teaches, and loves.

Our family, that sacred place where fatherhood is modeled, is the seed bed for how we see, relate to, respect, fear, honor, and love our father. In our families we learn to anticipate with joy our father’s presence, dread and fear his presence or any number of measurable feelings in between.

Fatherhood affects childhood outcomes from infancy to adulthood; including physical, emotional, academic, social and behavioral outcomes.

Along with those outcomes, consider these statistics:

  • Father involvement using authoritative parenting with loving and clear boundaries and expectations leads to better outcomes in every way for children.
  • Children who feel close to their father are twice as likely to find stable employment after high school, less likely to have teen birth, less likely to spend time in jail, and half as likely to experience depression
  • The quality of father-child relationship matters more than the specific amount of hours spent together
  • High levels of father involvement correlate to higher levels of sociability, confidence, and self-control
  • Children with actively involved fathers are more likely to earn A’s in school, and less likely to repeat a grade in school
  • 24.7 million children live absent their biological father
  • 39% of students grades 1-12 live in homes absent their biological fathers
  • more than 1 in 4 children live without a father in their home

And of course there are the statistics regarding fatherhood from the National Fatherhood Initiative that state, children without fathers in the home are:

  • 4 x greater risk of poverty
  • 7 x more likely to become pregnant
  • more likely to have behavioral prpblems
  • 2 x greater risk of infant morality
  • more likely to commit a crime
  • more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol
  • 2 x more likely to suffer obesity
  • 2 x more likely to drop out of high school

Fathers are vitally important and how we view our father has impacted how we view our Heavenly Father. We see God, our Heavenly Father through the lens of our childhood/adolescent father awareness. Good, bad, ugly, right, wrong, our image of God has been shaped by our father image.

There is no judgment or comparison here, simply a statement of facts. That image has shaped how we see God as our Father.

But here are some valuable truths that reveal what our Heavenly Father is truly like, what his character truly is and what makes his heart pound. In Luke 15, we find these awesome insights into the Father’s heart and we see how he responded to his son:

  • when insulted and humiliated, he still distributed the inheritance to his younger son
  • his son took all and left
  • his son wasted his $$ on reckless living
  • his son was totally spent, empty and hungry
  • his son became desperate
  • in humiliation, the son wound up homeless, in a pig pen
  • alone and abandoned the son came to his senses
  • the son considered the servants at his dad’s place
  • he desired to return home as a servant and practiced his speech to dad
  • he admitted he was wrong
  • he set out to return home dirty, debased and unworthy

The Father’s reception:

  • from a long distance the father saw the son coming down the road (he was actually waiting for him to return and looking anxiously for him – after a long time)
  • with great compassion – he saw his son dressed as a beggar, but returning
  • the father raced out to meet the son, swept him up in his arms, hugged and kissed him in tender love
  • as the son started his speech, the father interrupted him and said, “Son, you’re home now”.
  • the father called for the servants to bring his very own robe and placed it on his son
  • then he called for the family ring and placed it on his finger (this allowed the son to conduct family business)
  • he then called for shoes to be placed on the sons feet (slaves went barefoot, but not his son!)
  • the son was home, now it was time to celebrate
  • a feast was prepared and celebrating began
  • the father’s heart was bursting with pride, happiness and love for his beloved son who was once dead was know was alive!

You see, the father’s heart is one of unconditional love. Always believing, hoping, loving. It is everlasting and unrelenting. The father’s heart hears our cries. The father’s heart is full of pride. The father’s heart has a plan for us. The father’s heart will provide and care for us. The father’s heart will protect us.

Your Heavenly Father is: loving, kind, compassionate, giving, faithful, merciful, strong, forgiving, good, righteousness, caring, sovereign, shepherd, ever-present, refuge, gracious, healer, powerful, one who saves, helper, and makes all things new. (I have verses for each of these if you want them.)

Our Heavenly Father shows pity, shows mercy, chastens whom he loves, loves us and is not only just but justifies us.

Our Heavenly Father gives life, loves his children, protects, provides, teaches and trains his children.

There is no man on the planet that can come close to modeling your Heavenly Father, but Jesus. But then, he wasn’t from this planet, was he?

So whether your father was a saint or a sinner, we can give thanks, this Father’s Day, for a Heavenly Father who loves us perfectly, unconditionally, and with all of his heart. He receives us, welcomes us, rejoices with us, forgives us, and celebrates with us.

God is love.

Abba Father = Daddy God, Happy Father’s Day.

Cheers to you.

Time to Move

It’s that time again. It’s time for us to move.

no dinner guests in this dining room!

My husband and I, as empty nesters, have been considering downsizing (again) for a while, and are feeling now is the right time.

That is pretty much all that is certain at this point. We feel it is time to move, so we have begun packing and all that it involves. To date, we are still uncertain exactly where, but know it is in the area and hopefully by the end of the month.

Movement is a fundamental aspect of life. It requires action and affects everything. And I do mean everything, including our circulation, digestion, metabolism and even immunity. Movement even helps the body regulate hormones, detoxify and respire! So movement is good for you, me. (I need to keep chanting this to myself during this crazy time!)

Movement, whether it be daily activity, a change in position or ideas, or change in place of residence or employment has undeniable value.

I would like to offer these 5 points that I have been impressed with during our moving time. They apply not only to residence changes, but movement in our thoughts, positions, policies, and priorities. For your consideration, they are:

1. Realize it is time to move – It is important to admit when it is time to move on from the situation you are in. Realize it is time to get out. It is time to let go. It is time to move ahead. Until you can do this, you are stuck!

2. Move to – where? You may not have the specifics immediately, but having a general idea the direction that you want to move is vital. Continue your due diligence, and continue to pack while it becomes clear. You are moving and are preparing while you wait for all the details to become clear, not sitting around twiddling your fingers waiting for more information. Move on. Move forward.

3. Pack: keep or toss – The labor intensive part of moving is packing and with it the emotional wear of the constant decisions of what to keep and what to toss. It is physically grueling to load into boxes your life and all it’s precious possessions and it is emotionally taxing to let go of those things that once held prime space in your memories. How do you detach, let go of those precious memories? Throw away? Are you kidding?!!!! Some things just must go.

4. How to release? Where and how do you let go of those priceless memories? They can’t just be thrown away? (Actually, some can and should and will be). What about the others? To whom should I donate them? Share them? There are things you should share with others – give them away to your friends, family. It is time. Do it. There are other things, that should be donated. Find your charity, there are plenty, fill up the car, or have a pick up. Let it go. Release it, all. Give generously.

5. Support – It is really tough to do a move totally on your own strength. A support team is tremendously helpful. Whether it be a realtor, moving company, friends with trucks and strong backs, or helpful family members; you need support to move. Period. A major life decision like relocating, will impact you for sure in every way, but it will be with less stress if you have the proper support around you. So too with change in our thoughts and attitudes. We need support.

I challenge you, whether or not you are physically moving, to consider these 5 points. How? Why? In what way?

We as people are changing, moving forward in our ideas; personal, spiritual, and political. In what ways do you need to consider or apply these 5 points to your spiritual ideas? Personal ideas? Political ideas?

What ideas need to change? What will be your new stance? What needs to be tossed out completely or kept and edited? Where should the old idea(s) go? What support is around you to help you continue walking in your new found idea, perspective?

Let’s move on in our lives. Let’s not be trapped in a clutter of old ways and routines. It’s time to move. Pack up or discard the old and move into a brand new way of thinking, living, speaking, and being.

Is it time for you to move on in some way? Think seriously about it.

Cheers to moving.

What Do You See?

Sunday Sermon 6.13.20

Look at the image. What do you see?

Look at our nation, what do you see?

I’d like to suggest when looking at the events and happenings within our nation that you consider the opposite of what you see, as truth. What do I mean?

First, we must establish that the prince of this world is the devil. His is the spirit that rules this world and is at work in it. Ephesians 2:2; John 14:30; John 12:31; John 16:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4

Jesus nailed it strongly, when he said to his audience, in John 8-

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

John 8:44

What do you see in the image above? A man? The word Liar?

What do you see in the nation? Lies from the chief liar, father of lies – the devil. All counterfeits and polluted truths stolen from our Heavenly Father. Now, what do I mean?

Just take a look at some of the things that have been imposed upon us or spoken and see the truth that is being lied about, polluted or counterfeited:

  • Lie – cover your mouth and face. Truth – this is the Hebrew year 5780, the year of the voice. Speaking out, openly.
  • Lie – lawlessness in the streets. Truth – God is bringing His Kingdom rule and order. He is the Prince of Peace.
  • Lie – lockdown and stay at home. Truth – go, share, tell, save.
  • Lie – close houses of worship. Truth – where 2 or 3 are gathered, there He is!
  • Lie – don’t hug, touch, socialize. Truth – there is power in love, hugs and human contact.
  • Lie – division. Truth – we are all made in His image.
  • Lie – I can’t breath, the life is being squeezed from us. Truth – Jesus came to bring abundant life.
  • Lie – death and destruction. Truth – resurrection life and power through Him.
  • Lie – no large gatherings. – Truth – this year many Gospel stadium rallies were planned worldwide.
  • Lie – no graduations, weddings, parties at all. Truth – He rejoices with those who are celebrating and wants us to be happy and joyous.

Getting the idea?

You can look at what is happening in the political and social world and very often see it as a counterfeit or pollution of God’s truth. That is because the prince of this world is a liar. He only knows how to lie, counterfeit, pollute, destroy, offer fake, bring delusion, destroy, steal and kill.

Apply this filter when you hear and see things and see if it doesn’t ring true. You will be amazed. Think opposites. Think opposite of what you are seeing. Discern between truth and lies.

Then remind yourself that there is One who is over, in everyway, the prince of this world and That One has conquered the prince. I once heard a pastor say, “The devil walks around like a roaring lion. But he doesn’t have any teeth, he can only roar at you but not bite you because Jesus defeated him on the cross. Jesus knocked all his teeth out.” 1 Peter 5:8

The devil is a deceiver, Revelation 12:9, and he wants to make us think his power is great; when in fact it is a LIE! He is a liar.

God, the Father, sent His only Son, Jesus to earth, to conquer sin and death. Jesus then, disarmed those spiritual powers and authorities and made a public spectacle of them by his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection, triumphing over them. Colossians 2:15

He (Jesus) is the TRUE power of this world. He reigns over every principality, authority, spirit, prince, and lie of the devil.

Jesus said, “I am the way the TRUTH and the life.” John 14:6

When faced with lies remember who’s behind them. Remember where truth comes from. Look for those opposites and flip the lies on their ear with your truth crowbar.

Recognize the liar. See the truth.

What do you see?

Go with God.

Swiped

There’s a lot of swiping going on these days.

Swipe right. Swipe up. Swipe your card here. Swipe at (someone). Swipe out the two. Swiped it from ____. One last swipe of the mop. The cat took a swipe at me. Gently swiped the brush. Etc.

I am so stirred up about us being ripped off! We have been stolen from. So much has been swiped from us.

Yes, it involves the constant swiping of our phones, thumbs and fingers. In those actions, our time and focuses have been and are being robbed at alarming rates and frequency. But there’s so much more than that.

I made a list today of ways in which our lives have been robbed this year. Things that have been swiped from us. See what you can add to this list…

  • open (unmasked) faces
  • smiles
  • free speech
  • social gatherings
  • human interaction
  • business
  • employment
  • education
  • shopping
  • entertainment venues
  • constitutional freedoms
  • personal choice
  • outdoor gatherings
  • religious gatherings
  • celebrations
  • dreams
  • hopes
  • visions
  • health needs
  • family gatherings
  • safe society
  • law enforcement
  • happiness
  • enjoyment
  • growing economy
  • political unity
  • societal harmony
  • patriotism
  • respect
  • honor
  • peace
  • free movement
  • trust
  • American values
  • American freedoms

Geesh! Please add yours. Go ahead, say them out loud.

We have been robbed! We have been ripped off. All these things have been swiped from us!

I am spitting mad! This is enough! No more!

Call me a simple person, but this kind of list does not come from the One who created us, has our best interest at heart, and has plans to prosper us and give us peace. The things on this list are 180 degrees opposite to the loving, caring, satisfying, good, kind, gentle, hopeful, fulfilling, satisfying and rewarding One who is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.

We have got to wake up America! We are under attact! We are in a spiritual warfare! I can no longer sit silent and not address the elephant in the room.

If you have never before engaged in “spiritual warfare”, now is the time! That simply means, we do not address the issues we see with our natural understanding or in our natural ways. WE PRAY! We seek God’s way of dealing with the issue. We commit it to Him, ask for His insight, strength and strategy. Then, we follow his direction.

The things we see happening in our nation, left unaddressed spiritually, will not end well for us or the nation that we love.

Yet, through a nation in prayer, the tide can change, and miracles will happen.

Our Great God, Creator of the Universe WOULD NEVER rip you off, steal from you, rob you or swipe one thing from you, or your future generations. That is NOT who HE is, how He loves, or what His plan is for you.

Please realize that. You are loved. By Him.

I’m so tired of being swiped from! Aren’t you?

Cheers to you.

A Wineskin in Smoke

Imagine, if you will, an ancient Bedouin home, a tent made of black goat’s skin; it is made of coarse, heavy fabric and will protect the family in all seasons. The tent’s shape is somewhat oblong and inside it is divided into 2 or 3 apartments by goat’s hair curtains.

As you enter you proceed into the men’s compartment and also the place of welcoming guests. If you were to walk on, you would enter the quarters for the women and children, which is protected from view from the reception area.

Rugs are covering the grounds, and the bedding and mats are brought out only at night. Around you will see sacks of grain piled up, and over there a mortar and handmill where the grain is pounded.

A hole is dug in the earth where the fire is set and several stones are put around it; this hole is inside the tent. Outside the tent another fire is also prepared.

Hanging from the poles inside the tent you will find skin bags for water, other liquids and even cheese, butter or olive oil.

Let’s look at those bags more closely.

a bottle
or wineskin

These “bottles” were made from the goats skin, dried and tanned, having been cut in the shape of a “bota”, stitched, reversed and sealed.

These Botas (bottles) were valuable to the Bedouins, for they carried life, refreshing, and sustenance on their long days or journeys. They were used and reused and refreshed as needed if they became too hard or brittle. When the bags were empty they would be hung up on the poles inside the tent.

Because the fire was inside the tent, it affected these empty, hanging bags. The bags would loose their elasticity, become dry, brittle, cracked, and eventually covered with black soot from the smoke. This is where the idea for our title comes from, “the wineskin in smoke”, those empty skins that hung inside the tent and exposed to the fire and smoke.

” Though I am like a wineskin in smoke, I do not forget your decrees.”

Israeli Psalm 119:83

If the Bedouin, now in need of a wineskin, took one down to refill it and found it old, cracked, brittle and unable to hold what he needed, the skin would have to be “reconditioned”.

This process included cleaning it, washing off the soot, dust and dirt and soaking it in oil. The wineskin would be soaked in oil until it was rejuvenated to its supple and soft state again, ready to be used for new wine. It was never thrown away, it was reconditioned, or as they called it, made “fresh”. It was the skin that was made fresh, not always the wine.

Throughout history, much has been made about old and new wineskins. Many literary, historical, and biblical lessons and analogies have been taught regarding wineskins.

Most often, we hear of how an old wineskin cannot hold the new wine, because it has become too rigid, and is no longer flexible. So, when the new wine is placed inside, as it ferments and expands it creates pressure inside the old skin , and eventually it will burst the old skin with the new wine being sadly wasted.

New wine, we are told, belongs in new wineskins. But what is really meant is new wine belongs in an old, usable wineskin or a reconditioned wineskin. Bottom line, the bottle, bag, wineskin, or “bota” must be flexible, pliable, soft, soaked, refreshed, rejuvenated, or reconditioned and refreshed.

There are dozens of applications to draw from this story and wineskin picture. My first request is to ask you to receive from it what is meant for you- as the wineskin. Pause now, reread sections, or think about it. What’s in it for you?

What I feel to add is this –

We are living in a time when something new is being birthed. It’s powerful and expanding and we wineskins need to be flixible and not rigid in our handling of “it”. The old ways will not hold the new “thing”.

Wineskins are being filled up with this new wine and more is coming. It is not the time to be empty and hanging in the smoke of the tent all dirty and sooty and rigid, unusable.

Whether it be political, personal or biblical “new wine”, the wineskins must be reconditioned and refreshed to carry and pour out the power of the new wine.

What’s your condition?

Let’s get filled up!

Cheers to you.

Daily Prescription

take one as needed

I have an amazingly effective, and lasting prescription for you today.

It is fast, effective, dependable, and has been scientifically proven to :

  1. Strengthen your immune system
  2. Boost your mood
  3. Diminish pain
  4. Protect from the damaging effects of stress
  5. Lighten burdens
  6. Inspire hope

Other proven effects are: It keeps you grounded, focused and alert. It helps release anger and forgive sooner. It is a resource for surmounting problems. It enhances relationships and it supports physical and emotional health.

Would you like a dose of it right about now? Would you keep this handy, little prescription close at all times and take as needed?

But it even does more! It relaxes the whole body, all muscles for 45 minutes. This prescription also protects the heart and blood vessels, ensuring good blood flow. It even burns calories; not many, but the 40 calories it does burn will add up to 3-4 pounds over a year. And lastly, it prolongs your life.

Best of all it is free!

Have you guessed what it is, this prescription that we so desperately need right now?

All of the above facts come from my research at MAYOCLINIC and HelpGuide.com and is referring to…… drum roll…

Are you ready for this miracle prescription?

LAUGHTER!

A good laugh has the power to heal and renew. Laughter triggers endorphins. Laughter stimulates your organs, soothes tension and brings personal satisfaction. LAUGHTER – the miracle drug. Laughter – the best medicine.

Laughter is NOT contingent upon circumstances. Laughter can be learned and produced. Studies have even proven that simulated laughter (canned laughter) is just as beneficial as live laughter.

To help you laugh, you can surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Put funny pictures, cartoons or memes around your house. You can choose to remember funny events when stress is mounting.

You can seek laughter by spending time with playful, fun people. This is one of the reasons I married my husband, he makes me laugh and even more after 33 years together. We have more stories and things to laugh at now. Sharing laughter with others strengthens connections and benefits all involved.

Then, of course, there is always the internet with YouTube, Social Media, and epic fails everywhere. It only takes a minute to find them and when you do, you’ll get your laughter fix and 45 minutes of muscle relaxing laughter.

Here are a couple to prime your laughter pump. Or at least get out a smile.

wait for it…

Dr. Debbie is hereby prescribing 1-2 daily doses of laughter. Deep belly laughs and laughing tears are extra bonuses.

Laughter is truly the best medicine.

Enjoy your days more with laughter.

Cheers to you.

The Mother’s Matrix

Sunday Sermon 5.9.20

This weekend, for many, we celebrate Mother’s Day, and by just walking into a grocery store we see that is obvious.

But I would like to take this time to drill down into a slice of Mother’s day, that may not be so obvious. It begins with a story.

There was once a woman who found herself surrounded by a disorganized throng of people, pressing in to see Jesus. In the midst of that crowd, she lifted up her voice and yelled out, “Happy and blessed is the womb or matrix that bore, carried you.” Luke 11:27 (I have transliterated this verse according to the original Greek word meanings.)

This crowd scene and the woman’s yelling out a blessing on Jesus’ mother seems kind of crazy, and a strange thing to blurt out in this particular setting. Yet, it’s significance cannot be overstated or lost.

The focus was on blessing the one who gave birth to Jesus. Why?

Let’s review what matrix means –

” Matrix – the environment or material in which something develops.”

Oxford Dictionary

The cry of this text is for us to see that no matter the environment or material of our birth, upbringing and nurture (or lack of it) it is blessed. It is by design. It is by mercy. It is by purpose. It is not by mistake. Everything surrounding your birth was perfectly aligned to bring you into the world into that situation to be and develop into the you that you are today.

It is the mother’s matrix.

Each of us were born into a situation by a mother. Period. We all share that.

It matters not whether the situation was good or bad. Whether we were raised by a present mother or absent mother. Adopted or surrogate mother. Abusive or affectionate mother. Nuclear family. Single parent family. Mixed family. Incestuous family. Imperfect, healthy, godly, evil, rich, or poor, family. Abandoned, embraced, loved, mocked, nurtured or neglected.

The situation into which you were born, by the mother that bore you is blessed. Not because it was a good situation but because that situation and that mother gave birth to YOU! And you were PLANNED.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at some examples of what I am talking about.

  • Eve, in a nuclear family, bore 2 sons who lived in anger and animosity toward one another and the one eventually killed the other. A “perfect family” produced killing.
  • Hagar – in a runaway, abusive family, yet, in her misery bore Ishmael, a great and powerful people
  • Lot’s 2 daughters -an incestuous family, both daughter’s bore sons who became great nations
  • Rebekah, a miracle pregnancy, bore twins boys, Jacob & Esau, who fulfilled God’s promises
  • Israel, who had 4 mothers ( Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah, Rachel) to his 12 children. Talk about a mixed family! With issues galore! And what a blessing came from those 12 kids and their upbringing in that crazy, mixed up family.
  • Elizabeth, a old, barren woman who bore John the Baptist!
  • Pharaoh’s daughter, an adoptive mother, who raised Moses
  • King David’s mother, a scorned and mocked mother who raised her son in shame and ridicule from siblings. (read Psalm 69, it is so sad!) Yet, David became a man after God’s own heart.

There are so many more stories, of other mother’s matrix and the amazing outcomes in spite of, (or shall we say because of ) the environment into which their child(ren) was raised.

Look, too, at the women who actually are listed by name in Jesus’ genealogy, which generally lists only men – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary.

You see, the situation into which you were born, and the woman who bore you are blessed. Without that environment or building material for the structure of your life, you wouldn’t be the person you are now. Let’s be real, there are probably things we wished would have been different, perhaps a lot of things and maybe even everything. But that would truly change who we are.

There is nothing that cannot be healed, used, strengthened, improved upon and built on in our past. There is nothing that is useless or wasted. We are all still in process on this road of life and the broken pieces are being mended. We are being made whole.

But this weekend, I truly would love for you to be encouraged that although imperfect, you are exactly who God designed you to be. He has used everything in your past, including your mother, and that situation to mold you and bless you.

That is why, I believe the story we started with, in Luke 11 is there. To make obvious to us, this slice of the Mother’s Martix.

So I will say to YOU, Blessed and happy is the womb or matrix that bore YOU, for it made you the remarkable human that you are today. You are blessed!

Cheers you, and your mother.

Using your religious liberty

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people to peacefully assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Constitution of the United States, Amendment I

We have no state religion mandated, nor should we have, and that was the desire and intentions of our founding fathers. They saw the damage it had done in the nations they left, which were cause and reason for their Atlantic crossings. At the core of most hearts who came, was the desire for religious liberty. Which included the liberty to be non-religious.

THAT is the foundation upon which our nation was built, regardless of how the history books have been rewritten to exclude the Puritans and Pilgrims.

Fact is fact. Erasing it from the page doesn’t change the fact, it changes people’s remembrance of the fact, or more accurately lack of remembrance of the true facts. And that’s what is being sought.

Did you know when the US Capitol Visitor Center was built in 2008, all references to God were removed from pictures, signs, and all else. The national motto, “In God We Trust” was removed and replaced with “E Pluribus Unum” – out of many one. Speeches were scrubbed, chairs and walls changed, and bibles removed. The Visitor Center was literally stripped clean of any references to any deity.

It was done to supposedly keep with Thomas Jefferson’s “separation clause” – you know, the one that he (supposedly) wrote separating church and state. (Even that is historian’s seeking to erase the facts, because that is not what Jefferson wrote at all in his letter to Danbury Baptist Assoc., in 1802.)

The Visitor Center designers were seeking to erase our foundations and build new memories into future generations. Memories that are devoid of God and His providence in America’s founding.

Have the facts changed though? No.

What has changed is us. Those of us who know the facts.

My favorite Reagan quote is –

Freedom is a fragile thing and never is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

President Ronald Reagan January 5, 1967

We have taken our liberties and freedoms for granted.

Having lost some of them in the recent months, we now see that more clearly than ever.

But the facts have not changed. We have liberties and freedoms and we must not allow them to be whittled away, or erased from memory. And yet, remember this quote?

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Edmund Burke, 1770

In this new decade, even amidst a devolving pandemic, I urge you to not be that good man who does nothing.

Be a defender of our rights, a preserver of our freedoms from extinction. We have many to defend.

Why not start now?

Start with prayer. Prayer for yourself, prayer for your family, prayer for your neighbors and friends. Prayer for this pandemic to lift, for businesses to reopen, the sick to be healed, workers to be strengthened. Pray for spiritual awakening in our nation, for freedom and justice to prevail, for truth to be upheld. Pray for God to forgive and bless America.

Tomorrow, Thursday, May 7, 2020 is the National Day of Prayer, but it doesn’t have to be, nor should it be a single day.

It is not a constitutional violation to have a day of prayer, quite the contrary. It is the exercise of your religious liberty.

Let’s exercise those religious liberties, lest we loose them.

Cheers to you.

Corroded connections

Recently I was tootling around our harbor in the dinghy, on which we are currently using a MinnKota, Riptide 45V electric, trolling motor. I love this motor because it is lite enough for me to lift in and out and it is so amazingly quiet.

cheers

I am never in the dinghy for power or speed and so I usually have her revved to only 3rd or 4th gear. But on this day, I cranked her up to her full-out, 5th gear, only to have the motor totally cut out. It wouldn’t restart, either.

Now I am thinking how glad I am that I put the paddles in the dinghy before I launched. So I used the paddle (s) to return to my dock.

Once there, I played around with the connectors from the motor to the battery and got her running again. So off I went. Again. In my mind though, I decided not go to 5th gear anymore on this trip. Solved.

Well, to finish the story, it was solved, for that trip. I had no further outages, but I also didn’t have the full strength of my motor or battery available. (Note to self, be sure and discuss this with husband.)

Well, today was the true problem solving day.

The terminals on the battery had to be cleaned from a build up of corrosion. I guess the battery’s acid was reacting with the saltwater causing that yellowish, electrochemical reaction. That “corrosion can interfere with the battery terminals ability to conduct power and in some cases can completely block the flow.” Autoblog.com.

Silicones Inc. tells us that corrosion, “Is a natural process that involves deterioration of metals because of its reaction with the environment.” It can drain the battery, and even shorten it’s life.

corroded connections. not mine!

It is interesting to note that “corrosion”, a Latin word, actually means, ” to gnaw through”.

Far more than sharing a Science lesson or a personal story, I’d like to share 6 applications and analogies.

1. Connections are vital for life – no matter who locks you down or what restrictions are placed on you, without connections to others, you will loose power and die out. Stay connected to other people.

2. Environmental reactions – the people in your close family/work environment will cause reactions in you, and you will cause reactions in them, especially over long periods of time. Be aware.

3. Unhealthy connections – when things build up between you and those you are connected to, it must be cleaned up or you are draining the power of your relationship. Notice & deal with it early.

4. Corrosion – those reactions, not cleaned up, will gnaw through your mind, heart and eventually the connection to the other person if left alone. Gnawing feelings are corrosive.

5. Clean connections take time – the time and effort it takes to apply some cleaning compound (honesty, love, forgiveness) to that connection is minimal and yet mandatory for you to run at full-power, 5th gear capacity in your relationships. Take the time.

6. 5th gear living – you were designed to run at full throttle, full power, abundant life. Don’t settle for less by choice or by corrosion on your connections with others. Let’s go.

For most of us humans, being boxed up as we have has probably caused some electrochemical, corrosive reactions within our walls. Perhaps we have even noticed we haven’t been running at full power, or ability.

The good news is, we know what to do now to get back to full power and lite, quiet running.

Check for corroded connections.

Cheers to you.

Hope deferred

Sunday Sermon 5.3.20

” Hope deferred makes the heart sick”

Proverbs 13:12 NIV

This phrase/verse has been weighing heavily on my heart lately.

” When hope’s dream seems to drag on and on, the delay can be depressing.”

Proverbs 13:12 The Passion Translation

The loss of hope is debilitating. Paralyzing. Depressing for sure. Today, we want to talk about the importance of hope and offer you some solid examples of those who had hope in difficult situations.

A study of the original Hebrew words used in this passage from Proverbs would reveal that this is a much better transliteration of Proverbs 13:12:

” When a prophetic vision or expectation from the Lord is delayed, prolonged or removed; feelings, will, and intellect are all worn down, and worn out, making one sick and weak.”

Proverbs 13:12 original Hebrew meaning

You see, when hope is removed from the equation, our mind, will and intellect become worn out and weak.

Let’s be honest, it has been really tough to watch the news and read the latest reports without emotions rising up within us. Each day we hear restriction updates, business expectations, state revisions, financial concerns and add the family realities chiming in, we are definitely being worn out and rubbed down by the news.

Just today, I had to cancel our flight and accommodation reservations to Honolulu in mid-May for our son’s wedding! Vacations are being cancelled or postponed, graduations are not receiving the honor they are due, workers are still unemployed, travel has been suspended, schools have been closed and morphed into online, distance education, church meetings are virtual, gatherings are forbidden and freedoms have been handcuffed.

Hope has definitely been deferred!

Today, I’d like to submit to you stories of people who also faced a deferment of hope so that “hopefully” we can be encouraged and keep us from allowing our will, feelings and intellect from becoming “sick”.

Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman (Psychology.com) tells us from his studies, that hope is a “cognitive motivational system.” It starts in the emotions and follows to the cognitions (mind). Lord knows, our emotions have been stirred enough and pressed upon enough to affect our thinking. Right?

But your hope, is more than a cognitive or emotional reaction.

Dr. Jerome Groopman, in his book, “The Anatomy of Hope”, tells us that belief and expectation are key elements of hope and they can block pain by releasing endorphins and enkephalins because they act like morphine in the brain and body.

So hope, in and of itself, has a powerful effect in the human body, mind, intellect and emotions. And hope triggers a virtuous cycle.

We are told that there are 4 types of hope. Let’s look at each of those and then look at those stories of biblical characters who demonstrated that kind of hope. Ready?

These are the four types of hope that psychologists say we have:

  • 1. Realistic
  • 2. Utopian
  • 3. Chosen
  • 4. Transcendent

In reality, if we are struggling with having hope, who cares that there are four kinds??! But here goes, anyway.

1. Realistic hope – this is the hope that says in a cancer situation, if we take these meds it will help. It is realistic in and about the situation.

Abraham and Sarah, in Genesis 15 were given a promise of a son of blessing and yet 60, 70, 80 years passes before Isaac, that son of promise was born.

They lived a normal family life for years with that hope and without it’s fulfillment. They tried to hurry the hope and Ishmael was born, but he wasn’t the son of promise. The hope of a son of promise had been rubbed down and worn out as Ishmael grew to the age of 13. Their hearts could haven been sick. Their hope could have escaped.

And yet, in Romans it says in chapter 4, verse 18, ” Against all odds, when it looked hopeless, Abraham believed the promise and expected God to fulfill it. He took God at His word…”. Hope was deferred for at least 13 and maybe 60 years, and yet Abraham and Sarah had hope in the God of their circumstances. They were realistic in their circumstances.

2. Utopian hope – is a collective hope, negating the present and driven for a better future.

Joshua and Caleb, in the book of Joshua would be a great dipiction of this type of hope. They held out for the collective victory of Israel and their entering Canaan for 40 years. Do you think that after 40 years of hoping, they may have been a little worn down? A little heart sick? Was their hope deferred? You betcha!

Yet, after a 40 year wait, their hope was strong and Caleb said, “So here I am today, 85 years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle as I was then. Now give me this hill country…” Joshua 14:10-12 NIV

Joshua and Caleb hung onto the Utopian hope of a better future of fulfillment for Israel.

3. Chosen hope – chosen hope helps us live in a difficult, present situation with an uncertain future. It helps us to regulate negative emotions.

Joseph, in Genesis 37, who dreamed at age 17 of his brothers bowing before him, had that dream burning in his heart and thoughts for 13 years! In those 13 years he was betrayed and sold as a slave by his brothers. Imprisoned in Pharaoh’s palace, yet favored and set as a leader there. Falsely accused of sexual assault, thrown into prison again. Joseph’s dream, still burning in his heart, fighting off deferment sickness, he hoped until he finally became the Prime Minister. And then, his brothers came and bowed down before him. His chosen hope was finally fulfilled.

David, at a young age of probably 15, was anointed to be the next King of Israel. (1Samuel 16) That anointing, held him and his hope, through so many discouraging circumstances. He was literally searched for as an enemy of the king and his life was in danger, sought after, and chased down for 15 years. He did not become king until he was 30 years old. 15 years of hoping… 15 years of deferment. Yet he chose to “be strong and hope in the Lord.” Psalms 31:24

4. Transcendent hope – a general hopefulness that something good can happen.

Romans 8:28 – In all things, God works for the good of those who love him…

Psalm 38:15 – Lord, I hope in you

Lamentations 3:21 – This I recall to mind, thereore have I hope

These verses are just a few of the many we are given assuring us that something good will happen to those who put their hope in the Lord.

Yet, the best example of transcendent hope would be Jesus, the epitome of transcendent hope. His hope was fixed not on the now, but on the future… “Who for the joy set before him endured the cross..”. Hebrews. 12:2

And yet, even Jesus hoped. As a 12 year old kid, stumping the Rabbi’s until he entered his ministry in AD 26, he hoped. He hoped as he called the disciples and built the Kingdom of God inside them. He hoped as he taught the crowds, healed the sick, and raised the dead. He hoped in the garden of Gethsemane and he hoped hanging on the cross. He hoped in that empty tomb, he hoped as he ascended from that hill.

He hoped for them, he hoped for us, that we would hope without growing weak, tired, worn out or rubbed thin. He hoped that we would hope in Him, His promises and His Word.

Jesus’ hope transcended every limit.

Our hope can be secure like these heroes of hope, when it is anchored to God’s promises, (Hebrews, 1 Peter, Acts 26), when it is anchored to Jesus (1Timothy. 1:1), and when it is anchored to the Word. (Romans 15:4.)

Those three, God’s promises, Jesus, and The Word of God make for us a three-fold cord, that will not be easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12) When our hope is built upon these, we are anchored, secure with an UNSWERVING HOPE. No matter the length of wait, wearing, or rubbing.

When our hope is anchored in Jesus, His Word and His promises we are secure. Our mind, emotions, will and intellect are strong and stable. We are not sickly. Our hope is in Him and our emotions will follow our will.

That kind of hope motivates. That kind of hope is congious. That type of hope can be learned. That type of hope is healthy and promotes healthy behaviors.

Hope deferred does NOT have to make your heart sick when it is anchored God’s promises.

But if it does, please allow Abraham, Sarah, Joshua, Caleb, Joseph and even Hannah, Simeon, Anna to encourage you to not allow the constant rubbing away of freedoms & strength in your situation to make you sick, weak, and depressed.

Hope deferred, may make the heart sick, but may it not be your heart, because you are anchored into Jesus, His Word and His promises.

Blessings.

Two words to chew on

I just can’t shake these two words that have been rolling through my mind, heart, and spirit for sometime. They’ve been simmering there and over time have thickened and come to just below a boil. Now is the time to take them off the heat and share their nutritional value with you.

#1 Movement

Or more precisely, overcoming inactivity, staleness, laziness, idleness.

Movement – changing physical location or position.

Dictionary.com

Movement is so important to our body for so many reasons. It affects everything – our circulation, digestion, our metabolism and even our immunity. When we move, our bodies regulate our hormones, detoxify our blood stream and clear and strengthen our respiration. Daily movement stimulates our brain and neurons and thus boost healing and immunity. (oh my goodness do I see spiritual applications in all of these)

We have all been affected in one way or another by the restrictions placed on us by this virus and governmental authorities. But that is no excuse for any of us to become idle, inactive, lazy or stale in any way. We must move.

We must war against laziness and idleness that would seek to rob us of what our body requires, and our spirit desires.

We must beware of hours lost to swiping, video/TV/movie watching, or sitting or laying around – even reading.

Movement is vital for life, growth, health and even feelings of self esteem, value and worth. Who hasn’t felt terrible about “wasting a whole afternoon” doing “nothing”?

The key here is to MAKE TIME TO MOVE. Schedule it. Make it happen. If you’re one that has a watch that tells you to move, then listen to it and move when it reminds you. (Don’t just ignore it or turn it off.)

(Just today, I had to kick myself in the rear and make myself get outside and take a long walk. My desk had become a cement block around my feet, brain and spirit.)

Movement – your body and brain will thank you.

#2 Fruitfulness

The season of bearing fruit, showing evidence of what’s been planted.

” Fruitfulness – the fact that something produces good results”

Cambridge Dictionary

Many of us live in urban areas and loose site of the seasons of fruitfulness and harvest, unless we go into the market’s produce section. Yet, we still can see fruit growing on a tree and understand that tree is being fruitful.

each of these I took while out walking

Fruitfulness demonstrates for all what has been planted. It reveals the results of what has been going on underneath the surface; what seeds have been germinating, sprouting and now are blooming. Fruitfulness is show and tell time.

Seeds that are planted are programmed to be fruitful and will produce their fruit given the correct exposure to water, light and soil conditions. It sorta happens naturally, by their design. Plant an apple seed – get apples. Plant lemons – get lemons. Fruitfulness displays good results.

I once taught a lesson called, “When you’re squeezed, what comes out?”. This again, makes the point that whatever is planted within us, will eventually bear fruit in our life.

During this time, what has been planted in our lives is coming out. The seeds that have been sown into our hearts and thoughts are bearing fruit in our words and actions. The germinating process is now giving way to fruit dangling from our lives. (Side note, are you proud of what’s coming out, your fruit?)

Fruitfulness – seeing the results of what’s been planted in your life.

” Me thinks that the minute my legs begin to move my thoughts begin to flow, as if I had given vent to the stream at the lower end and consequently new fountains flowed into it at the upper.”

Henry David Thoreau

Perhaps there is a link you are seeing between these two words? Perhaps not.

I hope you too will allow these two words to simmer in your heart and mind. Let them reach that gentle roll of bubbles and then take from them anything you find nutritious.

At the very least, there’s something for you to chew on.

Cheers to you.

Giving Tuesday

May 5, 2020

In this crazy world that we’re all dealing with, where we are looking for reasons to smile again, may I suggest – GIVING.

You know, looking for and planning opportunities to give. You can give things like time, goods, talents, strength, kindness, abilities and yes, money. You can give hope, happiness, a meal, thanks, letters, notes.

As a kid we loved receiving gifts but as we grow we discover the joy of giving – seeing some’s face when they open or receive a gift we gave is tremendously satisfying and rewarding. We actually made them smile, happy. Wow. What a thrill. And we too, are smiling now.

Giving makes us happier than receiving. But it also: helps others, makes a difference, cultivates self-worth, teaches responsibility, inspires giving and is easy.

Winston Churchhill said, ” We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. “

There’s lots of research to support these statements and the feelings we get when we give. Let me just share a couple statements:

  • Our brains are hard-wired to serve. Giving activates the brains prefrontal cortex. When we place the interests of others above our own, our brain lights up.
  • When we help others, there is a “helpers high” or euphoric feeling that we receive that makes us stronger and more energetic.
  • Helping others is a door through which one can go to forget oneself.

I’ll tell you what, I could stand to forget myself and my circumstances for a while. How ’bout you? Looking for more energy? Perhaps the helpers high will help.

I had planned on writing about serving/giving for this blog. And then I stumbled upon this movement called

It’s a global generosity movement, with special emphasis this year on helping during the Coronavirus Pandemic. It is scheduled for next Tuesday, May 5, 2020.

On this day, people are encouraged to simply help others, to give of yourself in someway. Here are some ideas:

  • pay for a meal
  • express thanks (words, cards or signs) to first responders
  • express thanks (words, cards, or signs) to medical professionals
  • express thanks to “essential workers”
  • make a donation to a food pantry
  • help serve at a food bank
  • write letters to troops
  • do chalk art on sidewalks
  • paint rocks and leave them around town
  • make a poster to hang outside your home
I actually saw this on my walk a few days ago

Would you consider getting involved? Would you think about what you could do that would lift up someone else and bring a smile to their face(s)?

I really can think of no better door to go through to forget about myself for a while. And I’m in. The world needs a smile and so do I. Plus, my brain could use a good lighting up too.

Let’s do this. Let’s surprise someone.

Think. Plan. Gather materials. Do. Give.

Check out more at http://www.GivingTuesday.org and share it on social media with #GivingTuesday. You can even post a pic with hashtag #UNselfie and share what you did and why.

Cheers to you.

Are you hurting? Do you feel great?

Sunday Sermon 4.26.20

Which ever side of the coin you find yourself on today, I have some solid advice and encouragement for you. But first, let me share a story.

Years ago, I was teaching in Pasadena, CA and at the time had to drive between 2 campuses during my day. On one particular day, while driving to the second campus, when passing through a quiet intersection, I was broadsided, driver side, driver door, by a Cadillac. I didn’t see it coming and when I did, it was pretty much at impact. All I had time to do was yell out in prayer, “JESUS!?!” – which I did. I don’t remember anything after that.

Witnessses say they saw my car flip over and fly through the air, landing on its roof. When they ran to find me, I was upside-down, in-shock, but very much alive. When I was removed from the car by first responders, witnesses told them there’s no way I should be alive because by what they observed, I should be a mangled wreck with severely damanged bones and organs.

I was not. I was taken by ambulance to hospital, treated for mild bruises, scratches and shock and released that same day.

I was definitely hurting, though. So, “Yes” would’ve been my answer to the title of this blog.

The only thing I could do and had time to do is let out that one word cry for help – “JESUS ! “.

The Bible says, in Ephesians 6:18 – ” Pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” NIV

In James 5:13 – ” Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing.” The Message Paraphrase

Whether it is a one word prayer of desperation, a 15 minute prayer time in the car for your family/job, or a passionate request for help and wisdom- we are told to pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers. They all count! No matter the length or position, if offered in faith they are heard.

Prayer changes us and often changes things. It is true. Prayer allows us to approach God with our requests and leave them in his care. Leaving it there with Him and trusting that He will take care of us and the request is often harder than praying itself. Right?

To that point – Not too long ago our son had planned an extensive backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail. For over a year he was thorough and a bit obsessive in his preparation for this huge trip. He had done his best and the day to begin had now, finally arrived.

My husband and I had been praying for him nearly daily for that year. No kidding. This was a ginormous undertaking and we were not without our concerns. So when that day came, and we took him to Yosemite to camp for the night and set out the next morning, we were doing our best to trust the Lord and leave it in his hands. That was hard. This was to be a 2-3 week hike of 221 miles!

Talk about all kinds of prayers. Our prayers then were not not one word prayers. This was pouring out petitions on a regular basis. Asking, seeking and knocking and then repeat – keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.

In Luke 18:1, Jesus tells the disciples “they should always pray and not give up.” NIV

Here’s a verse you can easily memorize, “Pray continually.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV

Some prayers require persistence, not giving up, or loosing hope.

Prayer is simple yet hard. When you’re hurting, pray. When you’re stressed pray. When you’re alone pray. Pray in every situation, every day, with every attitude, circumstance and battle raging. Pray with one word prayers, and extended, passionate cries. Pray.

Are you hurting? Pray.

Choose to pray. It is a choice made in advance of everything else. It is a decision made before the hurt, stress, lonliness. It is an act of the will, your will. And it will change you and may even change the situation too.

people who say they pray

Let’s increase that stat that says 55% of adults say they pray daily. Not just for numbers sake either, but because prayer changes us. Learning to pray with regularity changes us. That’s why we want to pray.

Now to the second part of this blog title – Do you feel great? (And I hope you do.)

Let’s go back to James 5:13 ” Do you feel great? SING” The Message

I love this! I love music too. That is why it is so wonderful to hear scripture encourage us to sing. Music and singing should naturally flow from a full, happy, content, joyous heart. So if you’re feeling great, PUMP IT UP. SING IT OUT. CRANK UP THE VOLUME.

Matter of fact, singing changes your brain. Seriously. According to an article in TIME’s, Life and Style section, “Singing Changes Your Brain” by Stacy Horn, 2013 –

“Researchers are beginning to discover that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.”

Whether it’s from those endorphins that bring pleasure to the brain or the oxytocin that relieves anxiety and stress; singing regularly contributes to quality of life. Even if you are a bad singer!

Psalms 47:6 – ” Sing … sing… sing… sing…” NIV

Singing however, is also a choice, a decision, an act of the will, and it is not dependent on a happy heart. It is always nice when the heart is happy and a song flows naturally from it. But, a song can also be sung by decision, in spite of circumstances.

Choosing to sing in spite of surroundings still releases those hormones on the brain and the same soothing, perfect tranquilizer effects occur. So SING.

Do you feel great? Sing.

With these two simple tools, Pray and Sing, one in each hand, all day, every day, we can face and conquer whatever the day brings, for in our hands we hold two very powerful weapons.

Have a wonderful week, and I wish I could hear you singing it LOUD and proud.

Blessings.

Bioluminescent Waves

Bioluminesence on full display

Please take 13 seconds and look at this very cool and rare video

These lit up waves are the product of “red tide” and it indicates an algal bloom. It happens at sunset during these blooms by photoplankton releasing biochemical light. But not just phytoplankton release it, so do fireflies and deep sea fishes.

Bioluminescent tides are rare, red by day and blue by the darkness of night.

I remember being in Catalina sometime ago, and we were atop a hill on a night hike overlooking the ocean and shoreline. That is when I first saw the bioluminescence of those photoplankton as they lit up the shoreline.

It is a stunning display, almost eerie because you are surrounded by darkness yet you are seeing a brilliant blue-white light from the waves. then the waves crash and light is disperses.

At almost the same time these waves were on display on land, in Newport Beach, CA, the same skies were lit up as well. It is the season of the Lyrid meteor showers. In April, every year, around the 21st, these showers are seen in the dark skies and are also a stunning sight.

My son and I set our alarms many years ago to go out and watch them. (I don’t remember how many we saw, I just remember the alarm part.)

These lights show up yearly, yet still only in complete darkness.

The simple and encouraging pivot here, to me is this –

Each of us have been entrusted with a light. A light of hope, a light of positivity, a light of faith, a light that burns deep within us. It’s illuminated our own private lives, attitudes, needs, and even brought beauty and stunning vibrance to us, individually, and privately.

We are currently surrounded by dark times. Darkness has replaced many once well lit places. Darkness has replaced hope, faith, and even tried to extinguished our little light. (I hear a song in my head we sang as a kids…)

But I am here to tell you, it’s time to SHINE. It’s time to allow what’s been blooming within you – your algal bloom – to break forth on the shores of your life and spread beauty, light, hope and awe to those you touch. (metaphorically speaking, of course. )

YOU ARE THE LIGHT, you are the living organism that carries that biochemical emission of light into the darkness and hopeless areas of your family, your city your sphere of influence.

You are that meteor of blazing light, hope, strength, soaring through the darkness, bringing hope and illuminating the foreboding skies.

It’s time to SHINE dear friends.

No longer consider the smallness of your light or it’s lack of wattage. In dark times, the smallest of lights brings illumination and dispels the darkness wherever that light burns.

So burn dear friends. Let your light shine. Illuminate the dark skies and shores and bring beauty, hope, awe and calm to every onlooker.

Your world needs your light now more than ever.

Cheers to you.

Low tide

A few days ago, I went to Doheny State Beach, where this is what I saw.

What you’re looking at is the lowest tide I have EVER seen at this or any beach! I went to take pictures of the waves crashing on the shoreline (for a video I was making) and couldn’t even take them or shoot the video because the tide was so low.

there they are, the waves crashing waaaaaay out there

It seriously made me wonder if a tsunami was brewing, cuz, you’ll remember the tide goes out before the tsunami crashes. But no tsunami, thankfully.

Still I was left to wonder, why such low tide? Exceedingly low tide!

Going back to 6th grade Earth Science class you’ll recall that tides are caused by the moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth. These pulls cause bulges on Earth’s oceans. One bulge facing the moon and the other on the opposite side of Earth, away from the moon.

Every day (actually 24 hours and 50 minutes), there 2 high tides and 2 low tides.

Earth’s bulges, high tides. Low tides are on top and bottom of Earth in this graphic.

When I returned home from my low tide experience, I read an article that declared The Thames River as being “liquid history”, because at low tide “the Thames becomes the largest open air archaeological site in London.”

At low tide, the Thames River reveals all sorts of things. Coins, keys, clay pipes, love tokens and thimbles to name a few.

In Oregon, low tide reveals “Ghost Forest” – the ancient remains of a forest that is now small stumps. Low tides in Oregon also reveal Sujameco shipwreck, wreckage from a 1929, 324 ft. steamship.

Ghost Forest
Sujameco shipwreck

In England, there is a castle (of course there is!) called St. Michael’s Mount that has been there since 495. But for much of the year it is inaccesssable, EXCEPT for at LOW TIDE when a pathway is revealed briefly, until the tide covers it again.

St. Michael’s Mount.
Can you swim?
or just wait ’til low tide

This last one is my favorite!

In South Korea, about 5 hours from the capital of Seoul, 1.8 miles off of the coast is an island called Jindo Island. For 1 hour, 2 to 3 times a year, low tide reveals a 1.8 mile path from Jindo Island to Modo Island.

Jindo’s Miracle Sea Road Festival

Even though I haven’t told stories about animals here, I am going to allow my inner Aesop to come out.

High tides cover things. Low tides reveal things

Let’s start with the high tides of life. When our lives are full, to the max, sufficient – we tend to cover over or cover up what’s hidden below; the small things, lost things, broken things. Things like old habits and patterns. They can’t be seen and are therefore often ignored and not addressed.

How about the low tides of life. Times of want, lack, or emptiness tend to expose what’s underneath, and inside of us. Low tides are low times and are very revealing. They expose our foundation and reveal the bottom line of our life.

However, let’s take this point too. Hidden below those low tides could be brand new discoveries. Brand new ways, roads or paths even. Things we never knew were there. Ways we never thought of before.

And remember St. Michael Mount and Jindo Island – the new ways, paths will only be revealed for a brief period before they are covered over again. Low tides are temporary, but can be very revealing.

Sometimes it takes low tides in our life to reveal something better and expose hazards.

Cheers to you.

Birth Pangs

This will be the first of a weekly series, that I feel impressed to share called “Sunday Sermons”. It will be intentionally Biblical and decidedly spiritual in nature, meant to feed your Spirit.

I trust you will find nourishment and encouragement by it and will check in each Sunday.

Sunday Sermon 4/19/20

Romans 8:18-28

The Apostle Paul, the guy who once tried to kill Christians, imprison them, torture them and stop their preaching of “The Way”, has had an about face, and is now just as fervent in his defense of “The Way” and in his efforts to spread its message.

He is speaking here, at the height of the Roman Empire to believers, mostly Gentiles (like me, not Jewish), who live in Rome and are trying to make their way through persecution, misunderstanding, strong secular influences and crazy heresies. (weird and false teachings).

It is in this context that he says:

“I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs.” v. 18, 22 The Message paraphrase

Birth pangs? What?

He was saying, the signs they were seeing were actually birth signs. Signs of birthing, signs of new life forming and getting ready to burst forth. Just like a pregnant Mom, facing labor pains before the birth of that precious new life.

He was encouraging them, that hey, what you’re going through now, the pain, uncomfortableness, the stretching, etc. is nothing compared to what is coming! I promise you. It will be worth it. Hang in there. Then he says –

But it’s not only around us; it’s within is. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs.” v. 22-23 The Message

Not only is something getting ready to burst forth in their present hard times, but something within them was being formed and it was about to burst forth too.

He identified it as a spiritual life being formed in them. The Spirit of God was actually forming new life in them. Awakening them, arousing them, stretching them, preparing them as individuals to bring forth this new life. What they were feeling was the preparatory birth pangs of what the Spirit had been developing in them and was nearly ready to deliver.

“Waiting does not diminish us… We are enlarged in the waiting. We don’t see what’s enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” v. 24-25 The Message

Here they were in the midst of hard times and pain themselves, carrying something inside of them, planted by the Spirit, that was growing and enlarging within them. As their wait increased, so did their growth and in kind, so did their expectancy of what would be birthed.

They were seeing within them, something of a spiritual dimension growing, increasing, enlarging and becoming bigger and bigger. As they saw it inside of them, their own excitement of what they were becoming grew! Their expectancy too was growing.

” The moment we get tired of waiting, God’s Spirit is right there alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us.” v. 26-27 The Message

Just like that weary Mom, after nine looong months of carrying that bundle of life grows weary in the wait – so too do the believers. But God’s promise here is that His Spirit, will be right there, helping them along as the birthing coach, even praying for them and helping them to pray!

Today, I see a tremendous similarity between those Roman believers and me and you. I hear Paul’s message to them, being perfectly suited for us. Don’t you?

Here are the take aways.

There’s no doubt the times we are living in are painful and there is suffering. It’s not good, but it will bring about good. They are birth pangs, signs that something new is about to burst forth in our world, across the globe.

And not just in the world/society – BUT IN YOU. The Spirit of God is growing inside of you, enlarging inside of you. Stretching you, preparing in you new Spiritual life, strength, vibrance, depth, and reality. The Spirit of God is growing inside of you and is about to burst forth from you.

It matters little where you’ve come from spiritually, whether this is old news or new news to you. What matters is that you are carrying a Spiritual seed that is growing inside of you.

Let it grow. Enlarge you, arouse you. Feel it kick inside you. Recognize the labor pangs.

And let your expectancy arise, for soon, the life of the Spirit will burst forth from you.

Birth pangs mean the time is near.

Get ready!

Life without…

It wasn’t until I was working as Chaplain at LA County Women’s Jail, that I became aware of LWOP. Life WithOut the Possibility of Parole. It was a dreaded sentence to receive and I spent many a weekend traveling to Merced, to visit with women who had received such a sentence and were truly without much hope.

LWOP

They would NEVER, ever in their life, no matter their age, see anything but the inside of those prison walls and cells. NEVER. AND, they would NEVER see their families, friends, or loved ones unless they were allowed visitation rights and passed all security screenings. Then only inside of a very pubic and guarded room with dozens of others, and in most cases, without any physical contact allowed.

They would NEVER again go anywhere they wanted. NEVER eat what they wanted. NEVER shop for what they wished. NEVER again dress as they chose. NEVER be able to speak to whom they wanted. NEVER again work at the place of their choosing. NEVER drive a car. NEVER poop or pee in private. NEVER own what they wanted. Oh my goodness, I could go on and on and on. It was a grim and dreaded sentence and life. Life without…

To many, these days in which we live have been and are becoming a dreaded sentence. LIFE WITHOUT…

You fill in the blank. Life without__________

You could probably go on and on too. Life without freedoms… to shop, to work, eat out, to gather, visit, socialize, to go to church, baseball games, concerts… life without income…life without is grim you say. And no one in their right mind would disagree with you. It is not an easy sentence.

But as I sit at my comfortable desk, and look out a dirty window, I still see the sun. (So glad it’s not raining today.) I see blue sky. I can actually go outside and feel the wind on my face, blowing my hair and feel the heat of the sun on my skin.

Within in my house, my fridge is full, as are my cupboards and pantry. (Thanks to my husband who always goes above and beyond in providing for our family.) Our bills are paid. We are not in debt or headed there. Our children are healthy, secure, and being provided for.

Our closets are full. Cars running. (well, one out of two ain’t bad.) We live in a home, not on the street or in a cell with another person. We enjoy the privacy of the bathroom and shower anytime we choose. (unless you count Gunner breaking in occasionally.)

Do we have it all? No. Do we need it all? No. Are we really doing life without? I would answer, “No”.

Have we had to GO without? Yes. Is it easy? No, but it’s not as hard as we make it sound either. For us, it mostly amounts to more inconveniences than anything else.

We are retired. Yes. So our income is not dependent on our ability to earn. I get it. We are blessed. I get it. Not everyone is in the same place. I get it.

But what I also get is this – I don’t believe any of us are truly doing life without what is really important. We may be “going without”, but it is temporary. Although we don’t know the end date, we know there will be one. It is temporary. It is not, NEVER.

It is not LWOP. Life without the possibility of parole.

It is life, temporarily without…

So, yes, Sister, perspective does matter. 🙂

Cheers to you.

Debbie’s Parable of the Weeds

For weeks now, every time I sit down at our kitchen table and look out the window, these weeds are all I see. And they’re not really in our backyard. They are just beyond our retaining wall. But they are oh, so ugly, and now so blooming tall!

I actually didn’t even notice them for a while, we were keeping the curtains closed during the cold and rainy weeks. Then, when we opened the curtains, I still didn’t notice them, cuz they were of course smaller. But now, and for the last couple of weeks they are so obvious. I must do something about them.

Today was the day of their doom.

die sucker! got your roots, too!

Weeds you know, are not intentionally sown, they grow where they’re not wanted, and grow automatically. They are considered opportunistic and will grow in any moist soil, tiny crack or thin layer of turf. “Weeds are competitive, persistent and interfere negatively with human activity.” (Dwight Ligenfelter, Dept. of Agronomy Penn State)

Weeds choke out life, rob soil and other plants of important nutrients, water and sunlight. Weeds are plants whose undesirable qualities outweigh the desirable qualities.

Farmers have said that weeds left unchecked can cut the harvest 40-60%.

So BAM! Away with them! Up from the roots they go. Bye, Bye Bye. (hear NSYNC in background)

Have you picked up any symbolism here?

Weeds are the things in our life that keep us from being productive. Things that steal away the important from us. Distractions that eat up our vital nutrients and exposure to light. Weeds are the things that make us unfruitful. Often too, weeds are a sign of neglect and perhaps even laziness.

If I think of weeds as distractions that keep me away from what is important, then the top of my weed list is my phone. Although I use it for everything and a lot of it is needed, useful, and good, not all of the swipes are, nor all the time on it is. It does distract me, steal my focus and eat up valuable time.

I don’t want the weeds in my life to be left unnoticed or unchecked but I want them UPROOTED! I am seeking a productive life, not overgrown with nonessentials and harvest hinderers.

I’m choosing to uproot and remove those pesky distractions before they flower and produce more seeds! I’m also searching for those dormant weeds in the soil of my heart, those that have been there for years to get rid of them, at the root.

GONE! Roots and all

I am only interested in good fruit from my life and want to prune away the small, insignificant, and barren branches. I want to feed the good and healthy and keep distractions from choking off their continued health and growth.

Because weeds grow so fast, pro gardeners recommend pulling weeds weekly. I’m in, I’m game. I know I need it. And, there’s such great joy that comes after you spend time in the garden, weeding, cleaning and pruning. Then you wash it all down, and sit back and enjoy it with a tall, cool glass.

I trust that you will join me in uprooting any unnecessary distractions in your life so that you, too, may be 100% productive.

“Weeds are stubborn. Weeds are independent. Weeds aren’t tolerated.” Marty Rubin

Cheers to you.

Incomprehensible

It all started with a discussion about the size of 2.2 trillion (dollars).

While listening to and trying to digest it all, I realized, I had no real understanding of the number 1 trillion. Much less 2.2 trillion. So I did what every serious scholar and academically driven researcher does, I googled it. 🙂

After much mind numbing reading about zeros, exponents, and viewing diagrams of stacking bills on pallets, here are my 2 take aways:

1. If you spent $1,000 a day, it would take you 2.7 million years to spend 1 trillion dollars. And you would still have lots left over!

2. If you stacked $100. bills to equal 1 trillion, the stack would be 789 miles high. That is equal to 144 Mount Everest’s stacked on top of each other.

Bottom line for my mind, a trillion is incomprehensible.

But it really got me thinking about other things that are incomprehensible.

The universe, for example.

part of our universe. we’re in there somewhere

Scientists don’t even use the term universe. It’s been more accurately described as the “observable universe” because there is more than what we actually see. It’s size, they say, is 93 million light years in diameter. (For those that slept through Science class, remember, a light year is the distance light travels in a year or about 10 trillion km! (Really 9,500,000,000,000 km!) There’s that trillion again… Incomprehensible!

We live in a galaxy we know as The Milky Way. And to us, it’s really big. But geesh, we live on ONE of it’s 4 arms, called Orion, in a system called The Solar System, on a planet called Earth, on a continent called North America, nation called America, state called _____, county called _____ , city called _____, on a street called _____, and finally to OUR house at _____ . The size of all that is incomprehensible.

Consider too, our galaxy is but one of 350 billion large galaxies in the Milky Way! It houses 30 billion -trillion stars. (30,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.) To put this in perspective, if you were to go out of the city and look into the sky, you would maybe see 2,500 stars. But there are actually 80 million times MORE STARS in the Milky Way and beyond.

There are actually 28 times more stars in the galaxy than the 7.2 billion people on the Earth. Another comparison, there are 1 billion cars on Earth – for every car there are 200 galaxies in the observable universe. Plus, there are 40 billion, Earth sized planets that could sustain human life. (Maybe we’re NOT alone in the universe???)

these are galaxies

Again, all of these numbers are incomprehensible! My brain hurts.

One last incomprehensible thing for you to think about.

GOD’S LOVE

The very Creator, who made all those galaxies, stars, planets, universe, both observable and beyond; the One who gives man the ability to deal with trillions of dollars and understand what he is doing; that God – LOVES YOU and me. I’m floored that he even notices us, with how small and insignificant we are compared to the details of a universe. But he does notice us, knows us and loves us. THAT is unfathomable, inscrutable, and yes, incomprehensible.

” …I pray that you be able to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…”

The Apostle Paul

Other writers have described God’s love this way:

  • everlasting
  • caring
  • slow to anger
  • never ending
  • affectionate
  • will never leave you alone
  • no barrier can separate us from God’s love

God’s love for us is so unimaginable, incomprehensible that He sent His only Son into the world, that we might have life through him, who was our sacrifice. I John 4:9-10

Jesus coming to Earth was a demonstration of God’s love for us. Jesus’ living here and brutal death on the cross was a demonstration of God’s incomprehensible love for us. Who would do that?

The suffering Jesus endured before crucifixion and later suffocating as he hung on that cross was pure and simple torture! It is incomprehensible.

When you have time, check out this video I made, about just that. (9 minutes)

Jesus’ crucifixion

God knows you, everything about you; strengths, weaknesses, good, bad, likes, dislikes, ups and down – AND HE LOVES YOU. Without measure, everlasting, carefully, caring, patiently, completely and unconditional. THAT blows my mind and is truly incomprehensible.

So, this weekend, as we celebrate Easter, I hope that you will celebrate the incomprehensible love that God demonstrated for you by sending Jesus to Earth; who lived, died and returned to life after three days! Who spent 40 days after the resurrection on Earth, was seen by over 500 people and after that was taken back up to heaven, (which was also witnessed by hundreds) where He is to this day.

Yet, to those who trust in Him, He comes to reside in their hearts as well.

Talk about incomprehensible???? My brain is exploding but my heart is overwhelming with gratitude.

Have a Happy Easter, because YOU ARE LOVED BY OUR IMCOMPREHENSIBLE GOD.

Cheers to you.

Standing at the hinge of history

I actually had no intention of writing this blog on this topic, but as the prophet of old has said,

” But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore…”, his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”

Jeremiah 20:9

So here goes…

I cannot express the depth of the urgency I feel inside about the spiritual mandate upon us, our nation, for this next week in our history. This week, I believe is a turning point – HINGE – in our history.

What happens this next week, will mark forever how our history plays out.

I cannot escape this, I cannot downplay it. I cannot soften it. And I am not seeking to instill fear or have you consider me a weirdo-fanatic of some kind. It is burning in my heart like a fire and must be shared. That is my job. Results are not.

What happens this next week?

I beleive totally in the timing of God. All things are in his time and controlled according to his timetable. This has always been, through the ages – a meticulously designed series of events involving nations, people, kings and leaders has been woven and played out.

This week, starting today, is the start of “Holy Week”. Today peoples from all over the world celebrate Palm Sunday, the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey as they proclaimed him “King!”.

On this day as well, in 1270 BCE, Joshua and the Israelites had just successfully crossed the Jordan River, perched and almost ready to enter Canaan. But first, after 40 years of disregarding this covenant sign, there had to be a mass circumcision.

Tuesday, in Jewish tradion, is the “Formal Search for Chametz”, leading up to Passover on Thursday.

This search for chametz is when they thoroughly clean their homes of any and all leaven. All products containing leaven are burnt, sold or stored away in a special container. The understanding is not only diligently searching for that hidden leaven but diligently searching their hearts for hidden sins, pride, and hypocricy. Cleaning their heart of these things so they can enjoy The Passover.

Wednesday is The Fast of the Firstborn for the Jews and Christians celebrate Holy Wednesday, the day Jesus was betrayed by Judas.

Thursday is the first day of Passover. It is also known as Maundy Thursday, the day Christians celebrate Jesus’ Last Supper, or the day Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples. Passover is when the Jews remember the miraculous deliverance from Egypt and the plagues, including the Death angel passing over them because of the blood of the lamb on their doorpost.

Thursday, of this week also marks the 40th day of a 40 day global fast that was called last year. It began March 1 and ends April 9. A fast that hundreds of thousands of people all over the globe have committed to. A fast who’s goal was to bring worldwide awakening in the spirit realm and turning of hearts to Jesus and His kingdom. (My husband and I have been so blessed to be able to join with those throngs. )

Friday, we know is Good Friday. The day when we remember Jesus’ horrible beatings, mockings, and crucifixion. The day the world turned dark, the Earth shook, the veil was torn and graves were opened. The day he was sealed in a tomb and attended by the Roman guard. The day the disciples fled away in fear.

Friday night passed. Saturday passed. But Sunday arrived! And with it the resurrection of Jesus, triumphant over death and the grave! Easter Sunday. Resurrection Day!

Please understand, the convergence of all of these events we’ve listed WITH the coronavirus pandemic and its astronomical effects are not by accident. Fears, ilnesses, deaths, fatigue, shut downs, economic collapse, loss of education, celebrations, freedoms, relationships, hope…

They are by design. God’s divine timing. We are standing at the hinge of history.

I believe what we personally do this next week will not only impact our lives for good but more widely impact our nation for good. This is the fire in my bones. This is the call to action for each and every one of us.

  • Where do we need to allow Jesus to enter our lives, ways, thoughts? Where do we need to declare his victory and not our own? What needs to be cut away from our life?
  • What “leaven” – hidden (or open) sins need to be found and discarded from our lives?
  • How can our communion with the Divine be closer and more intimate? How can we feed that spirit?
  • What does that resurrection power look like in my life? in my family? my city? my state? my nation? How can it arrest the dark plague that has gripped us?
  • How can my stand see these freedoms from the Divine One extended to all who are in need and affect our future?

What we do this week matters. Never has our nation stood at such a threshhold.

” If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray… I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.”

2 Chronicles 7″14

If not now, when?

We are standing at the hinge of history.

Cheers to you.

I would love to hear your comments and thoughts. Please leave them below.

Refreshing others

Isn’t it wonderful to hear the stories of people who choose to do good and help others in time of need? It’s inspiring! It brings hope and reassurance. It lifts our spirit. It encourages us.

Here are some recent such stories:

  • An anonymous do-gooder has made and left around Dana Point these encouraging surfboard signs
  • The Pacific Symphony members have been playing movements in trios, duets or solo on Instagram for the joy of their viewers
  • A non-profit was started to collect donations and then purchase meals from restaurants to have delivered to hospitals for the doctors and nurses
  • A salaried professor is Venmo-ing $20 to any neighbor in need, no questions asked
  • A couple who had to downsized their wedding and got married at home – but the entire neighborhood surprised them by celebrating from their cars, cheering and honking horns
  • A mob of cars showed up at a hospital and parked in the lot. From each car stood 1-2 people, with hands lifted toward the hospital in prayer for those affected by the virus in that hospital
  • WestJet threw a mini-graduation for 4 students who had to fly home due to the virus
  • Neighbors on lockdown sang Happy Birthday to an 80 year old from their balconies and windows

People who refresh others are so refreshing!

My hunch is that many of us want to be refreshing to others. We may or may not do so in a way that makes the 5 O’clock news but that doesn’t matter. I would like to offer this original acrostic as a means to encourage and inspire you to first be refreshed and then refresh others.

REFRESH

R – Reflect

E – Enjoy family & the small things

F -Find purpose & routine in each day

R – Reach out to friends & neighbors

E – Encourage others

S – Seek God

H – Hear his voice

Repeat the process…

These tidbits will help us find the refreshing that we personally need and also equip us to be that refreshing to others. You DO have something to offer others, even if it be only your smile.

” You can always give something, even if it is only kindness.”

Anne Frank

May you find refreshing today and give refreshing tomorrow.

Cheers to you.

Reset

Can you feel it lingering in the air?

That feeling that this is major and lifelong change is happening right before our eyes? The world as we know it is shifting and we are witness to history?

Maybe it’s not like that for you, but it sure seems to at least be a major reset for us. So, to that end, allow me to expatiate.

“Reset – to set again, or differently; adjusting or fixing something in a new or different way.”

Synonyms – reboot, restore, re-establish, restart

Common uses – to reset: an alarm clock, a broken bone, a different way, priorities, prices

Websters.com

We are truly at a reset time in our country. A time to re-evaluate our priorities, our values. What ways need to be changed? How can we do things differently? What has been broken that needs to be fixed? What alarm has been sounding and we better get to it? What needs major restoration? What shall we start up again?

These are questions I believe we should be asking on a global level, but I also believe that we should be asking and dealing with them on a personal level too. We have the time.

Now is the time to reboot, restart, restore and reset our thinking and priorities.

From my life, here are some simple examples of how my thinking has been reset: I now view grocery store clerks, workers, stockers and truck drivers with much more appreciation, respect and value. Restaurateur’s are due mad props for all they deal with and I will no longer take their fine dining wares for granted. That goes for fast food eateries too.

Hair dressers, teachers, plumbers, construction workers, florists, carpenters, small businesses, THESE are some of the jobs and people that have been overlooked, and undervalued in our society. We/I need to reset our/my thinking about them.

I value these jobs/people, they are important to me. They are more important to me than the multimillion dollar MLB or NBA player and what shoes they are wearing. Or the YouTube influencer and what lipstick they endorse. Geesh, how petty. How shallow we have become. Reset!

I value churches being able to meet. I value all Americans having the right to speak, even if I disagree with you. I value people disagreeing and yet still respecting each other. I value national traditions, even if they are not mine. I value life. I value hard work. I value family.

What do YOU value? I hope these days have given you time to see those clearly.

For me, these days are filled with major self-reflection and these 3 things keep coming up:

  • What are my priorities?
  • What are may values?
  • What are my interests?

If what I am doing, thinking, or planning does not line up with those, then I need a reset.

As America is resetting, may her members and citizens do the same. What is important to us – let’s keep it in focus and never stop using our voice and efforts to advance it. Otherwise, let’s adjust it and fix it or totally do away with it.

” Every sunset is an opportunity to reset.”

Richie Norton

Let’s PUSH the RESET BUTTON, today.

Cheers to you.

Times are changing

Yesterday, in our area, we had a dearly beloved historical attraction and youth overnight field trip location SINK. Literally.

The tall ship – “The Pilgrim”, docked at The Ocean Institute in Dana Point, began to keel starboard and take on water. By the next morning, it’s deck was totally below water, with only the masts and a part of the bow above water.

the ship is keeling

The Pilgrim is a replica of the 3-masted schooner that Richard Henry Dana sailed from Boston to California on in 1843 and upon which he wrote his diary, which became the book and movie “Two Years Before the Mast.

It was a popular overnight field trip site for over 400,000 fourth and fifth graders from throughout Southern California, as they “enjoyed” nights at sea, living the life of a sailor.

It was known to have a leak that was being “handled” and was scheduled for a full pull out, that had been postponed. It is considered a total loss now, and is being salvaged.

a crane working on salvage

It’s been sad for our community, as we have now added the loss of the Pilgrim to everything else that’s going on these days.

Times are definitely changing.

It was Walt Whitman, who wrote the poem, “O Captain! My Captain!” in which he compared The United States to a ship. At the time of his writing, 1865, the US had just ended the Civil War and President Lincoln had just been assassinated.

During his days, times were also changing – drastically.

Through her long and rich history, the good ship – America, has weathered many storms. She has brought joy and fulfillment of dreams to millions of children and their families as she has carried them on their varied adventures.

She is worn but she is not weak. Her values are just, her purpose clear – life and liberty for all. She has taken hits, and may appear to keel, but her foundation is sure and secure. Her hull is not breached, her body resolute. She is not lost and is not sinking.

Her people, aboard her, within her lifelines and rails may be knocked by pounding waves and deadly tempests, yet they will sail through the squalls and they, aboard her will safely dock again in peaceful, quiet harbors.

Times are changing.

But America is strong and resilient because her people are, her foundations are. May we change as needed, where needed but not compromise who we are as Americans and the purpose for which we have been called – life and liberty for all.

Cheers to America!

Sail on!

Butterfly Effect

Butterflies are such beautiful and delicate creatures that most of us have taken the time to enjoy their movement, colors and mannerisms. Their wings are massive compared to their bodies and don’t even need to be so big for them to fly. They can actually fly with a damaged or broken wing.

They don’t flap their wings either, like birds do. You know – up and down. Butterflies create a figure 8 pattern motion with their wings by constricting their bodies thus moving their wings and propelling them through the air.

Their large wings act like a rudder. The larger the rudder, the faster you can turn a ship. With butterflies, their large wings enable them to turn faster and thereby not become someone’s dinner.

But that’s not all, let’s not forget how butterflies start out… as catepillars, then cocoon, then butterfly!

As that caterpillar is in confinement in his cocoon, the time grows near for his emergence. But that will never happen without a struggle, without pain, without a difficult fight. Without that struggle his transformation is incomplete.

As he pushes through the small hole, his swollen body and small, shriveled wings rub and rub and rub on the cocoon, until his struggle is successful and he emerges, nearly at the point of exhaustion. His body has been resized and is no longer swollen and his wings are dried, strengthened and he is NOW ready to fly.

Without the struggle, he will never grow or fly! This whole process, by the way, takes 5-21 days. Hmmmm.

This struggle that we now face, is not unlike the butterfly’s story.

We have allowed ourselves to become “swollen”, filled with excesses, and accumulation of things. Our ability to spread our huge wings and fly over it all has not been sufficiently developed, partially because the difficulties and frictions of life have been few and manageable.

” As with the butterfly, adversity is necessary to build character in people.”

” Storms make trees take deeper roots.”

” All flowers grow through dirt.”

In this time of “struggle”/confinement – let’s embrace the rubbing, reduce the excess, enjoy the process, persevere, and emerge with gigantic wings to fly above all that is earthbound.

Resist the urge to flap up and down at the same old pattern of your life. Let your wings develop a new pattern of flight and find their strength in practicing this new way, while still in your seclusion. For soon, you will be free to fly and turn quickly in your new found life.

Who knows what “Butterfly Effect” you are destined to cause?

Cheers to you.

Advice from the Animal Kingdom

(during the Coronavirus)
The Animal Kingdom

There are 7.77 million species of animals on the planet now and according to the Int’l Institute for Species Exploration 18,000 new species are discovered every year.

So I thought we could take a look at the Animal Kingdom and glean some advice from them and their “adaptations’.

Here’s some advice from:

  • The cow – with 4 stomachs and a special digestive system that allows it to chew things just enough to swallow, then bring it back up as cud, and chew it again. ADVICE: take time to digest all that’s happening these days but make something useful out of it. (milk)
  • Leeches – these segmented creatures have 32 brains and 102 segments. Within their internal structure of 32 sections, each section is controlled by a brain. ADVICE: Stupid leeches can’t do anything more than stick to something and suck the life out of it. Surely we can do better than they with our one brain!
suckers!
  • Goblin shark – it’s mouth moves out of it’s body and moves independently ADVICE: Let’s not allow our mouth to be out of control and move independently of our brain.
this is out of a nightmare
  • Star nosed mole – looks like it has 3 sets of hands but its star shaped nose is 6x more sensitive than the human hand. ADVICE: Things aren’t always as they appear and sensitivity is required.
CRAZY!
  • Tufted deer – it’s fangs are funny looking but this guy isn’t well studied because he lives at high altitudes of 4,500 meters/2.7 miles above sea level. ADVICE: live above it all. Keep your head up and feet on the rock.
  • Glass frog – green on the top but it’s belly is transparent, so it’s organs can be seen. ADVICE: staying transparent and revealing what’s inside us is vital among those we’re close to.
amazing
  • Japanese spider crab – grows to 40 lbs. and 13 ft. long at the bottom of the ocean. ADVICE: Although crab is yummy, let’s be careful what we allow to grow in our seclusion. Darkness breeds bad stuff sometimes.
and yes, they are eaten, and delicious
  • Parrots – selflessly help each other out, regardless of previous relationship or friendship. ADVICE: Ummm… pretty clear. Be parrots. Help.
  • Slow lorises – the only venomous primates, they secrete a toxin from a gland in the creek of their arms. Their bite causes anaphylactic shock and can cause death in humans. ADVICE: Watch out for toxic people and deceiving hugs – they can do you harm.
he looks cute, but don’t hug him
  • Capuchin monkeys – wash their hands and feet with their urine, perhaps to attract the female. UCK!! ADVICE: Keep washing your hands.
silly monkey, females don’t like pee
  • Tasmanian devil – make friends for life and share their dens with friends ADVICE: be loyal and supportive in your relationships
  • the housefly – this pesty creature that annoys us so, actually flys around buzzing in the Key of F! For the non-musical, that means that they are actually buzzing music on pitch and in tune. ALWAYS! ADVICE: don’t let anything swat away your song. Keep singing!
keep buzzing around with your song

We are all in this thing together. Let’s be wise, stay healthy, and take the advice from our fellow animalia.

Cheers to you.

It’s time for Spring cleaning

time to clean up

Spring has arrived! Yay!

The weather is warming up, daylight is extended and energy has possibly increased.

Do you have your Spring cleaning hat on yet?

My husband just cleaned and reorganized under his bathroom sink. Does that count? I definately have areas that need attention. Our garage, although it fits both of our cars is packed. The drawer under my oven, which holds cookbooks, recipes, and placemats is crying for help.

I read several articles with lists, schedules and advice for Spring cleaning. Some were funny, others practical but all very serious about cleaning. They included where to start, why it’s important, and even a cheat sheet to clean like a pro. Cleaning is a serious business.

not my house!

It really is the season to declutter, clean off excess, get into the hidden places and those places not routinely exposed.

I AM NOT GOING TO TALK ABOUT THE NEED FOR HOUSEHOLD CLEANING. (Phew, right?!) But I would like to use it as a metaphor.

This is a season to declutter. What have we allowed to stack up, pile up in our minds? We don’t remove the stack, we just move it to another place and start a new pile of thoughts, worries, fears, woes. Then we go to another area in our life and allow things there to not be fully addressed, thus one more stack. It’s time to declutter our mind and thinking.

It’s time to think differently. Renew our mind. Pull down old beliefs. Dust off those cobwebs, and give our thinking a good cleaning. Get rid of those stacks of stale, old ideas, think differently about things.

It’s time to clean off excess. Not just the scuff marks from the walls, baseboards and doors, but those scuffs on our heart. Those marks that have been there a long time. Maybe over time they have faded, but they are still there. You know, those longtime grudges. Unforgiven conversations. Bitter memories. They are a black mark on our heart that need some scrubbing.

It’s time to get into the hidden places and those places not routinely exposed. What’s hidden in our closets, drawers and back shelves of our life that needs light, soap, polish, or to just be thrown out? What do we know we need to get rid of, stop doing, stop saying, stop watching, stop listening to – but don’t do it?

Where do we need to give ourselves a clean slate, fresh start, new beginning? Where do we need to open up, be real, expose the dirt, clean it, and move on?

See, if we consistently clean these areas in our thinking and lives one day at a time, we wouldn’t need Spring cleaning. Spring cleaning 365 days of the year is the best way to make that happen.

regarding where to start… “Start at the highest point in the room…”

Woman’sDay.com

Let’s start there… let’s look up. Let’s start at the highest point. With God. In whatever room, closet or drawer of our life we need to clean up, let’s start by asking for Higher help. Let’s allow His hands to wash us, clean us, heal us from all the scuff marks of life. Let him remove all the smudges, crustiness, dead things and dust us off real good, so we are sparkling inside and out and smelling oh, so fresh.

Declutter. Clean off excess. Get to those hidden places.

It’s time for Spring cleaning in our life.

Cheers to you.

PS – In the Bible, this is called “repentance”. For those that would like a Bible study on that subject, click on this link. It’s also on our Resources page.

The importance of family

This week, these 2 concepts became a reality in our lives.

Self-imposed quarantine
Social distancing

Right from the start, I had a real hard time accepting even the terms. My mind raced and emotions raged, “We are not meant to be isolated… we were not made to be at a distance from others…and God, you sent Jesus to close the distance between you and man and between man and his/her neighbor.” I was pretty outspoken about it to those close to me and God.

As it has played out in our life, our community, and our nation, two things have rung true in my heart and mind. I submit them to you.

#1 – There has never been a more important time in our nation for family connections. Family is the single most important influence in our life. Family connections contribute to happiness, mental wellness and physical health. It is well documented that when people feel better connected it leads to a greater degree of support and wholeness psychologically.

In a family, its members feel safe, protected and loved. In that family confidence develops. Emotions are given vent and accepted. Sharing is valued and needed. Love is modeled, shared, given and received. It is unconditional.

This is important for all families. No matter the makeup, structure, or members. No matter the ties that bind it together, ie: blood, marriage, ancestry, affiliation, beliefs, or house of residence.

NOW is the time for our families to be more connected than ever before. No matter how far apart we are spread, how isolated we must stay, or how strained those very family ties may be. Whether all of your family members are in one home, or strewn about the nation. You need them and they need you. Now more than ever.

#2 – Communication is key. I’m sure not one of us would argue the value of effective communication in our family. So not much needs to be said, except DO IT. Communicate with your family.

Be approachable when a loved one wants to talk( even tho’ you are busy.) Allow for all feelings, anger and frustration are delicate issues. Spontaneous or planned conversations, be ready and spearhead both. Remember, “small talk” leads to bigger, and deeper concerns of the heart.

Because your kids may be grown and living away does not change this important key. It is still vitally important, to you, to them. Be vigilant in texts, calls, emails, and all those other fun apps and ways of communicating. (My son just sent me a TikTok this week of he and his finace, it was so funny and uplifting.)

So let’s reinforce, strengthen, and in some cases, even renew those communication lines in our family. Now is the time. There’s nothing that’s more important than family.

In the midst of distancing and quarantine let’s reach out, close the gap, embrace those we love and reassure each one of our support, love and commitment to them, in whatever ways we can.

There’s nothing more important than family.

I would love it if you would send me a pic of your family. Email it to me at the link below. (Then I’d like to put them all on a page to share.)

mailto:underdebraspalm@gmail.com?subject=Website%20Enquiry

Let’s make our families even stronger in SPITE of social distancing!

Cheers to you (and your family).

MY brother and sister
My husband, son and daughter-in-law

The unexpected

it’s not always a bad thing

The significance of surprises, coincidences and mistakes cannot be ignored or undervalued in our lives. They create opportunity to think creatively and solve problems. Fear and frustration constrict our brain from creating. So send those boogers on their way.

Today, I felt impressed to share with you some of my favorite, remarkable stories of things that didn’t go as expected but turned out pretty, darned good and even world changing. All are true stories and you will recognize the products and probably even use some of them.

  • A Russian chemist, who forgot to wash his hands upon returning home from work, picked up a dinner roll & took a bite. It was sweet. As was each item he ate. He realized what was happening chemically and SACCHARINE, the artificial-sweetener (Sweet N Low) was invented. (See, good things could come from not washing your hands)
  • A restaurant in Saratoga Springs had a very hard to please patron who 3 times sent back his thickly cut French style potatoes. The third time, the frustrated chef, George Crum, sliced the potatoes as thin as he could, over fried them and covered them in excessive salt. To his surprise, the patron loved them and ordered another round. The POTATOE CHIP was created. (Who knows what good can come of frustration)
bet you can’t eat just one
  • Percy Spencer was testing a new vacuum tube when he noticed the chocolate bar in his pocket was melting….welcome to the world… the MICROWAVE.
  • Charles Goodyear, a struggling businessman had no commercially successful products and his family was starving. After throwing stuff in the air, he invented vulcanized rubber- RUBBER CAR TIRES.
  • Ruth Wakefied was baking cookies at her Inn on Toll House Road, when she ran out of bakers chocolate. She replaced it with pieces of a chocolate bar and hoped it would melt, but it did not. And boy are we glad they didn’t – Thanks to her, we have the #1 cookie, CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES and Toll House Cookies. Yum!
thank you, Ruth
  • QUININE, the malaria medicine was discovered by a sick Andean man drinking water at the foot of a Quina Quina tree.
  • Even VIAGRA was an unexpected discovery. It was intended to be a heart medication. It helped other things instead. 🙂
  • Finally, a walk in the mountains brings about unexpected events too. Enter George de Mestral and his dog, who upon returning home from a walk in the Alps noticed burrs stuck to his clothes and the dog. Looking closer, he saw seeds covered in small hooks. He didn’t realize it, but he was about to invent a revolutionary new fastening system called VELCRO.
crazy hooks, right?

“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that most heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka!” but, “…that’s funny…”.

Sciencealert.com

Scientists have long said that “the best innovations come from the unexpected.

Keep in mind that all of these inventions were unexpected and none of these accidental discoveries would have happened without the person realizing its value.

I believe, in this new day we are living, there is arising from the unexpected, opportunity. Opportunity for creative minds to think creative thoughts. Opportunity for needs that arise to be met with new and better solutions. Opportunity for long standing problems to be solved. Opportunity for old ways of education, shopping, selling, serving, to be improved.

Therefore, let us recognize the value of these unexpected times and allow our brains to be freed to create, discover and even fail.

Your experience just might lead to a wonderful new discovery. Really!

Cheers to you.

(Please drop me your thoughts, or comment below. I love reading them.)

On the lighter side

Now that we have some “time off”, to be “at home”, which is what we often complain about not having enough time for… now what?

I speak as one in the 65 and over group who is s’pose to stay inside and be isolated – I am being protected. And really, that is pretty much all of now, right?

I love the videos and posts from Mom’s who are pulling their hair out trying to manage their misbehaving kids and figure out what their teacher wants them to do while on “remote learning”. Or the businessman working from home with a newborn, and 3 other kids under the age of 8.

Each of us, whatever our situation or season of life are having to manage our days totally differently than we ever have. But hey, we are managing. Be honest.

clever one here
Ingenious

But seriously, what do we do for 2 weeks? I offer these ideas:

  • Find those moments to JUST RELAX. You need it.
  • Maybe read that book you haven’t had time for
  • Go outside. Backyard, front porch, balcony. Observe closely what’s out there. Take it in. Enjoy it.
  • Go for a walk. Take notice of the small things. Stop and look closely at plants, clouds, lizards, a spider web.
  • Find out, research the answer to a question you’ve always wondered about
  • Read and study up on your favorite animal.
  • Try a new recipe.
  • Bake something different.
  • Call a friend or family member.
  • Check in on your neighbors.
  • Spend time in a quality conversation with your child (each of them)
  • Work in the garden? With your plants?
  • Try reading (a new) part of the Bible
  • and of course there is always cleaning, organizing, etc.
Notice the small things

You have the time, use it. Do something wonderful with it. Something you normally would not do, or spend more time doing what you always wished you could.

This virus and it’s precautions may shut us in but they will NOT shut us down. Take advantage of the days. You never know what the future holds.

Find your peace and comfort and relieve stress in your way, doing what helps you.

I LOVE lotions!

We all have the same amount of time in a day. It’s up to us how we use it. Make the best of it. Enjoy it. Do something on the lighter side.

Cheers to you.

Results of prayer

surrounded and unafraid

It would be easy to say “Prayer changed (es) nothing”, or “I see no change”. We had a National Day of Prayer, so what? Big deal! No change.

Let’s be real. Your state has probably amped up it’s restrictions and guidelines. You most likely have family members and loved ones affected in some way. The places you frequent may be closed and your vacation plans are pending major change. Shoot, my son’s wedding, in Hawaii in May is in jeopardy! AND, this what we found at the store today!

there were scores of shelves like this

But prayer is not an Amazon order. Place your order and have it delivered in one or two days.

The results of prayer are sometimes obvious and other times not. Sometimes immediate other times delayed. Additionally, the results of prayer are not always outcome driven, results orientated. They often have much more have to do with the process, development, personal growth and increase.

That process is most often linked to growing in faith and reliance upon Someone bigger than me, more powerful, trustworthy and really in charge. Because, even though I am driven to be in charge, I really am not. I do not control it all. I must therefore learn to yield my perceived “in charge” to the One who really is.

I believe we will see results, obvious ones, outcome driven ones as a result of the National Day of Prayer. I will share more about that in a moment.

In the “inbetween” time, what do we do?

“Ask and keep on asking. Seek and keep on seeking. Knock and keep on knocking.”

Matthew the disciple, chapter 7 verse 7

Again, prayer isn’t a one time shot – like the famed “hail Mary pass”. It’s a process of trusting in Someone bigger than myself and learning to lean on that strength and understanding. It is having faith in something I don’t see. (Like results). It’s trusting His process in and through me.

With all that being said, I do want to share a personal experience or result that came to me yesterday, on our prayer day.

I was impressed to go the beach and stand on the shoreline and pray. So, guess where I went? On the way, I was reminded of Job’s encounter with God in chapter 38, when God basically blasts Job for his know it all attitude and pelts Job with question after question about creation, nature, weather, and affairs of the man. It is in verse 10 & 11 where God says,

“… I fixed limits for the sea, I said this far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt.”

Job 38:10-11

And in that moment, I knew, those words were God’s words to us. In this time. This season. His promise was, that just as the ocean has been appointed limits and boundaries set, so too this virus had set limits and boundaries. AND, as we unite in prayer, those boundaries could be affected and even reduced. Therefore, I was to pray at the beach, on the boundary where sea meets land, “This far and no farther o’ virus. You are under the control of the creator and His limits.”

This far and no farther.
This far and no farther.

So what happened? Did the virus miraculously dry up and die? Did it physically leave the bodies it had entered? Did those we lost because of it return to their families? Did the panic and fear disappear?

I dunno. I didn’t see those results. But what I did see (hear and read actually) was increased measures being taken to CONTAIN the virus. Calls for a 15 day containment plan/period. Calls to 65 and older community, to restaurants, movie theatres, libraries. All with the purpose of tightening the lasso on the virus. Enforcing it’s boundaries. Limiting exposure.

“This far and no farther.” Containment. No further infections.

This is again where that whole results thing comes in. I cannot control the results. But I trust and keep on asking the One who does control them. Stop this virus, reel it in, arrest it. I don’t stop or quit. The results are His, but in the process my own life benefits and I grow personally.

So, just maybe there are some pretty miraculous things growing in you, in our nation, in the world as a result of prayer. Let’s keep on asking and trusting Him for the results.

Cheers to you.

It’s time to pray

Several days ago, when the news about this virus was breaching our environments, and data was becoming increasingly alarming, I just couldn’t sit quiet any longer and decided to take action.

I called The White House, emailed them too, called Vice President Pence’s office, emailed him, emailed other offices in the White House with jurisdiction and told them “to call for a national day of prayer”. Then, I prayed in earnest, waiting, expecting to hear an announcement. Now I am positive I was not the only one making this request for a national day of prayer, but I am happy to say I was one voice.

AND IT HAPPENED! Last night, President Trump called for this Sunday to be A National Day of Prayer.

I’m not here to argue the President’s spiritual fervor because I believe with the office of the presidency comes authority delegated by a higher power – no matter who the president is. Given that, his declaration, to call for Americans of all faiths and all faith levels to rally in this National Emergency is fantastic and vital for our nation’s healing. (in every way)

YOUR prayer is vital, needed, important. All of our prayers united, are powerful! Where two or three agree in prayer there is power, healing, change, and answers.

Prayer changes things. It changes us, but it also changes things. We can come boldly to God and lift up whatever request is on our heart and He will hear us. (Heb. 4:16; Eph. 6:18; 1 John 5:14)

If we are anxious, sick or in trouble when we pray He hears us. (Phil. 4:6; Jas. 5:13)

If we humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our evil ways, He has promised to HEAL OUR LAND! (2 Chron. 7:14) Boy, do we need that right now. Healing in so many areas. America needs healing.

I am convinced, as Americans join together in prayer that the tide will supernaturally shift and this super virus will be halted and America (and the globe) will be spared further devastation.

Please join us. No matter your faith or your level of faith. You can:

  • call out for healing in our land
  • ask for wisdom and divine strategies for the leaders in charge
  • plead for the spread of the virus to be arrested
  • pray for the nation to be strong and united
  • ask for healing of those who are ill and protections for those who are not
  • call for a healing of the economy and businesses
  • ask for minimal effects to businesses, and schools
  • pray for the healthcare providers for strength, protection & wisdom
  • plead for Americans to be united
  • ask for personal forgiveness and healing
  • trust God to do a miracle

Prayer gives us a better sense of self and brings us closer the Higher Power. Prayer reduces ego and promotes humility. Prayer improves your attitude, reduces stress and gives us hope.

In prayer we have the amazing privilege of talking to the One who loves us, listens to us and yet holds the globe between his fingers. The One in who’s omnipotence we trust. In prayer, we come boldly asking yet trusting in His mercy and forgiveness.

This is the call. This is the day. This is what our nation needs, what we need.

IT’S TIME TO PRAY.

If you’re in, and are gonna pray, please leave me a message. I’d love to know and pray with you.

Cheers to you.

Fear and Faith

Before you read further, please click on the video…

Faith verses Fear 53 seconds

Although the video may seem a bit silly, it makes 4 important points:

  • How do you do that? (be so calm)
  • You never know when you might get hit
  • Aren’t you afraid?
  • You believe

Hang on to those, we will come back to them.

We are living in unprecedented days which are evolving with new challenges and fears every hour. Our lives, plans, futures, minds, emotions, and spirit have been burst upon with unexpected concerns and fears.

Fear is an unpleasant feeling triggered by the perception of danger, real or imagined.”

Dictionary.com

Fear, the emotion most of us are wrestling with today, is a common emotion and is meant to promote survival. Fear helps protect us, makes us alert to danger and prepares us to deal with it. It is natural and helpful, like a warning, a signal that tells us to be careful.

When the fear is triggered the brain instantly sends signals to the nervous system and the body responds. The heartbeat, breathing and blood pressure all increase. Muscle groups get ready for action and the skin begins to sweat, readying for the “Fight or Flight” battle, until the ALL CLEAR signal sounds. Then, all systems return to normal.

Fear is activated in the brain seconds before the thinking part of the brain can process what’s happening. So that’s why sometimes we are startled by a loud noise, even though it’s no harm.

Lastly on fear… although it is a healthy response it can become unhealthy. Science tells us that fear releases hormones that shut down systems we don’t need for the fight or flight. It weakens immune systems, effects heart damage, GI issues and even fertility. Fear tells the brain to immediately respond to the overactive signals from the Amygdala (the part of the brain that deals with emotions) rather than the more rational parts of the brain. (“Amygdala hijack”)

Well thanks, Deb, that’s encouraging, I heard someone whisper… Ok, so let’s go back to those 4 points from the video.

#1 – How do you do that?

How do you stay calm in the face of fear and what it is doing in your head and heart? (city and nation)

Because part of fear is feeling loss of control, and my inability to control that event/thing – I seek out The One who holds all things in His control. The One to whom winds, waves, nature, all living things, all rulers, all powers and principalities AND EVEN VIRUSES respond to.

” When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”

King David Psalm 56:4

Psalm 91 – those who stay close to God are protected from deadly pestilence for He will cover you

Psalm 23:4 – even though I walk through the valley with a shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me

#2 You never know when you might get hit

That’s right. You don’t know what the future holds. But I do know this –

” For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future…”

The prophet Jeremiah, chapter 29 verse 11

So no matter what happens, I choose to trust His plans for me, my family, friends and associates.

#3 Aren’t you afraid?

To be honest, concerned a little, but there is a peace that permeates my heart because of who I trust and place my faith in. And when fear does come, (and be sure it does) I go to those verses above and choose to trust Him and His plan. That’s faith.

#4 You believe

Yup. That’s it. I choose to beleive in someone bigger than the situation, news, CDC, President, virus, or the panic. But I don’t believe in some passive, naive way. I’m not hiding my head in the sand. I’m actively contending within my own mind, spirit and emotions to not let fear get hold of me. It’s a battle. But I believe. I choose to. I will not give way to fear and panic. I believe.

In closing, I am reminded of these famous words:

” These are the times that try men’s souls.”

Thomas Paine 1776

In these times may we be found strong in faith as we are learning to overcome our fear.

Cheers to you.

The Parable of the Unprepared Boater

On a peaceful, sunny day at the harbor, as the boater was enjoying the water and plentiful sunshine, a thought entered the boater’s mind. “I think I should prepare the dinghy for the storm that’s coming. I should go and put the cover on it, before the storm arrives.”

But the boater was busy with other things, and after those were done, the boater knew they would be too tired to deal with preparations for the dinghy and the coming storm too. So the boater brushed off that “prepare” thought and continued to enjoy the beautiful, sunshiny day at the harbor.

But the sunshine and peace didn’t last, and the storm came as expected. The boater knew that now, in the midst of the storm the dinghy must be covered or it would fill up with water and be overcome and perhaps even be sink. So the boater, with rain falling, winds blowing, clothes drenched, body aching, covered the dinghy with much effort and grumbling, because the boater knew that they should have prepared the dinghy earlier, before the storm arrived.

The boater’s prepared/covered dinghy

I believe you could easily glean a moral or two from this parable. So, please do. Apply it and gain from it anything you see.

My intended purpose was to use my real life experience, as a lesson and picture of what’s happening in our world today.

Yes, I am the boater in this parable who didn’t pay attention to the voice that said “Prepare. I didn’t prepare before the storm. I ignored the signs and weather forcasters warning of the coming storm.

We are living in stormy times and I fear a storm is still on the horizon. Reputable forecasters are speaking of it and issuing warnings to “Prepare”. It behooves us to pay attention to the coming storm and prepare.

There are many ways to prepare. Look inside yourself, evaluate the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs there. Look up for help. Look in your family, home, place of business, church, bank, store. Begin to prepare.

The urgency of the day says it’s time to prepare. Not wait til the storm arrives, because then the winds will blow and rain will fall, your body will be achy, and you will be grumbling. Now is the time to prepare.

Please, accept a Parable from the Unprepared Boater – ME.

Cheers to you.

What do you trust in?

Been thinking a lot about our national motto – In God We Trust. Frankly, I think I forgot it was more than a phrase on our money and that it had been selected as our national motto. Oops…

It first appeared on US coins in 1864, when it appeared on the 2 cent coin. It was after the Secretary of Tresury Salmon Chase received requests for the US to recognize the Diety on coins. That first letter came to him in 1861 and it was not long after that he directed the US Mint in Philadelphia to prepare a motto. In his letter to them, he said,

“No nation can be strong except in the strength of God…the trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins. You will cause a device to be prepared without unnecessary delyay with a motto expressing in the fewest and tersest words possible this national recognition.”

Solomon Chase, Director of Treasury 1861

After legal issues were settled, on April 22, 1864, In God We Trust first appeared on the 2 cent coin. In 1873 The Coinage Act stated that it may be inscribed on other coins. By 1938 all US coins bore the motto.

Then on July 30, 1956, the 84th Congress approved IN GOD WE TRUST as the national motto and President Eisenhower signed the bill. In 1957 the national motto was first used on US paper money.

Fast forward and look at the tremendous change in American thinking:

  • 1984 – the courts use the phrase “ceremonial deism” to say that the motto “through constant use has lost it’s religious content and is no longer religious in nature.”
  • 1994 – The Freedom From Religion sued the federal government to have In God We Trust removed from currency.
  • 2006 – CA Court of appeals – “the national motto… has no theological or ritualistic impact and is purely secular, patriotic and ceremonial in character.”
  • 2019 – The American Athiests condemned the North Dakota bill allowing the display of the national motto in public schools.

There’s so much more, but I don’t want to loose you in the History.

It has become apparent that not everyone agrees that In God We Trust. So I ask, what do YOU trust in? Money, friends, family, self, God…

Trust is the basis of all human systems of morality. Upon what do you build that trust? I don’t care if it’s “Affective trust” – trusting with your heart, or “Cognitive trust” – trusting with your head. Psychologists say those are the 2 kinds of trust, so pick one or the other, or both.

At the bedrock of your life, my life, what’s there to attach trust to? In the stresses and storms of life, what holds me secure? When loss and pain overcome me, who/what do I take it to? When the Coronavirus scares me and threatens my loved ones, who or what strengthens and comforts me? What do you trust in for confidence, strength, hope, comfort, support?

I think that Secretary Chase, President Eisenhower and millions of others through the ages actually got it right. But that’s my opinion, my belief. It is also my purpose for writing this and my hope – that you, too, will trust in God.

In God We Trust.

Cheers to you.

What’s happened to truth and righteousness?

Just today I had a conversation with a friend in which I said, “I don’t believe everything I am told. Far too often, I don’t believe people tell the truth”. This so reminded me of the dozens of times my sister and I have had similar conversations.

Is it 41 years of teaching and hearing so many “stories”? Is it working with teenagers for so long? Is it the culture? Is it the society? Is it the years I spent working in jails, prisons and juvenile detention centers? Is it having raised a son in the 1990’s? Is it just me? I dunno. I can say that my sister and my friend are both waaaay more trusting and believing than I am.

Where do you stand? Are you a believer in what people tell you or a doubter?

The truth is, if you listen to much news, or politics, or are privy to administrative meetings, sales reps, and commercial pitches you will find it sorely lacking. Especially in this modern age of being “woke”. Unfortunately, “truth” has morphed into “my truth”, “your truth”, “their truth”. What has happened to truth?

Then, there is the old English, long, lost word – righteousness. It’s not used much, but it’s root is – righteous. Now that’s used as more of an old, cool, trendy, surfer, exclamation – “That’s righteous”. (Can you tell I grew up in the 60’s/70’s?) Where else is it used? The Righteous Brothers? (sorry another old one)

Do our young people even know what it is? Sometimes I wonder the same about truth. What’s happened to righteousness?

Here’s the deal, I don’t particularly like the direction our society is going. I’m not a fan of what has become accepted as the “norm”, the “everyone’s doing it” ploy. You can agree or disagree. But I am not willing to let society (and our kids) go uncontested, unchallenged, and down this slippery slope.

I am not willing to give in to the “no absolutes” philosophy or the “accepting everything” morals. I believe there are absolutes and truth is not just “my” truth”, but “the truth”. (Sorry Oprah)

“Truth – that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”

“Righteousness – acting in accord with divine or moral law: free from guilt or sin”

“Righteous – (of a person or conduct) morally right; virtuous. Very good, excellent.”

Merriam Webster

I just feel that we can make an impact by what we say, do and believe. By what we stand up for, speak up for and won’t stand for.

We can make a difference by speaking the truth and not compromising on confronting untruths. Holding to truthfulness.

We can make a difference by living “rightly” – righteous, in righteousness. We’re not perfect, but we can choose to live right, and we can choose to do what is right and not be troubled by guilt.

What’s happened to truth and righteousness?

Cheers to you

It’s time to bloom

California superbloom

It’s March, nearly spring – officially, and it is beginning to look like it all around us. Plants and flowers are beginning to open up and show off their beauty. Seeds have sprouted (or soon will), and the 300,000 species of Kingdom Plantae are about to display what’s really in them. These angiosperms will produce flowers and bear their seeds in fruits because that is what they were designed to do – bear seeds and fruit.

Yum, sunflower seeds

Inside the plant is a gene called “apetala 1” and it tells the plant to start blooming. That gene is triggered when the petals within the bud start growing to the point that they invert because they have filled with so much water and the only place to go is out! So out they come. BLOOM. Flowers. Beauty. Bam.

“The process of flowers opening up is part of plants reproductive cycle. If a plant does not bloom or develop seeds, it cannot be pollinated. A plant that blossoms is mature and ready to take part in the development of seeds that will carry new plant life to surrounding areas.”

Bloomstoday.com

God had this whole seed, plant, flower, thing going on from the very beginning. And from the beginning, it has been of the utmost importance to Him and us. You see, it was there, He instructed us, mankind, to “Be fruitful and multiply…”. Bloom. Bear fruit. Plant seeds. Grow. Reproduce.

We can understand that having children is not all that is implied here, right? In fact, we can be fruitful and multiply without ever parenting a child. But as we grow and mature, fill up, and finally open up/bloom, we are being fruitful and bearing seeds. Just as seeds are a plants’ offspring, our offspring are the seeds we have developed and planted in the lives of others. The seeds we carry and plant are meant to bring life to the surrounding area. The seeds we plant will bear fruit. The seeds we plant will multiply. That trusty “apetala 1” gene has programed the seed with exactly what to do – BLOOM.

I really believe this Spring is your Spring.

Your Spring to be reminded of the seeds that you have developed and planted in others. The power of your seeds to produce life. The power of the seeds you are planting. (Positive or negative?) The power of you opening up and showing the world your beauty. The power of you blooming. The power of your superbloom.

It’s time for us to bloom.

Cheers to you.

Lent? Ash Wednesday? What?

lint, ash???

True confession…

(Inserting a preemptive apology to my Catholic friends and followers… I am sorry.)

As a Protestant, (that even holds a Theology degree) I have never honored Ash Wednesday as anything unique, other than the start of the Easter season. But I have observed those who attend an Ash Wednesday service and usually receive a cross made of ashes on their forehead to wear for a day.

I’ve never done so myself.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday when this will be practiced by thousands all over the world, so I’d like to address a couple of things about it. Consider it a short Lent refresher class with value for you (and me) regardless of what we believe.

“Ash Wednesday (46 days before Easter) marks the beginning of Lent which is a 40-day period (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection and celebration.” (Christianity.com/Kelly Givens) It is intended to represent the 40 day period that Jesus spent fasting in the desert. It’s purpose is for believers to have a set time each year to focus on Jesus’ life, sacrifice and resurrection. For them to have a set time each year to self-reflect, evaluate, repent as needed and say no to their own desires by fasting (going without) some food or thing.

Without any ashes on my forehead, I see great value in that.

There’s no doubt in my mind that our world in general and my/your personal world would benefit from more reflective and evaluative times like this. Times when we intentionally deny our wants to pursue a new set of eyes, decluttered heart and fresh purpose.

Although the Catholic Church observes specific “rules” for this season, that is not my vision for us/this.

I truly believe that those who are looking for inspiration, change, breakthrough, effectiveness, wisdom, strength, and purpose will find it in this concept and can find it in this 40-day season.

Change doesn’t come by doing the same thing over and over. That’s called a rut. Others have called it a grave. Change comes because someone dared to do something different. Something different has been done and thereby reflected in something new and fresh in your life.

What do you have to loose should you give yourself to a season of personal evaluation & repentance? What’s the down side of refusing to indulge in something you like for a while? Seriously? You will not die without it! That’s sacrifice.

What just might happen in your life should you get intentional about the changes you may be looking for? What might happen should your effort match your desire? Isn’t the change you seek worth it?

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to preach. I am just so passionate about this right now because I am giving myself to this concept beginning March 1- April 9. Those are my 40 days! My lent. And I am excited… albeit a bit nervous, but I’m in. Going for it.

Anyone wanna join me?

Do whatever you feel, go without what you feel impressed to, but don’t stay in a rut. Let’s do some reflection, repentance, and celebrating change! Let’s get off the “rut” freeway.

Now is your time (and mine).

Cheers to you.

A Little OCD?

How do you respond to these?

Be honest.

Do they make your brain hurt, your eyes enlarge or your head shake? What is your response to the one (or ones) who clearly misaligned these pictures? What were THEY thinking?

I love these types of pics and am one who is driven a lil cray-cray by them. I am also the one who when reattaching the wall socket plug plate, screws in the screws so that they wind up facing the same direction.

screws lined up
screws NOT lined up

I also oftentimes rearrange the cups in the top shelf of the dishwasher and sometimes even the silverware too. At my boat, I have taken flack from my son because “I’m obsessive” about winding the dock lines.

And while we’re on the topic of the boat, my philosophy definitely is “a place for everything and everything in it’s place.”

and yes, I am obsessive about it 🙂

Here’s the deal. According to a Healthline article by Julia Haskins, April, 2014

“Obsessive-compulsive thinking is completely normal, with about 94% of the population experiencing some kind of unwanted or intrusive thought…”

In a study across six continents and 13 countries, more than 90% of the participants reported having “unwanted, intrusive thoughts”. (UIT)

The article goes on to say, “unwanted, intrusive thoughts may be a nuisance, but even the strangest thoughts that cross our minds are really quite common”. “It’s how people react to these thoughts that’s of the greatest concern. Most people are able to brush off irritating yet benign thoughts, but for those with obsessive-compulsive disorder…it’s much more difficult.”

So, see, I am normal in that regard. And that would mean so is my husband (who measures inches from the wall to his desk), my son (who is detail obsessed), my friend (who notices when things are moved in her room), and my boss (who teaches me to properly align the jewelry showcases & notices when they are NOT perfect).

What about you? Are you part of the 94% who also have a touch of OCD?

You see, whether someone is in the 94% or the 6% (who don’t), it’s how people react to those thoughts that’s the greatest concern. Are you able to recognize the “obsessive” rolling of the ropes, and rearranging of the cups as a nuisance and brush it off?

Do you see that you do have control over those pesty UIT’s ? (unwanted intrusive thoughts). Do you understand that you CAN control them and make efforts to do so?

THAT’S the difference between it being an nuisance or a disorder.

I tease and am teased all the time about being OCD, and truthfully, 94% of us are to some degree. But it’s no joke to any who have been or should be diagnosed with OCD. That is 2.3% of the population, 2.2 million adults in the US in 2018, 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 kids.

Those diagnosed with OCD (Daniel Radcliffe, Frank Sinatra, Howie Mandel, Charlize Theron, Leo DiCaprio or Howard Stern) have had to learn how to react to those UIT’s. How to best control them. They have found help and a way to best manage them and so can you.

Take whatever step is next for you. Some may seek help. Others will adjust the jewelry cases or make a detailed list. Still others will look at the pictures at the top of this blog and marvel that someone would actually do THAT!

Because we are all a little OCD.

Cheers to you.

You were made to stand out

what stands out here?

I recently saw this on my walk (actually I’ve seen it hundreds of times but this time I stopped, studied it, and shot a pic of it).

Each time I’ve walked by it I’ve been struck with the absolute beauty of the perfectly sculptured tree in the middle (I don’t know what kind it is), how high it is, (probably 50-75 feet high) and how it just doesn’t fit in with the other trees. There’s no way this tree is weekly manicured and tended too, it’s just to high to reach. And yet, it’s stunning beauty, perfect lines and symmetry are impossible to miss. It stands out.

It’s easy to see why it seems like it doesn’t belong or fit on this hillside. There’s not another tree like it anywhere near this spot. It simply is not like the other trees, not even close. It appears to have nothing in common with the other trees, (except being a tree). The external comparisons are off the charts, bonkers! It is alone, significantly different from all the others, and totally outnumbered by the others.

And yet, here it is. Standing tall. Beautiful. Eye catching. And, hopefully proud.

The applications seem apparent, obvious.

You are THAT beautiful, perfectly sculptured, lonely, different, tall, eye catching and hopefully proud tree. Within your DNA is the design to make you stand out from the crowd, stand alone as YOU, and make a beautiful difference on your hillside.

When you feel like you don’t fit or belong or are too different, just look at this picture and remember “You were made to stand out” and bring stunning beauty to your surroundings.

Flourish. Be you. Stand out. Be different. THAT’S what you were made to do.

Cheers to you.

Uninspired?

a ship in the doldrums

Feel sluggish, low in spirits/energy, depressed, perhaps unmotivated, unchallenged?

In a state of stagnation? Experiencing a lack of activity or progress? Feeling “stuck”?

All of us, at one time or another have faced these feelings and have had to decide what to do with them. How to maneuver through them, how to learn from them.

Allow me to utilize some sailing similes as we drift through the afore mentioned feelings or “DOLDRUMS’. Have you been in the “doldrums”?

You younger ones perhaps have never heard that idiom used before. To be in the doldrums means – to be inactive, dull, quiet, sluggish, or lethargic. It was used in the 18th century when referring to a sluggish person, or a doldrum.

But alas, even that expression comes from the maritime use of doldrums. You see, sailors hate (and have for a very long time) the doldrums. Why? Because the doldrums are a monotonous, windless section of the ocean, where sailing ships sometimes get stuck on the water for weeks at a time. The doldrums are referred to as “an ocean parking lot around the Equator”. (Joano Turner, Theoceanrace.com)

The doldrums are a 50-250 mile wide strip of ocean that runs 5 degrees above the Equator to 5 degrees below the Equator. It is the section of the ocean at the Equator where there are no winds. The trade winds from the North meet the trade winds from the South and as they are heated, those winds rise up, leaving no steady surface winds on the ocean. “The doldrums are a band of calms & light baffling winds North & South of the Equator in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.” A sailor could sail for weeks in a flat, calm ocean.

The doldrums also have a reputation as being the “dead zone”. It can be a life and death issue for sailors, as running out of food and water while stalled out there can lead to delirium, scurvy, starvation and cabin fever. In addition, the intense solar air at the Equator makes this ocean area not only the “dreaded doldrums” but also “the desert of the ocean”.

Stay with me… besides science and sailing, we’re talking about you and me, too. But in a moment…

The sailing pros who deal with the doldrums most effectively are those who race in the 8 month, 45,000 nautical mile, around the world sailing race, called The Volvo Ocean Race. Every three years it is held, usually begins in Spain, consists of 9/10, 20 day legs, reaching 6 continents, until the world has been circumnavigated.

What to do in the doldrums?

What do you do in the doldrums? How do you get out? Get through? Here’s the advice from those pros.

” A major priority – avoid allowing boats to stop completely because overcoming inertia to get moving again requires significant increase of wind strength. A strategy for getting through includes a series of short term tacks…” (The Equator Doldrums Explained 11/15/11, Volvo Ocean Race)

Let’s bring this back to us now.

There are times we get stuck, feel unmotivated, uninspired, sluggish, stagnant & like we’re not making any progress. There are times we are in the doldrums of life. We’re in the “dead zone” or “desert”. It’s dry, hot, monotonous, boring and there is no noticeable forward progress. It can be dangerous, even life threatening too, if we don’t learn how to deal with it. We, like sailors, hate the doldrums, and we can escape them like great sailors.

The major priority – do not come to a complete stop. Do not. No checking out. No hiding. No withdrawing. Stay in the game. Keep up relationships. Keep plodding though. Be honest with yourself and keep moving. Small, strategic tacks (course changes) will get you out of the dreaded doldrums.

We can usually tell when we are approaching the doldrums. THAT’S the time to make a slight course change. Not when we are already stopped and totally depressed. Remember, it takes more strength to overcome the inertia of a stationary object (you/me) than it does to make a course correction.

With skillful sailing and wise choices, we can make it through the doldrums of life. We can avoid being stuck in the dead zone for any major length of time by making those strategic tacks. We can avoid cabin fever, starvation & delirium.

Cool thing too about the doldrums, as slow as they are, you can go from 1 to 100 in seconds, because of the erratic weather patterns.

So, hang on, change is coooooooommmmiiinnngggg!!!! We’re busting loose of those dreaded doldrums.

Cheers to you.

Seasons of love

One of the greatest musical theatre anthems and declarations.

Every day is the right season for love, not just on Valentine’s Day. It has nothing to do with having a special someone in your life, exchanging sappy cards or purchasing flowers or a nice dinner out.

It has to do with you. How you choose to love and be loved. How you love yourself. How you love others. How you recognize love in your surroundings. How you accept love. How you allow love to change you. How your love changes others. You are the object of love.

Here’s the standard for love.

” Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyously celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. Love never stops loving.”

The Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (The Passion Translation)

If that is the standard for love, and I believe it is, then I have a lifetime job of living up to THAT love. I don’t need a boyfriend, husband, wife, girlfriend or lover. I don’t need a best friend, sister, brother, child or acquaintance to work on this love. If I’m being honest, this love, is my homework application everyday of my life.

As I learn to accept this lavish love it will change me. This love will show in my life with patience, gentleness, kindness, humility, respect, honesty, faith and perseverance. This love will be more than just a season of love, it will become the measure of my whole life.

On THIS day, when Hallmark’s business is off the charts and florists are filling orders like crazy, know this – YOU ARE LOVED. You are loved by the very one who wrote the standard of love and then demonstrated the full extent of that lavish, pure and freeing love. You are loved by the very one and only one who can empower you to live by His standard of love.

Renew your pursuit of love and allow Love to overcome you. Not just for a season.

1 John 4:19 – “We love because He first loved us.”

Cheers to you.

Love is all around us

Are you an “Influencer”?

Hey, y’all, follow me

My husband was recently told that because of his 4,500 Twitter followers, he is an influencer. (who knew?)

PewDiePie, is the number 1 most followed YouTuber with 80.6 million. The Brazilian, Whindersson Nunes 77.2 million followers. Kylie Jenner 147 million Instagram followers, earning her a hefty $1.2 million per post. All of these are referred to as influencers.

According to those who study such things, influencers are described in the following categories:

  • mega influencers = more than a million followers
  • macro influencer = 100,00 – 1,000,000 followers
  • micro influencer = 1,000 – 100,000 followers
  • nano influencer = less than 1,000 followers

Although the nano influencer is a relatively new breed, marketing companies find great benefits in working with them. Some of the benefits are: they are authentic, they are approachable, they work hard and they are cost effective. “Sometimes thinking big involves thinking small.” (“Nano Influencers: Everything You Need to Know”, izea.com, 10/2019)

On a related tangent, remember the Six Degrees of Separation idea? Everyone is connected to each other through others they know, by 6 rounds of introductions. There is significant data to support this, even in a world of 7 billion people. In 1990 the play came out which took the 1929 idea to stage. But in 2011, FaceBook did a study that said it is no longer 6 degrees that separate us but merely 4.74 degrees that separate us from one another.

Well, again I ask, are you an influencer?

Most of us would probably say “no”. Then, we’d qualify it in some way, especially in light of the categories listed above. However, consider this.

Data shows that the average person probably touches over 80,000 lives in their lifetime! Here’s how-

  • average lifespan 78.3 years
  • we remember people after age 5
  • 365.24 days per year
  • 3 new people/day
  • (78.3 – 5) x 3 x 365.24 = 80,316.276
  • (blog.adioma.com)

Are you an influencer? ABSOLUTELY, YES!

You have family and loved ones in your tightest circle. Maybe a few good friends. Other friends. Meaningful contacts. Acquaintances. And people you recognize. Within those circles of influence, the average person will have 2,220 people! ALL AFFECTED by YOU. Granted, you’re closer to some more than others, but you are an influence in their lives.

Let that sink in, lest you have thought you weren’t an influencer. You have a unique influence on those around you. You have had influence your whole life up to this point and you will continue to have influence long after you are gone.

Please don’t diminish your influence. Don’t let anything, any one or any voice depreciate your valuable influence on those around you. Expand your influence. Increase your influence. Use your influence. Nano influencers have tremendous influence, value and importance. They are, you are, the building blocks of life’s relationships, the chains in our interconnectedness.

Within your circle of influence you are authentic, approachable. People need that, need you. Your circles are connected to someone else’s circles, and so on goes your influence. We are all connected, and at it’s core is your influence. My influence. We ARE influencers. “Sometimes thinking big, involves thinking small.” One person at a time. 80,000 in our lifetime, connecting the world one degree at a time.

One last time, are you an influencer? (Am I hearing a resounding “YES!”?)

Cheers to you.

IF

IF – intermittent fasting
  • … one of the latest health and fitness trends
  • … helps to improve health, simplify lifestyle and weight loss
  • … has powerful effects on the body and brain
  • … helps cells initiate the repair process
  • … skyrockets human growth hormone 5 fold
  • … reduces bad cholesterol
  • … may prevent cancer in animals
  • … promotes positive brain health (BDNF hormone increases)
  • … extends life expectancy (in rats) 36-83%
  • … all stats according to HEALTHLINE.com

What is it? What do you think?

We’ll get to it, hang in there, (if your’e still wondering).

I was researching this particular topic last fall because it was interesting and piqued my curiosity. In my view it represented a much larger principle and need in our society. And forget society even, it represented a much larger NEED in MY LIFE .

What? IF. Intermittent fasting.

“Periods of eating and fasting – an eating pattern. Fasting from time to time.”

I won’t spend time here giving you the value of periodioc fasting, although there are vast lists of physical, mental, lifestyle and spiritual benefits. Check them out should you be interested.

To me, diet or health were not the major issues or interest. The greater principle at hand was SELF DENIAL.

We live in a “must have” world. We have unlimited streaming, 1-2 day shopping/delivery, snacks anytime we want, fast mobil connections to pretty much anyplace we choose. We can get it delivered, get picked up at our door step, shop at will, buy in bulk, and upgrade or increase our limits for more.

More, more, more. Indulge, enjoy, repeat. We always want more. And often a voice within tells us we deserve everything we want. But having more doesnt make us happier.

“As people grow accustomed to material goods, they often experience hedonic adaptation and are less inclined to savor daily pleasures.”

Psychology Today, Dr. Allen McConnell Ph.D.

In the same article, Dr. McConnell suggests that intentionally withholding access to pleasurable things would boost savoring daily pleasures. He then designed a scientific study at the University of British Columbia to test

“Could self-denial increase happiness?”

Dr. McConnell

His research included 55 undergraduate students and chocolate. It’s a fun study to read. At the end of his study, his outcome

“The restricted access participants (to chocolate) were happier than members of the other two groups.”

In his Quiodback and Dunn study he demonstrated that self-denial actually makes people happier, in part because they learn to savor more and look forward to it.

When was the last time I denied myself, actually said a big, fat no to something I wanted (and didn’t really need)? Humph…

Well, I began the new year determined to practice that helpful and healthy habit. I would intentionally deny myself what I wanted (and didn’t need). I found myself doing this across the boards in my life. “Self-denial – restraining, curbing one’s desires- to reduce”. Besides curbing physical appetites I wanted to add the spiritual dimension too. So my 2020 lifestyle has included not IF/intermittent fasting in the trendy diet sense, but fasting in the Biblical sense. Denying self to gain bigger, borader, more powerful and important goals. I needed to practice self-denial.

The results? WELL WORTH the sacrifice! The Benefits? Beyond this world. AM I happy? Never been more. (and my Amazon shopping has plummeted!)

IF, it’s not just a health and fitness trend. Denying self (and fasting) is an eternal principle with eternal benefits and with rewards of happiness and daily satisfaction. (and spiritual breakthrough)

When was the last time you said “no” to your wants? When was the last time you denied yourself?

Greater happiness is waiting.

Cheers to you (unless you’re denying yourself tonight ) 🙂

Not schandenfreude

You know, schandenfreude…?

When someone falls out of a chair and you laugh, or thows a ball and it bounches back and hits them. You know, the kind of stuff that makes the TV show “Americas Funniest Videos” so funny and Youtube videos so watched.

Defined, it means = finding joy in others troubles.

I’m not bagging on it today, but I’m not writing about it either. Nope, not schandenfreude.

I so enjoy my walks, and often observe interesting things while on them. Today was one of them and it is the capstone of a series of thoughts that have been brewing inside my crazy head. Today, I saw this –

water bowl & treats for a dog

I walked several steps by it but then turned around, returned and shot the photo, all the while amazed by the thoughtfulness of whoever lived there. And I thought, I don’t know these people, but I do know that they love dogs. On the same street are several signs posted in yards about cleaning up after your dog. But this home/yard/driveway was blessing the doggies. Doing something for them, just because. I was blown away. (And kinda sad I hadn’t brought Gunner, our dog.)

But that reminded me of other things I had observed on walks that were surprising. Things that were left on the trail/walk that someone had taken the time and thoughtfulness to purposely leave for someone else’s joy. Here are a few-

Each time I was totally amazed that someone would do that. Especially build that driftwood path covering. They specifically intended it to cover the path. I’ve seen other driftwood shelters on the beach, but this was strategically placed to cover the path. You HAD to walk under it. (Where shade was)

And the fairy homes???? More than 1 mile of trail (a very steep and mountainous trail too) was beautified with the meticulous and precisely designed homes and with much personal cost from the creative artisans.

All of these, I’m sure brought joy to the builder, but they were left to bring joy to others. The doggie treats too, were left to bring joy to others. All were intentional, sacrifical, and selfless. Each, not knowing who would pass but wanting to impact their day. Not schandenfreude!

Blown away. Amazed. Surprised. And blessed! Huge, goofy smile each and every time.

I want to do that. Unexpectedly surprise and bring joy to others. Be selfless. Do things for others without any need for repayment. Bless others on their daily walk. Not schandenfreude.

Cheers to you.

SEIZE LIFE!

It’s too bad that we seem most impressed with living a full and meaningful life in the face of death or loss. Kobe hit us that way, and I’m sure you could name others, either from your life or the public who also brought this truth to life for you.

I can name several times in my life that I felt that urgency in the face of death & loss. This one time, I even acted on it and got this tattoo, to remind me to live life each day fully.

my tattoo from 2015

I recently read this portion, and it brought home the issue again. I felt impressed to share it with you.

SEIZE LIFE! Eat bread with gusto. Drink wine with a robust heart. Oh yes – God takes pleasure in your pleasure. Dress festively every morning. Don’t skimp on colors and scarves. Relish life with the spouse you love each and every day of your precarious life. Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange for hard work of staying alive. Make the most of each one! Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily! This is your last and only chance at it…

Solomon

That’s quite the message. But isn’t it so true?

Take from Solomon whatever YOU need to challenge you to SEIZE YOUR LIFE. The only thing stopping you is you.

Each day is a gift. Dress colorful. Eat with gusto. Enjoy your glass of wine. Relish your family. Whatever turns up each day, grab it. Do it, with heart.

Seas the day. SEIZE LIFE!

Cheers to you.

Is There Not A Cause?

Sunday Sermon 6.6.20

What does it take for you to speak up? What lines need be crossed before you stand up? How fast must your heart pound before words emerge? What is your tipping point before verbal communication and action?

Our title today, “is there not a cause?”, is addressing those types of questions; very pertinent questions for you and me as we maneuver through this life and our exchanges with family, friends and society.

We will look at it’s setting, it’s meaning and its application to our lives. Then we’ll pivot to two other related stories before dropping the mic.

The nine foot, nine, giant Goliath, was standing on a hill “defying the armies of Israel”, and the armies of Israel were standing opposite him, on another hill “dismayed and terrified”. 1 Samuel 17:10-11

Goliath was “saying sharp things, bringing reproach, defaming and blaspheming” the armies of Israel and Jehovah. (Original Hebrew meanings)

When along comes a teenage boy, David, who’s been sent by his dad to bring a care package to his brothers on the battle front of Israel. David arrives in time to hear Goliath’s 40th day of sharp defiance and insults, and David begins to ask questions of the soldiers. 1 Samuel 17:16-26

As David heard and processed their responses, his heart began racing, the line had been crossed, the tipping point had been reached and he said, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the Living God?” 1 Samuel 17:26

After this bold declaration, you would think he would be applauded, but instead, his brothers ridiculed and harassed him, and that is when David said to them, “is there not a cause?”.

That phrase, in its original Hebrew renderings, really means:

“I have a word, a matter or thing to speak; it is nondestructive; and now is the time to share it and this is the exact circumstance for it to be spoken.”

David realized what he held deep within the character of his being and had woven into the fabric of his heart was being ridiculed, defamed, and blaphsmed, and there was something that he could do about it. And he would do it right now!

That phrase (is there not a cause) has everything to do with putting the focus on nondestructive speech regarding a matter – but also emphasizes it being done at the right time and place.

David’s line had been crossed and he knew it was the time and place for what was welling up inside of him. He knew his experience had prepared him for this time and place. He knew he was able and he paid no attention to those who ridiculed him. He just bent down and picked up the stones, hurled one and nailed Goliath’s big ole head. David knew a big headed, defiant giant was a target he would never miss. And he didn’t!

David knew he had a cause. He had the right word for the right occasion, at the right time. He slung it expertly and hit his mark. He earned victory for the whole nation.

There is a similiar story in Esther. She was the Queen of Persia and had hidden her Jewish identity to King Xerxes. Her fellow Jews had received a death sentence, so her Uncle begged her to ask the King for mercy. His words to her were,

” Who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”

Esther 4:14

Esther realized she too, had a cause, she had a message to speak and this was the time and this was the perfect place. Now, was the appointed time.

She spoke to the King, a solution was given and her people were spared destruction. The entire Jewish nation was spared.

Our last story, is of King Solomon; he gives us a beautiful image in Proverbs 25:11, where he says,

“Like apples of gold in settings of silver is the right word at the right time.”

King Solomon

Solomon was perhaps looking at beautiful arrangement of fruit on his banquet table, when he made the analogy and suggested to us:

  • fitting words are compared to something elegant, beautiful, very tasteful
  • well thought out responses will benefit all
  • rightly spoken words bring refreshing
  • elegant, meaningful words are lasting words
  • rightly spoken words are valuable, treasured, precious

The context of Solomon’s apples in Proverbs 25 falls in a list of words that are NOT beautiful and words that are beautiful.

Not beautiful, not rightly spoken words: strife, gossip, boasting, false witness.

Beautiful, rightly spoken words: reproof, truth, faithfulness, forbearence & gracius words.

Our words and their power are being called on. Causes are calling – in our family, in our friendships and in our society. Fashioning responses to hit their mark is our goal. Rambling, empty, babble is useless. Beautiful, rightly spoken words are our goal.

I pray that the spirit of David stir in your heart and you see your cause and know your time and circumstance to speak.

I ask for the favor of Esther to be upon you and for you to see that your voice is needed for such a time as this.

I trust that your words will be elegant and refreshing and valuable to those to whom you speak.

Because there is indeed a cause.

Go with God.