The Lost Cat

Dreaming vividly I awakened, my mind still engaged in technicolor drama, scenes playing on throughout the day. Was the dream somewhat prophetic… a harbinger of events of tomorrow’s meeting? Or just my mind’s imaginings?

Nearly fifty years ago I unexpectedly plucked a tiny kitten from an icy November night. She ultimately warmed the cold and lonely places of my heart, the rescued rescuing the rescuer. No doubt our meeting was not a coincidence… much love over near-twenty years came through the companionship of that tiny creature. She filled a place in me that needed her purr, those quiet contented rumblings from her heart. Her pint-sized body contained a big personality. Ever have a cat stalk by you while giving you the cold shoulder? Only begrudgingly did she finally grant my husband-to-be her stamp of approval. Enduring obvious disdain, he finally won her over by initiating a good old fashioned cat fight… with his gloved hand. Now it was my turn to wrestle… with grief. Our beloved cat was lost.

A high chain link fence surrounded the courtyard where I spoke with a Humane Society officer. He was hard pressed to locate our cat, yet hopeful his associate would arrive shortly with encouraging news, a booklet of photos of cats recently found. My heart pounded with anticipation as the the associate approached. Eagerly I grasp the booklet she handed to me through the fence, only to have my hopes rudely dashed: no photos, no hope, only a pamphlet entitled, “How to Let Go of a Lost Cat.” “No!” I cried while awakening…“she can’t be lost!”

I have other “cats” in my life, beloved ones who pad in and out, my last cat cat purring somewhere in the great hereafter. Will my present “cat,” who has been lost to me for months, take her kittens and flee? Only tomorrow morning’s meeting will tell. No matter what she presents, love never fails.

Thank You, LORD, for animals and humans You give us for a time and a season. Thank You for the incredible blessing of companionship, love, and relationship they bring. Help me to hold loosely those I love, and to rest in the fact that if they are lost from me, You still know where they are. I can, trusting in Your care, let go of my fear for them. It is You who ultimately opens and shuts the doors, who brings them, watches over them everywhere, who teaches me how to love them. Thank You, LORD, that though we might wrestle against You, scratch and fight furiously, You hold onto us. Your love never fails.

Psalm 139:7-12 NKJV “Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
And Your right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
Even the night shall be light about me; 12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
But the night shines as the day;
The darkness and the light are both alike to You.”

1 Corinthians 13:8a “Love never fails.”

My Cleaning Lady Quit

I have come to the realization that my life has been one long walk of becoming honest with myself. Waiting for my writing friend to pop in for a visit one morning, I perused my office, the living room, the flower beds. Honestly, I was feeling nervous. We had decided at the last minute to meet at my house, “a fine layer of dust” part of my morning disclaimer. Not terribly comfortable at being a hostess, especially with a less than pristine house, I happily had a little time to pray about my concerns. And dust the TV stand. My cleaning lady quit last week.

One of our sons recently commented that he thought house cleaning was too highly rated. A down to earth type of fellow whose profession is landscape maintenance, he is not the least bit annoyed by a little dust here or there. Considering the fact that we are actually made from dust, isn’t it interesting the amount of time we spend trying to get rid of it?

My friend mentioned that an analysis of dust reveals a great amount is sloughed-off, dead skin cells. “Too much information!” I exclaimed as we laughed together. Yet, think of it, our bodies are always, slowly returning from whence they came, the dust of the earth.

It truly was a blessing to just relax and enjoy my friend. Yes, my cleaning lady quit last week. She is me. She still comes around once in a while, and in emergencies. Meanwhile, she is thoroughly enjoying her retirement, family and friends. And honestly, imperfection allowed, it is a blessing!

To Be Known

Who am I? Does anybody care about me? Am I lovable? What’s my identity? Am I good enough?

All through life the need to be loved and known are cries of the human heart. From those first baby wails of “Help me! Feed me! Make me safe!” we need attention, deep down inside. It is a primal connection beyond ourselves that says we are at our core a needy sort, even in our bluster, independence, or whatever stage of maturity. Why else would there be refrains like “looking for love in all the wrong places”? We are searching to be loved, to be accepted, to be known.

Love. Such a confusing word. Used in many different contexts, the definition is broad, deep, variable, depending on who’s speaking. It’s emotional, yet has certain behaviors that tag along with it. Things like commitment, adoration, communication, sacrifice…things that take time… getting to know the beloved personally. In this temporal world we navigate primarily through the physical senses. What happens when we are still crying out as others reject, disappoint, use, abuse, hurt, and are just unable to fill our every need? None of us can be expected to always care perfectly for another, try though we might. We all fall short.

Who then knows me to the heights and depths that I need? Who will catch me when I fall, when all others fail me? When I am stuck in fear and hurt… who can I trust will never laugh at my pain, failures, embarrassments? Who knows me better than I know myself, who can guide me through the mucky muck to bring me into light again, into peace? Only my Creator, the One who gave me breath in the first place.

There is a place deep within where, when invited, the Holy Spirit resides, the promised One Jesus said He would send to dwell within each believer. The Helper, Comforter, Counselor, Teacher, Friend. Like any relationship, the more time spent together, the more known become the beloveds. And there, while no human can fully understand another, we can find true acceptance where we are already loved and fully known. It is a transformational experience. Inward growth happens as God’s presence in one’s life changes things. As one experiences the Living God, it becomes easier to trust Him in more and more areas of one’s life. He’s a Person reaching towards each of us for relationship, to set us free from all that ensnares our souls. He is the One Who loves us completely. He is the Perfect Father. All that mucky muck? He already knows.

John 16:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me.”

Nahum 1:7 NKJV “The Lord is good,
A stronghold in the daylight of trouble;
And He knows those who trust in Him.”

Love’s Refining

Sanded long with upmost care 
‘Til satiny and smooth
When a finish was applied
Wood grains rose up quite rude

Then with sanding once again
Pressure wielded precisely
The wood in places yielded fine
In other spots not nicely

Still the wood-smith worked his craft
Refusing to destroy it
More than just to feed his fire
He purposed to refine it

And while the wood endured the plane
The file and the sanding
Much harder did the wood-smith work
To make the wood outstanding

To think our LORD a carpenter
Works past our tears and whining
With steady careful Master’s hands
He loves us while refining

The Father’s heart holds us close
Knows all our wounds and bruises
In tenderness and strength He bears
Love for us He chooses

Illusion’s Error

“Look at that gorgeous yellow bird!” The exclamation flew out of my mouth as I considered how to get a picture without scaring the flighty thing. Camera zooming from the couch did not capture its details, but I could tell the bird was exquisite. Petite, a brilliant yellow, it sat basking in the sun. Hurrying over to another window—stealthily, mind you—I snapped a few more pictures, then perused the images while carefully returning to the couch.

My mind rolled back to sixty-five years previous when fear came calling one dark night. No matter I was safely ensconced in bed, in a secure home, parents asleep in a nearby room. I was petrified. Just outside the bedroom window sounded the distinct footsteps of someone walking back and forth. Was it that scary looking person recently seen in our neighborhood? No way would I peek out, only to meet eyes staring in at me! It took awhile for my heart rate to settle down and to finally fall asleep, after the truth of the mysterious footsteps was finally revealed.

Illusions. Those influences that wildly chase our imagination, capture it, and lead us down a plethora of rabbit trails. Some paths present as delightful, like exquisite yellow birds. Others are frightful, like an imposing stranger danger. Only when the truth is known can one measure the value, and reality, of the experience. There must be a plumb line for reference, an anchor on which to base our understanding and choices.

Even now as I sit gazing out the window my mind is convinced what I am seeing is a splendid yellow bird. The shape, color, and size are right. Surely my eyes could not be mistaken. Yet on closer examination that glorious bird is in truth dead clematis leaves, caught in the arbor grillwork. Dead, neither alive nor real, but an illusionary lie. Just as was that stranger danger outside my window so long ago… merely air from the floor vent flapping a loose bedsheet against the mattress. Without a foundation of unchanging truth our thinking may fall into error, eventually bringing emptiness rather than true beauty, and imagined or unnecessary fears.

Truth is on the firing line, the world system convulsing to define, sub-define, redefine truth. Illusions and delusions have long been tactics to skew the truth, influence our ways of thinking and viewing our world. My hope is that we seek truth’s wisdom to examine all the supposedly marvelous things that fly into our lives, as well as to overcome our confusions and fears.

John 8:32 NKJV “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Hearing Well

Forgive the times initially 
I listened to your spoken words
Thinking that I understood
Yet your heart I had not heard

Intention was not to dismiss
Heavy burdens of your soul
That you could not voice yourself
Perhaps you did not fully know

Communication’s awful miss
Not hearing clearly deepest cries
Meaning lost, attention’s guess
Loneliness the lullaby

Searching life long to be heard
He who knows souls fully well
Beyond one’s words of utterance
Hears the truth hearts long to tell

Oh, LORD, in fleeting days to come
Grant us gifts of hearing well
Mend our misperception’s gaps
Heal misunderstanding’s quell

Psalms 10:17 NKJV
“Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear,”

Ephesians 4:32
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”

Marching Orders

A whisper brushed across my heart
Not loud but mighty just the same
March for My glory, said the LORD
Beloved, I have called your name

Fear not your weakness, nor your strife
Turmoils of your mind and heart
Give to Me, I will make strong
My presence in your life, your art

I love you, child, can you not rest
Within My arms, trust My design
I know your purpose, I know best
How to make our work sublime

Love Me more, spend time with Me
Trust Me more, you’re safe with Me
Your hands I hold, your mind in Mine
Pour Me out eternally

When I Don’t Understand

That word “understand” is a curiosity. It just rolls off the tip of my tongue, meaning assumed or taken for granted. Today it caught my attention. What does it really mean when I lament, “I don’t understand”? The visual that pops into mind is to be standing under something… whatever that might be.

To Webster I went, curious to read the broader meanings there, to dissect the compound word into its two parts: under and stand.

The definitions that jumped out were: Under: to be in a lower place (or position) than; Stand: to occupy a place or location, to put up with something (painful or difficult).

This helps in some odd way when I find myself grappling with confusion, hurt, challenge, sudden confrontation; when my solid platform is suddenly shaken; when clarity becomes clouded. Whether a slight emotional tremor or tsunami waves, the various adjustments are similar.

It also gives pause to consider what or whom I am standing under, looking to for answers. How honest and true is the one I am trusting or following? What is that one’s track record? What is my level of peace: does the one whom I am following actually bring me peace and contentment, or turmoil? courage or fear? What is the payoff for my allegiance? Am I giving all to be enslaved, or set free? Do I receive protection from the one I stand under? Wisdom? Understanding?

These are questions that come to mind when I wonder where to turn in my dilemmas. Proverbs is a wonderful place to incline one’s ear:

Proverbs 3:5-6 ((NKJV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 2:1-9 My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, 2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; 3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, 4 If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, And find the knowledge of God. 6 For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding; 7 He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk uprightly; 8 He guards the paths of justice, And preserves the way of His saints. 9 Then you will understand righteousness and justice, Equity and every good path.

God is trustworthy. Joshua 21:45 states: Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel. All came to pass.

So it has been for me. Though I falter at times, God has been an ongoing shield, strong shelter, and giver of understanding. May He be even more so for you!

Honey for My Heart

Years ago I perused a book, Honey For A Child’s Heart, by Gladys Hunt. Aptly named it was filled with lists of books, categorized by age and grade, to nourish the spirits of children from pre- through upper-school. A resource that, for this inexperienced mom, was a boon, one I could take in hand while braving the bookstore stacks. Its title recently brought other thoughts of honey to my mind.

A dear friend, now residing in heaven, called her grands and loved ones “my honeys.” “Hello, my honey,” rang her voice, the sweetness of her spirit inferring pleasure when she greeted me, warming my soul. “My honey.” What did that term of endearment actually mean to her? Dare I think my friendship brought honey, nourishment, enjoyment to her heart? I’d like to think so. Her memory still uplifts me.

Where and who are my honeys? Such treasures I’ve been given in husband, family, extended family, and friends, old and new. Each one a living book still being written, all whose stories I have but glimpses into, some chapters pushing me to the edge of my seat as their danger-fraught mysteries unfold; others where I can rest and rejoice in their victories and delights.

Isn’t it interesting that honey is produced by some of God’s tiniest creatures, feeding from beautifully created flowers that grow miraculously from even tinier seeds? A thick syrupy substance full of sweetness and goodness formed not by man’s hand. A gift to nourish us. A gift used in some cases for healing wounds. A gift, as are children and loved ones. Yet even honey, this near perfect food, can become contaminated or adulterated, just like relationships, when cared for improperly.

Spoiling the honey, mankind fails. I cringe at the plethora of damaging voices shouting at our children through books, schools, and media, confusing them with ungodly ideas, building unstable foundations that seek to destroy rather than help them find their true identity as children of God. For the uses and abuses people purposefully inflict on one another. When facing the hurts or confusion I have caused in others, it breaks my heart, for causing suffering is not a badge I want to wear. Seeking forgiveness, hoping for reconciliation that might not occur in my timeline or lifetime, can hurt. Still, when I am wrong, I must do my part to mend the rift, to bring the balm. And rejoice when healing begins.

Honey comes to my heart as God’s living words comfort me, and I endeavor to right my wrongs His way. His forgiveness and love, even though I have messed up yet again, affirm He loves and cherishes me, no matter how others respond. No wonder I run to Him! Repentance and forgiveness is a gift, like honey, that is not man-made. Those blessed ideas come from a benevolent and loving God. The Bible, God’s living Word, the greatest book ever written, surgically dissects the rot out of us, and applies God’s healing balm to nourish and transform our souls to wellness and new life. No matter our age or stage, our souls need to taste His love, and desperately need Him, the true and everlasting honey for our hearts.

Psalm 119:103 (NKJV) 103 How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

The Gift of Irritation

Perhaps we are gifted 
With a thorn of irritation
To help us see within ourselves
Our own throbbing situation

I wonder why a teller’s stance
Never seems to change
And sigh deep within myself
‘Oh, here we go again!’

Pricks of aggravation
Settle o’re my countenance
Listening to the same old tome
Hearing heartfelt elegance

Then contemplate why others
Minus rapt attention listen
As I pour out my same self
In glorious repetition

Patience hopeful is the prize
Endurance our addition
As in love we all forebear
One another’s irritation

Cloaks of Identity

“Belonging comes before identity. Ownership births purpose. Someone speaks whose we are, and out of that we become who we are. It’s just the way the heart works…” —Charles Martin, Keeper of Water.

Having recently finished Keeper of Water, the above quote has resonated in my soul. Somewhere deep in one’s being there is that great desire and pressing need to discover one’s identity. “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question automatically programmed into young minds as we urge children of all ages to pursue, pursue, pursue… “who? oh, who? oh, who? are you? are you? are you?” It echoes in our minds throughout our lives, so entwined into our psyche that much like Goldilocks we try this, that, and the other til we find what feels “just right”… ‘til it doesn’t. Then, like shopping for that ever elusive garment that will make us more handsome or beautiful, we march on in search for that thing or situation that we just know is the answer.

Now in my seventies I have tried on various cloaks of identity along the way. Some I have inherited, like “daughter, sister, cousin, family member.” Thankfully, in all those relationships, I knew I was “beloved, valued, honored, respected.” It was in walking in my identity in a world bent on ripping me to shreds that the testing came.

That thing about belonging is such a powerful need in us that compromises are often made to become part of a crowd, to fit in, to be accepted. Throughout life we might seek what is popular, what the majority says, listen to stronger voices to lead the way, trusting they are okay, even if they’re not. Then we walk on in some imagined identity of who we think we are not knowing whose we really are. It truly is astounding, and can be fearsome or devastating when we realize we’ve been used, abused, deceived, lied to, misled… especially purposefully for someone else’s agenda. And what of those who have from young innocence been thrown into a life of horrid abuse? There is that thing in us that just wants to trust, for everything to be okay… it rocks one’s soul when the truth reveals the mess we’re in.

“Now what,” the soul asks. “How do I rise up from this awful reality? Do I ignore it? Replace it with something else to make the pain go away? Or is it time to face it straight on and overcome?”

Sometimes the easiest way to get rid of the mess and filth in our lives is to, well… take a bath, wash away the grime, and put on new clothes. Sounds easy, unless one’s identity is involved. “Who will wash clean that mess that is inside of me? Who can I trust to know what I need, to know where and how I am hurting and broken, when I am not fully sure myself? Who cares about me really? Who will not use me again? And how do I know how to trust that person?” The questions can go on and on…

By trial and error we learn… or not.

All my life, and especially since 1970 when I entrusted my life to Christ and became aware of His presence, Jesus has never lied, abused, or harmed me in any way. He died for me, conquered death, and keeps loving me through it all. He is the only one perfect Person in all of human history Who knows my true identity… who I was uniquely created to be… He is the only One who transforms and brings eternal healing to my soul… forgiveness, redemption, everlasting hope. Even when I fail again. So far learning to trust Him has been more than I could have ever imagined. Knowing I belong to Him brings a peace that’s truly beyond worldly understanding. Whether in calm or storm, He is always there. I know to Whom I belong.

From where comes your identity? To Whom or what do you really belong?

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Isaiah 49:16 16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands;
Your walls are continually before Me.

Leviticus 20: 26 26 And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.

Finding Purpose

A quiet contentment 
A breath and a pause
Resting not rushing
All the day long

No matter the action
One’s called to do
With purposed direction
Contentment comes too

So long I’d been searching
Throughout this vast world
Discover my purpose
Find that that does fill

The longing inside me
Would not go away
Through searching life deeply
I’ve found that what stays

That grows and expands me
No matter the course
Upholds and infuses
A life-giving force

I’ve found it, I witness
Am counting the cost
Life forever I’m living
Redeemed by Christ’s Cross

The Measuring Cup

Mother’s Day. Hard to believe another year has flown. Since my mother died several years ago, Mother’s Day began changing for me, as did many of the family traditions that orbited around her and Dad. Traditions of gatherings that we never considered breaking… traditions that were born of their large, cohesive families who grew through the early 1900’s, the World Wars, the Great Depression, and ongoing challenges. Yet amidst all that, there was an esprit de corps, an overall sense of working together, of upholding one another. Certainly there were families where this was not the case… still, as a country, and for most families we knew, it was an abiding outlook that undergirded our way of life.

“Is your cup half full or half empty?” is a familiar phrase that Mom and I discussed several times. Hers was filled to overflowing, her joy, faith, delight with life, and great sense of humor buoys that kept her afloat during hard times. She grew up poor, but never knew that condition, so rich was her family in love, faith, hard work, and family integrity. A favorite early picture shows my maternal grandmother with several of her children, bedraggled, worn, and threadbare, sitting on overturned buckets eating watermelon. The sparkles in their eyes and the grins on their dirt-smeared faces nearly leapt off the picture. They were poor, farm work was hard, but they were mightily blessed and knew it. They focused on the positive, and forged ahead. I rarely heard “oh, poor me,” stories from my parents and grandparents. They were too busy working to survive, enjoying the beauties of life together, and upholding the freedoms they had.

Today dear husband surprised me with day-early Mother’s Day presents, a beautiful Spring bouquet in a vintage wire-handled jar, a decadent blueberry muffin, and a new one-cup glass measuring cup. Mom’s vintage glass measuring cup had broken unexpectedly one day, and with it a little chunk of history wafted away. Though life is different now, and family traditions have changed, I am finding I can still look at that new empty measuring cup, and say, “Yes, indeed, my cup is filled to overflowing.” For after all, the fact life has challenges hasn’t changed much in the course of human history. It’s impact depends on one’s outlook.

Here’s wishing you each a wonderful Mother’s Day, no matter whether family is near or far, or even exists, or whether or not one has children of one’s own. There is that thing in a woman’s soul that has to do with caring, nurturing, loving, upholding. Whoever you are, and whatever your situation, may your life, and soul, be filled to overflowing. And if you have watermelon, go ahead… spit some seeds!

Romans 8:28 (NKJV) 28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Beneath the Ventilator

As the woman lay flaccid she barely felt the tube placed into her airway, emergency treatment to correct her failed breathing. Her body raged with pneumonia and infection, her temperature high, her fluid levels low as dehydration became worse. Completing the intubation the paramedics hovered over her, administering oxygen while providing respiratory support via ambu bag. Her family, distraught with the sudden worsening of her condition, knew the ambulance was needed…the antibiotics she had taken at home had had little effect; she rapidly declined.

Prayers were lifted up for her recovery, and endurance through her suffering. Inadequate to help medically, this was the only thing her family and friends could do to lend sustenance to her. After providing admission information at the hospital, her loved ones waited to support her.

Alerted by the ER doctor in communication with the paramedics en route, the woman’s attending physician was on hand to evaluate her in the ER as stat blood work was drawn. He accompanied her to the Medical ICU, reviewing the lab results there and ordering adjustments to her IV’s as additional monitors were applied. She was soon connected to the mechanical ventilator, and assisted breathing was begun.

Nurses efficiently caring for her spoke to her in low tones, telling her everything they were doing. A frightening experience to be poked, prodded, unable to breathe or speak, the woman appreciated the soothing words as she slipped in and out of consciousness, endeavoring to relax somehow in this situation. Then finally, she fell into a deep, deep sleep.

“I wonder what she is experiencing now,” one young nurse queried aloud. “I hurt for her suffering, and pray she is not terrified, or hurting from the ventilator. I pray she can relax and fully let go, rest in comfort and assurance. Be spared fear.”

The woman lay as in a coma, having been given medication to allow her to rest without fighting the ventilator, to let it do the work of breathing for her as her body was given a chance to heal. She had been terrified, but had come to a point in her struggle that she no longer had the strength to fight. Raised to believe in God, she had come to know Him in a personal way through surviving tragedies of losing loved ones early in life. She trusted Him for so many things. And now this. It had been her experience that trust was a lesson that was learned through situations that proved God trustworthy. Then new, more threatening challenges seemed to throw a cloak of doubt into the mix. So here she lay, learning to trust God again… literally for her very breath, for her very life.

As the nursing staff continued to care for her, the woman’s consciousness was further dampened by the medication. Still at times she could hear the beeping of machines, the rhythm of the ventilator, the voices of family, and staff. Most of the time she felt she was floating, hearing sweet music and angelic voices. It was what she imagined would be a heavenly sound, and she longed to rest in that soothing place. She felt no pain or discomfort, just warmth and rest. And on and on the ventilator cycled, breathing air in and out, in and out.

As the nurses watched the monitors, their patient ministrations complete for a time, several talked about the woman in room 2B. “I wonder if she is having an out-of-body experience,” one said. “An NDE (near death experience) many experience when they are so ill.” “It’s hard to say,” another replied. “There is so much hope and assurance given by those who have experienced such. I believe God has allowed those experiences to encourage people to believe that life after death is real.” “Yes,” said yet another, “some NDE patients have reported being rescued from the horrors of hell, crying out for God to forgive them and save them. I’m thankful God has given us a way to know Him and start eternal life now. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us is so amazing!” As the ladies talked on their discussion turned into a verbal prayer for all the patients under their care. For only God knew the condition of each one’s heart and soul, if His Spirit had been invited to reside within, to accept His love and forgiveness freely given.

For fourteen days the woman lay attached to the ventilator as her illness raged on. Blood cultures revealed the exact strains of bacteria that were the cause of her disease, and appropriate antibiotics were give, with medications to keep her body’s systems functioning as normally as possible. At day eleven she had been roused from her coma to determine if she could begin breathing on her own again. For nearly three hours she endured, then as she lapsed back into crisis, the ventilator was resumed. At times able to respond to commands and recognize visiting family, both encouraging signs, she was still gravely ill. And so the ministrations continued, as did the prayers of many.

As the days marched on the woman slowly gained strength. A tracheostomy was needed to relieve her from the intubation tube, yet still allow ventilator assist when needed as her lungs continued to heal. Studies had shown weaning from the ventilator proved more easily accomplished from a tracheostomy, especially for patients on longer term ventilation needs of over two weeks. And as she continued to improve, necessary maintenance of oral hygiene and eventually eating by mouth again were accomplished.

Still unable to speak, the woman wrote notes of her requests, and had good communication with the nursing staff who understood her many frustrations. The tracheostomy would prevent her from speaking as the air she breathed in and out did not pass sufficiently over her vocal chords. This would correct itself in time when the tracheostomy was no longer needed, when her lungs were healed enough for her to breathe well on her own. And she prayed healed they would be.

After several more weeks in hospital the woman was finally ready to be discharged. She was still recovering, though her breathing had returned to normal, her lungs healed, her illness gone. But from the trauma of being ill so long she still needed rest. Her tracheostomy had been reversed, her neck near fully healed with only a faint scar a reminder of her ordeal. Deeper in her heart, however, she carried other memories of experiences she was given as she lay dependent, with the choice to rest and trust, or to fight and fear. It had been no contest for her, for rest and trust were infinitely more desirable as she found herself literally flat on her back. Those wondering what she had experienced deep within while she was unresponsive would have to wait. For that was another story of stories that was only hers to tell.

Skating Blind

She touched his face, and then again after a spin, as though orienting herself to him as the music started. I was mesmerized by the gracefulness of both these young skaters, he in a dark suit, she in a gossamer short dress. There was an air of innocence in their demeanor, that kind of purity and trust that most know in their youth before the ways of the world sully friendships. Just the exquisite delight of dancing together, skating and swirling over the glistening ice, the arena totally theirs, but for the hushed crowd watching reverently, as the music swelled and danced with them.

It was a holy moment, something precious connecting the two of them. His hand touching hers, his presence always in the right position as she spun for him to lift her and twirl her more. Their routine synchronized perfectly, no hesitation was evident in either dancer… they danced separately as pair dancers do, but as one. If I had not been told one was blind I would have never guessed, or perhaps surmised her touching his face was just part of the story they were trying to tell. Only at the end did she touch his face again. He had skated away and as she glided forward reaching, just waiting, her hand stretched out in front of her as though groping in the dark… she came to a stop. And just exactly then, there he was right in front of her. Her hand felt his face, identifying him, and then as she eagerly leaned relieved into his chest embracing him, his arms enveloped her secure.

Oh my. When I think of the level of trust one must have while skating blind I cannot help but think of the parallels to walking in faith. Long ago a respected preacher defined faith as “walking to the end of all the light one has and taking another step.” What was it like for this young blind skater to first get on the ice? Did parents hold her hands and spur her on into confidence to fly free? To give her wings to dream beyond her limitations and accomplish feats in her youth most sighted people never achieve? Surely there have been coaches, and trusted folks who have infused her with skills, given her courage, and cheered her on. So like this is learning to walk in faith. On the ice, skating blind one is using physical senses to listen, hear, touch, feel, orient oneself in time and space, and practice routines to know how to move. Walking blind through life, the earthly spirit has its soul (emotions, mind, physical senses) for navigation, but more importantly is given access to God’s Holy Spirit Who opens the eyes of our blind earthly spirits that one may see God’s design and walk forward in faith. This world is filled with much darkness, and our spirits long to fly free into the light, to dance rapturously in unabashed joy.

Who will lead us? Like that young skater we, too, need a trustworthy guide in the dark. Not just any dancer will do, for there are those who would use us and abuse us. No, we need the Holy One Who teaches us the dance, yet allows us the freedom to dance our part. Who is there for us to touch His face to orient ourselves. The One Who holds our hand, catches us and lifts us, embraces us, and when He lets us go never actually leaves, but is there just when we need Him, to touch His face again. Our spiritual dance partner is more than a temporary helper who is there just during a routine. He is there always for our good, and being the Originator of the dance, is there to keep teaching us as well. Invited in, He comes to dwell in our lives, and promises this dance goes on eternally.

Is your spirit skating blind? Need a soul partner you can rely on? Call on Jesus…He knows everything about this dance through life. He even makes us new!

Jeremiah 31: 3-4 (NKJV) 3 The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying:
“Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
4 Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt,
O virgin of Israel!
You shall again be adorned with your tambourines,
And shall go forth in the dances of those who rejoice.

If you are new to learning about Jesus, the Gospel of John is a good place to start. Seek Him and you will find Him… He is waiting for you!

Victim or Victory

When reading posts on Facebook (mine included), I find at times a thread of victimhood that raises its hoary head. It knocks on my door of awareness, and breaks my heart for those ensnared, captured in ways perhaps they do not yet recognize. That has certainly been my life’s experience. As the windows of my soul have been washed, over and over, again and again, my view and understanding have been made more clear. It has been, and is, an ongoing process.

When contemplating our human endeavors to find comfort, peace, happiness, or whatever it is we think will fill our cup to satisfy that longing deep inside, I wonder at the offerings for fulfillment being dangled before our eyes. Education, social justice, business acumen, popularity, religious endeavors, personal achievement, travel, volunteering . . . the list goes on and on. None of these in themselves wrong, for we are called in various directions to serve, to explore, to make our communities better. Yet, in all our endeavors there is that real need to think clearly about what into we are immersing ourselves. To what or whom are we becoming enslaved. Like it or not we are influenced by the milieu in which we choose to dwell. Of course, some are forced into situations beyond their control. And, yet, deep inside each of us, somewhere, we do still have a choice. Certainly the bullies we face might overpower us, perhaps forever. But my fervent prayer is that those who are victims will realize it and begin to ask, to seek, to knock, to allow themselves to wonder and dream beyond the walls of their situation, and endeavor to grow on.

Sin is a pervasive force that, like a cancer, endeavors to swallow bit by bit until one’s whole self is consumed. It starts small, like brainwashing, a little idea here or there, reinforced and grown insidiously over time. It takes hold of us til we find ourselves bound with no seeming way out. No matter one’s cultural background, race, beliefs, or country’s history, this thing about sin remains a universal problem for all mankind. The war we battle goes beyond this temporal plane. It has to do with our very creation and to whom we would be enslaved. In that we will always have a choice, if we choose to exercise it.

I can attest only to the path to victory I have found. Victory to finding my voice again. Victory over “not being good enough.” Victory over all kinds of internal things and mental health issues that I have leaned into to try to understand, to grow through, to overcome. Guiding me through it all have been various human helpers along the way, but always, never leaving my side has been the truth of God’s Word, and the presence of His Holy Spirit, growing me beyond myself.

Becoming enslaved to God, rather than to sin, has been my doorway to freedom. In my case the longer I dwell coming to know God as a Person, the more peace and freedom I find. Love is His name, who He is. With tender care and mercy He has stood with me, or held me, as I have faced those ugly, fearful, shameful things, within and outside of me, that I have wrongly done myself, or have been made victim. No matter the cause, or where lies the blame, facing everything in truth and honesty has been my path to victory. Yes, I would choose to be enslaved to the God of Love, for only here do I find real freedom, forgiveness, healing, hope, and joy to live life in a world full of pain. My prayer is that God’s presence and comfort will be chosen by others who long to overcome those mountains and valleys of pain in their lives. I am here to testify. God is real, Jesus is life, and He is here reaching His scarred hands of Love towards each of us, and to you, too.

Blessings to all!

On the Brink of Eternity

Someone said she was dying. Decades before her grandson-in-law had quipped, “We are all dying a little bit each day, from the day we were born.” Well, that was understandable… yes, we grow, and as each day brings us closer to our earthly end, one could say we are all on the dying continuum. Seems like it is the only way out of this worldly life, but for the Rapture.

“I’m not quite sure what is happening to me,” she confessed, her body betraying her in sudden unexpected ways. It had served her well nearly ninety years… so she wasn’t surprised, just amazed that perhaps her launch date was so near. She was still young inside, her mind and spirit alive and well. Just now her so familiar earthly body was wearing out, like a favorite old cloak she had always worn.

As she lay supine in her bed, head elevated, she’d realized her head was cold. She had neglected this morning to don her wig, too tired to exert any extra effort other than to relieve herself. Her hair hat, that had covered her thinning straggly hair faithfully for many years, lay cast aside, folded flat like a deflated balloon. “Just what I feel like,” she muttered glimpsing at the worn out thing as she hung onto the walls, dragging herself back to bed. Pulling on a wig was the least of her concerns; her only goal was to get herself back into bed and under the covers. “And the doctor said I was fine just three days ago!” It seemed surreal.

As the day unwound and the assisted living staff confirmed her decline, family gathered to sit with her so she would not be alone. Over the next week phone calls and flowers came, patters of little feet sing-songing, “Wake up, Gigi!” would rouse her when great grandchildren visited. As hospice nurses cared for her needs she was acutely aware of her internal experiences, and the separation that she could discern, from her body, her loved ones, this world. She was not afraid, but caught up in the greatest adventure she would ever face… being transformed from her earthly shell into a new existence. One of the poems she had written envisioned her and her long-departed husband, “riding comets with stardust in our hair.” Could she be visiting such experiences as she slipped into a coma, transitioning to a new part of life? Only she would know, for as the hospice chaplain encouraged a family member, “dying is a deeply personal and private thing.” Certainly many could be in attendance, yet only the dying one walking through that eternal door would know what their dying really was like, and what lay beyond.

It was years later, that the woman’s aging daughter, contemplating the brevity of life and the youth of her own spirit, wondered, “Are we all but wee ones on the brink of eternity or, as someone suggested, is this life just a parentheses within eternity?” Her mother was convinced this life is a great school of learning. Indeed, no matter how lofty our imaginings, even greater lessons and realities are certainly awaiting.

Psalm 90:10 (NKJV) 10 The days of our lives are seventy years;
And if by reason of strength they are eighty years,
Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow;
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Isaiah 51:6 6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
And look on the earth beneath.
For the heavens will vanish away like smoke,
The earth will grow old like a garment,
And those who dwell in it will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not be abolished.

John 3:16 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Knocking on the Tomb

“Oh come on!” I silently thought, hammering on a screwdriver inserted in the old hinge of the bathroom door. All I wanted to do was place a door stop in the hinge, replacing the one near the floor that was falling out. “Should be easy enough,” or so I thought. Of course, the hinge pin would not budge. No surprise really, for it has probably rested in that very spot since this home was built in the 1980’s. Definitely “set in its ways,” I would say.

My husband and I have learned through much trial and error that sometimes things break. There comes a time when hammering should cease lest irreparable damage occurs, and one finds a gentler approach more prudent. This seemed to be one of those times, and so (undefeated I might add) I withdrew. The hinge would rest for now. The task would be addressed again, later.

So I muse this Easter those locked doors of my heart, places within that I am want to open when Christ comes gently knocking. I have never known Him to hammer, though He has allowed experiences I have gone through and events of the world to hammer me. Still, He has always come to me as Savior and Shepherd, to rescue, guide, nourish, redeem, all the while being the only One Who after three very dead days in the grave, arose alive again and spoke with hundreds of witnesses after His amazing Resurrection.

How easily in our everyday lives we forget, letting those locked places in our hearts become even so like tombs. Tombs where we need our own resurrection, yet because of fear, shame, having learned how to navigate our rut, we stay tucked away inside, avoiding the light that would set us free.

It is insidious how those inner tombs are built, so slowly over time that we hardly notice them confining us. Much like Eckhart Tolle’s “painbody” concept, we hide painful experiences away, waiting to face them another day—or not—until built up inside are a body or bodies of pain. Enter the oyster who has been created with a mechanism to automatically protect itself from those hurtful invasions. It encapsulates the offending grain of sand when it occurs, entombs it into a thing of ultimate beauty, the pearl.

Unlike the oyster, however, our pain is healed when it is brought out of hiding into light. Not just any light, for there are various “lights” beaconing us to follow, but to the light of the One who created us, the Light of the world, the One whose light overcame the darkest darkness of all, death itself, and Who knocks gently on the tombs of our souls asking, “Would you be healed?” May He bless and heal each of us and all we hold dear as we celebrate the glorious Resurrection that brings hope to this hurting world. And give each of us courage to open the doors of our tombs to Him! He is alive, and calling each of us into relationship with Himself!

Jeremiah 29:13 (NKJV) 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Revelation 3:20 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.

Psalm 91:15 15 He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.

Good Friday Sacrifice

People entered, all was dark
Candles flickered to light the way
Reverant yearning filled the air
As echoes rent tranquility
Steady pounding hammering

Stillness reigned in candle glow
Wonder filled each waiting soul
Longing for soon’s Easter morn
More entered in amidst forlorn
Cryptic sounds of hammering

No one spoke nor cried His name
Once jubilant shouts “Messiah! King!”
Then singers sang in darkness dim
We pound His nails with our sin
Cause the endless hammering

In solemn recount of one’s soul
Truth piercing deep again our plight
That hollow place no one can fill
With other sources, nor our might
But through the Cross, God’s grace and will

“Forgive them, Father, they know not
What they do,” Christ’s pleading prayer
Nailed cruelly, lifted high
Left to die while hanging there
Endured the gruesome hammering

See His bleeding hands, His feet
The blood and water from pierced side
His death for sins eternally
His final cry before He died
“My God, why’ve You forsaken Me?”

Does pride, or what, prevent me, Lord
To bow and give my sin to You
Stop pounding nails into Your heart
Accept Your mercy, Your scarred marks
To take away my hammering

Mankind driving nails still
Forsaking Him with selfish sin
Yet through His gift He supplies
Forgiveness poured that testifies
This greatest Love, His sacrifice

Beyond Vulnerability

She could barely describe the situation, so overwhelming it felt. Yet she knew she could not rely on her feelings… they were capricious, diaphanous, wispy like foggy droplets wafting on the breeze. They were without substance… just feelings. And yet they flew at her like ice pellets in a raging storm. She felt her head would explode. Was there no relief? Even her loved ones brought irritation and distress to her… she wanted to run far away to who knows where. Silly that, for she was wise enough to know her problems would just gallop after her. “God, help me!” she cried. “I have absolutely no place other than You to go…”

She had experienced something like this years before, when life became overwhelming. “Snarky”decided to move in, along with “impatience.” These relatives of “anxious” she did not want to host, such noxious attitudes. They were known to be inhospitable to others, rude, self-serving, unkind. Nope. Time for help.

It turned out that her brain chemistry was somewhat out of whack, and, thus, her emotions. Pair that with the stress of life, and she felt undone. A few specifically prescribed supplements, and miraculously within a few days the bad attitudes started packing and moving out. Of course she still had to deal with the various attitudes in others, and the repeated pounding on the door of “fearful”, “nasty”, “grumpy”, and their friends trying to move back in. Like some squatters, they were a pain to convince they were not welcomed back. Still intentionally she hoped on, one day at a time. Prayer, medical help, supplements, good counsel, and keeping on keeping on was what she could do… with gratitude.


What then when all we’ve tried, exhausted, fails? Like a frog clinging to a lily pad in a storm we have no where to turn, nothing else on which to rely, lest we dive deep into that soul-life in which we live. When God’s Spirit has been invited to dwell with one’s human spirit, becoming part of the Kingdom of Heaven happens immediately, available now as we wrestle with those things that overwhelm our earthly body and mind, strain our soul. “God, help me!” Turning eyes to Him, especially in the devastation of our pain, loss, fear, grief…invites hope, and increased awareness of God’s hovering presence, the Holy Spirit, as He ministers to us. Beyond the diagnosis, beyond the prognosis, beyond man’s statistics and vulnerabilities is One Who knows even more… the outcome of all we face. What joy to rest in the assurance that the God of Heaven cares for each of us personally! Step by step trust is built as one looks to Him, seeking to find His way and to understand.

Keep looking for His presence, vulnerable sojourner. Fear not! Though bewildered and afraid, He will lead the way through fearsome heights and depths, through raging waters, floods of overwhelm, even through the shadow of death itself, and will carry us when we can no longer go on. He will lead, hand held firm, never letting go. He will bring all that we need, and will safely see us, and those we love, home. We are never ever abandoned or alone.

Psalm 23:4 (NKJV) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

Romans 8:38-39 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jeremiah 28:13 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

Communication Frustration

Oh that words and their intent
Could be heard full rightly
How often wounds and discontent
Rise up when off-heard slightly

Does correction mean mistrust
Raise slights from others given
Or are one’s faults that much more
Articulation ridden

Whate’re causes the breakdown
In understanding’s purpose
When defenses are thrown up
In place of hearing courteous

When is it best to let it go
Agree to disagree
Or clarify again o’er time
Connecting you and me

When Fear Knocks

Many years ago I heard the saying “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” It made sense that when overcome with the thought or emotion of fear one could become captured or paralyzed within its grasp. Yet, in this highly emotional, increasingly fear-filled world, how is one supposed to combat that? As always the battlefield is ultimately within one’s mind, even when the world is falling apart around one’s feet.

Fear is not always a bad thing. It can be a sign of warning, a sense that alerts us that something is wrong. It is when it settles in and overtakes one’s mind and outlook, becomes the window through which one views his world, that it becomes the problem, rather than a mere caution flag.

The battlefield of the mind is not a new battlefield. It has been the arena of choice since time began when whispered words of doubt grew into actions taken that effected all of mankind. It is being used powerfully today by many who desire to manipulate others for the purposes of their cause. And until the end of time fear will desire to inhabit this world.

“Fear not!” comes the command I have come to love and more intimately understand. Fear’s dominion over me seems to be a sneaky covert thing. It wiggles in bringing doubt, shame, uncertainty… throwing them up in front of my face to stop me from growing, attempting to capture me in whatever place I am, to hold me hostage at the mercy of others. It quietly, carefully, steals my freedom. It robs me of peace, joy, and relationships by throwing up walls of difference and defense. It tries to convince me all is lost, hope is gone, that my only “safe” place is in a huddled frightened heap. So siren is it’s voice when it knocks on the door of my mind, presents its overwhelming convincing argument, and begs to march right in.

How many precious moments throughout my years have been given to the battle against fear and its plethora of cousins who would claim my freedom and joy? The fact that this reality is part of this world further convinces me of the spiritual actualities of life. Yes, there is the ever-present battle of good versus evil. So what does one do to navigate this war torn field?

A few lessons I have learned and am relearning along the way are to:

1. Choose to invite Truth into one’s mind; reject entertaining lies. Lies only bring confusion and turmoil.

2. Learn how to determine Truth from error. There are zillions of voices shouting for our attention. To whom will you choose to bow and follow? Our minds are like sponges, thirsty to be filled. We are all following someone or something…

3. Nurture the health of your mind. Just as one’s physical body needs nutritional food, so does the mind. Mental health issues and the physiological issues of the brain that impact one’s thinking and emotions are linked arm in arm. Addressing both opens doors.

When fear comes knocking or kicking at the door, face it! Stand up to it. Look it square in the face. I must admit I choose to do this with the LORD at my side, for fear makes me quiver when it hurls darts of shame, remorse, guilt, conviction of my errors, possibilities of horrible things to come if I don’t do it’s bidding… It is in facing fear with Truth that I am able to overcome and roust out those fears that knock, or rise up from hidden places in me. Though honestly facing the Truth of my fears may be painful, and may require a hard look at how I have been thinking, the joy of removing that fearsome boulder is worth it all when fear washes away and leaves me flowing free! No matter how fearsome the foe, Truth remains steadfast, and is far greater than fear.

32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 (NKJV)

33 These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

On the Edge of Faith

Think of those Olympic diving contestants, balancing on steady toes, high above a deep pool. Place them on a spring-board, one that actually moves with barely the whisper of one’s controlled breathing. There they stand, forever it seems, collecting themselves, imagining in their minds the flawless twists and turns they would execute before slicing perfectly, body straight, toes pointed, into the pool. Over in just seconds, the dive has taken years of practice and preparation. Still before the spring off the board, what goes through the diver’s mind? And how does it effect their dive?

Hurdle, tuck, twist, flip, twist, flip, tuck, spot, kick out, rip

Or for those backward dives:

Approach, breathe, breathe, breathe, miss the board, miss the board, miss the board . . . I can’t do this . . . Bail! Bail! Bail! Stop thinking that! I can do this!

Yes, I can, Yes, I can. Breathe, breathe, breathe. Breathe. One, two, three, hurdle, ganier, tuck, twist, flip, twist, flip, tuck, spot, kick out, rip, I did it!

It matters not what we are diving off of or into, exercising faith seems key in it all. A baby gaining strength to rise from tummy to all fours takes a tremendous amount of effort, inherently propelled onward. Pair that with unending encouragement and cheering on, he is most certain to win. Somewhere from deep inside is this drive to stand up into the position he was created to dwell in. And so the thriving child does just that. It is a microcosm of faith in action, being fully displayed before our very eyes.

Oh, to be able to listen to the thoughts of the baby’s mind. Perhaps he is totally unaware of the faith he is practicing as he just keeps reaching, reaching, reaching for more. Or perhaps his giftedness for reaching is what drives him forward.

It seems that as one stands at the edge of faith the conscious mind becomes tuned in to its situation. Awareness of unknown territory, dangers, wonderments at what might next be encountered. Or, like a parched river bed, awaits the filling of needed rain. Sometimes the execution of long practiced patterns of moves brings the successful entry as one dives through a new space. Other times, like an exhausted baby whose efforts have worn him out, he must just rest and wait, gather strength to try again.

In either case there is only so much a person can do before their limits are met. What those limits are greatly rest in how he thinks; the encouragement he hears internally; and the urging on from others.

It is no wonder our LORD fashioned us to be in community. To cheer one another along, to speak truth into our selves. It behooves us to consider carefully where we place our faith. On the Rock? On shifting sand? I choose the arms of the unchanging One who holds me tenderly, and has bridged the greatest gap my faith will ever try. Meanwhile, like the babe delighting in a new world, or a diver relishing perfect entry after their dive, one can rest in the joys of gratitude and peace, growing until it is time to walk or dive again.


Tilting on a spinning top 
Keeping balance by a thread
One’s life whirling ‘til it flops
Waiting ‘til it moves ahead

Mesmerized by glorious gain
Flinging, crashing uncontrolled
Excited to start o’er again
Climb to heights as yet untold

Ordeals leaving one undone
When the air becomes too thin
Survival orders one come down
Bittersweet the efforts then

Yet all climbing’s not in vain
Lessons hard won realized there
Good from hardship can become
Sweetness born of bitter fare

Is not this earth a tilting top
Spinning in a cosmic place
Lest we forget Who starts and stops
We’re at His mercy and His grace