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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Skaree Stuf (Gest post bi Buster)


Mi mommee sed I cud rite this tuda -- ownlee becuz I convinzt her that I had sumtheeng portant tu sa.

I take good cayr of mi mommee. At leest, I do mi very best. I jus no wat is good and oh-kay, an wat is bad and not oh=kay.

Last week, theengs were NOT oh-kay. Furst, mommee found wet arownd big water dish in bathruum. I towld her I didn’t do it. She was veery crabbee. It got wurse wen she fownd big hole in ruuf ware parts uf
Tree fell. Now she is even moor crabbee -- but not at me, thank goodness.

Nyce gi called “ruufer” cums an tells mommee “big job!” Lots of monee. Mommee not happee camper but he pets me and sez I am good, so he seems oh-kay to me. Mommee sighs a lot, but says yes to new roof. Tels me no more gud-boi bonees for a long tyme beecuz nu roof costs lots. WHAT???? Foreget nu roof.

I thot she lisened tu me. But then, awl these men showed up. Mommee tride tu tel me they were buzzard cachers. They made lots of noyse up there. The furst day, it wasn’t too bad. But I was glad wen they went away.

On nex day, they cayme back. With shooters! Lotz of men with shooters! I tried to tell my mommie to take cuver beecuz we were under attak and Thayer waz nuthin I cud du.

That wuz the scaree part -- nuthin I cud du. I’m supposed to du stuf when scaree things cum r way -- lyke buzzards and furree things and red burds, and garbage truks. But theze men with shooters were on my hous and I cud no see them and they were shooting. I started shaking reely bad so my mommee tuk me aut syd ware I cud see the shooters.

Hey, folks out thare, learn it -- sumtymes, thare iz nuthin you can du. An you hav to hav a mommee wu noze itz oh-kay eeven tho it duznt seem oh-kay. She’s a prittee good mom!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Becoming

Dear Lord,

Somehow, please help them to understand,
Because right now,
In all my confusion,
Disappointments,
And searching,
I don’t even
Understand
Myself.

Help them to understand
I’m struggling ---
And struggling hard ---
To find the answers ---
Your answers ---

To questions I don’t know
How to ask,
And sometimes,
I’m not even sure
I know the questions
Knawing at my soul.

Somehow, Lord, please help them to understand --
I want your best
For me
And those I love.
It seems right now
The things I thought
You chose as best
Are not;
Yet, still,
I cannot find
Just what it is
That will replace
My best with Yours.

Somehow, Lord, please, somehow --
There must be someone who understands;
Someone brave enough,
Someone who cares enough
To hug me and to say,
“I understand,
I’ve been there,
I’ll walk the road again
And see you through.”

Somehow, dear Lord, help me
To help them understand.
I’m so afraid
Of sharing all the depths
Of all that hurts,
Of all that doubts,
Of all that yearns and thirsts
For something more.
It hurts when those
Who do not care
Turn away from me
As if I were diseased.
Help them to understand
I need to struggle
And struggle hard
To become ---
Oh, Father,
To become what?

That’s it, Oh Lord,
That’s all they need to understand ---
I want no more
And be assured,
I want no less,
Than to become
Like YOU!

Not high,
Not mighty,
Not lofty,
Or above them;

Not more spiritual,
Not more wise,
Only more like You.

Help them to understand, dear Lord,
I need some time --
Time alone --
Yet,, not alone --
For oh, that they could know
How I yearn for their support
And love,
And yes,
Even an understanding tear.

I’ll do my best --
I have no other choice.
I’ve weighed my options,
Counted all the costs ---
And turning back ---
(back to what?) --
Is not one option
I cannot think about.
I’ll do my best
To learn the unlearned art
Of becoming. . .

Becoming patient
Of those who think
Pat answers always work.

Becoming loving
Of those who are unlovely.

Becoming compassionate
Of those who turn away.

Becoming lovely
And beautiful,
And endearing
To those who say
Unlovely things.

Becoming ---
Oh Father,
I never knew
It would be so hard
To become
Just a little more
Like You!

--Cora Eelman


Continuing counting my grace gifts. . . .

585. Sales on pork roasts, fish, veggies, and even my favorite bread.

586. Cooler weather after a long, hot summer.

587. Watching leaves lose their grip on their branch and slowly dance to the ground.

588. Birds who seem to know within seconds that I have filled their feeder.

589. A diet that works for me (Weight Watchers.)

590. Buster, who doesn't care if I'm fat as long as I'm happy and not crabby.

591. Sharing recipes with friends and finding encouragement and support.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Precious Jewels!

Malachi 3:16-17a, Amplified Version~
Then those who feared the Lord talked often one to another; and the Lord listened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who reverenced and worshipfully feared the Lord and who thought on His name.
And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I publicly recognize and openly declare them to be My jewels (My special possession, My peculiar treasure).

A few weeks ago, I lost my journal --- the one in which I kept a record of my thankful gratitudes I would see in the moment --- the one that Ann VosKamp had inspired me to start ---- the one that was changing my life, moment by moment. I thought I could just remember these wonderful things that came my way each day. I still saw them -- for a while --- but like children’s bubbles, they were soon gone with the breezes, and by Monday morning, I could not retrieve any of them. And even if there were a few, they seemed stale, like last week’s Italian loaf of bread. NOT postable. Not palatable. Maybe more like “yesterday’s manna”.

My friend, Debra, over at Sparrowgrass posted this verse this past week, and it struck me hard. The thought of the Lord bending His ear to listen to me as I talked with others around me, waiting to hear His name spoken with reverence and worship. And, if He DID hear His Name, He would write my name in a Book of Remembrance. I envisioned a sacred ceremony one day when He would open His book, His own personal journal filled with names of those who took the time to think of Him and His Name, and one by one, would call them out publicly and declare them to be His jewels.
Remember that song we used to sing as children?
“When He cometh, when He cometh To make up His jewels,
All His jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning
His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.

He will gather, He will gather
The gems for His kingdom,
All the pure ones, all the bright ones,
His loved and His own.
Like the stars of the morning
His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.

Little children, little children,
Who love their Redeemer,
Are the jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.

Like the stars of the morning
His bright crown adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty
, Bright gems for His crown.
Sing it with me today, won’t you? And as you do, think His Name -- perhaps one of His Names that is most precious to you! (You can turn off my music already playing if you scroll to the bottom and and hit the button. It should turn it off while you listen to Alison Kraus.)


Still counting my blessings and gratitudes:
567. That He is my Shepherd, providing all of what I need, leaving me with no wants.

568. That He is El Roi, the One who sees ME, knows me better than I know myself, and loves me just the same.

569. That He is El Elyon, the Most High One, far above all other gods, in control of all the worlds and universes, yet, still cares about ME and controls all that comes and goes into and out of my life.

570. That He is Jehovah Ropha, the Healer of all that is broken.
That He is El Shaddai -- The All sufficient One who supplies my every need.

571. That He is Jehovah-Jirah -- The One who will provide.

572. That whenever I whisper His name or scream it loudly, He bends His ear and listens.

573. That He never changes, and all that He says He is, He will always be.

574. That He never leaves me nor forsakes me, no matter what it is I am going through or where I am.

575. That all that He is is made available to me in the moment of my need.

576. That crab cakes made in a healthy, diet-friendly way can be so mouth-watering good!

577. That dinner with a friend can be just so much fun and full of fellowship and laughter!

578. That watching sycamore leaves turn a bronzy gold as they do their last dances in the fall breeze could bring back so many sweet memories.

579. Hearing the acorns hitting the shed roof and rolling slowly off to the ground. I imagine squirrels perking up their ears and knowing that a big job is ahead of them in hiding and burying their winter food stock!

580. Watching leaves dance their final performance as they slowly make their way to the ground.

581. Seeing the magic of moonbeams turn wet, soggy oak leaves into shimmery silver treasures on my sidewalk.

582. Smiling as Buster squints as cool raindrops hit his face. He has sensed my peacefulness in sitting out in the rain and sits patiently with me, wondering why this is a good thing.

583. Celebrating the baptism of a young teenager who is committed to following the Lord.

584. The privilege of worshipping with a recently saved biker gang member --- tatoos, ankle monitor and all. Seeing the love between pastor and biker, the hug, slap on the back, tears of joy shared between them ---- that’s all I needed for a Sunday morning worship.

Joining with Ann VosKamp and a community of so many others who are raising their voices of gratitude on Mondays. Click on the banner below to read others' lists:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Practice of Hope

It was just a small tree -- small enough to fit into her car. But it was perfect and I knew just where it would go. The best birthday presents are those that live on, and little did I know that this Sycamore tree would become my “Tree of Hope.”

It came in a big pot, tied to a stick that kept it straight and kept it from bending and breaking in the wind. It’s trunk was still small, bendable, and needed support. A few years before, an old oak tree had died, and I chose that place for this new, perky tree. And so, it was planted, stick still in place, with the hopes and dreams of someday seeing a large shade tree in my yard.

Hope has visions of what tomorrow looks like. The maturing of what is, the reality of our faith, the flowering of our buried seeds. And I knew what my Sycamore was to look like --- tall, wide, full of large leaves that would shade a hot summer yard. Hope works towards that end reality, watering, feeding, pruning, etc.

Storms came with wind and rain, sometimes gently, refreshing a thirsty plant, but sometimes violently, as if intentionally trying to break its spine and loose its roots from the ground. I wondered. . .and I hoped. But that stick remained strong and steadfast, keeping my tree in place through each and every storm. It grew taller, and that spindly trunk was now thick and strong.. . And I noticed that the supporting stick had broken away from the tree, its job finished and complete.

Shortly after this, a friend shared her fears as a young boy she had mentored and loved was about to make decisions that she felt were beyond his ability to make. She wondered if there had been more she could have taught him, had her love been enough, could he walk through this strong and unbending? I related the “stick story” to her, and told her she had been the supporting stick to her little “sapling”, and that he was now able to stand strong through the storms. And we stand back, and we wait . . . And we hope. . . With a hope that sees what tomorrow looks like.

Sometimes, between our hope as we plant our dreams and the fulfillment of our vision, a storm will come that seems to test us beyond what we feel we can bear. For me, it was breast cancer and all that goes with it.
Hope? At times it seemed hope was all I had to hold on to, and at other times, I wondered if my stick would hold me up. Chemo was a very strong storm, harsh and unrelenting. Six treatments, six rounds of nightmare material, six times wondering if I’d make it through. I remember looking out my window at my tree ----- my beautiful Sycamore tree ---- and I saw it suffering along with me. I had planted it much too close to my septic tank, and its roots were taking up the waste of my chemo! It’s leaves were curling, burnt brown all along the edges. Some fell, but most hung on, looking about as badly as I felt. Fall and winter came, the last of the leaves fell, and I wondered if my tree would survive and come back again. . .much how I felt about myself.
Spring came, as did the end of surgery and radiation. And then I saw it! Tiny little green buds all up and down the branches of my tree! And I knew we had made it together through the worst of storms. Today I see the fulfillment of my hope --- 2 ½ years since treatments ended and all is well. All is well for my tree, too, as those great big green leaves continually dance in the breeze. It’s fall now, and I’m seeing some bronze leaves as they finish their summer life. But they see me sad and call out to me, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” Psalm 43:5

And so I wait yet again and expectantly wait for yet another spring. . .



Joining up with Ann on this “Walk With Him” Wednesday:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stones of Remembrance

It was 1982. Not the best of years for me. It seemed that my life was falling apart and I had no idea which direction to go. After spending some time in Virginia, I moved back to Florida, the one place I had a home to come to, and I started over ----- again. I had no job, so I took a part time newspaper route. It’s the perfect job for hermits and loners. I could be alone, out in the wee hours of the morning, no one bothering me, no dress code, just me, my papers, and my van.

Perhaps it was seeing my Dad so sick with cancer shortly before moving, or maybe the emptiness of my own soul, or a combination of both. I knew that in my moving that I would probably not see him again and that hit home. Not that we had ever been close and “cozy,” but I loved him, hated to see him suffer, and I felt sad for all that had NOT been there between us. My father’s faith had never wavered through his illness --- it only grew deeper and stronger. And somewhere in the deepest abyss of my soul I knew I was so far from whatever it was he had ---- I might as well have been keeping company with the prodigal son in the pig pen!

It “just so happened” (some would say this, but I believe the Lord makes these things happen) that someone from my way-back past popped up and suggested I read a book, the name of which I just can’t
remember. How can that be????? But I remember that the gist of the whole thing had to do with opening doors of your heart, as you would the doors of your home, and dealing with one room at a time. The only trouble was, you just kept finding more and more doors. And it became a lifetime of “cleaning house.” But one room and only ONE at a time.

As I was delivering those newspapers one night, I was thinking of all the upside-down stuff in my life, all the crazy choices I had made, dreams that turned into nightmares, faith that turned out to be so weak that I wondered if there was any at all, and a tomorrow with no plan or vision or promise. Several hours before, there had been a storm. The tide had been higher than normal and what I did NOT know was that the waters of the Gulf of Mexico had come up over the road, then receded, but left muddy, slippery seaweed on the pavement. So here I come at three o’clock in the morning, and my van full of newspapers slides uncontrollably off the road and into the Gulf. I was able to climb out unhurt, and I just started walking. I had no idea where the nearest phone would be (this was LONG before cell phones), but on that walk, I prayed. I asked the Lord if there was ANYTHING at all left for my life. It just seemed so dark, useless and yes, wet, at that moment. It seemed that I walked forever, but suddenly a verse that I had memorized years and years before came into my thoughts --- Phil. 1:6 -- “He that hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Christ.” I said it over and over and over. And somehow, I knew. He had not lost me, had not let me go, had always known where I was.

So much happens in those sacred moments. Soul washing, heart cleansing, reuniting with a Heavenly Father, and a burden lifting type of peace! And I stooped down and picked up a stone. I wanted something from that place. . . That place of new beginnings.
I still have that stone, along with many others that I have picked up along the way since that night. Each one has a verse that I clung to at a particular time of significance on my journey. Since my Pastor is teaching in the book of Joshua and spent one evening talking about the crossing of the River Jordan and how Joshua had one man from each tribe pick up a stone from the middle of the river as stones of remembrance, I have been thinking of my own stones. Remembering where we’ve been somehow helps me to know where I’m going. His ways don’t change, there is no shadow of turning, He is faithful to His Word, and He is always there! I need to continue to pick up more stones. . . .!

Friday, September 9, 2011

When Giving is Receiving

Some days move along smoothly with no upsets, surprises, or trip-ups. Most of my days are like that. I seem to move in a steady pace, doing what needs to be done, and ending the day wondering where it went!

But today was different. Yesterday, I stopped for some veggies at the stand on the corner, and I was thinking of a gal at church who has been on our prayer list. She is desparately looking for a job, and has been for some time. I knew (you know how you just know???!!!) that this HAD to be tough with two kids. So I got some extra stuff while I was there and headed over to her place.

I was met by a young teen boy who invited me in, offered me a seat and told me that "Momma" would be home shortly and did I want to stay. I needed to go, so he walked me out to the car, carrying on the sweetest conversation. As I got into my car, he asked me my name and said he would let her know that I had been there. I was drawn by him.

Her house was small and rustic --- maybe better called a cottage. Huge oaks shaded everything, and I loved the vines, flowers, trellises, archways, etc. It was such a peaceful place to be.

I wanted to speak with her and find out if there was anything she needed help with, so I went back this evening. Little did I know. . . .

It was ME who would be blessed beyond measure!!!! Beyond anything I could give, this woman gave me more. We talked about God's care and blessings, and I told her how He has brought me through cancer and chemo and supplied my every need. She then told me that she has been battling brain cancer for 25 years now, taking chemo all this time. She is on an experimental program with the Marines. I looked at her, and I thought about myself, "And YOU thought YOU had it bad!" I just grabbed her and hugged her. I couldn't help it.

I saw joy in her eyes, and peace. And as she spoke, faith oozed out all over the place. She told me how she built her home by herself, how she took in the two children, and how she had to build on bedrooms if she wanted to keep them. She told me of being in the Marines, an expert dog trainer (BUSTER, watch out!!!!), and how she took care of her Mom and Dad through long illnesses.

I drove out the long driveway, paused before pulling into the road, and I just sighed a HUGE sigh. Where had I just been???!!!! I thought I was going to find out how I could help someone, and I never even asked the question! Instead, someone ministered to me and lifted me up. Instead, I met someone who is content, happy, and at peace with very little in life.
Instead, I met someone who gives, and gives, and gives of herself for others.

I think I met someone who knows A WHOLE LOT about Calvary Love! Someone I want to get to know better. Someone I want to be more like.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Where's the WOW!???



Several times during the past months, I have heard my friend, Marty, burst with a great big “WOW!” I’d raise my head in surprise and look at his face, and sure enough -- “WOW!” was written all over him. It was real and genuinely expressed ---- and I was jealous.

I was born in church (not really!!!) and I can’t remember ever missing being there when the doors were unlocked. I think I had 17 bars of Sunday School pins when I was 17 years old --- perfect attendance! Youth Groups, Junior church, big church, Pioneer Girls, Youth Choir, Big Choir, Wednesday night prayer meeting, Evening services, etc., etc. I think I always knew that God loved me ---- the first Bible verse I remember learning was, “We love Him because He first loved us.” So I learned a lot during all those years.
I heard it over and over and over and over. . . . In a million different ways, different presentations, different people, different lessons.

I went on to Bible School. More of the same, only a little deeper, more concentrated, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Now. . . Here I am in my early 60’s. I recently started attending a church where there are many new Christians. Not only are they young in their faith, but all of this “stuff” is brand new to them. One told me that she had no idea what they were talking about when they told her she needed “A Savior.” She had no inclination of what that meant. She said, “Saved from WHAT?” All the words that we are a part of our Christian “language” were new and foreign and strange to her. Grasping the concepts of the sin of man, a Savior, redemption, the cross, etc. just baffled her and said that there ought to be “beginner classes” for those who come into the church unlearned and new.

It’s been a real eye-opener for me, but at the same time, the most refreshing thing I’ve ever experienced. I’ve wondered how many times I have said things that perhaps went right over the heads of those listening to me? I grew up in a time when most of us all went to church ---- Catholic, Jewish, and Christian --- that’s what we all were in my high school and we all went to our respective churches. I remember years later the shock that came over me when a teenager asked me, “Who was Jesus, anyways?” At that time, I thought everyone in the U.S.A. knew that answer. I definitely know better today.

For me, it has been such a blessing to watch new believers “get it!” And there is just a little, tiny piece of me that wishes I were in their shoes. I would like that “WOW!” feeling once in a while. Yes, I am grateful for all God gave me in my Christian upbringing. But having grown up in it all, taking it in little by little on a daily basis, somehow the wonder and awe and newness was just not there for me.

One of my prayers lately has been that the Lord would show me Himself in a new and “WOW!” way, and that Scriptures that have been memorized and repeated over and over all my life would become new and alive and real ---- just as they are to Marty.

How about you? Do you have any “WOW’s” ? I’d love to hear about them!

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Old Paths and Good Ways



Several weeks ago, a friend invited me (or should I say, BUSTER) to go to the beach to share a playdate with her two dogs. All I could think was. . . . BUSTER?????? And ME??????? Out with real people and other dogs????? We talked it back and forth, and after finding no fight in me at all, I thought, what’s the worst that could happen??? We could just come home.

The day arrived, and it had been raining. The sky looked so threatening, but I put Buster’s gentle leader collar on, snapped on his leash, grabbed some towels, ice, water, etc., and out we went.

By the time we were all ready to jump into their car, it was starting to rain, but we decided to go anyway.
I was shocked at Buster’s good behavior with the other dogs. Amazing!!!!!

I loved the ride. It took me on a trip down memory lane ---- places of years ago, old haunts, good times, hard work, places of new beginnings, dreams, bad endings, and people involved in all the in-betweens. Add to that, I love rain, and I loved the conversation and getting to know new and wonderful friends.

The sky was still dark and threatening when we arrived at the beach, and the wind blew non stop, but it was perfect. No blazing sun, no hot sand, no squinting, no mosquitos, no panting and no sweat! Can’t beat that.
This doggy-friendly beach area was deserted except for our little party, and Buster found the walk to the water just full of wonderful sniffing places, and his nose would not stop! His head was high and his nose taking it all in. But to see his eyes when we reached the water ----- I wish I had remembered to take my camera. Up until now, the biggest body of water he has seen has been the little blue plastic kiddy pool in the back yard! Can you imagine what he thought of the Gulf????? And waves??????


I rolled up my pant legs, and began to tug on Buster’s leash, but he had anchored his feet deep in the sand.
But the next wave came up over his legs, and we were in. The other two doggy friends were swimmers and jumped right in, but Buster?????? No jumping in that stuff, no sitting, no swimming. I didn’t force it, and soon he relaxed a little and at least got his belly wet. What a chicken for a great big ooff of a dog!

The sea was restless, churning dark, and the waves were hitting hard and fast. The phrase, “troubled sea” took on a new look for me, as this was truly it. I stood there, trying to anchor my feet, just as Buster was,
But each wave took away the sand I had planted my feet in, and I felt myself losing my footing. Time after time, wave after wave, more sand washed away from around my feet, and I was sinking. I would have to move again and again. Buster heard the sea gulls and was watching them above him. They flapped their wings so hard, trying to fly against the wind, but seemed suspended in midair as they could not make any headway. I loved their soft, soprano harmony added to the beat set by the crashing waves and the melody of the wind.

If anyone could have seen my heart that day, it would have looked just like this storm tossed gulf beach. A “troubled sea” would aptly describe it. I had forgotten that feeling that comes when something crashes in, and my footing feels unsure, and I’m finding all the junk from the bottom of my heart churned up and causing me to trip over my own feet. Sand!!!. . . . . At that moment, I felt like my whole life was just sand. . . Something that was just washing out to sea at the will of a churning storm.

I looked behind me, and I saw how over time, about 3 feet of beautiful beach had been washed out to sea by these waves. There was a wall where the sea grass ended, where the waves had beat away inch by inch what had been. I saw it as “a line drawn in the sand” so to speak --- the place where the waves stopped and never crossed --- a dividing line between what is a sure foundation with roots and life and stuff that grows, and shifting sands that wash away with the slightest of storms. On one side, the storm nurtures and waters life, on the other side, the storm takes away to the bottom of the sea.

The dogs all had a great time, and so did we. I know I did. I loved watching Buster’s reaction to it all. We got ready to leave, put our shoes on, and found the path back to the car. This path was well worn, beat down by many, many years of people and their dogs. But step off that path and the sand spurs dig in like spears. Buster stopped dead in his tracks and lifted his paw and it was up to me to pull those suckers out!!!!
I wrapped the leash so it would be shorter and kept him on the path. This path twisted and turned a bit, but we knew it led to the parking lot and the car. It was the way we had come --- so it was the way back. Later, as I thought of it all, I was taken back to Jeremiah 6:16. A favorite of mine for years, but I had not thought of it in so long. . . . “Thus says the LORD: Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.”

We went home, dogs were dog tired, and it continued to rain. My heart still churned like the sea and for weeks I tripped in the sea weed of my soul and sunk in the sands of what I had previously thought were rock solid foundations of my faith.

Why I let all this happen to me, I don’t know. I knew better. I knew the “good way.” I knew the “old paths.” I had no business on that side of the line in the sand -- all I had to do was remain steadfast, stay in the ruts of the old paths and the good way and I would not be pierced by sharp sand spurs, I would not lose my way, and my footing would be safe and sure.

I needed a picture, a real life illustration. A day at the beach in the pouring rain with crazy dogs and two wonderful people who had no idea of what was going on in my heart.

Thank you Dan and Liz!

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Beginning Again -- for the 756th time!


It’s been just about two years since my oncologist gingerly approached the subject saying, “Have you ever thought about a diet?” You just don’t know, Dr. Happy, that diet has been the number one, central thought of my life since high school!!!! And now, since that awkward day two years ago, he has made my life just plain old miserable. There hasn’t been a single moment of my life where I am not bargaining, “I’ll start again tomorrow,” giving up, starting again, crabby at the grocery store, crabby at what I cook --- crabby if it’s diet because I don’t like it, crabby if it’s NOT diet because I’m off the diet. There’s no happy here. Two years of no happy, no progress, no nothing.

I have lost some, don’t get me wrong. When I began my cancer journey, I was sooooooo heavy, and I managed to lose about 40 pounds during that time. And in the past two years, I’ve lost about another 50. Not too bad sounding when you look at it like that. But I need to lose about another 100!!!!! And the past 6 months have been a total standstill, in fact, I’ve gained a few and it’s got me scared.

So here I am, beginning again. For the 756th time of my life. My doctor highly recommended the Weight Watcher’s plan. Since I am such a hermit, I did join the online program just to check out the plan, get an idea of what the point system was, etc. I’m a little leery about the “all you can eat veggies and fruit” thing, but the rest seems doable for me. I’ve been sticking to this now since Tuesday, and so far, 3 pounds have come off. It’s something!



Why does this have to be such a hassle for me? Food addictions are so hard, because we just have to eat, don’t we? And it’s sooooooo “acceptable” in society. No one hauls you off to rehab because you overate and went off your diet. The police don’t bust you for filling your grocery cart with all the wrong stuff. And people would NEVER think of agreeing with you if you complained about being fat and needing to lose weight. Yet, I think I struggle as much as any addict does with alcohol or drugs. I have all my bargaining chips, excuses, hiding places, etc.

And so. . . . I fell. . . But I get up again . . . And again. . . And again!!!!! And I put one foot in front of the other and look at the top of my mountain and plug on forward.

My house of overflowing with all the right foods and Buster is sooooooo worried. I’m licking my own plate clean and growling back when he asks for a bite. He knows. . . . . . He just knows there will be NO PIZZA BONES (the crusts) in his futue for a long while!!!!

558. A great selection of diet foods in the grocery store.

559. Lots of fresh veggies.

560. Ideas on how to cook this stuff.

561. Friends who don’t judge -- just encourage!

562. A group who listened to me and admitted that they did not understand that a food addiction could be so hard.

563. A God who always picks me up, sets my feet on a rock, and establishes my goings ---- AGAIN!

564. A Pastor who gives his all. . . And more. . . In spite of failing health.

565. Buster --- I just love this guy!!!! I realized how much yesterday when he started sneezing --- sooooo hard. Violent sneezes that wouldn’t stop for hours and hours, until he was sneezing blood. I was so worried and just held him and loved on him. He’s ok today.

566. Finding a check in the mail. Almost threw it out as I thought it was junk mail. I was reimbursed for that bra and boob!!! Thank you, Lord, for making something right that was just not right!

Joining with so many others in finding thanks and gratitude in the moments of living:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I Love You, Aunt Jo!

I was eight years old, and I sat on the steps of her home. I told her that I had learned a new song in school that day -- “Do you want to hear it?” I asked. “Of course!” she said, and I began to sing.

“ This is my Father's world, and to my listening ears
all nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father's world: I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

2. This is my Father's world, the birds their carols raise,
the morning light, the lily white, declare their maker's praise.
This is my Father's world: he shines in all that's fair;
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me everywhere.

3. This is my Father's world. O let me ne'er forget
that though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father's world: why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is King; let the heavens ring!
God reigns; let the earth be glad!

I was attending a Christian school at the time, and this was the song we had learned. And as I sang this to my Aunt Jo, she cried. She hugged me tight and said it was beautiful. But I think her tears went deeper than the song or me singing it --- you see, her sister (my Mom) had just died suddenly, leaving me and my four brothers and sisters motherless, and she was left without her sister. How painful this moment must have been for her! I never forgot it. And this was 56 years ago.

Aunt Jo was special. If I loved anyone through my early childhood, it was this happy woman. She loved us kids, and made each one of us feel special, “one of a kind,” and loved. She listened, was compassionate, caring, and I always felt safe with her. I will always remember how she washed my hair --- tenderly making sure the soap did not get in my eyes, checking the water temperature to make sure it wasn’t too hot or cold, etc. I felt so special.

Life went on, and my Dad eventually remarried. Family happenings caused us all to drift apart, and I didn’t see my Aunt Jo for years and years. I missed her terribly. It wasn’t until I was an adult that we connected again, and I will never forget that hug. She hugged me so tight, and even now I feel that heart connection that I had as a little girl.

This dear lady died suddenly today. I feel like an orphan. Though we did not talk to each other much or see each other often, the memories of childhood kept her close in my heart. I clung to those memories for years and years as one of the few good things I had been given. Why didn’t I call her yesterday? Or last week? Or last month? Why didn’t I find the time to say thank you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Getting it Right

Keeping secrets can be the hardest thing in the world to do, especially when you are a child. But when fear is attached to that secret, and threats hang like thunder clouds over your head, it comes much easier. And as time passes, the winds of time blow more and more dirt and sand over things to where nothing can be seen.
And we think it no longer matters. It’s past. Long past. . . Until someone comes with a shovel and begins digging right where we buried the secrets!

It was a Saturday night, the end of a week of evangelistic meetings in our church, and this was Youth Night. As a group of young people, we all sat together just as we always did. We grew up together since cradle roll. We were all friends. The music was great and we sang lively songs for that time period of the early 60’s. And then came the message of the evening. The speaker gave a message about purity and God’s standards for our lives concerning sex and marriage. It led up to an invitation that would change my life forever, something that God never meant to happen, I’m sure. I will never forget that horrible night as long as I live. Even now, I can feel that nervous stomach, that lump in my throat, the hot eyes, the quivering of my lips. I hoped no one noticed. The man in the suit with arms outstretched begged each of us to come forward and promise before God and those present in the audience that we would remain pure for the one we would one day marry. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want their teenager to hear that and respond????

I stood there and in those few moments of decision making, my life flashed in front of me. As quick as a flash of lightening, that covered grave of secrets burst forth, up in my face, and I knew I could never make that promise to God. I had never heard about abuse, never heard it spoken. I was sure that this had happened only to ME! I only knew I was unclean, impure, used, and dirty. Could I just stand there and say no while everyone else went to the front of the church and said yes? I found my way. I thought it was God giving me an escape. I COULD make the promise -- all I had to do was promise God I would never get married, and that way I would never mess up any nice Christian guy’s life. And so there I was, in all my mistaken understanding of who God was, making a life decision in secret between me and Him. And I’m sure Satan himself smiled!

For years and years I kept that secret. No one ever knew and surely I would never tell. But there is something so precious and amazing in how the Lord works to make sure one day we just get it right. We don’t hear with our ears --- or even our hearts at times. Most of the time, what we hear is filtered through the experiences of our lives, and we interpret things to fit where we have been, what has been done to us, who we know, what we have been taught by parents and teachers and peers. If it doesn’t fit just right, we don’t hear it.

But then it happens. And the Lord takes me by surprise. One day, as I was sitting in church, we were singing the song, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” I think I knew that song all my life. I didn’t need the hymnbook --- I knew all the words to all the verses. So there I stood, singing away, when all of a sudden the words to that verse hit me like a spear through my heart: “Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless I stand before the throne.” Could that be??? Could that POSSIBLY be???

My pastor at the time was doing a series of messages called, “On These We Stand.” He did a wonderful job on going through the main doctrines of salvation, justification, sanctification, etc. But I will never forget that same day, he spoke on how we stood before God and how He saw us as perfect. Dressed in white. Pure. All because of Calvary. I knew that. But why didn’t I KNOW that????

Do you know what that means to a little girl who thinks she’s dirty, unclean, used, and broken??? The little girl who wondered if the angels were watching? The same little girl who stared at the mural on the wall of the cross that bridged the chasm of sin and Hell? I had carried a burden of untruth for so long that I was never meant to carry. Since that day, my whole life changed as I saw God -- not as my stern, strict judge, but rather as my loving, compassionate Father who loves me and sees me perfect. Isn’t that the most amazing thing???!!!! Even more amazing is what it cost Him. To think that price paid was His only Son, just so I could wear a spotless robe of white. . . Thank you, Father!

Monday, July 18, 2011

A celebration of Gifts



543. Experiencing music in a new way. Went to an “open mike” night at a church in my area, and the music was so good. One group had worship dancers that were just excellent. I have not seen this before and loved it.

544. Great fellowship with friends as we enjoyed the music together.

545. A triple-chocolate overloaded Blizzard from Dairy Queen. I just know there will be Dairy Queens in Heaven!

546. A Birthday. Just passing another birthday seems like a milestone. Three years ago, I wondered if I would ever see another birthday. Somehow, they seem a little more special than they ever did before.

547. A birthday dinner at Applebee’s. Sister and a special friend made it so great!

548. A Kindle from my Sister. My mind is making a list a mile long of all that I want to read.

549. A surprise in church last night. “My Guy” sang a song so special to me. Sis got him into this covert operation of getting the pastor, his wife, the drummer and the keyboard guy to sing “God of the Mountain” -- a song that just meant everything to me during my cancer journey. It caught me by surprise and the tears
Just flowed. I’m not one who cries easily, but last night I sobbed.

550. Tiny birds at my feeder. So many little ones with high-pitched voices and fluttery wings waiting to be fed.

551. Oatmeal. Why do I love that sticky, pastey stuff??? A little butter, brown sugar, and I’m good to go!

552. Pork Roasts on sale BOGO. I couldn’t resist. I had one before, and it was just too good. I hate to admit this, but there are now eight of them in my freezer!!!

553. Green peppers still going strong in the garden.

554. Watching vultures get soaked in a rain storm. Is that being thankful or vindictive???? They were all in a large, dead tree as it poured down rain. I was so praying that the Lord would send lightening and strike that tree!!!!! At least it kept me entertained for a few minutes as I watched them dripping wet with their wings spread like umbrellas.

555. People who ask me hard questions and make me think deeper than I have dared to go in a long time.

556. That God has the answers to hard questions.

557. That He doesn’t mind us asking Him.

You can find so many others who are counting their gifts with Ann VosKamp here:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Are You Shaved?

During that summer of playing on swings in Mrs. Gravendyk’s back yard, my sister and I met a strange man. Strange to US, anyways. We would bound up those big steps and run down the walk and up the slate steps of the big, wrap-around porch. And there he was. Not just once or twice ---- but every single time we arrived, he was coming out of the big double doors with the oval, glass window panes. Maybe he had breakfast there, or was just passing time, I don’t know, but it seemed that we just couldn’t avoid him. We soon found out that he was waiting for the bus which would take him into New York City. Every single time, he told us the same story: How God had called him to tell the Jewish people of New York City about Jesus and that He was their Messiah, along with a whole lot of other “blah-blah-blah” that made no sense to a 9 and a 7 year old. Then he would show us the tracts that overflowed out of his pockets and explained how he gave them out. We would stand there politely, looking at our feet, saying “uh-huh”, wishing we were a million miles away . . . Because we knew what was coming!!! He would always end his speech with a big, booming, “ARE YOU SHAVED?????” (yes, it sounded like “shaved” but we knew he meant “saved) with piercing eyes, pointy fingers, wrinkled forehead, etc.

I think we would mutter “yes” or something, but I KNOW mine was never very convincing to him. It couldn’t have been. I knew I wasn’t good enough, clean enough, important enough for God to save me. But he would leave, catch his bus, and we were free to play on the swing. All I wanted was to get inside that house and look at the mural on the wall --- the cross that led to the city of gold and the angels that protected those crossing over.

I wish I had a recording of that man’s voice. To this day, if I were to ask my sister, “ARE YOU SHAVED????” in that . . . . Voice . . . . She would know beyond the shadow of a doubt who I was talking about. We never forgot him. I wonder why???!!!!! He was probably the first who personally confronted me about my soul. Maybe not the best presentation for a 9 year old to hear, but convicting and soul-piercing, nonetheless. Now that I think of it, up until this point, not one person had ever cared to ask me. Parents, family, Sunday School teachers, Christian School teachers, Youth leaders, Pastor, etc. NO ONE ever once asked me personally if I knew Jesus as my Savior. Yes, I knew the way of salvation as it was explained many times in group settings. And yes, later I DID make that decision to accept Him.

During the past few days, I’ve thought a lot about this odd man and the lasting impressions and memories he had on my life. No matter when I hear of a ministry or of anyone who shares their faith with a Jewish person, I think of him. No matter when I’m asked if I’m a Christian or if I’m saved, I hear his booming voice asking that embarrassed, uncomfortable little girl the same question. No matter when I find myself in the position of presenting the way of salvation, I DEFINITELY think of him, and have better ways of presenting God’s gift of salvation than he did. But. . . . . . It still all boiled down to. . . .

“ARE YOU SHAVED????”

Always Thank you! -- Always!

528. That the sun is always shining, even behind the clouds.

529. That leaves glisten and shine like new when washed.

530. How Buster wants to share my pillow with me at night.

531. How his tail starts flopping when I whisper sweet nothings in his ear.

532. How his lip wrinkles up on one side if I point something at him.

533. How he chews on a raisen for ever and ever -- then spits it out.

534. That my washing machine just keeps on going and going and going. . . I just
love hearing that buzzer when another load is done.

535. Ditto with the dryer!!!!

536. That the smell of a barbecue pork roast in the crock pot can make a home smell like Heaven's kitchen!

537. That in writing down the stories of my life, I have seen God's hand of protection and guidance -- even when I thought He was not there.

538. That even though I doubt myself and listen to untrue voices learned from my past, God's voice is louder still and filled with encouragement and love.

539. That He is there, even when I'm sure He isn't.

540. That He cares, even when I'm sure He doesn't.

541. That He has a plan, even when I'm sure I don't.

542. That Verizon connected me to the internet again just so I could post this.

Joining in with hundreds of others as we count our blessings every moment of every day:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Angels and Kool-Aid

She was a slender, tall, older lady with a big smile and immediately welcomed us into her home. We were standing on the porch, looking through the glass double doors of the great big house. Her wavy, gray hair was pulled back into some kind of twist in the back, and there was a sparkle in her eyes that drew me in. Her accent was Dutch, and there was a sing-songy way in which she spoke. She had a gold tooth which sparkled when she smiled. Her dress was always long and flowing, covered by an apron with a big bow tied in the back. She stepped out onto the porch where we were standing, bent down to where she could look straight into our eyes, gave us each a hug and welcomed us. It was genuine. I could just feel it. And I liked her immediately. I was about 9 years old. And I needed someone to like.

Mrs. Gravendyk was her name. She and her husband lived in a big, old Victorian home and had started a house church there. And I was there for Vacation Bible School --- about the third one of the summer that I had been sent to. My younger sister came with me, along with a few other neighborhood friends. The house was set back, giving room to a big front yard. A few steps led from the city sidewalk up to the walk leading to the house. A huge wrap-around porch with a white railing graced the front of the house. Big, heavy slabs of slate made the steps up to the porch interesting and inviting. It was here we waited each day for Mrs Gravendyk to open the doors. 9:00 am. No sooner. No later.

The meetings were held in the basement of the home, so down the steep, narrow steps we went. There were several rooms divided off, and one had lots of little chairs, a piano, and a flannel graph board all set up and ready to go. Pipes ran along the ceilings, and someone had already attached strings to these pipes. I felt important when I found a string with my name on it. Mrs. Gravendyke came over, put her arm around me and told me that I had “caught” 5 fishes for my string as I had brought with me 5 people. I felt sooooo important! The theme of the week was “Fishers of Men.”

I loved it there. I loved the new songs I learned. ( Of course, we sang, “I will make you Fishers of Men“ at least once every day ---- with all the hand motions!) I loved Mrs. Gravendyk’s enthusiasm as she played the piano and sang. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone play “The Assurance March” like she could! I loved her Kool-aid and cookies, the little crafts we made and the way she told stories. But most of all, I loved the little church --- the sanctuary that I had supposed was once a large library or living room. I stood in awe of what I saw there, and I’ll never forget it as long as I live.

Mr. Gravendyk was an artist and painted murals on the walls of this home. All of them portayed some Bible scene. The one in the sanctuary was my favorite. There were two cliffs divided by a very deep cavern. But stretched across this cavern was a cross. And there were all these little people walking on this cross across the cavern to the side that portrayed the city in gold. There were angels protecting those who were making the crossing. I don’t remember much of what went on when we went into that sanctuary. I was taken by the mural on the wall.

Vacation Bible School came and went, but my sister and I continued to visit with this unique old lady. She gave us permission to play in her huge back yard. All that was there was a tire hanging from a thick rope and we would swing for hours on that thing.

And then, like clockwork, she would come with a few glasses, a pitcher of Kool-aid and some cookies, and we sat on her steps and enjoyed her company and treats. Sometimes we would go inside. And she always let us see the murals.

I felt safe there. There is no other word to describe it. Perhaps it was the ONLY place during that period of my life where I did feel safe. In the darkest of nights, when I closed my eyes so tightly, I saw that cross, and the shiny gold city, and the angels -- and I wished that just one had been there for me.

We moved away shortly after this summer of tire swings and Vacation Bible school. But I never forgot Mrs. Gravendyk. Angels? Perhaps it was this very lady who was sent for such a brief time to add a little light and safety to my steps. I know one thing: Every time I sang the song, “The way of the cross leads home,” I could see that painting on the wall, and I thought of one little old Dutch lady who was faithful to her Lord with Kool aid and cookies.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's All In A Name



I was the middle child of five -- a brother and sister older, and a brother and sister younger - right smack-dab in the middle. What do they say about middle children???? We are peace makers, good listeners, see both sides, hate turmoil, get lost in the crowd, make good baby sitters, etc., etc. We have nothing that we can call our own --- it’s either handed down to us or it’s taken from us and given to the next one down. We share bedrooms. We are either being taken care of or taking care of someone else. All of these things describe ME. And a little of all these things are still there.

I look at pictures of the 5 of us and I think of a litter of puppies. A few bigger, a few smaller, but you just knew we belonged together in the same doghouse, in the same backyard, on the same street. There on the couch sit three girls with the same haircut, the same dresses, the same shoes, and the same socks. Everything the same --- except the sizes. The up side? I knew I belonged somewhere. The down side? I was just number three.

It even spilled over into my name. I hated my name, and I still do. Typing it here is even hard --- CORNELIA. There. I did it, but didn’t like it one bit. For one thing, it isn’t one of the modern, feminine, trendy names like girls had back in the 50’s. My friends were named Candy, Susan, Nancy, Judy, and other “normal” things. Secondly, I was once again just one of three. Both grandmothers on either side were “Cornelia” so it wasn’t even an original pick. The worst thing of all was when I looked up the meaning of my name. My interpretation was, “Old Maid.” The book said, “Maiden of God,” but since I was single and not liking it, I took this as my predestined confirmation of my marital status in life.

Such big problems for a 5 year old facing kindergarten, aren’t they? Yet, I can still remember worrying about what they would call me --- Cora or Cornelia????? Both were terrible, but please, NOT Cornelia! My poor grandmother was so hurt by this. She could NOT understand why I didn’t cherish the fact that I was her namesake. I cringed every time she brought it up.

Little wonder, then, that I was less than thrilled later in life when I found out that my name was forever carved on Christ’s hand. I stewed about that for a long time. Then it all turned to guilt: How in the world did my name become such a big, important issue??? ME, of all people, thinking that my name meant anything to anyone at all!! Most of the time, I was called everything BUT my name. My parents had to go through the list of all 5 to get the right one. But usually, I was called, “Sneaky Pete”, “Pony”, “Stallion," "bean pole," "corn stalk” and the crowning name of them all, “Dirty, Rotten, Lousy, Stinkin’, good for nothing Bum.” It’s amazing how, as I type those words, I can feel the knife turn in the heart of the little child in me. As adults, we laugh now about those name-calling times. But isn’t it true that what we are called defines who we are? There was a period of time that I thought perhaps it was one of these nicknames that was carved on Christ’s hand.
Maybe it was true --- that I was all of these things.

I HATE name calling. Call it what you will --- I call it down-right bullying, belittling, heart-breaking, tear-jerking, rot. And when I look into the puddles forming hot in the eyes of a child who has just been “renamed” like this, I feel it burn in my own.

Someday, I will meet Him. And He will reach out His hands to receive me. And I will quickly look to see what is carved there -- Cora or Cornelia? I’ll settle for either of those. But then, surprise of all surprises, He will bend down and whisper in my ear so only I can hear --- A NEW NAME! Something just between me and Him. And there I’ll be, dressed in white --- my very own robe all trimmed in gold -- His hand holding mine. And in my other hand? A stone. I turn it over carefully, and YES, it’s true. There, carved perfectly just for me is my new name. It just makes me wonder. . . . . . . What DID He see when I sat on that couch and posed for the picture? What DID He call me?????

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Story to be Told?

Over the past few weeks, I have been reading (and rereading!) Dan Allender’s book, “To Be Told.” I can’t remember where I heard about it, but whatever it was that I read, it sparked enough interest in me to order the book AND the workbook. I thought I was over that. I can’t tell you how many books (AND the workbooks) I have purchased that I thought would “fix” my life. I don’t think I ever once wrote one word in any of the workbooks. And I’ve come to realize that probably no one ever does. Most of them can be purchased on Ebay for less than half the usual purchase price, and they all say they have NO WRITING in them. And along comes another sucker like me, pen ready to go as soon as the mailman delivers my books.
And there I sit with what I hope will be my new bag of fairy dust that will fix whatever is bothering me at the moment. Reality check!!!!!! THERE IS NO FAIRY DUST!

So why this book? First of all, it nipped at my heels because I like to write. I’m not polished, not an author, and probably not that good at it, but if given a choice, I’d rather WRITE it than TELL it. So when the back of the book tells me that I have a story that God wants me to tell, that He has been writing the story of my life up to this point and would like me to pick up my pen and help Him finish the story ---- it got my attention. The author believes that our main purpose and goal of our life is to magnify God’s character and each of us does that in a unique and original way. And once we discover what it is about Him that He wants to show through us, then we find the real and true purpose of our past, our present and our future.

I can’t get away from it. I started with chapter one, reread it to make sure I “got it,” and then went to the workbook. These were not just little “answer the questions to see if you got it” type questions. These were “projects!” Things you need a notebook for. Memories. Lists. Descriptions. OK --- I’m in. I began with a list of the “players” on the stage of my life where my first memories can remember. Just doing that made me take a trip down memory lane.

I’m telling you all this because I think I will post some of these here on my blog. You know, I just love it when some of you have taken the time to tell your stories --- where you grew up, what your grandparents were like, what school was like, your Sunday school teachers, your parents, etc. Those posts just draw me in. It lets me know who and why you are what you are today.

So just in case a story pops up out of the blue about something that took place in my life, you will understand where it’s all coming from --- and where it’s all going. I am so curious! If God wants to show the world just one thing about Himself through ME, what would that be????


Pick up your pen, Lord,
Turn the pages in my book called, “Life.”
And write your Story!
All for your Glory!
And when it all is written
Of what You want to say,
And somewhere in between all the messes I have made
I see grace on every page,
Sign your Name, Lord.
Sign your Name.

Little by little,
Tell of how You loved me.
Fill all the pages others would erase.
And where I tried to write it all my own way,
Cross through my words with ink so full of Grace!
And write Your story!

Little by little,
Tell of how You found me --
Pages of a life all filled with shame --
Write with inks of love and deep compassion,
And when You’re done, sign each and every page!
And tell Your story!

Little by little,
And one soul, then another --
Write Your story for the least of these!
Fill my book, Lord,
Let there be no empty pages,
Pick up your pen, and write about Your peace --
And tell Your story. . .

--Cora Eelman

Monday, June 27, 2011

Showers of Blessings!


It's literally true: Sometimes blessings do come in raindrops! I don't think I've ever seen it so dry here for so long. It was heartbreaking to see trees dying --- large, mature trees that were full of green leaves, now brown and dead. I have 4 in my yard alone. So when the rains came this week, no one was more thankful than me. I've often imagined what it must be like as the Lord listens to ALL the prayers from around the world. Here I am, begging for rain, Texas needs rain so badly, and others are dealing with floods and rising rivers, crying for a break from all the water! Yet, He hears our cries, takes us through whatever it is that sweeps over us, and we say, "thank you" once again. His way for me is best . . . always! And so, I continue counting the blessings I see each day:

510. Several days of gentle rains after a very long, dry drought. Fires were becoming a threat, trees were so droopy, and gardens failing. Thank you, Lord, for showers!

511. Watching happy birds in the rain!

512. Realizing that many of these birds probably never saw or experienced rain! It’s been that long. They’ve been hatched, raised, and out of the nest --- all since the last time we even had a shower.

513. Seeing how squirrels hang on the underside of tree branches and catch the little streams of water
As they drip. Long, slow drinks! Then a washed face. And all is well!

514. Leaves, all shiney and clean.

515. The peaceful sound of drips from places where God gave an over abundance.

516. Puddle splashers. There’s always the party bunch, aren’t there???? They come with their music and all!

517. That I was challenged this week to find words for things I couldn’t explain clearly. One of those -- You know that you know but you can’t explain it --- type of things.

518. That in this search I learned so much more than I thought I knew.

519. Goats and chickens who love string beans. They are getting the last of the stray beans.

520. Watching Buster push his head deep into the cherry tomato plants, finding the ripe ones, and eating them all. Oh, well! I’m just glad he was smart enough NOT to try the HOT peppers.

521. Reading an exciting and challenging book called, “To Be Told” by Dan Allender. I have bought a million books throughout my life, all promising to make me into the person God meant for me to be, or dealing with my past, and everything else that’s wrong with my life. I got all the workbooks, too. And they are all blank. But this one grabbed me. And since I like to write, this pushed my buttons. More about this in future posts.

522. Finding out that declaring war on negative thoughts is a really BIG war! It’s amazing when I start writing down all the negative things that I think about myself and then find out what God has to say about them. . . . It’s REALLY WAR!

523. Why does that make me smile? Somewhere in my heart I already know I’m on the winning side.

524. Air Conditioning!!!! Just the sound of it coming on makes me feel cooler!

525. That He is in my boat with me when the seas get stormy.

526. That He told me we were going over to the other side, and once He tells me where we’re going, there are no storms that will keep us from going there.

527. That no matter how many times I ask Him why He doesn’t care, He always calms the storms and reminds me of Who He is.

Linking up with so many others who see their blessings each day and share with us their lists:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It Just Ain't Right!

I knew this day was coming for a while now. And I dreaded it. I mean ---- how many women look forward to going “Boob Shopping?” Not something that pops up regularly in your day-planner, is it?????

But it had to be. You see, I poked a hole in my Boob. It happened a couple of months ago. I always tried to be so careful when putting that thing into the bra. There is a nice, little 1-inch hole in the pocket of the bra cup into which you have to get this 3 pound, cantelope sized boob form. Add to that, it is like a thin skinned balloon filled with silicone gel and a finger nail can go right through it. Add to that, it costs about $369.00.

So. . . Rather than run right out and get a new boob, I got my packing tape out and did a repair job. It did the job until the other day, when the whole thing just went rrrrrrrrrrrip! Since I had to go out, I got the tape out AGAIN and held life together for a little while longer. It’s amazing what a little tape can do to get you through the hard times in life!!!

But today. . . I knew the time had come. In the back of my mind, I just knew that one of these days that thing would burst like a water balloon and I’d be in big trouble. It would most likely happen in a public place, like church or something, and I would never be able to show my face again. So for my own peace of mind, I broke down and went for it.

It’s been two and a half years since my mastectomy. I can hardly believe that much time has past. At first, I thought, “What’s all the fuss about? Who really cares?” I’m 63 years old, so “looks” didn’t seem that important anymore. I was just glad the whole ordeal was over and if it cost a boob, so be it! But I have noticed that I’m becoming more self-conscious about it. I almost never look in the mirror at myself --- it’s too freakish and “It just ain’t right!” I just can’t imagine what younger women go through. It must be the hardest thing in the world to find some form of normal in all of it.

“Normal” for me today cost over $400.00. A boob and a bra. I don’t think I’ve ever spent $400.00 on any one piece of clothing, pair of shoes, purse, etc., ever. But just to look “normal,” I did. Yes, I’ll be reimbursed for a little of that, but even if I didn’t get anything, I would have paid the price. It just ain’t right!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Whispered Gratitudes



It’s Monday today. The day I usually post my list of gratitudes in a community of people who are living in the moment and seeing there what God has so graciously given. It has been 16 weeks for me. And perhaps these have been the richest of times because I have never realized before how much God has blessed me. But underneath, there has been this knowing thing going on in my heart ---- the wanting to add the “deeper” gratitudes, the “eucharisteo,” the hard thank you’s that get all blurred as you look up with tear-filled eyes and look for the Father’s face. I have not put them on my lists. Not because I am not thankful and unable to say them. They are just too personal to post in a public place. Do you have those? Do you keep a separate journal for these? Today, just putting these numbers in their place bring a lump to my throat and a sigh is whispered with each one. I know He hears. . .

505. . . . .

506. . . .

507. . . . .

508 . . . . .

509. That He understands, accepts my whispers, and keeps them safe within His heart!

Join so many others, won’t you, as they continue to share in the community of gratitude with Ann VosKamp here:

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Gratitude - Week #16



487. Hearing God’s Word preached and knowing in my heart it came straight from God.

488. Having the resources to dig deeper into the questions that were raised in my heart in response to this preaching.

489. Sharing this with friend.

490. Friends who encourage me to share my heart without feeling intimidated.

491. Knowing that God is NEVER intimidated by what I say --- He already knew it anyways.

492. Hours of talk with my sister. It’s amazing how there is “talk” and then there is “REALLY talk.”

493. The aroma of a pot of baby limas cooking with tons of carrots and little pieces of ham.

495. A friend who lost her job with the school system because of state job cuts, but was called back 2 days later. We were all praying she would find another job soon. Who knew the Lord would reopen the same job???

496. The internet. What did we do before this??? Chuck full of information, answers, encouragement --- to say nothing of the friends and mentors and teachers we meet here.

497. Little red cherry tomatoes hiding among other plants. I let those wild tomato plants grow. Do I remember correctly these kind of plants are called “Free Will tomatoes?” They did really well, much better than when I planted the plants last year and babied them so much. Buster loves them and eats them right off the plants.

498. Momma cardinal feeding her baby at the feeder.

499. Fresh eggs.

500. Laying my hand gently on Buster when he has his nightmares and hearing him heave a big sigh and relax again. Whatever it is, he’s had these heartbreaking dreams since puppy hood and it’s pathetic to listing to him cry like that.

501. Cold ice tea on a VERY HOT day.

502. For struggles that seem to have no answers except to make me think and grow stronger.

503. For questions that make me dig for answers.

504. For answers that bring up more questions.

Joining with Ann VonKamp and a multitude of others who are counting their gifts in everyday moments. . .

Monday, June 6, 2011

So many Things to be Thankful For!



455. Still bringing in beans --- those long, asparagus beans. Vines are starting to thin out, so I may just get a second planting. They love HOT weather. Trouble is, I DON’T!

456. Mornings still cool enough to do some yard work without becoming buzzard bait.

457. A REALLY GREAT hot dog with saurkraut. Every once in a while, you just GOTTA give in to those cravings.

458. That God can change people, even old people, like ME.

459. That I would even WANT TO change.

460. That I would want to do it with accountability to a trusted few.

461. That He orchestrates it all, bringing other bloggers into the picture because they are sensitive to God’s direction and leading in what they say.

462. That keeping this list of blessings, gratitudes, and simple thank you’s has changed so much in my life:
I have seen light shining where there used to be only darkness, and guess Who was there? Makes me want to venture a little deeper and let Him shine the light on it.

463. That the title to my blog, Hidden Riches in Secret Places, is coming full circle back to me.

464. That when darkness veils His loving face, I can rest in His unchanging grace; Through every dark and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

465. That God can resurrect trust even when every shred of trust within me is dead. Thank you, Craig!

466. The sound of thunder in the distance. Rains coming? We need it sooooo badly!

467. Darkened skies. Rain is coming!

468. Hearing first drops hitting the leaves of my sycamore tree.

469. Gentle showers washing away dirt and dust, making all things new and beautiful again!

470. Walking through puddles. I’ve been a puddle splasher since grade school!

471. Watching birds who can’t get enough of puddle splashing either!

472. That God ALWAYS keeps His promises.

473. That sometimes I’m in the middle, that place between the making of the promise and the fulfillment.

474. That I can continue walking, knowing it will be --- maybe not today, but IT WILL BE!

475. That He is able to keep me from falling.

476. That He presents me faultless before the Throne of Grace! Faultless!!!!! ME!!!!!!

477. Reading “The Scent of Water: Grace for Every Kind of Broken” by Naomi Zacharias and feeling my gut being wrenched already, though I’m only in chapter 4.

478. That I’m finding I’m doing better with reading! I used to read everything I could put my hands on. Then found I couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t remember what I read, etc. Chemo brain???? I don’t know! It really bothered me for a while. Lately, the desire to read has been overwhelming, and I started again by just reading and rereading until “I got it!” Slowly but surely, it has come back again. Thank you, Lord!

479. Finding so many little, tiny eggplants on my plants. What to do????? I don’t like eggplant that much! They look like little Christmas ornaments perfectly placed on little trees. Maybe by the time I try a different recipe each time I bring them in, I’ll find SOMETHING that I like.

480. Hearing all the frogs “singing” at night and others singing back from far away. Add to the chorus, a whipoorwill, a rooster that doesn’t know it’s night time, and a mockingbird that hasn’t stopped singing for a month now, and . . . . Yes, God DOES give “songs in the night!” Kind of sounds like I live in a swamp. Swamp songs!

481. That I still have time to replant beans for a second crop. The question is, WILL I???? It’s REALLY HOT out there.. . .

482. That I have a brother-in-law who handles the “man tools” and saws and chops trees that fall across my driveway.

483. That nothing goes to waste, as birds pull away loose bark off of the fallen tree and find lunch ready and waiting for squawking babies.

484. That my sister, who seems to have gone over the edge in her determined efforts to get rid of the vultures, is winning the battle after all ---- BB guns, bobbing-headed plastic owls, garlands made of shiney silver and bright plastic ornaments hanging in trees, a good hosing now and then ------ I only saw one last night, and Buster did a good job is chasing that one off. I used to think the obsessions of older people were a hoot when I was younger --- like my father sitting in his lawn chair with a poker, waiting for the moles to come and then spearing them with shouts of victory. But my sister and I are there now. And there is something about being old and not letting a vulture get the best of you. It’s like your last stand in life, your claim to victory. So please bear with us, you younger ones who think I’ve lost it!

485. Spanish Rice! When was the last time you had Spanish Rice????? When I was a kid, this came in cans, ready made, and you just heated it up as a side dish. We had it all the time and I loved it. What happened to Spanish rice????? Another significant sign of old age ---- craving the foods of your youth! I made it from scratch, and I couldn’t get enough. You’d think it was the last meal I would ever get.

486. Sycamore leaves, now full sized, doing what they are made to do ---- make shade. Watching the breezes make these leaves dance, which make the shadows dance . . . And makes me smile. It’s been almost 3 years now since I nearly killed this tree. It’s planted close to my septic tank. Too close, but I don’t care. When I went through chemo treatments, I never gave it a thought that all that poison would go OUT of me, INTO the septic tank, and end up in my tree! I cried when I saw all those beautiful, perfect leaves turn brown and curl up. I wondered if it would come back the following year ---- I wondered if I would be back the following year!!!!! It did come back, more full and stronger than ever. And so did I.

Joining with so many others who find blessings in the most wonderful places. . .

Monday, May 30, 2011

Still Counting Towards 1,000



438. Beautiful lilac-tinted flowers on bean vines. I planted the asparagus beans so the vines would climb an archway. The flowers don’t last long, but they are so pretty while they are there.

439. Sunset. Driving down a long, straight road towards the west, the sun is HUGE and blazing red as it drops into the gulf. Just breath-taking!

440. Homemade patty melt on onion-rye bread from the bakery. Nothing better.

441. Sound of a hamburger sizzling in the frying pan. I don’t have them very often anymore. So I salivate along with Buster as it’s cooking.

442. Cucumbers that play hide-and-seek under big, protective leaves.

443. Lots of little chirpy babies being shown where the feeder is and how it “do it yourself.”

444. Young squirrel on the window ledge sitting on his haunches, holding his chest, in “shock and awe” as he realizes there are people on the other side of the glass.

445. Offering encouragement, but getting way more back in return.

446. Relieved to have my 3-month check up with the oncologist over and done with. All is well.

447. Leaving comfort zones can be hard, but once I tried my wings, I found I didn’t want to go back to the nest.

448. Moving on!

449. And finding I’m not alone in the journey.

450. And that the miracle of it all is that I WANT to move on. Is this how an eagle feels when it’s time to fly? Scared, but you want to --- and you just do it?

451. Open mike music night at a sister church. Such a blessing!

452. That so many in the audience had served in the military. An overwhelming sense of gratefulness came over me.

453. Reading others’ blogs and the stories of those who have served and sacrificed all for my freedom. Thank you! Because of their sacrifices, you have sacrificed much, also.

454. Encouragement in my email that just changed the course of my day!

You can join others who are finding thankfulness and gratitude in their everday moments here:

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Waterboarding


So many of you have asked about #420 in my last post ---- my sister waterboarding turkey vultures. So here's the explanation.

We have a real problem. For some reason, about 50 of these horrible looking turkey vultures have decided that my house and my sister's house would make wonderful roosting places. They are tearing up the roofs, and that's bad enough. But they come down into the yard morning and evening, they chase us, chase our cats, go after the other birds, to say nothing of the droppings, etc. I wanted to get my mail (we have the old fashioned mailboxes on the road), and this "boss vulture" came after me hissing and throwing up at me.

These birds are protected and you can't hurt, kill, or harm them in any way. Suggestions are loud noises, shiney objects, clapping, etc. NOTHING works. Even gun shots in the air just send them back to the roof and then they stand there looking over the edge and laugh at us.

Well, my sister is on a mission. She got her hose out with one of those power nozzles on it and goes after these beasts!!!!! I think it does more for HER as it gets rid of some of her frustrations for a little while. The birds just walk away and come back when she finishes her tantrum with the water.

If ANYONE has any suggestions as to how to get these things to move, I would so appreciate it. I just can't understand why our house. We don't have garbage or dead animals, etc., sitting out. Isn't that what they usually go after????? Maybe they are waiting for ME to drop out there, I don't know! I hear they go for the eyeballs first!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gratitudes of the Heart - Week 14

416. Strength to admit weakness.

417. Strength to take a step. . . And then another.

418. Strength to follow through.

419. Support of those who understand.

420. Watching my sister “waterboard” turkey vultures who just won’t give it up!

421. Cool, sunny days. Like the spring days I remember as a child.

422. Butterflies.

423. A cardinal catching drops of water off the leaves after I water.

424. Listening to baby flycatchers learning their song. Mom and Dad sit on a branch nearby and sing it right. Little ones in the birdhouse sing it -- not so right. Over and over and over they practice, day after day. I wonder if that’s the rule --- you can only come out to play if your song is right???

425. Learning about the depths of forgiveness over at Craig’s blog, Deep into Love: Just Corinthian Love.

426. Learning to fly like an eagle ---- Thank you, Lea!

427. A brother-in-law coming to my rescue with a battery charger. I left the little inside lights on in my car.

428. Fresh picked cucumber sliced up in a salad with onion, feta cheese, sun dried tomatoes, etc.

429. Fifteen bean soup cooking for supper.

430. Cornbread! Tastes like Heaven when you haven’t had it in a while!

431. Zuchinni. All the zuchinni I could ever want for free. Someone brought boxes and boxes of it to church tonight. I was shocked at how many people didn’t know what it was, never tasted it, and didn’t know how to fix it.

432. Graduation day. The Flycatchers are out of the nest. What a loud, busy bunch out there!!!!! Three babies and two parents --- and no one else is allowed anywhere near them ---- no one WANTS to be. It sounds like about 20 police whistles being blown all at the same time. They definitely got their song down pat! One baby wants to go to the ground, but Momma goes after him, swoops under him, and guides him back to the top of a tree. Do I see some lessons there?????

433. Still, quiet moments.

434. The freedom of forgiveness and letting go.

435. Buster’s big sighs as he sleeps at my feet. ALWAYS at my feet. 24/7.

436. One big beautiful Sunday all wrapped up in one big blessing!

437. The reminder that we really only have an audience of ONE when it comes to what we do in life. What we do is for God and Him alone. (Col. 3:23-24).

I'm linking up with Ann VonKamp, author of 1000 Gifts, and the many others who are counting all the blessings and gifts that the Lord sends their way. You can find them here:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Victory

All my life, I've heard about "The Victorious Christian Life." It was everywhere --- church, camp, conferences, Bible School, Bible studies. The whole center of teaching at the Bible Institute I went to was "the crucified life" as presented in Galatians 2:20, Romans 4-8, and other passages that fit with these. The result of all that for me? That I was a complete failure and would never "attain" or experience this type of life. This failure (as I saw it) was so deep feeling that I walked away -- not so much from my faith, but from the pursuit of all God had for me in life. In that stagnant time frame, I was anything but a happy person, and gradually found my way back. . . at least to the point where I had left off. How gracious God is and how patient and forgiving!

If I've learned anything about myself, I've learned I'm very simplistic. And I like pictures. Things my heart and mind can see. I remember these things easier and I can fit myself and my heart into the pictures my mind has formed.

The other day, someone asked me about "living victoriously" and wishing someone could explain it without all the "canned answers." I dug into the past 30 years or so of my life and my mental files where I have kept a running tab on what I have latched onto. And this is what I've learned:

Victory is always portrayed as an end thing. The end of a race, the winning of a game, the beating of an opponent, the top of a mountain. It’s when the pictures are taken. It’s when the flag is raised. It’s when the medals are given.

No one takes the pictures where victory starts. It starts with a vision and a wanting of what I see. It’s making a plan and drawing a map that goes from here to there.

And in the plan, the drawing, the heart of a victor is conceived. It beats. It dreams. It sees the end, the finish line, the top of the mountain. It’s seeing a goal and wanting to reach it. The heart trembles with fear and the hand feels the hesitations, but pushes on. No one takes pictures of my heart. No one cheers. No one even notices me in my starting place. But this is victory. Starting. Beginning. The first step.

Mountains are high and a real victor picks the highest. The one that is lost in the clouds. The one that stands one step in front of me. I stand at sea level, the bottom of the mountain. I take step one -- one foot above sea level -- and I am victorious. In that moment, I move towards the top. I set a goal, set my heart, and I take one step! But no one takes my picture. No one calls me a winner. No one drapes me with a medal. But my heart knows. And it’s right. And it’s good.

Another step, and then another, and I’m going up. I smile, and all is well --- until I fall. I’m crushed, but in my hand is still my dreaming heart and it screams, “Get up! Get up and start again!” And I do get up. And once again I know victory. It’s in the getting up. It’s in seeing the top of the mountain. It’s moving on -- again! I fall --- again and again and again. But victory is not giving up. It’s getting up. Every time, I get up, find my heart and move upwards. But no one takes my picture. No one cheers for the one with wounds and scars and torn clothing. But, oh, my heart knows! And now I am determined. And I taste victory.

I get tired and hungry and cold and discouraged. I’m behind, moving slower than I planned. But victory is going beyond what I thought I could do. It’s pushing forward, no matter what. It’s laying aside things that weigh me down. It’s pressing on. Victory is one step. Just one. And victory is then another. It’s pressing on. It’s my heart. It’s never being satisfied with where I am. It’s taking out my plan, seeing my heart moving towards the top. Victory is today. It’s this moment. It’s where I am now, in this fleeting flash of time, moving --- always moving!

Victory is knowing I will make it. It’s seeing the top, though clouds are still hanging low. It’s carrying a victor’s flag the whole way, picking it up time and again, and again, and again . . . And even again.

Victory is moving upwards, even though others quit and go back. Victory does not listen to threats of failure. Victory sings, “Not to the strong is the battle, not to the swift is the race, but to the true and the faithful victory is promised through grace.”

It’s too bad I can’t take pictures of my heart, my mountains, and my upward journey! What an album that would be! It is in the looking back that I understand, that I see clearly what was once hidden in the misty clouds. I look through the pages of my heart, and there, in every picture I see a cross. Sometimes I was carrying it. Sometimes I fell beneath it. Sometimes . . .wait!!!!! Who is that with me in these pictures???? Who is carrying my cross for me??? I thought I was alone. . . .