Friday, August 15, 2014

those foggy moments

Yesterday morning as I headed out on my walk I couldn't help but feel secluded. We've welcomed some rain the last couple of days and the result has been some foggy overcast mornings.  As the fog settled around my little town, it hid the mountain range from view.

It reminded me of a trip Bruce and I took up to Revelstoke BC several years ago. We arrived on a Friday late afternoon and checked into our hotel room ducking raindrops. In our room as I gazed out the window at the town, shrouded in mist, I had no idea what was out there beyond the roof tops in the next city block.

view from our motel room window-- in the light of day!

It was with joyful delight that the next morning, with the sun shining brightly and not a cloud in the sky, a great reveal was made. Beautiful glorious mountains-- jagged and awesome in size and shape, reigned above the town. In the dark of the night, with the cloud cover, we had no idea what the area looked like. Until the fresh light of day swept the cloud and fog away, we might have thought this a flat monotonous landscape.

Revelstoke BC in the fall. Sept. 2006

Later yesterday, as I drove into town to meet a friend, I could see glimpses of sun breaking through the clouds. Like ombre coloring, the shaded sky went from dark heavy gray to heather to pink the closer I got to the ocean. It was a treat to find I wouldn't need my sweater once I arrived at my destination. For here, the sun had pierced the clouds and while it wasn't quite a blissful blue, the atmosphere held promise.

As I sipped my London Fog and watched the waves crash in on the rocks below me, my eyes searched the horizon. Following the light as far as I could, I couldn't help but think about the fog that overtakes me spiritually from time to time.


When my depression takes forefront in my life, when stress claims my attention and pulls it away from trusting God, something happens to my eyesight. It becomes short sighted. I can't see any further than what is in front of me. My horizon is blocked and it feels like the earth just ends where the wall of fog begins. It's easy to lose sight of what's real when your vision is blocked. When the haze blinds you to possibilities beyond what you can imagine.

I have to remember that just as I could get in my car and drive out of the fog, until I reached a light-filled place, so it is with my emotional and mental state. I have to believe that there is light beyond the darkness. I need to place my trust in God, regardless of my circumstances.




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Overcomer

I don't really know how to write about this. But as Flannery O'Connor  says, "I write because I don't what I think until I read what I say."

The news of Robin Williams death is so very sad, the grief made even deeper with the news of suicide being the likely reason. Suicide sparks a lot of discussion as it is probably never fully understood by those of us still living. Even in my darkest hours of depression, I haven't gone down that road. That is not to say that those kinds of thoughts haven't flitted through my mind. When we are in pain, we all want it to just stop. Mental anguish is no different.

My antidepressant works. Nine days out of 10, I can say that and mean it. But on that one day where it feels like I'm floundering, when it feels like a ton of bricks is pressing in on my mind and heart, when the thought of doing anything makes me cringe and pull back, on that day, I question how well its working. And I start jumping to conclusions such as, "I'm going to need more meds. I don't want to take more meds. I don't want to switch my Rx. I don't want to go down that troublesome road of trying new combinations. I want this one to work, dang it!" I remind myself that this is just one bad day and tomorrow it will be better. I remind myself of how good I felt yesterday and that the antidepressant was working just fine then. I calm myself with the promise that this is just a temporary slump, a little bump in the road, a hiccup. I administer self care however best will soothe that day. (sleep, chocolate, reading, staring into space...) If those things don't work and the day just finds me sinking lower, that is when those ugly scary thoughts of making the pain stop, come to torment me.

One of my favorite songs currently is "Overcomer" by Mandisa. I love, love, love the lyrics, the tune, and the powerful message. If you watch the official video, I promise you it will touch you on a deeper level. It shows several people who have faced insurmountable obstacles in life. Facing them, and OVERCOMING. The video inspires me. People in my own life, friends, inspire me as I watched them face trials of all kinds. I have watched them battle through cancer, substance abuse, childhood traumas, crippling illness, car accidents, facing possible jail time, numerous surgeries and the list goes on.

Everyone of them faced those demons and won. They OVERCAME. They inspire me to keep pushing, keep fighting, don't give up, don't give in. Ultimately my source of inspiration comes from the Word of God. But even then, God often uses my friends to bring these truths to me.

I will likely battle with depression for the rest of my life. Like diabetes or MS, or any other disease, depression is usually a chronic condition but it does NOT have to take over my life. I can be, I will be, I am, an OVERCOMER.





Saturday, August 9, 2014

Love Me A Road Trip!

It's been a little while since my sweetie and I have gone on a real honest to goodness vacation. It's been at least a couple of years. And I have serious wanderlust a'burning! I love me a good road trip. So, in a little over a week we will be hooking up the "Burke-Turque" and heading down the road in search of adventure!

our last big road trip was in 2011

 I've been mapping out an itinerary for the trip, checking out campgrounds, places of interest. Things like the "Worlds Largest Ball of String" or "Two-Headed Chicken"  might make the list. Definitely desiring some ghost towns and historical monuments and buildings. I've made contact with the friends and family we plan to visit and again, mapping out the routes best to take. And shopping. Oh, yes, shopping before a trip is a must! To be honest, my summer wardrobe has been a little, um, shall we say, 'saggy' since last year's weight loss.... which is a very nice feeling but can be a little tough on the pocketbook. THANK GOODNESS for thrift and consignment stores.

Getting Ready
But probably the most extensive and most fun has been getting the TRAILER ready for the trip. We decided it was in serious need of an overhaul. Now, mind you, it's a 1967 which makes it vintage and therefore cooler than anything new you could buy, and it was gifted to us by friends who were moving several years ago so it felt right to invest some money in the rolling wonder! True, when we first got the trailer I spent some time spiffing it up-- curtains, slipcovers for the seat cushions, etc. but it never quite had the look I was hoping for.
before

You see, we've been to a few Vintage Trailer Rallies and the people who participate in those are... well, they might be a little over the top, but in a very fun and crazy sort of way! We're talking RETRO to the MAX!
There's the pink flamingos and the red checkerboards and the lemon drops. There's the so-shiny-I-can-see-myself-Airstreams. There's a ladies only club. There are some truly obnoxious trailers and there are some way out whacky! I didn't want to go that far. I just wanted to find a theme for our little Aristocrat and run with it.

It's a 1967, as I said, and the main colors are my favorite: turquoise. Because I love not just the color, but the precious stone, my mind went to the southwest, where turquoise is prominent. Aah! Lightbulb! Southwestern theme it shall be.

fabric for seat cushions and curtains
My lovely and talented friend Laura, who can sew ANYTHING, offered to make the curtains and new cushion covers and I went to town with a paintbrush to freshen up the insides. I bought some nice new sheets for the bed and updated the kitchen supplies.


new curtains and cushion covers installed but there's still painting to be done.

painted the ceiling with a fresh creamy white and the area around the cupboards. Added the chocolate brown to the cupboard doors and then with the help of another friend who custom made the stencil for me, I added the blue accents. 

Once Bruce saw all the beautiful changes to the inside he got in the act and decided the outside needed some work. He's been sanding, buffing and painting as time allows and yesterday he found some awesome hubcaps for the wheels. (which I think we should paint with some turquoise accent color and he still is in need of convincing)

freshened paint on the back

primer first

just one more side to paint!

The project we have been working on together is the floor. We chose a laminate flooring that looks like tile and set to work the other day with installing it. Of course we RAN OUT with just a couple feet to go! This stuff can't be bought piece by piece so another order was placed and it's scheduled to arrive just 2 days before we are scheduled to leave! Yikes! (if all else fails, we have rugs!)

It's been a fun undertaking and i am just delighted with the way it's all coming together. It's almost as exciting as the road trip itself!

 Almost. :)

Where Are We Going?
We are heading to Montana to visit my brother and sister-in-love. We visited them 5 years ago--IN THE DEAD OF WINTER--  which is one of the crazier things we've done, but even in it's blanket of white and freezing temps. we could see the raw stark beauty of the place and understand why they call it "Big Sky Country".

Montana in Winter
It will be a whole new scene to see it under a brilliant sun. We have a few places we want to see as we travel there and back, including a few days in Glacier National Forest. I am very excited about the trip.

Probably the best part of this whole adventure is the extended amount of time together it will provide for my sweetie and me. We are long overdue for some uninterrupted quality time together. It is sure to be a romantic, adventurous and fun time.


Monday, July 28, 2014

With Time to Ruminate

I have been mulling it over in my heart all week. This thought about the glass being half full or half empty. About what's in my cup. About loving fully, no holding back. About serving without any expectations on a return for my investment. About 'doormat'.


Probably the word I struggled with the most was that last one. After more mulling, praying and discussing, I think I have reached the place of understanding that 'doormat' as Oswald Chambers uses it, means to serve without any thought of being noticed. I don't think it means to be walked on/walked all over/misused. I think it really means having a servant's heart.



The servant is probably the least noticed person in any given situation. When I dine out, I don't really want a chatty waitress. I just want my food. I'm not saying this to be snarky. If you wait on me in a restaurant and approach my table with a big smile and tell me your name and that you will be taking care of me this evening, I won't be offended. I won't be striking up a conversation with you though either, because, I came here to enjoy dinner with my companion and we'd like to be alone now please. But some people might not give the wait staff a second thought. Ever notice how in the movies conversations don't necessarily come to a halt just because the waiter comes by? That's the kind of going unnoticed, unappreciated kind of service I think being a doormat means in this reference.

I'm OK with that. It's not my strong suit, I'll grant you. I like to be noticed and acknowledged.  I get a little grumpy when I work hard for someone else and barely garner a thanks. So, this is probably also an area I need to work on. Because, as it says in Ephesians 6.7: Work with enthusiasm, as though you are working for the Lord, rather than for people. And again in Colossians 3.23: Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord, rather than people. If it is what the Lord asks of me, to serve where He calls me to serve, to work where He needs me to work, I should respond, willingly, whole heartedly and without any expectations of reward.

My pride wrestles with that I guess. Just as I have tried to protect certain areas of my heart and wrestle with the idea of full surrender no matter what the cost, I will wrestle with this one.

I used to have a button back in Jr High School that said "Please be patient. God isn't finished with me yet." I could use that button now. I may be over 50 and have probably used up over half of my life, but I'm still a work in progress.




Sunday, July 20, 2014

Love Without... Boundaries?

There's a lot of talk about having personal boundaries and not letting people infringe on them. We learn it is not healthy to let people take advantage of or step over those lines. When I wrote my post the other day with the quote by Oswald Chambers, it stirred up a lot of conflict for me.

Oswald challenges us to be doormats. That raised my hackles right away. I mean, come on! I was someone's doormat for 15+ years and I ain't never going back to that! I don't believe Christ calls me to live a life without safeguards in place. Does He? I'm struggling with this.

I understand that people who go into the mission field full-time make huge sacrifices. They give up financial security as they live day to day on the generosity of others. They sacrifice personal safety as they go into places deemed dangerous. They risk being persecuted for being a Christian. They face criticism from others who might not understand this crazy call on their lives, especially calls that might involve bringing your young children into the mission field with you.

But all I'm talking about in my own life, my own personal conviction, is loving those God places in my path, without reservation, without conditions, without fearing the risk of being hurt.

Let me tell you a true story. Strange, but true.

The other night as we were hosting guests and getting ready to sit down for dinner we had a knock at the door. Bruce went to answer it, me at his heels. There on our front stoop stood a young girl, maybe 18-20. Dark skin, tiny, pretty but dressed--and there is just no other way to say this-- like a hooker. We're talking cut down to there and up to here, short and revealing. And tight.  And her shoes? Bootie-type shoes. Definitely hooker shoes. She looked a little disorientated and her approach was shy yet her request was as bold as you please.  She wanted to know if she could borrow our lawn mower to mow the neighbors yard because she and her boyfriend were desperate for some cash.

Okay. Wait a minute. We've had people from time to time find their way to our door to ask for gas money or food and even once, a place to stay. I don't know how they pick our house out of any other house on the street but perhaps it has something to do with a flashing neon sign above our home with an arrow pointing down. ( I kid!) Somehow people seem to know that this house might grant them favor. (and for that I am grateful, in a mixed up sort of way, and we'll save that discussion for another post) Anyway, we've never had this strange of a request. Ask for money for gas, sure. But you want to borrow my lawn mower to mow someone else's yard? How did you know we had a lawn mower to borrow? What made you think we might say yes? How do we know you won't take off with it and try and sell it (crappy piece of machinery that it is, but still!)

My immediate reaction was NO WAY and I did my best to convey that thought through facial expressions that only my husband could see. But Bruce operates under slightly different principles than me. Walking with her down the driveway a bit so she could point out which neighbor needed a lawn mowed, he asked her why she chose our house. She told him Jesus said to ask us. (it's the neon sign and arrow!)

Short story is Bruce got the lawn mower out of the shed and with some instructions for operating our tricky machine, sent her down the road with it. I wasn't happy but I also know better than to argue with my sweetie when I can tell he has good reason for deciding this is the right thing to do.

Later in private Bruce and I discussed the randomness of this girl coming to our house for help. Bruce allowed that it was strange indeed, and certainly a little sketchy. But a lawn mower is just a lawn mower and he believes in holding on to material things lightly. He is always more interested in what is going on in a persons heart and head and if lending out a lawn mower will allow him a closer peek into their life in order that he might speak God's Truth, than so be it.

This is a prime example of love without borders to me. Where I would have said no way and closed the door and shook my head, Bruce stepped out of the house to learn more. In the process he heard her mention Jesus and a little more conversation took place because of that. She left to get better shoes on before she took the mower down the street and when she returned she was also wearing a t- shirt over her dress. The T-shirt was from a Mercy Me concert ( Christian rock band) Bruce made comment on the shirt and more conversation ensued. She allowed that she wasn't exactly living a life she should be and seemed to be kind of mixed up with some one not the safest and was trying to get her life straightened out. I am sure there is much more to her story and we can debate to the authenticity of her words but the bottom line for my husband was/is: love her. Love the lost. Love our neighbors. Love. Just love. And yep, you might get hurt in the process. You might be taken advantage of. You might get stepped on. But still, love.

Now I suppose if she took off with the mower and never brought it back and then showed up one day to ask if she could borrow our rototiller, Bruce would say no. Because why should we enable bad behavior? But in the beginning go ahead and take the risk sometimes.

I know my own conviction about loving fully comes from the relationships closest to me. As I said in yesterdays' post, I struggle in the relationship with my mom. As a child, I experienced more than one occasion of what borders on physical abuse from her hands. Emotional abuse was also part of the experience. But as a young mother I developed a better relationship with her. For some time we had a pretty good, fairly close relationship. As she has aged and certain things in her brain have changed, the communication process has gotten more difficult. The memories of those negative experiences of the past have a way of rising up and taunting me when she acts cranky. So I put up my guard to protect myself but as I do, I put a restriction of just how much love I feel for her will be let out.

This is the conundrum. I want to love. Fully. Completely. Without holding back. How do I do that while still maintaining some control over my life and keeping personal boundaries in place?

There are many people who come in and out of my life that we refer to as EGR's. (Extra Grace Required) How do I show love to them without getting sucked into their vortex of crazy? We say things like  "not my circus, not my monkeys" and laugh but does that mean I close the door in their face and miss the opportunity to share Jesus with them?

I don't have the answers to these questions plaguing me right now and I'm not writing this to try and convince anyone else that Oswald really does mean be a doormat. What if loving fully means becoming a doormat under other peoples feet? What if being poured out as a living sacrifice is the only way to truly experience a full life in Christ? Am I willing? Will I go there?

As I said yesterday, I want to say yes.I want to live a full life. I don't want to miss out on what God really has in store for me. Exploring this will be by the grace of God. I invite you to ride along with me and help hold me accountable. There will be more to come...


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Half Full.... But Of What?

I've always thought of myself as a glass half full kind of gal, and sometimes even full to overflowing. I think it is significant to point out that even in my deepest darkest days of depression I've still felt my cup was half full.

This morning though, I was struck with the thought, half full of WHAT?

I guess it hit me as I was kicking a pair of shoes back into the closet, trying to take a short cut to putting something away, a short cut that ended up taking longer than just doing it the right way in the first place, because as I kicked, my little toe, which has been outfitted with a GPS specially designed for finding sharp corners, connected with the said sharp corner and the words that flew out of my mouth as I hopped on one foot, were nothing to be proud of.

This follows a day last week when I found myself screaming obscenities into the tub of my washing machine as I worked to untangle a pair of panties that had twisted itself around the agitator, sucking everything else in the wash into its vortex. The only thing that kept me from popping a blood vessel was to finally walk away knowing there was a chocolate bar in the freezer, and really, is twisted knickers worth having a hemorrhage over?

I've always known there were things to be thankful for, things to believe in, things to hope for. That's what makes me the glass half full person that I am. But when I find myself irritated by little things, when someone says something that sounds remotely critical and my first reaction is one of defensiveness, when I find myself erecting the old wall around my tender spots... well, that makes me wonder just where my attitude really falls in the glass empty/glass full category. 

What struck me this morning is that sometimes there's vinegar in my cup. 

So I ruminated on this, while rubbing my toe and then getting dressed (and why are these panties all stretched to hell? .........OH. Yah.) I knew there was some life lesson tied in with this and so I wouldn't forget this moment I posted something to that effect on my Facebook status. Then I went to my women's writers group and in the meeting room of the coffee house we meet at, I saw a poster on the wall of a mug spilling over with coffee beans that said "Half Full or Half Empty; it really doesn't matter if your cup is half full or half empty, it's what's in the cup that matters." 

Huh. 

Ooookay. Obviously this is a thought I DO need to spend some time on. Maybe I am an optimist, and filled with hope but there's a sour side to me that comes to the surface every now and again. I find it rises most often when surrounded by people I don't trust. I'm not talking about being discerning here. I'm talking about people whom I know have the capability of hurting me. People who I've let get close only to be stomped on. People I trusted only to be let down. People who've proved to be less than I believed they would be. 

Well, shoot, that's just about everybody in the world. We all fall down in our relationships. No matter how well meaning we are, we just fail from time to time. I fall often. I fail often. I've experienced it with family and friends and I know they've been on the receiving end of my foibles. 

What happens is that because I've been let down, I start coming to expect it. Take for example my mother. (Please, take my mother.) I love my mom. Of course I do. But she is, God bless her, NOT the happiest camper in the campground. I think it's safe to say my mother is a glass half empty individual. She can be cranky, difficult, sulky, cranky, obstinate, hard to please, did I say cranky? So, when ever I go to visit her, I go wearing my armor. I have come to expect that she will say something that will push a button. I expect she will be argumentative, she will whine, she will berate me and be ungrateful. I know for sure she's going to be cranky. And you know what? I'm usually right. She dishes out exactly what I was expecting. I was right to put up my guard. But in doing so, I find I hold back some of my love. My cup has vinegar in it.

I think about how Christ loves. Fully. Completely. Unconditionally. There's no vinegar in His Cup. And don't I, as a Christ follower, want to be more like Christ? Live like Christ? Love like Christ? Oh, that my cup would overflow, overflow with the sweetest honey. 

What will it take to ensure my cup is sweet? 

The fruits of the Spirit include love. I think that's where I begin. I state right here on my blog that I am loving fully but I am being convicted as I write this. I've placed conditions and restrictions on my heart. I like the idea of loving fully but if I am really honest with myself, I've been holding back. Sure, I can make a case for protecting myself but it comes right back again to living my life as a Christ follower. Ephesians 5.2 says "Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God." 

In "My Utmost for His Highest" Oswald Chambers says "Are you willing to sacrifice yourself for the work of another believer—to pour out your life sacrificially for the ministry and faith of others? Or do you say, “I am not willing to be poured out right now, and I don’t want God to tell me how to serve Him. I want to choose the place of my own sacrifice."

In Philippians 2.17 Paul wrote: But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.

Oswald goes on to say: It is one thing to follow God’s way of service if you are regarded as a hero, but quite another thing if the road marked out for you by God requires becoming a “doormat” under other people’s feet. ...  Are you ready to be sacrificed like that? Are you ready to be less than a mere drop in the bucket—to be so totally insignificant that no one remembers you even if they think of those you served? Are you willing to give and be poured out until you are used up and exhausted—not seeking to be ministered to, but to minister? 
Ouch. 
Yet I know, if I walk away from this conviction, if I shelve it until I feel stronger, or more ready to commit, I will effectively be denying Jesus. I already feel twisted up inside, much like those poor little panties were, and I know that God is calling me to go deeper with Him. If I want my cup to be full and sweet, I must respond. I must say "Yes." 





Thursday, July 10, 2014

Celebrate, Celebrate, Dance to the Music!

My book is here! My book is here!


Ok, so it's not just My book. My little story is just one out of 100 delightful short stories that touch on everything from soup to nuts. But, my order arrived yesterday. 10 copies of "Mixed Blessings; Simple Pleasures" from Breath of Fresh Air Press.

(10 copies?? Watch for a possible give away in the near future-- a way to win your own copy of this book) 

The level of excitement has never waned. Not from the moment I learned that one of my stories was going to be included in the first anthology of Faithwriter publications since BOFAP took over. I have been on pins and needles for awhile waiting for the day I would hold the book in my hand and see one of my stories in print.



and there it is....... I AM A PUBLISHED AUTHOR.

This book really is packed full of juicy bite sized blessings. You can order your copy by going to http://www.breathoffreshairpress.com/  and look under the Bookstore tab. Deborah Porter, the genius behind BOFAP will be delighted to take your order.

I have been writing since I was a kid. I think I realized early on that writing was something I HAD to do. I was born to do this. It took some time for me to believe this was a gift God has blessed me with. It has also taken me some time to feel brave enough to share my writings with other people. (blogging is one sure fire way to stick your neck out!!) I don't know that I can change the world through my writing but maybe, just maybe I can make a difference in one persons life and that might change the world!

Thank you for your support and thanks for reading!!