Monday, December 24, 2012

God broke down the big door

Christ has come to this world to heal our hearts. He has brought His Light into our darkness.  Darkness must flee in the Light of the Christ-child's holy Presence. 

At our Christmas Eve service this afternoon, my pastor described two rooms with a solid wall between them. One room bright light and the other the darkest dark. He asked us, "which room do you see yourself in right now?" Then, he asked, "which room do you want to be in?" He went on to say that by God sending Jesus to this earth, He Himself kicked the big door down in between the two that even if we feel we've been in the dark, God has initiated and come down to earth to break down that barrier and give us light. The Light of His Love. The Light of His Glorious Presence. We do not have to claw our way through that door to the Light.  Jesus, The Light of the World did it for us.

What a fresh way of seeing the gospel message! I saw it anew and afresh. My prayer is that my family saw it too. That the three thousand in attendance saw it. 

That is my prayer for you, too, this Christmas. That you will know that God has broken down the big door between His brightest bright and the darkest dark to bring you His Light that you no longer have to walk in darkness.

Merry Christmas and God bless!

Isaiah 9:2
The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them.

Friday, December 14, 2012

the gift of awareness

What is it about my past that I seem to doubt my judgement? I doubt that my opinions are valid. I doubt that my desires are legitimate. I've struggled with this for as long as I can remember. Except that recently, I have become aware of this thing with me.

I have been becoming more aware of just how great a gift awareness is. I am speaking here of the awareness of self and why we may behave the way we do. What makes us tick. Not everyone has this awareness of self to a degree that is healthy. And, some are not even aware that they don't have it. How great a gift awareness is in relationships. How great a gift awareness is, period.

If I tend to get angry easily or carry resentment, why? Am I aware of why? If I am aware of why, only then can I learn to do something about it. 

Oh, what a gift awareness is. 

Even if my new-found awareness of some of my irks and quirks might bring me pain, I welcome awareness. Knowledge is power. Only when I become aware of my irks and quirks can I change, grow and become more of who Christ desired me to be in the first place. 

It is true that my life experiences have shaped me to have some of these habits and hang ups. I've been hurt in the past. I've been wounded. Some of those hurts have incised scars on my soul. However, it is not true that I need to stay that way. The way of some of my habits and hang ups may be hurting me and you or our relationship. I do not need to stay in the dark about the way I am and the way I act and the way I may come across to others. 

I do not want my lack of awareness to become a stumbling block for someone else. I want to be willing to humble myself to hear maybe even painful truth about myself, but I do want to hear the truth. I welcome truth. Because truth about me and how I am will set me free to become something else more glorious. I will become more like Christ.

So, if you see me doing something irksome, something that is contrary to who Christ designed me to be, please tell me. Tell me in a gracious and kind way, but do me the great favor of not leaving me in the dark of my unawareness. 

It is only in my complete awareness of who I am, Who's I am and how I behave in the world that I can truly change the habits and hang ups that are hurtful, and become more like my Savior. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

how you can slap the bull and come out alive

Last night, right there in the downtown skywalks, my husband 'slapped the bull' by singing out loud. And he was very proud of himself,too.

 A few years ago a movie came out called Wild Hogs. One hilarious experience after another happens on this reclaiming-their-youth trip with John Travolta, Martin Lawrence, Tim Allen and William H. Macey as they traverse the pavement through the country.

 At one stop, they are at a ranch standing at the corral. The rancher tells them that to prove their manly strength and prowess, they should go into the bull pen and slap the bull on the rear end and then try to high tail it out of the corral before the bull can trample them. Sounds like great fun, right?

The guys look at each other and shake their heads. No way are they going into the bull pen and slapping the bull on the behind! I won't give away the rest of the story, but lets just say that a couple of the guys try it with hilarious results. For them, slapping the bull symbolized doing something wild and crazy. Something that they wouldn't ordinarily do. Something that might be fun, but it also might be a bit risky. (for us, singing in the skywalks is a little risky...)

Us on our Minnesota vacation
For some reason the term "slap the bull" has stuck with my husband and me since we watched that silly movie. Now, we are not huge risk takers. For some of you 'slapping the bull' might be rock climbing in the Rockies or jumping out of an airplane.

For my husband last night, slapping the bull was to sing the Iowa State fight song loud in the skywalks while we were on our walk. It was after hours when most people were home eating dinner so this wasn't too risky. Except for the one man who was walking towards us. After the guy passed us I chided my hubby for being loud in the skywalks. He quickly reminded me that he had just slapped the bull, and wasn't I impressed that he slapped the bull right there in the skywalks? In front of one guy? Okay, underneath my eye-rolling, I was secretly happy that he had slapped the bull in front of that one guy.

No matter the number on the level-of-risk meter, the point is we have this silly little thing. This kind of not-so-inside anymore inside joke between us. 

It's really just an ordinary Tuesday, but tonight we're headed to a bluegrass musical Christmas show. That bull is really gonna be hurtin'.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

five little words

She called me on my son's twenty-fourth birthday, on April 25th of this year. I had poured all of the blood, sweat and tears of my story into two essays in the previous few months. My work was done. I had interviewed. I had visited the school. She didn't have to say those five little words, but she did. And she put a forever mark of kindness on my soul.

She didn't have to say them. She could not have possibly known what her words would mean to me. She couldn't have. She only really knows me as an "applicant", someone who wants to come to the school where she works. She is an admissions counselor. It is her job to recruit people. It is her job to make phone calls. To offer assistance. To provide information to would-be students of their graduate programs. 

Her call in April was to tell me the good news. The essays were tough for me. I had to dig deep into my story...the nitty and the gritty. In one of them I had to find an aspect of my story to compare to a film vignette from Paris Je t'aime. A movie I had never heard of and frankly, it was a little weird in my book. I really had to do some searching to find that commonality. But, I did it. The other essay was supposed to answer a question like, "What excites you about this school? Share your story as it relates to your desired life work and passions." Something like that.

I graduated with a Social Work degree in 1986. Let's just say, many moons ago. Could I write in the APA style? (I hadn't a clue...had to research online.) Could I make the needed parallels with my story? Could I put words together to even make any sense to the admissions team? I have to be honest. I had a lot of doubts. I really did. 

So, her call in April. The first few words after hello were, "Congratulations! You've been accepted!"  What she said next is what will forever be etched in my memory. She said, "It is pretty much the consensus of the admissions team that you are a very engaging writer. And, as for me personally, I just reread your essays to prepare to call you, and I think you are a beautiful writer."  It's those last few words, but really the last five that sank way deep down into a place in me that mattered. Those words touched me deeply because they touched the place where my wounding has taken place. My voice. 

She didn't have to say those last five words. She couldn't have known what those words would really mean to me. But, she said them and I have been forever touched by her kindness.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ironing as sanctuary

Ironing is a rare occasion for me. Other than these jeans, it rarely happens. But, every time I wash these great jeans I got at Goodwill, the fly needs to be ironed smooth so the zipper doesn't show. I know, details.

So, I pull the ironing board down from it's home behind the laundry room door. I take down the iron, too, and plug it in, and make sure it's on. I've learned that having it on is a bonus. While I wait for the iron to heat up, I fold clothes and towels that have buzzed me from the dryer then throw the washer load into the dryer and turn it on. 

I lay my jeans on the ironing board rather awkwardly to get at the fly right. I grab the iron, making sure not to touch the zipper with it because then it would be too hot to put on. As I run the iron across the fabric, I give it a puff of steam, just as an added surety that the fly will get smooth and stay that way. 

I had been struggling with a bit of anxiety off and on while getting ready. I had been trying to practice deep breathing. Telling myself to stay calm, that there was absolutely nothing to fear this morning in my own home. 

I noticed something as soon as I started ironing my jean's fly right there by the running dryer. I started to get calmer. Just automatically, my breathing relaxed and got deeper and more steady. I started to pay attention to the way my body felt in the surroundings of my laundry room. Warm running dryer, hot moist iron with warm steam rising to greet my face. The feel of the warm denim under my hand as I guided it for pressing. 

As I was standing there with warmth touching my face, I thought of my mother in law with all of the t-shirts she used to iron for her three boys and husband. Yes, I've mocked her for that. And it dawned on me. Ironing for her was probably her sanctuary. Her place to find peace in the midst of a hectic and busy household.And, why not? Hands gliding over the fabric that clothes each loved one. A heart to serve her family. A heart to serve God. 

Ironing felt like that for me today. A sanctuary of calm and delight. A place of simple joy. And, I felt God there. I actually ironed three more shirts to stay in that place longer.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

a minute to thank YOU

Tonight, I want to take a minute to thank my viewers. Yes, that's YOU! 

God has picked me up off of the ash heap of life more times than I can count right now, and it is my passion to share what I've learned over the years with you. It is my hope that by sharing with you, I may help to shed light on an issue you, too, might be facing. To give you hope. To help you travel this road called life with a little more peace in your heart, which hopefully will put more spring in your step. 

As I look at my stats page, I see that there are people from nine different countries who have viewed my blog over the past several months. I can't tell you how much this excites me! I just want you to know, I really appreciate you! Even if you read, but don't comment, I still appreciate you. I know I do a lot more reading of blogs than commenting, and that's okay. All right, I do like it when someone shares what they thought of a post, but it is also okay not to comment. I have faith that there are those of you out there (and I don't really care how many) who are reading and hopefully finding something that will help you breathe just a little easier. 

So, tonight, if you are reading this, I want you to know that from the deepest part of my heart (and from the middle of little old Iowa), you matter to God and you matter to me. You are a child of the Most High King and He created you to have a purpose. He created you because He loves you. 

May your sleep be sweet, or if you are just getting up for the day, may your day be filled with peace and joy!

Tuesday evening blessings to all of you!

Monday, November 26, 2012

The fruit of lips as offering

Lord, sometimes I don't feel like thanking you. My flesh is so weak.

My God says to me,

Peace, peace to him who is far off [both Jew and Gentile] and to him who is near! I create the fruit of his lips, and I will heal him [make his lips blossom anew with speech in thankful praise]. Isaiah 57:19

God says He is the one who creates the fruit of my lips in the first place. He is the one who created me and He is the one who deposits in me the ability to praise. I don't have to rely on my own human strength to praise Him. He sewed this strength to praise Him into the fabric of my being by His Spirit. I need the freshness of the Spirit. I need His healing. His help to praise.

My words of thanks are pretty important to God. When I come to Him, He wants me to come with my words. 

Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, "Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips." 
Hosea 14:2

Bring words, which are the fruit of my lips.

and again...

Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name. Hebrews 13:15

Again. The fruit of lips. Thankfully acknowledging and confessing and glorifying His name is the fruit of my lips. My offering to God.

When I don't feel like thanking Him? Something tells me my Heavenly Father is all the more pleased in my giving.

When it is hardest for you to give God a sacrifice of thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Learning to deal with the reel

When I have an experience, good or bad, I have a secondary tape reel that begins to roll. Recorded on the tape are images, feelings, impressions stemming from way back when I was just a wee babe in the cradle. I am probably not aware of what is on that tape. Not unless I've been doing some digging.

As I dig, I am realizing more and more how powerful that tape reel is to my current emotional health. If I think I am angry with someone, am I dealing with just the current anger I'm experiencing, or am I dealing with old anger from the tapes buried under the new anger and causing even more pain? 

I've been reading and paying a lot more attention to my secondary reel (or my subconscious mind) and how it has been having a mind of it's own. I think I am dealing with the current situation at hand and the emotions that go along with it. But, alas, I am also dealing with the reel.

As I sit here at my computer, my breaths are shortened. I find myself anxious. I stop to concentrate on my breathing. I am not even breathing well. Just short breaths that aren't doing much. So, I breathe long and deep. I do it again. I lower my tense shoulders. What is my second reel playing right now that causes my breathing to be shallow and my muscles tense? All I think I am doing is sitting here writing. Something I really like to do. But something on the secondary reel is making me tense.

That's the kind of thing I'm wanting to get beneath. To understand the second reel and how it is affecting how I deal with current relationships, current issues. I don't want to be ignorant anymore about anything that may perpetuate pain in my body, soul and spirit.

Lord, help me learn to deal with the old reel. The new is hard enough alone.

Monday, November 12, 2012

remembering my dad

I've gone through most of the day today and not even thought about the fact that it is Veteran's Day.

It got me to thinking about my dad, though. I've written a couple of blogs about him. Dad and the Old Folks and also one about how he immigrated to America at age sixteen.

Today, I remember, Dad the army man. After he had been in America for a few years, he wanted to join the United States Army. He was not a US citizen yet when he joined, but the paperwork must have been started, because his citizenship was finalized while he was stationed in the army in Korea. 

Growing up, I knew that dad served in the army as a young man. He told few stories and as a young person I didn't really think it was all that important to ask. Now that he has been gone almost 23 years, I wish I would have asked more. All I really knew was that he drove a "cat" in Korea and made roads for heavy duty equipment to pass on. He was also stationed in Japan for awhile. I remember him talking about the little Japanese children he would see and the word they used for "bathroom". Kind of a grunting noise and then "benjo". I can still see my dad telling me that and then having a good laugh about it. 

With my dad passing away in 1989, I don't have him around anymore to ask him to tell more army stories. If he were still here, I would want to know what prompted him to want to join the United States army. His native country was Sweden, and yet he immigrated here and joined our army. That is something I'm proud of my dad for. For wanting to serve a country that was newly adopted as his own. 

Thanks, Dad. Thanks for serving your country. Thanks also for being an awesome dad. I love and miss you. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

another chance to choose joy

Another headache this morning. More pain. I don't tell you this to complain. I'm just telling you because of what is to follow in this post.

Another chiropractic appointment. More chances to practice choosing joy. I think I failed my choosing at 2:30am, and again at 6:30am. I'm pretty sure hormones are involved here. This time in life is a wild ride. I'm pretty sure some words escaped my mouth at 6:30am that I'm glad my husband didn't hear because he was already at work.

Between the chiropractor and Starbucks is just a few blocks. I ended up following a hearse most of the way there. The hearse held a casket with a floral spray. I think I saw daisies through the back window.  I am not sure, but I wonder if the hearse was traveling between the funeral home and the funeral? Someone's mother, father, son, or daughter was in there. Someone in my town is grieving right now. Many people are grieving losing someone they love. Maybe that happens to be you.

The day after the election many people I know are not too sure they like the outcome. Even I am not too sure about it. But, following that hearse put more than one thing into perspective for me.

I am alive.
I have access to a chiropractor a few blocks from my house.
I have a Starbucks a few blocks from my house. 
I can afford both a doctor and a chai latte.
I live in a free country where I am free to vote and make my voice count.
I own a van that I drove to both places. not crazy about the minivan either but it gets me safely from point A to point B. And, it is reliable.

Has anything happened to you lately to put things in perspective? I'd love to hear from you.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When joy is hard to come by

Waking up with a headache today, joy's been a bit hard to come by. I just posted last night about how I need to choose to believe. To believe God is good. I guess I need to choose my joy today, too. 

It's a difficult thing to grasp, this joy thing. In Galatians it says that joy is a part of the fruit of the Spirit that is already in me as a daughter of God. But, I still need to choose it? I think I remember talking about this in my Sing yourself happy post. You can see I still do not have a handle on this. 

Most of the headache is gone, but my joy meter is still running on empty. What do I do? What do I choose?

I prayed.

God, help me with joy. Help me to have joy. I know that the joy of the Lord is my strength and stronghold and I want to be strong.

Then, I heard in my heart, What brings you joy?

I think the Spirit wanted me to start rehearsing the things that bring me joy. So practical is my God!

getting my hair done
chai tea latte's from Starbucks
making my home look beautiful 
flavored water
encouraging someone else

Those are a few of the things that came in to my head right away. 

Now, I can choose some things from this list. 

I called for an appointment to get my hair cut and colored. Turns out I can get in tomorrow. I texted my daughter, "yay!" Something small to rejoice over.

I'm drinking a SoBe flavored water. happy face.

I'm going to do one thing to beautify my surroundings. I have tons of stuff I could do, but my first thing will be small. Like light my pumpkin spice candle.

My spirit is lighter just thinking about some of these things I can do. 

Thank you, God, for the Indescribable Gift of Your Spirit in me reminding me to choose joy and lovingly showing me how to do it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

When it's hard to see God's face

I choose to believe.
to never give up hope.
God is good
He's in control.

These lyrics to Phillips, Craig and Dean's song resonate through me. They go on to say,

and even when His face is hard to see, 
I choose to believe.

There are definitely times in my life that God's face is hard to see. His voice is hard to hear. I know that doesn't mean He is not there and that He is not in control. But, this song moves me. It touches my heart and reminds me that God is always in control of my circumstances, no matter what it going on. It reminds me to never give up hope.

I do have to choose this however. It is my choice whether to trust that God is good. To trust that He is in control and to trust in Him enough to keep my hope. 

It is my choice. 

I had lunch with my college daughter today. I asked her a question that was posed in my Alpha group a few weeks ago. I asked,"How do you answer someone who asks the question 'what does your relationship with God look like'?"

She said that sometimes she has to choose to read her Bible, or choose to worship or choose to pray, even if her feelings don't match up to that. "Every good relationship has to have time put into it. I can't just meet with them once in awhile and expect that relationship to be a close one. The same is true in my relationship with God." Very wise words from a girl of nineteen.

God is indeed a good God. 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

eyes wide open: to a renewed spirit {day 31}

During the past 31 days, I've met some new bloggers. That has been really cool. Let me tell you, there are some great writers out there! 

This morning, I clicked into one link up at The Nester that I hadn't before. I have to say that God used Christina at The Frugal Homemaker to breathe new life into my motivation to clean, rearrange and decorate my home. At least for today! Thank you, Christina!

I used to be a person who loved to rearrange my furniture. Rearrange my accessories. I used to decorate my porch for each season. Sometime in the past few years, though, I think I lost some oomph to do many of those things. Oh, I've kept buying the Do It Yourself, Cottage Living and other decor magazines hoping to find that perfect idea that won't cost any money or energy, but will turn my house into Better Homes and Gardens perfect. But, I haven't had the mental or emotional energy to put any wind behind my sails. Too many other things in my life have been sapping that energy right out of me.

Today, after checking out The Frugal Homemaker, I got a little wind back in my decorating sails. She showed pics of how her kitchen looked after just weeding out all the stuff on her fridge and decluttering her counter tops! I said to myself, hey, I could do that. Then, I looked in my living room adjacent to the kitchen and it needed vacuuming. Being careful with my healing back, I thought, hey, I can just vaccuum. I put on Michael Buble station on Pandora and started to get to it. 

One thing led to another and I ended up moving a chair and side table to the opposite side of the room, putting the blue exercise ball in the basement where it belongs, throwing away several old Bible study folders, and making a new fangled arrangement for the side table. 

The only way to explain this burst of creative energy is that the Spirit of God blew some fresh wind in my sails. And, He used another blogger to do that. 

Now, because my room is clean and a bit rearranged, it's made me feel renewed and energized. I'm going to start tackling some of the other rooms this week. 

Thanks for keeping up with me this month! I'll keep posting, just probably at a bit slower pace. :)

see day 1 for a list of all 31 posts

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

eyes wide open: a diamond in the snow {day 30}

Several years ago I lost something very valuable to me.

We had gone to a flooring store that night. It was wintertime and in the winter my hands get so dry.  I took off my gloves and my wedding ring and set them in my lap to put on hand lotion. I got out of the car when we got there. Got back in the car when we were done looking. And, we drove home. I got the kids ready for bed. I was lying in bed about to fall asleep and I realized I wasn't wearing my wedding ring. gasp!

Then, I remembered that I had put lotion on my hands in the car. I turned to my husband who was about to drift off, and told him I don't have my wedding ring!  My gracious husband got out of bed on a cold night and drove back to the carpet store to see if he could possibly find it. And, I stayed home in bed and prayed. I knew God cared about my ring.

About twenty minutes passed and I heard the garage door go up. I was hoping he had good news. He came back to our bedroom and said that when he turned into the parking lot, now empty of everything except snow, he noticed the light from our headlights glinting off of something in the snow. That's right. My ring!  

It had been snowing the whole time since we had shopped there. A snow plow could have come and pushed my ring into a huge pile of snow. A car could have run over it. Someone could have stolen it. But no, it was right where I had dropped it. And, it was in perfect condition. Do you think God protected my ring?  

Have you lost something valuable? Do you feel lost?

God cares about even the little things. God specializes in finding lost things.

Luke 19:10 "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

see day 1 for a list of all 31 posts

Monday, October 29, 2012

eyes wide open: baptism, Batman and Elvis {days 27-29}

I wrote on Facebook today, Help! I've lost my motivation and I can't get up!  I know you know what I mean. I sat in my chair most of the morning reading different blog posts on my phone and drinking cup after cup of hot tea. I wrote a little, read a little, cried a little, felt guilty for sitting there a little. And then I kept sitting there. Sometimes, I need days like this. Especially after a high intensity weekend.

But, the weekend was filled full of abundance. 

Awesome teaching at the Alpha Holy Spirit retreat. Being "baptized" with a super-soaker by the pastor. Being prayed for by three different gals whom I had just met. And, that is just scratching the surface. 

My nephew's wedding and wedding dance provided more than a little joy. There was The Cupid Shuffle complete with batman masks. Dancing with my son. A conversation with my other son about renewed vision for his future in Forestry. Conversations with family and friends over booming bass.

We were told that we had to make a pitstop at the photo booth before we left the reception. I'm thinking, photo booth? So we go there and there is a brown backdrop taped to the wall and a table filled with different goofy hats, glasses, and other props. I made my hubby put on Elvis shades and a goofy hat. Can't wait to see how that turned out.

In between all of these things was the prevalent feeling of joy. I know God was there. God With Us. I saw him working in relationships that used to be broken but are now mended. I saw Him speak to people about His love for them. I saw Him at work in those around me.

I might be tired today, but I am full, and my life is full.

see day 1 for a list of all 31 posts

Friday, October 26, 2012

eyes wide open: nice cars and Jesus {day 26}

Aunt Esther (far right) and ladies out for a drive

More digging around in my closet and I run across these two treasures. I love these pictures because of the stories they tell. 

The tire cover in the top photo has the name Holdrege, Nebraska on it. This is the town that I grew up in. The license plate says 1934. This would have been fourteen years before my dad would come from Sweden to live with Uncle Carl and Aunt Esther. And twenty nine years before I entered the scene. 

Aunt Esther has her arm slung around her sister's shoulder in my post on {day 7}. This time, it looks like she's probably out on a Sunday afternoon drive with a couple of other ladies, maybe her sisters Anna and Louise. Pretty certain that Uncle Carl was their photographer and chauffeur. Aunt Esther never learned how to drive a car.

Uncle Carl and his car

I can't help but notice my Uncle Carl in this photo with (I'm pretty sure) the same car. I get a kick out of the way he is casually posing by it. No stuffed-shirt posing for this man! This pose says, Dig my new wheels?

Did you notice the "Jesus Saves" bumper sticker in the rear window? What a hoot. Bumper stickers in the 1930's? This tells me a couple things about my Great Aunt and Uncle.

1. They loved Jesus
2. They wanted to show Him off

I'm glad to know my Uncle Carl loved his car. I'm even more glad that he loved Jesus. 

see day 1 for a list of all 31 posts

Thursday, October 25, 2012

eyes wide open: when a tree whispers {day 25}

When I was old enough I climbed in her branches. The sap from her bark would make my little hands sticky. That didn't matter. When I climbed up and up, but not up too far, I felt like I was on top of the world. 

Wind whispering in her enveloping branches, she held me. She held the birds, too. Looking back on it, she was really a God-sent friend to shelter me and give me hope and time to think and dream. 

Little me in front of the Cedar tree
She said I was safe. 
She said I was valuable. 
She said it was okay to be me.
She said it was okay to have fun. 
She said it was okay to enjoy being alone. 
She was enough.

With passing years, my delight in her branches would come to an end. I would miss her, and yet not be fully aware of what I was missing.

I thank God for my sheltering tree. God was there with the tree and me in those whispering branches. He breathed strength into my small self for all of the hard experiences I would have in the future. 

I look back and I see Him nodding His approving yes.

see day 1 for a list of all 31 posts

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

eyes wide open: the present moment {day 24}

I want to become a  better noticer of what is going on inside of me and around me. That was my quest at the beginning of this 31 days of blogging, but I'm not sure I'm really hitting on what I want to hit on yet. I want to live in the moment I am in. To become more present.

Last night my husband said, "C'mon, we're going to see the sunset." So we hop in the van for a drive to a lake that is not too far from our house. Saylorville Lake. 

As I sit here tonight, I'm thinking of all the things I noticed last night at the lake.

The mini-waves lapping at the beach.
The gorgeous round orange sun getting lazy and closer to the horizon.
The crying sea gulls gathering on the warm parking lot, maybe for the night?
Three sea gulls flying silhouetted between us and the sun. 
Sun shimmering over still water. 

I don't remember what we were talking about on the driveway after we got back, but I remember really looking at my husband's eyes when he was talking. I noticed how blue they were. And, he smiled and chuckled at something I said. He was genuinely happy. 

It was one of those rare times that I just really looked and my mind was with the looking. I wasn't  thinking of what I was going to say next. I was not thinking anything except for that very moment.

I want to do this more often.

Living in the present moment is to be fully aware of what is going on inside me and around me. I believe this is part of the abundant life that Jesus meant for me. To be a noticer. I'm going to keep practicing the Present Moment.

see day 1 for a list of all 31 posts

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

eyes wide open: President Truman and me {day 23}

I have an addiction. The librarians probably roll their eyes. My husband and daughter think I've gone mad. My prescription eyeglasses keep needing improvement. 

I have an addiction to books. 

I confess that I have too many. That I check out too many at a time from the library. I don't mean I've gone over the library's limit for number of books. I mean I've gone over a reasonable limit. A number of books that I can actually finish reading before we take off on another library or Half Price Books jaunt. 

The ottoman in front of my reading chair is always full of books. Right now on my ottoman I have  notebooks with lined paper,
journals (one already full and my current one to write in),
two Bibles,
library books,
devotional books,
pens and highlighters,
a Pottery Barn ad booklet that I haven't looked at yet
and the church bulletin from two weeks ago.
I can't seem to help myself.

I've tried to clean off my ottoman. Hubby says, why don't you clear that off so you can put your feet up? I reason to myself that I should. So I do. I clean it off. I put the library books back in the basket intended for them, my Bibles and other books on the shelf. But, by the next day, I have books littering the ottoman again. 

I do somewhat beat myself up for this. I am not a neat freak, and I'm over that one. But, this one little spot (you would think) would be easy to keep clean. Nope.

I've been trying hard to figure out why I want all of my reading and writing materials within an easy arms reach of where I'm sitting. All the time. 

Last spring my husband and I visited the Truman Presidential Library in Liberty, MO. I was so encouraged to find out that President Truman was an avid reader like me. And, he also had to have all his books piled up around his reading chair. It's true. 

We toured the Truman Home and right there in the study was his chair they said. And, just like it was when he was sitting there for real the books were piled high. I cannot tell you how validating that information was. That the President of our United States of America had a reading addiction like me. 

see day 1 for a list of all 31 posts

Monday, October 22, 2012

eyes wide open: when you miss the kiss {day 22}

With eyes of wonder, I clutched my dolly, Snuggles, as we waited in the airport. This would be my first airplane ride ever. We were going across the ocean to visit Grandma and Grandpa Aberg (pronounced Oberg). There is no way my four year old mind could wrap around how far it actually was to Sweden. But, I felt safe by my mommy and daddy's side. Snuggles in one arm, my other hand tightly clasping Daddy's. 

the flower girls (I am on the left)
My Uncle Birger (Bir-yer) was marrying a cute young lady named Karin. I was going to be a flower girl with my cousin, Ing-Marie. We had matching pink dresses, matching necklaces, matching white gloves and matching headbands with real flowers in them. I felt like a princess.

The beautifully ornate little church was filling with freshly pressed dresses and starched shirts. My mommy told me to be sure and pay attention during the ceremony because the bride and groom were going to kiss! As a four year old, I guess this was something as big as seeing Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Disneyland. From my recollection, this event in the ceremony was the one thing to be sure to see. 

the famous "kiss"
Walking carefully down the aisle beside Ing-Marie, with basket of rose petals in my left hand, I took my place beside my uncle and I waited with four-year-old wonder. And watched. I waited and watched some more. The preacher spoke everything in Swedish. gibberish to my four-year-old self. All I could think about was when are they going to kiss? 

Then, I missed it.

 I don't know if I was zoomed in on the preacher's fru-fru robe, or if I turned to look at mommy and daddy in the congregation. But, at that precise moment when I looked away, it happened. I was so disappointed that I missed the kiss.


Somewhere along the way to growing up, I've had to learn to pay attention to wonder. It doesn't just happen the way it did when I was four. How does it happen that wonder slips out the back door when we're little, but then later beckons to be found?

 I now prize those four-year-old eyes that were so eager to see that one solitary wedding kiss. Eyes that were full of wonder. Something deep inside me whispers, even though you missed the kiss that day, don't miss the wonder.  

see day 1 for a list of all 31 posts

Sunday, October 21, 2012

eyes wide open: all things new {day 21}

 The sun rises on a new day. Animals are waking. People are waking from slumber. It's a day that has never been in history before--brand new! The birds celebrate the new day with their songs. 

The new day has anticipated promise. Hope is still fresh and new for the good things that God will do during the day. Lord, I praise you for new.

I've been seeking for the past 20 days to see things with new eyes. (actually, it's much longer than that.) Today, I ask myself the question, what is so special about 'new'?

All of humanity seems to crave new experiences, new relationships, new things. Ever gotten a new book and you are the first to crack it open and touch the crisp, clean words? My hubby always likes to be the first one to dip into the new peanut butter jar.  And just look at babies. Humans, kittens, puppies.  I need say no more. There is something about new that is fresh. Untainted.

Is it because God makes all things new?

  • His mercies are new every morning. 
  • He turns those who believe in Him into new creatures. 
  • He will someday create a new heaven and a new earth.

I think there is something here. There is something inherently special and creative about new. 

The Lords lovingkindnesses  indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.   
Lamentations 3:22-23

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  II Corinthians 5:17

see day 1 for a list of all 31 posts

Saturday, October 20, 2012

eyes wide open: to hope {day 20}

Hope: comfort, expectation, confidence, trust.

Proverbs 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

What are you hoping for? Have your hopes ever been dashed to pieces? 

I'm hoping for many things.
I'm hoping for healing and wholeness.
I'm hoping that my family grows in the knowledge that God loves them.
I'm hoping for healthy relationships.
I'm hoping one day to continue my education.

There have been times that my hopes were smashed to pieces--which led at times to a feeling of hopelessness.  I also realize that not all of my hopes will be realized if they are in the wrong things. 

Even though I love my family deeply, there is no guarantee in this life that we will not ever disappoint one another.

I have found that there is only One object of my hope that promises to never disappoint me or let me down. God promises that He is my hope. His Word is hope. His kind of hope is an anchor.  I like the sound of that. A hope that is so solid that it becomes my pillar. My security. Something I can trust in no matter what is going on in my circumstances. 

I have found God's supernatural hope to be trustworthy. Even in my darkest times. His hope has allowed me to see beyond my current situation (hope) to better days. 

Romans 5:5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Romans 15:4 Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God's promises to be fulfilled. 

Hebrews 6:19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary.

Are you disappointed today? Grab on to God's kind of hope. His anchor and security for your soul. He will never disappoint you. 

Psalm 62:5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.

Friday, October 19, 2012

eyes wide open: every day is new {day 19}

While I sit here at the computer, my little yellow canary, Gideon, flits about his cage. He stops to preen, then looks out the window at some birds in the bushes, all the while making those tiny jerky bird movements with his head. After that, he hops down to the clear plastic feeder and eats a few seeds. It is so amazing to me how little he eats. I guess that's where the saying, "he eats like a bird" comes from. He then hops over to the bell that is hanging under his swing, and makes clicking noises with his beak at his own reflection dangling there. 

Every morning, when I uncover his cage from the night darkness, he is already awake and has beckoned me to his cage with a few chirps. Sometimes even singing before I can get him uncovered. He is never in a bad mood. At least he doesn't show it if he is. I like that. In that way, I want to be like him. 

It baffles me that he seems as happy as can be in his cage. I feel bad sometimes that he lives in such a small space. But, my daughter reminded me one time, mom, remember, he has such a little brain that to him his cage is  just enough. He is not like us. You know what? She is very wise. 

What does talking about my canary's daily living habits have to do with eyes wide open: seeing with new eyes? Gideon reminds me each morning when I uncover him, that it is a new day. A day to make a fresh start. A day to rejoice in, to live carefree, and to enjoy the space in which I live. 

And, when evening comes and it's time to go to bed, just fluff up my pillow and with no worries, go to sleep.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

eyes wide open: when God puts you in school {day 18}

I ran across this list of ideas that I had written down in my journal as possibilities for the 31 days of blogging. You already know which one I picked. 

31 days of learning to wait well
31 days of learning to wait with a good attitude
31 days to healthier relationships
31 days to a happy heart. (Proverbs 17:22)
31 days of soul healing
31 days to heal your soul
31 days to soul peace
31 days to find your true voice
31 days to emotional freedom
31 days of learning to notice
31 days to soul freedom
eyes wide open: seeing with new eyes

Well, I guess the ideas were flowing that day! (yep, they are kind of repetitive--this was a chicken scratched, self-brainstorming session one day riding in the car) 

Each of those potential 31 day topics represent a specially designed God School tailored just for me. A school that God has put me in at one time or another over the past few years. To teach me how to wait. How to have soul peace and how to find my true voice. But, it hasn't been a cake walk! My grades haven't always been the best, but God always grades on the curve.  I've often thought God, when do I graduate? I'm ready to graduate already!! Could you let up a little?

Even as I've said those things to God, He has been faithfully teaching me through the experiences of life--the good and the not so good--the fears and disappointments. Thanks to His work in my life, I now have more emotional freedom than I did even six months ago. I am finding my true voice. It has taken way too long! And I'm finding peace and healing. Sometimes it feels like glacial speed, this growing.

I came across a verse just this afternoon that sums up how I feel about God's school, and the results of His school in my life. I give Him thanks for all He has done and is doing.

I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up out of a horrible pit [a pit of tumult and of destruction], out of the miry clay (froth and slime), and set my feet upon a rock, steadying my steps and establishing my goings.

Psalm 40:1-2

God does hear my cries. He has drawn me up out of a pit and set my feet upon a rock. Without Him, my steps would not be steady and my goings would not be established. 

I wonder what school He'll have me in next. I'm leaning in to Him to find out. 

see day 1 for a list of all 31 posts

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