Monday, December 30, 2013

Reclaimed Sanctuaries

And so it begins.  There is an engineer here to measure our space, we are actually leaving our home.   So much has happened here, in many ways it makes me a little sad.  My daughter and her husband met each other and lived here a while after they were married.  I met Dave while I lived here, and he moved here and we were married.  We got our little pup, so many memories here, so many of Josh.  I can see him walking to and from the back bedroom to the front door to go out and smoke, or swagger in after a night out.  Birthdays celebrated and laughter filling the rooms.  A little baby arriving home from just being born and all that followed.  Lives lived.  And so while it is difficult, it is is time.

For my Lectio Divina, my phrase is "springs forth", and I am eagerly waiting to get to Vancouver, to join Dave and begin our life there.  I look forward to attending a thriving church, whether it is the mega-church we suspect will be our new church home, or another of the Lord's choosing.  So many possibilities to serve and become part of a body again. 

The thing is, it is time to leave this space, regardless.  The Lord has begun a new thing.  It can be scary to launch forward not knowing exactly where you'll land, but the Lord knows and prepares the way.

Isaiah 43:18-19,
“Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;   
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert."

I am taking this quite literally and believe we are not to cling to this place, to consider how the past 7 years have gone.  And for this "monk in the world", who finds such comfort in the familiar, some days are harder than others in being able to be at peace with the swirling changes around me.

The desire to have a deeper walk with the Lord is present and strong.  I am almost daily seeking, knocking.  There has to be a peace that is unruffled by outward circumstances.  We know this to be true as Christians, but honestly, I have always had to work to maintain that through my Christian walk.  I want it to be my constant state, a state of total trust.  When I think of it, it seems unattainable to me, but yet the Lord said again and again not to worry, in Him we would have peace.

So the journey continues, outward and inward.  For today, the sanctuary of this apartment in downtown Grants Pass, in what used to be doctor's offices back in the day, the new has come and invaded our safe haven.  Reminding me that nothing stays the same forever...but One.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Lectio Divina

"The phrase lectio divina, difficult to translate adequately, is the Latin for “sacred reading.” Personally, I like to translate it as reading which is sacred. Ordinarily lectio is confined to the slow perusal of sacred Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments; it is undertaken not with the intention of gaining information but of using the texts as an aide to contact the living God. Basic to this practice is a union with God in faith which, in turn, is sustained by further reading. There is no special program or technique to lectio. Even more importantly, one must resist the temptation of covering a given amount of material within a prescribed time frame, a particularly modern temptation. This is more difficult to sustain than first meets the eye, and one will run up against it sooner than anticipated. A person is well advised to linger over a single word or phrase for an indefinite period of time, trusting that it will lead to further texts. Such is one of the most attractive features to  lectio divina, for it is open-ended and subject to continuous growth."

In Lectio Divina this morning, I believe my words to dwell on are "springs forth" from Isaiah 43:18-19,
“Remember not the former things,
    nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert."

Dave & I have been in the desert for so long, always cared for, always provided for.  Now comes the time for contemplation regarding that time, now comes the time for a "new thing."  Not just financial security, but also ability to help others, as we were helped, to encourage others going through similar struggles. 

I look forward to attending a new church, free of all the drama and pain of the past 2 years.  A "new thing", getting involved and seeing what the Lord has in store.

My phrase for the coming year is "springs forth."  I love it, my heart rests in it.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Lessons from Creation

Today's Monk in the World was on creation.  While walking Sadie this morning in town, there is a creek that runs through town to the river.  We pass over it going and coming back.  Going, there's not much to see, it's pretty, because a creek is always pretty, but we go on our way.  Coming home, we cross over and the creek is smaller there and lower.  I always look because water calls to me, always.  Rivers, creeks, falls, the ocean, something about water is life-affirming.  This morning, I looked down on our way back and had to stop and back up.  Scratching and standing right up to the water were two chickens.  There is housing all around here, so i'm sure they belonged to someone.  But how lovely for these creatures, they were beautiful, orange and white, healthy and plump, very, very pretty.  A hen and her rooster looking for tidbits at creeks edge, I imagine getting a drink from time to time.  They were not bothered at my and Sadie's presence, but rather experiencing their own moment, unconcerned about what might be a danger around them, or what might threaten their very life, simply at peace, doing what chickens do.

I need to learn this.  To just be, in the moment, doing what the Lord has given me to do and casting every anxiety upon Him, because He cares.  What peace should come with that, and yet I allow my mind to race off to dark, scary places, when all He has called me to do right now is be. 

I notice on walks that I see water, geese flying overhead in formation, or huddled on the ball fields in the cold morning fog, beauty surrounds me.  But occasionally, though I know it is present always, death presents itself in the form of a fallen bird, or half-eaten one.  The leaves themselves making such a beautiful carpet at the onset of Autumn, soon become darkened rubble beneath my feet. 

To observe it all, take it all in and accept it, in its beauty and in its ugliness, that is the goal. 

There are injustices to rage against, causes to take up, but the ebb and flow of life are not those.  God holds me and my days are in His hands, the good and the not so good.  I must come to a place of constant peace, fully believing this and trusting.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Day 4 of Dave having left for WA.  Oh my gosh, to say I miss him is to grace those words with more meaning than they imply.  He indeed is my other half and i'm walking around handicapped.  In practical ways, running errands, taking care of the hound, just generally over-seeing, his solitude-loving wife is forced out and I appreciate anew his taking care of us and allowing me to indulge in solitude.  

But his presence, his physical presence missing, I am finding intolerable.  Naturally, I will get over it to a degree as this becomes the norm for a season.  And God will help me.  But right now he almost seems like a specter, a ghost, not real.  Those that are married know how familiar the "other" is.  The feel of their skin, the smell of it, his gentle breathing in and out beside me in the night.  And for certain moments....moments like this....when I am struggling, hurting, he comes to me, sometimes instinctively, and soothes, comforts, gives hope, takes the sting away.  I miss his dirty renditions of Christmas songs that always make me laugh, the way his eyes sparkle when he's feeling mischievous.  

I truly have never known a man with a kinder heart.  He's got his faults like anybody else, but his tender heart, money-where-his-mouth-is way of being endears him to me.  During this time apart, especially, I think back to when we first met and what impressed me so much about him.  He liked me and accepted me "as is."  Most men wouldn't.  He loved me for me, and always makes me feel beautiful, tells me I am.  

I prayed for 18 years for him.  As i've said, he was well worth the wait.  It was and is a fairytale come true.  I never thought I would ever be in love like this, and as the years have passed, and the hardship, it only grows stronger.  The love, the trust, the passion, the "oneness."

And the very best part, his faith in God.  He has a trust that is child-like and he wants to know more and more of Him.  He leads our home with love and understanding and prays.  So many have abused the "head of the house" thing, I am blessed to say that he "gets it" and my feelings and thoughts are always considered heavily when decisions are being made.  And I have comfort and peace knowing that the final decision rests in his loving hands, just like my heavenly Father.

I know this isn't forever, but tonight, i'm missing the soul closest to my own very much.  Needless to say, Sadie feels the same way.♥  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

On Being A Woman

I've spent the morning online mostly, reviewing different articles and such and many of them were about women.  Some great, some mediocre and some lousy.  There is much ado about the female gender.

After perusing the last one, going over once again how badly we view our bodies, how we use them for power, how we are still fighting to get out from under a male-dominated society, I am so thankful for 1) belonging to Christ and finding my identity in Him alone, and 2) being 59 and less concerned with my body, other than health.

I am finding with the years comes an even more tender heart.  I simply cannot stand to see abuse of any kind, cruelty, injustice.  As these are inescapable, there are days when my heart is broke.  I witnessed an incident last night, and I came back inside with tears.  How many children endure so much worse, in how many homes in the world.  And all the cruelty to animals, specially those who are betrayed by those they trust.

Now, then there's family.  My son who still doesn't "get it."  He may be on his way to doing so, but not arrived yet.  Inextricable is defined:   1. a. So intricate or entangled as to make escape impossible.  That's my Josh, my memories of him when he was little are inextricably tied to my emotions about the man.  And while my heart breaks for the part of him that truly just can't understand, I can no longer be played.  That ended a few years ago, and i'm certainly not going back to it.

So, my point is that being a woman lends itself to hurting for those in pain, wanting to do something to help, but having the wisdom that only comes with age, to know that you can't help those that won't help themselves, no matter how much you love them.

The urgency of youth dissipates from the knowledge experience brings.  Very little in the past was truly time sensitive, was really more about impatience and self-centeredness.  

In all of this, there is Christ.  Being a woman of God can be very different.  As maturity comes, we lose people around us, people disappoint us, etc., that comes for everyone.  But when it comes to the Godly woman, there is One who knows, who helps, who bandages the wounds and carries us through.  

I come to know that it's really been all about Him and how I demonstrate(d) His love.  I am keenly aware of my failure to do so accurately many times, if at all.  Thankfully, this tender-heartedness that has come, also helps me see with His eyes, hear with His ears and long to ease pain.  

Let me be the kind of woman that helps when she can, loves always and is uncompromising when the choice is less than His calling. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

For Last Night

Listening to Joni Mitchell's River.  A Christmas-y song, but sad, and it suits me tonight.  You do what you have to do in life, and for the blessing of this job, Dave has to go on to Washington before me.  Because of circumstances, I must remain until the end of Jan.  So in the funk that settled upon my heart with the sinking of the sun, my snowball is growing bigger and bigger.  

Rather than think about each issue that lies ahead with so many things, I will just let the sadness and loss wash over me.  Resistance makes one miserable and false happiness just looks ridiculous and is more for others than one's self.  

This is what surrender looks like.  A complete and utter realization that you just can't do what's required without help.  Especially during the holidays.  Every ad is targeting sales with glitz and noise, families that are blessed with relative peace are looking forward to the festivities.  And don't get me wrong, I adore Christmas, yes because we celebrate the birth of the One who is everything, but also because I become a child again and am filled with wonder at the sights and sounds around me.  But this Christmas will be different.  Winter has come to my soul.  I am feeling a frost and weakness i've not experienced heretofore.  

As some of you know, we were raised with John Wayne.  You just suck it up and go forward, and ultimately that is exactly what i'll do.  But tonight I just feel I can't.  I am humbly asking my Lord to carry me through the next few months.  So many things swirl through my mind and I get overwhelmed.  I am separated from a part of my heart for at least 2 more years and that is with me every single day.  Letters pleading for help I am unable to give right now.  But I digress, many, many have heartbreak in their lives at present and are handling it with far more grace than I.  

I guess my issue is the feeling that I am not up to the task.  There's a sense of urgency in this 59-year-old woman's heart that fears the best is not yet to come, but rather it's too late for it to happen at all.  There's the rub.  The loss, the loss.  Loss of youth, loss of trust years ago, loss of opportunities, loss of guts to get it done, loss of a spirit around me that could fill my heart with joy, who ultimately swallowed it up in darkness and despair.

Because I know how He operates, I await the change.  Some way, as if magical, the Spirit will gently, without my knowing really, take this sorrow and carry it for me and hope will begin to grow again.  I trust in this and cooperate fully, I go to Psalms and the healing begins.

But for tonight there is no instigation, only surrender.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Club No One Wants to Belong To

At thousands of tables today there are those absent.  If it's military, you honor their absence, if deceased you do the same.  Then there are those of us with children in prison.  What do you do with that?

There are some kids who were trouble their whole life and you just almost figured that's where they'd wind up.  Then there are those like my Josh.  A little troubled, but enough good that you hope they make it without having to go through that.  

But he didn't make it.  He chose to do something so horrible that society says, and rightfully so, that he must be kept away from the general public.  

On holidays I remember past ones spent with him.  He would show up all in black and edgy, tall and handsome, swagger in with that grin and everyone would welcome him and love on him.  And most of the hearts doing the welcoming were spending significant time in prayer for his life, his soul.  I will try to find and post a song that sounds as though it was written by someone who knew him.  

What to do with these lost people.  You see the potential, you see sparks of hope, and yet, they seem determined to self-destruct.  And the holidays come and the holidays go, leaving a part of you empty and sad.  That spirit, that presence, not here and not only not here, but in the most awful place you can imagine, especially for your beloved child.

I miss him more on this day than Christmas.  Thanksgiving is always so easy and everyone is so light-hearted, it suited him really.  My heart is so heavy for him these days.  I get letters and rejoice at the growth they seem to hold, I get letters that make me so angry I feel it is hopeless.

So I am thinking of all the moms in particular who look around their tables today and though they are with their families, cooking and preparing and celebrating the day, there is a secret place inside that is weeping over the empty chair in their heart.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Valley Walkers

I grew up in church, and i'm sure I was ignorant of a lot that went on behind the scenes.  Many who claim the name of Christ do things that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of Christ and the Bible, or do nothing.  

When I moved to Oregon from California to be near my mom and brother, who was the pastor of Calvary Church of Grants Pass, I had no idea of the family that would adopt me as one of their own.  To his credit, my brother lives what he preaches and is beloved by many, and I was accepted and loved because of it.

Fast forward from 2003 to 2008, Dave & I got married.  Dave is a smart guy, holds an MBA, military, etc. but could not find work no matter how hard he tried.  He took temporary jobs when he could get them, would help friends, who were then kind enough to pay him for his help, etc.  But we have had virtually no income for all this time, save these temp jobs and the unemployment we could claim because of them.  There are miracles to tell of, and I intend to when settled in WA.

My point of this is to say that I stand in awe at the love we've been shown.  Through my brother's pastoring, to the new pastor, through the body of believers we have aligned ourselves with.  The constant love and support over a span of 6 or so years, has been incredible and never-changing.  We are pretty transparent and share whatever's happening and we were always asked how we were doing, what was happening, etc.  Time and again we have received literal financial help, but always, always love and concern.  These brothers and sisters have walked through the valley with us, unflinching, never avoiding us or throwing trite cliches our way.  We have been met with only true, sincere care and love.

The church, ever under a microscope, and allowed very little slack, is alive and well in Grants Pass.  We have lost saints over the years and we miss them all the time (think of you so often Georgie in particular), and our body seems to have an inordinate number of them.  So, through the personalities, occasional blunders (obviously including ourselves too), you have people that "get it."  When you look in their eyes as they speak with you, you see Christ.  The familiar looking back at you.  The love and questions genuine and pulling for you.  These people have meant everything to me during this time.  Some weeks they have been the thing that kept me going, and they didn't even know it.  But He knew it.  Our Lord who knows all and is in complete control.

When I look back, as far as 7 years ago, as recently as yesterday, this Family has meant the world to me.  They have lightened our load, made us feel loved and cared for, shared equally in our joys.  There just are no words to explain it or to express our gratitude.  All I can do is think of the faces and all we've been through with these precious people, and all they've been through as well, and ask our Lord to bless them for all they've done, for being our family.  The Lord spoke often about loving one another and they do. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Unpopular Subject ~ Sin

As I read the daily devotion today by Anne Graham Lotz, experience the same thing.  At times I just feel dry, or that God is being silent...and sometimes He is, but this is not that.  This is a feeling that He is calling to me, but I just can't reach Him.  I read the Word, I pray, but all falls flat.  As I read her devotion, they are always short, but packed with wonderful inisghts, I realized those times are when I haven't confessed my sin and asked for forgiveness.

I think as a woman who's been a Christian most of my life, there probably isn't a lot of blatant outside sin and I am lulled into a kind of apathy about it.  But I know, more importantly, He knows, my thought life and my heart life, both can be chock-full of sinfulness.  When I ask Him to examine my heart, my motives, there are always issues to be looked at.  And leaving those "undone" for too long hinders my relationship with a God that is holy and cannot abide any kind of sin.  Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."  So I read the Word, but miss, or worse, ignore its promptings to repent.  

I'm serious, it doesn't take longer than about 2 seconds to think of a thought or idea I had that was not pleasing to Him and not consistent with my walk.  By the above verse, I can rest in knowing He will always let me know when there is something in me that He wants to change.  Old ways of thinking and feeling, wrong ways, He wants to make right, in accordance with His Word, with who He is, and He is love.  (I John 4:8.)  

Far from being an angry father, ready to punish and withhold His love, He stands ready to forgive, arms open wide, ready to embrace and I can be awash in all this love and mercy, and beyond, all I have to do is ask.  Let me remember to do so a lot more often.

Monday, November 18, 2013


I have seen a few things on Facebook these days about the homeless and struggling.  The implication is that they are lazy, that's why they are in the state they're in.  While i'm certain this is true in some cases, here are some truths I also know firsthand.

As most of you know, Dave has been unable to find permanent work for over 6 years.  He's very intelligent, has a great work ethic and holds an MBA.  Through the kindness of family and friends, above all, the Lord working through them, we have been able to stay in our little apartment, not forcing ourselves on family, or becoming homeless.  But this is what happens when you are on this path, I can't imagine traveling on it without the Lord.

When Dave got this job in Vancouver, I had some valid fears, though the Lord can take those away.  I feel as though I don't have the strength after all this time to do what is required.  I won't go through the litany of reasons, but it is entirely possible to be so overwhelmed by what's already happened in life that you become incapable of doing the next thing, even if it is your salvation, so to speak.  

The Lord will help me and I will get through this, He is ever faithful to us.  I intend to write a lot about that after we get settled.  But if I feel this way, in a comfortable, clean, warm (or cool as the season dictates) environment, how must those living on the street feel?  If they were to even get a job, where do they get cleaned up, how can they work on an empty stomach.  And some are addicts, granted that they have done this to themselves, are we to be without pity....but for the grace of God, as the saying goes, that could be me.  And yes, there are those that choose that lifestyle, not wanting the confines of accountability.  

We must leave each person to God's judgement, not our own.  We have no idea what led them to where they are, why they can't seem to function.  

So, I ask myself, what's my point?  I guess there are a few, one, even when someone receives what looks like the answer to their problems, they still need support and help to make the transitions involved.  We still need to not judge the homeless.  The missions do a remarkable job and at least supply the immediate needs to some.  The greater answer is the soul answer.  Only God can do the truly miraculous work that needs to take place in our hearts and minds.  Only He can deliver and provide.  

My heart will never not go out (bad writing there, lol) to the homeless.  No one really wants to be there, or at least didn't at one time.  As they say, "they" are someone's baby boy or baby girl.  Problem with that saying is, perhaps they weren't wanted, or cherished and have spent their lives searching for that acceptance in the wrong places.  Whatever the issues are, God knows and He knows each heart, loves each one and longs to embrace them and bring all that's needed.  

So, I bristle when I see these things on Facebook, but I realize there are many views.  God help those of us who claim His name to see with His eyes and feel with His heart.♥

Saturday, November 16, 2013

I do wish I was a better writer. I want to say the things I feel.” ~ Don Miller

Me too. That is the point for me, to precisely express the things I feel, or observations I make. Preferably with scalpel-like precision. My son does this, but uses words i've never heard of before and I lose interest for having to look them up. So, not like that, just finding the right words most of the time would do.

Lately, the thing that is breaking my heart are the situations I am aware of, where if those involved would completely surrender to Christ, their lives could be so much better than they are. So, the next question, which applies to me as well, why do we attempt to either hang on to control or stubbornly cling to old behaviors that never work anyway? To try to control would imply a lack of trust to the one surrendered to. So we're back to that age-old thing of not trusting God. What in the world! And this is a big one for me. We act we're in a game of wack-a-mole, guess who's the mole and guess who's God. Sheesh, the Lover of our soul, the One who sacrificed all, who suffered horrendously on our behalf, and we're afraid to let Him have the reigns??

For me, I think it is because I know He is all-powerful, He has the ability to change any circumstance, and yet beautiful Christian brothers and sisters die with cancer, or loving parents lose a child, etc., I mean, really? How can He be trusted? But having been where the rubber meets the road for the last few years, sometimes it is just a choice. There is a case to be made for either side. So I just have to decide what I'm going to believe. I choose Christ. Because even when my circumstances didn't change, for me, or for those I love, it was/is His presence that gets me through, and the thought of doing without Him is lunacy to me. When I awake in the night and my heart is gripped with fear, because my mind is working over-time thinking of what my son could be facing in a medium/maximum prison, I speak His name, “Jesus” and that's enough. The waves of fear disappear, the imaginings cease, and a super-natural peace flows through me and all I feel is love. I have no idea if my son will survive or find the truth while there, but I know that God is with me, to help me, whatever comes, sorrow, or joy.

We are facing some huge changes shortly. A move 4 hours north. I am excited to begin this new chapter, but I will miss family and friends. I don't make friends easily, and the ones I have are kind of because they loved my brother first so reached out to me. My brother won't be in Vancouver. We will be able to pay our bills, have health insurance, etc. Don't know if we can handle life without constant crisis,never have before. So I trust that He will help us in abundance as He has in need.

So, I find myself back to where I always do. All answers are Jesus Christ. For Him to live in me and flow through me. To worship Him, be surrendered to Him, that is the point. Because when we are surrendered to Him, He is not hindered by our egos or fears, He will overcome all and in the process, bring us fulfillment and lasting joy, which is what we struggle for anyhow.

Okay, I think that's what I meant to say.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ponderings Indeed

The days are growing more and more interesting with the nearing of "the job."  It is almost taking on a life of its own and pressing down on my spirit until the blessing almost becomes too much to deal with.  My mind swirls with thoughts....and fear.  Okay, everybody now, say it with me, "Perfect love..."  you know the rest by heart.  So now I have another issue, am I a bad Christian because I am fearful?!
I am here to say "no, no I am not."  I knew this and have mentioned it, but I really know it as each day comes and goes.  There are ways of thinking and scars that are present that He alone can heal and remedy, and will need to.  I can see that I am probably more comfortable being needy than entering back into society (so to speak) again. 

All the cliches are true.  You never know how much you don't need until you have almost nothing.  And there are good things from this experience that will gladly last a lifetime.  Knowing that God is your Provider and Portion, realizing that people are what matter most, your family and friends (really one and the same) and out from there.  And the older I get, it just seems silly to amass trinkets that will be tossed when i'm gone.  Why burden my kids with junk they don't care about it.  The few true earthly treasures we have are quite enough at present. 

Don't get me wrong, there are things i'd like to have, and maybe will now.  I have a positively lovely relationship with my computer and have no problem saying so.  People have teased, do I live on Facebook.....yes, yes I do live on Facebook.  ;)  I like perfume, some inexpensive, some very, I like nice clothes though I haven't been able to get any for a while, etc.  I think we all spend money differently, but I have learned some lessons that will stick.

So I have all that running through my brain daily.  Will I be able to handle being "normal" again?  We're at a different place in our lives than when we were younger.  That changes everything as well.

Today was an odd day.  Very pleasant in many ways, coffee with a dear friend, quiet day after that, our kids coming over for dinner, some job-related stuff got done...and then, when I didn't see it coming, some news about someone blind-sided my freshly scrubbed innocence and fear raged within me.  What if I am ill and it's too late and all this is just irrelevant?  What if we get moved and then one of us gets really ill?  All the what ifs that are stupid to entertain, yet I do.

Then, some reassurance from this amazing man i'm married to sets my heart at ease.  The din of the day dies down and He comes.  One thought of Jesus and my heart rate slows, muscles relax and I know that I know once again, even if it's not's okay, He's got me. 

So onward and upward, no time for a sniveling coward clinging to old ways of coping.  Take His hand, go forward fearlessly and see what lies ahead.  He will never leave or forsake.  There is my peace and it must remain there.