27 December 2008

The Loss of an Old Friend

With great sadness I must announce my camera has finally died. While I am disappointed to lose my most often used tool of creativity, I am grateful for all of the good times we have had together.

In ten years I have taken over 500,000 photos with it. I used it to express my creativity and to record priceless moments in the lives of those I love. I will miss being able to do so now.

I have had ample opportunity in the past to do without things I enjoy. I find it helpful to remember that they are only things, and things can eventually be replaced. I currently live without a couch or comfy chair. This had not stopped me from living a good life. I even have friends over often for fun and fellowship. Good friends never mind the lack of furniture!

As many of you can remember from this blog in years past, I have spent long periods of time with no computer as well. Made posting more difficult but not impossible for the determined.

I have spent much time here in Houston with no car. The two longest periods combine to over a year and a half dedicated to waiting for a bus or walking where I needed to be. Outside of getting wet and needing to allow more time to get places, life did not change much.

I see this latest loss as just another reminder that is important to remember where you find your joy. Is it in the things you own, or is it in the intangibles of life? I have good friends who love and encourage me. I have family who love and support me. I have a God who dares me to claim Him as my best friend. All in all, I am one of the most blessed people in the world.

Saddened by not disheartened,

jené

25 December 2008

Christmas message

Today is not really Jesus' birthday, it's just the day we set aside to celebrate it. Over 2000 years after He came to earth there are still millions who use His life as an example in how to live. As someone who is thankful to have the gift of His love in my life, I of course find great comfort and joy in the sacrifice He made all those years ago. It always touches me to realize He left heaven for me.

As part of a honoring my family's heritage I always take time to check out the Queen's Holiday Message to her people. It is usually well written and often cheering. This year for the first time I found myself so overwhelmed by the message I was crying for joy. She reminded us all of the life Our Lord lived and how we can find meaning in living as He lived. I had not intended to post any additional videos today after leaving you three to watch last night. Her message so touched me I want to share it with you.





Happy Christmas to all,

jené

24 December 2008

22 December 2008

Getting out of bed

This morning when I woke up I was so toasty and warm all tucked up in my blankets. I could feel how cold it was outside of that cocoon by the chill on the end of my nose. As I lay there working up the desire and energy to get out of bed and face the cold I knew awaited me; I hesitated. Why would I want to leave a snugly warm environment, for the cold harsh world which would exacerbate the pain in my joints?

As I wrestled with the whole "putting my toes out of bed" I kept thinking of how Christ left heaven for me. He left a place where He was one with the Father, a place where He had been forever to come to a cold and bitter life. And He did it simply because He loves me.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.


John 1: 1,2,14 New International Version

Try as I might, I cannot really understand the depth of a love that would cause even Christ to leave the perfection that is heaven to come to earth. A place that would bring Him pain, humility, the agony of His own not recognizing Him, and the final degradation of submitting Himself to die for sin someone else committed. Knowing that He loves me beyond what I can understand is what gives me a reason to get out of bed. It is what makes me want to show His love to others. It is what keeps me longing for the day when I will join Him in heaven.

Not understanding the gift, but grateful all the same,

jené

21 December 2008

A Favorite

A Christmas Carol

The Shepherds had an Angel,
The Wise Men had a star,
But what have I, a little child,
To guide me home from far,
Where glad stars sing together
And singing angels are? –

Lord Jesus is my Guardian,
So I can nothing lack:
The lambs lie in His bosom
Along life's dangerous track:
The wilful lambs that go astray
He bleeding fetches back.

Lord Jesus is my guiding star,
My beacon-light in heaven:
He leads me step by step along
The path of life uneven:
He, true light, leads me to that land
Whose day shall be as seven.

Those Shepherds through the lonely night
Sat watching by their sheep,
Until they saw the heavenly host
Who neither tire nor sleep,
All singing 'Glory glory'
In festival they keep.

Christ watches me, His little lamb,
Cares for me day and night,
That I may be His own in heaven:
So angels clad in white
Shall sing their 'Glory glory'
For my sake in the height.

The Wise Men left their country
To journey morn by morn,
With gold and frankincense and myrrh,
Because the Lord was born:
God sent a star to guide them
And sent a dream to warn.

My life is like their journey,
Their star is like God's book;
I must be like those good Wise Men
With heavenward heart and look:
But shall I give no gifts to God? –
What precious gifts they took!

Lord, I will give my love to Thee,
Than gold much costlier,
Sweeter to Thee than frankincense,
More prized than choicest myrrh:
Lord, make me dearer day by day,
Day by day holier;

Nearer and dearer day by day:
Till I my voice unite

And I sing my 'Glory glory'

With angels clad in white;

All 'Glory glory' given to Thee

Through all the heavenly height


Christina Rosetti 1856



I have long loved this poem and find myself returning to it many times throughout the year.

Hope you enjoy it too,

jené

18 December 2008

18 December 1865

We are now just 32 days away from the inauguration of the first black man for President of the United States. I was thinking of that this morning when I checked my calender and realized today was the anniversary of the day slavery was officially abolished in this country. After Georgia became the 27th of the 36 states to ratify it on December 6, 1865; Secretary of State William Seward declared it in Proclamation on this day. Georgia gave those supporting the amendment the three-fourths they needed to secure the change. Not too surprising the longest hold out for ratifying the 13th amendment was Mississippi, after rejecting it on December 5, 1865. it was finally ratified on March 16, 1995.

In case you are wondering why I included Mississippi's reluctance to formally abolish slavery it is because of one simple fact. While not legal in the US, slavery still exists in many parts of the world. For many a life of indentured service and the stealing of children for the same still goes on. Large numbers of people still have not the freedom you and I enjoy today. Many of them find themselves in their situation because of the way we live. As the largest nation of conspicuous consumers we purchase goods often which owe their creation at least in part to slavery somewhere in the world. While we no longer own slaves, our lifestyle promotes those who do. Now it is the time to ask yourself some hard questions. Do you abhor slavery enough to research the things you buy to make sure you are not supporting slavery? Will you be willing to pay a little more for goods and crops which are regulated through fair trade to make sure you are not part of the slavery equation? Or are you going to just complain about slave trade elsewhere as long as you do not have to make any effort yourself to abolish it?

Long ago one Englishman worked in slave trade for many years and eventually left it behind to live a life for God. So convinced was he of the depravity of slavery he campaigned for it's abolition and worked tirelessly with like minded members of parliament for many long years until it's end.

Completely aware that it was only God's grace that led him from his horrible life to life in the church, he preached of it often. He is perhaps best known for the hymn which follows. Not many are aware of how his song was changed in the early 1900's so I have printed it here just as he wrote it, and frankly it's my favorite version.


"Amazing Grace"

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears reliev’d;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believ’d!

Thro’ many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promis’d good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease;
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who call’d me here below,
Will be forever mine.

John New­ton, Ol­ney Hymns (Lon­don: W. Ol­i­ver, 1779)


Can you wake up tomorrow and still see the world the way you do right now? Or is it finally time to be part of the answer to ending slavery everywhere for good?

Staying on my soapbox until there are slaves no more,

jené

16 December 2008

Your Name in Music

Being stuck in bed the last few days I spent a good deal of the time when coherent coming up with things I could do to make it seem time was passing quicker than I was observing it pass. At one point I decided to make a playlist for my Zune which would lift my spirits and soothe my soul. After several failed attempts I decided I needed some sort of guidelines to keep me focused. As I was taking both Valium and Darvocet, focus was key. I decided to make a playlist based on my name. Even heavily sedated I can usually remember my name. I will confess I did write it down so I got the letters in the right order. Being dyslexic I am uncertain how much of that was my natural ability to scramble letters and how much was drug induced.

Grab your MP3 player, using songs you have loaded make a play list where the first letter of each song spells your name, for me it goes as follows:

J "Jesus Loves Me" sung by my favorite little Burpeau girls
E "Every Time" sung by Cece Winans
N "Nocturne No. 1" by Chopin, played by Maria João
E "Everything Happens To Me" sung by Nat King Cole

M "MLK" sung by U2
C "Crying For The World" sung by Eden's Bridge
C "Count Your Blessings" sung by Rosemary Clooney
L "Living Inside Your Love" played by Earl Klugh
E "Everything" sung by Michael Bublé
L "Love Divine" sung by Phil Keaggy
L "The Light Inside of You" sung by Ronan Tynan
A "As I Lay Me Down To Sleep" sung by Sophie B. Hawkins
N "Not Too Far From Here" sung by Michael Crawford

Now make time for yourself to sit and listen to the entire playlist. You might be amazed at how it makes you feel. At the very least you have taken some time in the "busyness" of the season for a calm moment for yourself.

Musically yours,

jené

14 December 2008

07 December 2008

Time for something silly

Found this quiz when I was checking out a blog I love to read The Rebellious Pastor's Wife and it looked like it would be a nice right giggle.

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...

You Are a Doris!

mm.doris_.jpg


You are a Doris -- "I must help others."


Dorises are warm, concerned, nurturing, and sensitive to other people's needs.



How to Get Along with Me

  • * Tell me that you appreciate me. Be specific.

  • * Share fun times with me.

  • * Take an interest in my problems, though I will probably try to focus on yours.

  • * Let me know that I am important and special to you.

  • * Be gentle if you decide to criticize me.



In Intimate Relationships

  • * Reassure me that I am interesting to you.

  • * Reassure me often that you love me.

  • * Tell me I'm attractive and that you're glad to be seen with me.



What I Like About Being a Doris

  • * being able to relate easily to people and to make friends

  • * knowing what people need and being able to make their lives better

  • * being generous, caring, and warm

  • * being sensitive to and perceptive about others' feelings

  • * being enthusiastic and fun-loving, and having a good sense of humor



What's Hard About Being a Doris

  • * not being able to say no (Getting better at doing so)

  • * having low self-esteem ( Not a problem)

  • * feeling drained from overdoing for others (Life itself is draining these days, choosing to take better care of me and where I invest myself)

  • * not doing things I really like to do for myself for fear of being selfish (Selfish can be good!)

  • * criticizing myself for not feeling as loving as I think I should (Not a problem)

  • * being upset that others don't tune in to me as much as I tune in to them ( Long term experience with someone who is this way has pretty much alleviated that problem)

  • * working so hard to be tactful and considerate that I suppress my real feelings (Tact should always be kind, but never to the point of dishonesty with you soul)



Dorises as Children Often

  • * are very sensitive to disapproval and criticism

  • * try hard to please their parents by being helpful and understanding (To this day I have the feeling my mom always knows if I am in trouble. It's a good thing though!)

  • * are outwardly compliant

  • * are popular or try to be popular with other children

  • * act coy, precocious, or dramatic in order to get attention

  • * are clowns and jokers (the more extroverted Dorises), or quiet and shy (the more introverted Dorises)



Dorises as Parents

  • * are good listeners, love their children unconditionally, and are warm and encouraging (or suffer guilt if they aren't)

  • * are often playful with their children

  • * wonder: "Am I doing it right?" "Am I giving enough?" "Have I caused irreparable damage?"

  • * can become fiercely protective



Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy

04 December 2008

A Candle in the Window

I still haven't worked out the logistics but I have been trying to get lights strung over the door and around a front window. There are all sorts of legends about lights and celebrating Christmas. The lights represent the Star of Bethlehem guiding the wise men to Jesus. Lights in the window welcome the Holy Family who found no welcome that night. The light reminds us that Christmas is all about the Light of God coming to us in His Son. My favorite story of lights in the window comes from Ireland.

During the Penal Times you were harshly treated if you did not belong to the Church of Ireland which was part of the Anglican Community. Those who were Roman Catholic or one of the Protestant dissenters like the Presbyterians suffered greatly. They could not inherit land, take custody of an orphan, hold public office or firearms, or intermarry. Marriages for Presbyterians were not even acknowledge by the government.

Everyday life for a Roman Catholic meant he could not celebrate mass or practice his faith in the open. It is told that in order for a priest to find a home where he would be welcome, there would be a candle placed in the window. This meant he could seek shelter and the family there would want to celebrate mass with him.

I was thinking of this last night when I found myself awake for a good deal of the time. Do I live my life in such a way that people see a light of welcome in me? I talked it over with the Lord and asked Him to keep me ever mindful of being a reflection of His light.

This morning several friends asked me to pray for and with them. Here it was less than 12 hours since I asked the question that the answer was given. That's not usually the way it works. I chuckled after the last phone call and assured God I got the message. I am a candle in the window for Him.

Glad to spread the Light,

jené

28 November 2008

Things

Knowing I would be spending many hours in the car this week, I decided to spend the time focusing on things to be thankful for.
  • Family who all changed their plans so that Thanksgiving celebrations would be scheduled when I could be there.
  • Rejoicing in the things that bring us together rather than focusing on the things that separate us
  • God's generosity in gifting me with family and friends who know all about me and love me anyway.
  • An Aunt who got in the car at the last minute to bring my Uncle to join us for a few hours before driving the 90 miles back home.
  • Nieces and nephews who were willing to spend their time with me.
  • Many miles traveled safely by several of us
  • His love which makes every day something to be grateful for.
Thankful for many blessings,

jené

20 November 2008

my life is one of those "You had to be there" jokes.

When I saw this facebook flair I knew it was for me. Anyone who has read this blog over the years should be able to recall many moments which fit this piece. The attack of the glycerin soap, getting stuck in my own car, numerous road altercations, being pulled over by the cops after inputting my plates wrong and the latest occurrence from this afternoon.

When I came home the other night there was only one very tight spot open to park. Unfortunately it had speed bump right in the middle. Evidently when I was maneuvering in position, the speed bump knocked loose one of the coverings under the car. I noticed it yesterday when I went out for my walk. I talked to my favorite car care center and they told me it would be alright for me to just remove the piece. I decided to wait until today to try it as I wasn't moving all that well yesterday.

Toolbox at the ready I made my way out to fix the problem this afternoon. If anyone had been around with a video camera you would know just how funny this was. Imagine a short lady with short arms, a cane and a toolbox laying in the street half under a car. After many convolutions and several different approaches, I realized this was not going as I hoped. I was unable to get the last remaining bolt loose. I took a break and came back into the apartment for some water and a call to my dad. After consulting with him I decided to leave the hardware in place and just cut through the liner. I headed back out again this time armed with utility scissors. I got under the car and began cutting when I heard a little girl yell for her mom. Soon they both came running to look under the car and see what was up. The little girl had told her it looked like someone had a car parked on them. When her mom looked over and could only see my legs and my cane off to the side she came running. I thanked the little one for caring enough about a stranger to get help and told her mother she was doing a good job raising her. They stayed with me while I finished cutting the liner loose and helped me get back out from underneath the car. By this time we were all laughing and joking around. As I walked back across the street I knew I had once again made a new friend in totally bizarre situation. That's when I thought this flair should title this post.

Glad to be a punchline,

jené

19 November 2008

Why the WWJD motto doesn't work

Whether the phrase has you recalling Charles Sheldon's book from the 1890s or the fad of the 1990s, asking yourself "What would Jesus do?" does not work. Jesus could do what He did because of how He lived. If you want to do what Jesus would do, you must first live as He lived. In order to be like Christ, you must do the things He did.

He talked often with His Father, real conversation spent listening to what His Father had to say. He spent time in silence and solitude to ponder His Father's words. He fasted to give Himself the time and focus He needed. He knew that these things would gift Him with what was necessary for Him to achieve God's will for His life. It is the same for us.

My salvation is a gift of God's grace. How I live in that grace is up to me. I can choose to struggle on my own to achieve God's will for my life, or I can make use of the same tools Christ used to equip Himself. I've tried doing it my way, behaving as I thought a Christian ought, knowing all the right things to say, sharing my pale imitation of God's love with others. It wasn't until I realized if I wanted to be like Christ, I would have to live like Christ. As someone who has lived both ways I have to tell you there is nothing better than living the life He modeled.

Life becomes much easier when you realize God will gift you with the things you need to accomplish His plans if you only seek them. You can share God's love fully if you are totally connected to Him. So if you want to ask yourself WWJD, first live as Jesus lived. Ask yourself do you only worship Him, or do you follow Him as well?

Thankful for the role model,

Imitatio Christi,

jené

10 November 2008

More hope for Star of Hope

I am still seeking ideas for increasing the money I have to give to the Star of Hope. Most suggestions are for a bake sale. I think the message there is people admire my baking skills more than my financial skills. I would have to agree with that sentiment.

I have been recruiting people to join a Star of Hope group on facebook. They in turn are recruiting others. I have talked with many friends and have asked them to consider Star of Hope in their giving plans this year. So far a couple have agreed to do so. One said she was really interested in the teaching and counseling going on at the Transitional Living Center.

I am finding this journey more comfortable and am glad I took the first step. Keep praying!

Love,

jené

09 November 2008

Moments

every moment is a choice

how do i react to what has happened

what i choose is the clearest picture of my soul

please Lord let Your love guide me in all i choose

let what i am fade into the love You are

give me the will to always choose You

cause those who see me, to see only You

for all i am is what you give to me

Your love and Your grace

05 November 2008

What really matters

I wish everyone would just get a grip. Regardless of the outcome of an election, God is still in charge. I have heard from so many how this election will forever alter America. I am sure it will. I am not sure it will do everything I have been hearing. President-elect Obama will not be either the best or the worst thing to happen to our country. Hopefully we can work together as citizens to change what needs changing in our country, and hold on to the things which make us a nation much admired.

No matter what happens in this country in which I live, what really matters to me is my place in the Kingdom of God. I am a follower of Christ first, and an American second. The former is immutable, the latter is not. My citizenship in God's Kingdom cannot be taken from me by any principality on earth nor will I ever abandon it. If the need arose I could abandon my citizenship in this country. For the whole of my life many things in my country have been at odds with my beliefs. It has not stopped or swayed my faith thus far and nothing of yesterday has changed that.

Glad to remember what really matters,

jené

01 November 2008

Comfort Zones

We finally got the weather of Fall this week. I love how invigorating and crisp it feels when you head out to start a new day. Unfortunately, as much as my heart is happy to feel the chill, I can't say the same for my joints. I don't move very easily when the cold weather hits. The timing of my slowing down was actually beneficial. One day this week was particularly difficult. I have long worked to find something to be grateful for when days like that come my way. One thing I have learned is that nothing comes between me spending time with God unless I choose it to. Days of limits have no limits on prayer, and I really needed the extra time to pray this week.

I am working on an assignment I took on at church. Last Sunday I volunteered to take $100 to use wisely for the Lord's Kingdom. I have ninety days to complete the project. The guidelines are simple. The money is God's. He has entrusted it to me to grow it and use it for His glory. From the moment I stood up to leave the pew to volunteer I began praying. I knew this would take me well outside my comfort zone. I had in fact struggled for quite a bit trying to reason with God why I should just stay seated where I was and let someone else go forward. I do poor well. You would be amazed with what I can do with seven dollars for a week's groceries. I don't grow money well. I have an allotment from my paycheck taken each payday for my retirement. It means less money to live on now, but more money to live on later. Obviously, if I could make money well, my financial life would have a little breathing room. So why in the world would I volunteer for something I am so woefully unskilled for?

Simple, God is going with me on this adventure. If I have learned nothing else in the last few years I have learned that wherever I journey, God goes with me. So my first step in this assignment was to spend some time with my best friend and a few prayer partners on Sunday. They agreed to pray for me for the next 90 days and to give freely of their own time and talents to secure ways to help.

When we first met to pray, I was asked if I felt any leading as to where I was going to invest the final sum I had. I have to confess there were several ideas running through my head then. I spend time with the Salvation Army, Star of Hope, and the BEAResource room. After a week spent in prayer, I have felt led to choose Star of Hope for this adventure.

Now the objective is in sight, I need a plan to get there. As I am always quoting Antoine de Saint-Exupery to my favorite little girls each time we set goals for our time together. "A goal without a plan is just a wish"

Please pray I will remember that God is my comfort zone and He goes with me,

jené

P.S. Any and all ideas are most welcome. Feel totally free to email me your suggestions.


24 October 2008

Good citizenship, reluctantly

After I failed to make it to the polls on Wednesday, I decided to make sure I made it today. I was still uncertain just whom I was going to vote for in several key elections. I woke up fairly early and decided to use a gift certificate I got last year to go see the " The Secret Life of Bees." I had thoroughly enjoyed the book and was looking forward to the movie. Unfortunately my gift card was a dud. I got one from work last year and one from a sweet friend. I hope it was the one from work, while I hate for anyone to suffer a loss, my friend can't afford to waste money. At least one had been alright and I used it earlier this year to see Prince Caspian.

I got ready to leave to vote and doubled back to grab my Zune as I was certain I would be in a line waiting for at least a little bit of time. I almost picked it up when I heard the Spirit whisper "leave it behind." I hesitated a moment and then left it where it was. I got in the car and took a moment to pray for God to use my time waiting for His glory. I started the car and headed off to the polls no surer about my vote than I had been when I woke up.

When I entered the building the line was doubled back on itself and almost back to the front door. I walked up and stood behind a man busy on his cell phone. For a long time I was at the end of the line by myself with phone man. About 10 minutes later a couple walked in. Seeing I had a cane, they told me if I wanted to sit down they would save me a place in line while I sat. I thanked them for the offer but assured both that I was used to standing for long periods of time as my job has me on my feet all day long. Seeing the man in front of me was still on the phone the lady behind said me now would be a good time for her husband to catch up on his messages. While he was doing so she and I chatted about everything from getting her sons absentee ballots while they are at Clemson to places we have lived.

Halfway through the line a sweet older lady stepped into the waiting area to remind everyone they are forbidden to use their cell phones this close to a polling place and asked everyone to put them away. We continued to talk and she joked she should have brought a book she has been wanting to read but just hasn't started. I replied I had almost brought my Zune to keep me company but at the last minute felt God ask me to leave it behind because He had someone for me to talk to while I waited. She asked me if I had found anyone yet and I told her I was unaware if I had. I explained that for me it was more important to be obedient to where I felt the Lord was leading, than to see a visible result. I told her I had more than once been reminded God calls me to obedience and I should trust the results to Him. I told her this election was a good example. I shared with her that even though I was in line to vote, I was still uncertain as to whom I would be voting for in many of elections. At that time we had to part ways as it was our turn to vote.

I cast my ballot and headed back to my car. I still do not know if this woman was the one who needed a word from the Lord, but trust she at least knows there are people to whom their faith is a guiding force in their life.

Glad I live in a nation with peaceful elections,
overjoyed to serve a Sovereign God,

-jené

22 October 2008

today

Today started off rather early. I had taken some vicodin to help ease the pain of yesterday. I keep it for extreme times and only use it once or twice a month. I have a long life left ahead of me and do not want to become to dependent on chemical solutions for pain. At any rate, after taking the medicine I headed to bed to pray and meditate before I drifted off to sleep. Sleep was slow to happen and I found myself still awake close to midnight. Imagine my surprise when after finally falling asleep I was awake at 5:00 am. I lay there for a bit working up the energy to get up and get started on the day.

After taking care of necessary morning tasks I settled back in bed for my time with the Lord. I was asking Him what He would have me do today and I just had to confess I didn't feel up to doing anything at all. My appointment for the morning had been cancelled and I had nowhere to be. I decided to catch a little more sleep before facing the day properly. I remember joking with Jesus if He wanted me to love someone for Him today, He should just send them to me as I wasn't sure I would make it out of the apartment. And so He did!

Jesus' answer came in the late morning. There is a sweet older man who lives at the other end of my apartment building. I had taken him some brownies last week and he wanted to return my container and had brought me muffins. Right after I moved in we became acquainted. He asked me once why I always headed out on Sundays since he noticed I don't work on that day. I told him I made it to church if it was at all possible for me to do so. He stated he had not had many favorable experiences with Christians since he had come out years ago. I asked him to give me a chance to see if it was possible for someone who loved God to love him as well. Since that time we have become great friends. I stopped in to see him before Ike to make sure he had everything he needed. After the storm he came to see me to make sure I was o.k. He knew I had given most of my pantry to a neighbor with no food so he brought me food from his. The last two weeks he has waited for me to come home from church and asks me about the service. I thank God daily that he has allowed me to share His love with Paul. It is a great blessing.

So it worked out that even though I never got out of my jammies today, I was able to share Christ's love with a neighbor. There is a wonderful freedom that comes from placing control of your life into the hands of a loving God. I can do what He asks because He gifts me with the means to do it.

Thankful I could serve from home today!

-jené

17 October 2008

Not optional, imperative

I am currently re-reading one of my favorite books by Jan Johnson, When The Soul Listens. I chose it to help fill my open Saturday earlier this month. It's been a great refresher and very helpful as someone I know has asked for my help in opening her prayer life up to real conversation instead of a checklist for God. She wanted to know why so few Christians seek contemplation. Borrowing liberally from Oswald Chambers I told her I thought it was because they were unwilling to hear God speak to them personally.

"We show how little we love we have for God by preferring to listen to His servants rather than to Him. We like to listen to personal testimonies, but we don't want God Himself to speak to us. Why are we so terrified for God to speak to us? Perhaps it's because we know that when God speaks we know we only have two choices: Either we will do what He asks, or tell Him we will not obey. But if it is simply one of God's servants speaking to us, we feel obedience is optional, not imperative."

Oswald Chambers.
My Utmost For His Highest

You see when you learn to listen to God in the stillness of prayer you will find yourself hearing Him all day long. It is one thing to hear God whisper "Love your neighbor" when you are comfortable at home. It is quite another to be worn out at work and see a colleague needing help and hear Him repeat "Love your neighbor." At that point you have only the two options Chambers listed. Many find it easier to pretend they cannot hear God to avoid the obedience it requires.

So the question I asked my friend is: Are you ready for the life change that comes from listening to God call your name? To make sure she knew the full impact I also shared with her the joy that conversation with God brings.

There is no way to accurately share with you the exultation and comfort in hearing God speak to you alone. Imagine you find yourself sitting face to face with the love of your life. Would you do all the talking or would you want to hear Him say how much He loves you and needs your help in accomplishing His goals? You see listening to God isn't only getting guidance, it's about affirmation and adoration, one for the other. It's someone who loves you enough to say "I hear
you telling me how you feel, I love you and want to share this time with you." Obedience becomes less of a chore and more of an outpouring of thanksgiving for God's grace.

I think everyone who lives this way is as inadequate as I am in explaining just how jubilant and blissful life can be staying always in God's shadow. Life does not become one long musical filled with praise songs, it does becomes something you know you will find your way through with your best friend as your constant companion. I am trusting God to help me as I help my friend find this delight for herself.

Praying you too delight yourself in the Lord,

jené

14 October 2008

Dewey defeats Truman, Nixon triumphs over Kennedy!

For the last forty years children participating in the Scholastic Book Presidential Election Poll have accurately picked the winner, mostly. The two races in the title are the exception. Today the results from this year's poll were released. In their election Barack Obama won. We won't know until November 4th if this one is what will be now or what could have been.

Imagine how America would have been different if Dewey had won. By 1948 he had left his isolationist leanings to see the inclusiveness of a global mindset. In spite of running an insipid campaign full of lame statements like "You future lies ahead of you" he did make a rather profound statement with regards to the "red hunting" and "communist bashing" many in the Republican Party were promoting. He argued over outlawing the Communist Party of America by stating "you can't shoot an idea with a gun." Think about how different the fifties would have been if there had been a Republican president in the White House when Joseph McCarthy began his reign of terror. It is doubtful that even McCarthy would have gone against his Party's President. Yes I know Ike was President from 1953 to 1961, but McCarthy started his hunting in 1950 under President Truman.

Now jump forward a decade and imagine Nixon was in the hot seat when Russia showed it's hand in Cuba. Could the cold war been much colder? From a domestic point of view, what would have happened to the Civil Rights movement? If Nixon had been in the White House in 1963 how would the march on Washington have played out? Granted LBJ oversaw signing most of the Civil Rights act into being but if he hadn't gone to D.C. with Kennedy we can only wonder the changes that may have happened.

All of this proves why it is easier to be an historian than an adviser.

At least we won't have to wait too long to see if the kids are right on this one.

Waiting to vote,

jené

13 October 2008

The Dark Night



One dark night,
fired with love's urgent longings
- ah, the sheer grace! -
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.

In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
- ah, the sheer grace! -
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.

On that glad night,
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything,
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.

This guided me
more surely than the light of noon
to where he was awaiting me
- him I knew so well -
there in a place where no one appeared.

O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover.

Upon my flowering breast
which I kept wholly for him alone,
there he lay sleeping,
and I caressing him
there in a breeze from the fanning cedars.

When the breeze blew from the turret,
as I parted his hair,
it wounded my neck
with its gentle hand,
suspending all my senses.

I abandoned and forgot myself,
laying my face on my Beloved;
all things ceased; I went out from myself,
leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies.

St. John of the Cross


Many times I have found comfort in these words and today they were a balm for my soul. May they bring you comfort as well.

Seeking to forget myself in my Beloved,

jené

10 October 2008

Stuck in my heart

for KW

I am thinking of you my friend.
I have whispered for you in my heart.
I repeated your name in my prayers,
and laid you upon God's altar.
I asked Him to gather you into His arms,
to cover your life with His blessings,
to reveal His love for you to your heart.
I ache when your life is troubled.
I long to sing when your life fills with joy.
You can never go outside of my love,
come home in peace and know you are welcome!

Always,

jené

07 October 2008

Jesus must be proud too!

Tonight I went down the street to watch a sweet little girl play soccer. What I saw instead was the best display of honor and courage I have seen in quite a long time.

Sara has been playing soccer for a few years now and really enjoys it. Tonight taunts from former teammates and unkind comments from parents on the other team had her leaving the field at halftime in tears. She ran to her dad and he hugged her close as she told him she never wanted to play soccer again. He spoke quietly to her about supporting her team and seeing things through till they are finished. You could tell she really did not want to go back out on the field, but she did. When the game started she gave it her all. She got out there in the thick of things and made some great plays.

She sat out the last quarter and I sat with her. She and I talked about how we can only be responsible for our behavior, not others'. On Friday night I had stayed with the girls and we had worked to find a way to help each other be kind. Borrowing from one of my Dad's sermons we each packed an imaginary bucket. We loaded our buckets with love, kindness, compassion and generosity. (Ever practical Meredith suggested we add bottles of water, clean shoes and donuts.) We set out on an expedition. When the going got rough we tried to keep our buckets upright. When we dropped or tipped over our buckets we looked to see what had spilled from them. Only the things we had placed there in the first place could come out. Remembering that night Sara said she was pretty sure there were some not so nice things in her bucket right then. I told her we could choose now to repack her bucket for the rest of the night. We decided to share funny stories and cheer her teammates on.

When the game ended and it was time to greet the other team she did not want to return to the field. A little urging from her mom and she went on out. As we were walking back to our cars I told Sara I had never been prouder of her than I was at that moment. I told her I was proud she did something she did not want to do just because it was the right thing to do.

So tonight as I remember her turning her tear-filled eyes my way and struggling to smile, I am humbled to have been so close to so much courage.

I love you Sara and am so proud of you, I know Jesus is proud too!

-jené

05 October 2008

4:00 am

This is the time which defines your friendships. You will find all of your friends fall into one of two categories. Those you can call at 4 in the morning, and those you can't. Those in the can't category are friends, but they are not the ones you would reach out to for love and support.

I have a friend who quite often calls me in the wee hours of the morning. It's not that his life is one crisis after another, it's his continuing inability to compute time differences from his locations around the globe. What is so great about Joe is his total surrender to doing God's will. Most of the times he has called me during the night, I have been awake and am comforted by hearing from someone who loves me. God is watching out for both of us. Joe needs someone to share with and I get to talk to a friend in the night without having to worry about waking him up.

The next time you find yourself pondering just how many friends you have, make a list of 4 o'clock friends. The knowledge there are people you can call gives such a feeling of joy.

Glad to have and to be a 4 o'clock friend,

jené

02 October 2008

Kingdom of Heaven

I was asked to write about the Kingdom of Heaven for next years Lenten devotional. It's due tomorrow. I have written, re-written and tossed out much. How do you explain the Kingdom of Heaven? It is hard to describe in concrete terms.

I think the best way is to share how I came to realize it was something for my present and not the distant future. The first time I got a good look at the Kingdom was in an airport in California. My dad had retired from the Air Force and we had moved to Okinawa Japan as missionaries for the Navigators.

We had come home for the summer and were trying to return. We were using the military space available program. With daddy being retired and needing six seats we were on the bottom of the list. I was praying throughout the days and often said the Lord’s Prayer. While I was praying for God’s will to be done on earth I really wasn't doing anything to make it happen. Living 21 days in an airport teaches you much about yourself.

I decided that much like I was an American in Japan, I was also a human in God's Kingdom. Just as I had to apply for a visa to stay in Japan, Christ's sacrifice was my visa for the Kingdom. When we first moved I had experiences outside my comfort zone. I got to share with others about my homeland. I began to learn Japanese. I found many similarities living in the Kingdom. God frequently takes me out of my comfort zone. I get to share with others what it is like in His Kingdom. I learned that the language in His Kingdom is love.

There are also differences. If you think learning Japanese is hard, try talking to everyone all day long in love. The good news is that while I had no extraordinary help for Japanese, I have a great tutor in speaking love. All I have to do is to ask the Holy Spirit to give me the love to share and it is there. There are many rules for an alien living in Japan. In the Kingdom there are only two rules.

1. Love the Lord with all you have
2. Love your neighbor as your self.

As I have grown older and a little bit wiser I realize that unlike being held within the borders of a country, I take the Kingdom of Heaven with me everywhere I go.

Praying that what others see in me makes them want to claim their citizenship here,

jené

01 October 2008

I didn't trip, that was a gravity surge.

A great flair piece. It makes so much sense.

My body is not failing, gravity is not constant.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Not in denial just tongue in cheek,

jené

30 September 2008

Early mornings

The bad thing about being up at this time is it is too late to take anything of a medicinal nature as it might impede waking with the alarm.

The good thing about being up at this time is it is easier to focus on what is important in your life. The last few years I have found the early morning hours to be great for spending time with the Lord. Four thirty in the morning finds very little else to do. So once again I pull out my prayer journal wondering what God is going to teach me this morning.

I can add thanks for restored power for my favorite family here in Houston. Seventeen days without power with three young girls makes for many adventures. They have weathered well and had some good times along the way. I know I certainly enjoyed having them spend the night here.

I was checking in on a few other friends last night when I heard a rather unusual story. A pastor and his wife were both out of town in two different cities for conferences when Ike hit. They did not make it home until Monday after the storm. They had heard from neighbors all about the destruction on their block. Not sure of what they would find at their own home, they prayed that God would use whatever happened to them for His glory. When they pulled up to the house they were relieved to see everything looked pretty much intact. A few trees toppled and the roof looked a little funky, but no major damage. As they walked around the house and opened the gate to check out the back of the house they got a huge surprise. Their entire back yard was covered in oranges and grapefruits. Shay told me it was completely filled and you could see no grass. In checking all around them they could find no one with fruit trees and no way to explain where it had all come from. By that point many in their neighborhood were running low on food supplies so the pastor had everyone over. They gathered in his back yard and thanked God for supplying the bountiful harvest. My friend quipped that this must be some kind of modern day manna. They still haven't figured out how they came to have a yard full of citrus and are content with the answer that God provides. I think this will become one of my favorite storm stories.

As I work my way down my prayer list I feel the love I have for everyone on it. I feel so blessed to have so many people in my life I can pray for. As is always the case, prayer is more about changing me than anything else. I awakened in pain and feeling resentful for it's waking me. Now I am feeling loved and lucky for having so many people in my life I care about.

Thankful for a God who can change my heart and resting in His love,

jené

28 September 2008

Wear your own face

Oh how God loves to weave together disparate moments in my life to bring a single lesson to my soul. Today was no exception. Get comfy and I will share how all of these seemingly unrelated events come together so well.

One day at work this week I was having a particularly rough day. I knew it was going to be so when I fell twice in the shower while getting ready for work. I took some time after the shower to ask God to give me the joy I should feel for the day He had given me. Often I am on my knees asking God to gift me a spirit of rejoicing I just cannot muster on my own. A friend asked me how I was doing. Knowing he cares to hear the truth and not forced "fine" I told him it was a difficult day but that we both would get through it well. He then said " It may be difficult but you are still smiling." I told him that my smile was truly a gift from God as I could not find it in myself that morning. I said the good thing about belonging to God was that He did not expect me to be what I wasn't but was willing to gift me what I needed to be what He wanted.

Later in the week I found myself with another trying day. I have been experiencing random muscle spasms and twitching of late and it was fairly pronounced on Thursday. I was frustrated by how it was affecting my work and concerned about what it might mean to the ongoing changes that make up my altering state of health. I took a few moments to have a sit down in the break room to center my heart. At that point late in the day I was all out of a joyful spirit and asked God to help me to remember His love for me no matter what comes my way.

A dear friend inquired about what was going on. I shared my frustration with her amidst some gentle tears and deep sighs. She and I know that we cannot control what comes our way but we can choose how we are going to respond. She also has had some difficult moments in her life where we have prayed together for us to remember to seek God's bottomless reservoir of grace to gift us what we lack. The great thing is we do not feel the need to pretend to each other that we are anything but what we are. We are flawed women seeking to live for God's glory and encourage each other along the way. Praying together is the best time two friends can share. You cannot help but be your true self at God's altar. Having a friend who knows exactly who you are and is your friend in spite of it is a priceless gift.

We sat together for a long time and she listened so lovingly as I poured out all the opportunities for praise I was still feeling disquieted about. Many years ago we decided to refer to difficulties as opportunities for praise. We hoped that by recognizing a positive change can come negative situation it would help us to remember that God uses our entire lives to draw us closer to Him.

I shared with her the lingering sense of failure I felt after the Hurricane. While I am so grateful to have been able to open my tiny apartment to so many people there is one thing from the past two weeks that still causes me to feel like I have failed. There is someone close to me who has known me for years. After seeing my life from a close perspective she still does not recognize that my helping others after the storm was not an extraordinary thing but something that every believer is called to do. I feel as if I have failed to show her how God expects us to loves others. With so many years invested in this relationship I wonder if I have even made a difference in her life. I know in my head that God calls me to obedience and I should leave the results for Him. My heart is having a difficult time with this lesson. I asked my prayer partner to pray I would let go of this feeling of failure and remember to trust God's plan for everything in my life.

Knowing me as she does she asked if there was anything else I had not yet surrendered to the Lord. I confessed I was also feeling disappointed about having to miss a conference I really wanted to attend this coming weekend. Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church is hosting a Renovaré conference titled "Life with God: Celebrating Lifelong Discipleship". I have read and received much from the presenters who are coming.

When I got the email telling me of the upcoming event I pulled out the calendar to see how I could work it in. I work part-time in retail and have to request time off at least a month in advance. In order to take a weekend day off I have to find someone with my skill level to cover my shift. As a part timer I do get some vacation time but I have already allocated those days off to go home for a few days before Thanksgiving. To attend this conference I would lose two days of pay and have to come up with the registration fee as well. After praying about attending I felt comfortable making the commitment to it.

As is readily apparent much has changed in the six weeks since I made the decision to attend. Ike came to Houston. What was going to be a stretch for my normal budget is now impossible. While several people have stepped forward to help, everything I have is going toward paying the bills and hopefully to restock both the pantry and the medicine cabinet. I told her I felt so shallow to be whining about missing an extracurricular activity when so many are without homes. Things are tight but there is a roof over my head. God has really blessed me and I am grateful for it and the opportunity to share it with my neighbors these past two weeks. I have asked God to use Friday and Saturday as special days for Him. After all, I have the time off I should do something good with it!

Here's where it all comes together to be woven into a needed life lesson.

I have been in Second Corinthians for my quiet time this week. I know you have already read much but I want to share with you a few verses from the Fourth chapter.

Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we're not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don't twist God's Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.

Remember, our Message is not about ourselves; we're proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. It started when God said, "Light up the darkness!" and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful.

If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That's to prevent anyone from confusing God's incomparable power with us. As it is, there's not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we're not much to look at. We've been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we're not demoralized; we're not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we've been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn't left our side; we've been thrown down, but we haven't broken. What they did to Jesus, they do to us—trial and torture, mockery and murder; what Jesus did among them, he does in us—he lives! Our lives are at constant risk for Jesus' sake, which makes Jesus' life all the more evident in us. While we're going through the worst, you're getting in on the best!

Verses 1-2, and 5-12 from The Message

As God has so often done He led me to church today to hear His Words. Once again God had Doug reaffirm the lessons He has been teaching me. His sermon today was all about letting go of the masks we might hide behind to be our true selves. Coincidences are to be cherished. A few years ago Mike Fry got me to read When God Winks. It taught me God used what I thought were coincidences were actually times He was winking at me. I remember how loved I used to feel when my Grumpdaddy used to wink at me. He would catch my eye from across the room or dinner table and wink. To this day I associate a wink with unconditional love.

So everything of late has worked together to convince me I am at my best when I come to God at my worst and let Him work in me. After all, if I wear a mask I won't be able to see God winking at me.

Glad to be winked at,

jené

P.S. My Grumpdaddy was my mother's father. My attempts at Granddaddy failed and all of my little sisters were stuck with the name I had given him. When I was a little girl and he used to hold me I thought that it was what it must be like to be hugged by God. That's why his winks always made me feel so loved.

27 September 2008

Where it all begins

The Roots of Violence:

Wealth without work,

Pleasure without conscience,

Knowledge without character,

Commerce without morality,

Science without humanity,

Worship without sacrifice,

Politics without principles.

Mohandas Karamchand Ghandi

23 September 2008

Such a blessing

Today was another day to pull together and help everyone who came in to the store. In the midst of the daily update of who has power and how many more times can you come to work before you run out of clothes, God sent such a blessing. While I knew that both Cindy and Sam had weathered the storm it was a heart warming treat to see them in person. Knowing your friends are o.k. is good, wrapping them in your arms is the best ever!

I knew that Sam had been through a trying time as his job kept him in Galveston to ride out the storm on the island. He is such a kindhearted and gentle man. It was hard to hear that he had been in harm's way. So when I saw him in the store it was with much joy that I hugged him so hard had he been a teddy bear he would have no stuffing left!

Seeing them both made today such a blessing that I don't regret all the time spent stuck in traffic on the way to and from work. Hugging friends makes anything a joy!

Happy for friends who are safe,

jené

19 September 2008

Living Poetry

Christ Has No Body
By St. Teresa of Avila

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
No hands but yours,
No feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which is to look out Christ’s compassion to the world;
Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good;
Yours are the hands with which He is to bless men now.

This week in Houston there has been ample opportunity for everyone to live this poem. It has been a real treat to catch up with friends after the storm and hear all the great stories of love being shown all over the city. One friend rounded up others to help pull up carpet. Another gathered all the thawing food in the neighborhood and cooked up a meal for an impromptu block party. More than once I have heard of someone checking on an elderly neighbor and then either staying with them or taking them into their home. I am not the only one with neighbors streaming in and out to shower, use the computer or charge phones. I have three friends who have done the same. One of my friends took me out to lunch; knowing I have been feeding others she bought extra food for me to bring home to share. Her husband has been standing in lines to get food, water and ice for his neighbors. Over and over you hear stories of people stepping up to do whatever they can to help someone in need. I think when all is said and done this week will go down in history as one of Houston's finest moments.

So blessed to be part of the blessing,

jené

15 September 2008

Terrible Storm or Friend Maker....you choose.

So many things have happened in the past five days. I will take away a multitude of cherished moments from the event known as Hurricane Ike.

While we could many of us kept in touch through Facebook and Twitter. This confirmed in a real way what a vital role social networking sites can provide. We encouraged one another. It lessened for many the isolation a storm like Ike can bring. It was fun to see how friends all over town were weathering the storm. A misery shared is a misery lessened.

After the initial storm had passed it was such a joy to be out of the apartment. My heart was so happy to see so many of the neighbors come together to clean up the storm damage. One of my neighbors is a sweet lady who had just gotten home from the hospital last week. Even though she herself had a middle of the night ambulance ride just a few days prior, she waded through ankle deep water to check on an older neighbor. Her girls joined the group of us cleaning up debris. We ranged in age from the sixties to young children. Everybody pitched in!

As I was walking the rest of the property in the afternoon it was great to see how everyone was sharing their resources. People shared water and food. Generators were in courtyards with plugs leading to several apartments. I was helping a neighbor pry open her gate so she could get back in to check her home when several young men came by and gave us a hand. Perhaps the best thing the power outage brought was forcing everyone out to sit on their porches and patios. We got to know each other better and it can't help but to make people feel more friendly toward each other.

As I got to spend more time with neighbors today I began to feel a deep sorrow for the people who chose to stay in their apartments. God gifted all of us with an opportunity to love our neighbors in a tangible way. They threw away His gift by insulating themselves from the life taking place in the courtyards all over the property. For them the past week will always be primarily remembered as how they survived the storm. How sad that they could not see the gift they were given.

Like anything in life, we have no real control in what comes our way. Our control is in how we respond to it.

Thankful for so many new friends,

jené

10 September 2008

Why am I here?

I kept waking up all night to sneeze or cough. After I had worked my way through my prayer journal and sneaked a peak at this morning's devotional I decided to blog. Fortunately even in my fevered state I recognized most of what I intended to post was just a collection of odd and disjointed thoughts. Thank heavens for the delete key!

Instead I am going to share with you something I read yesterday which has confirmed a life decision made recently. I spent some time this spring re-evaluating where I have invested myself. I seriously considered moving back to West Texas. I have family there and with my physical limitations increasing I considered how much easier life would be with help at the ready. That is not to imply that help is not available here, it's just easier when it's family.

One thing that has always had me reluctant to return to the area is the leaving of my church here. I love my church because I feel they understand the burden I feel upon me to share God's love with everyone I meet. There are some good churches in West Texas but I just don't feel as much ease there as I do here. I did get a glimmer of a common goal when I went to a Christmas Eve service with my parents. They had installed a new pastor and he seemed to feel the same need I feel to inspire the people in the pews to action. Their youth group was raising money for a trip by selling t-shirts with this message. On the front it said "Frozen Chosen" and on the back it said "Thaw Out." This gave me hope for any future move to San Angelo.

I have lived in Houston for 18 years now and feel totally at home here. More importantly I have invested myself in friendships with many from differing faith walks. I have Buddhist, Islamic, Shinto, Jewish and atheistic friends who count me as their Christian friend. In some cases I am their only Christian friend. God has really blessed my life by giving me the opportunity to love these people the way my Christ loves them. In my current neighborhood more that half of my neighbors do not go to church. I have a fantastic opportunity to share His love right outside my doorstep. Yes, you can share your love on the front stoop. Just wait until the cool part of the day.

So the question I was pondering earlier this year became "Why should I move?" instead of "Should I move?" Yesterday's Wizard of ID strip brought home the need to share the Kingdom of Heaven wherever you are.


Staying here,

jené

08 September 2008

How I learned chicken broth makes a great moisturizer

To understand my discovery we need to review a little background info. My weather predicting arthritic joints have been spot on in alerting me to the pressure changes this coastal city has had in the past few weeks. While somewhat useful, it means slower going and taking more care.

When I woke on Sunday I discovered the little tickle in my throat and occasional sneeze of the night before had blossomed into a right nice cold. I found myself seven minutes late to church. As is often the story, the parking lot was full with the only places open in the far ends. I debated staying or going and staying won out. As I was getting out of the car I had a moment of dizziness which caused me to smack my head on the car door. I sat back down to wait out the dizziness and ease the throbbing in my brain. By the time things were on a more even keel it was 11:30. I am totally comfortable with being a little late and making my way down front where you can always find a seat. Even I however gave pause at being a half hour late. I decided I would catch the sermon on-line later and took my Bible and Zune to head to a park. It was a beautiful day and very easy to see the wonder of God's creation all around me. God is marvelous and used the silences between sneezes to give me peace and comfort. I headed home feeling my soul at ease.

I made a big pot of chicken soup to ward off all the nasty little viruses trying to have a party in my body. I make a great Cold Killer Chicken Soup. As a consistent life pro-lifer I make an exception for organisms attacking me. I had already eaten a bowlful of this wonderful elixir and reasoned another half serving would be a good medicinal dose. I was picking up the pot when I lost my grip and it all went falling to the floor. My relief at seeing the pot land right-side up was quickly replaced with surprise as the soup came flying out and hit me full in the face.

Those of you who know me will not find the next part of the story at all unusual. I fell to the floor with the most serious case of the giggles you have ever heard. Honestly, I know my soup is good for a body but have never applied it externally before. The kitchen and I both needed some good scrubbing.

When I woke up this morning I discovered a benefit to the small fiasco that was yesterday. My skin is so soft today. I may have to investigate the moisturizing qualities of chicken soup.

Wonderingly,

jené

03 September 2008

Dr. Suess life lessons

I have a favorite quote on my flair board and it is attributed to Dr. Suess. I have found however there is some debate as to it's authorship. It is still a good life lesson so I have included it in my favorite Suessicals

  • Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
It is sometimes a hard to be totally honest with how you feel. There will always be others who think what you feel is wrong. I know personally how hard it can be to open yourself up especially with those closest to you. Just this week I was chatting with one of my sisters about a candidate. She was sharing with me how proud she was to see a pro-life women running for office. I thought for a moment just to let the comment pass without note but I would not be true to my ideals if I did not mention that I had yet to ascertain the candidate's views on the death penalty. As a consistent life pro-lifer, this is important to me. I did not press the issue but could not in good conscience let it go unsaid. My sisters and I often disagree about many things. That aside, I know their love for me can withstand them occasionally doubting my sanity.

  • Sometimes the questions are complicated but the answers are simple.

I have also learned that many of the problems that have found me in my life can be answered by simply trusting God has a plan for me.

  • The more that you read, the more things you know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.
We have a saying at work that intuition does not come to an unprepared mind. Over the years I have spent much time reading many things. I am as eclectic in my reading as I am in my music. I can honestly tell you I would be hard pressed to pick just one book which has most affected my life. This of course excludes the Bible. No matter how many times I have read a particular passage I seem to find something new in each reading.

  • Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It is not.

Simply knowing that the world has many problems and talking about them is not enough. To care connotes taking action. Another flair I have states "One person can only do so much." Never let the fact that you can't do everything stop you from doing anything. One action can beget another action and so on and so on. Make that first action happen.

Having learned many things from Dr Suess I leave you with this thought.

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself, any direction you choose.

Taking my shoes in many directions,

jené

21 August 2008

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Another abnormally long title taken from my flair board.

Dancing in the rain is fun, you let go of your troubles to sway, splish and splash. The hard part comes in seeing the rain as a blessing instead of a curse. Whenever things get a difficult I try to remember to think of lessons learned in physics.

Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in
that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.
Newton's First Law of Motion

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction
Newton's Third Law of Motion

You are probably wondering why both of these laws cause me to think of dancing in the rain. I am using these laws outside the realm of physics and have taken them to a spiritual plane.

When life is hard and things are difficult I have two choices. I can choose to allow the difficulties to provide the direction for my life or I can apply an external force to change the direction. In my case I choose to accept the hardships for the blessings they will someday bring. I use prayer as the external force alter my path from difficult to delightful. When I make that pendulum swing I then note that Newton's third law holds true. For every physical setback I am grateful to receive a spiritual blessing.

Not quite the way Sir Isaac meant for his laws to be applied, but I find them handy.

Who knew physics class would one day lead to dancing in the rain?

Swaying in the raindrops,

jené


18 August 2008

Hiding away never works for God sees everything!

I have had the privilege of having made many mistakes in my life. While that may seem an odd thing to consider a privilege you need to know why it is so.

  • When you have made major screw ups you know that failure is not fatal.
  • You learn nothing is so bad that God cannot forgive you.
  • You know which of your family and friends are compassionate souls.
  • You also learn that trying to keep everything hidden away until you can resolve it never works. This you learn after the first mistake if you are wise enough to realize it.
  • You learn that pride is a real stumbling block to repentance. If you could fix it yourself, you wouldn't need forgiveness.
  • You learn to care less for what others think of you.
  • You learn to care more for what God thinks of you.
Katie's sermon this Sunday dealt with David and Bathsheba. There was a screw up of monumental proportions. David resorted to murder to hide his sin. David who had been such a strong example of God's man fell as low as you could go. (BTW there is no scorecard awarding points for different sins, we have all been as low as you can go.) In Psalm 51 David writes one of the most heartfelt verses which has meant more to me than there are words to share.

Going through the motions doesn't please you,
a flawless performance is nothing to you.
I learned God-worship
when my pride was shattered.
Heart-shattered lives ready for love
don't for a moment escape God's notice.
Psalm 51: 16-17
The Message

I can remember one occasion where I let shame and embarrassment keep me from reaching out for love and support. It took me a while to realize that what I believed was shame and embarrassment was actually pride. I was afraid to let go of my pride and let someone see me in my fallen state. I had a misguided belief that if my friends knew the real me they would be so disgusted they would leave me. I could not find any peace no matter how much I prayed for relief. It was only after I went and confessed my sin and the pride I was hanging onto to try to hide it away that peace came.

Whatever may be keeping you from God's presence is not worth it. If your friends can't love you the way you are, they aren't friends. Do whatever is required to find peace for yourself. It is worth anything.

love,

jené

14 August 2008

Soul aid


video

The past few months have been full of things which have caused my heart to ache. So when a niece asked if she could come for a visit I was glad to see her arrive. My favorite little girls came for one night of her stay. It is always a heart healer for me to spend time with children. They are so genuine.

Julia and Meredith are missing their big sister this week. She is off at camp. So last night when they came over we decided it would be "Camp Nené." They have both called me Nené for all of their lives. "J" sounds are hard for little mouths and this just worked out easier for them in the beginning. Truthfully, they probably didn't think of calling me anything else as they just copied what their older sister had done.

Last night we did silly dances, watched Donald Duck, ate pizza and made cinnamon rolls for in the morning. The girls love doing a massage train so that was our last activity before bed. We all sit in a row and massage the back of the person in front of you. You switch places from time to time and then everyone ends up with a good massage. While we were doing the train we also had our "thankful time" and "what am I going to do this week to make the world a better place" time. Each of the girls was thankful their sister got to go to camp even though they were missing her. Their choices to make the world a better place included picking up litter, being nice to people, listening to mommy and daddy and putting away toys.

After we had finished we all gathered on my niece's airbed to say our goodnight prayers. The girls love to lay down and stretch out with all of us joining hands in the center to form a cross. I love praying with little ones. They just open up and pour out whatever is troubling them, what they are grateful for, and what they want. I love that these girls know that they can pray together and feel comfortable doing so. I pray they continue this even as adults. I too am so grateful for the chance to refresh my soul by spending time with little ones who love me. I am truly blessed.

Tired but thankful,

jené

P.S. You'd be tired too if you had two little whirling dervishes in your bed.


11 August 2008

I'm not superstitious, I'm just a little stitious.

When I saw this flair I knew it was for me. I love to play with words. I can play word games by the hour because I get so lost in the moment. Words are one way we can convey the intention of our hearts. Ideas are born and blossom by the exchange of words. When I wake each morning I spend time with the words God has for me and then pray that all of my words for the day will be nurturing and encouraging. I do this because I know that words can also be hurtful and belittling.

I was helping a Mom today and her son and daughter were in their own little universe. I heard the brother tell the sister "You mean nothing to me." She was still for a moment and then looked away seeming to struggle to not cry. I wondered if the mother had heard or was she ignoring those words deliberately. A minute later he banged his sister's head with a metal drawer. Now she did cry, and her mother did intervene. She told her son to apologize to his sister and to put the drawer away. I know the knock on the noggin was an "owie" but I think the bigger hurt was the earlier words. "You mean nothing to me"; could there be a more damaging phrase in the English language. Even when someone says "I hate you" there is still some emotional feeling to the words.

I was meditating at lunch and my heart kept feeling such sadness for this little girl. It was just a moment of time. She may never remember it clearly. But for that moment she was hurt as deeply as she can ever be. I prayed the rest of her day would have moments of love and compassion, God knows her morning didn't.

Praying that my words harm others as infrequently as possible.

jené

07 August 2008

Knowing when to say nothing

Right now there are several people close to me who are suffering through various hardships and I don't feel there is anything I can do for them. I know that the feeling of inadequacy on my part is false. I have offered them my love and support, but more importantly I have offered them my silence.

That may seem odd if you don't know that silence can be a very loving gift. When someone is hurting they don't necessarily want to hear the "God works in mysterious ways" or "all things work together for good for those that love God". Just because it is a right message does not mean it is the right time for the message. My father and I were discussing this just yesterday. A cousin's family is enduring a horrific tragedy. Their two year old daughter was run over and killed. To add to their suffering is the fact the car was driven by her father. For this family the only thing I can offer is my sincere sympathies and unending love. There are no words to in any way make this situation better. Silence is a great gift to give them and I am hoping everyone they meet this week will offer a quiet hug.

I often think of Job when his life fell apart around him. His friends came and for a week they sat with him in the dirt and kept silent. They could not know exactly how he was feeling but they wanted to offer their companionship anyway. For that week, they were the greatest friends a hurting man could have. After that, he should have sent them away.

The next time someone you know comes to you and tells you their tale of woe, pause for a moment and see if the desire to speak comes from your desire to do something or from God. Remember, just because your words may be right, it does not mean it is the right time for them.

Quietly,

jené

02 August 2008

This should make you laugh



This little guy knows that happiness is of his own making. The hard part for him and for all of us is to remember that happiness is a choice we make. It's certainly influenced by our surroundings, but ultimately we either choose to be happy or don't.

You can find joy in all sorts of places. Earlier this week I was pretty worn out. I had a rough day and could not wait to get home. Once I got home I parked the car and went to get out. While driving home some of my joints locked up and my knee just didn't want to let me stand. I sat there for a moment and contemplated how I would even call for help. Do you call a friend and say "I'm stuck in my car and can't get out." For some reason just the thought of having to call someone to help me get out of the car started me giggling. It is not the first time I had been stuck in a car. Twice I have been in accidents severe enough that I had to wait for outside assistance to get out . Here I was again only I had no accident to blame. Giggles soon gave way to very large laughs. Before I knew it, things loosened up and I was free from my Nissan. I was sharing this story at work today and had everybody in the breakroom laughing along with me. I could have chosen to panic at the moment I realized my predicament. Fortunately, I am predisposed to laughter. I have had so many bizarre moments in my life I have long learned laughter is always a better response.

Still chuckling,

jené

31 July 2008

Truth

My head and heart have been pondering truth much these last few weeks. How do you know what is truth and what is believed to be truth by our fallible perception? Currently in my family there is some disquiet over what several are believing to be the truth as they know it. I have to wonder if they too are seeking to find what is really true and what is deception?

Facts are absolute. Gravity exists. The earth revolves around the sun. The pull of the moon sets the tides. Yet at some point in time all of these facts were not known as truth and people were punished for spreading heresy. How can you be sure what you are believing is the truth?

For me the search for truth begins and ends with Jesus. He is the proof of truth that God loves His creation. So many truths were kept in Him. God's promises were made complete when He gave us His son. Jesus' Kingdom consists of those who listen for the truth. When Pilate was questioning Jesus he tried to understand what kind of king Jesus was.

Then Pilate said, "So, are you a king or not?"

Jesus answered, "You tell me. Because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. Everyone who cares for truth, who has any feeling for the truth, recognizes my voice."

John 18:37

The Message

When my feelings are in a jumble, I rely on the comfort of conversing with God. The truth only comes to those who are listening to the voice of Jesus. One of my favorite hymns tells me the only way to find the truth is to dwell in the Lord.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

It is for me a reminder that I can find no truth if I am not at one with the Christ; The King of all truth. I am praying that each of those caught in the difficulty will remember to seek the Originator of all truth. As much as I would wish it so, I cannot force anyone to listen for the voice of Christ. God Himself waits for us to respond to His Love. I can do no less.

Listening and praying that others will listen too,

jené