Monthly Archives: January 2016

Deeper than Temperature

It seems after a bit of extended vacation, Winter has arrived. The rains, the snowstorms, the icy roads, the whole gamut of winter has come back to the Northern Hemisphere once again. I can so see how the ancients made Winter into an entity, something to know as you would a person, for it does seem to have some of the qualities of a vindictive woman.   She is here again, seeming to have descended with more vengeance on some parts of the hemisphere than on others, but it has descended nonetheless.

Here, in Central Florida where me and DaBoys are, Winter sort of wandered around, not sure if she was going to go this far south of the Mason/Dixon or not. It was a bit of a shock when she swooped down on us. One day it was 83 degrees and nicely sunny, the next it was 50 and cloudy.

Today is brutal to us Floridians. It is 39 degrees, cloudy, windy and bitter cold. No snow here, well, not so far; but 39 is cold no matter where you are. Well, except for maybe Nome, Alaska.

This bought of cold has my alter-ego, The Grumpy Girl, coming out.  DaBoys are such troopers to put up with my hurrying them through the walks so I can get back into the warmth again. This morning when we went out it was only 36, with a wind-chill making it more like 31. Grumpy indeed!

As I apologized to my sweet buddies with a cookie apiece, I thought about what it is about cold temperatures that makes me so very, very intolerant and grumpy.  I saw that when I bundled up this morning to take them out, I had all the things on myself I needed to keep myself warm: woolly hat and gloves, puffy coat, woolly scarf, layers of warm clothes and nice fake-fur boots with super warm socks.

So, why was I so cold? I did an inventory of my body to see what part was experiencing the cold so badly that it affected the rest of the body. My head was warm, well—cheeks were pretty cold but not frozen, my hands were warm inside the gloves inside the jacket pockets, my feet were nice and warm in the boots and socks, and my legs were not too awfully cold in the sweats I had on. As DaBoys and I hurried around the little path, I thought on this. It is not blizzard weather like it is in New York Pennsylvania, so what is the real problem here?

Cold is not just temperature. Cold is being ignored. Cold is being so insignificant that not one other human being sees you. Cold is being outside of another’s affections. Cold is being a Less-Than. Cold is not being in the warmth of love.

As I thought of these truths, another one came into focus for me. We all have a small child inside of us that is forever seeking that which the child craves, what it sees as a need, an empty space. For some of us it manifests itself in drive for money, or fame, or conquests, or doing the ultimate good, or finding a cure for a disease, or even saving all the dogs one human being can possibly save. (I have that, just not the means to do it, so I save and help the ones God gives to me to save and help).

I now understand my total and complete aversion to cold.  It has very little to do with the real temperature, it has to do with my little girl. You see, she lost the warmth of open love when she was just a bit over ten years old. Not only was it from a warmer climate, it was from a person who openly expressed love for her.

It was so much more of just an outward environment change, it was one of the heart also. From open love to harshness. From smiles and genuine joy to clamped down feelings, hidden from the world under a wall of granite. From known ways of doing things and of acting to, unknown ways of place and people. Added to this was the  complete unpredictability of adults who should have been at least aware of her loss, her child’s pain, her not having the resources to cope with such a radical change in the very fabric of her life.

Those adults closest to her were battling their own demons, to be sure. Some were so familiar as to become part of their internal makeup. That little one was left vulnerable to predatory people who took advantage of the adults inattention. In there defense, they undoubtedly just didn’t notice the extreme vulnerability of the child.

So my extreme aversion to cold has pretty much nothing to do with the actual number on the thermometer. I has to do with that poor, lost and lonely little girl who was transplanted from warm, Sunny Florida to not-quite-so-warm-and Sunny California mountains without any even remote idea of what it would be like. Living in her Gramma Hallie’s house, with its wallpaper blowing in the East Wind. Listening to the arguments and feeling the deep anger between her Mom and Gramma. Never knowing when the frustrated anger would turn on her.

It does amaze me that after all these years, after all the therapy sessions, the helps from books and others who have been through similar things; I am still susceptible to the triggers of cold. I guess this will just be a part of my life’s tapestry.  Which is part of the myriad reasons I live where I do. I came here for the physical warmth yes, but because too of the family that is here, the open friendliness of my neighbors and the ever present and welcome sun. Even though it is a very cold (for Florida) 45 degrees right now at 1:30 in the afternoon, the sun is doing its best to shine down on us Lizards and keep us warm.

(As I said to my friend today, who hails from Pennsylvania and has a tendency to stroll around in shorts and flip-flops in January; if you had lived in the Sun Belt for 56 years, you would be cold too!!!!)

I know that the warmth I am seeking comes from love. My first source of that love is God himself, then those around me in this world.  In order to truly warm up where I need to be is at his feet. Basking at the source of all love. So, I will take a really hot shower, put on my woollies once again, and take my little girl inside off to church where she has always found what she seeks.

 

 

 

 

 

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Loss of Awesome

I can still see my Gramma Hallie’s face as she watched history flow out from the TV screen on that day in July, 1969.  This woman who watched the world she knew take oh so many giant leaps into the unknown and land on its feet.  She, who was born in a tiny little Iowa town before the turn of the last century, the 19th into the 20th, not 20th into this one; a century that literally and figuratively changed the world forever.

She grew up with an outside toilet, not at all different than everyone else in that little Iowa town.  The washing was done by hand, with a wringer to wrestle the water out yes. but the turning of it was by hand.  Some in town had electricity, but not all, especially those outside of town on the family farms.  The county seat at Winterset, the place made famous years later by being not only the birthplace of John Wayne, but also the book and movie about its iconic covered bridges, was where the trains came through. Macksburg was a sleepy little farm town with just a few houses around the post office where two county roads met. Her Dad was the Baptist preacher and her and her sister were both born in the Baptist parsonage that is still there.

Hallie Jean would be one of thousands of witnesses the world over to watch the world change from agricultural with some industry to the mega-business world we live in today.  She used to tell me the story of everyone in town rushing outside to see the biplanes fly over. Watching in wonder and awe, making comments about those flying machines; how do they stay up there, how terrifying it would be to be in one, how fast they went and what a wonder they were. She witnessed her world going from horses and buggies to cars and airplanes and rockets to the moon.

The look in her eyes that summer evening in 1969 was one of awe. That true, Biblical sort of awe. The kind that stops you in your tracks so you can drink in and make the moment part of your personal memories. The kind of awe our young people no longer have the experience of.

Even us Baby Boomers were privileged to experience some of that awe on that day in 1969.  We were the last to grow  up with the Man in the Moon. He seems to have vacated the premises after the Moon Landing. Can’t say I blame him, must have been highly annoying to have the Lunar Lander plop down on his face, then those feet tromping all over.

It isn’t so much that the awe inspiring moments are not there, I believe it is because the barrage of technology has distracted them and us from seeing the awe moments right in front of them. If it doesn’t have an app they miss it completely. Technology is great, don’t think I don’t appreciate all the wonders it has given us. What I am trying to say is that technology is not all there is.

The truly awe moments are as the poet says, the ones that take your breathe away. They rise you up, out of every day, into a glimpse of a new and exciting universe. Awe takes us out of the mundane into the realm of Angels. Awe raises our souls out of the sameness into a glimpse of Heaven itself.

Awe is walking around Michaelanglo’s David and watching this stone statue age into the King he became, released from the rock by the artists hand. Awe is hearing your newborn baby’s cry. Awe is hearing your grandchild’s cry. Awe is having one of God’s creatures snuggle up next to you because you are you and the small furry one cannot think of any better place in the whole world than right next to you. Awe is when you look down the church aisle and there is that one other person in the whole wide world, that so wants to be with you in this walk, they take you as you are and you them.  Awe is standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon to view what God’s mighty hand can do with mere clay.

Let’s all look for and make sure we point out those Awe-moments to everyone we meet. For it is awe that keeps us connected to be truly human.  Let’s show the next generation and the one after that the incredible wonder of awe.

 

 

 

 

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Gardens of Camellias

My neighbor’s camellia bush is full of almost ready to bloom flowers. Big, beautiful bright pinkish-red flowers. That one bush, that one plant, shows me how to face the world and its oh-so-negative sort of thinking.

You see, our weather here in Central Florida has been unpredictable at best and in the extremes at its worst. One day its 75, sunny and crystal clear, then in the middle of the night the storm hits and rips the warmth from every living thing.  Yesterday it was a 75 degree day, oh so sunny, oh so very much why so many of us are living here in this part of Florida. Today, is a whole ‘nother story.  There were tornadoes. yep tornadoes, over by Tampa last night.  70 to 80 mile an hour winds. Right now The clouds and the sun are playing tag with each other and its a cool 57 degrees, which with the wind feels more like 54. Not quite what one expects in Sunny Florida.

But that camellia bush just goes with the flow. Some blossoms have fallen to the ground yes, but the bush stands up tall with its branches loaded with more blossoms.

As I watch the wind whip the bush’s branches I can’t help but see the same thing happening to me. The storms of my life, with their huge winds, their threatening tornado-like destruction aimed at me, do the same thing to my mind. I want to be like that camellia bush, I want to just hold  on and wait out the storm.The only way to do that is to think like God thinks, not like man (as in all of us) thinks.

In my life there have been what seems like a plethora of others human beings who spent considerable energy to manipulate, convince, cajole and at times force me into thinking their way.  Usually about what I wanted to do, or thought, or even down to how I washed my  own dishes.  In themselves it might have been perfect. In another it was not so much.

Most times the rebellious me just dug my heals in and and said nothing. But after so very many years of it, I have to admit to beginning to think that maybe they were somewhat right—I could be just as inanely stupid as they seemed to think I was. Or at best, just a ‘bit slow on the uptake” as my Mom used to say about me.

The camellia bush outside my living room window tells me a different story. There is always a force out to beat down, to remake, to reshape each one of us. But, like Ms. Camellia next door, our task, our job here on this earth as human beings it to hunker down in the storms, hold on and be exactly what we were created to be.

We are not just like anyone else. St Paul told us in 1 Corinthians 12:4; “There are different spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them.” My gift, my purpose, my call, my uniqueness is not the same as anyone on this earth.  It is truly one of the very few things in this wide world I can claim as inherently just mine.  A treasure of priceless value.

No amount of attempting to change my purpose, my gift into what another wants it to be, into what fits better to another, will not change that.  Nor will the timing of that be altered. If I come to my gift late in life, how would anyone else even begin to surmise that it was late? It could be, like Abraham’s call, it is in perfect time for God to use as he made it to be used. Nether will any attempt at diversion or burying that gift, that purpose change the fact that it will be there, it will be mine and it will be used by God somehow.

My resolution for this years is to listen to God, to understand the gift he gave me, to use it in alignment with his perfect plan for me. I would think like God, not like mankind. I will actively reject the negative, the evil that lurks to ruin the gift God gave me to use.

So, to all  those voices from the past that still try to influence not only what I do but right down to how I see myself: Be Quiet!  I reject your negative. I reject your using of me for your own ends. I reject the idea I am less-than you so you feel bigger. I reject your not loving me and embrace those who do. I reject your pulling me farther and farther away from God so you won’t be alone.  I reject the idea that in order for me to have any value as a human being, it is your view only that matters.

I am a beloved child of God. I have a task to complete for him before I leave this world for my home with him.  If you, with your wounds and pains and scars, only want me to allow myself to be sacrificed on your altar of All Things Negative to feed those wounds and pains and scars so you won’t have to, then I refuse. If you would walk with me, beside me, as we travel toward home, needing my support as I need yours then lets get up and continue on.

As the song from Mercy Me says “The Cross was enough!” We, together, can change the world. We can make it beautiful once again. We can walk in the Garden with God in the cool of the evening once again. We can talk to the camellias and tell them thank you for showing us what our souls had forgotten.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lord, Here We Go Again!!!!!

I have problem today. It is not a new one, but seems to have come to the point where if I don’t put my fingers on the keyboard and send this out to the world for review I will not be at peace.  Here goes:

What is the penchant for Christian writers to write a great story about faith, about finally coming to be a believer in Jesus the Christ, where they must put in that story somewhere a tirade against the Catholic Church ?

Lets go back a bit here. All the way back to when Jesus walked upon this earth. Yep, back to the dusty roads of Judah and Samaria and Israel.  Back to where the Lord God in Heaven fulfilled his prophet’ prophecy about the Savior. Is there any where in any of the New Testament books of the Bible that says to us to malign and attack fellow believers?

What is that you say? No? Hmm, it does say the profound words “A house divided against itself cannot stand” ,  from Mark 3:25.  Words from Jesus himself. Jesus, who came to this fallen and sinful world to save us all. All of us.  Not just Baptists, or Lutherans, or Pentecostals, or Catholics, or Methodists or any other name on the  outside of the building .  Every last one of us.

Every one of these church traditions has men and women leading it. Men, not Jesus still with us in the flesh.  Men, who are led astray from God by the Devil  himself. We are all not all that much different from Adam and Eve, we still listen to the insidious voice that whispers to us that ‘they’ are wrong and ‘we’ are right.  Just a quick glance at the news of the day will confirm that.

We all, as believers in our Savior Jesus Christ, are struggling with this world as it is stumbling along.  Why don’t we give each other a hand?

When Our Lord was on this earth, his teachings, his showing us the Kingdom of Heaven was a threat to the established religious leaders. They connived and worked and even lied to get him crucified in order to save their little kingdoms. When Jesus rose from the dead,  they spread the lie that his followers had stolen his body from the tomb; this even though Roman soldiers, the most feared and ruthless and ferocious soldiers in the known world then were guarding the tomb.  Fishermen, a tax collector, a youth overcame the Romans in order to make the prophecy come true.  Really????

Today, we see the silliness, the desperate move of the Pharisees and the Sadducees to hang onto their power and control. With a slight nod of the head, we acknowledge the worldliness of these ancient leaders, leaders who had been charged with leading the Chosen People  to God.  Some of our religious leaders today are following their lead still.

The early Christians were truly one body. Living, working, sharing all together with each other. Not so today. In this time of out and out attacks on the whole of Christians everywhere, we bicker over tiny passages in the Bible or if Jesus really meant what another found in his word. When our fellow believers are being brutally murdered by Evil itself, we snip at each other over each other’s traditions.  We slip little digs into places where there should be a united front.

Every Christian faith tradition came from the very same beginning.  Jesus Christ. If any one of us traces our particular denomination back to its beginning, there is Jesus.  For over 1500 years, that tradition was what came to be known as the Catholic Church.  1500 years.  It was a little bit over 500 years ago that the Protestant denominations were born. From the  Catholic Church. Luther and his Thesis were tacked up on Catholic Cathedral door.  The reformation was used by the political rulers of the day to reduce the power of the church and transfer it to themselves.

No, before you get your knickers in a knot, I am not saying that it was all political.  But the advantage of chipping away at the Catholic Church was a political tool, case in point is Henry VIII.  And, as we human beings go, something new, something different, especially with a great charismatic leader always draws.

The Bible that all the Protestant denominations have came from the Catholic Church. It was Catholic fathers of the faith that compiled it, from the Torah, from the Septuagint and the writings and teachings of the Apostles.  It was preserved by the Irish monks when so many were out to destroy those writings.  It took hundreds of years for it to be compiled. It was not an overnight sort of thing.  It took just a few years for some Protestant leaders to remove books they decided didn’t belong.

I guess what I am trying to say with that compact history lesson is this:  stop bashing my Catholic Church.  Your church came from us. We, along with our own Elders the Jews, are your elders.  If we were not there, neither would you be.  So much of your services come from ours. As ours comes from the Temple and Sabbath celebrations of the Jews.  You have some new and wonderful views and ideas that we need. We have some solid faith traditions and learnings that you need.

It is time for all us who believe in Jesus Christ to quit fighting among ourselves. It leaves holes that the Devil strolls through with his evil.  When Jesus comes back let us not present to him a church of armed camps. Read the book of Acts again, s lowly. Read about the Hellenized Jews complaining that their people were being slighted because they were not from Jerusalem. Read how Jesus, through his Apostles, solved the problem.  It wasn’t more division, it was a coming together.

I offer this simple series of tests for us all, for us to check ourselves, for us to remember what our faith truly is:

Do you Believe—-

In God the Father Almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth?

In Jesus Christ, his only Son, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried, and on the third day rose again. That he is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty and shall come again to judge the living and the dead?

In the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the dead, the communion of Saints and the life everlasting?

 

If you say yes to these three simple questions, then lets you and I not fight over trivial things. Lets join together and stand firm against the Evil that is rampant today. The Evil that thinks it is stronger than Our Lord.

Lets you and I walk together with Jesus Our Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The White Month’s Theme

The month of January is upon us, a new year, a new month, a new beginning once again.  I have always seen this month as white.  Not only from the commercial January White Sale adds, but the fact that it is a blank page.  A pristine, empty page.  Just waiting for some sort of a inspirational word or phrase to be plopped down on it.  Sort of a theme for the whole month, and maybe just maybe, if it is a really good word or phrase, one that will carry me through the whole year.

So, what is the theme of this new year?  Beginning.  New beginnings in the completion of the old.  New beginnings in the moving forward to the next portion of life.  That blank page again, I should think.  So very pristine white, just waiting patiently for the pen to touch it, to see the word, to feel the pressure of the pen as it lays down the words, phrases and paragraphs of this coming year.

And also, continuing the beginning already begun.  The moving forward into this new time.  The not leaving behind the good, the lessons, the deep revelations of last year, but carrying them into this one.  Using them, reading them again, taking them up again in the heart.  For all the learnings from last year and all those before them were hard-won.  Some were so painful it felt more like death than life moving forward.  Some were so incredibly beautiful as to blind one by their light.  Some were so subtle they needed a quiet time in the Chapel to even hear their whisper.

The one thing, the one learning that is forever and always engraved upon my whole being is this:  God has got this.  In his incredible, almost incomprehensible to human minds, teaching is this perfect and complete theme of love. When we, as mere humans love, we can and do fail to love completely. We falter, we pull back into ourselves to protect ourselves from hurt.  We put conditions on the giving of our love.  We allow this world to dictate to us how we manifest the love we feel.

The world out there banters the word around like so much fodder. Using it to describe such myriad things as cars, clothes, food and all things of the world that we come to like a very lot.  In the latest manner of perversion of this word that describes God himself, is the way it is used to defend a twisted way of relating to each other.  Using another human being, on any level, is not love.  Pulling another into a life style that is destructive for the sole reason you are stuck there is not love.

Our world, especially our limping, walking wounded society here, has lost the true meaning of love.  It is not a mother contracting with another to murder the child she carries in her womb.   It is not promoting an alternative life style whose product is a growing and all-consuming hatred for any who point out its defects.   It is not keeping silent when one sees other human beings on the path to destruction because they might be offended.  If one is offended by the truth, that is the root of the problem, not the fact of the truth.

In this year as it unfolds we have an opportunity to live and speak the truth.  We have an open door to make the place we are in this world truly a better place.  We have here in our country the right to speak the truth. We must step up and exercise that right in conjunction with the good God who loved us first.

On that pristine white page of this coming year may we write the best, the good, the caring of others, the living out the true meaning of the word love. Not as man sees it, but as the Lord God who always was and is now the true and perfect Love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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