Saturday, November 21, 2015

The SIMPLE TRUTH that Is So Very Difficult To Believe

What? November is almost over??? I hope you are getting ready for a beautiful holiday season. Today I am sharing a piece that I wrote for "5 Minutes For Faith" earlier this bears repeating. Enjoy. 
If I could only write to you one more time, I would tell you this little story.
I sat in large circle with the rest of our church staff. I was with my favorite friends doing one of my favorite things. We were praying for one another and listening for the individual messages that God wanted to share with each person in the circle. We loved that God still speaks and this trusted group of people enjoyed the freedom to be His messengers with one another.
I listened to the prayers and messages given to my friends. “The Father has designed you to carry influence with governmental leaders.”... “God is going to use you to help free women from the slave-market.”... “You are so full of creativity. You will be using your painting and artistic ability to glorify God.”

Now it was my turn. I close my eyes to concentrate and be able to hear every word that God wants to speak to me. “Wow Susie, God just really, really loves you! Every thought of you brings Him deep pleasure.”

WHAT?! Of course God loves me. He loves everyone! That’s the very first song we learn as little kids in Sunday school! Yes, Jesus loves me, this I know. It is the most basic, foundational truth we all know! I already KNOW this. Where is my big prophetic message?
This same scenario played out many times over in my life. I kept hearing the same message from God, over and over again. “God loves you so much!” I was getting a bit grumpy about it, to be honest. Where was my big direction for my life? What did God design me to do?
Finally this slow learner caught on. The single most important message that I can share with you is that God loves you. It is a simple message. And it is a very difficult message. God knew that I did not believe it completely. He saw me rushing around, working hard in the church to gain His love and acceptance. So the only message He kept sending me was that I am loved.
The reason we have a hard time believing this truth is this; we think that God’s love is like our love. Our love for one another can shift and change and grow and shrink. As much as we say that our love is unconditional, I’m not sure we can live it honestly. But His love IS unconditional. Completely without strings.
We cannot outrun it or escape it. God is delighted with His children. All of us. He sees the good, the bad and the ugly, and still He loves with abandon. Our actions simply do not affect His love toward us. If God could love us more on some days than on others, it would mean that His love is conditional and less than perfect. Are you willing to make that accusation of Him?
“I pray that you, being rooted and grounded in His love, may have power, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3: 17-19 NIV

Ephesians 3: 18 to 19 reminds us to seek to know the love of God, which is too much for us to understand. This passage is a call to get out of our minds. It is a challenge to those of us who tend to over-think and ultra-analyze our every waking moment. My desire to have everything understood and figured out can hold me back from grasping His love because it is simply too big for me to comprehend.
If we wait until we can understand God’s love, we will never be able to truly enjoy it and rest in it. God’s love for you is limitless, without boundaries or borders of any kind. Another Bible version says, “understanding the love of Christ which passes understanding.”

Sadly, many of us miss out on the fun of His love because we are using our heads to believe it. Remember the Ephesians passage? His love will not fit in our heads. It does not compute. It makes no sense. It is illogical. We are to seek to know the love of God because He wants us to know Him better. His love is who He is. There is no separation between God and the love of God, it is not a part of Him, it IS Him. God IS love.
So Dear Reader, the simple message you are here to gain today is just this…God loves you! He loves you completely and without reservation, today, at this moment. Thanks for allowing me to be the carrier of this important message today!
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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Brilliant and Not so Brilliant

She will WAIT until I say OK.

"Layla, you are so brilliant!" I beamed at her as she ran to her crate to get her favorite toy. She loves her very gross looking KONG TOY, the only dog toy she has not destroyed over the years. It has a small hole at the top and big hole at the bottom, and when I tell her to "get your toy!", she runs happily around the house searching for it because when she drops it at my feet I  stuff it with a treat to eat. 

So the other day she looked all over the kitchen and main living areas in a panic trying to locate the toy that I had asked her to bring to me. I then remembered that it was probably inside her crate in another room and so I said, "Is it in your crate?" not thinking she would get the connection at all. But she suddenly looked at me with a "Oh yeah!" expression and she ran off to her crate and promptly plunked the toy down in front of me! 

I was shocked and totally impressed! 

And then today...

I hear an awful choking sound and I wonder what in the world she has eaten now. I quickly followed the desperate sound and find this...

My "brilliant" Layla loves to chew up empty toilet paper rolls and I found her trying to reach the one at the bottom of this garbage can. It was too tall for her to stretch to the bottom and she was choking herself trying to get it. 

So brilliant. 

No moral of the story, just thought you might like an update on our Layla. Like the rest of us she has her smart days and her not-so-smart days. 

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Dirty Dishes Can Be a Treat

I never turn the last light out on a sink full of dishes. I always leave a clean kitchen when I go to bed at night. It's just me. What I do.

But last night I left my sinks full of dirty dishes, cups and silverware...on purpose. And I smiled as I did it. I could have done them, it wasn't late and I wasn't super tired, but I did it as a little treat to myself. A treat for the morning. 

I am one odd duck sometimes and this was one of those times I guess. I knew that in the morning I would really enjoy rinsing each bit of dish-ware and placing it in the dishwasher, because it would be a way of re-living the house full of family that created the mess the night before. A tangible way of extending the fun birthday party into another day. 

We celebrated Writer Son's 33rd birthday in our home last night and had 12 people here! I love a party. It wasn't wild and crazy or any grand event that anyone will be talking about in years to come. We didn't even play the games as planned because the two little toddler cousins provided enough silly entertainment to keep us all laughing all evening. But it was a sweet and comfy time together.

Decorated with childhood pics of the Birthday Boy
I was giddy in the days of prep as I walked around this lovely new home and smiled in anticipation of sharing it with the family we've been blessed to join when our son married their daughter five years ago. I am an outsider here. We've only lived in the same state as this new part of our family for a bit over a year and I am still finding my way. Still figuring out how to navigate this new uncharted territory. Where do I fit? What can I contribute? Who am I in this gathering of delightful people? I looked around my living room, with the couch full and others standing at the kitchen counter eating and talking, and I thought about how I want to know every single one of them better. Each is a new treasure and a new relationship.

Maybe I am in too much of a hurry to have strongly established friendships and bonds because I am the new one here. When we left California, we had to leave behind some beautiful and strong friendships. But they had taken years to build. Adding one conversation to another, one event to another and many shared tears of both laughter and pain. So I am in a hurry to feel that bond here. But it takes time...and patience.....and lots more parties! 

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

The WONDER of One

I've lived in this "foreign country" of Texas for a little over one year now and I am still learning about my new home as I go. I still have questions and wonder about a few things....for instance, mums....???

But the word WONDER is even more descriptive of the new little man in my life. My first grandson is now a one year old. I have the happy "job" of watching him at my house twice a week while his parents work and go to school. 

Sweet Grandson has only been exploring the world for a few months and his curiosity is boundless. It makes for some very entertaining days with him.

EVERYTHING IS NEW to him and so every little thing is interesting and intriguing. The other day he became entranced with the different textures he was feeling under his pudgy bare feet. He suddenly stopped and looked down as he walked from the tile floor to a woven rug. He smiled broadly and stepped back and forth over and over again, delighted at his new sensory discovery!


A few minutes later I found myself laughing at him again as he straddled the near by transition from tile floor to wood flooring.

It was as if he was on an exciting ride at a carnival! Sweet Grandson was wonder-struck! With one foot on the wood floor and one foot on cold tile he grinned up at me and giggled. He stepped from one to the other as if he were taking a mighty leap across a gorge.

WONDER is a beautiful thing. It leads to joy and gratitude in grown-ups...or maybe it works the other way around. Keeping our wonder alive is what will prevent the grumpiness that so many equate with old age. 

Sweet Grandson is waking up my WONDER. His constant desire to open every door, drawer and cupboard is MOST DEFINITELY keeping me on my toes anyway! I wonder why he never seems to run out of energy or curiosity...and then I wonder when he'll wake up from his nap because I am bored. :)

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

What a Crazy Good Year It's Been! | RJD

Grandpa and Grandson

It's Random Journal Day! A bunch of bloggers randomly open their old journals and use an entry to inspire a current blog post. But today I am not being random, I am drawn to a page from one year ago because we had a HUGE EVENT happen in our family! Our first grandchild arrived!! What an amazing and incredible year it has been! 

My journal holds a little letter I wrote to my grandson a few days before he was born. I read it to his parents yesterday at his FIRST BIRTHDAY and DEDICATION party. 

"September 30, 2014

Sweet Grandson,
You are still all comfy in your mommy today, but I am thinking of you and your soon arrival. Sweet Grandson, you are coming to a LOT OF LOVE! Lots of family and tons of friends have been praying for you and getting ready to welcome you into this amazing world.

Your Mommy and Daddy are so in love with you already. They are both wondering if they will be good enough parents for you. As smart and creative as they are, this is still all new territory for them. BUT I KNOW that their love for you is all the education they need to be the PERFECT PARENTS for you Sweet Grandson. 

Today I am asking God to surround you with warmth and safety as you prepare to make your big entrance. I know that God has created a wonderful masterpiece in you. He has designed  you perfectly and lovingly with great attributes, personality and adorableness! 

This world is going to BE A BETTER PLACE with you in it. Your humor, creativity and KIND STRENGTH will draw people to you."

On October 3, 2014 I was sitting in their living room writing in my journal while my grandson was entering the world in the next room. The journal page is abruptly interrupted in mid sentence and then filled in later with...."Sweet Grandson" is HERE!" What a crazy, scary and beautiful experience that was! 

AND NOW HE IS ONE and today we are getting ready to go to the Texas State Fair again! I am so thankful to be here enjoying my family and making big memories! 

At the Texas State Fair 2014
At Texas State Fair 2015

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Hawaiian Fantasies | Random Journal Day

Well known fact: Everyone looks better in Hawaii than they do in real life!

The space between my blog posts have gotten a bit too long lately, need to remedy that in the coming weeks. But thanks to the fun and surprising Blog Challenge called RANDOM JOURNAL DAY (even though it runs for a weekend) I am stubbornly dragged out of my laziness to at least post once a month. Thanks Dawn for keeping our brainchild going! For all the details about RJD go HERE  to see Dawn's great description.

Today I literally opened an old journal to a random page and ended up in tears of gratefulness as I read my own words. I had recently returned home from a miraculous trip to Hawaii to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. Trips to Hawaii are not what you'd call normal life for us. Wasn't then and isn't now but....well here's what I wrote and the prayer that it led to....


While in Hawaii I imagined coming again in 5 years for our 35th anniversary or in 10 years for our 40th and bringing with us "Writer Son, Rocker Son" and their wives! Not a normal kind of way for my mind to wander, but it is a good and healthy way to use my imagination I think. 

Writer Son is 25 and Rocker Son is 21. Either or both could easily be married in the next 5 to 10 years. It is not a far-fetched thought, even though it seems so at the moment. So I am now going to be a little proactive about this fantasy by picturing it and praying into it and begin to set my life and heart up to be ready for it.

My boys with wives. Father, I pray for those two young women right now and ask you to bless them with an OVERLOAD of your GOODNESS today. Protect their young hearts and bodies so that they will hear your clear voice when you cause their paths to cross the pathways of my sons.

Allow them the FREEDOM to be creative and the STRENGTH that comes from your JOY in them. Pour yourself into them even today. I ask that you mend the wounded parts in them and let them see WHO their real rescuer is. 

.....some more personal requests I am omitting....

I can see us 6 adults in the airport in line for tickets etc. My heart is full as I watch my men and their women. We'll get neighboring rooms overlooking an amazing Maui beach! Hubs and I will be laughed at by the young ones and we will laugh at them as they see whales for the first time and learn to snorkel or surf. 

We'll have yummy dinners out and walk through Lahaina and get silly t-shirts and stuff. Maybe the guys will buy special jewelry for their wives. We will separate for long walks or drives around Maui. 

God, I am asking for this, is it too much? It feels like too much, too extravagant. But maybe it is your idea more than mine. Maybe I am hearing your heart for our family. ??

Father, I also ask you to prepare our hearts to fully embrace our daughters-in-law. Let us pour our love and your love all over them. Give us wisdom about when to speak or not to speak, to push or shut up. Thank you for my sons. For their strength and goodness and desire for justice. For their humor and gentle way with one another's feelings and dignity. Thank you that they respect us and one another. For their love of music and movies. Thank you for their creativity and the the leadership gifts you have placed in both of them. Thank you that they both hate hypocrisy and will not settle for less than the best. Thank you for their generous hearts that often humble me. You are IN Writer Son and Rocker Son and I am grateful for all you will do in these men. Thank you for making me their mom."

Okay, getting teary-eyed again as I type this out. I believe that God does hear and honor these kinds of prayers. At least the parts about praying for my sons future wives. I know that He did answer those prayers for my first DIL and I will continue to pray for my second DIL who has not appeared just yet.

As far as a return visit to Hawaii is concerned; my mind has kinda changed on that. I loved Hawaii but if we were able to do a big trip like that together now, I'd rather it was more exotic, like Jamaica or something. Getting up my "high horse" now huh? I hope God reads this and knows that I've changed my fantasy destination.

To read the secret thoughts of other journal keepers go here. 
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Friday, August 7, 2015

Your Story Is Not Over, You Just Might Be in the Crappy Part

June 2010 our dream ministry job ended due to a restructuring of the church where we held staff positions. We stayed around for another year to help with the change because we had no idea what else to do, but it was a bad idea and our (paid) ministry life ended May 2011. My MIL passed away that April, followed quickly by my own mom’s passing one month later. Three months later my son was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. (Fully and thankfully recovered now!) That August we also began what would be 2 cycles of using Food Stamps, and I was assigned the kindest doctor I’ve ever had, at the same local Family Services Center where I used to volunteer time with a “coats for kids” program when I was a pastor’s wife. We depleted all of our savings account and came very close to losing our home.

Good things happened during those awful months too. Writer Son married Sassy Bride (Yes, she still is.) We were gifted surprising amounts of money from friends and our marriage blossomed in this difficult season of us against the world.

But mostly we were confused and miserable.

Recently I was asked if I’ve ever felt completely out of control in my life while calling it faith in God.

A journal entry from June 19, 2011 reads….

“Father, I am flunking this test (if that’s what it is) badly and painfully. I KNOW deep down that you love us and you have not forgotten us. But it is REALLY deep down and nearly hard to believe today.
We’ve lost both mothers and both of our jobs and many friendships this last year. I don’t feel you and I cannot help Hubs feel you.
We desperately need an encounter with you regarding our income and lack of jobs. It is getting scary around here!
What would you have us do Father? We need your direction and presence so much!

Yes, I felt completely out of control…because I was. (And this was written BEFORE Rocker Son's accident!) And no, I did not call it faith. Even the word “faith” mocked me.

A journal entry 10 days later….

Psalm 31 is very applicable right now. “Have mercy on us Lord, for we are in trouble….But our trust is in you.”
Can we trust and be afraid at the same time? Well, that’s where we are. No clue what the rescue will be, but still expecting it.”

Here on Recovering Church Lady I stumbled and bumbled my way through discussing what trust and faith really looked like in real life. It was not pretty or mighty or terribly inspirational. During that time my journal has huge gaps between dates. I got tired of asking God what was going on. My mind and heart were in a constant circle of doubt, then strength, then back to a downward spiral of confusion and depression.

It did not feel like faith.

It felt like failure with a capital “F”.

I tried giving God the silent treatment. But that is like an ant out on my front porch giving me the silent treatment. I wrote about it here. I stopped believing in a lot of stuff I used to believe…

..but I never stopped believing in God.

Can I take credit for that tiny sliver of faith? No, that belief was lodged SO DEEP inside me that it took no faith to access it at all. It was just there. Yes, God is real. Yes, He knows what is happening in my life. In some ways that made me even more confused and yes, angry.

You Guys, I look back now and I can see that God was there. I do not know why He chose to keep Himself a secret. But NOW I can see that He was listening, watching and maybe even shifting some things and events around that would bring us to where we are today.

Today we own a beautiful home and even though we still live paycheck to paycheck, we actually go out to dinner once in a while and we are trying very hard not to touch a new savings account. We live near our son, his wife and the most amazing grandson on the planet. Hubs has a fulltime job and I am contributing a teeny tiny bit by freelance writing from home!

As I finished that last sentence it felt like I should say “And God is good.” But He was good back there in the crappy time too. He was doing things behind the scenes that we may never know. He was whispering encouragement to one or the other of us at just the right moment to keep us sane. God was prompting people to give us money anonymously and others to let us know they were praying for us and dropping checks in our hands at the perfect second.

God is with you in your crappy season, friend. He may be playing hide & seek and it’s not a fun game right now, but He has not forgotten you and there will be another chapter to your story. It does not end here.  

Your story is not over. There will be a day when you are looking back at today and you will be telling the story from a shockingly happy ending. You cannot picture that right now. I know that place. But please know that God has not left you. God has not given up on you and turned away in exasperation. He has not decided to just let you fall out of his hands. “Oops, that one got away.”

Take a deep breath. Maybe breath out a whispered prayer that “all will be well.” Talk to Him even if He has hit the MUTE button and you can hear nothing. Don’t over analyze the WHYs of your situation. Instead look at the WHO. Remind yourself of WHO God has been for you in the past. Pull out your old journals and read aloud the stories of His provision and presence in your life. (Try really hard not to shake your head in doubt as you read.)

If you are in an awful season, feel free to let me know and I will join with you in prayer for the happy ending to arrive sooner rather than later.

Linking up with Random Journal Day. 
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Friday, July 31, 2015

Ignoring The Negative

My hands are full as I make my way out to the pool in my backyard. As usual I automatically say aloud, "Yikes, it's hot out here!" I don't know when the Texas heat is going to feel normal to me. Why does it continually shock me? 

I put my water, book and towel on the patio table and position my sun visor to protect my face, and in I go. Aaah, so delish Every. Single. Time. As I described for you back here. My muscles begin to relax already and I take deep breaths and smile big.

In my last post I stayed in the positive mode and did not tell you about another aspect of having my very own swimming pool. If I swim on a day when I am home alone and I am not hosting my kids and grandson or a friend, I get these guilty thoughts that bug me as I try to enjoy this blessing. 

The thoughts sound kinda like this..."Why are you wasting time like this? You do not deserve this pool. Your Hubs is working hard and here you are playing. You should be inside writing or cleaning or visiting orphans somewhere. You have forgotten something more important that needs to be done and here you are doing nothing......"

You get the drift right? 

These "...wait for the other shoe to drop." thoughts are as annoying as the wasps that also love my pool. Every single time I swim in mid-day they hover and land on the water and just dare me to swish them away so they will have an excuse to attack. So I try to ignore them. If giving them too much attention angers them, I will simply pretend they are not there. The thoughts AND the wasps. 

But very often, the wasps rob me of my relaxation and I stomp angrily back into the safety of my house. I mean who could close their eyes and truly relax while those little stingers hover above you? So, they often win.

I successfully ignored both the wasps and the "impending doom" thoughts the other day. I told myself that I had every right to be out here enjoying my yard and that the days of feeling guilty about EVERY LITTLE THING are over! I floated around and swam for only about 15 minutes, but it felt great and rejuvenated me to get back to work. 

I toweled off next to the patio table and gathered my things up to go back in the house. But I couldn't find my phone! I knew I had it when I came outside, where was it? 

Suddenly I KNEW. Because my hands were full when I came outside, I had slipped my phone into the front of my swimsuit. 

And I swam with my little phone inside my suit!

The moral of my story is that SOMETIMES those nagging little negative thoughts have a very real and important message for you and they should not be ignored. 
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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Oh That First SWOOSH Into The Water!

That initial swoosh as I glide into the water. It gets me every time. My emotions well up and I quietly breath a thank you to God once again. Sometimes it is not so quiet and I say it loud and clear, "Oh my God, thank you!!" 

The gentle saltwater in my backyard swimming pool is my happy place. I move from one end to the other and find myself overwhelmed. Often that prayer shows itself as a deeply contented sigh as my hand touches the opposite end of the pretty pool. The sound of the waterfall as the water overflows the hot-tub and joins the pool combined with the cicadas, frogs, crickets and birds behind our home make it a gently noisy place. The kind of noise that can be a lullaby. 

My body relaxes. The muscles release their tightness and I am weightless for a time. What could be better when weightiness has become a distressing issue? I move from end to end over and over again until my heart is pounding, and then I go a few more times. Now it's time to float and look at the clouds or the stars above. 

Floating on my back, I marvel that I am not in a hotel pool worrying about who might be watching. I am in my own yard, in my own pool. This is surreal and delicious, still. My eyes scan the stone steps and the comfy lounge chair waiting for me. I watch the cascade of water and savor the music it makes dancing over rocks from hot tub to pool. 

And the best? The sweetest part? When Hubs calls later during his break at work, he will ask, "Did you swim?" I know that he will let out a contented sigh when he hears me answer yes. There is no jealousy or recriminations. On the contrary, he is happier when he knows I am enjoying our pool. Crazy huh? 

My happiness is his happiness. It has taken me a while to believe this. I used to greet him with my list of productive jobs I'd accomplished at home while he was at work. He'd shake his head and ask if I swam. I got the biggest smile on my swim days. 

This love. 

Thank you God for my husband and this kind of love. It is humbling and wonderful. I am thankful that you love me like this too. My delights delight you. My joys, big or small, bring you joy too. My tears hurt you, my fears bring out your compassion and gentle comfort. Thank you for seeing the best in me and for me. Thank you for loving me the way you do.

Last night as I slid through the water from one end to the other, I imagined myself swimming in your vast love and I suddenly remembered a picture you showed me once, years ago. I saw myself standing just ankle deep in the ocean waves and you invited me to come farther out, further into the water. I moved in deeper until the water was at my waist and you smiled and said, "But your feet are still touching the bottom, c'mon, come deeper until I sweep you off your feet. Will you trust me to do that? Will you let me overwhelm you with my love?" 

This love. Yes Father, yes I will. 

Linked up with Reflect LinkUp
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Monday, July 6, 2015

The Time Some Puppets Helped Me Raise My Kids - RJD

Being raised in church gives you these creepy little friends. :) 

It is RANDOM JOURNAL WEEKEND! That odd and slightly quirky bloggers challenge when you get to open up an old journal and share bits of it or just use it as a writing prompt for a new blog post. This morning I was in the mood to write about my kids because watching my 9 month old grandson has somehow stirred up all those mooshy squishy overwhelming love feelies in me. 

But I decided not to open the journals that I had created especially for my thoughts about each of them because they are grown men now and do not need to see that on a blog post in their FB feeds. SO I opened a different, more random journal, to a random page and what do you know....There was a story about Writer Son just begging to be told! 

Sorry kids, it is fate....And from what you guys put on FB, neither of you know how to be embarrassed anyway!  

I am going to include the entire journal entry because it appears that I had some really pretty great mommy skills on this particular day....It comes and goes and you got to celebrate the winning days! 

Writer Son/Ben was 9 years old.

"After a couple of days of putting up with sassy talk and a really negative attitude from Ben, I finally asked him what was going on. He mumbled "nothing." I left him alone about it.

Next day the behavior continued and it had to be confronted. I said, "I know that this mean, rude boy is not my Ben. My Ben is sweet and kind and loves Jesus. What is going on inside you?"

At first he said, "Nothing, what are you talking about?" So I just sat there in silence, asking God to help me know what to do.

I said, "Do you like yourself like this?" His eyes filled with tears and he shook his head "No."

"Why are being mean to your family? Is it to be cool?" 

Through tears he said, "I don't know how to stop, I can't help it."

I prayed for him and he prayed that God would help him be better. I reminded him that he cannot be good on his own. That I cannot be good on my own. We need God to be good in us. Any other way fails. 

Here's the great part, you guys...

The next morning when I got up to wake him, I found him dressed, washed, bed made, sitting in the living room reading a Narnia book. He was so proud of himself. I told him I was so pleased and proud that he did all of that without me nagging or pushing him. And what a blessing he was to me.

He said, "It's just like when Solomon only prayed for wisdom, and then he got fame and money and lots of stuff. You only prayed that the old Ben would come back and now I'm even better!"


SO the moral of the story is that when you are raised in church and Sunday School, you not only get to be friends with a bunch of felt people that all seem to talk with very high voices, you also acquire some amazing life lessons that help you grow up into a wonderful human being. 

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Limping Butterfly

Apparently the Red Wasps may think this is a hornets nest
and decide to build elsewhere. (It's a paper bag I put up there.)
We'll see. Ugly & I don't care.

Ok y'all, yes I said "Y'all", I went to bed last night feeling guilty for posting so many negative status updates on Facebook about Texas since our move. Of course, I have also been pretty upbeat because I love my new house and am still in love with my swimming pool. My FB updates have not been with a negative attitude, they were mostly to be funny as I navigate this new world I am finding myself in. 


But quite honestly, between confusing & aggressive freeways, Red Wasps, Fire Ants, snakes, floods  and tornado warnings, there has been a bountiful supply of things to grumble about as a transplant from California. 

So this morning I was determined to wax poetic about our magical and mystical Fireflies which I adore. We get to watch them from our back porch and I jump with happiness and excitement every time I see that sweet little flicker of light in the darkness around our trees. You almost wonder if you imagined it...and then, there it is again! 

But my poetic waxing was once again interrupted by frantic barking from Layla. This time she found a snake only 3 feet from me and my bare feet on the porch. Thankfully it was on the other side of the screen and trying to get to a large hole in the screen and onto MY area. After her last bad encounter Layla only barked at it, she knew not to get too close. Curt got rid of it for us and everyone is fine. 

Fire Ants in my pool.

No, we are not fine at all though. I am not fine. I went inside and found an email from my neighbor saying that a neighbor two doors down from me killed a 5 foot venomous Water Moccasin last week! You guys! I have battled fear all of my life...and I thought that I had won some pretty big fear battles. But here I am again. Hello God, what's the deal? Seriously. 

One problem with having a specific fear is that you cannot win. If I am afraid of driving on the chaotic 6 lane freeway or I'm afraid of stepping on a snake, I have to alter my life so those things cannot happen. If I try to prove that the bad thing could happen, the ONLY way to prove it is for it TO HAPPEN. See? If I successfully navigate the freeway system and do not cause a crash, then I am proving that the fear was silly and wrong. But if I die on the freeway I will prove that the fear was JUSTIFIED. See? Cannot win. It's a no win-no win all the way around. 

People, these are not the streets around my home, these are all Freeways!!!
I'm in the middle of what the news calls "The Mixmaster"!!

Now I know that these are all very TINY problems in the world wide view. How dare this woman complain about a snake in her yard when so much that is so horrible is happening out there in the world. But fear is fear. It freezes us up and shrinks our world. My world is shrinking due to my fear of these crazy freeways. 

I do not want to live like this. Sheesh you guys, I am writing a book about how much God loves us and how He showed me how to escape my rigid cocoon and find my wings! I am not seeing that bold butterfly today. Today the butterfly is cowering in her living room afraid of her own back porch! 

I'd planned to wax poetic about the fireflies for you. It seemed wrong to use my blog to complain, it is supposed to be a place of encouragement and an example of ....something, I don't know...something good and strong and full of faith right? 

But when I write, the truth comes out. In one way or another. I can smile at you in person and tell you all is well. But when I write...I am truthful. Even when it's ugly and confused and wondering how in the world am I going to end this post. 

I will end it with this sweet Baboo peering at you from over my shoulder. I want this little grandson of mine to know his grandma as a brave and kind woman. I want to conquer these silly fears so that I do not become an old odd recluse who is afraid to come outside her door. He is worth it. We moved here for two reasons, economy and family. This little guy will make me brave enough to get on the road...some day. 

For today, I am the limping butterfly. 


For all my friends and family that have never ventured to Dallas, Daalis, or Dallus, here is an aerial view of one of...
Posted by Rebecca Gray on Wednesday, May 21, 2014
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Friday, June 5, 2015

One Year Ago | Random Journal Day

One year ago this month my journal was generously peppered with exclamation points!!! We were living in a tiny town in California in a house we'd been in for nearly 20 years. I loved our home there. We had made it warm and cozy, if you avoided certain spots. 

Packing boxes surrounded us last June. The moving van was due to arrive on June 25th to take away all of our belongings and store it until we found a new place to live in Texas near our son and his wife. In the meantime we would be staying with them. 

So when we had scheduled the moving van we did not know how long we might be living out of suitcases at our kid's house. Our plan was that if it took longer than one month to find a home we loved, we would move into a temporary rental while house-hunting. We knew we were leaving but not sure how long we would be "homeless." 

Of course I had been house-hunting online for many months, trying to figure out what we wanted and what areas looked good. I stumbled across this house and asked our Texas realtor, our DIL's sister, to look into it. Sadly she reported back that it was in process with some solid buyers already. And then, came her email that the deal fell through and it was available again! We made an offer that was accepted and TADA! We bought a house almost 2,000 miles away, sight-unseen, other than a short walk-through video the kids did for us. !!!

The movers came on the 25th and we left California on the 26th with our suitcases and our dog and took a fun 3 day road trip through areas I had never seen. Loved it! We arrived at our son and DIL's home on June 29th, happy and excited to see where this adventure would take us. FINALLY, as you can see in the above journal entry, on July 3rd we walked through our new home for the first time. The previous owners were still there and not packed at all, so it was awkward and odd...but oh so sweet. 

I remember standing at the bedroom window and when my eyes took in the gorgeous swimming pool in the backyard, they filled with tears and my hand shot up to my mouth in wonder. 

We moved into our new home on July 19th and the movers arrived on July 20th. Perfect! 

This last photo is my journal entry after living here for 6 weeks and I can say that today after being here for almost a whole year I would still say the exact same things. We are still delighted and blessed and thankful for this lovely home and yard and neighborhood. In fact, we keep finding more reasons to know that God was part of this move in ways we had no clue about. He SO protected us from a huge mess. We never checked out the neighborhood or flood levels or much of anything. Our kids were not familiar with this town 30 minutes away from them. We explore it now and just love it more and more. In the recent record breaking storms there have been many areas damaged by flash floods, but not our corner of this city. Even though there is a creek right behind our home!

As I skim through my journal of that season, the !!! stand out to me of course, but I am once again overwhelmed at the goodness of God. I will say it again, we did not FEEL Him at all. We felt alone, empty and lost. We had no idea what to do next and we saw this move as a default maneuver at best. When you feel like you have no clear direction from above, you just wing it and hope for the best. THAT was our big "mission statement". OK here goes nothing...I recall Hubs telling someone that this was either the smartest thing we've ever done or the dumbest. Had no clue which.

I hope that this story can be an encouragement to you if you are in that lost and confused season, as we were. God is close. He is beside you, behind you and above you. He might be moving obstacles out of your way or putting some in your way as you stumble around trying to find your path. God knows you. I do not know why He stays quiet sometimes. I just don't. Drives me crazy and makes decision making a difficult task. But know that He knows. Know that He cares. Know that He loves.

+ Connecting up with Random Journal Day! Click on over HERE and read the scribbles of other journal keepers, and add your own! it's easy! 

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I Don't Know What I Think Until I Read What I Write
I am participating in the Writing Contest: "How Writing Has Positively Influenced My Life." Hosted by Positive Writer. The following is my contest entry...

The question posed by this writing contest is a difficult one to answer because I cannot picture my life...or myself, without the writing element included. The written word has been my best friend for as long as I can remember. As a child I was sometimes embarrassed to admit that my favorite hobby was reading. Everyone else loved sports or crafts, hiking or dancing. I loved a good book. 

Many bibliophiles grow into writers, and my love for writing grew up with me. Beginning with one diary after another, my scribbles recorded everything from what I got for my birthday to which fifth grade boy looked at me that day. In later years when I learned that I was expecting my first baby, my first purchase was a brand new journal to record the wonderful and scary adventure I was about to have. Today my overflowing shelf of  overflowing journals is the perfect resource for the nonfiction book I am working on. 

"How has writing influenced my life?" I believe that writing has helped me find my authentic self. I know that the word "authentic" has recently become heavily over used, but it is the only correct word at hand to answer this question. I will try to explain what I mean by "authentic".

I do not really know what I think until I read what I write. On my journal pages I may begin an entry with complaining and grumbling about situations or people in my life. Then I sit there and read it over...and the ugly negativity jumps out at me and I am embarrassed at myself. Seeing my whiny self-indulgent words in black and white on the page do more to reveal myself to myself than any full-size mirror could ever do. 

Very often the journal entry will then move from spoiled entitlement to thankfulness for the life I get to enjoy. There is something stark and revealing about the written word. Even if you are both the writer and the reader of those words. 

So writing has revealed my authentic self to me. Writing has influenced me to become a better person, a more grateful and giving person. Writing has helped me to be a more honest person...with myself and with those around me. Blogging has been a place to be real in front of strangers. The beauty of writing is that it has moved my readers from being strangers to being friends. 

How utterly amazing is that?  Simply tapping on a keyboard has the power to transform perfect strangers into true friends. Writing has no geographical distance barriers. My written words reach all over the world in nano-seconds. I have faithful blog readers from coast to coast of the USA and from India, Malaysia, Africa, and Brazil according to my statistics this morning alone. I even have a couple of very close friends whom I have never even met in person!

Writing reveals me to me. I will type out an opinion about some current event, and then immediately hit the backspace or delete button as I realize that the words are not mine. They were simply parroting what I have read or heard from someone else. Writing forces me to find my own voice and my own view. Writing shows me what I feel and think. I am more real when I write than I am in person. Now there's a scary and weird thought, right? I am not as nervous when I am writing as I am when I am talking. Maybe if my talking voice had a handy delete button it would be much more confident and authentic. 

When I read what I write, I know what I think. So as I read this blog post over, I can now proudly say without any embarrassment at all, that writing is not only my hobby, but it is my  passion! 
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