Thursday, June 13, 2019

Keeping your eyes on the goal

All my life,
I have heard that the way to accomplish anything
is to set a goal
and keep your eyes on it
as you work toward it.

Am I alone in this?
That feels overwhelming to me!
Goals often seem so distant,
and in the hard times,
impossible to reach!

In the days of computerless
tractors and plows,
I have heard it said that
farmers picked a spot in the distance
and walked/drove toward it,
never taking their eyes off of it,
in order to plow the first furrow straight.
They were then able to follow
that first, straight furrow
for a perfect field.
For that initial row,
they kept their eyes on the goal.
But only for that first furrow.
After that,
they kept their eyes on the path they had created.
Had they continued to stare relentlessly
at the goal,
the field would have been unsymetrical indeed!

I have been a slacker over the winter.
And now I am having to work very hard
at getting back in shape
rather than the much easier maintenance
of already being in shape.

I do a run/walk each day.
As I go, I pick markers.
I begin running at this tree
and I slow to a walk at that one.
I run again at that bench,
and walk at the gazebo in the distance.
I have discovered something.
I have a much more difficult time,
become much more winded,
if I watch the marker in the distance
as I run.
I also discovered I am much more likely
to trip and fall.
And much less likely
to reach the goal at a run.

If, however,
I watch the ground at my feet,
with occasional glances up
at the goal in front of me,
I am surprised at how quickly I reach it,
am less winded when I get there,
and am often able to continue running
beyond the goal.
I have also discovered that
my initial distance or speed goals
for the day,
can be exceeded when
I keep my mind on the goal
and my eyes on the path.

I have particularly heard
"eyes on the goal"
in regards to my Christian walk.
"Keep your eyes on Heaven!"
And very often Philippians 3:14 was quoted:

I run toward the goal,
so I can win the prize of being called to heaven.
This is the prize God offers 
because of what Christ Jesus has done.

So I have spent my life running toward Heaven.

Can I be honest here?
When I was 14
and 21
and 30
and 40,
Heaven seemed very, very far away.
I would look toward that goal
as I had been taught,
and very often could not see it at all.
It made it very difficult to run toward it!
At 55 when I found myself alone in my race,
and my beloved had reached the goal,
it seemed simultaneously nearer
and desperately, endlessly far away.

Today, at 62,
it still seems distant,
but is, at last,
becoming more and more attainable
to my mind's eye.

As I ran this week,
I began to think about Philippians 3:14.
I began to wonder if we are chasing the wrong thing!
So I began to research this passage.

(My Lanny Love has ruined me! 
I no longer take "others" words as "gospel",
no longer look only at the surface of Scripture.
He has taught me that even when I am not "teaching"
I need to delve deeply into the Scripture
to find what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me.
"Devotions" and "Bible study" are not the same thing!)

What I discovered is this.
Many translations,
especially word for word translations,
rather than thought for thought translations,
and most commentaries,
feel that the correct interpretation of that Scripture
is not with Heaven as the goal.
More accurately,
we should chase Christ that He would lead us to Heaven
through His death and resurrection.

So then, my goal is not the tree in the distance,
my goal is fitness, health, and long life.
The tree is just a marker,
one more easily reached if I am not staring into the distance.
Just the same, Heaven is not the goal in the distance,
the prize toward which we strain.
Christ is the goal.
And He is right there!

Heaven is just a marker that we have reached the goal -

Christ Jesus!

Image result for chasing after jesus

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Under the shadow of His wings....

Yesterday, Lanny and I were out for a run
when we passed by a bird.
She was dead,
but was strangely positioned.
It was obvious she hadn't
fallen from the sky,
nor had she been killed by a preditor.
She was sitting
with her wings spread.
As we ran,
I couldn't get the picture of her
out of my mind.

I began to wonder
what brought her to death
in that particular position.
And an answer began to form in my mind.
I had to know!

So, on the way back,
I stopped by her body
and snapped a picture,
then moved her just a bit,
and sure enough,
underneath her,
was the body of a baby bird.

Like much of the country,
we have had a lot of storms recently,
including high winds, rain, and hail.
As I ran on,
I put together a likely scenario.
The wind blew her baby out of the nest
located in the tree above where she and her baby lay.
She, unable to get her little one back to the nest,
settled over it, wings spread, to protect it from the storm.
The little mother,
gave her life for her baby.

It made me think of our Savior.
While this little bird gave her life in vain,
He did not!
Just like she did,
He knew we were endangered,
and gave His life for our salvation!
Not only that,
He continues to shelter us from the storms of life!

Isn't that just the most amazing thing!

"He will cover you with His feathers.
He will shelter you with His wings.
His faithful promises
Are your armor and protection."
                       ~~ Psalm 91:4 ~~

 

Monday, April 15, 2019

A blog walk

Image result for god is always there in good times and badI have been reading my blog the last several days.
I was looking for a specific post.
It's not here.
I must have either posted it
during my Caring Bridge days
or journaled it rather than blogging it.
At any rate, I didn't find it
and after several days of searching,
I am done.

However, over the last several days
I have reread every blog entry,
including drafts that were never posted.
Every. Single. One.
What a journey!

I started this blog about a year into my widowhood.
I had blogged on Caring Bridge
since the week of his diagnosis,
and continued to blog there after his death,
but my life was changing
and I began to want to blog about life and living
not just death and grief.
And so,
just over five years ago,
I created this blog.

As I have read through those days
of my early decision that,
despite the grief,
I wanted to live
not merely exist,
to learning to love again
to navigating a broken heart
to breaking a heart,
through dating
and remarriage,
and the changes and conflicting emotions
that brought,
I am amazed.
And Humbled.
What a metamorphosis!

How naive I was in those days.
Do you suppose I will look back
in five more years and think the same thing?
Very possibly.
Even likely.
I have seen some holes.
Periods of time where I didn't blog.
And I have remembered
what was happening in my life during those holes.
I have seen personal growth.
Seen patterns I hadn't noticed before.
I've seen some areas where I have failed,
areas that need continued improvement.
I have seen spiritual growth,
and faltering.

But most of all,
I have seen the Hand of God!
Ever present.
Ever kind.
Ever loving.
Ever compassionate.
Ever forgiving.
God.

In the midst of the deepest grief I have ever known.
In the midst of the greatest confusion I have ever experienced.
In the midst of the doubt.
The fear.
The lack of trust.
The lost hope.
The sadness.
God.

Author of renewed hope.
Author of growth.
Author of healing.
Author of love.
God.

Blessed be the Name of The Lord!



Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Loving Like God


My Lanny Love is on a highly restricted diet.
Like a good wife,
I have joined him.
He is feeling better
and losing weight
he most definitely does not need to lose.
I am feeling worse
and gaining weight
I most definitely do not need to gain!
I am also finding myself to be
increasingly weepy and moody.

Now, as I am a middle-aged woman,
you might have guessed that
I am at "that age"
where horomone producing organs
(and we're talking all of them here,
not just the reproductive organs)
stop doing their jobs.
Add to that the fact that
I had a total hysterectomy
a number of years ago
and you get weepy and moody.
And hot flashes.
LOTS of hot flashes.
Turns out his diet,
which cuts out many foods
with naturally occurring estrogen,
is not good for me.

Recently,
on day two of what had been
a weepy few days,
I did what turned out to be
a greatly unappreciated nice thing
and I got my little feeling hurt.
Which did not help my weepies!

Exactly what happened isn't important.
What is important is
that this is a long-term relationship
that has always been difficult
but which is very important to me.
One that I have prayed over
and worked at
for many years.

For the rest of the day,
I cried off and on.
I cried in  frustration...
                              disappointment...
                                                     grief...
                                                           anger...
                                                                   love...
I waffled back and forth between
"I'm done!"
and
"How can I fix this?"
Today I know only two things.
I'm not done.
I can't fix this. 

I've thought about my tears of the day.
All the emotions.
Only one is permanent.
I love this person!
I have for nearly 25 years.
In the good and the bad.
That is the consistency in our relationship.
I love this person like my child.
Like I love my daughters.
No matter what...
...Like God loves me.
In the good and the bad.
Like His child.
No matter what.
He has never given up on me!
Even when I have been
difficult...
unyielding...
ungrateful...
Even when I have been unlovable,
He has loved me.

We talk a lot as Christians
about loving as God loves.
And in the same breath
we talk about not taking "'crap' off anybody".
We talk about being offended.
We talk about our rights.
These are incongruous
with the love of God.

I confess,
I find this issue somewhat confusing.
Modern psychology says,
"Don't let others abuse you!"
And, as someone who has come
from an abusive childhood
and found it necessary to,
for a time,
cut ties with a close family member
and to limit contact when we reconnected
in order to prevent further abuse to myself and my children,
to that person with that life experience,
this philosophy makes perfect sense.

But then I read The Beatitudes
and the Sermon on the Mount
(Matthew 5)
"Blessed are the Merciful"
"Blessed are the Peacemakers"
"Blessed are the persecuted"
"Blessed are you when people insult you,
persecute you and falsely say all kinds
of evil against you because of me."

Aha!
My "out"!
But then...
"Because of me..."
This isn't "suffering for Jesus"
this is just suffering!
I read on.

"You have heard that the law of Moses says,
'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'
But I say, love your enemies!
Pray for those who persecute you!
In that way, you will be acting as true children
of your Father in Heaven.
For He gives His sunlight
to both the evil and the good,
and He sends rain on the just
and on the unjust, too.
If you love only those who love you,
what good is that?
Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.
If you are kind only to your friends,
how are you different from anyone else?
Even pagans do that.
But you are to be perfect,
even as your Father in Heaven is perfect."

And I realize that continuing
Image result for love as God lovesrather than being "done"
IS, after all, "suffering for Jesus".
And, as God loves me
in my many imperfections,
so do I love this individual in theirs!

What I must decide is this.
Where does my acceptance of
"who they are"
become enabling this person
to be less than God wants them to be?
And where does "drawing the line"
become self-serving?

May God's Spirit
grant me wisdom and discernment,
mercy and grace,
and an abundance of His Love!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Poppycock!!!

This is a bit of a rant!

I hear it a lot.
About all kinds of days.
I hear it about birthdays.
I hear it about anniversaries.
I heard it again last night.
"Oh we don't celebrate Valentine's Day.
He loves me well every day of the year."
I say poppycock!!!

Don't get me wrong!
We should love well
every single day!
But every once in a while
we should go above and beyond.
We should make our husbands or wives
feel extra special,
extra appreciated.
And our culture has provided us
with a few "public" days to do that.

Can I tell you a secret?
Except I don't think it's really a secret.
I think everyone -
men and women alike -
know this without being told.
But we don't say it out loud,
we just feel it in our hearts.
Women - and men I think - who say what my friend said last night...
don't mean it!
They really wish their spouses
would make them feel extra special
on those extra special days.
And really, they're embarrassed -
and hurt -
that their spouses don't care enough
to go to the extra effort
just a few days out of the year
to make them feel extra cherished.
Because that's how it feels.

Can I tell you something else?
Those of us whose spouses
go to that extra effort
feel a bit sorry for them.
And no one wants their friends
to pity them.
Especially because of their spouse.

Men, it doesn't take a lot!
It just takes remembering,
a little extra doing or saying -
"I'm glad you're my Valentine!"
"I'm glad you were born!"
"I'm so glad you chose me to be yours!"
Maybe dinner out.
Maybe a card.
Maybe write a corny poem.
Take her in your arms and slow dance -
even for just a minute..
These little things
make us feel wonderful,
even giddy.
And they make us feel very, very loved
and very, very special.
Just a little effort goes a long way!

And a bit of not doing or saying.  
Never, ever, ever say things like -
"This is a stupid day!"
"Just another day for retailers to soak me!"
"I love you every day, I shouldn't need to remind you."

And ladies, don't you get sloppy either!
He may say it's silly, unnecessary
but really, he wants you to
make him feel special too!
Bake him a birthday cake!
Make a romantic, candle lit dinner.
Fix your hair that way he especially likes it.
Tell him how very much you appreciate him
and all he does for you!
Make him feel respected, admired, needed!
It makes him feel very fortunate to have you!
Just a little effort goes a long way!

So, get on the stick!
And have a happy Valentine's Day!




Monday, January 28, 2019

Year of Jubilee

To be sure,
I am loosely translating this
to my life!
The Year of Jubilee
in the Jewish faith and tradition,
(Our LORD was Jewish
and while many of the customs of the Jewish faith
are null and void
with the death and resurrection
of our Saviour,
we can still learn and profit
from them!) 
the Year of Jubilee
is a year of restoration, forgiveness, and freedom.
Technically,
the Year of Jubilee occurred on the year following
the lapse of the seventh Sabbath of years.
So the Year of Jubilee is the 50th year. 
However, many consider it to occur
every seventh year.

In the United States
every seventh year,
bad credit falls off your report.
Many crimes have a seven year
statute of limitations.

In Jewish tradition,
the Year of Jubilee
meant the forgiveness of debt,
return of property,
freedom for slaves. 

Think about that for just a second!
Life changing freedom!
From that point forward,
no more slavery to the past.
Nothing will be as it was!
Never the same again!

This evening,
I will enter into the seventh year.
Today is the sixth anniversary.
At 4:59 p.m.,
I will begin the seventh year without my Al.

Yesterday morning,
while laying in bed,
talking to the LORD,
I was very suddenly impressed that
I was entering my Year of Jubilee! 
As I considered what that might mean,
I began to think about my grief journey.

The days when the pain of loss was physical,
when I thought I might literally be dying.
The days when I couldn't move,
couldn't think,
couldn't eat.
The confusion.
The tears.

Then came the days of desperation.
Anything to make it stop.
The frenzy of activity.
Running away from home.
Dating too soon.
Laughing too loud.
Forcing myself to move forward.

Then the days of stillness,
waiting on the LORD.
The quiet.
The solitude.
Choosing joy over happiness.
Moving at God's pace,
not mine,
not Al's.
Softening grief.
Beginning to see beauty again.
Genuine laughter.

Then my Lanny Love.
Restoration.
Happiness.
Love.
The return of the music.
And a different kind of sorrow.

The fifth year,
the one leading up to the fifth anniversary,
when the grief unexpectedly
consumed me again,
threatened my happiness,
hovered over everything
like a dark shadow.

Always,
over it all,
the constant knowledge.

He is gone!

Then last year,
the sixth one.
Softening once again.
The assurance that it was not just
okay
for me to be happy,
it was right under God!
The lessening,
then cessation,
of daily, actively missing him,
missing his presence.
The lessening,
and just recently,
the cessation
of feeling guilty for loving my Lanny Love,
for being happy -
not just happy,
but happily, joyously, lovingly married happy -
the end of jealousy on his behalf.
The end of the constant shadow,
the constant awareness that
he is gone.

Then yesterday morning,
the LORD's whisper -
"Your Year of Jubilee is about to begin!" 

Today,
as I remember Al
on this sixth anniversary 
of his Homegoing,
I think of a phrase about Heaven
that someone mentioned recently,

"We are homesick for a place we have never been" 

and I rejoice that Al is not homesick,
he is Home! 
Today,
on this sixth anniversary,
I feel a lightness,
a happiness,
a freedom
that I have not experienced before,
and,
as I have suspected for for a little while,
I believe I am no longer grieving.

Love has not ended.
I love him still!
There are those days when he should be here
and I miss him.
There are those moments I remember a specific thing
and I miss him.
But the constant awareness,
the sorrow,
the grief,
that has left me.

Now I remember and smile.
In gratitude that he was mine for those years.
In love.

My Year of Jubilee.
Freedom from slavery to grief.
Nothing will every be the same again. 
Thank You, LORD!

Image result for year of jubilee


 
 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

What is this?

I have been quiet.
For some time I have been pondering
what I want from my blog.
Is it simply a way to process my life,
a public journal?
It is definitely that.
Is it a way to express myself creatively,
something I crave?
Yes.
Is it a forum for widows,
remarried or not,
and how life is different now than then,
a way to encourage,
help them know they are not alone
in what they feel and experience?
Uh-huh.
Is it a place to celebrate
my happiness,
bemoan my irritations?
To a degree.
Is it a place to brag on
my "practically-perfect-in-every-way"
husband, children, and grandchildren?
Any forum is appropriate for that!
Is it a potential way to
make some money?
Possibly. 
Is it a way of witnessing
to the faithfulness and grace
of a loving God, a merciful Saviour?
Absolutely.
What is it ultimately?
I think I want it to be all of those things.

But, you see,
in order to be any of those things
it - no, I -
must must take risk,
be completely open.
Vulnerable in a way that,
frankly,
makes me quite uncomfortable.

I must be willing to say in public
those unspeakable things
I think in private.
I must be willing to share
my emotions and feelings
regardless of what "they" will think,
those things which are unshareable.
Otherwise, this is just another social page.
And that I know
I do not want!

It is something I feel
spiritually compelled to do,
this risky, open, vulnerability.
So, here I go.
Vulnerable.
Open.
Risking.
Hang on for the ride!