Playing with purpose

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.


Thankful for Elders

Often today I have remembered words spoken by my paternal grandmother. It was my grandmother who gave me two abiding principles for living.

She said; “be careful of how you entertain strangers, for some have entertained angels unawares.” She also told me; “never lie or a cheat your family. Always make sure and go beyond the call when dealing with family. If you must defraud anyone, do it to a stranger. But then you already know what GOD said about mistreating strangers!”

I thought about her today because when thinking of my immediate family, or what family means today; I am reminded that what she advised was living that is ordered by the Word of GOD. (Hebrews 13: verse 2. And 1 Timothy 5: verses 1-8.)

In a day where being family means you are often regulated to the position of an ATM machine. Perpetually doomed to prove your love by providing financial and emotional support for those who have a false idea of love, fidelity, loyalty, and dependability. Children raised that never grow beyond the prodigal son mentality. “Give me my inheritance now!” “Never lie or cheat your family. Always make sure and go beyond the call when dealing with family.”

In a society with a perpetual disconnect from the true brotherhood of humanity. How you are treated, talked to, even avoided is your problem. Invisible lines are drawn in the sand. “Come this far and no farther!” Striving for unreasonable and unattainable markers to decide if someone is worthy of kindness. “Be careful of how you entertain strangers, for some have entertained angels unawares.”

Treat others as you would want to be treated. React towards others as you would want to be reacted to. (Luke 6:31 and Luke 6:32-42.) Thank you, Lord, for my grandmother. What a timely word!


Thankful for New Growth

“My hope is built on nothing less
But JESUS’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on JESUS’ name
On CHRIST the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand.” (Edward Mote 1834.)

This stanza started out as a personal assurance when considering the sense of failure that permeates all human interactions. A way of easing the grief and disappointment when relating to others. And most assuredly in my interactions with myself. It was a song that helped me move from the brick walls that stood before me and pit holes that mined my footfall.

The great thing about walking with the Lord is the consistent pursuit of knowledge. You learn even when you don’t want to learn. So, many songs have a new revelation for me, and the Word of GOD continues to be a fresh presentation. Even though I am sure I have read those words before; as I learn, as I grow, the words are lively within me. Never betraying my new awareness nor preempting the old understanding. Always leaving me with a sense of the More that is to come. I don’t strain for levels in GOD anymore. I am content to realize that I will never stop learning and growing. If I so, choose.

Now, songs like, “On CHRIST the solid rock I stand,” hold a deeper meaning. When I sing that hymn, I am warm with charity. Now, it means that you are not responsible for my journey.

When I am willing to step back from my “go-to” response; my human reactions, then I can realign my dependency upon the Lord. Right where it should always be.

But you should know. There is the chance I may ‘ka-pow’ you if the situation calls for physical defense, and there is always the danger that you might attack when my own prayer life is out of kilter. But the reliability of the SPIRIT of GOD will not allow me to continue in an abusive way. It brings me back to the place of respect for all GOD’s children. It reminds me of how to properly fight. How to smack people in the manner they are not quick to recover from. It reminds me that vengeance belongs to GOD. So, I am getting good at ‘telling’ on you or the situation.

Translated. People and circumstances can’t abort a hope that was never placed in them. So, on CHRIST the solid rock I stand, I won’t worry GOD’s got it in His hand. GOD’s got it all in His hand.


Thankful for Burning Egg Carton Days

I knew by 7:30 am it was going to be one of those days. I had awakened briefly about 2 am. I made quick work of the situation and then rushed back to my bed. Feeling especially efficient I decided to prepare my daily ration of medications instead of waiting until I awoke.

When I awoke later I realized I had taken the medicine normally taken at 8 am; at the conclusion of my 2 am meandering. What a glorious beginning to my Friday. I decided to go back to sleep.

Mr. D. was coming to visit today and so I begin to make myself presentable. But I just needed to finish this one row on the mittens I was crocheting. Then just one more. And one more after that one.

“I’m here Auntie,” D’s text read. I was yet sitting in a half skirt and raggedy white sweater on the side of my bed. I begin giggling. I could only imagine all the older woman stereotypes I was fulfilling. Braids drooping unorganized about my head. With generous white hair streaks adorning my braids. And a great big pink roller holding my bangs in place.

Like the industrial and old school gentleman that he is, D marshaled into the house all the groceries he had retrieved from King Soopers for me. He had driven the groceries some 100 miles to my home.

We sat sharing a warm and pleasant conversation. I had not seen him since May. Suddenly my smoke alarm begins screeching. What! What could be burning? I wasn’t cooking!

I hobbled back to the kitchen just in time to see the double-stacked eggs burst into flames. They had been placed over a low flame I had forgotten I had turned on earlier that day. I grabbed the cartons and blew out the flames, or so I thought.

Then as I held the eggs, the second carton burst into flames. Which burned a hole open under one of the eggs and it fell kamikaze-style to the floor. SPLAT!

Repeatedly blowing, I rushed to the sink with my egg carton fire to submerge the cartons in one of the soaking dishes; I had not wanted to wash last evening. But the largest pot soaking had old meat leavings floating in the water. It looked like a miniature marsh pond. Grouse me out the bathroom door! Burning eggs and scum water in a pan. No way dudes! No way!

I was able to extinguish the flames in a smaller cleaner, dish of water. Meanwhile, D apologizing profusely turned on the stove fan and rushed to open a window. We laughed the entire time we cleaned.

So, why would this be a day of thanksgiving? Because all things work together.

I went back to sleep because the I meds I took so early had as many vitamins included as prescription meds. The early hour just meant earlier to the bathroom I would rise.

While my guest had caught me unaware. I managed to grab a second skirt. (Although there was the moment my oxyline was tangled up in the clothing.) I was able to sit calmly in my chair as if my dressing was intentional and I was just somebody’s lovable grandma. And GOD had sent me a means to get the 47 cents per pound turkey I wanted for thanksgiving. There are no grocery stores in my area. Just very small and expensive family stores.

While D was there, the insurance company sent the contractor to install the missing gutter on my home. When they asked for $150.00 more to attach the drain spout to the gutter. We went out and talked to them. The contractors were kind and apologetic. I said, “there is no more money it is okay just leave off the drainpipe I will have it placed later.” But as we continued our visit, my insurance guy called and insisted upon paying for the drain installation himself.

While cleaning up the mess of the burning egg cartons. I discovered that only one egg had been lost. I also learned that when my new cartons of eggs are in trouble, I grow fearless of fire. Now, the top of my stove is spic-n-span clean, and every time I open the refrigerator door and see those soot-covered eggs; I enjoy a belly laugh.

Thank you, Lord, for such a pattern interrupting day like this one. I am so human. But I got JESUS and that’s enough!


Thankful for Disposition

Anyone who knew my Mom knew she was a “glass-half-full” person. Before my Mom left this world, she had numerous strokes and eventually became a kidney dialysis patient. But whenever I would ask my Mom how she was doing she had one standard answer. “FANTASTIC!”

She was so consistent in this attitude that sometimes I wanted to smack her. But I hadn’t learned a few things yet. I have outlived my Mom by three years now, and I am thrilled to have discovered her secret. Life is indeed fantastic!

I think sometimes I am as surprised as anyone to realize I am a “glass-half-full” person. It is a clear clue to quiet myself and begin to talk with the Lord when I find myself with a “glass-half-empty” mindset.

“Glass half-full” is a disposition for which I am deeply grateful. A disposition established and supported by relationship with the Lord. From whatever position I find myself my prayer and determination is to always realize the FANTASTIC of living.


Thankful for the Re-Do

“Oh, give thanks unto the Lord for He is good and His mercy endureth forever.” (Psalms 107:1)

Years ago, my Uncle Frank said to me; “the only test you have to re-take is the one you have failed.” I am so grateful for re-testing. Grateful for do-overs. And yes, I say that with a grimace. Testing can be difficult. Mainly because of its challenge to me.

But oh GOD I am so thankful for the opportunities brought to my life via the simple act of repentance. “I’m sorry Lord, help me, please!” Is such immediate freedom that it makes me wonder why I ever hesitated?

Often the exercise of free will can be my obstacle. My hesitation to relinquish even the smallest appearance of control. Which usually amounts to the illusion of control in the uncontrollable. I was not made to forge this life alone. Neither were you. We were made with a need for GOD. Not one another, but for GOD.

One of the elders I grew up with would sing; “the failure is not in GOD, it’s in me. The failure is not in GOD, it’s in me. You know I fell short so many, many times. So many evil thoughts come into my mind. But the failure is not in GOD, it’s in me.” (Recorded by Roberta Martin Singers 1933-1970. See Dorothy Norwood Singers for stellar rendition)

That is memo to my soul. It reminds me that even if the fat lady has sung, it’s not over till GOD says it is over. Thank GOD for re-testing. Long live do-overs. I’ll see you in class, reserve the seat up front for me.


Thankful for the Legacy

In the first hour of this new day, I can hear my Aunt Della speaking in a Bible study. We were leaders with a great commission she reminded us. We did not follow others; we did not follow the crowd. We were a “set aside” people. We were trendsetters, not followers.

That is the paraphrase of a lesson given to me in my upbringing. Not just from Aunt Della but from the people of GOD. I was taught to not trust the flow of popular opinion. I was not to live like a herded sheep only concerned with immediate gratification. I was to set the trend rather than follow it. It has served me well throughout my life. I always ask the question. Especially if everyone is doing it.

In this mojo liking, everybody’s doing it culture, that we currently swim in; it continues to serve my best interest. Asking the why questions of myself if not of others. Living should be deliberate not something I drift into. Living should be purposeful not necessarily popular. Living should only be directed by the relationship with GOD. All other ground, all other leadings are sinking sand. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to our children. And we owe it to one another to order our steps in the Word of GOD.

When we follow GOD, we can’t help but put our best foot forward.


Thanking GOD for Lemonade

During a required training class for all licensed Colorado Childcare Providers, we were told that it was imperative that we made sure during the early years of development that the children did not have negative experiences because it would interfere with the proper development of mental synapses. Never say no, or never.

We had been carefully admonished to not ask questions during the lessons for this apparently altered the schedule of the class. They would try and address our questions at the class’s conclusion. I tried.

The advice to stop teaching children to write in cursive was silly enough, but the brain synapses development plan was much too ridiculous to ignore. My hand shot up high. “When,” I asked, “do we teach the children to take the lemons in life and make lemonade?” Deep rumbles rolled through the room. I wasn’t the only one who thought what was passing for training was, itself, failed synapses development. The instructors refused to answer.

Earlier today I had occasion to visit with a young man I had not seen since the beginning of the year. The sadness and defeat seem to hang about him as he walked around. His discomfort was evident. I began talking about the season of crazy that seems to have gripped many in my family and slowly he began to unwind. He was deep in pain from his family’s betrayal and rejection. Even his beloved parents. He felt alone, boxed in and neglected. I have no doubt he was truly hurt and stymied by what was happening to him and his two small boys.

While praying I shared with him the one thing that played upon my heart. I said. “You know people belong to GOD. When they get too crazy, I just return to the sender. People are GOD’s to fix not mine.”

I hoped he could filter past all the recommended responses that are laid out, particularly for young males. Young people seem to assume their deliverance is connected to their strength. Their personal vitality. But what that means is GOD must move you from your own silliness before He can deal with the foolishness of those who have harmed you. Whether the young man knew it or not wasn’t clear, but GOD remains faithful and prayer is a powerful tool.

His sadness reminded me of that old training class. It also awakened my appreciation for lemonade. Making lemonade is all about taking the sour and making it sweet and appetizing. Making it a delicious beverage to be consumed in large satisfying gulps. Ending with the thirst saturating clink of ice cubes in the bottom of the glass. The hotter the day the more refreshing the lemonade.

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me to be a great lemonade maker. I have learned when you make good lemonade you want to share it with everyone. Even those who brought the lemons.


Thankful for the Ownership of GOD

There is wonderful freedom when recognizing GOD’s place in each life. I may feel all kinds of bad towards you. It may be well deserved. But at the end of the feelings, I am required to consider what a person means to GOD.

It relieves me of the need to see or experience certain behavior from others. It relieves me of the need to “fix” other people. To fix a child. I consider it my “safe place” because there is such freedom and shelter in allowing GOD to have His way with each of His children.

Each day I am striving to live with respect and consideration for the ownership of GOD. In the end, it doesn’t matter whether we live like we belong. In the end, it doesn’t matter if we ever acknowledge our Creator. It remains an undeniable and factual truth. People belong to GOD.

That does not mean that the law is not for the lawbreaker. That does not mean that we don’t reap what we sow. What it does mean is that you are GOD’s problem. I can always return you to the sender. I can be assured that the warranty of GOD’s love means the repairs are ongoing. It is His desire that none of us be lost; all souls belong to GOD. However, the soul that sins will die. (2 Peter 3:9 particularly & Ezekiel 18:4 particularly.)

There is something to be said for love that keeps reaching for us until the reaching is no longer warranted. That’s grace and mercy I covet for myself and for you as well. Brought and paid for we belong to GOD!


Thanksgiving for Dreams

Dreams are a communication extension. If you learn to listen.

Probably my favorite dreams involve being inside the home I own. My home, I have learned signifies my spiritual state of well-being. More importantly, they provide insight into the conversation between the Lord and my heart. They can announce blessings or dangers. Sickness or health.

Probably as only a child born with seven sisters and one brother would understand. My homes always come complete with a separate bathroom attached to each bedroom. Each home splendid in its size and amenities. Nothing lacking, everything provided.

But sometimes I have encountered powerful hateful spirits. If invoking the name of JESUS CHRIST seems ineffective, I have been known to distance myself from those spaces or awakened still engaging in warfare. It is one of the ways I understand that I am doing things by rote, rather than sincerity.

My homes hold unending discoveries. I have learned if I see someone resting in my home, or in one of my beds; special prayer is needed. If I am moving to a new job or home, it means GOD is calling me to deeper depths and new lessons. I am happy as the years have passed; my homes are becoming grander.

In 2017 I went to the second floor of a sophisticated apartment I occupied. Huge. But I had not utilized the rooms on the second floor. I had not told anyone about the malevolent spirits I had encountered in two of the rooms. Because this home had been inherited it was stocked with possessions that belonged to the previous owner. I was always intending to sort through those rooms and retain the valuables for my use. But those spirits had made it a task I continued to avoid.

In 2018 I found myself in that home again. Determined as never before. I decided not to sort through any of the possessions. I would instead empty out every room of every inherited possession, and began to use those neglected spaces. I was not repulsed by the spirits; I understood they were tied to the old possessions.

Now I occupy a larger, redesigned, and redecorated home. I am still learning how to operate all the upgrades, but earlier this year my Aunt Lonnie appeared there and insisted that I not rent out such a grand home as I had planned to do. “You were meant to live here,” she told me.

I am learning to discard my habit of assigning natural symbolism to what is meant to convey spiritual symbolism. I am no longer of the habit of awakening and looking for natural remedies to the dreams. Some things have a natural context, but most do not. Let me say I prefer the stuff of the spirit. It is much more substantial.

I feel like a gambler betting on a fixed race. Or a stockbroker with inside trading information. I cannot lose. No one does, sleeping or awake when you listen for the heart of GOD.


Thanksgiving for GOD’s Timing

I think while I inhabit this temporal state, some lessons will be ongoing. Temporal living when treated as permanent can rob you of what you already know to be true. So, thank you Lord for the keeping power of your SPIRIT.

One such lesson is the one about time. My childhood was marked by a doctrine of timeliness. We were taught that even church attendance must be done in a timely manner. To do any less was an indicator of your true feelings regarding GOD! If we dare not arrive at a natural job consistently late; why would we be less timely in our efforts towards GOD. Therefore, I am guilty of experiencing the anxiety and weariness brought on by such expectations.

I have told GOD about the situation; because He so needs that from me. I know that He is aware of me. But why oh why doesn’t He answer?

I am learning to take the human stopwatch off GOD. We know already how time exists with GOD, wraps our concept of timing into oblivion. Hint: “a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day.” (2 Peter 3: specifically verses 8 and 9.)

Nine to Five is for the order of our world. Man invented to help organize our living. To help mark the spot so that we can know we have been there. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years are from us. The past, present, and future; us again.

But when in relationship with GOD put the stopwatch away. Time obeys GOD. When I remember this, trust becomes the reflection of my living. While on this Earth I will always speak from my perceived desires and needs. But I will trust GOD.

Timing that fits my need. Timing that customizes my relationship with GOD. Timing that is always, always on time.