Playing with purpose

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

Thankful for You

Over the past 12 to 15 hours my soul has been comforted. I think of how overwhelmed my brother would be to see how many hearts were united in prayer. Just for him.

Before we shipwreck our own boats, the final lie our soul’s enemy will whisper is; “you are all alone, no one cares.” Over the clamoring din of our own missteps, we hear that lie proclaimed. Echoing and filling deep spaces. But you have proved the liar is a lie.

Agape causes us all to offer prayers on my brother’s behalf though we have similar burdens that afflict our peace. The triumph of GOD in this life and within us, rest in that willingness to love each other through our own pains. Thank you for being used by GOD. Thank you for loving. And thank you Lord for your children.

Before the throne of Grace, I bring petition for each of you. Rebuild, reset, restore, reclaim, and redeem. This is my persist prayer, don’t forget to pray that for me as well.

“I know the plan I have for you the Lord declares. To build up and not tear down. (Jeremiah 29:11, paraphrased)


Yet Thankful

I set long into the evening google searching my brother’s name. His friends and loved ones are shocked! Behavior so alien to their knowledge of my brother. For me, searching was a chance to see my brother again.

Am I shocked? I guess no more than I am by my own sin, or yours. I have always believed sin makes us stupid. Right now, I am more quietened, sad but relieved. I miss my brother. But now my prayer for him can focus. The guessing eliminated.

I stand in the place of challenge. We all can declare our love for GOD when things are well. We all can apply the label of ‘blessed’ when we get what we want. Because we usually conclude what we want is what we need.

But during those moments that genuflect across the holy songs we sing. The Holy Word we read. Moments that challenge what we believe, can we be trusted?

Such questions are what can make me hesitate in writing about what the Lord has taught me. I know if I declare it, it will be confirmed in my life.

I take back nothing I know of GOD! In the face of discomfort, sadness, tears, and heartache one thing I know; GOD IS FAITHFUL.

Of this one thing, I am sure! So, Lord, help me to be trustworthy. Let my love and confidence in you ride supreme over my human fragility. Without knowing what it means to see our prayers answered for my brother we give him totally into your hands. You are GOD! You love us. We will trust you.

Thankful for Praise

Praise, whether to people or even your pet; will elicit a response of tenderness and appreciation. Try it on your mate the next time you want them to do something they are resisting. Praise will make the disagreeable, agree. When I praise the Lord, it is even more powerful. I think its because when I bless the name of JESUS; it honors GOD but the benefit is all mine’s.

Some years back I learned the beneficial side of praise. I awoke to go to the restroom only to have pain radiating so severe in my feet, I could not stand. I sat back down on my bed to keep from collapsing in a heap, the pain also robbed me of strength. Standing and walking was out of the question. But because mother nature called, I had to move.

When you crawl to the bathroom you discover how good a housekeeper you are not! Once I reached the bathroom it became comical. I could only imagine what it looked like to see someone sat on a toilet bottom first, with no support from their legs or feet! So, there I sat, oscillating between fear, tears, and hysterical laughter.

Because I was incapacitated of course I had to make ‘wee, wee’ more than once that night. I think it was after the second trip to the restroom, which was a total of four round trips crawling; righteous indignation stood up in my spirit! I decided so long as I was suffering, somebody should be blessed.

My cry for deliverance became an opportunity to bless GOD! Each painful crawl across the tangled wires about my floor. through assorted shoes, loose papers, books and fearfully watches for spiders; (my bedroom was in the basement) I would remember the attributes of my friend and savior. It became my mantra. The crawling trips took on a greater purpose.

The next morning around 5 am. I crawled up the steps of my basement, backward, and pulled myself up on a chair in the kitchen. I begin preparing breakfast and around 6:30 am I crawled to my front door and unlocked it to allow the arrival of my children.

I don’t know if my parents realized I could not walk; they were used to seeing me on the floor with the children. I placed a call to my sister and asked her to come over and help.

I had worn a long maxi skirt so while my sister and the children played outside, I would slide on my skirt to a child’s chair and perform a variety of tasks. Whenever the children came through the kitchen, they would find a position on the expanse of my skirt, grab a piece of my maxi in their hands and giggle with joy as I pulled us across the floor.

We had to stop that fun when I begin to crawl out of my skirt. The weight of those little bodies exceeded the slide. On another occasion, they thought I was on the floor to play horsey. I obliged, slowly crawling with two to three little giggling riders on my back. Joy found me crawling around and my praise continued.

It was after lunch and my sister had left. I set in a little chair washing dirty dishes the dishpan resting on the lowered oven door when I heard one of my children cry out in their sleep. Without thinking about it, I stood from the little chair I was sitting in and walked into the nap room. It was as I soothed that child back to sleep that it hit me. I had walked! I had walked! By 5 pm I could walk sufficiently enough to drive people home.

This, unfortunately, was not a one-time occasion. In 2010 I begin to routinely suffer from severe gout attacks. Some attacks were not as bad as that first occasion, but several times the attacks went into my hands and once my arm. The medicine prescribed by the doctor only intensified the pain. However, whenever I would remember to praise the Lord, I found relief from the condition.

I don’t always remember to bless the name of JESUS. When difficulties plague me, my go-to is a prayer for deliverance and tears for myself. But in time I remember the dependability of praise. I become determined to gain the advantage from difficulty. When I remember to give GOD praise, my deliverance always comes.

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.