You Are Not Making this Trust Thing Easy, God…but I am thankful You don’t give up on me.

Good Morning! Wednesday, January 20, 2016, Walden Shores, Lake Wales, FL

imageWatching the Today Show this morning, the news as usual, politics, terror attack in Pakistan, prisoner release from Iran, one prisoner notably missing from the release, Jamie Fox rescuing a man trapped in burning vehicle and impending snow and ice storms across the Midwest and East. In other words, business as usual in the World since we humans, the Crown Jewels of creation exercised free will.

If you are a little bit like me and mind you, I am not making any accusations here, but if you are then you have harbored at least a tiny doubt about just how trustworthy God is. I cringe when I hear unbelievers ask questions like, ‘If God is so good then why doesn’t he stop ______[fill in the blank, child killings, terrorism, destructive storms, etc.] or ‘If God is so powerful why does he allow ______[cancer, suffering, hunger, famine, racism, the mass murder of 6 million of the very people He chose to bear his name, etc.]. I cringe, because along with the seed of faith inside me there remains a tiny bit of root rot that I have been battling for years. I cringe because I don’t have answers that will satisfy their questions. I rage a little at God, having discovered some time ago that He can handle anything I sling at him. I become a bit presumptuous like Job and after my hissy fit, I feel the Holy Spirit wrap me in an embrace so powerful that it stops my trembling and comforts me, giving me hope and leading me to praise, scripture, the Body of Christ, and prayer.

One thing I know, when Eve entertained the silken words of the devil in the Garden as he whispered in her ear questioning the intentions and trustworthiness of God–God allowed it–He did not stop her. He did not stop Adam from following his wife into the same sin, which was essentially ‘wanting to be God’, the very sin that caused Lucifer’s fall. Free Will, a gift of God, comes with both blessings and curses. It is the very thing that rises up inside believer and nonbeliever alike when we think, ‘If I were God…’

For me there have been multiple moments when I would have liked to be all powerful and intervened, but one always stands out for me. I have written of this before.

Once I sat next to my daughter in a darkened ultrasound room as the technician gelled her pregnant belly and ran the magic wand over her womb, there clearly was Lydia, our first granddaughter, her form in fetal position and there was SILENCE. If I had been God in that moment, I would have reached in and restarted her heart.

But I was not, and God chose not to do that. That moment and the months afterward my relationship with God waxed and waned. I struggled, but ultimately came out stronger a woman with a mission, an advocate for all expectant mothers and fathers, for the unborn, for ordinary and high risk pregnancies.

The point here is not my ‘chosen prayer mission’, but my continuing quest to grow in faith and trust of God. It comes from acknowledging my own helplessness, to give up the idea that I just need to pull up my own bootstraps, and to let God be God. Easy??? Hardly. Natural??? Not if you are a stubborn control freak like me.

And yet, when I do, when I back off, when I pray and watch, amazing things happen in me. The pressure comes off my fragile shoulders and puts it squarely on God’s. Acceptance of whatever happens still does not come easy; however, I am able to glimpse God working in even the interruptions, the sickness, the tragedies as well as the joyful moments, in my own life, family, among my friends and in the world.

Well, God, You say You want to Comfort and Bless
That Your Nature is to Give
But sometimes in light of a world determined to stress
Not to mention my own struggles to live
Can I really trust You or the gifts in your hand?
Why, do I shrink or stiffen within
As You reach out to me, as You speak of your plan?
Your faithfulness daily always has been
So why do I find it so hard to be grateful?
Your overwhelming love, your direction, your gentle caress
When I open my self and my need, I come away full
Knowing in the moment your desire to bless.
Help me, Lord, to trust, to be less careful
To open my fists, to receive and to give you my stress
And please God, in whatever, Help me be more grateful. Amen

Not finished with me yet, because I still have a ways to go….Maybe you do, too. Just saying…

I Walked Through Hell Just For YOU

The world can be a frightening place. Life is not always fair.  Today as I completed my devotions, prayed and opened my tablet to write, these words came pouring out and so I share them with you.  If you have never known betrayal, or been falsely accused, or felt left alone to fend for yourself in an unfair situation, these words will mean nothing to you.  If, however, you like me have experienced any of these, perhaps you will find some comfort here.

Accusations
Poison Darts
Pierce my Heart
Trembling Hands, bloodshot eyes
Stomach knots, courage flies
In the Garden, on my knees
Leaving others to pray with me
God Alone in agony
While friends weary, nod and sleep
Facing the hell that man can deal
To you who read these words, surreal.

And yet, it is I
Who knows what you
When men, enemy or friend
Accuse
Are suffering Through
Hard to see how the evil of man
Could ever fit into God’s great plan
So I am here to strengthen you
Help you walk, stand and wait
Trust in Me, Don’t fear your fate.
I walked through hell just for YOU!

I will send you counselors, friends to be
At your side, but put your FAITH IN ME.
Trust Me Who conquered the grave
For My Glory My Hand will Save.
Trust me to see you through
I walked through hell just for YOU!

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Storytellers and Dreamers–Verse Written for a Schoolmate’s 70th Birthday

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“Storytellers and Dreamers”

I thought when I was still a child
that one day I would sit a while,
gather my grandchildren at my side
and take them back for an awesome ride,

Whatever happened, bound to fight and win
Riding my Harley into the wind
going until the road ends
No one told me Vietnam would take some of my friends

Or predict the bends in the roads of life
Like so many becoming husband and wife

All of us struggling, some emerging alive
While others split not surviving the strife
We faced in the seventies, longing to flee
Discovering that lonely’s not quite being free

Living the stories we someday could reveal

Spinning them round to maximize the appeal.

Because somewhere deep there lives the child
Who dreamed of telling stories about when he was wild
To multiple children who would sit at his knee
I imagined their clamor of glee

Attentive to Grandpa spinning a yarn
didn’t count on Netflix, iPhones, Tweeting? well, darn!

Inside of this man, is a boy determined to win
Riding a Harley into the wind
Going, going till the road ends
Carving a life, with dreams set to song
Hoping against the odds to not get it wrong

The stories we live awake or sleeping
Shape memories, vision, a life worth keeping
Our minds alive with stories some we’d never share
With our wild days behind us, why do we care?

Isn’t it past time to dare?

Once we were young, thought life had no end
Stunned even now with each fallen friend
Still unable to see around the next bend. . .
But face it, we know, we comprehend.

So go buy the Harley or sail the seas, fight the waves,
Live the stories we’ve woven, go out really brave
So what if no one listens to the stories we’ve saved
Live life full of spit, fire, and whistle past graves.

One thing I know as birthdays come about
Someday without a doubt
There will be stories flying about

Granddad, or Grandmom, the secrets all out

OBJECTIFICATION–The Fatal Flaw [An Opinion Piece]

The whole drive of western culture, the part of it which is serious, is towards an extreme objectification. It’s carried to the point where the human subject is treated almost as if it’s dirt in the works of a watch.

Henry Flynt

Objectification of Jews and others in Nazi Germany was one factor that led to the Holocaust

Objectification of Jews and others in Nazi Germany was one factor that led to the Holocaust

So it is that in order to become a “killing machine” whether like the shooter in Oregon, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Connecticut or like a soldier under orders in a battle zone, ONE must mentally detach from the victim(s) or the enemy.  Lapsing into seeing another as somebody’s sister, brother, child, parent, friend, spouse, identifying with another’s humanity even for a second might save lives in one situation or cost lives in another.

Discussions abound yet again in homes, schools, political circles, in local and national news following yet another horrific mass murder in an Oregon school.

Is the culprit

  • lack of effective gun control?
  • mental illness?
  • deficient parenting?
  • poor law enforcement of current gun control laws?
  • disintegration of faith, moral values, respect for authority?
  • racism, sexism, terrorism or any other “ism”?
  • the “Selfie” [tongue in cheek], by that I mean the desire for notoriety, fame, self promotion?

Or, Whatever??  the possibiites are extensive and all of the previous deserve consideration in this obviously escalating societal anomaly.

However, whether we realize it or not, unless the ‘anomaly’ strikes close to home, either literally or figuratively, each incident desensitizes us until the public rhetoric, survivors’ statements, expert opinions, and our own responses are more memorized than experienced.

Ultimately, we all are in danger of objectification either of other humans or by other humans.  We attach labels to individuals, groups, and nations.  We watch violence to others in the news, but even more frightening we watch it for entertainment.  I am not exempt from this…but when I pause to really think about what I allow into my mind today that would have shocked me 5 years ago, let alone 50 years ago, I realize my SHOCK and HORROR threshold has risen.

With that realization I acknowledge the danger to people as a whole.  I acknowledge the lack of empathy and compassion combined with a disregard for the value of human life and a burning undercurrent that would blame another person, group, or nation for everything from the broken window to financial collapse.  In the human heart and spirit that is a breeding ground for objectification.

Becoming a “killer” who unleashes a barrage on other humans, one must first stop seeing Oneself and Others as Human Beings.

Autumn Author Discovery: Kim Radish

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Before we pack up the van with the pile of stuff I have sitting in the corner of my dining area in Kentucky, toss in Max and Emma and head south to Florida, I have to share my new AUTHOR DISCOVERY…Kim Radish.  Now Kim has been writing for a while and apparently from the reviews of her books she has quite a following…in fact, it would appear readers either love her work or dislike it intensely.  I have finished two of her books and am in the “LOVE HER WRITING” Camp.  While after reading, I realize we may have decidedly different world views in some areas, we are dancing to the same tune in others.  Do you ever just know you would like someone if you were to meet them.  In Kim’s case I may be able to make that happen.

Here is the “About the Author” from A GRAND DAY TO GET LOST:

Kim Radish, Author

Kim Radish, Author    ‘Kris Radish is a former journalist, nationally syndicated columnist, and the author of The Elegant Gathering of White Snows, Dancing Naked at the Edge of Dawn, Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral, Searching for Paradise in Parker, P.A., The Sunday List of Dreams, The Shortest Distance Between Two Women, Hearts on a String, Tuesday Night Miracles and two non-fiction books, Run, Bambi, Run and The Birth Order Effect. She lives near St. Petersburg, Florida where is also co-owner of a wine lounge, the Wine Madonna, and where she hosts book clubs and reading groups from across the country when she’s not working on her next two novels.’

imageI took a chance on the first book of Ms. Radish’s I read, downloading it to my Kindle and immediately found myself drawn in….What woman has not had at least one moment when anger became a living being and she found herself at a crossroads?…Meet Jane, who attacked a collegue with her stilleto heels, Kit, who broke a wine bottle over her brother’s head, or Grace, who bashed her teenage daughter’s boyfriend’s expensive car and then backed up and bashed it again.  Add to the mix a young battered mother, Leah, living in a shelter for the abused and you have the mixed group for Dr. Olivia Bayer’s final Court Ordered Anger Management Class and oh, yes, Phyllis, Dr. Bayer’s dog, who provides the unique dog perspective.  Dr. Bayer is ready to retire and secures permission to take this group on  a less traditional path of group therapy that even she admits could end badly.

No more spoilers…read the book.  Let me know what you think.

imageAfter completing TUESDAY NIGHT MIRACLES I hungered…ok, maybe that is a little melodramatic..for more of this author’s writing so I chose A GRAND DAY TO GET LOST  and entered the world of Emily, age 57, divorced mother of a son who is busy with his own life.  Emily has taken a month off from her library job in Ohio to drive her aunt to Florida to spend the winter.  On the way back from settling her aunt in her winter digs, Emily abandons I-75, throws out her map, both actions absolutely contrary to her nature.  After encountering an alligator in the middle of the road she has embarked on as well as a belligerent male driver, she stops to puruse an Estate Sale.  As an archivist in the university library back in Ohio, she finds things like grocery lists taped above the telephone intreguing.

She ends up with some items of clothing, knowing people often stuff important things into pockets and then forget about them plus three old cardboard boxes filled with yellowing paper.  Those three boxes contain what appears to be a manuscript by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings; however, it is dated 1963 ten years after the Pulitzer Prize winning author of THE YEARLING’s death.

“The truth of it all is that risk is part of the package. You can sit there watching the daylight fade and wonder what you might have seen if you would have gotten off the chair, or you can plunge into that first hint of morning light and stop being such a baby. Every day is a grand day to get lost and see what happens. Life is hard, but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.”  From A GRAND DAY TO GET LOST, Kim Radish

As Emily explores the possiblities, it appears she is not the only one interested.  She soon finds herself becoming involved with the magic of Central Florida that captivated Marjorie in 1928, with the people, and with others who are a part of the world that was Marjories.  New friends, Silver, an author with secrets, who takes Emily in, and Auggie, Silver’s best friend and a cast of others join her in the quest.  Add to that a mysterious man with a red SUV who seems to be stalking them.

Honestly one of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much was the information about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, her life, her Cross Creek farm near Hawthorne, Florida and her writing.  Since it is just south of Gainsville, off I-75, I will put it on my list of places to explore this winter.

Additionally, I am delighted to know that Kim Radish co-owns The Wine Madonna and that there are book discussions held there in St. Petersburg, FL.

Take a moment to look up Kim Radish and her books.  I think many of you will find her writing compelling, especially those of you who are remarkable people in your own right….

Barefoot Bookclub Review: The Angel of Zin

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“There were corpses in that train,” Paul said. “A woman begged for water—she even offered her wedding-ring. I wanted to give her the water, but I had no chance.” Reitlinger frowned, his hand resting on the throbbing gear-shift. “Captain, that SS sergeant was Gestapo. They’re in charge of all transport.” “So he told me,” Paul said. “He has the right to arrest you. If you interfered, you would have been risking your life—and for what? They would still have loaded the train.” From The Angel of Zin by Clifford Irving

Paul Bach, widower, father of two children, homicide investigator, Nazi SS Captain, wounded warrior, man with a conscience accepts the fatalist advice of his driver settles into the car and drives on to Zin. There in the dead of winter, he discovers the depth of his own blindness.

Initially, it is the smell, an aroma he cannot identify, with his gut wrenching reaction the source is proudly revealed by his guide, efficient, sanitary elimination and disposal. His shock when barely able to keep warm in heavy coat, boots and fur lined gloves,he asks, ‘you do not heat the barracks during the day?’ is met with a casual ‘we don’t heat them at all’

He moves on with his investigation of a rash of suicides and murders each with a note pinned to the body. Get this over and get back to Berlin. The investigation drags on and then the Camp is to be shut down, supplies, gold, hair, officers and enlisted men are to be transported to the East–the camp and all occupants destroyed. Paul writes a letter to his children.

“I am so deeply ashamed of myself. I was a policeman. My task was to combat disorder and evil. Now I swim in the muck of orderly evil. It was my job to protect the innocent by bringing murderers to justice. Here, the murderers are my own people.”

With their deaths an official order the Jews in the camp rise up against their oppressors of whom, Paul Bach is one. Paul Bach defies orders and aids the attempted escape, but few survive and Paul Bach is not one of the survivors. His letter to his children found by a soldier entering the camp after the uprising ends up in the fire.

The Jewish leader of the camp, ‘Mordecai Lieberman had once said, No earthly power has ever been able to destroy us. But under the heavy sky the earth ran red.’

He was like another Mordecai, the uncle of Queen Esther, but Mordecai Lieberman had no influential ally to which to say,

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?””
‭‭Esther‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Unless that person was Paul Bach. Point blank, he takes a chance and asks ‘what would you do Captain?’ Paul Bach responds by saying, ‘revolt.’

This was a haunting read, followed by a week of disturbing news from around the world and here in the United States.

Would I risk my reputation, my career–pretty safe now since I am retired–my financial security, my family, my life to give water to a thirsty woman, to save a family with whom I do not share culture or religion from an oppressor, to stand up for unborn, the mentally ill, the marginalized and bullied,

IF they would still load the train?

For All Life’s Anniversaries ADD Salt: Blood, Sweat, Tears, or the Ocean

What happened in your life August 28, 2010?

Not all anniversaries, holidays, birthdays bring celebration or joy.

Betty Callen and her Family

Betty Callen and her Family

Five years ago today [August 28, 2010], a classmate of mine from Frederick High School who I have come to know and love through our Facebook connection–so much better than we knew each other back then, lost her daughter Elana in an automobile accident.  I don’t know the circumstances of the accident.  I suspect, however, that Betty and her husband Ned tense a bit as the date approaches.  Even as Betty writes, ‘Today is five years since we lost Elana.  We all miss her, but we know where she is and will see her again.  Love you, daughter.”

I know tears well up in her eyes today as they did in mine as I read her post.

As I pondered her post I realized that this was an anniversary for us, too.  After having been diagnosed with imageStage IV oral cancer in the summer of 2010, my husband Terry completed his first round of induction chemotherapy on this date Five years ago.  He had started the three drug, four day chemo in Vanderbilt’s Ingram Cancer Center on Tuesday that week coming home with a pump to complete the administration of the most powerful of the drugs over a 96 hour infusion.  That first round almost killed him, changing the course of his treatment with regard to the drugs and the infusion schedule.  Not that Terry had a lot of hair on his head when he started, but hair all over his body disserted him.  He survived that, the radiation with concurrent chemo that followed and on December 22 will be Five years free of cancer, God willing.

Clark and Ima Lee bottom photos Chassity, Owen, Ima Lee and Clark top photo

Clark and Ima Lee bottom photos
Chassity, Owen, Ima Lee and Clark top photo

On the same day, August 28, 2010 in Farmington, MO, our niece and her husband, Ima Lee and Clark Pierce were out to dinner.  Their daughter Chassity had joined the Air Force, but they had taken in another child who needed a home.  They both had good paying, demanding jobs but everything was rocking along pretty well.  Six months later Ima Lee was diagnosed with throat cancer.  After surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation, basically the works, the last round taking her hair, they have stopped aggressive treatment and begun pallative care.

In the five years since that August,  their daughter married, gave birth to a son, Owen and that family, Chassity, Danny and Owen have moved to the United Kingdom where Danny is stationed.

This summer Ima Lee and Clark spent a month with them, even with little strength and constant pain Ima Lee made memories not for herself but for her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and grandson.

There were tears; there were times at the sea shore; there was sweat.

I don’t have answers to a lot of questions.  I don’t know why Terry’s treatment worked and Ima Lee’s has not. I don’t know why a vibrant young woman would die in a car accident, leaving her daughter without a mother.

Isak Dinesen said, “The cure for anything is salt: tears, sweat, or the sea.”  I would add “blood” to the list. The human body’s fluids closely match the salt content of the oceans.  When we deny the flow of any of them, we suffer.

When we embrace whether virtually or physically, when our tears mix with another’s on those heart breaking anniversaries or those joyful celebrations, our sorrow diminishes and our joy increases.

When we work together, sweat together to accomplish a goal, sweat unites us and forges bonds best found in completing a task as a team.  The commaradory of exhaustion is a mighty connector.

When I sit on a beach, observe the power and magnitude of the ocean, and taste the salt in the air, my spirit responds in ways that nothing else in nature quite touches.  I merely walk and wade in the shallowest part of the waves, but for me it is a life affirming pleasure.

And the Blood, not mine or yours but HIS.  Indeed it is the salt of his blood, the salt of his sweat, the salt of his tears, miniscule oceans that wash over us with salvation, purpose, and love.

What happened to you Five years ago today?

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and CHRIST’S BLOOD!