Saturday, February 28, 2009

Your Grace is Enough ....

Sometimes I forget that His grace is enough. Sometimes it feels more like His grace and a sleeve of Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies comes closer to being enough.... Why? I don't know. Cognitively, I *KNOW* that the things of this world (cookies included!) don't truly satisfy. The only things that satisfy come from God.

But, sometimes I want that more immediate fix; something tangible. I want something that feels good, NOW, or at least distracts me from whatever is going on within me. I want comfort foods!

And, clearly, by my own power, I cannot resist those cookies. It seems like I've been asking forever for that craving to be taken from me, so when I found this verse (searching for the "Sufficiency of Grace"), I knew I was on the right track for the blog. It struck me right between the eyes! Perhaps the thorn needs to stay in my side. (no, no, no, no, no.....)

My head knows, His grace IS sufficient, and when I overcome the challenges, it is not ME that does that, but Him. I, myself, am powerless. I can't do it. The moment I think I can, it's over...

Perhaps one day I will learn - in my heart as well as my head - that His grace truly IS enough. I hope that one day, it will be intuitive for me to turn to Him in the midst of my struggles - at those moments of want and "need" - rather than retrospectively. In hindsight, I know. In the moment, I struggle. To stuck in the world to see clearly.

May I turn to you in the moments when I need you most. Open my eyes and my heart to You. Help me to see, and to know - with every cell of my being - that Your grace IS enough. It is!

2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (New International Version)

8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Friday, February 27, 2009


I have absolutely NO IDEA what to write. I am hoping that as I sit here and admit that *I* have nothing to say, that HE will send words out onto this computer screen. Apparently not today. I've got Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Zip.

Searching for inspiration, I grab my Bible. Open, flutter through pages. OK. Look here.

Psalm 107:1 "Give thanks to the LORD for He is good. For His steadfast love endures forever."

Now THAT is something I can wrap my arms around. Gratitude! These days, gratitude comes pretty easy for me. But, it wasn't always that way. I had to learn it. I had a flicker of gratitude from time to time back then, but mostly, I lived in victim.

I suppose it comes as no surprise that as I started to 'find' God, I started to come out of 'victim', and vice versa. As His presence became more and more real in my life, things quit happening TO me... they started happening FOR me.

My focus shifted from what I don't have to what I DO have. My friend Karen, retold a story that happened to her as SHE was coming out of "victim". She was in a 'poor me' place, and her 'teacher' asked her "Why do you complain that you don't have shoes? Be grateful you have feet!"

Although I never anticipate being shoeless (except by choice!), I can make the analogy in my own life. There is much that I don't have.... but oh so much more that I do!

Thank You God for all that I have been given in my life.... most importantly, Your presence and Your unending love.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lead Me Not Into Temptation...

So, I'm doing "The Biggest Loser" at church. I joined for a couple of reasons:
  • I'd like to finally lose some weight, and I know that I will do better with a challenge, with competition, and with someone expecting me to weigh in every week.
  • It sounded fun at the time.
  • I could use the cash - though my actually acquiring it, isn't looking very promising at the moment (though we ARE early in the competition!)
  • God has been directing me to look at my eating habits for a long time now. I wasn't getting there on my own.
The support of the group as been wonderful, but what I rely more on is the accountability. I know there are women that I can call or text or talk to, who won't think I'm absolutely OUT OF MY MIND if I say "Hey... I'm really craving!"

It happened Monday night. I was craving something sweet. My bathroom is still FILLED with Girl Scout Cookies of various varieties. But they were not my biggest concern. My concern was that I had to go to the grocery store before I went to my Bible study.

And then I had an idea. I texted one of the women that is doing both the competition and the study. I shared my situation and committed to her that I wouldn't "choose poorly" at the store. Knowing that she might ask me how the trip went when I arrived at church, was exactly what I needed. Support and accountability.

Again on Wednesday night. Same story. Couple the cravings with the fact that the scale has not budged one iota this past week and you add some frustration to the craving. Fortunately, I KNOW that this is a temporary (albeit recurring) phenomenon. I won't ALWAYS feel this way. But, in the moment, that doesn't always help...

It does help to be able to feel some of the results of my efforts, despite the objective data provided by my scale. Yet, there is a nagging "it won't matter if you have a cookie, ... the scale's not going to drop anyhow" The problem is that one is too many and a thousand are never enough. And I know that.

"Lead me not into temptation...." I say aloud, as I heat a cup of tea. "Deliver me from evil..." I cannot do this on my own. I have demonstrated that over and over again. "Turn to ME", He says... "Turn to ME...."

I know that is the only answer...

Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
(and let me finish...)
For Thine is the power, and the glory, forever and ever...

and then, I stumbled upon another.... (Thank You, God...)

"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him" (James 1:12)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Tresle Bridge

This is one of my favorite pictures from the years I lived in "the womb house". What was built for the railroad in 1901, turned into a place where I would stop and talk with God in the mid to late 1990's.

When I moved into "the womb house", the bridge was in pretty bad shape... and barely walkable. (though somehow I managed to muster my courage to walk across from beam to beam!). Over time, the rail road ties were replaced with an honest to goodness wooden footbridge. In the process, what was once a means to transport goods to Nashville, became a Rails to Trails trail.

The trail head began directly across the street from my house, so I walked it nearly every day. I was more likely to run into deer than another human being, which, at the time, was perfect in my eyes. I watched the seasons change on the hillside. Turtles sunned on logs and fish swam beneath the surface of the water. The heron stood gracefully in the shallow waters, despite the sound of cows in the pasture. One day, I was truly blessed to watch otter play.

In the fall and the spring, when the air was cooler than the water, I'd head out in the morning. The spiders had created webs between the upright posts, and the dew would form beads along their strands. The "Dew Drop Galleries", I named them. They were beautiful creations.

The thing that I loved most - and still do, when I make the time to drive out there - was the breeze. As I'd approach the bridge, the breeze would come up and brush the hair out of my face. It was if God Himself were there, brushing it out of my eyes, and wiping the tears that He found there.

I'd stop in the middle of the bridge and stare into the water. Watch a snake swim past, or a leaf float by. There, I'd say my prayers. It was the beginning of my conscious contact with God. It was there that I became aware of His presence in my life.

Thank You for your consistency; for meeting me there day after day. For whispering in my ear and in my heart, "Here I AM"...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

One Little Letter....

We were in the bathroom at O'Charley's after lunch on Sunday. I was wiggling to the crazy music that was playing. I wanted to be sure my friend knew there was some bizarre jazzy elevator music playing. She is deaf.

She started relaying an incident that happened to her at a wedding recently. The band was playing, and she looked in amazement at the person with her "What did they just say?" "Play that fu*N*ky music, white boy". We laughed, and I said "Amazing the difference one little letter makes, huh?" "Especially, if you are deaf, and trying to lip-read", she replied.

I didn't think anything else of it, until the next night, when the exact same words came out of my mouth: "Amazing the difference one little letter makes".

I had just read a post on my friend, Brea's blog about the "Ugly side of Adoption". I was saddened by this little boy's story. (And, amazed at how perfectly it fit into the first day of my latest Bible study - "Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed" - about being 'chosen' by God). I went back to the kitchen to put away groceries.

The verse that came to me, as I shelved cans of green beans and thought through this little boy's life: "For I know the plans I have for you", declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future".

As those words repeated over and over in my head, that night, one word stood out: "I". "For I know the plans I have for you...." ".... I know....", Linda, ".... I know.... ". It doesn't say "Know the plans", it doesn't say "Hey, let me tell you the plans..." it says "... I know the plans I have for you..." Humbling, really.

Being a mother has really helped me put into perspective some of this God-stuff. I can relate to the "I know the plans..." in my family. I don't have to explain to my children that I will do laundry on Mondays. I know that plan. I know how it will get done, when it will get done, that it will get done. And right now, they don't worry about it - certainly not about the details. (I'm sure I'll long for this simplicity when the "tween" years really hit!)

When I think about it now, I want to add in a "... so mind your own business, will ya'?!" at the end. And He'd be right if He did... it's NOT my business to know the plan. It's my business to trust that there IS one and that He knows it. I need to remain on a "need to know basis" only. And, when I'm given a bit of information or instruction, I need to listen and obey.

If only I could be as trusting of God as my children are of me. I really like to know the plan. My friend, Karen, used to say "that's all about control, Linda". (And, yes, she was right!). How apt that I signed "control give up" or "control surrender" about a hundred times during worship this past week.

Help me to "control surrender". Help me to trust that You know the plans... "plans to prosper [me], and not to harm [me], plans to give [me] hope and a future." And "Sam" too...

Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)

11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Can Only Imagine...

Some days.... some moments... are just surreal. Sunday morning, interpreting at church - during practice, especially - was that way. I was pretty sure my mentor was not going to be there - she had said that the night before... but sometimes that changes. Yet, I was peaceful about it. I knew God was there with me, so I would not be interpreting "alone".

It was a good set of music... I was enjoying the new song a lot at home, but during rehearsal, it was the others that caught my attention. I was first aware that there would be 'a moment' during the first verse of the first song. As I ".... crown(ed) Him Lord of all", I realized I was standing on my tippity tip-toes, reaching as high as I possible could to place the crown on His head. "You sure are big", I thought. As I considered the truth in that statement, I paused just long enough not to miss the second verse. "whoa..."

A few songs later - a song I really like - I Can Only Imagine. It was a beautiful arrangement - traditional, but there was something just a little different about it. I'd only gotten through the first line before I began to be drawn into it. By the time I was asking "will I dance for you, Jesus?", I had tears in my eyes. Not long after, as I signed the words "stand" and "presence" - as my two hands came "face to face" - I had to gasp for air and close my eyes.

They remained closed, and tears streamed down my cheeks, as we danced out the remainder of the song, God and I. My hands never missed a phrase, my mind never tried to cut in, and my heart will never forget. And, I can only imagine, I will have tears streaming down my face when we do meet "face to face".

If you want to see this, you can see the video from the service.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Peace and Depression....

It has snowed here....not one of those deep New England, or "lake effect" snows, but a typical Tennessee dusting. I spent the day in town, at work, and as I drove up the ridge, what was rain in the city became the country snow. I didn't really notice the full effect until I pulled into my driveway and saw white on the roof top, and clinging to blades of grass in the front yard. Peaceful. Still. Beautiful.

I thought back to the mornings of my senior year of high school. It wasn't my best year, but it does have some pleasant memories. One of my favorites is running to school in the winter. I especially loved the mornings when we'd had snow overnight. I'd arrange to have my homework and a set of clothes in the locker room the night before. That way, I'd wake, quickly shower, don my sweats and sneakers, and begin my journey unencumbered.

It was quiet. Peaceful. Very, very peaceful. A few moments of silence before a busy, chaotic day. Winter in New England brought some cold mornings, and often I could hear the jingling of the icicles in my hair along with the squeaking of the fresh snow underfoot. Mornings where the moon was still full and bright had a magical glow that mesmerized me as left, right, left I paced out the mile run to the high school.

Tonight, as I parked the car - aware of the peace and stillness of the cold night - I thought, too, of God's ironies. The paradoxes I often encounter as I live in this world. I suppose it is about balance and contrast, and the ability to see one thing better when it's held up next to an opposing theme. Tonight, I thought about depression.

I keep running into people with depression: medically diagnosed, self-diagnosed, un-diagnosed, transient, long-term, medicated, un-medicated, functional, not-so-functional. I've had my moments - as I think we all do - but nothing similar to what I'm encountering. My heart hurts for them.

I find myself praying for joy for these people.... for peace. For the ability to look past the curtain or wall or situation that is obscuring the view. I ask God to inspire the heart to seek Him. For there lies peace and there lives joy. His peace cannot be taken from us - but it must be acknowledged and accepted to be ours as well.

May I cling close to You.

I thank You for the snow.... I thank You for Your peace, and hope and life.....

Be with those who need You...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Moments of Simple Joy - the blog

If you'd told me six months ago, I'd have a blog, I never would have believed it. If you'd told me I'd write daily, I'd have laughed. If you'd told me it would be about my relationship with God, I have given you a crazy look. "ah. no." But, Ah YES.

It's hard to believe that it's been nearly 6 months since the inception of my blog. It's also hard to believe how much joy it brings me. There are things I just love about it.

I love writing it... I love seeing what will come onto the page. There is always something I learn when I read the final result. Reinforcement of something I needed to hear, or a newly made connection between events and emotions. Often it's a new insight into how God is REALLY working in my life. I love that.

I also love seeing how people find the blog. Links from other blogs (most belonging to people I've met since beginning this adventure!) Quite frequently, the internet searches are the most interesting to me. They seem to come in clusters. Several people all looking for the same song lyrics, or the Latin translation to "Bidden or not bidden, God is present".

I love watching the states on the map and the countries on the globe fill in as people from those locations click in. It's amazing to know that there is internet access in areas that I didn't even know existed. It has certainly broadened my knowledge of geography, if nothing else!!

I recognize certain cities and states, and link them to individuals that I know. But there are a few that show up repeatedly that I don't know... I silently greet them all, as I see them, and thank them for their visit.

It has been a gift, this blog.

Thank you for letting me share...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Going Past the Edge of My Self..

I was standing on my yoga mat, doing "chair". My arms were WAY past the point of being comfortable extended over my head. I was reminded of the beginnings of my yoga practice, reaching my arms up toward the sky until I thought for sure they would fall off - or at least be numb forever.

But at that moment, it didn't seem strange that I was back there. There have been many things lately that have been reminiscent of the same period of time. At first it barely made the radar, but then, as more and more things brought me back there mentally, I thought, "OK, what's going on...?" Louder and louder, the Gentle Voice Within was saying "Pay attention. This is important."

Many times, those flashbacks remind me of how much I have to be grateful for, how much I've grown. I've learned that when I feel like I'm back where I started, I need to look more closely. More often than not, I'm in a similar place, not the same place. There has been growth, there is a different perception. Perhaps it was me feeling under the weather that made it feel different. Perhaps it was that I needed to learn...

I remembered the early days of yoga, when God met me on my mat - routinely. I remember being actively challenged by my instructor - to be pushed past the edge of my self: Out of my comfort zone. As I have grown and mastered some of the basic skills, built up some strength and flexibility, something changed.

I realized, as well, that something WITHIN ME changed. LOTS of things, actually, but I'm thinking of one in particular. As my life improved, I quit pushing to the edge of my self. Change didn't seem as crucial. In my yoga practice, I'd simply drop my arms if they were tired, while my instructor was explaining the posture. No big deal.

Or is it....?

Tonight, with the awareness of reminiscence, I tried something different. Rather than just going as far as I could under my own power, then quitting, I paused...

There I was, in "chair", sure that my arms wouldn't last a moment longer. Next thing I know, I am thinking, then silently whispering: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me". Over and over again. "I can do all things...." My arms lost their heaviness, and next thing I know my instructor was leading us out of the posture.

Exhaling, I knew... He is still waiting to meet me on my mat - in my life. I must be willing to go past the edge of my self. I must step out of my comfort zone, rely on Him, and trust that all will be well. I must not rely on my own understanding, nor my own strength.

The possibilities are endless, if I do not trap myself within my self.

Be with me here....lead me there...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Needs and Wants

I just have to say, I am appalled. I spent an afternoon out running errands, focused through the lens of a previous Sunday's sermon. Our pastor had been talking about contentment - and discontentment. The point that was driven home is that the only things that satisfy come from God... the worldly things - may feel good briefly - but don't truly satisfy.

Everywhere I turned, I saw people out searching... for contentment.... through stuff.

I suppose that is only part of my dismay. Not only are we looking at the wrong source for contentment, but there is also a total lack of insight to what we truly DO have. How blessed we TRULY are. At Wal*mart, I overheard a woman say, "My kids have nothing..." "Nothing" by our American standard is often unimaginable wealth elsewhere in the world! (Don't get me started on the things we WASTE!)

I truly need: food, shelter, clothing, and a purpose. Everything else is a want. Even within the "needs" categories, there are things I don't NEED. I don't need 8 pairs of jeans. I don't need a huge house. I don't need to have or be "the best". Like the lilies of the fields and the birds of the air. Their needs are met... and so are mine.

Yes, I have wants... and some of those are met as well. But they aren't needs, and if I focus on the "wants" too long, I take my eyes off of Him. I find myself focused on an unending list of things that don't truly satisfy, rather than looking at the gift I have already been given!

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me. Thank You, thank You, thank You!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Day of Rest

This week has not gone as planned...our holiday weekend got extended a day due to sick kids. I have been confined to the house for more days than are good for my mental health. I've not gotten nearly as much done as I had intended.

So, it was to be my day to tidy up and get a few of those five minute jobs completed. I absolutely needed to walk the dog. I fed the kids breakfast, and completed my run on my treadmill. And then, I knew what I had to do. *I* had to go to bed... just for an hour. It hit me hard. "MUST REST".

I lay down, I doubt I dozed, really. Near the end of the hour, my son asked for lunch. I got up and prepared soup for him and his sister... and returned to bed.

For me, a day of rest. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, there's no getting around it. After six hours in the bed, I feel much better...close to human. At this rate, I will be well by morning. There were days when I didn't listen, and pressed forward and was downright SICK.

I'm sure that this "day of rest" is a "gift" from my son and his flu virus. I am grateful that I am better able to listen to the command to rest. I am grateful for my "village", who rallied around me. I am blessed beyond my wildest imaginings...

Heal us, Lord...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Faces of Divorce

Through the years, and especially within the past 6 months or so, I have met more and more divorced women. Some have been divorced for years, others more recently. Some have young children, others, grown children.

Many of these women struggle to make ends meet. Some routinely require the assistance of the court to receive child support. Many move - sometimes quickly - some stay in their marital homes. Some are at peace with the dissolution of their marriage, others struggle with the feelings of loss and grief.

The reasons for divorce vary, but the outcomes are essentially the same. Life has been dramatically changed. It's hard - no matter how 'good' it is. There is a process to walk through. There needs to be time for "grieving the wish" of the marriage, and healing of a broken heart. It was in that process that my faith was enriched. It was then that the true "God-connect" was established.

One of my friends likens single mothers and children of divorce to the "widows and orphans" of this time. Many truly are. Some are fortunate to have continued support in parenting. Some struggle with the balance between the two.

As I meet more and more women of divorce, I am reminded how blessed I am. My house, my neighborhood, my "village", my ex. It has not always been easy, but I have been truly loved and supported throughout the process. It has strengthened my faith, and renewed my hope.

In all this time, I have never had a need go unmet.

Thank You, God...

Monday, February 16, 2009

A Day for Five Minute Jobs

I have been in need of a Day for Five Minute Jobs. You know, the little tasks that get set aside for when there's a minute or two to complete them. They seem to pile up for me - especially after weeks like I've just completed. When they do, life seems 'cluttered' and unsettled.

I've got a whole list... change a couple of light-bulbs, filing, bring boxes of stuff sorted for the church yard sale into the garage... just to name a few! (and then, there are the 15 minute jobs! Another list unto itself!)

I was hoping to get to them on our sick day on Sunday, but, instead, I chose to disinfect all the doorknobs and bleach-wash all the linens. It seemed like a prudent thing to do with the germs floating around here. I also chose to spend some time with my children - watching movies, playing the wii, snuggling... and coercing them into taking their Tamiflu!

Perhaps today will include a few of the five minute jobs. At least one or two... amid the snuggling and coercing...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Silver Side of the Flu

My son woke up with a fever... I was pretty sure he had contracted a case of strep throat just like his sister. Their symptoms were the same - except he had boogers.... But, that's my boy: a booger-factory. He ALWAYS has boogers.

I found some coverage for the cookie booth I was running and brought him to the walk-in clinic. We were seen by the nurse practitioner, and a throat and nose swab later, we had the results: strep - negative....flu- positive.

Oh boy.... first case of flu we've had in 7 years (at least!) He feels lousy. His sister is feeling a little lousy... I'm just tired. We're all on Tamiflu.

As I canceled appointments here and there, and let my interpreter-friend know I would not be at church, there was this pull within me. The two days when I have not been able to attend church, I have felt it... both times, sick children. I feel it to a lesser degree when I am working a Sunday. There is this pull within me that feels like I am missing something.... something BIG. It's like a disconnect in slow motion, that I need to reconnect. I love it that I love my church family that much, and I find such peace and comfort there.

And then I found some gratitude for the whole situation. I got to spend an evening home with my children (plus two - who had previously been exposed!), watching Evan Almighty. I get to have a morning where I don't have to set the alarm. (There is great gratitude in that!)

I found myself praying for healing, and protection for those of us who are still well... may we stay well. I didn't always believe in prayers for healing.... (I'm a western trained clinician, remember!).... Today, I do... with every cell of my being, I believe in the power of prayer.

There is always a silver lining... there is always a gift in the pain.

Thank You for showing me - reminding me. Teach me....

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Believing is Just the Beginning...

I was picking up some scattered trash, after the kids had addressed their valentines. My boy-child had picked Spiderman, and my girl-child, fairies. They had written their "to"s and the "from"s, had put them in their backpacks, and I had put the extras away (for next year, perhaps!).

I was onto the next task - cleaning the kitchen. When I saw it, I paused. I didn't recognize it at first. I just read it. "....Believing is just the beginning...." "Whoa," I thought, "ain't THAT the truth!" I picked up the piece of cardboard and tried to figure out it's origins. Then, I knew - the fairy valentine box.

It's interesting to me the places that I find these bits of Truth. I certainly never thought it would be on a box of valentines. The phrase stuck with me all day.

I thought back through my own spiritual walk. It did begin with believing.... Believing and accepting were just the start...and then it kept on going. There the work began. Fortunately, it was also where the joy was realized, and I found some peace. Hope and life were renewed.

Through the years, my relationship with God has continued to evolve - moment by moment, day by day, year by year. It deepens, it becomes more and more real. It blows my mind, and it continues to examine my heart and it's outward expression in the choices in my life.

Thank You, God for nudging me along, for loving me here, now, and of course, for Your ever-present "stalking" in my life.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Helping Hands Thursdays

I really enjoy Thursdays.... probably because I really enjoy service... and my kids... and their school.

Every Thursday, a group of moms comes to the school to help out. The teachers set out "assignments" and we get to work. It is a wonderful time of service, and of fellowship - with the bonus of getting to know the school community: parents, teachers, staff, students.....

Somehow, we KNEW today would be "heart" themed. Well it was.... we cut many, many hearts. It is also the day before the kindergarteners "100th Day" of school.

Here that is a big celebration. There are parties with 100 treats. Each of the children bring their "100 Day" project - a bit of creativity that involves 100 of something.... It's fun to walk the halls and see what they come up with.

They also have these cool "100 Day" glasses.... which involves much cutting on the moms' part. And gluing. (And then much decorating and giggling on the kids part!) As I sat and cut, circles and hearts and glasses, I thought back to MY kids' "100th Day" parties... they were soooo excited!

I also took a moment and internalized my gratitude. I am so grateful that I am able to go to my childrens' school, eat lunch with them, and be of service to the school and the teachers. Almost every Thursday, without fail. What a gift that is for me.

Thank you God for this opportunity to serve!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Blustery Day

The wind was blowing as I was walking... one of those Winnie-the-Pooh type blustery days. I loved listening to the wind in the trees and on the floor of the woods. The leaves dancing as they were blown along.

It was more than the "God sweeping the hair out of my face" kind of breezes.... it was a WIND. I was really enjoying it...

Then, as the day past, I noticed..... shingles flying off of my roof. There was nothing to do but watch.... and pick up the pieces out of the yard. I wasn't very happy about that.

Later in the afternoon, the cable went out. No INTERNET? c'mon! Talk about feeling totally disconnected. I couldn't even check to see if there is rain coming.

Clearly, things are back up and running... now to head out and check to see how we fared the night.

Thank you God for keeping us safe...and for your wind.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Time to Breathe....

Inhale.... Exhale.....

I talk about it all the time in my yoga class. Inhale.... Exhale.... Fully, deeply. It's important. Really important. And I certainly don't do it enough. (well, I DO breathe - I just breathe too fast and too shallow...)

Now, I feel like I have some time to relax - to rest, to reflect and to breathe... fully. Deeply. Inhale.... Exhale...

I was fortunate to get a taste of it while my sister was visiting.... a few hours sitting out on the deck in the sunshine, with no "to do" list running through my head. Bliss.

If all goes as planned, it will be a day of five minute jobs, and a day to sit and simply be for a little while. An evening of fellowship and a shared meal will complete it. A beautiful transition.

A gift. This day... with time to breathe.

Thank You, God, for this day. I will be glad and rejoice in it!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

New Life....

It has happened... I knew it would! Yet, it always brings me peace and I breathe a little deeper and easier when I actually SEE it. The daffodils have started to poke their greens out of the ground! (So have the crocuses and the snowdrops - but THESE are my daffodils!)

It's as if my body and spirit have found a bit more hope... a literal breath of fresh air... and it is so perfectly timed. The busyness of the past few weeks (has it been 6 already?) comes to a halt after today.

After today, comes a breather. I'll have some time to regroup as one job comes to and end and use my Christmas holidays at another. There will be time to bask in the early spring sun and reach for the heavens... just like my daffodils.

The days are beginning to get warmer and longer, and my gardens are calling to me... It is a time of renewal - for the earth and for myself.

Yes, I know... winter is not over. There will be cold days again - and likely another snow (or at least a freeze) after the daffodils bloom. It has happened every year since I moved to Tennessee. It used to disturb me. Now, I know that is just the way it is. It will warm, then get cold. But spring WILL come, as will summer and fall...and winter again...

The same is true in my life. It won't be all warmth and sunshine from here on out. Life will continue... beautiful, glorious Life. The cold spells will come - things will seem to die out. But just as sure as the sun will shine and the seasons change, God is with me.

Thank you, God, for the reminders of Your presence and Your plan for my life, It is so readily visible in my world. I don't always know what it is... or the exact where, when or how it will "bloom"... but I do know that it is there, and when the season is right, it will burst forth....

...Just like my daffodils!

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Midsummer's Night... in February...

My family has a tradition.... every summer, we return to Massachusetts to visit with family. While we are there, we travel to my sister's cabin in Maine.

My kids love her property there, and ask throughout the year, when we will return. It's a weekly version of the "are we there yet?" conversation that inevitably occurs traveling in a car.

This past weekend, my sister and one of her boys has been visiting us. We have had wonderful adventures, and a few minutes of downtime - sister time, cousin time.

So, when the kids asked "Can we have a fire?" it reminded us all of our s'more evenings gathered around my sister's fire circle. But, hey... the day was warm and the evening cool - just like Maine - so we agreed.

The kids roasted marshmallows and the adults watched the glowing embers, and allocated marshmallows to sticks.

It is one of the many moments we will treasure from this visit.

Thank you God, for family, for fun and for tradition!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Biggest Loser....

Well, it's official.... As of this morning, I will join the ranks of more than 20 women within my church trying to become "The Biggest Loser" of our congregation.

The encouragement and support - and healthy competition - will be wonderful. I need that...

Focusing on eating right and staying active is something that needs to happen... it's time. I've known for a long, long time.... but putting the knowledge into action is another story entirely. With each others help, we'll move forward.

For the next 15 weeks, I'll focus on a healthy diet and making exercise a priority in my life again. I'll "weigh in" weekly, and we'll see how it goes.

I am excited and apprehensive. What if it doesn't work....

What if it does....?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Blessed Beyond My Wildest Imaginings....

I am blessed beyond my wildest imaginings.... truly. It's become my tag-line.... my personal slogan. It's the signature line under my name on my emails. It frequents my Facebook status. It is written on my heart. It is totally, totally amazing.

It was a few weeks back, when I was signing "Your grace is enough...." that the reality moved deeply into my heart. Fortunately, it was during rehearsal. As I signed "Your grace true enough. Your grace true satisfy", my heart skipped a beat - or two. When it started up again, my face was already wet from the tears that had sprung forth. My hands kept on signing, but in my ears, there was no music, only the knowing that "Your grace truly IS enough.... yet, I have been blessed with so much more..."

The first day of February.... I had eluded to some beautiful weather... hadn't anticipated it arriving on the FIRST day of February. Sure enough, it did. I arrived home from church to find that it was as warm outside as it was inside my house. My friends here are all saying "SO... that's not saying much!" (translation - my house is cold.) But 60 degrees inside AND outside, I say we open some windows and let in some fresh air! So I did.

I had the opportunity to peek at the maples and find the very beginnings of some buds. I assessed the work I have to do in the gardens. Major cleanup - and a few inspired additions - to the vegetable garden, adding some mulch to the flower beds. I made note of the continued transplantations as my yard continues to become my yard. I envisioned the addition of some more stones and the completion of a patio area, and the garden edging that will follow.

Hope. Dreams. Literally, new life. Abundant life.

I know it will be work... hard work. I don't mind hard work. I love watching it come to life and evolve. I love the process. I love the connection with God in the midst of the process, and the time to rest with Him when it is complete.

Funny the parallels in my own life. It will be work... hard work. Mostly, I don't mind the work - though honestly, often the physical labor is easier than the emotional / spiritual labor. I love the process, and I love the connection with God in the midst of it... and resting in His presence as each piece is complete.

I am blessed...Beyond my wildest imaginings....

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Can Read

I was at the grocery store. The checkout clerk - a teenager - asked, "How are you doing today?" My reply, "Great, Matthew. How are you?" He nodded and kept scanning my items. It was the young man at the end of aisle that was stunned.

"Wait! Do you * know * each other?" Matthew wrinkled up his eyebrow and glared at the bagger. "I have a name tag on." he said, pointing to his chest, as I simultaneously replied, "I can read".

The young bagger spent the rest of the time I was in their lane saying: "Wow. That really freaked me out." "Man, she used his NAME." "Whoa...."

I was amused... And somewhat dismayed that calling someone by name was such a foreign concept to this young man. I also realized that I don't often take the opportunity to use someone's name. Sure, if I know them, I do, but people I don't know....not so much. I am often given the information I need - in a name tag or a placard. I can read. I just don't often choose to make the connection personal.

As Matthew handed me back my debit card receipt, he said "Have a nice day..." He glanced at the paper he was handing to me, ".... Linda." I smiled. The bagger shook his head, wide-eyed. Matthew laughed and shook his head at his partner.

I plan to become intentional about using people's names. There is a gift there in the process. There is power in a name.

Thank you, God, for reminding me - we all have names. You know them all. Help me to use them. Help me make the connection personal.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Filter...

I hesitate to write this post.... I don't want it to be mis-interpreted.... but I do want to express this experience. It is fascinating to me... and I am grateful for it...

It happens when I listen to music. It happens when I read - a book, or the bible. It happens when I talk with people. The Filter pops up and I hear, or I see exactly what I need to... the rest... background noise. It's like some days, the words just pop off the page or out of the radio. I wonder why I've never heard or read THOSE words before... hmmm... they're SO perfect for what's going on. "Gosh, do the DJ's know that the last 3 songs they played all say the same thing about surrender?" How does that person know that the previous two people I ran into said the SAME THING?? It's interesting....

And then, it happens when I interpret. I am most aware of it when I am "on" with my interpreting...which means I'm letting go of control of my hands, and praying the right stuff comes out! Sometimes, when The Filter is "right there" it totally freaks me out.

Let me preface by saying, I love what my pastor has to say, and I love his transparency, his personal honesty. I love the way he talks about his love for his children and his wife, and his walk with God. I love how his messages are relevant to my life, and firmly planted in biblical principles.

The first time it happened, it struck me by surprise. There I am, standing on stage - listening for his words, so I can figure out the concept for my hands to relay. All of a sudden, I'm having a Charlie Brown experience.

I hear "waa-waa-waa-waa focus life Jesus." I think to myself, "I know I'm tired, but...." My pastor continues.... "waa-waa-waa-waa focus world continue struggle. focus Jesus experience peace...." I KNOW without a shadow of a doubt, that is NOT what he is saying - I know he is speaking English. I am SURE he is speaking English, but I'm hearing ASL.

It is especially interesting to me because he has a propensity to be a bit of a sesquipedalian* teacher. Yet, none of what I heard, nor came off of my hands was difficult. I heard it. I signed it. As I become more and more cognizant of the process, it fades. It's all English again. My brain screams "WAIT! Come back.... I don't know how to say THAT in ASL...." But, it's gone. I'm having to think again.

I love the moments when it feels like God is whispering in my ear - telling me exactly what I need to know, exactly when I need to know it. As a mom, as a nurse, as an interpreter, as a child of God...

Be near oh God... whisper.... let me hear.


A long word.
1. Given to or characterized by the use of long word,
2. Long and ponderous; polysyllabic.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mandatory "Time Out"

So, we're coming into the home stretch here.... just a few more days, a nice visit with my sister and her boy in a few days, and AH, here comes a rest. And then, Sunday night, I mis-stepped. Fortunately, I was at ground level, having just descended the porch steps on my way to release the dog from his kennel. Next thing I know "pop" and "ouch!" and uncontrollable teeth chattering (it was the weirdest thing).

There I lay on the ground. As I push up to my knees, I am thinking to myself, "God, this can NOT be broken a. because it's 11 o'clock at night, and I have two sleeping children and b. I don't have time for this..." Quick assessment - not broken. walkable. not swollen. "YES!"

I free the dog, and hobble back to meet him by the back door. We go in. I sit down to further assess my injured leg. Still not swollen, not discolored. Still walkable so long as I don't roll it, or rest the heel on the counter.... Motrin and bed for me, after a quick prayer for healing.

Next morning, I wake with two normal-sized ankles - YES! Still somewhat tender, but still walkable. So, off to work I go...

Multiple people have reminded to "RICE" it (R-est, I-ce, C-ompression, E-levation). Yeah, I know, I've worked with trauma for decades (literally!). But, for me, "RICE" means something different "R-emember, I-buprofen, C-ontinue E-xercise". (yes, I am 100% stubborn at times. But also, really, it doesn't hurt so long as I don't roll it, or prop it by the heel....and I can avoid those movements, no problem....)

Mid day, someone asked to see it. Gosh... it *IS* kinda swollen. (still not discolored!). I put it on a chair with some ice while I had my lunch. I've added Ace c-ompression/support to it, AND, I found someone to teach my yoga class for me the next day. (though, honestly, if my daughter didn't have strep throat, I'd have been in class the night after I fell and the next night....)

I'm off to let in the dog, then R-est, I-buprofen, and E-levate it. I've just taken off the C-ompression... so, today.... 3 out of 4 ain't bad. I'm making progress....

THANK YOU GOD it's not broken....

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Answers are Within...

"The answers are within" is one of those phrases that I believe is true.... from the right perspective. I also believe that through the years, the focus has shifted... and the caveat lost: "within me" doesn't mean "from me"...

More often than not, when I am searching for an answer, I already know it.... I am just not yet willing to acknowledge it. In those situations, I'll keep coming back to it, but deny it over and over again.

"Can't be right... too easy".

"Can't be right... too hard".

"Can't be right... it just can't".

"Can't be right... I don't want that!"

Yet, I keep returning to it....finally, I surrender. The whirling in my brain ceases, and my heart can begin it's journey. In the end, I realize " Yup, it's right".

There are also times when I truly don't know the answer. I seek council from friends, advisors, the internet. Finally, when I've exhausted those options, I take time to sit with God. I ask Him for guidance, wisdom, discernment.... courage, humility, grace. There, I find answers.

One important note, however....

They are not MY answers. They are not answers based upon MY "wisdom", MY will/power, MY authority. Those "answers" get me into trouble... fast! My answers are based in fear, in extremes, and in avoiding painful situations. His are based in love, balance and grace. Sometimes they are messy.... and painful. But, they lead to truth, and abundant life. They free me from my chains.

The answers are within me. Whisperings of the Spirit. When I am quiet enough to listen, I hear. When I am stubborn enough to ignore, He waits patiently, or speaks louder. When I continue in my ways, I reap what I sow.

May I listen. May I hear. May I walk where You lead.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Serious.Life Magazine...

I am totally amazed at the way things work out sometimes. I never intended to write a blog. As of several months ago, I had never READ a blog... but, then, in August, everything changed. I started writing...and reading. It has totally blessed my life....from both perspectives.

I never expected to develop friendships through my blog. Some of these are the very honest, "pull your covers", friendships that are truly precious in my life. They are the ones that challenge me to grow, to live honestly and continue to seek. These people are not afraid to ask the difficult questions, to confront my thinking when it is skewed, to call it like they see it - to hold up mirrors in my direction.

I also never expected to have people that would read it consistently. People tell me they start their day reading the thoughts I share regarding my relationship with God. That's hard for me to fathom on many levels: First that they'd do it, and second that I'D do it. "I'm not that bold in my faith", I though... I don't talk about my relationship with God.... or I didn't...

From the blog reading perspective, I have been blessed with the stories and snippets of people's journeys that they have been willing to share. I have seen demonstrations of living by faith, of praising God in the midst of a storm. I have read of joys, sorrows, and absolute honesty. I have seen growth in the short time I have been following along. I have received strength and hope and insight through their words and pictures.

In reading about Abby, I learned that her parents own and publish a publication called Serious.Life Magazine. They just published the February issue today, and I am in their Featured Blog Directory. I really enjoyed reading through their last issue. I look forward to this one as well.

The magazine includes a lot of great content from bloggers you’ll appreciate, as well as great features, photos and other content. The Riggs family have seven kids, three adopted and one, Abby, who has Leukemia ( The magazine gives away a bunch of ads to charities and ministries. Besides great articles on interesting people, there is a lot about family, adoption, personal finance, spiritual life, humor… all sorts of “life” topics. (and I LOVED the "bulletin bloopers" in the January issue! Oh, I laughed so hard....)

The subscription is free, so take a minute to check it out and sign up to get future issues.

Reading and writing.... I never know where I am going to end up...

Lead on... I'll follow.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Time to Rest... and Rejuvenate!

I have survived January! It's hard to believe... For a brief period of time toward the end of the month, it seemed like it would never end. I would never be able to rest. I was given a few moments - and even a few unexpected moments - but it wasn't enough.

I am exhausted.

But.... February.... a new season. And judging from the calendar, a season of rest. YES! It starts with a kid-free, work-free day. Throw in a week of unused holidays and the end of a clinical rotation, and I'm feeling rejuvenated already!

And... the best thing yet? Even though it is still winter, February is amazing here in Tennessee. There are some beautiful, beautiful days. The first signs of new life can be seen on the trees and in the ground. I get to start piddling in the yard, preparing for gardening. It brings my God-time to a new level.

February brings hope. Hope for new life, for rest, and for precious time tending the Earth, talking with God.

Ecclesiastes 3:2-8

a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.