Friday, May 31, 2013

Faces Shine

Exodus 34:29
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.
I think that this sort of thing still occurs in our day and age, though to a lesser degree. As a Christian I am often drawn to other people that seem, upon closer inspection, to have a glow about them. Sometimes, I find out that these very people are Believers and have spent many hours with Christ.
There are days when Bob and I run errands and come home thinking that all the uglies were let out that day! It seems as if we were surround by gnomes and gargoyles in every store where we stopped. There are other days when it seems we both notice certain persons who seem to shine. They do not even have to smile. Somehow, we are drawn to them. I think we are drawn because of the indwelling Spirit of Christ, as in Psalm 42 where "deep calls to deep."
Amy Carmichael's devotional pointed out these verses recently.
Wycliffe Psalm 34:5
Nigh ye to him, and be ye lightened.
Go ye near to him, and ye shall shine with joy;
and your faces shall not be shamed.
Holman Psalm 34:5 Those who look to Him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed.
What do you think about this? Had any similar experiences?
James 4:8a NIV reads "Come near to God and He will come near to you." Had any close encounters lately that might make you shine?

Thursday, May 30, 2013


"Great Smoky Mountains Wildflowers" book describes this as an" odd plant, Indian-pipe is found in thinly scattered clusters throughout the Smokies. Having no chlorophyll, it lives off the roots of other plants. The stem is 5 to 8 inches tall, with a single, nodding white or occasionally light pink or blue flower at the top. Another common name is Ghost Plant. The only other species of this genus in North America is pinesap.
We did not think we had ever seen the flower until this year. We have a painting of Indian-pipe the Cookseys gave us. We had no idea of the true size. The ones we found were about 4 inches tall. perhaps not full grown? The tiny blue flowers near it are violet blooms.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

As soon as

Psalm 138:3 As soon as I pray, You answer me; You encourage me by giving me strength.
Isn't that an amazing verse? As soon as I pray! Just that moment. Not always, in fact rarely, as I imagined, but an answer none the less.
Read one of my poems from 79-9-7
A prayer
Prayed in truth and faith
Through the Blood of Jesus,
Is as a drop of water
Upon the river of life;
Sending out endless
Ripples and waves
Throughout creation.
As the prayer is said
The answer begins movement.
Pray, and then watch for the answer! Just look.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mystery and Secrets

Listened to a teaching series recently and was reminded of a few verses. It seems that every book I am reading is in synchronization with every other book I am reading! Anam Cara by O'Donohue, various Natalie Goldberg books, devotionals, Native American Healing, Thoughts Matter, etc.
Take courage from these two verses and rejoice that The Lord reveals things to us and looks throughout the earth for those hearts fully committed to Him!
Deuteronomy 29:29
The secret things belong to the Lord our God,
but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever,
that we may follow all the words of this law.
2 Chronicles 16:9a
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth
to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Between My Ears

All of us experience suffering in life. None is immune. I have learned over the years that at times I increase my own suffering, usually unintentionally, by how I think. Black can become blacker and dark can become darker depending upon the attitudes I adapt at given moments. Many people have been credited with saying, "It is not what happens to you in life that matters; it is how you react to what happens to you."
Tara Brach teaches that the two wings of Radical Acceptance are seeing clearly and holding our experiences with compassion. These days my prayer is often, "Lord, help me to see clearly." And I am learning to hold each of my experiences with compassion. Compassion for both myself and others.
Mary Margaret Funk wrote a book entitled Thoughts Matter. In it she says, "The work of every one of us is interior work, the practice of training our thoughts."
When life brings us discomfort we get to decide how to react to it. The most dangerous place I have found goes something like, "This is not what I wanted! This is awful. Why me?"
Joan Borysenko calls this "Awfulizing." She wrote in Minding the Body, Mending the Mind "Once you have begun to awfuize, engaging the fight-or-flight response, you tend to lose perspective. Once on track, the anxious mind does not deviate; it is hard to distract. One-track thinking is adaptive in cases where you are actually in an emergency situation and need full attention to escape. In situations that are only mentally threatening, however, this survival wiring becomes a trap. The worried mind engages the fight-or-fllight circuits. The muscles tense up. The question for any of us who become trapped by anxiety, is how to break the cycle."
When I broke my arm last summer just a few days before the Homeless Shelter project I thought it was awful. I could not lie in bed and read because I could not hold book! I began to listen to more and more books on tape. I spent most of the summer in a brace and then in physical therapy. Little did I know that was just a dress rehearsal for this year. I am almost certain the misery of 2013 has been a body-wide reaction to the Prolia injection. We may never know for certain. Looking back on these recent days, turned weeks, turned months of unrelenting itching and rash misery I can see that I have indeed learned something about how to best accept what happens in the course of my life. When I reached the point where I knew there was nothing I could do but take my medication and wait for healing and deliverance I still had the choice whether to relinquish my anxiety or continue to gnaw on it. It is easier to relinquish than you might imagine.
By turning loose of the thoughts about my condition I was able to just sit and distract myself through the worst of it. Prayer continued, but activities were canceled until my life was basically get through the day and try to do something with the grandchildren when the opportunity arose. As my activities resume I have gained a new focus. The writing life I have always wanted is coming clearer and the practice has begun. I am learning to guard my time and set boundaries around my life to explore this area for development.
Much of what troubles us in life occurs between our ears. What is going on in your head?

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Saturday at the Convent I shared by blog entry from John O'Donohue. It made for a lovely meeting of Journey Together In Stitches, "JTIS."
Each of us arrived rather weary, with the sentiment, "Well, I am here." One gal said her husband told her, "You NEED stitchery! You are going." Each of us can find other things to do on that one Saturday, but those of us who choose to attend usually come away energized and uplifted.
Seven of us shared the Friendship Blessing and then I opened the time to encourage everyone to share Linda's teaching on and experience of Reiki. She led us in a short "Tune up" (my terms, not hers!)
The sentiment of the Friendship Blessing was so perfect for our time together. This is our third year of meeting about once a month for stitchery and encouragement in our Christian Journey. We just keep finding things to talk about and to share with one another!
I am blessed by the friendships formed through the Convent and affirmed by our meeting for JTIS. May The Lord continue to hold us in His arms of love.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


John O'Donohue offers this Friendship Blessing

May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where there is great love,
     warmth, feeling, and  forgiveness.
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you reassure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
     may they bring you the blessings, challenges, truth,
     and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam cara.

One definition given is: 
"Anam Cara refers to the Celtic belief of souls connecting and bonding. In Celtic Spiritual  tradition, it is believed that the soul radiates all about the physical body. When you connect with another person and become completely open and trusting with that individual, your two souls begin to flow together. Should such a deep bond be formed, it is said you have found your Anam Cara or soul friend.
Your Anam Cara always accepts you as you truly are, holding you in beauty and light. In order to appreciate this relationship, you must first recognize your own inner light and beauty. This is not always easy to do. The Celts believed that forming an Anam Cara friendship would help you to awaken your awareness of your own nature and experience the joys of others.
According to John O’Donohue, an accomplished Irish poet, philosopher and Catholic priest, “…You are joined in an ancient and eternal union with humanity that cuts across all barriers of time, convention, philosophy and definition. When you are blessed with an anam cara, the Irish believe, you have arrived at that most sacred place: home.”

Notice the sentence, "May you learn to be a good friend to yourself." How is that working for you? Can you be at home with yourself? Is there peace with yourself? 

Are you able to journey "to that place in your soul where there is great love, warmth, feeling and forgiveness? Have you made it your practice to go there frequently? I have found it to be a place of great healing.

Our best friends will be visiting soon. Bob and I are looking forward to our time with them. May you, too, be blessed with your anam cara. 
Here is another blessing read by John O'Donohue. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Synchronicity or Just God Has Been Everywhere?

Wikipedia defines synchronicity as the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, yet are experienced as occurring together in a meaningful manner. The concept of synchronicity was first described in this terminology by Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychologist, in the 1920s.
The concept does not question, or compete with, the notion of causality. Instead, it maintains that just as events may be grouped by cause, they may also be grouped by meaning. A grouping of events by meaning need not have an explanation in terms of cause and effect.
I have been reading a number of books during this long recovery (from what I still think is a reaction to that Prolia injection. And yes, it is still on-going. Shucks.) Natalie Goldberg has inspired me for years to be a better writer. I have begun reading her works again. I forgot how much she knows about approaching life with present moment thinking, meditation, and clear presence. Brother Lawrence has always informed my life since I first found his work in 1988 or so. His teaching paraphrased is to live each moment in the Presence of God. John O'Donohue wrote Anam Cara. I bought it after we toured Ireland in 2011.Someone on the tour suggested it to me. I have read about half of it. Then it landed in a drawer. I "just happened" to pull it out this week and realize I never finished it. From our travels in New Mexico my interested in Native American spirituality was enlivened. I have a Sweetgrass braid and sage stick that are like incense. I finally went down in the basement and got another book I never finished called Native Healing.
All of these sources teach about the same things! Taking deep breaths often. Finding the light within that God sends. There is a prayer called by various names: The Deer's Cry, Saint Patrick's Breastplate, and the Native American Beauty Way ceremony. You compare and tell me what you think!
I arise today
through the strength of heaven, light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire, Speed of lightning
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth
Firmness of rock.           
 (Trans. Kuno Meyer)
St. Patrick’s Hymn
I arise today through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
through confession of the Oneness
towards the Creator.

Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me.
Christ in me, Christ beneath me,
Christ above me.
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit,
Christ where I arise.
Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every person who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today through a mighty strength,
the invocation of the Trinity…

And finally the Beauty Way ceremony:
Joyful I journey.
Joyful with life-bringing rain I journey.
Joyful with refreshing rain I journey.
Joyful with growing plants, I journey.
Joyful on the pollen trail I journey.
Joyful I journey.
As it was long ago I journey.
Let there be beauty before me.
Let there be beauty behind me.
Let there be beauty below me.
Let there be beauty all around me.
In beauty it is complete.
In beauty it is complete.

Another translation called the Navajo Night Chant goes:
In beauty (happily) I walk.
With beauty before me I walk.
With beauty behind me I walk.
With beauty below me I walk.
With beauty above me I walk.
With beauty all around me I walk.
It is finished (again) in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Two Themes Woven Together for a Chuckle

There is a folk remedy for arthritis called "Drunken Raisins." Take yellow raisins and place in a jar. Cover with gin and let them sit for a few days. The gin must be made with juniper berries. Let the raisins soak for a few weeks. (Some say until the gin evaporates from an open jar. Others say close the jar and let sit for a few weeks.)
Then you are to eat nine or six raisins a day to help your arthritis.

One man asked,  "Was that six raisins a day or six tablespoons of gin with a raisin in it?" Arthritis Foundation assures that this is not a valid method of treatment, yet with many folk remedies there can be a placebo effect!

On another note, this time of year there is almost an epidemic in my flower beds of ugly, disgusting yellow-orange slugs. Yep, that is about life-size!  

Some of them get larger. As you may know I have been entertained by a Bluebird pair who have adopted us. I was told long ago that one man in the area went to the bait shop every day in winter and bought meal worms for his Bluebirds. With that idea in mind, I donned gloves and got a disposable plate to harvest the three slugs I found in the top of our compost bin. I put them on the deck railing to see what would happen. Within five minutes two were gone. I knew they did not crawl away because there was no slime trial on the banister. There was also a Nuthatch licking his beak over the last one! So Nuthatch or Bluebird, I do not care which one, can snack on all the slugs I can find.

One purported way to kill slugs is to partially bury a jar in the garden and fill it with beer. The slugs are attracted to the yeast fragrance. So if I collect these slugs and feed them to the birds will it be like "Drunken Raisins" for them?

(Supposedly the alcohol in the beer supposedly dissolves their flesh. And the websites say I would have to clean out the jar and refill it every day. NOT.)

Maybe I will join the guy that wanted six tablespoons of gin. I'll just drink a beer at dusk and watch my garden for slugs to collect for my feathered friends.

Last year I put slugs in a child's plastic bug collection box to show to the Grandgirls the next day. Good thing I left the box in the garage overnight instead of the house! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

So Much For Compulsive Self-Reliance!

NKJV ISA 50:11 Look, all you who kindle a fire, Who encircle yourselves with sparks: Walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks you have kindled-- This you shall have from My hand: You shall lie down in torment.

Living Bible:  But see here, you who live in your own light and
 warm yourselves from your own fires and not from God’s; 
you will live among sorrows.

Here is a selection from Streams in the Desert, March 30th that brought me comfort.

"What a solemn warning to those who walk in darkness and yet who try to help themselves out into the light. They are represented as kindling a fire, and compassing themselves with sparks. What does that mean?

  "Why, it means that when we are in darkness the temptation is to find a way without trusting in the Lord and relying upon Him. Instead of letting Him help us out, we try to help ourselves out. We seek the light of nature, and get the advice of our friends. We try the conclusions of our reason, and might almost be tempted to accept a way of deliverance which would not be of God at all.

  All these are fires of our own kindling; rush-lights that will surely lead us onto the shoals. And God will let us walk in the light of those sparks, but the end will be sorrow."

Many of us have thought if God would just MAKE us do the things He wants we would cooperate. He knows better. I have even wished He would drop a stone tablet into the front yard with instructions on it (like the Ten Commandments,) then, surely I would obey.

Unfortunately, He will not make us obey. In fact, He wants loving, willing servants. He will let me run my life any which way I want and leave me to my own devices, all the while reminding me the end will be sorrow. So no, I cannot eat everything I want to eat or drink everything I want to drink. No, I cannot live as if I am fifteen or twenty years younger than I truly am. Always, I am accompanied by His Holy Spirit. Never am I MADE to love Him. 
Twila Paris nails it here!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Be Constant

Unvarying, changeless, continual faithful. I have reworded this selection by Miguel de Molinos from the devotional Joy & Strength. Streams, Jesus Calling and this selection all echoed a theme today. Enjoy!
Be constant, O happy soul, be constant, and of good courage; for, however intolerable you are to yourself, yet you will be protected, enriched, and beloved by that greatest Good, as if He had nothing else to do than to lead you to perfection by the highest steps of love; and if you do not turn away, but persevere constantly, know that you are offering to God the most acceptable sacrifice. If, from the chaos of nothing, His omnipotence has produced so many wonders, what will He do in your soul, created after His own image and likeness, if you will keep constant, quiet, and resigned.
Now lest you think resigned is a bad word, read this: resigned
adjective stoical, patient, subdued, long-suffering, compliant, submissive, acquiescent, unresisting, unprotesting
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins
Isaiah teaches us "In returning and rest, I am saved; in quietness and trust will be my strength."

And why is this the most acceptable sacrifice? He wants full surrender to Him from all of us.

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.

Celebrate your Sunday in this style. Let it carry over into Monday and Tuesday. See for yourself how it works!
The Lord our God is constant and He wants us to be more like Him in our daily life.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Yes, I am Pouting

It just never ends, does it?
Rowan was sick last Monday so I went to Silver Sneakers in an effort to boost my activity level and get some energy back. Exercise is the #1 treatment for fibromyalgia. I tried to take it easy in the class and not push myself. At the end of class the instructor leads us in stretches. One move was very BAD for me.
A couple years ago I had a 'bulging disc" in my back. Three injections of cortisone and physical therapy to get the inflammation gone. I have not gone to an exercise class since then. Well, this one stretch made my back flare up on the left side instead of the right this time. I did not even know I had hurt myself until about 4:30 that afternoon when aching began. Nothing has helped, so I finally called the doctor Friday and asked if I could take the anti inflammatory again. She said yes, but if I start itching I should discontinue.
Now the challenge here is the itching has not ended. I am better, but not cured. Had so much pain Monday night it was very difficult to sleep. Another sleepless night last night. Sleep disturbance makes fibro worse and does not help arthritis either.
So more rest, asking for more prayer here, more patience, and no more stretches at Silver Sneakers. I will not return to the class until I can move without back pain. That may take a while!
I will try to take a step or two back and rest more. I was just getting my head around pacing my self, walking and moving more, daily writing practice, a little gardening, a little data entry. Hard to beat off the blues.

Friday, May 17, 2013

That Day at Porter's Creek Story

I subscribe to for a daily quote. In the worst throes of this rash thing I had read the quote below, but then inadvertently deleted it. I searched iPad trash, gmail trash on tower, even zoomtown trash. Finally I wrote to them and bless them, they found the quote for me!
Karen Blixen wrote

"All sorrows can be borne if you tell a story about them."

I have returned to blogging because it is good for me and about 10 to 15 people read it, {though regretfully only 2 comment :-( } I have been cogitating how best to use the quote. The story begins in Tennessee as we went to seek Ladies' Slipper orchids in the wild where we had seen them before. The road to Porter Creek is paved at first, then turns to gravel and gets more narrow as you drive along. The parking lot at the end was crowded, but we found a space okay. We had barely gotten out of the car and started up the trail when we came upon and unexpected scene. A large woman was getting down on the ground with professional photographic equipment to get a shot of of a blooming Showy Orchis. I noted how uncomfortable the gravely area looked and the light was lousy, too. I also noted the man with her, and an older woman. Perhaps her mother? Mother had a walker with wheels and the model that also has a seat in case one needs to rest.
Mind you, the trail was not paved, mostly packed gravel. A few hundred feet was uphill, and then rutted with roots and rocks and more gravel. I was glad she got an outing, but sad that she would not make it very far up the trail. My first thought was in reference to myself, "Things could be worse." My second thought corrected my first, "Things could be harder."
Bob and I walked on up the trail, me moving more slowly than in years past, but eager to see if the plants were there and if the blooms were open. I realized as we walked that this entire trail is uphill. That means going back to the car is downhill, and not necessarily nice for aging knees! Porter Creek crashed and splashed just below the trail. We were delighted by Showy Orchis, (noted as the prettiest of the over 30 orchids of the Great Smokies)
wild Crested Dwarf Iris (purple of course) in abundance, and
Fiddlehead ferns unfurling. And these were just the flowers we saw! How many thousands grow up and down those mountains simply for God's pleasure?
Now and then a smaller stream intersected the path on its way to the larger crashing creek. The burbling and gurgling of the water blessed my soul.
We found our marker as to where we should turn off the trail to look for "our Ladies." The locations of these particular wild flowers is not published as people foolishly try to dig up wild orchids. Go figure. They do not transplant and we all lose when their beauty is stolen from the Park.
Yep! There they were, still thriving, but we were 4-5 days early. The blooms were up on some of them, but not open yet. As we walked through the leaf litter I thought I heard the sound of water drops? or sizzling? Nope! It was tiny brown crickets, thousands of them jumping to get out of our way!! We meandered further up the trail enjoying the raucous stream, trillium varieties and marveling at how our memories were preserved and the place unchanged to our eyes. In past years I was able to hike this trail to the top where a house used to be and beyond that where the stream gets rugged and wild over boulders as large as VW bugs. I got no where close to the bridge that crosses the stream at 0.7 mile.
Finally, Bob convinced me it was time to turn back and head down the trail to the parking lot. I angled back and forth {left to right to left} over the trail to take some of the pressure off my knees. Imagine my surprise when we turned the corner, right at "our Lady slipper" area and there was the woman with the walker parked next to a large boulder. I was thrilled for her! I spoke to her and said the flowers were up, but not open yet. {The terrain from where she was to where they bloom would have been truly tough with a walker, maybe impossible.} She pointed out to me a flower right on the boulder by my knee. The stem was broken. She asked "Who would do such a thing?" I said, "Perhaps a fool?" I then realized we of more-able-body had totally missed this bloom in our haste to see the other ones! Sadly, I realized perhaps we had broken it?
As I was walking away I was compelled to return and tell her that she was an inspiration to me. I almost wept as I spoke to her. I told her briefly about my physical struggles which I knew she could not see. Her progress up the trail was slow, but actually, when I spoke to her she was more cheerful than me. Her ankles were huge with swelling and there was a brace on her lower leg. She posed the question, "What else are we going to do?" I responded "We cope as best we can and go on." As we parted she asked the Lord's blessing on me and I asked Him to be present with her, too.
As I walked away The Lord spoke to me again by showing me rocks. A caramel one for the memory of delicious flowers, including Showy Orchis, and a sharp one, for it could be HARDER to see the flowers in years to come, but not impossible.
On descent I had a sharp crunch pain in my left foot. I wondered if I could break a toe by just stepping down on it? Decided to assure myself I just probably broke off a bone spur and I'll feel better now. REALLY, I will.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Where Can I find that Hope?

"Hope finds its strength in helplessness and calmly waits for Thee."
Streams in the Desert March 25
Psalm 139:7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?
If I sit in the living room every night itching, You are there.
If I take all the prescribed drugs and itch, You know why.
If I want to run through the streets screaming and smashing eggs against the trees in the woods,
You understand.
If only I, too, had such insight today.
Years ago in Streams in the Desert I read:
Job 13:15 KJV Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him: but I will maintain mine own ways before Him.
and the NIV Job 13:15 Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him; I will surely defend my ways to His face.
At first I only recited and learned the first part, "though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." I found a prayer by Teilhard de Chardin, French philosopher, Jesuit priest, paleontologist and geologist which reads:
" Oh God, grant that I may understand that it is You
who are painfully parting the fibers of my being
in order to penetrate to the very marrow of my substance
and bear me away within Yourself."
I can honestly say I have been more transparent with The Lord through this particular trial than ever before. We are growing closer in spite of all my body can dish out! I will surely not need to say much to His face as I have poured my life and my heart into this effort to remain calm, patient and receptive to His healing in what ever way it comes.
I have kept to my declaration, day and night,
"I have determined that this day, each time I am drawn up short by pain (or itching)
I will praise You for I love You better than life - even better than quality of life."
Hope, trust, hope,trust, trusthope, hopetrust - I do not always like it, but we are going through this TOGETHER. Once on retreat He spoke to me "We Are Terrific Together!"
Just keep me Lord, I pray. Where can I find hope? In His hands.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Two Quotes That Ring Through My Soul

During the unfolding months of 2013 these two quotes have returned to me again. I have had to go look them up, repeatedly, and am now trying to secure them for the reader and myself.
"Perseverance is a long obedience in the same direction" said Eugene Peterson.
Here is the cross stitch on my kitchen bulletin board inspired by this quote.
Guess I need to sew this one next.

"It's not my grip of Christ, but Christ's grip of me," said an old Scotswoman long ago.

Ephesians chapter one has one of the prayers Paul prayed for other believers. It is a prayer for us, too. It is a comfort to think of Paul and Jesus lifting us in prayer!
He wrote that he was praying constantly that the Father would give these believers spiritual wisdom and insight so they could GROW in their knowledge of God.
Ephesians 1:18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called—His holy people who are His rich and glorious inheritance.
Part of that light brings us to understand what the old Scotswoman said. Verse 19 asks us to understand the "incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe" the same power that raised Christ from the dead. Hold up, what? The same power that raised Christ from the dead is available to you and me. Jesus was dead, dressed for death in shroud and spices, lifeless.
Douay-Reims 1899 reads: "And what is the exceeding greatness of His power towards us, who believe
according to the operation of the might of His power" not our grasp upon Him, but His power at work in and for us.
So often we come to believe that our faith is determined by our behavior and our grasp upon God. Nothing could be further from the truth. When circumstances of life move us into places of helpessness and hopelessness we are brought nose to nose with the fallacy. His grip upon me is the thing that matters most.
I am beginning to get the picture!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Solitude and Cathedral

When Bob took me to Paris he made certain I saw sights that would amaze me. This sculpture was one of those sights. We have a copy of it in our home. When we saw it at the Cincinnati Art Museum Gift Shop we both were instantaneous with the thought "Let's buy that!"
One hand is a man and one hand is a woman. This symbol of relationship and longing is most poignant to me.
I often quote Bonhoeffer regarding the fact that we are alone with Christ.

“[Jesus] stands between us and God, and for that very reason he stands between us and all other men and things. He is the Mediator, not only between God and man, but between man and man, between man and reality. Since the whole world was created through him and unto him (John 1:3; 1st Cor. 8:6; Heb. 1:2), he is the sole Mediator in the world...

The call of Jesus teaches us that our relation to the world has been built on an illusion. All the time we thought we had enjoyed a direct relation with men and things. This is what had hindered us from faith and obedience. Now we learn that in the most intimate relationships of life, in our kinship with father and mother, bothers and sisters, in married love, and in our duty to the community, direct relationships are impossible. Since the coming of Christ, his followers have no more immediate realities of their own, not in their family relationships nor in the ties with their nation nor in the relationships formed in the process of living. Between father and son, husband and wife, the individual and the nation, stands Christ the Mediator, whether they are able to recognize him or not. We cannot establish direct contact outside ourselves except through him, through his word, and through our following of him. To think otherwise is to deceive ourselves.

There is no way from one person to another. However loving and sympathetic we try to be, however sound our psychology, however frank and open our behavior, we cannot penetrate the incognito of the other man, for there are no direct relationships, not even between soul and soul. Christ stands between us, and we can only get into touch with our neighbors through him. That is why intercession is the most promising way to reach our neighbors, and corporate prayer, offered in the name of Christ, the purest form of fellowship.”

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

Rilke is a poet I have been reading this past year. I happened upon this link in looking for the image of the Cathedral.

To speak again of solitude, it becomes ever clearer that in truth there is nothing we can choose or avoid. We are solitary. We can delude ourselves and act as if this were not so. That is all we can do. How much better to realize from the start that that is what we are, and to proceed from there. It can, of course, make us dizzy, for everything our eyes rest upon will be taken from us, no longer is anything near, and what is far is endlessly far.

Borgeby gärd, Sweden, August 12, 1904 Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

So as we clasp our hands in Christian fellowship and with loved ones may we always remember that though we desire intimacy with one another, no one can know us as thoroughly or as clearly as Christ. He is the One between the two of us. "The Holy Unseen Guest at every meal, the Silent Listener to every conversation."

Monday, May 13, 2013

Looking About Just Look

Looking behind I am filled with gratitude. Looking forward I am filled with vision. Looking upwards I am filled with strength.
 Looking within I discover peace.
Quero Apache Prayer

Looking is not something we do as much in this thinking, thinking world. This prayer reminded me of an exercise I first learned from the teaching of Richard Rohr. In his book Near Occasions of Grace he wrote:

"There are two spiritual disciplines that keep me honest and growing: contemplative prayer and the perspective from the bottom. Regarding the first, I was always encouraged in contemplative prayer from my early days as a Franciscan novice. But it was only five years ago that I was freed for a year to pursue that part of my vocation. It was a major turning point. After a thirty-day solitude in Thomas Merton's hermitage in Kentucky, I spent the rest of the year at our Franciscan novitiate house in Cincinnati. I took as my guide a simple phrase: "Don't think. Just look." Father McNamara's definition of contemplation became transformative: "A loving look at the real." The world, my own issues and hurts, all goals and desires gradually dissolved into proper perspective. God became obvious and everywhere.
"You see we do not earn or find God. We just get ourselves out of the way. We let go of illusion and the preoccupations of the false self. As the cheap scaffolding falls away, the souls stands revealed. The soul, or true self, cannot be created or worked for. It is awakened. It is, and it is already. The soul of God's "I AM" continued with me. That part of me already knows, desires, and truly seeks God. That part of me knows how to pray naturally. here "I" and God seem to be one "I." All we need to do is forget the false self. Don't fight, hate, or reject it. Just observe it and let go of it. As you let go of your own "house" you will find yourself living in a place that is both "utterly different and exactly the same." Merton called it "the palace of nowhere" and Jesus called it "the Father's house." It is the only place you will ever want to live.
"I am not there, but I am being urged and led in spite of myself. Someone out there - and within here - is loving me and loving through me. The days continue to be given. And I am in wonder." 

And Amy Grant sings "Don't try so Hard."


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Message For Moms Everywhere!

Years ago I declared to The Lord that I was TRYING! He replied, "Yes, dear, very trying."
Tuesday, May 7 I heard this song by Amy Grant for the first time on KLOVE radio. They posted the video today. Enjoy!
Another Monday comes and I just want to breathe
'Cause it's a long, long week for someone wired to please
I keep taking my aim, pushing it higher
Wanna shine bright, even brighter now
Wish I would tell myself
Don't try so hard
God gives you grace and you can't earn it
Don't think that you're not worth it
Because you are
He gave you His love and He's not leaving
He gave you His Son so you'd believe it
You're lovely even with your scars
Don't try so hard
Do you remember how the summers felt when we were kids
Oh, we didn't think much about it
We just lived
Taking our time, beautiful leisure
When did start, trying to measure up
And all of this time, love has been trying to tell us
Publishing: © 2013 9T One Songs / Ariose Music (ASCAP) (Admin. at / 2013 Grant Girls Music, LLC (ASCAP) (Admin. by The Loving Company)
Writer(s): Amy Grant & Ben Glover

Saturday, May 11, 2013

May 10, 2013 After Midnight

As the clock moves from 10:30 to the later hours of the night I try to sleep to no avail. The heebe-jeebies of pain come stomping over my body as my ankles and knees writhe seeking comfort and sleep. What is this curse I fall under so many nights lately? Is this too a call to write? Almost asleep, I cannot enter the land of lullabies. Not fretting or anxious, just zapped here and there by pain. After 45 minutes I give up. It is almost as if when sleep approaches the pain takes on the character of the troll who lives under the bridge in the tale of the Three Billy Goats Gruff. Fearsome and ugly it threatens to eat me up. I am almost willing to let it!

My hand and wrist are tired from reading in bed and holding the book up. I move pillows around searching for that space where I can fall into a deep sleep, the oblivion that some babies and most teenagers are blessed with. Did Alice truly find a way through the looking glass? May I go, too, past consciousness to a place of restoration and refreshment, preferably without drugs.

Tonight it seems to be sit up until I yawn myself to sleep. Read and if necessary sleep in the guest room. For the moment the itching is quiet, replaced by jaw pain, thumbs ache, knees uncooperative, elbows, ankles, feet, shoulders, you get the idea? Throw in sore throat as the honeysuckle is blooming and mold count in the thousands, I am a mess. Did I mention finger joints enraged at osteoarthritis growth? Ha! They have a name! Herberden nodes. Well, goody. Now I can call a node by it's name. At least once they fuse they are no longer painful!
Sing along with Eric. He wasn't looking any too young in 2009 either.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Grasping The Hand

So my life has become a game of Hopscotch - begin at square 1 - again. Start over on the basics and define the life I want to live.
We never drew it this way, but Wikipedia says this is most popular American form.
Maybe this time grasp the hand of Self-Care and not let go!
Do I need someone to talk to or do I just need more honest sharing with myself?
Authentic connection with my life, day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment.
Journaling and writing practice to go below the superficial surface chatter and get to the root.
That might be the best prescription for wholeness.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Don't Want to Live in the Cheapest Room Any More

Gratefulness WORD FOR THE DAY on Monday, Apr. 8
Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I would like to see you living in better conditions.
Khwajeh Shams al-Din Muhammad Hafez-e Shirazi
I had another doctor appointment May 7. I am getting better, very slowly. Unfortunately, the itching is still present, though the rash has lessened. There was no talk of taking me off the drugs to help control the itching. Just a question if I needed refills.
So the brain is medicated into not minding so much the fact that I itch. Great. Stress can make the itching worse. There still might be a long term condition, but for now things are basically 'cope as best you can' and hope to keep getting better.
I have been fighting off fear and boredom and pain to where I am sick of the topics. The chronic pain is probably a larger problem right now than the itching and rash.
Now the good news! One of my favorite authors, who also happens to teach writing skills, just printed a new book. I got it from the library today and ordered it for myself from Amazon tonight. If I am to write as I have wanted to in the past, there is no time like the present! So I will not be jumping back into busy, busy life any time soon if at any time period. I plan to spend my energy on practicing self-care, writing, husband, grandchildren and our home.
If and when I sense my patience and social skills returning and rising I will be involved in more things. For now, suffice it to say I am doing all I can to fashion a good life with Christ in the world in the skin I am in now. There are times this does not even look like the skin I have always thought of as mine. Weird. I remember reading in an Oliver Saks book about how some patients have to struggle with their relationship to their own body after traumatic injury. I get it.
I am working towards: more gratitude for daily blessings, appetite control (I have put on pounds working through this depression and fear), resuming some sort of exercise however limited, writing practice every day, prayer and music to keep me focused on Christ and His Presence in my life, relationships with those who help me see life in a nurturing light. Gee! guess I am somewhat busy!
Please keep praying for me as I am praying for those who read this. Your comments on the blog are welcome and help me know who is actually reading this stuff besides Bob and Dan Cooksey!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Trouble in Our Lives

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Trouble creates a capacity to handle it ... meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it."

The old saying that misery loves company is only too true. Recently in my journal I wrote:
"And so misery invited agony who brought along distraction and insomnia. ....Coping is so hard with the pain and undercurrent of itching. When I explode over other irritations I seem irrational, but there is no more patience left in me. The Spirit must provide it as fruit now.  Helplessness wants to invite hopelessness in for a visit and I am asking the Lord to bar the way."

All the pain relief drugs are out of my system and I am a painful mess. Please pray that I will develop the capacity to handle this trouble. People have had arthritis and fibromyalgia for years and coped. Come, Holy Spirit, and show me how.

Now I know why Grandma Snapp was so grumpy! 
(The photo below is NOT Grandma Snapp)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bob Loves the Newspaper

Recently Bob tried to share this article with me from the Clermont Sun. They got the story from the Brown County Press. He could barely get through the reading as we were both laughing so hard. Now if you have a tender doggie spot, you might not want to read this. But once again, truth is stranger than fiction!
"According to Brown County Municipal Court, two warrants were printed for Georgetown resident Harvey Carter on Monday, April 22. One warrant was for animal cruelty, a first degree misdemeanor and the other warrant was for discharging a fire arm, a fourth degree misdemeanor.
Krista Kiskaden, operations manager at the Brown County Animal Shelter, said that Carter's dog was reported to them as being aggressive. "We received a complaint call a few days ago that there had been a dog that attacked another dog in the county," Kiskaden explained. "After our investigation, the owner of the attacker dog voluntarily agreed to have his dog euthanized to prevent it from ever happening again. Keep in mind that his dog was very people friendly and obviously loved his owner."
Kiskaden said that the very next day after the incident, the shelter received another call about a dog running at large with a current tag on. "The caller told me that the dog was great and was playing with her children," Kiskaden continued. The warden went out to pick up the dog and left a notice at the owner's home that the dog was at the shelter.
"The warden recognized the dog right away as the one that had attacked another dog the day before, the same dog that was supposed to have been humanely euthanized. When the owner arrived at the shelter to redeem his dog, that dog was just so happy to see his owner. But we reminded the man that even though he got along well with people and children, he was a danger to other dogs. We asked him to take the dog to be put to sleep."
Kiskaden said that following the incident, on April 15, the Mt. Orab Police were called out to a location where gun shots had been fired within the village limits. "The owner of that dog had tied him to a fence and shot him three times, " Kiskaden said. "Somehow the dog managed to break loose from his collar and run to a neighbor's porch. When the police officers arrived, the patrolman opened the back door of his cruiser and the dog jumped inside. This is such a sad thing to happen," said Kiskaden. "That dog loved and trusted his owner, just to have this happen to him. And the worse part is, all this happened so the man could save the fee of having a vet humanely and painlessly euthanize his dog."
The report did not say if the dog was injured by it's owner. We just saw comedy in the determination of the dog.. and of course, stupidity in the man's actions.
Photo is just a generic Shelter dog. Ours came from a no kill shelter and we love her!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Refuse to Fall down and Stay Down

Friday, Apr. 12
Refuse to fall down. If you cannot refuse to fall down, refuse to stay down. If you cannot refuse to stay down, lift your heart toward heaven, and like a hungry beggar, ask that it be filled, and it will be filled. You may be pushed down. You may be kept from rising. But no one can keep you from lifting your heart toward heaven.
Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés
Amy Carmichael wrote: "Sometimes things seem to happen contrariwise, on purpose. We are prepared for the usual trials of life, but these are not usual. They are things that come "out of course," and they are the most difficult of all to meet peacefully, and to pass through peacefully. They are most upsetting things, as we sometimes call them, and they often continue to try to upset us.
"It is very humbling to go through the list of ordinary things, as apparently they were regarded by the first missionaries, labors, prisons, stripes, stonings, shipwrecks, perils, travails, and then stop and consider these added words, "beside the things that come out of course." What were they? We do not know, but, judging by the things which were not counted as "out of course," they must have been a good deal harder than anything that comes our way.
Is there anything that you do not like and did not expect in your today? If so, perhaps these words will help you to meet it with serenity."
I go back and read this again and again. One friend recently commented their pain was nothing compared to my struggle. Yet, each one of us has struggles and hardships that no one else can truly imagine as to what depth they affect us. I learned long ago that you may see a person as such and so, but you will never know the difficulties that shaped that person and brought them to what you perceive today.
The saying is true that you should not judge another until you have walked several miles in their shoes.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Sometimes a quote grabs me. Often it sends me to the dictionary!
"The beginning of divine wisdom is clemency and gentleness,
which arise from greatness of soul and the bearing of infirmities."
St. Isaac of Ninevah
1. A disposition to show mercy, especially toward an offender or enemy.
2. A merciful, kind, or lenient act.
Often I wonder if we are divinely wise towards ourselves? Do we have merciful, kind or lenient thoughts towards ourselves? Many of us spend most of our waking hours criticizing and belittling ourselves, driving home the message again and again that we will never measure up, we are never good enough. How might our day change if we saw ourselves through a lens of gentleness and clemency?

St. Isaac of Ninevah said the beginning of divine wisdom arises from greatness of soul and the bearing of infirmities. Often our infirimities are inner, located between our ears. A deadly stream of volatile negativity can pollute our every attempt to live in righteousness and holiness. If we are to follow after Jesus and be remade in His image, we must believe what God our Father says about us. We must begin to see ourselves as He sees us, covered over with the robe of righteousness that Jesus bought for us by His blood.

Through the trial of this relentless itching I have had to repeatedly adopt an attitude of clemency towards myself. Truly I have tried other means first. At times I have told myself, "Okay. This is a new day and you do not have to cave over itching." That did not work. Another day, "Okay. Do not even act or behave as if something is wrong today. Get dressed, go about your activities, and try to rise above this." That did not work either.

All my best lessons have come from acceptance of where I am Right Now and clemency towards this poor body that has 3 doctors confused and befuddled.

Divine wisdom I often lack. The Word assures me I can begin to obtain it.
Psalm 90:12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Boredom over being drugged into the state of a slug has driven me to try to arise at least mentally when my skin is in a turmoil. His grace is there at all times. Can I reach to it? With prayers and God's help, I can.

If I could I would draw a picture of my hand reaching up out of the mud puddle called my brain. Could not even find an image of that I liked on line. Perhaps you get the picture?