This is gonna hurt like…

Love to run two

THIS IS GONNA HURT…

“Hold on…Hold on to yourself. For this is gonna hurt like hell.”–Sarah Mclachlan

Two things you should know about me:

I LOVE to RUN

My day isn’t quite right if I miss out on my daily run. My thinking is foggy. My heart doesn’t beat as strong. My legs don’t hold me as upright. And if something comes to knock me out of balance, it is much easier to do when I haven’t had my run for the day.

And

I LOVE JESUS

I desire to live a life honoring God. I try to reflect the love of Jesus in what I do, how I live, how I treat others and in my heart. If I miss out on my time with the Lord, my thinking is foggy, my heart is weak, my walk is not upright and I am very easily knocked out of balance.

These two things are so entwined, interlocked and ingrained in the fibers of my life. My running time is often my time with the Lord; it is when I pray, seek and ask.  My time with the Lord is what keeps me running in this race of life.

“I’m not sick. I’m not sick. I’m not sick.”

It was the start of my weekend and I had lots of plans. I breathed deep and felt the gravelly, wheezy heaviness in my chest. I cleared my throat and began my mantra again, “I’m not sick. I’m not sick. I’m not sick.”

And as my weekend of denial progressed, the coughing began; the inability to breathe through the heaviness in my chest ended my restful nights and …

I got sick.

I hate getting sick because I know if I get out of my running regimen beyond two weeks, I have to start all over re-activating my cardio level, opening my lungs’ passageways and rebuilding atrophied muscles. The months of hard work, hills, interval training and hours pounding the pavement and in two short weeks of illness it’s flushed down the toilet.

So I fought it. Besides quoting my mantra of “not being sick,” I pushed through to keep my lungs open; I jogged, hiked and walked.

I got sicker.

It’s going around.

If you haven’t gotten it, you probably will. Your co-workers, friends and the seemingly harmless (yet, sneezing) 67 year old lady in seat 14D will ensure your immune system gets to partake in this.

Bedridden and nursing myself back with rest and fluids, I had to let go and realized a few things–

Coming back from illness is tough. Regaining wholeness and health is always an ongoing journey, and the next time I strapped on my running shoes—

–it was going to hurt like hell.

 

We live in a world steeped with sickness.

Sin, like an infection, is rampant in our world. If you are free from it now, you will catch it sooner or later. (We all fall short and we all will fall ill). And, if you are healthy, upright and steadfast, you will still teeter toward temptation. Worldly illnesses like selfishness, lying, envy, pride, hatred, bitterness, anger are just a few of the beastly infections we will face.

So how do you prepare? How do you fight them off? Even Olympic trained runners end up injured, even the healthiest of us will end up falling ill from time to time.

If we take a lesson from our bodies; we have to let go, we have to take time to rest, and we must realize we need help at times from a source other than ourselves.

Jesus, The Great Physician, came to heal the sick.

On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

If it’s a deep rooted illness–(an on-going addiction, a dangerous dance with drugs, a penchant toward pornography,) or whatever your struggle is–STOP.

Continuing on in that same sick (sinful) direction brings worse repercussions. It will lengthen your “illness.” By not allowing grace into those broken places in our lives, we stretch out our pain and suffering.

Quit doing what you are doing.

To repent simply means to turn…So turn around–Let the HEALER examine your heart and prepare your spirit, cause this is gonna hurt like…

“I came to realize that spirit, as much or more than physical conditioning, had to be stored up before a race.”-Herb Elliott, Olympic champion and world record holder in the mile.

As my physical condition was deteriorating, I built upon my spiritual conditioning.

What I desire is the freedom to breathe in the forgiveness, the hope of redemption and the power of Christ. His mercy through our “illnesses” allows a new direction. This turning and allowing a Healer’s guidance brings new strength to face the path set out before us.

 

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4)

 

As I strap back on my running shoes, I take a deep breath. All that sitting, resting and re-hydrating as I was recovering will make my next few weeks tougher to push through what has built up in my lungs, my heart and my body. But I press on, because I know health and wholeness can be obtained again. My Healer will reward my repentance. My Healer will help me push through difficulties and rebuild me for the next time.

And I am assured that there will be a next time. –

“In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33)

So, as I continue in His direction, running this race, I know I will be more prepared to handle stumbling blocks and more able to battle future illnesses. I awaken my vision so I may know where to turn around when I get lost, and I find my hope in knowing that there is nothing in this world that  can come against me that, with the power of Christ in me, I cannot face.

May you be encouraged as you run your race.

“I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”  (Philippians 3:14)

 

May you find renewed strength as you face your own obstacles and illness and, may you always find rest and healing on your journey.

Again and again and again

Image from crossfitmf.com

Image from crossfitmf.com


I just heard that the first Monday of the first week of the year is touted as “the most depressing day of the year.” The first Monday after all that holiday time off, celebrations and festivities and then**Ka-BLAM!**–Most “New Year Resolutions” are already broken, those Christmas pounds are pushing at your pants and it’s back to “the old grind.”

Depressing.

But–Congratulations to us all! We made it through the most depressing day of the year already.

Maybe.

No lies—I have no doubt that this year will hold a cornucopia of events for us all.

Some good. Some bad.

Life is tough. Divorce, dead end jobs, relentlessly cruel bosses, mean store clerks, jerky drivers, taxes, financial woes, health struggles, and so on and so on…
Yet nothing leaves a bigger void than the loss of a loved one. Whether it be a sudden, unsuspected loss, like the quick tearing off of a bandage, or whether it is a lengthy illness, stretching out a loved one’s pain. Both are equally painful and both resulting in a galaxy-sized hole in your life.

My “energizer bunny” father and my joke-telling, sweet grandfather passed away within a month of each other. And several of my friends have experienced similar losses. One after the other; again and again and again; leaving void upon void that aches like the ghost-like pain of an amputee.

Part of you gone forever.

How do you honor that? How do you honor them?

“Maybe not in life, but in imagination. Because that’s what we storytellers do. We restore order with imagination. We instill hope again and again and again.”—Walt Disney

This quote is from Saving Mr. Banks. The story details how Walt Disney, struggling to keep a 20 year promise to his daughters, fought to get the rights from Pamela Travers to her book “Mary Poppins” so he could turn it into a musical movie. I am glad I saw this movie many years after my losses. For me, this story overflowed with the relationship of father-to-daughter, daughter-to-father and that complex, yet special bond.
“Pamela” didn’t want to give over the rights to “Mr. Disney” because the characters were family to her. And through the movie, we discover they truly are her family.

And Walt Disney’s musical movie wasn’t what she had in mind to honor them.

It would seem, giving up the rights of her story to him meant letting go of what illusions she created to honor her family.

And my illusions are that, even if this “based on the true story” movie didn’t contain all the facts, it did honor those it was about. For me, those two hours in the theater were spent endearing me to “Pamela” and the love she had for her father; of discovering the man behind Walt Disney (his father, Elias) and the tenacity of Walt in his promise to his daughters, as well as remembering my own father and weeping about loss with those who have had this same struggle of how to honor their memory.

Life stops for no one. I mean, how does one grieve in the three days of bereavement leave some jobs allow? Even the “moment of silence” offered up at memorials passes away and is too quickly replaced with the hustle and bustle of this supersonic paced world we must return to.

We need a place to lay things to rest.

“That is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feelings around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn’t have the specific ritual you are craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet. If you bring the right earnestness to your homemade ceremony, God will provide the grace. And that is why we need God.”
–Elizabeth Gilbert from “Eat, Pray, Love.”

So, whether it’s for a divorce, a job loss or a freshly opened wound created by a death; and whether it’s in a movie theater, a church, or the tallest tower of an Ashram in India; I pray that you invite God in, and find peace in honoring the losses in your life.
Again and again and again.

Dedicated in Memoriam of Harry Herbert Hyde who left this life on 12-30-13

Merry Christmas

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So this is Christmas.

We spent the last three days driving anywhere between 25 and 85 m.p.h. as we maneuvered my 4 cylinder Toyota, fully loaded with presents and baggage, from sunny Arizona through drought-brown hills of California toward our destination—Vancouver, Washington for Christmas. As my furry kids (two kitties) curl up beneath my bare tree in Arizona with only my cat sitter (and lovely friend!) for company, I realize this is the first Christmas in years and years that I have not been “home” in Colorado to celebrate.

My eyes brim and my heart clinches a little.

I keep the shrinking “Grinch” heart at bay.

I think back on the events leading up to our road adventure on this marvelous holiday and feel so blessed. The lovely Thanksgiving with family and the visits from family and the friends we have celebrated with already. Gifts and good-tidings; celebrations and holiday parties, home-made treats and cups of cheer overflowing—Christmas is the best time of year!

Then there is the Post Office…I don’t EVER wait until days before Christmas to mail, (nor do I recommend this!) but I had a little book-give-away to deliver and had a VERY close call with a “Grinch” in the parking lot just days before our departure. He almost stole my joy.

But I know what Christmas is.

I was leaving my two hour post office escapade, (heart determined to be kind to all who were braving this holiday faux pas,) when a gentleman just beginning his adventure, nearly swiped my bumper. He laid on his horn to get parked in an open space 2.4 seconds sooner than if he would’ve waited for me to inch forward behind the two grey-haired drivers I followed out. All this so he could arrive those 2.4 seconds earlier in into the two hour line in the lobby that awaited him.

My “Grinch” heart shrunk a little as I thought of several choice Christmas carols I’d like to yell at him: “Oh Holy–”

But I know what Christmas is.

I breathed deep and forgave him, knowing the lengths of enjoyment that lay before him with a “honking attitude” like he harbored.

Torrents of rain the night before we left awakened us through the night. We looked forward to grabbing our hot Dunkin’ Donut’s coffee before hitting the road. Avoiding the 15 car drive-thru line, we hoofed it to the entrance. On our way out, we fell silent passing an unkempt man wearing shorts and a light coat, holding a small grocery bag and seeking shelter out of the rain. My heart clinched and I pushed my sunglasses higher on my nose.

I think I know what Christmas is.

We still departed on our journey, but feeling pretty heavy–discovering he had spent the rain-drenched night outside. We left him with some home baked zucchini bread and money.

We ran out of clean clothes along the way, slept on some seriously rock hard mattresses and ate one-too-many continental breakfasts, but we are so blessed with what we have.

We think we know what Christmas is.

Though I am not with my family or at my “home,” I prepare to spend this blessed holiday with my fiancés family. Months ago, I planned a surprise for him. Before our Christmas Eve stop, I arranged for a “starter tree” to greet us and a few sparkling ornaments with which to decorate it. The look of surprise and wonder on his face at the discovery was equal to any child’s on Christmas day! It was pure wonderful!

I am feeling Christmas again.

And, as we prepare to hit the road again; washing our underwear, unpacking and re-packing, wrapping packages late into Christmas Eve, I know Christmas is MORE than family, sparkling decorations, packages and surprises from a jolly, fat, red-suited man.

I think of other travelers, long ago, who were “displaced” from their homes on this magical night.

No grouchy, horn-blowing Grinch can take Christmas from me. Those long ago travelers brought a gift to me and to all who believe.

I know what Christmas is.

The Charlie Brown’s Christmas special is one of my all-time fave’s. Linus wraps up nicely exactly what Christmas is…
Charlie Brown: Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?

Linus Van Pelt: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.

[moves toward the center of the stage]

Linus Van Pelt: Lights, please.

[a spotlight shines on Linus]

Linus Van Pelt: “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'”

[Linus picks up his blanket and walks back towards Charlie Brown]

Linus Van Pelt: That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

(from www.imdb.com Charlie Brown Christmas Quotes)

 

For the horn- blower, for the Grinch, for the Dunkin-Donut’s rain man, for all people on all the earth–

–Wishing you all a magical and Merry Christmas, where ever you are!

 

LOST

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LOST

“Feeling my way through the darkness.

Guided by a beating heart…” –Avicii

I have a good (and unique!) friend who enjoys getting lost. Despite having GPS in her vehicle, she goes it on her own and considers getting lost an adventure! She savors finding undiscovered places she normally wouldn’t.

Me…not-so-much. I LOATHE getting lost. I have ZERO sense of direction. I plan ahead with maps and detailed turn-by-turn instructions because I get turned around and discombobulated very easily.

When I first moved to Phoenix, without my Rocky Mountains to direct me, I experienced this very thing.

Returning from a road trip to Lake Powell, I got lost for hours, in the dark, on the unfamiliar streets of Phoenix.  With no landmarks to direct me and no light to see by; I had no point of reference. I completely panicked.

I knew I was lost and hated every minute of it.

The tears began brimming. My breathing accelerated. My heart went wild. My brain locked up…

Hours later, when I eventually followed the right road signs, I pulled into my neighborhood as the gas gauge danced around “E.”   My blood pressure steadied, my tears dried up and, in the comfort of my apartment as I studied a map, I discovered my error. Compelled by fear and repeatedly making wrong choices, I actually drove in circles for those hours.

“We do the best by the light we have to see by.”—Julie Cameron

Something about the vast amount of trees, rain and places to lose yourself in northern Oregon reminds me a little of The Shack and Deliverance.

And, yes, one chilly, rainy, foggy day my fiancé and I decided to take a long run in northern Oregon. Since he was from those parts, (even though he hadn’t been back in years,) I trusted his proclamations that he knew where he was going.

The adventure began.

About an hour into the run, we got low on water. Amidst mossy back roads, gargantuan trees and a fog that hung down on us as a storm pressed in–

We got lost.

No, we didn’t hear banjos, but it got a bit precarious.

At one point we came into a clearing. We crossed the expanse and approached an ominous, brick building that looked like a modern day castle. We rounded the “castle” and, just as it began to rain harder, our hope ignited as we came upon the first person we had seen in miles.

She was crouched low, sitting on a curb by some large green dumpsters and her thin fingers held a burning cigarette with a long, dangling ash about to drop. As we approached her, in high hopes of asking where the heck we were, something stopped us.

She didn’t move.

As we got closer, her pale skin and statuesque figure seemed like an illusion. She was so engrossed in her thoughts that she didn’t hear the splashing of our running shoes, our gasps of breaths and she was completely oblivious to the rain that fell harder all around us. She was wearing a grey sweater that hung on her, leggings that clung to her bone-thin legs and flip flops. She also wore a men’s ball cap that hid her face and mostly covered the long brown locks of hair that escaped just below the plastic rim. Empty eyes stared straight ahead. She took a long drag on that cigarette.

Feeling quite out of place and with the panic of our predicament oozing out of our pores, how did she not sense us?

But she didn’t.

She looked right through us.

I choke up when I think of the look of pain in her. Something we couldn’t see had a hold on this woman.

She was lost.

Regardless of the increasing rain, our mounting thirst and our growing anxiety, neither of us said a word as we quieted our steps and passed by her. The rain gushed through the gutters and over her feet and, as I looked back at her one last time, she looked up.

We rounded the other side of the “castle” into another clearing and noticed the landscape here was dotted with small signs.

Approaching the first sign it read:

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things that I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

We continued on; looking for direction in the next sign about 200 yards further. It read: “Step one: We admit that we are powerless over our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable.”

Both our jaws dropped. We looked at each other and then back at the “castle” then sprinted back to the opening in the fence that brought us here.  On our way out, we passed two more signs.

One read: “ABSOLUTELY NO TRESPASSING”

And another that read:

“A power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.”

About two miles later, the rain lightened and we found ourselves on the campus of George Fox University. We also found refreshment and relief.

Breathing deep and trudging our legs a few more miles back to home base, we both were haunted by the invisible chains we saw weighing down this young lady’s soul.

“I once was lost, But now am found.

Was blind, But now I see.” –Amazing Grace

I often think of that young lady.

What happened to her? What were her struggles? Could we have said anything to her that could’ve encouraged her? Something we could’ve done that might’ve helped her find her way?

And yet, I know there was a time when I wasn’t “found.”– Well meaning words from friends and strangers alike fell on deaf ears.

“All this time I was finding myself…

And I didn’t know I was lost.” – Avicii

Yet, I admitted I was utterly powerless to change my “directional dysfunctionality;”

I sought a guide for my journey;

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.…” (Matthew 7:7)

And now I am found.–I know where I am, where I am going and Who I follow to get me through.

In Jesus, I found a guiding light of Hope to direct me through the darkness.

And though I will still get off the beaten path and won’t always make the right choices; because I know The Way, I will never be lost again.

So, wherever you find yourself along this journey, may you discover enough courage to seek, to find and to look up in the storms of life.

THANKSGIVING, FOOTBALL and THE GREATEST FAN!

Best Fans EVER!

Best Fans EVER!

Nothing says Thanksgiving like….FOOTBALL!!!!
(Except maybe Turkey, and Black Friday, and food coma, and family, and stuffing, and pumpkin pie…) But still, what better to do than to plop down in front of the t.v. after being stuffed with turkey, shopping ‘til you dropped and just “chillax” in front of a great football game?!
Love football?
I believe Denver Bronco’s fans are some of the VERY BEST FANS of all time.
Are you a fan? What does this look like?
How about:
You’ve had season tickets for 17 years.
You attend EVERY home game, rain, snow, sleet or shine (and sometimes all of the above on the same day—it is Colorado!.
You bleed orange and blue.
The original bronco emblem is tattooed on your left ankle.
The new bronco symbol is tattooed on your right shoulder.
Every game day you are fully decked out: the orange and blue jersey, orange face paint, foam finger, etc.
You cite Bronco’s stats like a wall street ticker.
Your dog’s name is Elway.
You serve only blue and orange foods at your house party for the away games.
You cried and fell into a depression for weeks after Dan Reeves was let go.
Game day you are cheering and screaming for each pass completion, touchdown, extra point and interception. You yell at the television like you were there. You have been known to invent words in your tirades against the ref’s poor calls.

Now picture being that same Bronco fan (fully decked out and on one of your historic rants) in a stadium of the most avid, amped up (and also fully decked out) Raider’s fans (or Patriots!;)). Black and white tattooed arms thicker than tree trunks surround you. You are all by yourself. And the score is 52 to 3. Broncos are losing.

Still a fan?

I think this is where that saying about “where the rubber meets the road” comes from.
Will you roll up your sleeves to display your tattoo? Still ready to defend your team, even when they’ve left the stadium and you alone remain? Are you really ready to bleed and find out if it’s truly orange and blue?

Now Picture:
You love Jesus. You attend every Sunday service (unless there is a Bronco’s game-Thank GOD for Saturday services!) You tithe your 10%, volunteer at the homeless shelter, attend bible study and can recite specific bible verses at the drop of a hat. You raise your hands in praise during every worship song, pray for your enemies, love your neighbor and have that icthus (the fish) bumper sticker firmly affixed to your Ford.

Now, take away your comforts, your finances, your marriage of 50 years, your career, your health, your family.

Still His fan?

When you’ve lost it all, will your heart fill with doubts? When the nay-sayers and well-meaning friends ask what you’ve done to deserve this, will you question His sovereignty? Will your mind spill over with unanswerable questions: “Why?” “Why me?”

Why do bad things happen to good people?

For many a heartache and wound that I have survived, I am able to look back and thank God for His growing me in those times. It’s those very same rough times when my relationship with Jesus grew deeper and more intimate. I can often look back and see a purpose to those pains and, in that “20/20 hindsight,” I can find some answers.

When I can’t, I rely on Proverbs 3:5-6:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

But why do innocent suffer? Why does evil often go unpunished?

Although I don’t have answers to many of these tough questions, I know One who does. I know that He will not waste a single tear and I rest my hope in the fact:
“…that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

God can handle your questions. And it may not be until you see Him face to face that you will have your “20/20 vision” and answers. So, until then, know that nothing can separate you from the love of God–
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38)

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1

In losses, in pain, in heartbreaks, in failures and disappointments, in any circumstance from the beginning until the end: His love endures.

He is your biggest Fan.

WEEDS, BOUNTY and THE KILLER OF GREEN

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WEEDS, BOUNTY and THE KILLER OF GREEN

It was/is harvest time (depending on where you are in the world!) and this photo is the actual bounty taken from my gardening. What you see is the evidence of the extreme care, the hard work, the diligent planting, seeding, weeding, watering and toiling over that I did this year for my new garden.

It’s all relative, isn’t it?

I was overjoyed over my harvest! I can usually kill anything green just by looking at it! So, it was with trepidation that I even bought seeds, planted them and thought anything besides death would happen.

But the tools of God (sunlight, earth, rains and His power) brought forth fruits (OKAY—vegetables!) from those seeds planted!

I learned so much for next year…

What I didn’t take a picture of is the bounty that I extracted and swore to never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever again replant– THE MINT.

For all you gardeners:  laugh all you want, nod knowingly as you read on– and for those who told me—go ahead and say it, “I TOLD YOU TO NEVER PLANT MINT!!”

I learned this the hard way. Three chiropractic visits later, I can sit upright in a chair and write to you about it.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.” (Matthew 13:24)

First, for you who are intending on planting a garden—DON’T PLANT MINT (or oregano for that matter!) THEY ACT LIKE WEEDS!

After I harvested my beautiful vegetables, (took about 10 minutes), it was time to deal with the maddening mint (took the rest of the day.)

All plants, save the oregano, were overtaken by the mint. Four seemingly healthy other plants, that had been it’s good neighbors, had perished. Don’t get me wrong, I planned for this (remember—I am the killer of green,) but I couldn’t kill this green mint to save the neighborhood! As I began the removal process, I was nearly overtaken by it myself.

I tugged at stems, just to be pulled down deeper–(Think of the movie Poltergeist, when the tree comes through the window for the boy.) That insidious mint would surface for a bit, then dive down into the garden box, twist around the roots of a good plant, choke it out, root it’s self and then resurface. Like a pool of swimming piranha: up and down, around and through, over and under, until all in its wake is destruction of all other living things (again, except the oregano that held fast.)

As I was battling this beast, I had all but forgotten of the sweet victory of my other bounty.

What started out as a lovely little herb was winning the battle over my joy for the harvest.

And isn’t that how sneaky sin can be in our lives?

It starts out with an innocent thought that can quickly turn into a joy stealing, all encompassing, relationship destroying action.

After I (hopefully!) successfully removed all the mint’s massive amounts of leaves, roots, off shoots and appendages, I turned to the oregano.

I have to hand it to the oregano. Even as it witnessed the devastation of its garden box neighbors and was surrounded in the waves and torrents of mint, it held its ground.

“The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one and the enemy who sows them is the devil…The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.” (Matthew 13:38,41)

The weird thing— it was the oregano that nearly did me in.

We battle against an enemy that came to kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10)

Something that we could’ve handled at our full strength, can drop us to our knees and take us out when we aren’t on guard…

After dealing with the multitudes of mint, I should have known the oregano would be challenging.

I began tugging. I mean, there really wasn’t much left in the box for it to hold on to, so it should just lift right on out of that box.

I stood on the side of the garden box, both feet anchored as I put all I had into it. I hung suspended above the earth, holding to nothing but oregano. I groaned and grunted (it works for tennis players, so maybe it would help give me some gusto!)…it wouldn’t budge. I flexed and pushed, got down and tried at all angles.

I nearly gave up. Would it really be that bad to allow the oregano to hang out?

But, hadn’t I had those same thoughts about the mint?

I had to admit I needed help. I turned to the garden tools.

As dusk approached, I shoveled, chopped and dug up that oregano and piled it atop the carcass coffin of mint. I gave my apologies and condolences and went inside to cook up my bounty…and to call the chiropractor.

 “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

For whatever the weed is in your life, there is Help.

LICKING ASHES

Licking Ashes

Licking Ashes

LICKING ASHES

“How about a nice greasy pork sandwich, served in a dirty ash tray?”

Sound pretty tasty?

Can you name that movie?

—I I LOVE movies and this used to be my favorite movie quote. (A quote from Gladiator now holds that place in my heart.)

Back to the quote–

Anyone?  Anyone? Buehler?(Hint: not that movie!)

Hint: An 80’s classic

Hint: Starred Kelly LeBrock, Anthony Michael Hall, Bill Paxton…

Remember “Weird Science?”

When I was in Jr. High, (and high school and college)my friends and I would often spend entire weekends catching a movie at the mall and/or being holed up in my parent’s basement with a supply of movies to get us through the weekend, only arising to pee or grab a snack.

One day, my Jr. High best friend Kelly and I spoke to each other only in movie quotes.

The whole day.

Totally awesome.  ;)—(It was  the 80’s)

I love the smell when you walk in the theater. I love the dumb quizzes they have if you arrive very early. I get excited and start planning my calendar watching the previews. I love movies so much that I stand in lines for premiers, pay ridiculous ticket prices, splurge the $20+ in movie snacks (P.S.- HARKINS Theater’s popcorn is the very best!) I love an interesting character, a plot twist, a poignant scene. I debate about them, blog about them and, like I said earlier, I speak “movie.”

Most people who know me, know my love of movies. It‘s contained on every one of my profiles on Twitter, both Facebook pages and my blog (www.juleseddy1.wordpress.com)

But do people know I love Jesus more?

Do my words, actions and thoughts honor this love?

Would I stand in line for hours to go to church; sacrificially give to further His kingdom? Would I discuss and debate the intricacies of this relationship with friends and with strangers? Will I raise my hands in praise at worship of THE MOST HIGH?

“He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, ‘Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?’”

–Can you name this quote?

Hint: The Bible

Hint: A prophet spoke it

Hint: Old Testament

It is found in Isaiah

Beth Moore’s book “Breaking Free” discusses this passage and reminds us that anything we place higher than God is idolatry or misplaced worship.

It is a lie.

It is like licking a dirty ashtray.

I thought about the greasy pork sandwich quote as I read the Isaiah verse. We often sustain ourselves on lesser things; on empty, unsatisfying, non-satiating remnants that are dropped from the world’s table.

I admit it.

God created some pretty terrific things and He created us, so He knew we would have these tendencies to put these pretty great things before Him.–He saw it over and over and throughout the ages. Time and time again, people worship empty idols; placing things (and people, and success, and pride, and comforts and movies, etc.,) over Him.

But God also loves us so much that He pursues us; tracks us down in our misguided paths and shows us a different way.

Relentlessly, He does this by reminding us of John 3:16–

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son”

And:

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. His mercies are new each day” (Lamentations 3:22)

And:

“Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (Joel 2:13)

And:

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

Just a few of my new favorite quotes. 8)

Turn from what it is that has “that place” above The Most High and return Him to the place of Honor.

And, guess what?!—They also made a movie of it all—Check out THE BIBLE mini-series now available on DVD! 😉

ZOMBIES AND JESUS

loving moment of holding hands via www.rocklej.com

ZOMBIES AND JESUS
Stick with me on this…The “un-dead” and “overcoming the grave”—It’s not that far off…

I LOVE RED BOX! Recent movies for cheap! Yay!

Last week we rented (from RB!) the movie “Warm Bodies.” It’s a zombie movie from the voice of “R,” one of the un-dead who misses the world the way it was before “the infection.”
It is based on the novel by Isaac Marion (and I love when a good movie is developed from a book!) I would’ve seen it in the theater but the week it was there I must’ve been zombified ;)**wink**wink**

Anyhow, the zombies who can’t sleep or speak, simply “live” just to maintain the slow process toward eternal torment and on the constant search for humans to eat in order to subsist. They mosey about zombie-style (pale, grunting, slow and disheartened) in an airport terminal (very clever imagery of their transitory state.)

One of my favorite parts is a scene where R is lamenting about missing the way it was before the infection. He truly misses how people used to connect. –His memory flashes back to a crowded mall bustling with people all very busy and focused on their cell phones, texting, and listening to headphones.

R has an ironic sense of humor.

The only sense of peace or joy they achieve is through eating the humans’ brains, whereby they vicariously re-live that person’s memories. Apparently there is a progression of “zombie dead-ness” and at the end of the “dead continuum,” one becomes a “boney.”

The zombies’ goal is to not lose everything and become even worse off like the boneys– completely devoid of any hope and ravaging anything with a heartbeat.

The remaining uninfected humans are holed up in a safe zone and leave only to search for food and medical supplies.

Also this last week in church, (YES–Zombie movie-goers also go to church—-well, least two people do,) the pastor reminded us that “In the beginning…” God was “US.” He was and is (and always will be) the God who is three; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Genesis 1:26 “Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us…”

God is a relational God.

Back to the Zombies.

R misses relationships with others so much that he “rescues” and takes back a human named Julie (great movie name!) to his area–an airplane that he calls “home.” As he eats the brains of her boyfriend (unbeknownst to her at the time), he resurrects the memories the boyfriend had of her and falls further for Julie through this experience.

His heart begins to beat.

Several times she tries to escape, yet she realizes she cannot do it without R’s help. Both the boneys and the zombies sense her beating heart.

She needs him.

Skipping ahead.

Other zombies see the change in R and several of them long for the connection they witness in them.
Their hearts further awaken through the prompting of a picture (a movie poster) of two people holding hands; it resurrects the memories of their prior connections and relationships. (Check out a great original image created from the movie visit the “Weekly Movie Poster No 2: Warm Bodies” at http://www.52shadesof zj.wordpress.com.)

Even though they managed to coexist before, as the zombies begin to show signs of life, the evil boneys are threatened. They desire to ruthlessly kill and ravage all who show heart.

Sometimes returning to life threatens those without hope.

This is when it gets really good 8)

A movie worth watching so I won’t give any more away.

God sent His son Jesus to rescue and redeem our world from the infections of sin and death. And just as Jesus reached out to the sick, the broken, the outcasts; each of us is called to reach out to rescue one another.

“Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil with doing good.” (Romans 12:21)

For all who have accepted the “free” gift of God’s grace, you have access to a power (and heart!) dwelling in you that is stronger than what the world will throw at you.

Extending a hand to someone you wouldn’t normally reach out to might be just what it takes.

In our disconnected world, you might be the only “Jesus” in someone’s day.

In the movie, the act of simply reaching out for another changed the circumstance.

In The Book, a pure heart seeing beyond the sin and death and willing to overcome evil with doing good can actually change the future; it changed the world.

See the movie: “Warm Bodies”

Read the story: The Holy Bible

Dark Alleys and Illuminated Paths

Light in the Dark

Light in the Dark

DARK ALLEYS AND ILLUMINATED PATHS

I run in the mornings. I love the summer; even though it is hot, I am assured a lighted path. My mind can immerse itself in my IPod, in memories, in prayers. In the winter, I am on guard. The very same path I run is dark and shadowy and, being a woman, one must always watch for predators. My mind thinks on the runner’s body they found in the Indian Bend wash, the coyotes I’ve seen scavenging for food, the bobcat, hidden fears.
Amazing what a little light can do.

The dark cannot survive the light.

Un-forgiveness is a dark and murky place for our human hearts.

“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:5)

The light of Christ seeps into this very darkness and illuminates it with healing mercy.

But what about the times when it appears the darkness is winning?

It was the 1980’s and I remember hearing a story about a church-going lady that has stuck with me to this day. My eyes prick with the memory of the events. She lived in a lower-class community. She had many friends, a loving family and children who loved her. She sought to spend her life giving and caring for those the world left behind. She was going house to house to ask for money to give to the needy in the community on behalf of her church. While she was out on this mission, she went missing.
It was spread across the news. The troops of her church rallied. The posters of her beautiful face plastered on light poles, message boards and newscasts. Where was she?

It was later found that she had been abducted, tied up on a chair and abused. The two men who did this, did it for the less than three dollars that was in her pocket book.

Her family spoke of how they forgave. They knew she would want that from them. They did it to honor her and because of what they believe.

This kind of forgiveness would take me years. I would have to seriously work at it. They did it immediately. And to be face to face with an oppressor and to forgive them in the heat of the moment? It’s just not in me.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

So many questions. So much I don’t understand.
I don’t know why bad things happen to good people.

After torturing her sufficiently, they realized there really was no more money. They killed her that day.

Darkness appears to have won.

The abducted woman went to her grave with forgiveness in her heart.

Her family knew this, but how did the world know?

It was one of those “Dateline” or 20/20 type shows that really revealed the amazing part about it. Her convicted killer told the story of how, even as they were abusing her, she was forgiving them. They had not bound her mouth, because they were asking her where all the money was. She gave them her whole purse and told them to take it all. Told them she had more than money to offer them. She told them about Christ. She shared His story. She shared her life and continually told them she forgave them. Her message got through, to more than one.

And her story is just one of thousands. As I was researching to find her name and the exact details, I came across hundreds of other stories of Christ’s power at work in the hearts of abused, raped, tortured individuals who illuminated Christ’s light into the darkness with their immediate forgiveness toward their oppressors.

Although I was young, I remember my mom explaining the word “martyr” to me; (probably to stop all my questions!)

Worldwide, over 70 million people are martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ.

And this is in just the last 100 years!

“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)

The end of the story is that one of those thieves repented. (Sound familiar?) His darkness was turned. The light of Christ shone through her into the darkness of that place she was held.

She apparently wasn’t nodding off in church during the message about being the “hands and feet of Christ.”

Even in dark situations, light overcomes.

Share the stories of the light. You never know who it might impact.

ANOINTING

spreadthewordnotgossip.comThe scorched expanse of our life-weary existence is in need of something. Whether it be depression, discouragement, selfishness, gossip, envy or pride; what do you let in?
Something seemingly small can be deadly.

He was a young child, barely six when the family decided to gather and reunite with long lost cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. The farm house in Nebraska could handle all of them. The children were shepherded to the basement to their sleeping bags for the evening. After all the giggles and jokes subsided, the children fell deep into sleep. A tiny beetle made its way into the one child’s unsuspecting ear canal and immediately jolted him out of sleep. His screams awakened all the other children as he ran up the stairs to find his mother. Confusion, pain, the scampering and clawing of those tiny beetle feet in a place they should never be.
When he calmed down enough, through sobs he explained there had to be a bug in his ear. No one believed him, yet he knew it. It was driving him mad. The torture, the unbelief, the exasperation, exhaustion; he was banging his head as though it was just water in his ear from a long day of swimming, but it was much, much worse. Like claws across a blackboard, the beetle was scampering the soft tissue; frightened and near insanity, he gave in.–After the adults found a children’s cold medicine to soothe him and his mother lay by his side, wiping his forehead with a cool cloth, she whispered prayers to his tormented heart.
It was just minutes after the child lay down, temporarily calmed by the medicine and the willing of his mother that she became the sole witness to the departure of the tiny beetle; which she instantly killed.

“You prepare a table in front of me, in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.” (Psalm 23:5)
To anoint usually means to set apart as special—like a gift to God. It also is a term often used in healing.

Back in the day, a shepherd was one of the lowliest of professions (not that it has gained much since!), but it was a dirty job. Working the night shift, tending those stupid animals, defending those silly sheep against thieves, robbers, predators; trying to herd them, protect them, and keep them safe. The tiniest of threats could actually kill a sheep. The nasal fly. That tiny pest could get inside the nostrils of the sheep, lay its eggs which developed into worms and eventually would drive the sheep to the point of banging its head against something to “get it out!” which most commonly lead to its (insanity!) and death.
I can’t even stand one bug buzzing about my ear, let alone it taking up camp in my nostrils and enlarging its family. Ugh.
A good shepherd would anoint the sheep’s head with oil (laced with some other healing ointments). These oils kept the flies from entering into the nostrils and ultimately protected the sheep from the tormentor that would make them “off” themselves.
The song “Slow Fade” by Casting Crowns states it so eloquently—“people never crumble in a day.”

Innocence blurs the lines of what we allow into our hearts and minds through our eyes, ears and societal influence. Also, as parents, friends, leaders, servants and human beings all subjected to these things, we are setting examples, leaving legacies and always being scrutinized for our choices. Check out a few of the verses:

“Be careful little eyes what you see
It’s the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it’s the little feet behind you that are sure to follow
Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It’s a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away

People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see”
(some lyrics from Casting Crown’s “Slow Fade”)


Our Father looking down on us with love; forgiving for those “not-so-wise” choices we made.
And our Good Shepherd who anoints and protects our souls with the blood He shed on the cross. He has set us apart. When we are weary, rest is found in Him. When we weep, He comforts. When we are weak, He is our strength. When we thirst or hunger, He is our bubbling water of life and our manna for the day.

Today, I pray that no-thing is able to put a bug in your ear to distract you from seeking the Good Shepherd. I pray that no harm come near your home. I pray that nothing, no height nor depth, no demons or mean people, no distance, no depression, no death nor divorce shall ever separate you from the healing, anointing love that is found only in our Good Shepherd.