SOLD OUT

SOLD OUT

twinkie shelves from blogs.etruth.com

Sold out. It’s usually not a good feeling when you hear that.

You searched all over for it.

You located it.

You had to have it.

You waited for it to go on sale. Then, just as you were to retrieve your reward —

“Sorry, ma’am. We SOLD OUT.”

Nothing left.

Like the shelves of every convenience store the day after Hostess announced the end of the Twinkie.

GONE.

And such is the tendency of this world. We look for something to fill us up and realize it has the same ability to disappear as quickly as we attained it.

 

But when you leave it to God, the Master Creator, He has the power to create something from nothing.

“The Lord merely spoke and the heavens were created.” (Psalm 33:6)

“In the beginning…the earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” (Genesis1:2)

And then there was sky, and dry ground, and seeds and plants, and seasons, and day, and all the fish, birds and animals, and mankind…

“So the creation of the heavens and earth and everything in them was completed.” (Genesis 2:1)

And it was good.

Not bad for 6 days work.

And don’t we all like to think we can create some pretty terrific things in our weeks? See, I think I have things figured out in my life. I love being the master creator of my “weeks” and my own little world. How I act and dress, where I work, what I do, how I spend, what I eat and who I choose to be with. Everything I accomplish — I like to take credit for.

And, there are some really cool things that we humans can “take credit for.”

 

Like the Twinkie. What a creative invention we humans came up with! Who was the genius that said, “I am turning this cake thing upside down and inside out!” They created a cake where the frosting is protected. A moist, spongy, yellow cake infused with creamy, sweet filling giving each mouthful the perfect amount of sweetness paired with cake; all wrapped up and easily enjoyed anywhere! Plus, their shelf-life guarantees you will always have the ability to enjoy them, like, almost forever. Almost.

My mom loves these things! She always has two or three boxes on the snack shelf at home. She calls them her “fountain of youth” and believes all those preservatives help keep her young. But NOTHING in this world lasts forever. Nothing.

Poof.

Nearly overnight, my mom’s shelf was bare. The Twinkie was no more. Hostess decided it’s “shelf-life” was over. Everywhere you turned, Circle K, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Piggly Wiggly and even AMAZON, the world’s largest marketplace—SOLD OUT.

Moments of accomplishment can quickly dissipate; feelings of happiness are fleeting and temporary. Stuff of this life, is just…stuff.

And, as Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for you?”

Nothing in this world lasts forever.

Enter Jesus.

God not only created all things, He also took on flesh and lived among us. (Emmanuel translated means “God with us.”) God shows us the true example of how to live in this world and to not end up with that empty feeling.

Jesus–

“I am come so that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Leave it to God to come to us, meet us where we are at and bring fullness from emptiness. He takes everything we think is right and turns it upside down and inside out.

Jesus, born in a manger.

God made human.

One innocent, murdered for all the guilty.

A King for all eternity and for all creation.

He tells us to have everything, you must lose everything about yourself. To have Jesus and life to the fullest, you must be SOLD OUT to what this world expects from you.

 

When in doubt, TRUST

When in need, GIVE

When persecuted, LOVE

When betrayed, FORGIVE

 

He says to love our enemies, even as they hate us. He asks us to extend mercy, even when we aren’t shown any. He shows us how to live in gentleness and humility even in a barbarian world. He tells us how to live everlasting when all else will fade to nothing. Give Jesus your heart, literally “selling out” to Jesus and the opposite of nothing happens.

Matthew Chapter 5 tells us:

Those who find themselves in utter desperation for Jesus will be given the Kingdom of Heaven.

The persecuted will be blessed.

The broken will be made new.

And the meek will inherit it all.

With Jesus, you will never thirst again, you will not hunger and you will have peace beyond understanding.

So, when the world has stripped your shelves bare, eaten away at every last grain you have to offer and you feel you have nothing left. That is when you experience the fullness a life with Jesus can supply.

God is our endless supply

Jesus is the Hope to fill the shelves of our hearts.

To have everything, be SOLD OUT.

And it was good.

 

Are you a PRINCESS?

Princess

Are you a PRINCESS?

A dear friend of mine’s husband is the most amazing father. Although he coaches both of his sons’ little league teams and is consistently a #1 provider, husband and all-around fantastic guy, it’s the relationship with his young daughter that gets me the most. I love witnessing the affection and adoration he shows for his young and impressionable, but tough and sweet little girl.

“Who’s the most beautiful girl in the world?” He asks as she blushes and looks up at him.

“Emmie-loooo is the most beautiful girl in the world!” He gives her a squeeze. “Next to mommy, of course.” He winks at her and kisses his wife.

She is his little princess.

Does he realize the tremendous impact of his behavior? As this young lady matures, it morphs into what she believes about other male relationships and in how she expects to be treated.

When do we stop thinking we are worthy to be adored, respected and treated like a princess?

“There could never be a more beautiful you
Don’t buy the lies, disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you”  –Jonny Diaz

 

But, maybe you never learned it from your father.

And if we don’t learn these things from our parents, as a youth often times we are influenced by fairy tales. Disney has capitalized on this concept. Just admit it: Who didn’t have dreams of prince charming? Who else also wanted their personality to be so serene that all the animals of the forest would flock to you? Who didn’t want a prince to show up with perfect shoes and to rescue them from evil step-mothers and housework?

On some level we identify with these stories.

My favorite fairy tale was the “Princess and the Pea” by Hans Christian Anderson.

http://www.fairytalescollection.com/HansChristianAndersen/ThePrincessandthePea.aspx

Before I was even a teen, I was into makeup. I spent hours in front of a mirror playing with the color palettes attempting to reproduce looks like the girls in the magazines. I painted my fingers and toes a different color every night. (Yep—CRAY-CRAY!!)

Deep down, with my not-even-necessary training bra and my plain face, I thought people might mistake me for a boy. As I grew into my teens, I believed others wouldn’t see me as beautiful without the powders, liquids and gels. Accompanied by the hours spent feathering my hair and the latest Mary Kay cosmetics, I carried these false beliefs into my high school years.

I tried all the techniques, tricks and tips I had to be what I thought made up “beautiful.”

What I would’ve loved was to be like the “Princess and the Pea.” When the raging storm washed away all the outside trappings and evidence to the eyes that she was royalty, there was another test that would prove she was who she claimed.—Despite the other’s inability to see who she truly was, this test, if passed, would reveal her true identity!

No looks, no make-up, no perfect hair—Just a test! Even if the face and body that God created her with was washed away, this test would reveal her royalty!

I love this because –I am really good at tests!

But…

The thing about fairy tales is–they are not reality.

I am certain the prince doesn’t know how to do his own laundry.

Wild forest animals are NOT that friendly and, seriously—a GLASS SHOE?

That princely carriage turns into a pumpkin and the housework NEVER goes away!

Here’s the TRUTH:

God created you in His image (Genesis 1:27)

God knitted you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13)

You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)

Embrace the YOU-niqueness of YOU!  As Jonny Diaz’s song tells us: There could NEVER be a more beautiful you–

“So turn around

you’re not too far
To back away

be who you are
To change your path go another way
It’s not too late, you can be saved

If you feel depressed with past regrets
The shameful nights hope to forget
Can disappear, they can all be washed away

By the one who’s strong, can right your wrongs
Can rid your fears

dry, all your tears
And change the way you look at this big world

He will take your dark distorted view
And with His light, He will show you truth
And again you’ll see through the eyes of a little girl”

–Jonny Diaz

With God as your father, you are adored. There is NOTHING you can do to change how beautiful you are to God.

When you know Jesus as your Savior, you are an heiress into His royal family.

You are always His princess.

No pea required.

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

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.

UNIQUE

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CREATING YOU UNIQUE

Cooking shows have been around for years (like Julia Childs) and continue to grow in their popularity. Now, not only can you find them on the Food Network and cable channels, but prime time has hosted Master Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, The Taste and many more!

I love watching a master create a fabulous feast by utilizing everyday kitchen ingredients — like my mom at Thanksgiving ;). Sometimes these Master Chefs use the kitchen tools and gadgets only found in specialty stores, or an ingredient I have never heard of, but my favorite is when the creation is crafted from the mundane.

Isn’t that what creativity is about? Picking and choosing from the ordinary and, by someone’s special talent, gift or touch, morphing it into the extraordinary?!

…….

I was amped up from a day of pumpkin spice lattes and couldn’t get to sleep. I got to thinking how cooking parallels writing. A good writer can utilize the everyday mundane events, filter it through their perception and out oozes one of two things:

1)     A sumptuous, smooth, creamy concoction worthy of topping William and Kate’s wedding cake

OR, quite possibly,

2)     A travesty to the taste buds worthy only of “decorating” the nearest lawn as the latest fertilizer! (Get my drift?) Pee-ee you!

You win some, you lose some.

Yet, both serve a purpose. And #2 -no pun intended- very likely could’ve turned out to be the most fabulous fertilizer known to man!

—–

Whether your creation is cooking, painting, writing, decorating, building, acting, speaking, dancing, singing, parenting, managing or whatever-ing—There is only ONE YOU.

Your filters: your past, your life events, your perceptions, experiences and what makes up you, are completely and utterly unique to YOU.

You are one of a kind.

“You knit me together in my mother’s womb…I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13,14)

That always amazes me. The ultimate Craftsman, Creator and Master took the everyday ingredients of flesh and bone, hair, skin and cells and He creates a masterpiece each and every time. Something so diverse, there will never be another.

I work in the Identification Unit. Fingerprints are utilized to identify individuals because science has shown them to be unique and permanent.

Their genesis is in the womb and they persist past death.

They identify you as His unique creation.

Each and every fingerprint found on your hands (and feet) is absolutely unique. There never has been another with the same fingerprints and there never will be another, EVER, with the same.

That kind of creativity blows my mind.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle most nights with finding something new to throw together for dinner and often end up making the same old thing. Yet, our Creator never struggles. We are marked as His unique creation before we are born, created with grace and divinely unique through (and beyond) our death. A divine masterpiece each and every time!

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

So, whatever good works you were created for, my hope is that you recognize your uniqueness; you embrace YOU and all that went into you as a special creation.

And, like Kathryn Stockett from the movie The Help so beautifully put it, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

And, I would add, you is Unique!

 

 

HEAVEN AND HELL AND THE SPOONS

Aspen grove from community.humanityhealing.net

“For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.” –John F. Kennedy

We live, breathe and have dreams. And yes, we die. So, what then? Shall we–

“Eat, drink and be merry?!”

Or, is there something more to this life?

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)

Being from Colorado, I am awed by aspen trees. The way they splash color through the forests in fall, their beautiful, smooth white trunks and cookie shaped leaves that dangle like Christmas ornaments in the wind. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned the truth of their origins — it made the love them even more.—A single seedling will birth an entire colony of aspen trees. The trees live anywhere from 40-150 years, but the root systems of that seedling continue to live on, creating new trees, living and thriving for thousands of years!

One of my favorite movie scenes is in the movie Phenomenon. George Malley, the sweet character played by John Travolta, stands in front of an immense grove of majestic aspens. As the wind whispers secrets only he and the trees can hear and the leaves dance an un-interpretable dance, he hones into something unfathomable. He gets it–

The interconnectedness of life.

The story of the spoons has never left me and further demonstrates this connection:

 

Rabbi Haim of Romshishok was an itinerant preacher. He traveled from town to town delivering religious sermons that stressed the importance of respect for one’s fellow man. He often began his talks with the following story:

 

“I once ascended to the firmaments. I first went to see Hell and the sight was horrifying. Row after row of tables were laden with platters of sumptuous food, yet the people seated around the tables were pale and emaciated, moaning in hunger. As I came closer, I understood their predicament.

 

Every person held a full spoon, but both arms were splinted with wooden slats so he could not bend either elbow to bring the food to his mouth. It broke my heart to hear the tortured groans of these poor people as they held their food so near but could not consume it.

 

Next I went to visit Heaven. I was surprised to see the same setting I had witnessed in Hell – row after row of long tables laden with food. But in contrast to Hell, the people here in Heaven were sitting contentedly talking with each other, obviously sated from their sumptuous meal.

As I came closer, I was amazed to discover that here, too, each person had his arms splinted on wooden slats that prevented him from bending his elbows. How, then, did they manage to eat?

 

As I watched, a man picked up his spoon and dug it into the dish before him. Then he stretched across the table and fed the person across from him! The recipient of this kindness thanked him and returned the favor by leaning across the table to feed his benefactor.

 

I suddenly understood. Heaven and Hell offer the same circumstances and conditions.

 

The critical difference is in the way the people treat each other.

 (taken from Wikipedia.org)

Hate breeds hate; love grows love.

Like the aspen tree, we will die. Yet, what about our “root system”? 

We make choices while we are here:  how we live, what we dream, what our legacy will be.

While we’re here, let’s remember we’re all in this together.

Don’t allow the hunger for things of this world to distract from the ability to impact another in need.

Sometimes it’s as simple as sharing a kind word that feeds another’s soul.

And the reward for your act may just be eternal.

“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35

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.

LUCKY 13

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October is Breast Cancer/Cancer Awareness month.
Through FaceBook, Carrie Ann Coomes-Kemp shares her story and we’ve seen her “warrior” against breast cancer. Every day.
Saturday, October 5th we lost a friend, Colleen McEahern, to cancer.
Also on Saturday, October 5th, I gulped down tears (and a Coors light in Colleen’s honor,) as the Avett Brothers played Paul Simon’s “Slip Slidin’ Away” :

“I know a woman
Became a wife
These are the very words she uses
To describe her life
She said a good day
Ain’t got no rain
She said a bad day’s when I lie in bed
And think of things that might have been”

If you have cancer, or if someone you love has it, every second of every day is Cancer Awareness.


She nearly died TWICE “on my watch” on two different trips to Arizona.

Very frightening for a granddaughter to see in her beloved grandmother.

She enjoyed long talks with the Avon lady, days at the hair salon with Desi, gambling at the penny machines “up on the hill” and anything with family.
She loved gifts, butterflies, shoes, the color purple, scary movies, buttered popcorn, chewy brownies, grandpa, angels, Jesus and, did I mention she loved gifts? 8)
Because we loved her so much, we all competed to give her great and creative gifts.

She gave me the very best gift.

Born October 13,1927, she would say, “Thirteen is my lucky number. It’s the day God placed me in this life.”

Before every NFL team wore pink in support of it, before Susan G. Komen made #savetheboobs a communal rally-cry and before every school had a “pink week” to raise money, my grandmother got her first (of several) cancer diagnoses. Aggressive breast cancer at 41 years of age. There was no 5K run in support. Her co-workers didn’t shave their heads to encourage her. This was before people were aware.

She didn’t drive. She carpooled with a “gentleman” to her government job. After she was diagnosed and began her treatments, (that she rode the bus to!), her carpooling partner explained he had to quit taking her to work because he couldn’t risk catching what she had.
This was before reconstructive surgery was “approved.” They took her breast, lymph nodes and so much tissue (including scraping a rib or two) that they developed a bodysuit for her to make her look “normal.” You could say she was the impetus of the original Wonder Bra!–She survived this treatment (from doctors and from co-workers) and persevered through many more cancer diagnoses and treatments. Eleven major surgeries in twenty years.
I never once heard her complain. Not even when she lost every single strand of her hair (which happened with Desi at the hair salon.) My grandmother fixed her jaw and stood strong while she watched as Desi wept.

Lucky 13?

The letter is green and hand addressed to me in Arizona and bears her characteristic, barely decipherable, chicken-scratch lettering. It is written on paper embossed with butterflies:
“…The rooms were great and I won just enough so that I didn’t have to spend a lot. Eleanor took $650.00 and I had $450.00. We didn’t want to carry that much in our billfolds so we devised a scheme. We hid it all in my fake boob behind and under my fake silicone boob. Eleanor called it our boob safe. I had a nice birthday and your mom cooked a great dinner for us as usual…”

She gained strength through every trial. She was an over-comer and had such humor about life.

I am 22 and we are in a red velvet lounger at a buffet in Las Vegas enjoying some special grandma/granddaughter time. I asked her how she could be so strong.
She said, “Your grandpa and I have seen so many of our friends and family die, we know each day here is a gift.”

Just after we nearly lost her in Arizona, they released her into my care so she could gain strength to return to Denver. She slept in my bed while I slept on the air mattress and brought her soups and cheese and crackers. We played cards and talked about life.
I had to know, “Did you see the light?”
She smiled. She said she knew where she was going. She was at peace. She soon would be with the Lord, but she remained because my mom and uncle weren’t ready.
She passed away shortly after her return to Denver.
She shared her attitude with all who would listen for 74 years before she “slip slided away.”
It was my grandmother’s “gift of gab” that endeared her to so many (and it was what drove us a little crazy.) One time I counted; she told me the same story FIVE times!
I would give all I own to have her back now and to hear one of her stories. But I know, deep in my bones, because of her faith, that where she is–sickness, sorrow and pain no longer pursue her. She is in the Lord’s presence.

What a gift.

An article from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association addresses this very thing, “Heaven is the place of perfect happiness — and one of its greatest joys will be our reunion with those who have gone there before us. God loves us, and He won’t withhold that joy from us!” (from BillyGraham.org)

“Slip slidin’ away
Slip slidin’ away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you’re slip slidin’ away”

The next time someone you love is driving you a “little batty”—remember it’s these little things that make them so endearing; so treasured and so unique when they are gone.

Because of the free gift of grace offered in Jesus Christ, I know that one day I will be able to laugh with my grandma and hear her stories for all eternity.

Pretty darn lucky.

In loving memory of Nancy Sterkel 10/13/27-4/30/01

And in honor of all the Valiant Warriors who have and who are battling cancer.

WRECKING BALL

WRECKING BALL

WRECKING BALL

WRECKING BALL
“What happened to Miley?”

I know this is “old news” but I like to moll things over—

“For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45)

And, I’ve said it before, I just got on Facebook this summer—I’m a little slow to catch on.

Miley Cyrus–Everyone’s seen her visual transformation, the foam finger incident and then there’s the racy video she released as she floats across the screen naked on a wrecking ball for her #1 smash hit. (Pun intended.)
I’m guessing that the people asking the above question must remember her in her youth; her Disney days, her Hannah persona, the images of innocence.

No one asked this question about Madonna when she used sex for her image.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to be raised by a famous father, constantly in the spotlight and also to have such talent. Her world is different. All that fame. All that pressure to perform, to be different, to be the next big thing. A totally different world.

“’If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’…those who heard began to go away one at a time”…(John 8:7)

I saw part of an interview with her father Bill Ray Cyrus on Piers Morgan Tonight. -(Also apparently old news!)-He asked him to comment about being her father and the “twerking.”

He didn’t raise his voice, yet he seemed pained and a little sad when he said, “That’s still my Miley.”
She is still his child.

I don’t know her world, but I had the same question asked of me.
My sister’s friend had just read my book, “grace.”

“What happened to your sister?” she asked.

She knew me in my college days. The days when my world was different.

Back then, I didn’t care what people thought of me. I didn’t know Jesus. I was breaking the shackles my “good girl” image and wanted to no longer be bound by shyness, insecurities and the labels put on me by my family, teachers, neighborhood, etc.
Behind the new care-free collegiate image was a girl who was taking control, re-defining her world.

I was going to be the wrecker of hearts.

Deeper down I was wrestling with some demons– My heart turned numb after being broken by the one I thought was true. My innocence slipped away on a dark unsuspecting night after too many beers. The two people I counted on for stability became embattled in a lengthy war of worth.
In those days. I was confused, directionless and envisioned no future for myself, so I was going to party like there wasn’t one.

That’s who my sister’s friend remembered.

I have learned these things: this world can break your heart (over and over again), AND every one of us has our stains.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18)

God understands the brokenness and wreckage of which we are so capable.

But these things I also know.

I am His child.

The light of Jesus shines even brighter in our dark places.

“Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29)

I am worthy of my Savior’s death on a cross.

“Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2Cor 5:17)

Transformations take time, but I was pulled from my own darkened depths and know that God has good things planned ahead.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

But people like to cling to their images, their thoughts, their judgments. It’s almost comforting to trash-talk people living wild lives—makes your world not seem so crazy.

God loved me too much to leave me where I was.
What happened to me is He plucked me from my “wrecking ball” and healed my heart.

He is the One who sees you for what you truly are no matter where you are.
He sent His Son as ransom for our wreckage.
And He is still “in the business” of reconciling this broken world.

So the next time you are tempted to judge someone where they are at presently, take a moment–

Guard your tongue.
Check your heart.
And remember:

We are all His children.

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