R.O.Y. G. B. I. V.

ROYGBIV

October 1st in the desert. Those of us who live here know that the last few months have been brutally hot. This heat tends to send things hibernating and the weak of heart only come here to escape their own weather when things cool down.  There are those who say there is no beauty in the desert. They say you can count on the heat and only two colors—the brown of the hard packed earth (and smog) and blue of the sky that for months and months won’t witness a cloud or rain.

 A storm is coming.

They’re calling this one Rosa— I don’t know how they pick those names but I’m thanking Rosa this morning because she has brought clouds to the blue sky, rain to the brown and my ability to go out for a run today without fear of perishing from heat exhaustion. Temps have plummeted form 105 degrees to a mere 75 degrees today. It rained through the night and had stopped for now, but they’re predicting such tremendous precipitation that flooding is imminent for many communities. I’m not thinking 40 days or anything, but it sounds like it’ll last several days into this week.

Of course, before I could make it out the door, I had to rub the ointments on my foot for the pain, and I also had to don my prescription glasses in hopes of seeing where I’m going. (The desert in the summer AND this getting older thing isn’t for the weak of heart.)

Speaking of heart—You could say I’ve been struggling with joy in my heart these dog days of summer… As a Christian, we’re told (and I believe) that since we believe in Jesus Christ, we always have joy.  I carry that hope that I have eternity with Him to look forward to and it keeps me smiling and pushing on, but sometimes things of this world just get me down…It’s just not a “Joel Osteen”-kind of day today. And, with the way things looked last week in our nation, it’s not a “J.O.” kind of week.

I can point to a myriad of things getting me down besides how sad I am about how we treat each other:  the heat has been exhausting, that micro fracture in my foot that kept me from running for several weeks, the inability to see clearly without eyeglasses, the eye infection I am still struggling with caused by the devastating fires this summer, and all that training for a half-marathon that got cancelled because of the other hurricane (Florence.) And that storm also affected a friendship in my life — I don’t understand why, but it would seem that things beyond my control are pulling me down.

And my cat is sick. So, I turned to where I’ve found joy before; running and being outside in God’s earth.  I do believe He still speaks to and through His creation, so I went out for my run and was praying to God for a hopeful glimpse at some Joy….

About 2 miles in, the pain in my foot started to dissipate and I grew more aware of the things around me. I thought about the two colors of the desert—brown and the blue—But, as my focus shifted, the vision of the desert before me was alive with more colors than I could name! From Mr. Hensen’s Jr. high school science class, I remembered the acronym R.O.Y.G.B.I.V. The color spectrum with each letter representing a color that is illuminated in a rainbow.

“A rainbow is a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. It takes the form of a multicoloured circular arc. Rainbows caused by sunlight always appear in the section of sky directly opposite the sun.” – Wikipedia

And also from Wikipedia—“The rainbow is an important symbol in the Bible, representing a promise of peace from God to Noah…”

Even though there wasn’t enough sunshine today to create a real rainbow, I thought I would look for the representation of that in the colors around me.

So I put it out there— “Okay God, it would plant some joy in my heart to see ALL the colors of the rainbow.” —And I began focusing on things around me (instead of my pain…)

First there was the Red Baja Fairy Duster— (I just love the names of the plants in this desert)— Then there was the vivid orange blooms of the Honeysuckle. I didn’t see the Y – yellow, so I moved on to the G in green—Well, that was everywhere! Supporting the blooms on the leaves of all these lovely shrubs and plants, but also unlimited shades of it on all the Saguaro, Agave and Prickly Pear Cacti. And still, I found no B – Blue. I quickly located the Indigo and the Violet attracting all the bees and hummingbirds on the numerous blooms covering the Arizona Sage bushes. So, it just got down to needing to see some yellow and some blue. With each step and each color I could check off in the rainbow, I felt a little more of my Joy returning. 

Violet

I decided to stop focusing on everything that was just on my side of the street, and as I looked to the other side, I found it!  A beautiful stucco home with yellow blooming Brittle Bush and Arizona Yellowbells punctuating it’s landscaping.  

Yellow

“Wow Lord,” I thought, these colors are amazing, BUT I still hadn’t seen blue yet…

However, as I continued on, I was mesmerized by mom many more colors—the bright pinks and fuchsias of the Oleanders and Bouganvilia and adorable little white blooms of the Flattop Buckwheat. But I was still holding out for the blue. 

colors

So disappointing. 

And then, no lie, a blue car drove by. I laughed — “Really, God?” Then I doubted. Was that really blue?—It was really more gray.  I’m not counting it. I continued on… But my throat was bubbly with the tinges of that laughter, my feet were lighter; I felt supported by everything around me. My vision of the world started to look brighter, even though the clouds of Rosa continue to build in the sky.

I was about 4 blocks away from my destination and a bright blue Nissan SUV pulled out into the road- traveling the same direction I was going. I had to laugh again. Okay that’s for sure blue. No mistaking that.  I even looked it up—Nissan calls that color-CASPIAN BLUE.

Then I thought, “Is this really God speaking to me through all these little things? Am I just looking for God to speak to me to lift me up??!” 

Earlier this week I saw this quote from Fred Rogers…

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Fred Rogers

I believe there are scary things in the news, but, like Mr. Rogers, I believe in looking for the helpers. I believe what I believe. The more I thought about my search for ROY G BIV to provide me with hope, the more I realized what I was missing. 

The Blue. It’s always been there—One of the two colors we’re most known for here in the desert southwest-that brown and blue. The sky, now temporarily masked in white and grey clouds bringing the impending storm, yet most always can be counted on to reflect it’s blue in Arizona.  

Sometimes the storms of life and the pain in our lives changes our focus from what is always available -The Blue Sky of Joy we always have available to us. By Faith, I know I always have that joy and today God made it feel so real, so alive, so all encompassing, personal, and so vibrant. And I thank Him for that. I know, and I know, and I know, and my joy is returning.

I guess the question is, “What do you look for?”

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he prayed…He answered

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” –Matthew 7:11

he prayed

About his dreams, his prosperity, his family

he prayed

he prayed and asked,

“Why? Why? Why?”

Why no answers to his prayers and why take her so soon?

he kept asking

And he quit praying

Until IT happened

On his knees, bewildered, scared, confused, in pain

he cried for the  future being taken from him, for the pain in his body and for the overwhelming fear

he cried out to God…

man prayingpassion-jesus-in-gethsemane

He went away to be by Himself

He prayed

“Father can I save him?”

You know not what you ask of me, my one and only Son

“Your will, not my own…”

He answered Him with–a future being taken from Him, with pain in His body and an overwhelming fear

He cried out to God,

“Why have you forsaken me?”

And then the Peace came

he knew not what to ask for anymore

he prayed and cried out to God again

He answered with His Peace

And saved all who came to Him.

He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.”

1 Peter 2:24

Are You a Box-aholic?

BOXES!!

BOXES!!

I am a box-aholic. I admit it, so now the healing can begin. Right?

I discovered the depth of my problem last weekend as we cleaned out closets. More than 26 boxes were broken down and sent to the recycle bin (as I breathed deeply into a paper sack!) And that number, 26, didn’t include the boxes my husband allowed me to keep (lots of them—Just in case one is needed to ship something, or to protect a gift, or…)

I hate wasting a good box. I define a “good box” as one that has little damage, is not marked up or overly labeled (and will fit nicely inside the other boxes my husband allowed me to keep!) 😉 😉

As my disorder was unfolding before me (breathing in my paper bag, watching my husband break down the boxes for the recycle bin) my husband asked, “Do you have enough other boxes for your needs?”

I heaved in a breath, “Yes. I think so.”

“Okay, then this is okay. This clears up space…” He looks at me with his patient and understanding eyes. Yet, a little question was hiding behind them.

I guess I just love the order of a box. It’s nice shape, its ability to wrap and protect things. I also love having them when I need them and I always have the perfect size available to me! (Or at least I used to!) 😉

And let’s get deeper and more honest, I love receiving boxes. Care packages, Amazon.com orders, birthday presents all bundled up, even the cat-foot order or shipments for my husband’s business…

Opening them up with the wonderment and (sometimes) surprise usually reserved for Christmas morning.

All these things add to my unhealthy attachment to this lightweight, mauve-colored item of little worth.

So what is it with the boxes?

ORDERING –This goes to a deeper issue that I will tackle after I get through this one. But the ordering of items on-line is so great! Just the press of a few buttons, a little plastic card entered, and a few days later…gratification! AND A BOX!2011-03-23_20-39-12_841

My cats understand this—they love the boxes also! Rubbing on them, jumping in and out of them, playing hide and seek, lazing the day away in them. They totally get me.

And isn’t recycling a good thing? I always try to re-use them for good purpose (and hold onto the good ones for a special occasion!)  <–And that right there is called “Justification!”

As I write through this problem (and realize I have it deeply as evidenced by my joy and wonderment as the cyber-Monday packages arrive daily), I discovered the root.

ORDER

Not so much the ordering (on-line) but the ORDER. There is symmetry to boxes; the shape alone. There is the challenge of fitting the maximum amount of boxes inside one another, so my husband will allow me to keep more! There is control in placing an order and receiving a box. I find it magical!

But life is not like this; all packaged up perfectly, with symmetry, control, and ORDER.

Life is born out of chaos and this broken world rarely hand-delivers exactly what we asked for.

How often have I prayed for one thing, and received something entirely different?

When my father’s cancer arrived, packaged up with a 6 month sentence on his life, I tried to return it.

As I mourned and then watch several friends suffer through heartbreaking losses of loved ones, one after the other, I know they didn’t order that—ABSOLUTELY NO RETURNS.

What kind of customer service is that?

Yet, as I look back on all these “un-ordered” things that I have been through; the messiness of life, the reality of life, — I can honestly say that it has been during these times– the intense helplessness and in the darkest of moments that the free-fall of faith has been the sustaining and strengthening of my soul.

“DECEMBER 10

MAKE ME THE FOCAL POINT of your search for security. In your private thoughts, you are still trying to order your world so that it is predictable and feels safe. Not only is this an impossible goal, but it is also counterproductive to spiritual growth. When your private world feels unsteady and you grip My hand for support, you are living in conscious dependence on Me.

Instead of yearning for a problem-free life, rejoice that trouble can highlight your awareness of My Presence…”  Sarah Young in “JESUS CALLING”

Did God somehow know that I would need to hear that answer today, as I am delving into my box-aholism?

Now that’s customer service!

And it’s not that I rejoice in this world’s troubles; there are simply things that are so awful, like Alzheimer’s, cancer, Ebola, child abuse, riots, etc., but I rejoice that there is One at work in all of it. He’s working through each of us to make a difference, to bring a courageous face, to bring hope to shine His light through these circumstances.

I rejoice that I know the One who gave his life up so that I could live without the shackles and bondage that sin and death are wreaking in our broken world.

As I give up on trying to make order out of things that show up on my door-step and just figure out what to keep and what to let go, I grow in grace and maturity and dependence.

As I prepare another bin of recycling and let go of the desire to wrap things up nicely in one of my “good boxes,” and instead I grip the hand of the One who put order into the universe, I find peace.

1 Corinthians 14:33 “For God is not a god of disorder, but of peace…”

HOME

Arvada Trains

HOME
“Home is the nicest word there is.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

Dorothy tells us there’s no place like it.

Where do you call home?

You know how you hear something every single day of your life and you end up tuning it out? Even though it continues, you no longer hear it. Until, one day, you leave the place you call “home” and it’s truly gone.
Then you miss it.
But, sometimes it returns…

I am back in Scottsdale, after a fantastic Thanksgiving visit to Arvada, Colorado – my hometown for 25 years.

“Home wasn’t a set house, or a single town on a map. It was wherever the people who loved you were, whenever you were together. Not a place, but a moment, and then another, building on each other like bricks to create a solid shelter that you take with you for your entire life, wherever you may go.”
― Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye

TOP TEN THINGS I MISS ABOUT BEING HOME:

1) Miles upon miles of railroad tracks criss-crossing through town and the sounds of the trains speeding through at all times of the day and night

2) Family and old friends being only a Starbuck’s distance away
3) My mom’s overflowing generosity and her chicken and noodles
4) Beau Jo’s Mountain Pies and, ACTUAL MOUNTAINS, the glory of the front range
5) Snow softly falling on fallen leaves and the smell of fireplaces burning
6) Layering up and running to Two Ponds, the nation’s smallest urban wildlife refuge
7) Bronco’s fans, after a win
8) Seeing my nephews playing in sports they love and growing a foot taller
9) Old Towne Arvada
10) My dad, my grampy, my grammy and all those who’ve gone before me to a different home

BUT…

THINGS I DON’T MISS ABOUT HOME:

1) Snot actually freezing in my nose
2) Dirty, crusty, chemical coated cars
3) Power windows freezing shut in the drive-thru at Starbucks
4) 15 car pile-up caused after the first snow and the guy with his new 4WD truck
5) Bronco’s fans, after a loss
6) Old town Aurora
7) The five pounds I gain as I eat more of mom’s chicken and noodles and Beau Jo’s mountain pies
8) Watching the melanoma eat away at my dad, seeing the dementia turn my grampy into a different man and visiting grammy in the hospital after the most recent surgery
9) Miles upon miles of railroad tracks criss-crossing through town and the sounds of the trains speeding through at all times of the day and night


“Happiness is home… It is a state of mind. A place of communion and unconditional love. It is where, when you cross its threshold, you finally feel at peace.”
― Dennis Lehane

Wherever you call “home,” may there always be more good things on the list of things you miss.

And may you always have a place of unconditional love and peace.

FEAR

FEAR

I sleep on my left side. When I was a kid, I heard that vampires only bite on the left side of your neck. So when I lay down at night, I trained myself in this habit of curling upon that side, sometimes stuffing covers and pillow around me for even more “protection.” I never took it so far as to hang the garlic wreath or anything with holy water or a crucifix, but you can bet that is where I started the nighttime habit of praying the “Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I die before I wake…” Sound familiar?
One of my favorite books of all time is called, “The Monster at the end of this Book.” It is a real page turner (all twelve pages!) The original horror book – probably what started me liking Stephen King. When I was a kid, my mom would read it to me and I would keep requesting it. Night after night. My mom is the most patient woman I know. Night after night, after night, she would tell the tale. She laughs as she recounts those readings; even though she’d done it over a hundred times, I still acted like I didn’t know who the monster was at the end of the book (and she never gave it away.) I would start listening in bed, tucked in and curled up on my left side and about half-way through, I would be at the edge of my bed, hanging on every word, willing her to NOT turn that page for it would bring that monster one page closer!
SPOILER ALERT!!! The monster at the end, the very one he was fearing, turns out to be lovable, furry, little, blue Grover himself!
Besides loving a good story, what was it that kept me requesting that one?
The old saying “hindsight is 20/20” comes into play here. Wouldn’t it be great if we all knew how things turn out? Would it make the ups and downs of life more fun knowing it all turns out okay in the end? Or is it just in the things we fear that makes us want to know the ending?

Figures from 2007 state that Americans spend more than $300 million a year on psychic hotlines alone. There are people who don’t do anything without consulting a psychic. The image I have of someone calling a hotline before they get out of bed, plan their day, order off the menu, apply for that job, go on that interview, accept that date or marry that spouse, isn’t an image of someone enjoying the crazy ride of life. Rather, it evokes an image of someone living in constant fear.

GAD – or Generalized Anxiety Disorder, panic disorder, PTSD, phobias, fears that I cannot even pronounce, and with new terms popping up every day for all the new disorders and all the new medications for those disorders – it would seem this is a society-wide phenomenon.

When I was studying Natural Medicine, I remember reading about breathing. How deep breathing can calm the nervous system. How people under extreme duress and stress forget to breathe deep and that the lungs, the lower part that expands in deep breathing, actually atrophies and dies in those who don’t breathe deep.

I am not immune to fears, nor do I think I have it all figured out. Yet, as I have grown and learned from my hindsight, I find rest in a new place. As I face fears, whether they be real fears– seeing the solemn face of your doctor as he or she tells of the latest test results, or false fears – lying sleepless in bed on your left side, tucking in the covers a little tighter to ward off vampires – I trust that no matter what I face, I have a God who understands; a God who is with me – The 23rd Psalm reminds us that “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.”

I love how Joel Osteen’s “The Hope Bible” states Romans 8:38, “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

No doctors with their test results, no vampires with their fangs. Nothing can separate us from this love. NOTHING.

1 John 4:17-18 tells us “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.
Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.”

All fear is gone; nothing separating you from a God who loves you.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.”

No psychic needed. The end is known. Embrace God’s love – taking in a full deep breath – facing what it is you fear and enjoying the crazy ride that this world and life bring you!