Saturday, August 23, 2014

It takes COURAGE

What do you do when you are faced with a challenge, an obstacle that could seem to be insurmountable, or a fear?
Do you run from it?
Do you think to yourself, "I can do this"?
Do you realize you can't do it alone?
Do you have the courage to face the task?

Courage is defined in the dictionary as:
   the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty,danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

We cannot remember for ourselves, but we see courage in babies that are beginning to walk; they get up repeatedly after they fall down. Their memory recall doesn't make them fearful.

It take courage to jump off the high diving board for the first time.

It takes courage to learn how to ride a bike.
It takes courage to go to bat in a baseball game.

It takes courage for a mother to drop her child off at pre-school or kindergarten, or middle school and high school.

It takes even more courage to drop your daughter or son of at college; realizing they may turn their backs on your values.

While in college:

It takes courage not to drink to excess. It is much easier to go along with the crowd and get drunk.
It takes alot of courage not to be talked into having sex when you are not ready.
It takes a tremendous amount of courage to report that you have been raped or violated.
It takes courage not to cheat on an exam and settle for the grade you make because you have studied; especially when the exam is out there for you to see beforehand.
It takes courage to write your own papers, not copying someone else's or plagerising.
It takes courage to tell others that you are a follower of Jesus.

During your working days:

It takes courage not to waste your time at work; looking at the internet, your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter feeds.
It takes courage to be honest.
It takes courage not to take credit for something someone else did.
It takes courage to own up to your mistakes.
It takes courage to keep going when you have been denied a promotion or been laid off. It takes courage to go home and tell your family.

What about being courageous in everyday life?

It takes courage not to gossip; to quit talking about someone behind their back and to walk away when others do.
It takes courage to come out and admit you are gay.
It takes courage to admit your mistakes.
It takes courage to tell your children you were wrong and to apologize to them.
It takes tremendous courage to forgive your spouse who has cheated on you.
It takes even more courage to persevere when your marriage has ended.
It takes courage sometimes just to get out of bed; whether it be from depression that is non-stop and relentless or whether it is just too much effort after an illness, or surgery.
It takes courage to fight cancer. It takes enormous amounts of courage to undergo chemotherapy and radiation; especially when you are not guaranteed of a great outcome.

Probably for most of us the most amount of courage we need is to face life without a loved one. When someone we cherish so dearly is taken from us, we often can't even imagine how to go on. The days are endless in grief.

It takes courage to just keep living.

It took more courage than you or I can ever comprehend to know as Jesus did, what He was about to face. When He sweated so profusely that blood oozed from his pores, knowing that He would be beaten, spat upon and scourged thirty-nine times with a cat of nine tails.

It took courage for Jesus to tell His Father that He would prefer not to do it this way, but in the end, would do what His Father wanted.

 Only to be followed by being nailed to a cross and suffocating to death. That kind of courage is incomprehensible to me. Yet Jesus mustered all the courage of His human self to suffer and be crucified-all because He loved us. He wanted us to spend eternity with Him in heaven.

Courage is a hard thing. We wish it would be easy but if it was, it wouldn't require much effort. We would give up way too easily.

Next time you are in a situation that requires courage and your fears are getting the best of you, consider asking Jesus for help. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Remember instead of being obtuse.

Way too often I am obtuse.
I don't remember things that I need to; I am slow at learning, or sometimes I am just downright stubborn. Because I am, I am forced to learn or re-learn a lesson that I already should know. I have come to believe that I am a slow learner when to comes to certain things. Those lessons that God has been trying to teach me for years and years, and I appear to be skull dunce.

One of those lessons that repeatedly appears in my life is my ability to trust God. If we were polled, I imagine most of mankind would agree that we have had our questions about the trustworthiness of God in our lives.

The type of questions that come to my mind are :

"Is God even aware of what I am going through?"
"Does God care about me?"
"Will God help me?"
"Is God capable of getting me in our out of this situation?"
"What is it going to cost me if I trust God?"
"Is God reliable?"
"Is God so busy that He might overlook me?"
"Can God ever forgive me for what I have done?"

We each have our own set of questions and we shouldn't be afraid to ask them.
I believe that God is BIG enough to handle our questions, our doubts, our frailities and insecurities.
It is just that at times, we forget how BIG our GOD is. At least I do.

I remember as a teen, wondering if God cared at all about my parents divorce. Did he not see how my Dad's alcoholism was ruining our family and ruining my Dad? Did He not care?
Did God even imagine what my Mom's unexpected death would do to me through the years? Did He care?
What about the time my daughter was in heart failure because of anorexia? Did He not see my utter anguish and helplessness?
What about my boys? and how drugs tried to destroy one of their lives?
And what about the mental illness our family has been beset with? Does God realize how difficult that is on all of us?
Would God forgive me of the gravest and most violent sin I ever did? Getting rid of a baby that was growing inside me?

I have learned through many many painful experiences that God is trustworthy. Oh these lessons have caused me heartache like you wouldn't believe. But it isn't easy? 
Each and everytime, I wonder if God will show up for me? If God really really cares. 
YES He does care.
I am the slow one who finally remembers how God has been present. How He supplied whatever it was I needed in the given situation. 
And No, He doesn't always show up the way I want Him too. And what I have gone through, or what I have done, will often bring about results or consequences that I will need to live with for awhile. 
But God always shows up.

Its not just me who forgets what God has done in my life.
That group of twelve men who lived day in and day out with Jesus while He was ministering on earth, often forgot who Jesus was, what He had done and what He might do.
Maybe you have heard the story of Jesus feeding 5000 plus people with 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. He had been preaching to these people telling them about the kingdom of God and they became hungry. There wasn't a store in sight. No one, except one young fella had thought of bringing some nourishment. Jesus asked his disciples to see if anyone had anything, and they found the lad with the fish and bread. 
Jesus then took both of these and gave thanks to His father and blessed the food and then gave it to his friends to distribute it. 
Everyone got food. Everyone was satisfied. What's more is that there were leftovers. (here's the link to the bible passage about this

That is one miracle I would have loved to see. Maybe its because I love food and love to see it multiply, cause it never does when I need it too. You would think, like I do, that the disciples would not forget this. I mean, how CRAZY was that?

Days, weeks or months later, they did. Just 2 chapters later, they were again in a situation without food and a large crowd. They asked Jesus where in this far away place will we get food for all these folks?
DUH, do you remember what Jesus did earlier?
Obviously they didn't. (

They were alot like me: having trouble remembering what Jesus had done previously.
Freaking out, that He might not come through this time.

Over and over and over again, Jesus has proved Himself faithful to me. He has completely forgiven me and wiped my sins away as far as the east is from the west. 
He has supplied EXACTLY what I would need in any and every given situation. It doesn't always come when I want it to come, but it ALWAYS COMES.
He comforted me in my deepest sorrows: when I was utterly lost when my mom died. When my hope and trust was wavering when my daughter was sent to an eating disorder clinic. When I didn't hear anything for almost three years from a son caught in drug addiction.
When the mental illness that has beset our family has shaken me to the core of my being, feeling utterly helpless to do anything to lessen their plight.
When I experienced His immediate forgiveness and knew His peace after I had an abortion.

He has never forgotten me.
He has never forgotten you.

When Jesus' disciples forgot what He had done, He asked them:
               "Don't you remember?" Mark 8:18b

Maybe He is asking the same question to me and to you.
Whatever you might be going through, right this minute, He knows. He cares. He loves you. He will be there for you.
It is time for us to remember.
To remember God's faithfulness.
To remember His love, His Grace and forgiveness . Time to remember His countless resources. 
Time to remember that He promises us:
      " I will never leave you or forsake you."

I hope you aren't as obtuse as me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TIME. Where does it go?

The days come and the days go.
What do we make of those days?
Am I too busy to notice the little nuances in life?
Perhaps in days gone by, I was. But now living in the middle of nowhere, with no kids to raise, a job that is done mostly by phone and the internet, I tend to notice things more.

Why is that so?
Why are we so busy that we don't stop to appreciate even the tiniest things in our lives? Rushing to get to the next place, do the next task, meet the next person.
For what? More rushing? More hurrying?
And does rushing get us anywhere faster? Or do we become irritated, agitated as we sit in traffic, wait in lines at the store, wait for our kids to get out of school so that we can "rush" them to their next activity?
Why are we so rushed?

Gosh, I remember the days- and now shudder, when I was "too busy" to play ball with my son, to have another tea party with my daughters. What I wouldn't do to have a "do-over" for those years.
Thankfully, as a Grammy, I do get to do that again. And this time, I am not rushed, not too busy to stop and play.

How many times do you read the same book to your child? Do you wish it was a different book, or a different night and it was hubby's turn to read? Do you ever see the excitement, the expectation, the joy in your child's face as you read that book over and over again? They know the story. They know it by heart. And yet, it still captures them.

When was the last time you let something really capture your attention? 
Living in the mountains, I have been encaptured by the beauty of clouds. Those misty spatterings of moisture that dot the skies with absolutely amazing patterns. Hardly a day goes by when I am not looking for, or mesmerized by cloud formations.
Was I too busy to see them in the city? Or is it much more pronounced in the mountains?
It is the same with the stars at night. I know that the stars were not as clear and distinct in the city, but here on a dark night, the sky is brilliantly strewn with stars and galaxies that are breathless to see- if we only took the time.

Why is that we think we have to rush everywhere and through everything? When our children, and nature cry out to be noticed and enjoyed.
Why do we miss so much in the hustle of getting somewhere else?
And yet we can spend hours upon hours on the internet, reading blog after blog, or spend so much time watching TV, mindless tv.

What are you doing with your time?
How are you spending it?
The majority of us, work or want to be working. And then what do we do? We complain about working too much and we don't stop thinking about our work.
For those of us who can, we need to leave work at work.

We need to begin to enjoy life again. To see the newness of each day instead of thinking its the same old, same old; day in and day out.

How do we do this?
By beginning slowly.
Setting aside a day or a half a day to just be. To be present wherever we are. To stop and take the time to play with our kiddos. Believe me, you will never regret that time, but chances are you will regret the time you spent working too long, too late and missed out on your family.
To do something you enjoy. Whether it be reading or running or riding a bike, or planting the next phase of your garden, to relish the hobby you haven't had time for. To take a day trip to somewhere you have wanted to visit for awhile. To take a nap. To plan a vacation where you can enjoy what you see instead of rushing to the next place.

Last week, I took my two grandsons to the San Francisco Zoo. They have been to the zoo recently but I could not remember the last time I had been. We walked by so many animals. We read all the signs that educated us. We laughed and laughed at the wolverines. We were mesmerized by the lions and tigers and their beauty and their size; and decided we didn't want to meet one face to face outside of the zoo. We watched the grizzly bears eat lunch and talked about the differences between them and the polar bears we saw. We waited to see the chimps -who spent a bit of time hiding from us. We saw a red panda. We laughed at the monkeys and thought how much fun it would be to swing from tree to tree.
I even agreed to go to the Insect section and was again afraid of tarantulas and reminded that I am not a bug person. But we spent our time leisurely and enjoyed each exhibit. We were not rushed and it was glorious!

Our time is our time. We get to decide how we will spend it, what we will do with it.
PLEASE don't squander the time you have. It is too precious, too valuable to waste on the non important stuff.
Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, enjoy your life.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Lies we Believe (or the making of a dallas cowboy cheerleader

Flipping through the channels on TV on a Sunday evening, I realized that boredom has set in. 
Maybe, it's because I am fighting this stomach bug and don't feel that great, but I am experiencing a new type of "nausea" then I have in the past 24 hours. 
I began watching a show called , "the Making of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders" and within a very few minutes I was completely appalled by the degradation of women.
These young women are chastised for their weight, that their legs are too short for the outfits, that they are awkward.

The director of the DCC (dallas cowboy cheerleaders) is a woman named Kelli Finglass and the choreographer is Judy Trammell. Both of these women were previous cheerleaders and have been hired to pick and name the squad. They had to go through the try-outs themselves, and both were part of the squad for at least five seasons. Perhaps that is why they are so hard on the girls.

This whole process really sickened me. I don't know if its because of the way the ladies were treated and judged or if it is the sad state of our world, that makes these young women, believe that they have nothing if they don't make the team.
It is totally not part of anything I would have wanted for my daughters. I realize that cheerleading is a sport and that sometimes, it becomes the "world" to girls and their families.

But what does it teach them?
That you have to beautiful, coordinated, they have to have certain thigh size to be noticed?  I am  concerned about the aspirations and goals of these young women that they can't imagine life without being a DCC.

I am not a "feminist" by nature.
But tonight I am.
I am repulsed by what has been portrayed on the TV.
I am angry.
What kind of society are we living in?
What are we teaching girls about their worth? What they are to value in life? To be a cheerleader in front of 100,000 people in person and maybe millions more on TV for at the most twenty games per year?
I am saddened by what I watched.
I was furious at the two women who were cut throat, catty and so degrading of some of the gals who were auditioning.
What gives them the right? Because they used to be a cheerleader?
Or are they trying to hold on to their "glory days"?

"I have poured my heart and soul into this".
That is a quote by one of the ladies. There were countless similar thoughts conveyed by the girls.
I realize when you want something, you must work hard for it.
At what cost though? 
To make you feel "worthless" and "not special enough" if you don't make an NFL football team cheerleading squad?

I worked hard to become a nurse. I worked for 31 years taking care of patients and their families. It was something that I not only did as a career but something I could do for others. I don't think these young ladies will ever last that long on the football field, in fact I would bet any amount of money that they won't.

"You need to lose five pounds."
"You have to take this seriously".
"You need to wow the audiences".
"You can't go on your Barbie looks".
"You don't have the style we are looking for".

Those spoken words produced devastating feelings into the lives of the young women who were rejected by the Cheerleading gestapo.
Because they weren't picked to represent "America's Team"? (who by the way are not America's team anymore, and probably won't be ever again).
Where have we gone wrong making young women believe their lives are over because they didn't make the squad?

I think about the millions of girls all over the world that don't even know what a cheerleader is, much less a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. That so many girls fight to have an education because where they live, they are not considered worthy to attend school.
That the cost of dance lessons and outfits is abhorrent, when more than two thirds of the world live in poverty and would covet something barely new.
How do I convey moral values to a group of young women, when what they see on the tv, magazines and social media is that the size of their body, the skimpiness of what they put on is what makes them be noticed? How do I instill that our worth comes from Someone way more important? 
That there is A GOD who loves them more than words can convey, more than the mind can comprehend, and who literally died to show them how much He loved them.
Oh ladies, there is so much more to life.