Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Don't Fence Me In...

There are many philosophies out there. Each one claiming to be the most authentic representative of Truth. It's enough to make your head spin!! (Forgive me, I'm still thinking outloud as I try to make sense of my life.)

I felt a connection with God from as early as I can remember. I was aware of Him as a very small child. My existence has been one of open-heartedness. My curiosity is insatiable- my passion for life, learning, truth and meaning runs deep. I am a seeker. Don't know if I'm worthy to be called anything BUT a seeker. To say one is a Christian bears a lot of weight and should not be taken lightly. Furthermore to claim a denomination puts even more responsibility on your shoulders because unless your behavior matches the "status quo" of the religion professed, you will never hold any rank. It's a lot of pressure. Too many paths to explore and too many fences to climb over... I don't need correction & censure. Right now I just need to be loved. (I SO appreciate all the kind words offered by the readers of this blog.) I am NOT used to this. I feel like a scared little girl who wants to run to her Daddy's arms- there is no such comfort for me.

I'm doing my best to go uphill and not down. There are bumps in the road and deep ditches on either side. Rather than see my weariness at pulling such a heavy load, most people say, "You need to go this way- this is the path you should be on", "Trust me to steer you right" and "You're going about this all wrong- you'll never succeed". Often, they only slow me down. I am seeking to follow the Light. It is blinding as it penetrates- revealing every flaw. I cannot tell you how painful it is too see who I really am- church face & false pretenses laid aside. Goals? Good intentions?? I've got a ton of those, but living them out is difficult. God MUST have mercy on me for I never asked to be born... just doing my best with what I have to work with here.

Like a wild horse I do not want to be owned or manipulated. I want fresh air & freedom, permission to journey at my own pace in green pastures. I want to know what it is to be carefree. I don't want to be placed neatly in a corral, branded, and put to hard labor. I don't want to go through life with blinders on accepting & obeying whatever people tell me- that's not enough for me. In my heart, I feel I'm on the right track here- hard as it is. I'm willing to be misunderstood if that's what it takes, but things must be settled in my soul...

Wrestling with God...

Almighty God, can You soothe this restlessness in me?

Can You rid me of this weakness that will not let me be?

Can You show me how to dream, yet live as one content?

Can You show me how to love and teach me to be patient?

Last night I cried out to You, asking for a sign. You answered me with silence- will You speak to me in time?

What are You doing in my life? I try to comprehend... Will You ever bring this time of chaos to an end??

My heart desires to be used for greater good. Help me live each day the way I know I should

Do You have a higher purpose for this pain? Can You turn the tide for my greatest gain?

I'm calling out to you with tears upon my face? Bless me, Great One- save me from disgrace.

Good Shepherd, I am listening, let me hear Your voice...

Strengthen my weary heart to make the right choice.

Lift me up, set my course on the pathway I should follow

I am weak, but I am Yours, Lord, never let me go...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

News For Today...

Guess you could say we had a relaxing Memorial Day weekend. Didn't go anywhere or do anything but yard/barn work- until Monday afternoon when we took the kids & 2 of their friends to the YMCA to swim in the outdoor pool. That was nice. Hope you had some fun! :o) Speaking of the 'Y', orientations are over now and my classes are going well.

My man is still struggling. Contemplating a career change. He got the platform for the kids treehouse built, then lay there for a long time just staring into the sky. Later, as a thunder storm rolled in, he sat in a chair on the back porch. Last night he tossed & turned. (I got about 3 hrs of good sleep) I'm trying to be patient and supportive as he figures it out. Any kind of change or decision is very hard for him and takes a long time to process. I cannot do this for him though- it's his battle... I trust resolution will come in time...

Sat for an hour up at Herman's cottage today on the front porch swing- our favorite place to chat. I just love this old guy! He is an interesting character with strong opinions, yet he is gentle with animals and doesn't like to eat them. He's so weak from the Cancer in his bones- can barely stand for more than about 10 minutes, but he is still pleasant. He even made us a beautiful strawberry shortcake and some wonderful jelly. No WELL person has ever made me a cake- just because- and here is old Herman baking for us. I'm very touched and return the favor in pot-pies- his favorite! He has been content to live alone most of his long life, but every so often he gets lonely and makes his way down the hill to invite me up for a Coke. Today our discussion was about Buddhism- he likes a lot of that philosophy. He said a local minister came to visit him again. People know Herman is dying- that he's never believed in God, Salvation or Eternal Life. So it's "crunch time" for the saints to try and convert Herman- he says partly so they can take credit for getting him saved. He got a letter from a local woman saying, "Herman, It's been nice knowing you. I hope to see you in Heaven someday". Hermans reply? "I haven't died yet. If you care so much about me why don't you come see me now??" These kind of efforts only make him more determined to exercise his right NOT to accept the faith. He complains to me about this. He asked me, "You're a Christian, so why aren't you up here force-feeding it to me?" I said, "Herman, everyone is free to believe as they wish. You've made it very clear to me that you don't want anything to do with Christianity and I must respect your decision." He smiled and said, "You're a good neighbor." He doesn't believe in eternal life, paradise or anything beyond the grave. (I could never accept dying without hope for something more.) But Herman is a soldier trained to face death with firm resolve. I don't know how much longer he has, but I take every possible opportunity to occupy his porch swing and listen to his stories...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

It's About Love...

Man makes everything SOOOOO complicated. People like to form little societies. We like to put up fences on God's green earth to feel as if we own and are in charge of a part of it.

"God IS Love. If we do not love, we do not know God." God's requirements are Love. Love to God, love yourself as His child and love to your neighbor. Unfortunately many churches teach: Fear of God, distain of yourself, condemn your neighbor for not being exactly like you. Certainly do not enjoy anything here on earth or you will surely burn.

All I'm saying is that if I'm to be a part of any church, then it had better live up to what it claims- for the end of all things is at hand. Otherwise, I will live my life based on conviction and step outside the machine. If I were to get on this blog and bash every religion that doesn't agree with mine- some would egg me on and call me a prophet. However, to uphold tolerance, unity and love for ALL men, I am accused of "watering down the message"? Love is the essence of God. He is merciful & just. He alone can change our hearts so that we can truly give love and extend mercy to others. I challenge all believers- whatever faith you claim, keep learning, studying and growing. Not a one of us has it all together. To pretend that we do would be the greatest farce ever! Jesus did not hesitate to point out inconsistency when He saw it and since He is my example, neither can I. Too many of us are content to invite a neighbor to a crusade once a year and ignore him the rest of the year. But hey, we did our Christian duty- right?! Don't ask me to invite him over just for a friendly chat or to go help him mow the back 40- that would be asking too much. Can't associate with him too much for fear of his influence after all....

Paul sums it up SO well in 1 Corinthians 13. (This is called the Love Chapter in the Bible)

"Though I speak the tongues of men and angels, if I have not love, I'm as annoying as sounding brass and clanging cymbals. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love- it profits me nothing." Paul is making it VERY clear that without a genuine love in our hearts for fellow man, all our good deeds, righteous acts and pilgrimages are useless. If Paul lived today, he would probably add, "And though I sit in church every week, though I study my lesson, fast regularly, eat the strictest of diets, wear a gunny-sack for clothing and vote Republican, without love I am nothing."

I have received some e-mails based on my previous post. It's not my intention to "bash" anyone here- only to point out the truth as I have come to see it. There are those who smugly say, "If you are part of this church, if you keep the commandments, if you pay your tithe regularly, if you avoid this, this and this, then you are saved." This is too formulaic and FAR from the truth. Is it any wonder there are so many Pharisees in our ranks today?! God wants your heart more than He wants your service. This was demonstrated by the sisters, Mary & Martha. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening intently and building relationship with Him, while Martha sweated it out in the kitchen trying to impress with all her hard work. Martha comes out in pure frustration saying, "Tell my sister to get with the program and help with all this work." However, Jesus told Martha that Mary had made the wiser choice. Jesus said, "I desire MERCY not sacrifice". We must be changed into His image. That will never happen while focused on rules. Jesus ran to sinners, not away from them. He touched the untouchable, loved the unloveable and dined with outcasts to show that men may judge and turn their backs, but God loves the hurting, the broken and weary. What all-consuming, reckless love! I want more of it!!!!!

Again, Salvation is not about man straining to reach up to God, it's about God reaching down to lift us up.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Beyond Labels...

Yesterday we sat for our daughter's promotion from elementary school. She looked so grown up as she went forward to collect her awards. We were proud of her and the other children in her 5th grade class who have worked so hard this year. I noticed a factor that seemed to separate the class down the middle and that was poise. Some of the kids were round-shouldered, head down, feet dragging while others walked tall, head up and confident. Every child in the ceremony received several awards, so none of them are unsuccessful. I learned years ago that a good smile and a confident step will take you places. I hope in the next several years, the slumping children will find a reason to rise above whatever is burdening them and walk tall.
I don't like labels- never have. Sure it's a cute little tradition, but I fully disagree with having a 'Most Popular', 'Most Likely to Succeed', 'Most Attractive', 'Most Intellectual', 'Most likely to be a Librarian' and so forth. The dumbest one to me is 'Most Athletic'- in what? Kickball & dodgeball?? My daughter is not so good at those games, but she could outride & outswim any of them. First of all, the ones who get the nicest labels aren't always deserving of them- their parents have money, or they are related to the teacher, etc. Those who get the more unfavorable labels (like I did) often come back and surprise everyone. My daughter was voted 'Most Courteous'- which was nice. But 3 of the slumping children were voted as 'Most Bashful'. What kind of label is that?! It's almost like they couldn't come up with anything genuinely good to say about these 3, so they came up with 'Bashful'. My daughter says that 2 of the 3 aren't even shy. Labels are misleading. They give people a false sense of worth, or an undeserved sense of inadequacy.

When it comes to religion, there are MANY labels- almost like glorified gangs. Instead of Crips & Bloods, you have Baptist, Catholic, Adventist, Lutheran, Methodist, etc. If that's not enough confusion, then you have Liberal & Conservative factions of each. These labels divide- despite Jesus' desire that we be unified. While at Christian gatherings someone asks what denomination I am- if I tell them, immediately the wheels are turning in the other person's mind as they judge ME based on past interactions they've had with my church. Now, if it's only a "minority of extremists" causing my church to have a bad reputation, why such general distaste for my denomination?? When I state affiliation with one church or another, there's an immediate bias. Royce brought up a good point and that being Christ preached no denominaton- if you say He did, then I'd say He was a very poor example of a "Jew"- since He did not cater to the many attitudes/traditions which the Jews of that time upheld. Jesus didn't go around spouting religious rhetoric. He didn't say, "Don't wear this, don't eat that, drums are a sin, Jews are supreme in God's eyes." Jesus didn't point fingers at anyone- except the proud & self-righteous. NO, He simply taught relationship with God & Man, based on the principles of a Heavenly kingdom. "The greatest of these is LOVE". Fact: we don't need to be affiliated with any church in order to do this. Fact: Heaven won't be divided into ghettos based on religious affiliation. The turf will belong to ONE unified body of believers.
I can tell you why so many have a bad taste in their mouths toward my denomination. Sadly, it's because for years this church has boasted & blasted. "We're the remnant. WE have the truth everyone else should follow. WE have a better understanding of God than anyone else in the world. If your name isn't on OUR church roster you're lost." We have bulletin boards and bumper stickers- what about the love? For decades, we've been good at passing out pamphlets and putting on seminars with hair-raising images, but have we been kind to our neighbors? (You know, the ones who go to different churches) I visit other churches regularly- they're NOT slackers who intend to be disobedient to the Word of God. The vast majority are friendly people who love Jesus. I was encouraged never to mingle with other denominations because it would "confuse me" and I'd be "contaminated" by false beliefs. I WAS confused, but not for the reasons they thought. I was confused to find that other churches also seek to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I was confused that often other churches are far more hospitable and service-oriented than my own. hmmmmmm??

I don't know what God's greater purpose for my life is. Perhaps I am not meant to know? My desire is to grow in relationship with Him and follow where He leads me. To keep asking, seeking, knocking. I cannot tell anyone to leave their religion. All I can say is, be brave enough to ask your questions and follow truth as it is revealed. It's scary, I know! Sometimes I feel as if I'm standing in the way of a freight train- about to be crushed by the weight of a well-oiled machine. But here I remain, because I want to know the Great Mystery we call, God.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Which is Worse?

There are widely advertised religious meetings being held in Chattanooga right now. 'Message of Mercy' sang for one such event last night. It went quite well and I was blessed by the Christ-centered focus of the message. However, I heard that last week there were some protesters standing out on the street-corner wearing signs saying that certain beliefs are a farce and that the religion represented by the meetings is a "cult". In all honesty, I would have to agree that certain factions of the church ARE indeed a cult. I know because I lived it!
The protesters weren't present last night. "So what happened to them?" I asked. A Pastor told me that after one of the meetings last week, a whole group of believers filed out onto the street, surrounded the two guys who were holding the signs and began a shouting match. The mayhem became SO great that security had to ask the Pastors to go out into the street and appeal to the angry "Saints" to break it up or they would have to call police.

So, I ask- which is worse? Having an opinion and standing in silent protest of the meetings, or being a Christian who behaves so rudely?? We live in a time of unbelief- why were these Christians so shocked & indignant that someone would dare disagree with them? What did they hope to gain by intimidating the protesters?? Did they think acting ugly & waving little red books in the faces of the opposed would ever change their minds??? Nope. Those men were only further turned off by the ugly behavior of people who claim to be "the last remnant people".

Jesus taught, "Love your enemies, do good to those that curse you.... turn the other cheek... forgive those who tresspass against you..."

This outrage is proof once again that defense of church doctrine has taken priority over human kindness in many hearts. If we as Christians do not STUDY the person of Jesus Christ, (He is peaceful, meek, gentle, lowly in heart, not harsh & arrogant) let Him change us into His likeness, perhaps we should stop wearing the cloak of Christianity before bringing further dishonor to His name.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


What do you do? How do you cope when time and time again you witness or experience the unravelling of lives, dreams, careers and faith?

How do you stand helplessly by with no resources by which to help the situation? Words are not enough and all the love I can give barely soothes fevered souls. My heart is raw and weary of struggle. I am trembling inside, yet trying to hold it together, maintain composure and be strong. Am I hurting for everyone else, or for myself? Perhaps both. I am undone... God what are You doing here? I am afraid...

I have seen a side of someone I love in past years that I never saw before. I am disenchanted- yet determined... There are holes in the walls. Doors have been ripped off hinges and furniture hurled. Underground rivers of pent up emotion and resentment broil to the surface with great force and it scares me. I shrink and tremble inside. I look at the sleeping faces of my sweet children. So innocent. I want more than anything to protect them from the hurts in this world, to show them nothing but life's joys. They look to me to guide and protect them and I cannot let them down...

I have a more honest view of who I am these days. I am not so brave as people think and it cuts like a knife. All pretenses fade away into a new reality. My life is not so tidy and I am not so together as I thought I was. Sometimes being real cuts so deeply. Oh God, do not turn away from me. I am fragile. I see my great need for You. Have mercy on me in this refining, for I do not know how long I can stand against this mighty wind.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Above and Beyond...

What is a church?? Church is more than a building. It is more far-reaching than any single denomination. It is important to gather collectively and pray, but there is also value in going out individually or in small groups to pray and contemplate the things of God.

Prayer is more than just kneeling with hands folded & eyes closed a couple times a day. Prayer is an existence- it is breath to me.

Who can define worship?? I believe it is more than sing-a-hymn, read-a-scripture, give-an-offering, make announcements, have prayer on your knees and go home. Worship is a state of being- an innate sense of gratitude and awareness of God. I have worshipped God with tears and praised Him with laughter. I have even worshipped Him with dance. He is REAL and deserving of praise beyond mere formalism.

Reverence is more than being silent and still in a place of worship. Reverence is more than keeping any one day holy. Reverence is the way we live daily- honoring God, loving other people and caring for the earth we have been given. Scripture tells me that each of us are a Temple of the Holy Spirit- or the essence of God lives within us. In a sense, believers are sanctuaries of the Living God. Don't tell me you love God if you deliberately wound your neighbor. To point a finger of judgement, to give cold stares, to abandon, poke fun or silence a person in need is NOT showing reverence to God.

I have called out to God in open fields, under blue skies & silver clouds and praise Him while basking in the moonlight. I have reverenced Him while reaching for the hand of a dying loved one, or holding a newborn to my breast. I FEEL prayer and peacefulness. It is a privilege when one comes into a greater understanding of their Creator. I've "had church" many times while riding mountain trails, while attending births, while hiking through green meadows. I have celebrated the goodness of The Lord in many kinds of churches and felt the warmth of common Grace with those of other faiths. My heart is growing...
Why do we so limit God through narrow definitions? He is above and beyond the wisest of mankind. Who can describe or understand Him completely? He is more than I ever thought He could be. Words are inadequate to tell of Him. I am opening myself to this Great Wonder- this Lover of my Soul; Abba, Jehovah, Yahweh... the God Who Sees.... The Great I Am....

Monday, May 22, 2006

Thought Provoking!

Unfortunately, this is often what churches do:

I'm not endorsing one denomination over another here, but this video goes along with my thoughts on the church being a hospital NOT a museum. (see original post below)

Embracing Existence...

Woke up today to an overcast sky, but felt good inside. I'm not the kind of person who wakes up groaning and depressed on Monday mornings. I'm the one who says, "All right- bring it on! What adventures does this week have in store?" I went and worked at the gym really hard- felt good! The staff are wonderful there and often make me laugh!! Drove home with the windows open, cool breezes blowing. We live way out in the country. Found myself stuck behind someone going really SLOW. So I had ample time to look around, enjoy the scenery and the smells. Enjoyed seeing cattle grazing in rich, green meadows- such a beautiful scene. I breathed deeply as the fragrance of honeysuckle, clover and thistle blossoms drifted in. mmmmm- sweet smells!!

I love life! Yes, it offers many challenges. I know what it's like to feel abandoned, broken, abused and discouraged. I've felt the sting of personal failure and the devastation of losing the ones I love. But I also know the exhileration of seeing my babies for the very first time, racing across the desert on horseback with the wind in my hair, and hearing the sigh of a contented lover. We cannot merely embrace happiness and divorce ourselves from sadness because it's another dimension of our existence. My life is often like an open book. Happiness makes me dance, sadness brings tears- both let me know that I'm alive. I'm still figuring out who I am, but this I know; my passion is deep, my heart is strong. Long ago, I wished for death to come- today, for good or ill, I'm embracing my existence- the shackles on my soul are falling away... feels good...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

I'm Tagged...

Okay, I've been tagged for this game:

10 Things I Love that Start with 'P':
1) People- my heart is open to friendship with many different kinds of people.
2) Prayer- I believe in the value of having a prayer life.
3) Popcorn- great snack and there are so many ways to flavor it!!
4) Pick-up Trucks- never been a big fan of tiny sports cars. I'd like to own an Explorer Sport Trak!
5) Piano- my favorite instrument and the one by which I express myself musically
6) Pasta/Pizza- I'll count this as one because it's food. Italian is my FAV- Mexican is close second!!
7) Paints- these are my favorite horses. To me they are flashy & beautiful. LOVE to ride!
8) Puppies- Joyful & exhuberant, life would be so boring without my dog, Zephyr.
9) Physical Excercise- I enjoy few things more than a good workout.
10) Playfulness- what can I say, I'm a BIG kid. Love to laugh and act silly.

10 Things I Hate that Start with 'P': (Hmmm, this is harder)
1) Pain- physical is rough, but emotional/spiritual is far worse in my book.
2) Prissy Attitudes- I don't dig snobbery
3) Poverty- everybody deserves to have a good life
4) Prejudice- we're ALL equal in the eyes of God
5) Pessimism- smothers hopefulness & drives me CRAZY!!
6) Peer Pressure- robs people of their individuality
7) Paranoia- is disturbing to the peace
8) Politics- don't like the games- especially when it happens within the church
9) Party Poopers- ultra dignified/serious mindset of those who never relax & enjoy life
10) Pollen- makes Spring & Fall unbearable without medication. Thank God for Singulair!!

Well there you have it. I tag anyone who reads this & wants to try with the letter 'M'. Good luck!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Beauty Abounds...

I received a precious gift from God which I treasure- it's the ability to see beauty in every person. We're all unique and wonderful. Even more than the outer person, a mind & soul are valued. I enjoy connecting on a level beyond small talk & exchanging of facts. Finding good conversation is challenging these days- though every person out there has something beautiful to share. Some of the best conversations I've had were with elderly people- for all their wrinkles & gray hair they are still beautiful to me. Society basically writes them off, but inside those frail, bent bodies are the hearts of soldiers, dreamers, artists and farmers who helped build this country. They are sturdy & rugged or they would never have lived so long...

Few things are more beautiful than a smiling woman. Even if the hair or figure aren't exactly perfect, a lady can be beautiful if she's smiling & kindhearted- not with cheezy put-on politeness, but a genuine heartfelt warmth in her eyes and touch. It's hard for someone to be this way if they've not accepted themselves. There will be no inner-peace until one begins to understand their value. You can't wait for family or even a spouse to affirm you before you accept yourself- their approval may never come. God accepts you- in fact, He's totally over-the-moon in love with you! :o)

There's a lid for every pot. Isn't it sad that we waste time trying to transform ourselves to fit someone else's idea of beauty? Females often go to extremes for appearance sake. They either work too hard & look overdone, or go around with flat hair in shapeless jumpers thinking it's a sin to feel good about themselves. There's a balance. Some people are attracted to skinny, others are attracted to curvy. A lot of people don't like red hair, but plenty do- so I'm okay. Whether your skin is fair or dark, there are eyes out there to appreciate your uniqueness. After many years of trying to be something I wasn't, (tan & blonde) I'm learning simply to be myself. The more comfortable I am in my own skin, the more I relax, the more people seem to appreciate me. No, I haven't magically transformed and I'm not exactly drop-dead gorgeous, but as I dwell on God's love for me, there's a radiance I feel inside and I am free to love others more.

When God looks down on us, He doesn't see wimps & losers, He sees a variety of believers in different shapes & sizes- faith manifests itself differently in each of us and I think He likes it that way. Why waste precious time feeling bad about ourselves, refusing to receive the acceptance of God?? Because of flaws & mistakes, we cower in the shadows covered in fig leaves saying "I'm naked, ugly & unworthy, how can You love me?!" All the while God says, "I don't care, just come to Me and let Me cover you with My love." The power of unconditional love is transforming! To Almighty God, YOU are a beautiful treasure with valid thoughts, feelings and needs. Stop trying to please everybody else and bask in that great love every day of your life... then pass it on...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Guess What??

No, I'm not pregnant- LOL. I weigh in every Friday and was very happy to discover today that I've lost 2 more pounds for a total of 14 since Jan. YEAH!! 8 more lbs. to go. I have no doubt it's coming off as hard as I am working out, plus the extra classes I've been teaching as a sub. No matter how tough life can be, there is always some bright spot to hold onto.

Found a great quote today- just what I needed:

"It is not my job to remake who I am, but to make the most of who God made me." - Robert Frost

Thursday, May 18, 2006

In Other News...

I've subbed 6 times at the YMCA now. 1 class was a struggle because the CD player kept skipping around. It worked fine for an hour, but when the second class came in, it started acting up. I made the best of it- kept moving and managed to keep a smile on my face despite how flustered I felt. It's very intimidating to go into a class of die-hards and not be able to keep things flowing smoothly for reasons mostly beyond my control. It will get better as I go. Still feeling a little rusty after nearly 2 yrs out of the fitness industry. I continue to notice progress in my body- which makes the hard work worth it. I'm currently trying to bust a plateau. First 12 lbs came off, then a holding pattern. This is when most people get discouraged and quit. I'm a fighter. If I keep pushing, I'll breakthrough and lose a little more. Eventually, I hope to get back in marathon condition, but we'll see. My left knee bothers me some- especially when I run on pavement. Can't seem to remember to get the camera to the gym. I'll try to remember it tomorrow...

My husband & I were supposed to have a full concert this weekend, but it's been moved to July. This is providential considering he's very burned out right now. Just need to relax until we gets things sorted out. Thank God for some good friends who are in a similar state of flux. They are good companions who understand where we are right now.

Sometimes I ask God what He was doing when He made me the way I am. My husband is extremely laid back, serious & low key, while I am an energetic, goofy go-getter. Yeah, I know- "opposites attract", but if a man is insecure, being married to a girl like me isn't going to help him much. Upon the advice of some older women in the church, I tried for years to change myself into the quiet, humble, submissive little house mouse that would walk 5 paces behind and help him feel like more of a man, but it just doesn't work. I found myself depressed & angry all the time during the 5 yrs I tried to re-wire myself into what I thought he wanted me to be and we were getting nowhere. So, here I am- this is me and somehow, we learn to work with it or fall apart...

The children are very much looking forward to summer camp this year. They will get to swim, ride horses, sing and play with friends. How I miss my days at camp each summer!! Good memories! Get the itch to go back each year, but it's virtually impossible now. Why do I hold onto the past so much? Guess I'm just a sentimental fool!! :o)

I find comfort in the book of Psalms. King David shared his struggles- they are recorded in the Bible and I feel less alone when I read about his dispair, his longing for peace, his mistakes. He was by NO means perfect, but kept trying anyway. I want to live an honorable life. Maybe in some small way as I paint a picture of my experiences, perhaps someday someone out there will read about my life and know that someone understands?

Hold Me, Jesus...

My man came home and went to bed at 6:30pm without a word to any of us. This depression is crushing the life out of him. Nothing I say or do seems to be of any use- the more I reach out the more he pushes me away. It cuts like a knife. I'm sitting up late. It's after midnight. The pain, chaos, lonliness and burdens of life seem to be forcing the air from my chest. I've cried out to God until all I have the strength to pray is "Help me, Lord". Somehow every morning I put one foot in front of the other and for that I am grateful, but a sure answer- a strong evidence of God's will is what I'm begging for. Tomorrow, I will burn my frustration at the gym and ride the adrenaline for a while. For now, like so many nights before, I sit listening to music that will comfort. The late-great Rich Mullins (pictured right) sings me a lullaby tonight. The lyrics:

Well sometimes my life just don't make sense at all
When the mountains seem so big and my faith just seems so small
So hold me, Jesus cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory, won't You be my Prince of Peace?

And I wait up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul, I swear there must be blisters on my heart
So hold me, Jesus cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory, won't You be my Prince of Peace?

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
than to take what You give that I need
and I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, falling on my knees

And the Salvation Army band is playing this hymn
And Your Grace rings out so deep, it makes my resistence seem so thin
So hold me, Jesus cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been my King of glory, won't You be my Prince of Peace?

Want to hear the song?
Go to: Click on 'Hold Me, Jesus'

Thanks Rich for being real and for putting it so eloquently... miss you, man....

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Hospitals -vs- Museums

The longer I live, the more evident this becomes to me: Churches are meant to be hospitals NOT museums. A museum is a strictly controlled environment, squeaky-clean with cold floors and high ceilings. Patrons are encouraged to speak in low, hushed tones. A Museum is where old relics, dead people & outdated ideas are welcomed, displayed and honored. There is no touching allowed for fear of damaging/polluting the artifacts or getting fingerprints on precious items. Those who frequent museums are usually stoic and think of themselves as having higher intellects than the general population. They tend to keep to themselves in little clusters while in the museum. People often dress up to go view the exhibits... everything is stiff & polite. If you don't have money, you may not even get in. (I like museums- don't get me wrong, but for the sake of making a point, bear with me.)

Hospitals are where the sick and dying go to find help. A good hospital will use current equipment & methods. Coming in for help means a patient must explain their symptoms and share what happened to them in order to be treated. Some are so traumatized they aren't fully conscious of their situation or due to the severity of their injuries it's blatantly obvious what the problem is. Hospitals are busy, hands-on places. You hear the sound of weeping and crying out for help. A lot of praying goes on and heart transplants only take place in hospitals. Dr.'s and nurses don't shy away from a messy, bleeding, desperate person. Rich or poor, black/white, male or female- the medical staff gets right in there to assist and save a life. The unwell simply show up in need, trusting they will find relief. Having been in several accidents and making frequent trips to the ER, I know this is true. After 30 plus hrs of labor and pushing 4 hrs for the birth of my son unsuccessfully, I was fading and was transported to the Labor & Delivery ward of a local hospital for assistence. Completely helpless, exhausted, covered in sweat and fearing for my life and that of the baby. The midwife called ahead to announce our arrival. A whole crew was waiting when we pulled up to the ER- they coached me through a contraction in the car, then wheeled me to the delivery floor. Seeing the apprehension on my face, they were very reassuring. I showed up in nothing but a bathrobe & slippers and I was received. Same story after a serious horse accident. I walked into ER with bad hair & dirty clothes, all broken up and in shock- could've died laying on the frozen ground in the Oregon wilderness, but instead caring people helped me make it to a warm hospital where I was taken in with open arms. They were there for me and helped me heal. I'm SO thankful!!!

There are broken people all around us everyday- they may seem normal, but deep inside there's a struggle within each of us. ALL are sin-sick, weak and wounded. I wonder... when the hurting enter your place of worship will they feel as if they've entered a museum with the "saints" on display in all their self-righteous grandeur- or will they be embraced and referred to the Master Physician for healing? I'm convinced that until we stop being shocked by sin- ashamed to be seen with "sinners", we will be unable to fulfill the Gospel commission and are simply "playing church". My eyes have been opened for quite some time as to my true condition before God- I'm a sinner to the core. The older I get, the more I see this. Everyone born of a woman is capable of great good but also evil. I'm tired of trying to convince myself and others differently. We need a safe place to be REAL. I cherish people who can handle honesty and a God so welcoming to sinners. Every now and then I encounter someone who is like-minded and I am blessed.

"Those who are well have no need of a Physician, but those who are sick..." - Jesus Christ (Matthew 9:12)

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Today and everyday, honor belongs to all the lovely women who endured the discomforts of pregnancy and who through blood, sweat and tears brought life into this world. I also wish to remember the Mothers whose hearts are big enough to raise another woman's child as if it were her own. Thanks goes out to those who consistently sacrifice in order to make the world better for even one child. The body changes, stretch marks appear and gray hairs will come in time, but enjoy your babies. Love and nurture them. Speak many words of encouragement to the children of your heart. Touch and hold them for they are gone too soon... Children, do not take your Mother's love for granted and do not hesitate to praise her kindness, for she has given much.

Blessings to You All!! :o)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Smiling Again!

I believe in grieving & celebrating with passion. I have ups & downs like everyone else, but I'm smiling again. As someone once put it after my worst riding accident:

"Trailady can take a lickin' and still keep tickin'."

I promise to post some fitness pics soon so you can
see my progress... 12 lbs down since this photo was taken.
That's something to smile about- eh?!

A Better Focus...

I'm feeling better today. Got up early and went to the 'Y'. Was a beautiful Spring morning- I enjoyed the drive. Love my time at the gym each day!! Spent an hour in Pilates & an hour in Interval Cardio. (The classes I will soon be teaching.) I'm training hard and feel stronger than I've felt in 2 years. My endurance is building and I'm able to work at higher intensity. I am subbing 4 classes at the 'Y' next week- looking forward to it. I choose to dwell on my favorite things and on the good in my life. So here are the things I'm thankful for today:

1) My Health. I'm so glad I'm able to move well. I'm an adrenaline/endorphin junkie. Love to sweat!
2) My Husband. Overall, he's a really good guy and he loves me- even if he has difficulty expressing it in ways I can understand sometimes... and vice versa.
3) My Children. They are each very precious to me. I love watching their distinct personalities develop. They keep me young at heart. :o)
4) Music. Few things in life are more therapeutic for me than sitting at my piano and playing my heart out.
5) My Pets. I'm SUCH a dog person! My Zephyr-boy is a great pal- has a way of lifting my spirits. He's always willing to pay attention to me, play, or go down to the barn with me when nobody else will.
6) Prayer. I don't have all the answers about who God is. All I know is that I enjoy talking to Him- I tell Him everything. I love to praise this Great Mystery that is God.
7) Horses Next Door. Their noises- just the sight of them grazing in the field soothes me. My heart longs for the good old days leading trail rides...
8) My Dreams. Even if they never come true, my life is better for nurturing & pursuing them.

I'm feeling very calm right now. Relaxing in my favorite chair, listening to tranquil music and enjoying the smell of 3 new candles I bought on the way home. The scents: Forest Fern, Vineyard Rain and Springtime Breeze. It smells very sweet & earthy in here. Tonight I will light the candle on the side of my big tub. I will run a HOT bath with bubbles and soak to my hearts content. Life is too short not to count my blessings or to miss out on simple luxuries. I will soon write a post about the things I'm looking forward to.... Gotta pull out of the gloomy rut I've been in. Thank you to all my readers who posted words of encouragement this week. Bless you!!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hanging By A Thread...

Reality- what a heavy word.
Can I slip the clutches of this sadness?
Who am I? Will I ever find myself again?
The girl with shining eyes and free spirit is heavy-hearted
I look into the mirror at an aging face.
My prayer "Help me, God" springs forth from trembling faith.
When the door to my wishes seems permanently shut
and the voice of optimism is nearly dead, in quietness I whisper,

"How will I carry on when I'm hanging by a thread?"

I feel so afraid to journey on
when my soul is filled with empty
I am here, God are YOU there?
Do promises die?
Will determination fail me?
I long for greener pastures, to hear the words "well done".
So many goodbyes here. Too many songs unsung.
Words of love are drowned by the chaos in my head.

How will I carry on when I'm hanging by a thread?

I ask for strength, remember me
Memories haunt while passion implodes.
Not used to darkness or being weak.
Out of ideas and energy.
I'm still nurturing- who will nurture me?
So this is life in the real world?
How do we exist fragmented, disconnected?
It hurts to have a heart when it's starving to be fed.

How will I carry on when I'm hanging by a thread?

(Sorry to be such a downer. I'm feeling rather melancholy tonight.)


Today I received word that a friend of mine from highschool passed away. Marc Patrick Oswald was an amazing person! He had a smile that would light up the room and a sparkle in his eye. He was entertaining, athletic and handsome. We used to call him "Baby New Year" because his ears were so cute. He loved to play jokes on people. I only attended school with Marc for half a year at HVA. He went forward and gave his heart to God during the same week of prayer that I did, but a struggle with alcohol and drugs caused the school to kick him out halfway through the year. I never saw him again...

The school may have given up on him, but God did not. Marc was able to kick his drug/drinking habit and was on his way to a brighter future when he dove into a river during a picnic outing, and broke his neck. As he floated down the river face down, he asked God to save him. Two strangers pulled him toward the shore and held his head above water. Marc's positive attitude was barely shaken by quadriplegia. His faith remained strong and people say he was an inspiration- always offering encouragement and cheering people up in the hospital. I'm sorry I didn't have the chance to know Marc more than I did. I searched in vain for him several times so I could write to him, but nobody ever seemed to know where he was or how he was doing. Sad- how we all get so disconnected and the first news I heard of him since the accident was that at 32, he passed away. I am incredibly sad.... I sit looking at his smiling picture on the program from his memorial and it's hard to imagine someone who loved life so much could be gone... Today was not one of my better days. Don't know what else to say.

A Kind Tribute!

This poem was written for me by one of my readers. How very sweet!! Thank you, Brian. :o)

"Graceful Rider"

It's come to pass in this her life
that she's discovered she's more than a wife.

Pride in plain became a chore
lost her way, became mother of four.

The joy she feels when she's in her songs
her shining soul to God belongs.

With His compassion she cares so much
to those in need, offers a loving touch.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Absolutely Clear...

Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly, Let it cut more deeply.
Let it ferment and season you. As few human or divine ingredients can.
Something missing in my heart tonight, has made my eyes so soft, my voice so tender.
My need of God absolutely clear.
Don't surrender your loneliness so quickly.
- Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Project for Peace...

I am very much eclectic in my musical tastes and am blessed by a variety of styles. One of my interests is Folk music which tends to be very deep and spiritual. It encourages us to examine and improve our human experience and that of those around us. Folk music is very in tune with the human experience, highlighting emotions both happy and sad. I've had the priviledge of meeting David Wilcox and Nance Petitt (husband & wife)- sat in a jacuzzi with them once and have enjoyed their music for many years. Now they have teamed up to make this project for world peace. I think this is very noble of them! I'm excited to hear the new CD which embraces the best of world culture. Check it out:

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Best Pain Reliever...

Pain nourishes courage.
You can't be brave
if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.
~ Mary Tyler Moore
So true! Suffering often breeds compassion. A principle of exercise shows that muscle fibers are actually torn during exercise and rebuild- there-after, they are larger and stronger. A man's hands are strengthened by work. A woman's heart learns to endure because of the trials she faces.
No matter who they are- from the richest to the poorest all people suffer at times. We can wallow in self-pity and give up or we can get up and move on in the face of adversity and try to make a difference. However, I believe this takes something outside ourselves to do, for after a while life can snuff the fire right out of us and we end up worn and confused. Bad finances, poor health and dysfunctional relationships can really wear you down. I believe that's when people get desperate and do things they would never do otherwise. Commit theft, adultery or even murder. To feel helpless & hopeless is the worst way to live!
I am learning more and more the importance of making good choices. I find that reaching out to others in their suffering helps me forget my own. It is the best pain reliever.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Europe Loves MofM!!

A lot of hard work goes into writing/arranging my music and we girls worked HARD in the studio to get this project done. I'm so happy to share that our most recent album was reviewed favorably by the biggest Christian Radio Network in the UK:

Thank You, Jesus- I needed the encouragement!! You can hear clips from our first or second album by clicking the 'Message of Mercy' link in the right column. :o)

Pressing On...

Things continue to be challenging at this time. I feel so helpless to watch the people I care about battle with depression, disillusionment and despondancy. If only I had the power to make things better I would!
However, as much as we hate to admit it, suffering has a purpose. I remember being caught in the throes of childbirth for 30+ hours. A mother suffers tremendously, but considers the pain worthwhile to give life. Grandpa Campbell's words still ring true, "Whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger". At 10 years old I was ravaged by Scarlet Fever. My parents were separated- we were very poor. Mom waited it out with bedrest, liquids and controlling the fever as best she could hoping I would get better, but I continued to decline. Finally we went to the Dr. I was so weak he said if Mom had waited a day more I never would have survived. He was worried the fever would damage my eyesight & reproductive organs. (I'm very blessed to have 20/20 vision and 4 kids.) The Dr. put me on some medicine and I began to improve. A week later I was weak but felt fine so we discontinued the medication and breathed a sigh of relief. Just a week later, I had Scarlet Fever again! Somehow I survived... I've been around Scarlet Fever several times over the years since, but never contracted it again. My immune system is stronger for having battled the fever.

Life has a way of hitting us blindside in the ring. We are knocked out not just once, but repeatedly. Only by the grace of God do any of us ever get back on our feet and keep fighting. Darkness hates Light. The forces of evil work against good and all things beautiful. I was born with an inner fire- I'm too blasted stubborn to give up. God help me- I will keep smiling and pressing on...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Do You Speak Cat?

This is hilarious! Feline fans are sure to be delighted....

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Positive Side of Life

- Living on Earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun every year.
- Birthdays are good for you; the more you have, the longer you live.
- Happiness often comes through doors you didn't even know you left open.
- Most of us go to our grave with our music still inside of us.
- You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
- Don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened.
- We could learn a lot from crayons: some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names, and all are different colors.... but each has their usefulness and their place. They all exist very nicely in the same box.
- A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.
- Working for God on earth does not pay much, but His Retirement plan is out of this world!

Monday, May 01, 2006

There HAS to Be Something More!

Our elderly neighbor, Herman is still hanging on to life, despite bone cancer. Over the weekend he was out raking in his yard. He gave us a pretty big scare last winter- thought he was going to die, but he has lived to enjoy another spring. Herman and I have had several interesting discussions on his front porch swings. He does most of the talking and I listen. Herman is somewhat confused as to what happens when we die, but he doesn't believe in eternity. He believes this is the only life you ever get so make the most of it. However, he does half-heartedly believe that he may come back as a flower, tree or some kind of animal. His heart is not open to the Gospel and I refuse to force-feed my beliefs to anyone. I believe in respecting the convictions of others. Herman knows I'm a Christian and that we attend church regularly- if he's ever curious and asks I'll be happy to share some of the tenets of my faith.

Throughout the many trials I faced in life, the only thing that kept me going forward was the hope that there is something more. There JUST has to be something more than what we call "reality" here. In my short lifetime I've known a great deal of joy, but also seen some terrible things. I've witnessed intense sadness and tragedy. Hearts are broken by war, famine and other crisis. 300,000 people were swept away by a Tsunami and countless others killed in earthquakes around the globe. Innocent children are abandoned, aborted and abused in this world. There is such great desire in my heart for peace, for beauty, for love. My spirit dreams of better things and I am filled with such longing... there HAS to be something more! Something more than scraping by day after day. Something more than burying your loved ones. Something beyond darkness, decay and deterioration. Something more than feeling like you never quite measure up to other people's ideas of who you should be.

Herman faces death with the braveness of a soldier and the matter-of-fact nature of a chemist. Call me weak, but in order for me to accept death, I MUST have hope of eternity- a reality beyond that which we are painfully familiar with. This belief comforts me. I can say, "Today I am suffering, but someday....." I don't want to die and come back reincarnated as something else in a never-ending cycle of Karma! I want to be ME forever- only without the scars, blemishes, genetic weaknesses. I want to have hands, eyes, ears to experience life as it was meant to be. I want a heart that is whole and can FEEL. I want to run and not grow weary. The thought of coming back as another, who-knows-what life form brings me little comfort and no satisfaction. (In writing this, I do not wish to offend those who do find the idea of Karma comforting- simply expressing where I am.)
People can mock this hope as being weak-minded, but life is better and I feel there is more quality in each day when Paradise is at the forefront of my mind. Someday we will run into the open arms of our Creator to be comforted and live as we were meant to live... forever!

Great Quotes...

"Freedom... is not an inconsequential throwing of one's weight about, it is the disciplined overcoming of self."

~ Iris Murdoch

"The art of being wise is the ability of knowing what and what not to overlook" - William James

"Every man has three characters: that which he shows, that which he has, and that which he thinks he has"
- Alphonse Karr

"We cannot hold a torch to light another person's path without brightening our own" - Ben Sweetland

"True Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking" - J.C. Watts

"A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word 'darkness' on the walls of his cell" - C.S. Lewis

"He who wants to expand the field of happiness, let him lay the foundation of it on the bottom of his own heart" - Tao Saying

"The question for the child is not 'Do I want to be good?' but 'Whom do I want to be like?' - Bruno Bettelheim

"In taking revenge, a man is but even level with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is far superior" -Sir Frances Bacon

"Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them" ~ Ladybird Johnson

"Be curious always! For knowledge will not acquire you; you must acquire it" ~ Sudie Buck

"I can't believe God put anyone on this earth to be ordinary" - Lou Holtz

"Avoid the crowd. Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece"
- Ralph Charell

"Problems are only opportunities in work clothes" - Henry J. Kaiser

"Life shrinks or expands in direct proportion to one's courage" ~ Anais Nin

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can acheive greatly" - Pres. Robert F. Kennedy

"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one" - Elbert Hubbard

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time we are given" - Gandalf to Frodo LOTR's

"Man improves himself as he follows his path; if he stands still, waiting to improve before he makes a decision, he'll never move" -Paulo Coelho

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony" ~ Mahatma Ghandi

"It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are" - E.E. Cummings