Thursday, January 23, 2014

Shovel In Hand.....

It has been way too long since I have checked in. Where have I been? That is a good question.
I have been right here. The days have flown by and it is just hard to account for it all.

The quick summary?......our holidays were really nice and quiet. We spent our time with family in town and were so grateful for the time spent. It was different not having Nana here. But we hugged each other and created new memories as we reminisced on old ones.

We did not go to the beach for the New Year celebrating as we normally do. While I missed the getaway and being with our friends, I am glad we stayed close to home this year because the day after Christmas my mom had a 4th heart attack. This was a pretty big one. But the amazing miracle thing that happened is that when the cardiologist looked in her heart via angiogram, he found that God was already causing her body to grow new blood vessels around the blockage as a natural bypass. That simply blows my mind!

Hubby is busy having fun with work and training with races. He and our youngest son-in-law (The Poet) have been signing up together for area paces and have been getting a kick out of the shared interest.
Puddin' is shoulder deep in her college term with 19 credits and a part in the musical. Pao is away visiting her fiance' abroad.

That all leaves me with lots of thinking time.......
Thinking time for myself can be a dangerous thing. :-)
Actually I am finding that there are things within me that I have ignored for a long time. God has been so gracious and patently loving with me. I could keep going just as I am and He would love me no less. But I have a choice to make about the skin I live in. If I want to be all that He has given me the ability to be........then I have to dig in and shovel out even when it is hard and uncomfortable. He has nothing but good plans for me that are filled with His love. All I have to do is get out of the way.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Fun of 24 Years

My husband and I are away this week celebrating our 24th anniversary. We are having so much fun and totally loving the time of relaxing and reconnecting.

Each year we try to hit up some place new to explore. This year finds us in the upper wine country of California. A little bit more dry than we had anticipated and care for. But as long as we are together does it really matter?

We have spent time hiking, store front walking, movie time and lots of do nothing time. It has been really really really nice. Can you tell I am happy?

The other night we heard about a nice restaurant in the next town over that had a great selection of healthy food choices, a wonderful atmosphere AND live jazz entertainment. Wahoo! We were all over it. We sat out in the cool evening under the autumn trees and enjoyed our dinner while listening to a jazz band that ended up being from our home town. That was a fun coincidence. Even more fun was finding our that our table neighbors were also our resort neighbors and we had a lot in common.

Yesterday we went out to the dock to catch the sunset and found an interesting sight. We happened upon a young boy walking his two baby goats. It was quite a scene watching him attempt to control and command those babies when they had strong wills of independent thought. All THEY wanted to do was examine and make friends with us. Actually it was quite a good experience for me. I have to confess that for some unknown reason I have always been timid and sort of afraid of goats. But these little guys wanted to play and be petted just like my fuzzy dog boys back home.

Isn't he cute?!
This is really random but we watched a movie the other night that has been on my mind. You may (or may not) be surprised to know that I am a sci-fi movie fan. I like romance and comedy and enjoy all types of action. But given the choice, I think I will pick a sci-fi over all of them every time. Along with that preference, I take great delight in finding my own personal deeper meaning in whatever I watch. To me, everything is a learning experience.

Anyway, the movie we watched was a new one that is out now with Will Smith and his son Jaden Smith called After Earth. It is definitely sci-fi. My own quick tag for the movie is that father and son crash land their space ship on the (no longer inhabited) earth and the son is their only chance for survival. To be the hero, he must overcome multiple life and death struggles as he races against the clock to activate a distress beacon.

The thing about this movie is that the son is riddled with self doubt and performance issues. His dad seems to be the perfect tough guy and he wants nothing more than to measure up to the self inflicted approval of his father. Mental pressure at it's depth and I have certainly put those shoes on a time or two in my life.

I don't want to spoil the movie for you if you are planning to see it. So spoiler alert ahead  if you want to skim over or stop reading.

Something that I really keyed into with this movie was the concept of fear. There is an animal in the movie that hunts humans for the sole purpose of killing them. It cannot see or hear. It hunts by the smell of fear.
It caused me to think how the enemy of God thrives on our fear. He uses it to ruin and sabotage destroy us.

Another thing that I really keyed in to was a speech that the father gave to the son. This is totally my phrasing because it was a long speech.....He said, "We all have life struggles. We all have times when we are in danger. We all have horrible things around us. Those are the real things. Danger is a real thing. But fear is a choice. Fear is not real because it only exists in our minds."

Using that speech as a catalyst, every time the son would begin to spin out of emotional control, the father would say, "Take a knee soldier." This was a time to stop, close his eyes and take in the moment. Assess the situation around him and evaluate the truth.

That very much reminded me that as God's daughter and His soldier, when things around me swirl out of control and fear creeps in, I need to get to my knees and assess my truth. What is that truth? God is real. God is in control. The hunter has no power of me and cannot harm me because the fear is only a lie....a fabrication in my mind.

Goodness that just excites me so much!
So in the end of the movie when the hunter is breathing and dripping drool over the son and the son is in that pivotal moment of truth, does he let go of fear?
Well, I won't tell you the ending. You can see it for yourself. :-)
Yesterday's sunset.
God bless you this week in all you do. Know without a doubt that you are loved with a pure and amazing love by the most incredible creator of forever.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Radio....

The other day I was feeling the stress of being late. My precious college girl tends to always be a little off in her timing to get ready for class. I was buzzing down the road, not breaking any driving laws but not being relaxed either as I calculated her being approximately 7 minutes late to class. Then I heard the voice of a caller talking with my morning radio host in my car stereo.

"A favorite saying of mine that I use all the time is, 'Any lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on my behalf.'"

I had to laugh at how God chose to calm me down and focus my responsibilities.
Interestingly, my girl didn't totally understand what was so funny.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Changes in the Blender of my Mind

About a week ago I was getting ready for the day when a dream I had the night before flashed through my mind in real time. In my dream I was in my dinning room cleaning out my purse. I opened my coin purse and change poured out like it was overflowing. Then I opened my wallet and more change fell out. Every compartment of my purse that I looked in showed shiny coins waiting for me to grab. Then I picked up my water glass on the table and there was change under it as well as under my book and my plate.
I laughed in my dream and said, "Boy change is everywhere and it just keeps coming and coming."

That is all I remember of my dream but it has got me to thinking. What am I thinking about?
That is a good question indeed. Aside from knowing it was a dream from God and knowing it holds wisdom as well as humor......I feel a bit too tired right now to figure it all out.
But still, I am thinking.

Today at church, more things happened that grabbed me and made the wheels in my brain pause and move at the same time. (How does that even make sense?)
It wasn't even part of the sermon today when our pastor made reference to Mark 10 when Jesus heals Bartimaeus from his blindness. Bartimaeus had called out to Him when Jesus posed the question, "What do you want me to do for you?" Pastor posed the thought....If Jesus were standing next to you (like He really is) and asked you that question, what kind of answer would you have?

When I put myself in those shoes the first thoughts that ran through my mind startled me ......
That is too scary a question. I could never have an answer for that.
I wouldn't dare be so bold as to ask for favor like that.
I don't deserve to have favor like that.
What if I squandered my favor away and disappointed Him?

I had to squash away those thoughts because I know they don't belong to Him.
The truth is that no thought is too scary to take to God.
The truth is that I am His daughter and I have His utmost favor and delight.
The truth is that just like my children deserve all my imperfect fail-able love, the loving favor God gives me is even more than that.
The truth is that I make mistakes every day but God would never turn off His love for me......or anyone else for that matter.

So what would I ask? What could I ask? What will I ask....because I can?

I am not done sharing yet.
Everything today seemed to have God's fingerprint on it and aimed right for the middle of my forehead.
It was also said today,

"If you are seeking answers, you will never find them.
 Instead, cling to God and the answers will find you."

Interesting for a statement like that to stick out to me while I was still pondering what I would ask of Jesus. It was one of those moments that makes me sigh, gasp and hmmmm all at the same time. So I wanted to share it here with you.

THEN at the end of service, I was talking with a friend who was offering me some encouraging prayer for my emotionally tired self. She made reference in her prayer to the relationship that God and I have and that it is an open door going both ways. It was a kind and wonderful loving prayer. But that door reference made me realize that there are some things happening currently in my life that I purposefully have not taken to God. I know that they are things that He can handle, will handle and is currently handling them. But still I have not given them to Him due to my own fears of having to face the issues. I have been more like an image of sticking my fingers in my ears and shaking my head side to side as I chant, "this isn't happening" over and over in denial.

As soon as I realized what I have been doing, I then got flooded with the guilt of thinking that if I would have taken these issues to God sooner then they would not still be a mess. Well THAT is a deceptive lie. Here is what I know to be true....

Guilt comes from satan. 
Conviction comes from God.

So I had to sift through all of that. Lots of crying and aligning my thoughts. It has been a long and tiring day.
After spending the afternoon and evening with my family, enjoying dinner and helping my mom sort through some of Nana's belongings.....I am sitting here trying to simply absorb the day, own the day, embrace the day.

God I thank You for Your guidance and never ending love. Thank You for Your gentle and ever present touch. Thank You for Your bouquet of red roses just because You celebrate our love. Thank You that You love me and never look back in regret, denial or disappointment. Thank You that You are the author of hope and joy.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Nana's Memorial

I found myself startled yesterday. I was looking through my calendar in an attempt to organize my brain when my eyes landed on "September 5th - spend time with Nana". It caught me off guard and I was amazed at how things changed so quickly. Was it really less than a month ago? I remember that day. She was tired and not very talkative. But she could walk with help and much coaxing. She smiled with me as we stole minutes of short stories and loving smiles. We spent the evening with each other enjoying the company as she rested so that my parents could have a rare dinner out.

Nana's memorial was just a few days ago, September 26th, and time has gone by so quickly. It was a beautiful day of honoring her. Though we have had much rain in the days prior as well as the days following, that day was warm and sunny.

I had been the point person for all of the arrangements, so the two weeks between her passing on and the funeral found me with daily tasks to keep me calm and organized. The day of, when there was nothing left for me to do......that was hard.

We started the day at the cemetery. While we know that her spirit is in heaven, it was still a somber time. I am grateful our time there was short. After 30 minutes we headed to the church for our celebration of life service. I just have to say here how grateful I am to be part of a church body that is all about loving people and not about rules. Though my Nana and my parents have not attended our church, our pastor loved and accepted my whole family as his very own, because there is no other way to be. And though we do not have our own building, our neighboring church body gladly and graciously gave the use of their building as though nothing would please them more.

Our daughter Puddin', sang Nana's favorite version of Twinkle Twinkle by Iz as she played her ukelele.
Nana's youngest brother was able to fly in and he gave a beautiful eulogy that made everyone smile.
Pastor shared a wonderful message of life and eternal certainty. Then we sang In The Garden and Kanaka Wai Wai. I personally thought it was adorable that my large family sang with more zeal to the Hawaiian song than the old time hymn. Open sharing was a precious time as people reflected on their treasured memories.

Then we went outside for something special. We sang the first verse and the chorus of Ku-uipo and the first verse of You Are My Sunshine and then released blue balloons in the sky. I had never participated in a balloon releasing before. I found it to be a healing thing as I watched my balloon disappear into the clouds.

Meanwhile as we were doing all of this, my treasured friends put together a beautiful luncheon as a means of blessing my whole family. After a long and emotional day, it just always seems so perfect to embrace memories and each other over a plate of comfort food. And as a special surprise, I made a huge batch of malasadas as a means of sealing the day together. Malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts) is one of the many yummy things Nana made in the kitchen in her younger days to bless us all. Everyone was thrilled over them and it made me feel even more that Nana was right there with us, in our memories and in our hearts.

Thank You God for the treasure of Nana.