Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Lesson Turned Discipline

God has given humans the unique capacity to observe their own thoughts.  Resulting in the possibility to monitor our thoughts and make choices about out thoughts.  “Worry is largely a matter of thinking about things at the wrong time” ~ Sarah Young from Jesus Today.  

I often subscribe to the philosophy that where matters of the heart and mind are concerned, timing is everything.  Thirty years ago when I was going through a heart breaking gut wrenching divorce and custody battle I would find my stomach growing into  knots.  I soon learned to stop and consider what I was thinking about at the time when I would feel this physical pain in my stomach.  99.9% of the time I was reflecting on mean words spoken to me or by me, jealous thoughts of the “other woman”, hateful acts, etc. 

I made a conscious effort when I would catch myself thinking about these things, to start singing praises to God.  By this time in my life I had been a Christian for about 10 years.  And since I love to sing, I had learned a lot of praise songs over the years.  And there were a few short stanzas I would sing over and over, many times through tears, many times with voice breaking because of the raw emotion I was feeling at the time.  By doing so each and every time my spirit was lifted out of the miry den of self absorption to a higher plane of God focus.  At first this praise discipline would result in only minutes of higher relief, but with lots and lots of practice it became second nature to praise God in song when feeling hurt and pain. 

Eleven months ago my adult son passed away 10 days after receiving a heart transplant.  The new heart did not give out; his weakened body succumbed to a massive infection that  quickly fought all antibiotics.  I was at home in my pjs at 10pm when I got the call from my daughter that Byron was dying.  Nurses and doctors had been performing CPR for over 25 minutes at this point.  After being advised by the doctor that it was time to let Byron go, I hung up.  My husband was 250 miles away; my other daughter and her husband were at the hospital.  I got dressed, headed to the hospital 40 minutes a way. 

During that 40 minute drive I went into default mode after years of discipline training and sang praise songs to God.  I knew this was my only survival.  Who knew that a lesson - turned discipline - 30 years prior would be my survival kit to get me through the darkest night of my life?  God knew.

Monday, June 24, 2013


On most occasions the way I learn a life lesson is that I will read something in the Bible, then I will think about it and in a few days a situation or circumstance will happen to me in life that will “test” me on what I had previously read and thought about.  Such is what happened last night. 

The general theme of what I have been reading in the Bible and in other devotional books in the last few weeks have been “depending on God” and “faith in God”.  The general lesson I am learning is to radically depend on God and not others.  And to depend on God then, I need to have faith that God will be there for me and do what He says He will do. 

Just yesterday in my quiet time I wrote, “The essence of wisdom is to trust in Me (God) more than yourself or other people” ~ Sarah Young from Jesus Today.  Proverbs 28:26 “He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.” 

The day before I journaled, “When your circumstances are challenging and you are feeling weak, you tend to obsess about how you are going to make it through the day.  Whenever this happens, ask Me (God) to open your eyes so you can find Me ‘in the moment’.  ‘See’ Me standing nearby, with my strong arm extended to you, offering you My help.” ~ Sarah Young from Jesus Today.  Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand.”

Last night a situation took place where I was experiencing fear.  Fear based upon “what if” this happened or “what if “this other thing happened.  In my own way I tried to control the situation to prevent this fear, but the situation and the decisions made were out of my control.  So what remained was what I was going to do with this fear right at that time.  So after some displayed anger at the person (who was not present at the time) for putting me in a position to experience this fear, I “calmly lashed” out at God and remembering what I had read and thought about the last two days specifically said, “God, help me to see You right now, at this time, in this moment, with Your strong arm extended out to me.  Please squelch this fear I am experiencing right now.” 

Over the next two hours my fear subsided, was not extinguished, but subsided.  I know I will be tested again in a similar situation, probably within the next 48 to 72 hours.  These are the little tests in life I experience on a fairly regular basis.  This is one more little step in learning to radically depend on God, not on myself, not on others.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Whether we realize it or not, all of us lean on or depend on something or someone as we face the circumstances of each day.  For some it may be family or friends, for others it may be physical strength, intelligence, beauty, wealth, or achievements.  Or you may find for different situations your default dependency mode changes on what you rely on. 

I asked myself today what is it I normally default to for dependency.  And for me it is my husband, Jim.  When the car breaks down, when the kids need help, when I have a major decision to make, etc. my default mode is to call Jim and get his help or run something by him.  And this is not bad – I think this is what marriage is all about.  However, relying on any one of these things can be risky, because every one of them can let you down. 

Family or friends may advise you wrongly.  And as we all know physical strength and beauty diminish over time.  Wealth and achievements can fade.  Any of these can be gone in a moment’s notice. 

I think the rub of the matter is to balance expectations.  Because if our expectations fail us - disappointment, anger, or depression can settle in for the long haul.  And this is much worse than the situation with the failed expectation.

As a Christian I believe God wants me to look to Him for my reliance, for my dependency.  In the moment, I need to pray to ‘see’ Jesus - to see Him standing right next to me to uphold me. 

I so identify with this quote from Dr. Joseph Stowell, “Self-sufficiency is a terrible place to be, because it is the worst deceit you can bring on yourself.  You need God.  You need God every minute of your life.  I believe God knows that, and he desires fellowship and dependency from you, radical dependency in terms of your relationship with Him.”

Isaiah 41:10  Fear not, for I am with you.  Be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you.  I will help you; I will uphold you with My victorious right hand.  

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Dad

I am truly blessed to have my 96 year old Dad still teaching me life’s lessons.

Dad taught me a strong belief in God.  As long as I can remember I was in church every Sunday morning.  Up until just a few months ago when Dad finally gave up driving he attended a men’s prayer meeting every Monday morning at 6am at a local restaurant.  He attended this prayer breakfast for 50+ years.  My children, my marriage, and multiple other facets of my life have been prayed for by these men.  My father is currently the oldest living member of the United Methodist Church in Roswell, NM.  Meaning not only is he the oldest in age but he has been a member there longer than any other living person.

Dad taught me to love and appreciate the country we live in.  My dad served in the Navy during World War II.  He also was active in politics while I was growing up.  Even though as an adult I have decided to support a different political party, I don’t take having the right to vote lightly.  It is a great responsibility that few other countries allow their citizens to have. 

Dad taught me financial responsibility.  To this day Dad has never used credit except for buying a home.  All his cars, appliances, etc. were paid for in cash.  And if the cash was not available we did not have it.  He also have saved and invested his money.  This being the nest egg my parents are living off of now.

Dad taught me the importance of the institution of marriage.  He and my mom have been married 65 years, soon to be 66 years on August 31st. And they have had their challenges during those 65 years of marriage but have remained loyal and faithful to each other.

Dad taught me a strong work ethic.  Dad owned his own real estate business and gave up many weekends while I was young to be working at open houses to provide for our family.  I never truly appreciated how hard he worked until I became a single parent and was the sole provider for my children.

Dad taught me the importance of education.  Dad taught at the local college for years. Both my parents have college degrees and always encouraged me scholastically.  I know that is one reason why as a grown adult I returned to college and acquired three degrees.

Dad taught me the importance of words.  Throughout my life I can remember my father saying, “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say it at all”.  My dad has lived by those words and today is known for his positive attitude toward life and his kindness to others. 

These are just a few of the many things my Dad has taught me over the years.  And I am still being taught today.  I have not always learned these lessons in a timely fashion and have struggled in my life because of my lack of learning.  But my Dad has always taught them to me by his example. 

I love you Dad.   

Friday, June 14, 2013


Scars are a sign of healing.  I was thinking about this today as I looked at the scars from my ankle surgery.  In a few days I will have another surgery with a new incision going right on top of the current scar.  As much as we may not like the scar, it does mean healing has taken place.  And for that we need to be grateful.  Even if the scar can bring ridicule from others.

My son had his first open heart surgery when he was 2 years old.  He had over 120 stitches in his little chest.  As he got older and started swimming lessons I remember him being very reluctant to take off his shirt.  He finally told me he knew other kids would make fun of his scar on his chest.  I think that was the first time I told Byron that his scar was a sign of healing and how brave he was to go through all he had to, to get that scar.

Over the years of Byron growing up we had this conversation several times.  When he became interested in girls as a teenager, he just knew once a girl saw his scar she would cower away from him.  I told him then that the "right" girl for him would not be bothered by this scar.  That she would see him for all the good character he possessed and not care what the scar looked like.  He could use the girl's reaction to gauge his future with her.

How do you view your scars?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


It’s very trendy today to say this life we are living is a “journey” because a “journey” implies ongoing travel.  And if you look at your life as a “journey”, have you given much consideration to your destination point? Where will your journey end?  When and how will your journey end?  Who will be with you when your journey ends?

I love the analogy of my life being a journey, but I find I am so wrapped up in the day to day travel I really had not thought much about my destination point.  This is totally contradictory to how I plan for a trip! 

Right now I am considering a trip to visit my family in July.  One of my first considerations is the weather – very hot, over 100 degrees daily.  What clothes will I pack?  Who will I see?  What activities will we do?  What will we talk about?  So my destination is my first and foremost consideration.

Only after I have thought and planned these details do I consider my actual travel to the destination.  Do I have enough money for gas?  Do I need to have the oil changed in the car before going?  Is the air conditioning working good- very good in this heat?  Will I stop for lunch or just do drive-thru in some town on the way?  Is my spare tire aired up?  

Then why on my life journey do I not consider daily my destination point?  I am a Christian and I know my destination is Heaven.  But how often do I think about Heaven?  Definitely not daily!  Jesus says we are to come to Him as a child comes to Him.  I can just see a child asking questions like, “What’s the weather like in Heaven? Will we wear clothes in Heaven?  Will I see my grandma and grandpa in Heaven?  Can we play in Heaven?” 

These are the questions I need to ponder daily since I am on a journey to Heaven.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Stop and smell the roses

As I transition into my new season of life – retirement –I am discovering many different aspects on this new journey.  I am not as busy as I was; getting ready for work, going to work, working, then coming home from work, getting dinner on the table, and then going brain dead in front of the tube or catching up on housework in the evening, just to get up the next morning and do it all over again. 

I am discovering I actually have time to think and to feel.  To think through ideas, ponder thoughts, remember memories.  I have time to truly sense what took place, what I heard, what I saw, what I touched, what I smelled, what I tasted, what I felt.  Maybe when our lives are not so focused on what must be accomplished, how many widgets must be produced, how many sales calls we must make, etc. then the senses that have been suppressed by the “doing” actually are reborn to start experiencing life. 

Whoever quoted, “Take time to stop and smell the roses” understood the importance of experiencing life rather than living life.  They grasped that relationships become more important than accomplishments. 

For years in the “working” arena of my life I was a human resource director.  And what I found to be true over and over again is that people became disgruntled with their work, not because of not meeting goals or lack of accomplishment, they became disgruntled with bad working relationships.  This attitude usually resulted in a termination, whether they quit or were fired.  The bad working relationships led to bad attitudes which resulted in undesirable behaviors in the work force. 

Today I will smell the roses…

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bagger Boy

You just never know when one day you meet a person who is in utter despair with life and a kind word or a kind gesture may be all they need to give them hope and courage to face one more day.

This happened to me many years ago.  When I was a single mom and very broke, I had to take my son to the doctor for an infected ingrown toenail. Seems so minor, yet I had no idea why his big toe was so inflamed and he was in such pain.  I was concerned about my son's well being but I was also worried about taking money from the grocery budget to pay for the copay and the antibiotics.

After the doctor visit we walked next door to the grocery store to get milk and the antibiotics.  It was around six in the evening, the kids were tired, hungry and whiny.  I was distraught with life, worried about finances, embarrassed to pay for the milk with food stamps.

And some 30 years later I remember the kindness of the young man bagging our groceries that night.  I don't remember what he did or what he said, but I do remember how he made me feel.  His kindness gave me hope and courage and continue on.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Last night I received word that one of the women in my GriefShare group last fall committed suicide.  My family attended this 13 week recovery class for people who had lost a loved one through death.  On July 23, 2012, my 34 year old son passed away, ten days after receiving a heart transplant.

This friend lost her husband when a car struck his motorcycle while he was on his way home from work.  Thay had been married for years, had grown children and he was close to retirement.

I think most people who have lost a loved one at one time or another have entertained the idea of suicide just to get rid of the excruciating hurt and pain you go through day after day.  I think some get beat up and worn down from the ongoing daily "new normal" that has been thrust upon us, that we never wanted.

That is why the blog I did a couple days ago about "Hope Springs Forth" was so meaningful to me.  Over the last year the lives of my family have had little hope, so you learn to recognize it and appreciate it when you feel it.

How are you surviving the loss of a loved one?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Chicken in the morning

Today I woke up to the sound of a chicken clucking.  Is that what chickens do – cluck?  Now mind you I live in suburbia, not the country.  And this was the first time I have heard a chicken.  Dogs – yes, cat fights – yes, birds – tons of them, fire engine sirens – yes; but no chickens.  It actually put a happy smile on my face.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hope Springs Forth

Have you ever just been living life when all of sudden out of nowhere you feel hope?  Well, that happened to me this morning.  The hope was not the result of a thought; was not tied to any circumstance or situation - it was just a fleeting feeling that something good will happen.  If I had to paint a picture of my "hope", it would be the picture above.

Immediately I thought of the saying "Hope springs forth".  And spring it did!  This feeling darted into my existence and then was gone.  But even though it was fleeting it left a wake of goodness just like a boat leaving a wake of ripples in the water as it passes.

And when you think about it, the hope had to originate from some source within me since I could not associate it with any outward circumstance, relationship or thought.  The knowledge that this source of hope dwells within me leads to faith that there is more hope to come.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What was my divorce date...?

Why is it I can remember my 1st marriage anniversary with no problem but can not remember my divorce anniversary?  In two days I have to answer interview questions to apply for my retirement and one of the questions is the date of my divorce.  For the life of me I can not remember the day, the date, the month or even the year.  Now I have to go dig out that divorce decree.  Have to remember where I filed that little hummer…?  Granted it was some 30 years ago but I have no problem remembering my wedding anniversary which was 42 years ago.  Maybe it is my way of remembering the good and forgetting the bad…..

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bloom Where You Are Planted

"Bloom Where You Are Planted" has been my life motto since I can remember.  Not even sure when I started using this motto, but it has served me well.  In truly encapsulates my life's journey.  So far very few of the dreams and plans I envisioned as a young person have materialized, which can be a good thing and a bad thing.  It's all how you look at it.  Would I do it differently?  Yes, but only to the point of not hurting others.  Sometimes to survive you have to bloom where you are planted.  Other times you have to pick yourself up from the dirt and move into the sunlight to bloom.  Sometimes you have a choice and sometimes you don't.