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In Spirit and Truth (Word)

Throughout this journey, God has continued to challenge us and expand our comfort zone. Today He threw down another challenge that I am seeking His guidance on. Not at a point where I can share details yet, but I see this journey becoming more and more exciting.
As Greg spoke, I saw the picture of a Church, the word of God being the foundation, the building, the structure; The Holy Spirit being the life of the Church.

Without the Holy Spirit, the church is just another building, it can be solidly built, but it lacks life. It could be compared to a zombie… physically moving but lacking life, lacking spirit.

Without the Bible, the living word of God, there is spirit, but no physical structure. I saw the Bible, as the physical substance, the mouth, the hands, the feet that are essential to being complete. If we are just a spirit, we can’t speak, reach out, touch others, we can’t build, we can’t physically create/complete what our spirit desires.

We tend to pendulum – swing to one extreme or the other. I so admire the real deal – the completeness, the body and spirit working together in sync Talking the talk and walking the walk, a full, complete life. Now there’s a goal for the day. 🙂

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24

17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. John 17:17-19

Prayer Notes

Sometimes we ally ourselves with others against a common enemy; the relationship must be continually fueled by gossip, to keep hate alive, since the basis of the relationship is enmity. 

Other relationships are built on love, hope, companionship, common ground. They inspire, encourage, sometimes exhort, but are built on growth – planted in solid ground, relationships which are built on encouraging one another. 

I pray that I would continually build relationships on love, not on hate. I pray for well-grounded relationships.



Celebrating the Present

I’ve heard it said that women are historical… not hysterical, historical… We are so good at remembering every wrong ever done to us or our loved ones. But there comes a time (evening and morning both work well  when we need to leave the past in the past and focus on creating a better today. After all, today, is the present we hold in our hands… yesterday and tomorrow are merely sands of time.

When we focus on tomorrow – we don’t know whether to celebrate or mourn because we do not know what tomorrow brings. But doing either prevents us from focusing on the blessings of today.

Likewise, when we disengage the clutches of the past, we are free to embrace today and it’s joy with both hands wide open. I choose to not hold bitterness, malice or resentment in my heart. I choose to rejoice, to dance, to celebrate the day that is today… there is SUCH joy in the journey!

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Philippians 3:13-15DSCN1836


We often talk about how life has its ups and downs, we don’t like to talk about the plateaus… Plateaus are often those places when we don’t really feel like we’re making progress, and the place where we are most likely to give up. Isn’t the plateau the place where we often get discouraged and turn back?Hmmm… what if we look at plateaus differently?
Plateaus can be a place of renewal before you reach another challenge
Plateaus can be a chance to experience calm before you head back down
Plateaus can be an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of a waterfall as it cascades into the valley below
Plateaus can be the place where we sit beside the pool of still water
What if we follow the plateau to the end and find either another challenging climb or a place to soar with eagles… I picture hangliders or parasailing off the plateau, a runway for planes to take off, or rappelling back down to the valley.

Careers, diets, personal growth, spiritual growth… life is full of plateaus.

It’s kind of fun seeing what’s on the trail ahead. We’ll know if we need to turn back or continue on by the presence or absence of red flag warnings. Sometimes there are rattlesnakes ahead, sometimes there are beautiful lakes and waterfalls. What if the plateau is all part of the journey and the adventure… and we are ok with it?

Words… Reflections of the Soul

I was recently at a meeting of volunteers where the people are very honest and supportive of each other. It is such a pleasure to be with a group of people who are “real” with each other and accepted as such. In fact, I noted aloud,  “what an awesome group! We are just like family!” As I made that comment to my friend, we looked at each other and paused in thought, then she said,“without all the icky stuff!”

Yes, the icky stuff…  the games we play with each other – putting on a façade instead of being real. Yes, those things we think we are hiding that everyone already knows. It’s actually rather humorous – we so often try to hide from those who know us best. Think about it, how many times have you waited for someone to tell you what you already know just so you could get it out in the open?

It is interesting how easy it is to go on power trips… “I know something you don’t… ” or to judge another person based on our own feelings (aside from facts).  “Power corrupts,” or so it’s said. So do you suppose that’s why it is so easy to fall into gossip mode? We love the power over others? We smugly whisper,  “don’t tell A, about B.” We make all sorts of claims and excuses, “I don’t want to hurt B… or I don’t want A to not like B…”  Really? Then why are you talking about it?  There are some secrets that need to be kept – such as a friend in pain who just needs someone to hold her heart for a while. I must confess, there are others that are hurtful in the keeping, especially when we talk about someone instead of to them.

In counseling we use the phrase “the elephant in the room.” Often there is a problem that is so obvious that it is like having an elephant in the room and everyone talks around it, pretending it is not there. The problem with elephants is that the longer you ignore them, the more cleaning up you have to do.  In the end, this kind of secret has power over you, instead of you having power over it as you hold it in, and dance around the truth, you find yourself trampled and caught up in the web of deceit you spun yourself.  Speaking to others can bring clarity and healing.

There is so much power in our words, the power to encourage, the power to destroy, the power to hurt, the power to heal… yet we fling words around like leaves in the wind, then we are surprised when we they explode like a loose cannon. I wonder if we would be so casual flinging words if we recognized that many of them cut like a knife?

 In Proverbs 16:20-24 it says, “The wise in heart will be called prudent, And sweetness of the lips increases learning.  Understanding is a wellspring of life to him who has it. But the correction of fools is folly. The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, And adds learning to his lips. Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”

How precious are those who offer sweet words that fill the soul… mmmm, reminds me of dessert, yes, the finale of a tasty main course. But, how often do we offer those sweet words to a few, and have only leftovers, or crumbs left for others? Sure, they can survive on leftovers and crumbs, but it is that the way to live? And the leftovers we are hoarding, the crumbs we so stingily dole out… how long until we’ve only a pocket of mold? Is it because some hearts have only a little love and are able to share little beyond a precious few who are close to them? I think not! The more we love, the more we are able to love, and the more often those pleasant words like honeycomb cross our lips, the more sweetness and health permeates not only the soul of the recipient, but also our own.

So, if our words our reflections of our soul, what do they say about us? Are they hard and biting, like handfuls of shattered glass or are they sweet and refreshing, peaceful reflections?  Maybe today I’ll spend a little more time polishing that reflection and a lot less polishing the reflection in the mirror.

When Comfort Food becomes Uncomfortable

I remember growing up, we’d go to grandma and grandpa’s house and grandma would spend days preparing in advance for our visit. We were served a heaping portion of food which always included the best homemade pies ever. As I got older, I realized the extra food that grandma said she was going to throw away if we didn’t eat it, (the ultimate waste for a depression-era generation), would actually be their food for the next couple days due to their limited budget.  The fact that they shot their whole weekly grocery budget for our two day visit escaped me for many years. But it seemed to the depression-era generation, food equaled an expression of their love, those homemade pies, oh the ultimate comfort food.

Fast forward a generation and you have tv portraying the perfect mother, fresh cookies and milk on the table when her children walked through the door, hovering over everyone at dinner to be sure every need was anticipated and met. Then there was the leftover attitude from the depression-era generation, “Clean your plate,” “waste not, want not,” “there are starving children in Africa…” Now that food was more readily affordable, the combination of showing love through food and the desire to not waste food resulted in cleaning plates that were way out of proportion to our dietary needs. Heaven forbid these children would be slightly hungry and uncomfortable.

Usher in another generation and we have two working parents raised with the “food equals love” mentality. Demands on mom’s time are high and something has to give, bring on a double dose of comfort food to make up for less family time. Now we have a generation of Spaghetti O’s, potato chips and processed/junk food. We eat out frequently because mom or dad is too tired to cook and consume quantities of nutritionally deficient fast food calories because we can’t afford to eat at a more nutritious restaurant either financially or time-wise. We are surrounded by comfort foods that we deserve because we had a hard day or our children deserve because they should have everything they want, right?

I grew up in the mid-west where our world revolved around our eating. Family dinners were an important part of each day. Overcooking was expected, it was the ultimate faux pas to not have an abundance of leftovers. But really, how many leftovers are healthy? You might desire to eat it for another meal, or decide to eat it a third, but after that, it tends to sit in the fridge until it resembles a science experiment. Of course, at that point, it becomes ethical to throw it out with an, “Oh, I forgot this was in here!”

For many years when finances were tight, I didn’t want to waste food and found myself eating scraps of food rather than throw them out. This was evidenced by a gradual weight gain. Years later I came to the age of health accountability, “I need to either choose health or choose to ignore health.” This started to sink in on a backpacking trip when I realized how out of shape I was. Blow two was when the doctor said I was in the beginning stages of osteopenia and needed to start exercise if I didn’t want my bones to deteriorate further. Wow, what an eye opener! I chose health.

I found that dessert occasionally, is nice, but a small piece is just as comforting as a big piece. I found that it was more comforting to say, “I’ll take the breakfast special, no hash browns, no bacon and a side of fruit.” I found that when everyone at the table had over-ordered and was trying to give away their excess calories and cholesterol, it wasn’t my responsibility to compensate for their waste. In fact, the error belongs on their waist not mine…. In fact, I found that exercise is fun, and far more comforting than gorging myself to painful limits. I have found that everyone at the table looks at the person with the least resistance and heaps their unwanted portions on them. “Ah, the designated garbage disposal!” Not everyone has the ability to say, “no.” Fortunately, we have a very large dog who loves imitating a garbage disposal, it’s not my job. I have also learned it’s ok to throw away desserts pressured on us by family members who have not yet learned to cook in smaller quantities. Day two, it’s in the trash. But we really are going to have to have a conversation about quantities, I am neither your garbage disposal nor your trash person, nor your filter of how much to eat/not eat, cook/not cook, it’s your choice.

Are family dinners a thing of the past? I hope not! Family dinners are important for two key reasons: family and healthy food. A home-cooked meal so often has so much more nutritive value than processed or fast food. But, there are multiple challenges associated with healthy meal choice. In a family that felt dessert was part of a balanced meal, I now try to make dessert a special occasion and make it in smaller quantities, I don’t need a whole cake for two or three people and the kitchen store has wonderful pans in smaller sizes. I do like leftovers, but in smaller quantities. If I make four pieces of chicken, we each have one today and tomorrow I can make sandwiches. Unless I have a specific purpose for leftovers, I.e. I frequently cook a roast, then freeze half the meat to use later in an enchilada casserole. It makes more sense to cook for one or two meals and put away excess BEFORE the meal goes on the table. There is certainly less temptation to continue eating “because it tastes good.” I don’t count calories so much as I try to make my calories count. Sometimes a piece of cake is worth it. Other times, I know I need something more nutritious or my attitude is going to deteriorate rapidly. In fact, I frequently found a direct correlation between my children’s behaviors and the quality of our meals.

We frequently meet out of town relatives halfway for meals. Nice in theory, but they love buffets. Most of the family goes with the “I need to get my money’s worth attitude” and overindulges in wasted calories rather than wasted money. This line of thinking can go many directions, “I’m sorry you’re hurting, eat some cake and you’ll feel better…” “Help, I’ve fallen, and they won’t quit stuffing food in my face…”

This comfort food theme came full circle when I found myself recuperating from a surgery. After two days of jello, popsicles and sugary food, I couldn’t stand the thought of anything sweet. That cheesecake I bought to comfort me when I could eat again is going to the next potluck. It was ironic to realize that over the past five years of changing my eating habits, sugar is no longer comforting, in fact it made me downright uncomfortable.

There is so much that is comforting about family meals. But it seems more comforting to spend the time together than to hover over everyone anticipating their needs. My family has a voice and knows how to use it to ask if they have needs: they neither need to go hungry nor need to overeat to placate my desire to express love. In fact, we find hugs much more comforting than comfort food and what we used to classify as comfort food looks more like a balanced diet than calorie-packed, cholesterol-loaded, empty nutrition. Hopefully this next generation will redefine “comfort food” to look more like healthy food rather than substituting nutritionally deficient food for the comfort of love.

What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas… Really?

“When in Rome, do as the Romans…”
“What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…”
“I double-dog dare you…”
“I bet you are afraid to….”
“Everyone is doing it…”
“Clear your mind of all thought…”
How many ways can you say, “You need to turn off your intellect because I’m about to convince you to do something you wouldn’t do if you actually took the time to think about what you are doing and the possible consequences of your actions?” Do we have to check our intelligent, our integrity and our self-respect at the door when we are with friends?

So often we feel a need to step out of character in crowds. We live in the country and often see wonderful family dogs turn killer when they run with other dogs at night. We are reported to be more intelligent than dogs, but still that pack mentality seems to take over when our adrenaline is pumping and our system is stimulated by the thrill of the moment. I used to say that when my children had a friend over, they went from two brains to half a brain. The more friends, the more their brain was divided. Maybe we need a designated thinker at parties, like we have a designated driver. That would certainly eliminate the aftermath, but would no doubt be considered a party damper and the designated thinker would probably find themselves locked in a closet.

If we are to adhere to the opening quotes, you can totally justify an eye for an eye. Is it ok to discriminate against people who discriminate against you? Is it ok to have an extramarital affair or do drugs because everyone is doing it? Is it ok to indiscriminately kill in countries who kill indiscriminately? Is it ok to disrespect people who disrespect you? Who decides when it’s ok to “Do in Rome” and when it’s not? Where does it end?

Public Display of many behaviors so often falls into the category of Shakespeare’s quote, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” Who are we trying to convince? Ourselves? When it’s who we really are, we don’t have to convince anyone else. What happens at home feels much more real, when it is not done for show or to try to convince anyone.

Sometimes we almost seem to have adopted the Islamic “Insha’Allah,” which loosely translate means “God willing, but in some circumstances seems to be used in the context of “it’s only bad if I get caught.” Of course, the more public your life, the more notable the consequences of getting caught. Why do we let the media decides when a particular behavior is acceptable and unacceptable? The media often appears to randomly mete out judgment: it is ok for this person to have an affair or meltdown, but not this one, or maybe it’s just wrong if you get caught or get caught on a day when there’s nothing else more newsworthy.

What is so wrong about establishing who you are and adhering to it regardless of where you are and who you are with? We were at a family gathering and decided to go out to eat. One family member is vegetarian, when you are in a group of confirmed carnivores, this is a problem. “You’ll go along with the crowd and cooperate, right?” Of course, she is, by nature quite cooperative, until advised they were ordered her a pork tenderloin. If she were not vegetarian, I doubt her choice of a salad over a pork tenderloin would have even been noted. Why is that something to be ridiculed? I applaud her for adhering to her principles. Have you also observed that it’s the very people who require conformity that are the first to broadcast fall?

As we recently learned, what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas… or Rome… or anywhere else for that matter. H. Jackson Brown said, “Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.” In this age of instant communication, you truly never know who’s watching. Our decision at this moment often gives others the courage or the excuse to follow suit. That is the moment leaders are born… when one stands, instead of following the pack, it gives others courage to stand.

What would it look like for a group to get together in the middle of the night and perform random acts of kindness instead of random acts of mischief? Wouldn’t it be heartwarming for an elderly couple to return home from the hospital to find their yard mowed and the outside of the house put in order? What would it look like for a group to rise to the highest common denominator instead of sinking to the lowest? In many societies the elderly are treated with respect, people are revered for their intellect and accomplishments… That is the culture I wish to learn from and the kind of behavior I wish to emulate when I’m in Rome, Vegas or wherever my journey leads.

In this “instant communication age,” have we lost the art of real communication or are we just too busy?

I was reflecting this morning… the US Postal service’s financial woes have been all over the news lately. I’m wondering if this isn’t a major reflection on the the advance of cryptic communication in our society and the loss of more meaningful communication. As I say this, I think about the letters home which my Aunt Florence wrote from the missions field. Wow! They are a treasure! I can read them today and be inspired by her experiences, her bravery, her compassion. I also look back at the letters my grandmothers wrote, as I read them, I still feel a part of their lives. It was so meaningful that they took time to communicate, and today, years after they have passed, I can still feel the love they expressed in their letters. My family still has letters my grandfather wrote home from WWI. Today, nearly 100 years later, we can honor and treasure his experiences.

In this era, we text and email “How are you?” “Fine. and you?” “Work today, then meetings or game or ??…” How often do we go beyond superficial and really share who we are instead of what we are doing?

What is “communication?” Communication is the act of transmitting information or the exchange of information.

Does it seem that we now communicate little information of impact and receive even less?

As I evaluate my own communication, I note that I typically write letters once a year – yes, the annual Christmas letter where you try to effectively encapsulate the year in a few paragraphs. I have one relative who says I should keep it to one, one-sided page. That I can do… “It was a good year. We are fine. Schedule is full. How are you? Merry Christmas.”

In this “instant communication age,” have we lost the art of real communication or are we just too busy?

Today’s answers to Old Wive’s Tales and things my Mama told me

“Waste Not, Want Not”  – Not so interested in having my house and yard look like a waste disposal area. In regards to food, isn’t it more like “Waste Not, Waist ALOT?”

“She is a great housekeeper, her floors are so clean you could eat off them” – I really don’t mind using my dishwasher, so we use dishes at our house. The only thing that eats off the floor is the dog.

“You made your bed, now lie in it” – Really? I usually make my bed AFTER I lie in it.

“If you carry an acorn, you will have continued good luck and long life” – I would also expect you’ll attract a lot of squirrels.

“If you make a wish over burning onions, it will come true” – especially if that wish is to keep visitors away.

“Clean your plate, there are starving children in Africa” – I fail to see how my eating more helps starving children in Africa. It will however, help me look a lot like a dumpster in shape and size. How about you only cook enough for today’s meal unless you specifically want leftovers? The uncooked food is much more helpful to children in Africa.

“Use the same pencil for taking a test as was used for studying for the same test, the pencil will remember the answers.”  Maybe if you used the pencil a LOT to study for the test, YOU will remember the answers. 🙂