Today…Never Again

“Exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today…”  (Hebrews 3:13)

KICX4932b

This morning my daily devotions took me to chapter 3 of Hebrews.  In verse 7 the Holy Spirit admonishes me to “listen to his voice.”  Not only am I compelled to listen but I am urged to do it now…right away…in this very moment.

Listen to the urgency… “Today you must listen to his voice.” 

As I read, I wondered…. “Why the urgency?” … and I came to a few conclusions.

First, none of us are guaranteed tomorrow.  We live in the moment, and even that may be snatched away without warning.

Second, as human creatures we are prone procrastinate.  James, the brother of Jesus, writes, “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”  When we are young we tend to believe we have all the time in the world, and then one day, as a fifty-plus year old we scratch our heads and say, “Where the hell did it go…”

Third, I wonder, if… perhaps…His message for me today will be somehow different from his message of tomorrow.   If so…and I fail to hear it…then it is lost to me, forever.

I believe God tries to say “I love you,” MANY times a day.  I don’t know about you, but I love hearing the different ways he expresses his love.  Maybe it’s in a kitten’s purr, a gentle breeze, the flutter of a dragonfly, a bluebird’s serenade, or even co-mingled within a good cup of coffee.

Jesus and I have this thing between us…and it goes something like this:

“Whenever the dragonfly’s path crosses my way… Tis but Jesus saying… “I love you, today.” 

You’d be surprised how many times I see them ….even during the winter months!  When I do, I can’t help but smile and say, “I love you, too.”

The idea for today’s post came from, Seize The Day,  found in Our Daily Bread Devotional Journal, and also from today’s daily prompt, infect.  When I saw the word infect, immediately my mind thought, cancer.

Vernon C. Grounds opens Seize The Day with a paragraph about Jim Valvano, and it is that paragraph I leave for you in closing…

“Before entering the broadcasting field, Jim Valvano led the North Carolina State University basketball team to a national championship.  Then cancer developed in his lower back.  Invited to address the Duke University squad, Jim had this to say: 

“Life changes when you least expect it to.  The future is uncertain.  So, seize this day, seize this moment, and make the most of it.” 

***

Daily Prompt:  Infect

Do you like ghost stories?  Visit my other blog, Creepy Reflections, to read a different take on today’s daily prompt called Deadly Infection.

Thin the Clutter

GodOfSurprises
Image from thinkingfaith.org

The gospel of Matthew opens with the ancestral lineage of Jesus.  Most of us just skim over these verses because, lets face it, its pretty boring, but often, there are surprises hidden within the mundane, and they remain unseen unless we are willing the thin the clutter, and look beneath the surface.

You may be shocked to learn from whom Jesus descended!

I love a good surprise.  I love movies and books that end with a crazy twist that you just don’t see coming.  I love writers like Stephen King are are masters of this.

Good surprises can also do wonders for stale relationships.  Want to create sparks in your love life?…send flowers, write love notes, take them out for an unexpected date, pat their hiney, and grab a few stolen kisses… etc.

We all love these kinds of surprises.

As I read the Bible it seems to me that God also loves surprises.  The wonderful stories between Genesis and Revelation are mostly about how God uses the mundane to confound the wise.  He uses simple folk like you me to change this world for the better.  We become vessels of the Holy Spirit to carry out the plans of His radical love.

Yesterday, my morning devotion just happened to be called, Surprise Me!  It opened with a beautiful passage from the book of Ephesians that tells of Christ in our hearts, and how we become spiritually empowered through his love and presence.  I’ll attach this scripture at the end with hopes that it will bless you as much as it blessed me.

In this devotion, Cindy Hess Kasper, associate editor for Our Daily Journey, writes,

“Do you like surprises?  Would you dare say “Surprise me!” to God?  Through out the Bible we read that God delights in doing the unexpected.  Jesus’ time on earth was filled with amazing events…He turned water into wine, calmed the storms, healed the sick, and raised the dead.  What kind of God do we serve?  One who is not confined by our finite imagination.  He wants to bless us…He delights in His children who trust Him and are willing to say, “Surprise me, Lord!”  

God, open my eyes…Surprise me today!

***

When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.  I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit.  And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him.  May your roots do down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, and how long, how high, and how deep his love really is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is so great you will never fully understand it.  Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  Now glory be to God!  By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we world ever dare to ask or hope.  May he be given glory in the church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever through endless ages.  Amen.               Ephesians 3:14-21

***

Daily Prompt:  Thin 

 

 

 

Playing With Homos

homos-homos-everywhere

I think, perhaps, writers have a love/hate relationship with words.  We love them when they flow, and curse them when they do not.

Words…they are fascinating entities.

Take for example, yesterday’s daily prompt, rebel.

Rebel can be used as either a noun or a verb.

As a noun, rebel describes a person who rises up against authority.  For example:

  • The single-minded rebel picked up her sign, and took her first step, of many, in the 2017 Women’s March.

As a verb, the word rebel is defined as…the action one takes in order to resist, reject, or rise against authority.  For example:

  • To a young Susan B. Anthony, a male schoolteacher once told her there was no need for her to learn long division because “a girl needs to know how to read the Bible and count her egg money, nothing more.” She never forgot the slight.  As a result she chose to rebel against the established patriarchal society.  (view info)

  Words such as this are called, homographs.  (homos for short)

Homographs may be pronounced the same (homonyms), or they may be pronounced differently (heteronyms, also known as heterophones).

Whether homos or heteros, these words can prove to be tricky for any writer.

There are many homos lurking about, and they can easily be overlooked unless they are outed.  I thought it would be fun to bring some of the homos out of hiding.

Lets have a gay time, playing with some homos:  

  • Fifty Shades of Grey contains little agape love, so, she read with her mouth agape, and turned the pages quickly.
  • With needle and thread, she had to, once again, sow her split pants.  This caused the fat sow in the pig pen to scowl, because all she wanted to do was roll in the mud.
  • In one minute flat the roaring giant became a minute mouse.
  • Johnny was lonely and moped about, until he saw a clown drive by on a moped.
  • She surveyed the beautiful object she held within her hand, and for the hundredth time wondered why anyone would object to its place in the museum.
  • Trump loves putting on the green; however, I think it’s high time he enjoys putting his duties before his fun.
  • Timmy tried to wind his watch, but in the process he accidentally broke wind.
  • The proceeds from the charity raffle were carefully counted, while everyone held their breath in hope it proceeds last years count.
  • Kathy watched the boys as they disappeared…she desperately wanted to row her own boat, but when she looked at the ground she realized there was still a row to hoe.

Please feel free to join in the fun!

Search your tack box of words, pick out your favorite homos, and tack them to this list!

ra,classic_tee,x822,fafafa_ca443f4786,front-c,182,165,210,230-bg,f8f8f8.lite-2u6

***

Today I couldn’t see the forest for the homos!

Today’s daily word:  Forest

Disclaimer…mistakes  found in this posting are strictly the homo’s fault.

PS – I’m as gay as they come, so nothing in this post is intended to offend any homo.

 

Flower of the Day

32073138_10217220564571164_4519734049975042048_n
Captured during Autumn in Ogunquit Maine

 

I took a road trip to New England a few years back.  Me, myself, and I conquered the 14 hour drive with only one mishap…a flat tire.  While walking the streets of Ogunquit Maine I saw these lovely flowers, and was compelled to capture them on film.  (Old terminology…I know…but hey, I’m over 50 and set in my ways.)  🙂

***

Participation in Cee’s Flower of the Day

Give Yourself Away

madi-robson-113926-735x490

So often our thoughts are consumed with getting what we want or need, and this is not necessarily a bad thing…after all, it is self-preservation that has kept our species alive and kicking to this very day.

Self preservation is a God-given intrinsic, instinct, but, let’s face it friends, a lot has changed since the days of painting our stories upon cavern walls.

Most of us not only have our needs…shelter, food, water, and clothes…met, but we are also richly garnished with our fleshly wants and desires.  Where as, some may think this a bad thing, I do not hold to that idea.

There is nothing wrong with getting things we want…after all, it is our Creator who spoke this world, and all of its beautiful things into existence.  Jesus tells us,

“I came that [you] may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance to the full, till it overflows.”

Jesus wants us to enjoy the life he died to give us.  His death and resurrection is so much more than a ticket to Heaven.  It is also the assurance that He wants us to enjoy and make the most of the time we have on Earth.  He is actually happy to see us happy.  Such a simple concept, but one that is largely overlooked by mainstream Christianity.

Jesus also gave himself away to be an example for us.  There are at least 87 times in the Bible where Jesus says, “Follow me…”  I believe that these two words, “Follow me,”  sum up the true meaning of Christianity.

True Christianity is not about following a set of rules, it’s not about your interpretation of scripture, but rather it’s simply following in Jesus’s footsteps.

How did Jesus treat the poor?

How did Jesus treat the hungry?

How did Jesus treat the sick?

How did Jesus treat sinners?

How did Jesus treat the outcast?

How did Jesus treat the stranger?

How did Jesus treat the religious?

These are the questions we should be asking ourselves as we seek to follow Jesus.

Jesus didn’t flaunt himself, he gave himself, and that is what he want us to do, as well.

Genuine Christians follow Jesus, and give of themselves to others.

***

“We have to learn to give ourselves away and the blessings of God will chase us down and overtake us.  You see, He wants to help you be enthusiastic about loving other people every single day of your life as you do kind and caring things for them.”   Joyce Meyer

For whoever wishes to save his life will lose itbut whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it. —Jesus

***

Lord, help me to see others through your eyes, and to be you to all I see.  In Jesus name, amen.

 

Daily Prompt:  Flaunt

 

Sitting Upon My Sleeve

31668265_10217162504159690_4342794411130748928_n

Last week, Corinne, my wife, and I were walking on the beach.  There was little chatter,  both introverts, we are more than comfortable in our silence.

The day was gorgeous.  The sun was bright, the sky was blue, and speckled with creamy puffs of whip-cream, creatively changing shapes above our heads.   The water’s ebb and flow teased our feet, and the air smelt salty, crisp, and clean.

Glancing at my feet, I noticed a perfectly rounded shell, and my first thought was, “Gosh, that would be a perfect home for a hermit crab!”

That one thought took me back some 17 years ago…and not to a happy place, but to a place of anguish within my heart.  Who knew I still carried such intense emotion on my sleeve…and that it could be just as raw as the first day I experienced it.

Seventeen years ago I divorced my husband of eighteen years.  It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made in my life.  It went against everything I had been raised to believe…it went against the faith that I had clung to all of my life, but  I was gay, and I could live the lie no more.  At the age of 36 I told my husband, a good man, the truth I had known from a child.

We had two beautiful children, that we loved with all of our hearts.  The time came when I had to tell them I was moving out.  That moment is by far, the hardest moment of my entire life.  Their brokenhearted cries haunt me still.  Sometimes it is so strong that I can do nothing but breakdown and weep.

Now, you may be wondering how the perfect hermit crab, habitat…the shell…could awaken such painful memories.  Here’s why…

It had been several months since I had moved.  My husband and I had agreed to joint custody.  The week would be divided between us.  We loved our children so much that we agreed to not “bad-mouth” each other in their presence.  Our common goal was to make this transition as easy as possible.  So, even though there was much anger and hurt between us, we chose to support each other for their sake.  Every three to four days they would stay with me, and the other three to four days with their dad.

On this particular day, they were coming to stay with me after a trip to the beach with their dad.  The door burst open and my son came inside with an expression of excitement and a handful of shells.

“Mama, look!  I found these for my hermit crab,” I heard him say.

Now, if you know anything about hermit crabs, you’d know that as they mature they outgrow their shells, so, it’s very important to have bigger shells close by for such an occasion.

I looked at the beautiful shells he held in his little hands, and I wanted to cry.  His hermit crab had died while he was away.  Once again I had to tell him something that was going to hurt, and as I did I watched his face fall from happiness to helplessness.  Witnessing this transformation my heart ached , and I hated myself because I couldn’t protect and shield him from the pain I saw in his eyes.

Seventeen years later, I stood barefoot on the beach, my heart breaking at the sight of the perfect shell.

It will always be there…sitting upon my sleeve…and I deserve it.

***

 

Daily Prompt:  Sleeve 

 

 

 

 

Dawn of Night

Night Awakening
Oak Island NC

I captured this sunset photo 6 months ago while visiting my sister at Oak Island, NC.

Maybe I’m cheating a bit, as the photo challenge calls for a depiction of something “awakening.”  Then I thought…well…night has a beginning, just as day!  So, I like to call this one, “Dawn of Night.”

***

Photo Challenge:  Awakening

 

When Amy Met Sky

original_artificial-daffodils-in-glass-vaseAmy looked around the room, and for the tenth time wished the floor would open and swallow her whole.  Being an introvert, she hated parties because she always felt awkward, and never knew what to say.  After the basic niceties of “hello…and, how are you…, she drew a blank, and usually stood looking at the individual like soon-to-be roadkill caught in the light.

“Ugh…why had she come?”  She wondered.

But Amy knew why she had come.  She had promised Rose, and she didn’t want to let her down.  Rose, her best friend, and fellow colleague from the university, had worked hard the set up this party.  In fact, for the last two months that’s all she had talked about on their morning runs.

While jogging in place at one stop light, Amy learned there would be tiny finger sandwiches filled with chicken salad and pimento cheese, and the platter of these would rest upon a daffodil table-cloth that had once belonged to her grandmother.

Then the light turned green and they would run quietly until stopped at the next light, at which time Rose picked up the conversation where she had left it at the last stoplight.  “…and of course there’ll be crystal vases of freshly cut daffodils on every table…” Another green light and off they’d go.  Amy couldn’t help but smile at her friend’s chatter.

Amy looked around the large room, and saw the mental image she had imagined for the last two months.   She knew it well and felt she could navigate the room blind, without a seeing-eye-dog.

The thought of the dog caused her to smile.  She liked dogs.  In fact, she liked them better than people.  They were loyal and you could always…always be yourself around them. They never told you, you stink…even if it had been three days gone since the last shower.  Amy giggled.  On the other hand, most people were happy say, “…you stink”…but she supposed that could be a good thing.  Amy giggled, again.

In her 32 years, Amy had also found people to be far less accepting.  At least not the ones in her life, save for Rose, of course.  Rose was different, she had listened to Amy’s story without judgement, and for that Amy had been grateful.  Other than her family, she had shared her “secret” with no one but Rose.  Rose was the first person to cry with her, and the first person to love her unconditionally…no strings attached.   Her family…not so much.

“Amy!”  “Look at you!”  “Oh my God, you’re beautiful!”

Amy looked up from her reverie, and saw her best friend coming towards her with a gigantic smile, and arms wide open.  In that moment Amy was glad she had come.

Amy returned the smile, and barely got out “Rose” before she was engulfed within Rose’s warm embrace.  Rose always gave the best hugs.  She held you tight like she’d not seen you in years, you could actually feel her heart quicken, so there was no doubt of her happiness to see you.  Amy felt blessed to have Rose in her life…a life that had once been drab and lonely.

The two loosened their embrace, but still clung to one another.  Rose surveyed Amy, and Amy surveyed Rose.

Rose’s orange hair, usually in a pony-tail, hung loose around her pale shoulders.  The freckles splashed across her nose were practically invisible, but Amy knew they were there.  It was only yesterday the two had run four miles under a bright sun, and the baseball cap on Rose’s head had helped to protect her delicate skin, but the freckles on her nose had been angry, and protested against the sun’s hot rays.  Rose always hid them with makeup while teaching at the university, but by the end of the day, the coat of foundation she had bathed them in faded, so that they were visible for all to see.

Amy loved Rose’s freckles because they so aptly fit her green eyes, and bubbly personality.

Rose pulled Amy close again, and kissed her cheek.

“I’m so glad you came,” she whispered.

Amy lied, and said, “Me too.”

“C’mon I’ve got someone I want you to meet.”

Rose took her hand and led her deeper into the crowded room.  Amy inwardly sighed.  She knew the real torture was about to begin.

Almost everyone called out to Rose as they passed.

“Great party Rose!”

“Hey Rose, you got to see this…”

“Rose, who catered?  The food is…”

“What’s the DJ’s name…DAMN he’s cute!”

Rose smiled at each, and held up a number one with the pointer finger of her right hand.  Everyone knew it meant, “in a minute,” and so they drank more wine and waited patiently for their turn.

Rose and Amy stopped abruptly, just short of the bar. A rowdy raucous between a big burly man, and a slender blonde was playing out in front of them.

The woman’s frame was small, but very athletic.  Both were sitting on the bar stools, and both were holding a filled shot glass in the air.  The bartender slapped the bar and said, “go!”  The woman downed hers first, and started on the next one, of the four set before her.  She finished the second as the burly man was turning his first shot glass upside-down, and reaching for his second.  The woman wasted no time in downing number three, and paused for only a second to burp.  After the burp, she threw down the contents of the last shot glass, and slammed it down hard upon the bar.  By the time the woman yelled, “DONE!,” the man was just reaching for his fourth glass.  He cursed and set the filled glass back on the bar, spilling some of its contents.  Disgusted, he walked away.  The woman smiled.  She reached for his last shot glass and wasted no time tossing its contents down her throat.  Again, she burped and then said, “Who’s next?”

Amy stood, stunned.  She couldn’t take her eyes off of the woman at the bar.

Her athletic build was clothed in a white Oxford shirt, faded jeans, and black boots.  Tanned arms escaping the rolled-up sleeves were lean, each muscle well-defined.  Her short blonde hair was spiked on top, not in a “Mad-Max” kind of way, but just enough to command attention.  Amy noticed the woman smiled and laughed easily, and her blue eyes sparkled, not the least bit dulled by all the booze she had downed.

“Who in the hell is that?”  Amy whispered.

“That’s who I want you to meet,” said Rose.

As if she overheard, the woman at the bar turned to catch Amy staring.

The woman smiled at Amy, and Amy felt as if she would fall to the floor.  They held each other’s eyes for what seemed forever, before she stood, and walked towards Amy and Rose.

“Rosie!”  The woman gave Rose a quick kiss on the lips.

“How the hell are you?”  The woman hugged Rose and added, “It’s been too damn long!”

“And whose fault is that?” asked Rose.

“The road’s fault of course.” the woman said without hesitation.  “Mid May to mid August the damn thing has a habit of taking me all over the states!  But…I guess I could have called…sorry…”  she tilted her head and asked, “still friends?”

Rose pursed her lips as if she were trying to decide.

“C’mon Rosie…Pleeeeeeeeeeeese,” the woman begged with a million-dollar smile spread across her face.

Rose burst out laughing.

“Sky…how the hell can I stay mad at you?”

Amy thought it impossible, but the woman’s smile grew more radiant.

Rose noticed as well and said sternly, “…wipe that damn smile off your face!”

They both laughed and gave each other another hug.

Amy stood watching, feeling a bit like a third wheel.  As if Rose had read Amy’s mind, she turned to Amy, put an arm around her, and pulled her close.

“Sky, I’d like you to meet a dear friend of mine.”

Sky looked at Amy and winked.  “I thought I’d already met all of your dearest friends…?”

“Seeeeeeee what can happen in only a few months…”  Rose chided.

Sky looked chagrined for only a moment, then stepped closer to Amy and gently took her hands.

“Forgive me, I’m Skylar Shannon, and I’m very pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Amy stared into the blue eyes looking at her.  No words came to her mind, so she just stood… staring.

After a brief moment of awkwardness, Rose came to Amy’s rescue,

“This is Amy!  Amy Merrigan!  We only met a few of months ago, but I feel as if I’ve known her all my life.  She’s an artist extraordinaire, a damn good running partner, and a very VERY special woman!”

Amy flushed, and heard her heartbeat echoing within her chest.  She wondered if they could hear it as well.

Still holding Amy’s hands, Sky smiled into the brown eyes staring back at her.

After long awkward pause, Amy finally found her voice and said,

“Uh…I’m Amelia Merrigan, and I teach at the university with Rose.”

***

He watched the two women laughing in the luminescent light.  He couldn’t watch them without gritting his teeth.  For a moment he feared someone would hear his teeth grinding, but a quick look around assured  him he was alone in his dark corner of the room.

“Amy…you know better…” he muttered through clinched teeth.

“You were raised better than this,” he added, and then cursed under his breath.

He heard the women laughing, and saw the blonde reach over to take Amy’s hands in hers.  Hot anger flowed through his body like lava, and for a moment the thought of spontaneous combustion entered his psyche.  At that, he almost laughed, but a quick hand clamped over his mouth and snuffed it out.

“…probably not a bad way to go,”  he pondered, “…talk about going out in a blaze of glory…”  Again, the hand covered his mouth…  but, oh…how he laughed inside…heartily and robust he laughed and laughed.  The hilarity was so deafening he thought his head would explode.

All the while he sat quietly in his dark corner, gritting his teeth, and plotting his evil plan.

***

To read more about Amy and Sky visit my other blog Creepy Reflections

 

Warm, rather than Frigid

cold-winter

My morning reading was all about the golden rule.  You know, “…do to others as you want others to do to you.”

I ask, “Why is such a simple concept, so hard to achieve?”

If I had to guess as to why this can be such a difficult task, I would credit the blame to greed and selfishness.  This world it seems is fueled by greed and selfishness, and sad to say, America does her part well.  We have a leader who is all about greed and selfishness.  His very logo, “Make America Great Again,” reeks of selfishness.  And when it comes to greed I dare say, his whole life and empire has been built upon it.

As a nation, this is not who God calls us to be.

A nation is made up of individuals…you and me, and for it to change, we must change.  This is why Jesus stresses the concept of loving your neighbor.

Who is your neighbor?

I dare say, it is the person closest to you.  It’s the cashier who takes your money at Kroger…the mail person who brings your bills…the police officer who pulls you over for speeding…the homeless person with their hand out…the person driving the car that just swerved into your lane…the one who hands you an ice cream cone on a hot summer day…it’s the bill collector knocking at your door…the telemarketer on the phone…the next door neighbor who drives you crazy…the other next door neighbor who brings you pie…the person across the street who lets their dogs run rampant…the elderly lady down the road who never fails to smile when you meet…the old man down the road who curses you on sight…and on and on and on….  My point is, most of the time, we cannot choose our neighbor, and we certainly cannot choose what they will say or do.

We can, however, choose what we say or do.

People mistakenly think love to be a feeling, when it fact it is an action.  Feelings are fickle, and change with the wind, but love weathers the wind, and continues to act accordingly in spite of discomfort.

Corinne and I celebrated our 12th anniversary on April 2.  I remember our “commitment ceremony” well.  (I say “commitment ceremony” because gay marriage was illegal at that time)  We decided to come up with our own vows to one another, and I fashioned mine from I Corinthians chapter 13…

“Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  Love does not demand its own way.  Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.  It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  Love will last forever…”

In the past 12 years, I can’t say I’ve totally lived up the this statute, but it is, and always will be what I strive toward.  Love is a verb…it is what we do.

Instead of saying “I love you,” show “I love you.”

Major change begins with one small act of kindness, and kindness is contagious.

Let’s do our part to spread it.

 

***

Daily Post: Frigid

Now-my-heart-matches-the-frigid-weather