The Challenge: Write a story about the suitcase sitting on the train tracks in exactly 99 words! “What’s in the suitcase, Ralph?” “Well now, ain’t that the million dollar question?” Ralph smirked. Dopey was jumping… More
Today’s Photography is inspired by RDP – Reflection
About a year ago, Corinne and I had the privilege of spending a couple days at National Harbor, which is located South of Washington DC along the Potomac River.
As a physician, she had a medical conference to attend, and as the wife of a physician, I was lucky enough to be able to tag along. There was no indecision on my part!
I knew much of my time would be spent alone, and whereas some may find it pointless, I found I loved the long days alone, especially my quiet time at sunset. I guess that’s one of the perks of being an introvert.
While walking along the shores of the Potomac River I was able to capture the views below.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.
Restless in bed and sleepless through the night,
I longed for my lover.
I wanted him desperately. His absence was painful.
So I got up, went out and roved the city,
hunting through streets and down alleys.
Song of Soloman 3
The Share Your World Challenge (SYW) hosted by Cee Neuner, gives writers a place to congregate and “shoot the breeze.” Each week, on Monday, Cee proposes four questions and welcomes us into her cyber living room to discuss and share our unique answers. I would like to give a “heads up” or an “alert,” if you will, to all my fellow writers…come on in and let’s chew the fat for a while!
So, here we go!
This week’s four questions are:
- Since we are approaching the hottest part of our summer in the northern hemisphere, what’s your favorite ice-cream, frozen yogurt or sorbet flavor? As a child growing up in rural North Carolina, the summers were long and days were hot. Most of the time my hair was in pigtails like Pippie-Long-Stockings, and my feet were bare from sun-up to bedtime. My days were care-free, romping around the neighborhood with my numerous “Heinz 57” hounds, or playing “Hide-and-Go-Seek” and “Cowboy’s and Indians” with my cousins who lived on the same dirt road. Every now and then my mom would interrupt my play with a surprise visit to our local Tastee-Freeze. I would always get a cone of soft serve vanilla ice cream. Usually, we would sit outside at one of the scattered picnic tables to enjoy this rare treat. The coldness of the ice cream was so refreshing, making the hot days just a bit cooler. So to answer the question, I would have to say my favorite frozen treat is still a big cone of soft serve vanilla ice cream. Now, you may think soft serve vanilla ice cream to be boring, but I beg to differ, for every time I pause to enjoy its soft sweetness I’m transported back into the world of hide-and-seek, cap-guns, and bow and arrows.
- How often do you people watch? Do you remember the old television show, Bewitched? Elizabeth Montgomery played the lovable neighborhood witch who could twitch her nose to make things appear, disappear, or to even clean a nasty house. (Damn! Sure wish I could do that!) Growing up I always had a major crush on this pretty lady. (Kind of still do) This loveable witch and her handsome husband, Darren, lived beside a nosy busybody who hid behind her curtains to spy at them with binoculars nestled to her nose. This year for Christmas, Corinne, my wife, thoughtfully gave her bird-watching wife (me) a wonderful set of binoculars. Now, you may think you know where this is going…but, I’m nothing like the busybody in Bewitched. I never hide behind the curtains to spy at my neighbors. No way! Instead, I sit on the front porch, behind of the cover of our overgrown hedges to watch the goldfinches eating at the feeder beneath the maple tree in our yard. The thing with goldfinches, though…they flitter and fly away to visit someone else’s birdfeeder. In their absence, I tend to get a little bored and find my binoculars swaying to the left or swaying to the right. It’s not my fault if the neighbors just happen to be in my field of vision. Just saying…
- If you had a choice which would be your preference saltwater beaches, freshwater lakes, ocean cruise, hot tub, ski resort or desert? Oh wow, this is an easy one. Saltwater beaches all the way! Growing up poor my mom didn’t have the money to take us kids on vacations to the beach, however, we had family living in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Since we could stay at our beloved Aunt Bessie’s house we were able to get away and visit family while at the same time relaxing in the serenity of the mountains. I loved it and part of my heart will always walk those hills. I was much older when I first saw the ocean in all her glory. I remember feeling fear, reverence, and love…all three mingled together and my sight fell helpless into the wild torrents rolling water. I was smitten, and I remain smitten some 40 years later.
- What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? The smile and kiss from an old woman was the best thing that happened to me this week. Her teeth were stained and worn, and she reminded me of the old Eskimo women I’ve seen in photos and television. I’m not sure of her ethnicity but I could sense she knew little English. Maybe she was a refugee or an immigrant…it’s possible. I was volunteering at the food bank, busy greeting and helping those needing food. I always try to smile and ask them how their day is going, and most smile back and say “fine” or “good” and continue their shopping. I was in the process of doing this when I noticed an old lady slowly pushing her cart my way. She paused by the rice, reached for a bag and put it in her cart, then she walked a few more steps, paused and slowly reached for a bag of oatmeal and put it into her cart. Finally, she reached me and I smiled and said hello. She smiled creating a multitude of lines that seemed to frame her face within a set of parentheses. I looked at her smile and at that moment I became an esthete, a person who notices amazing beauty. Her smile was the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen. She walked with somewhat of a limp, closing the distance between us. Then she took me into her arms and kissed me on the neck…she was short and couldn’t reach my cheek. I didn’t know whether to smile or cry…so, I did both.
A Love Note to my Readers: I don’t say it often enough but I’ve fallen in love with each and every one of you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to read my ramblings. You are a blessing to me.
There’s no time like the present for innovation.
As a writer, I usually try to read some word of inspiration in the early morning hours…and often with a cup of coffee on my desk.
Today my hand reached for Strong for a Moment Like This…The Daily Devotions of Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Yes, I am aware of the plagiarism by the author Rev. Dr. Bill Shilladay, but, for lack of a better term… let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water. There’s some good stuff in there. Give it a chance.)
The scripture for today’s reading was taken from Matthew chapter 25, verses 34-35.
The scene opens to sometime in the future. King Jesus is sitting on his throne, and all the nations of the world are gathered before him to receive judgment. Matthew says that on that day the King will “separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.”
So, what will constitute a lamb and what will constitute a goat? What will be the deciding factor as to whether this nation takes the left or as to why that nation takes the right?
The one deciding factor is simply this: The way the nation treated “…the least of these…” (I wonder upon which side America will stand.)
How we treat others is extremely important to Jesus.
Jesus views your treatment of others as equivalent to your treatment of Him. Jesus actually puts himself in the place of “the least of these.” He becomes hungry. He becomes thirsty. He becomes the stranger. He becomes naked. He becomes sick. He becomes the prisoner.
I like both lambs and goats; however, in this particular scenario, the goats are the bad guys. Yes, they are the ones wearing the black hats. They are the ones who failed to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, feed the naked, care for the sick, and failed to visit the prisoner.
Believe me, when this day happens you don’t want to find yourself on the left hand of King Jesus.
The amazing thing about this story is that both, the sheep and the goats, are stupefied as to why they are labeled as such, and amazingly their response to the King is the same. They both ask Jesus, “…when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison…?” The King’s answer to sheep as well as the goats is virtually the same, “…I assure you when you did it [or not] to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!”
I’ve been raised to believe that what we do with Jesus in this life determines where we will spend eternity. Jesus says what you do to others in this life is what you do to me.
This story is intended to be a glass of cold water to the face.
It is intended to wake us from our apathy.
It is intended to help us see others through the eyes of Christ.
It is intended to show us the importance of loving our neighbor as ourselves.
It is intended to show us that we cannot pick and choose our neighbors.
That our neighbors are all those whom God chooses to bring into our life. They are there for a reason. Ask God to show you that reason, and then go about fulfilling your God-given destiny.
There is no time like the present to start something new.
It almost never fails. Soon after I take a seat at my desktop to write, Luna, the nemesis gracing the headline of this blog, comes and plants herself in the center of my chest, gazes at me with demanding eyes and taps the side of my face with her gigantic polydactyl paws.
I used to be one of these writers that believed when inspiration “hit” you’d better write it down quickly before it slips away. I no longer subscribe to that idea. I’ve found if the general idea is of any worth it lodges itself in my psyche and patiently awaits for my retrieval. However, it is good to have paper and pencil in hand to jot down the random ideas that pop into my head, but I don’t feel the pressure to rush to my desktop to write like a mad woman before the well of inspiration runs dry. Later, when I sit to write I glance at my scribbled scratches and the ideas materialize and become a creative energy that blossoms like a rose.
As a writer, I’ve learned to rely upon this creative energy, and so I don’t panic when Luna jumps into my lap for love. I may become impatient, and if I do I remind myself that this little creature finds joy in my presence. My heart warms at the thought, so I hold her in my arms, and talk to her like a doting mother would talk to her baby, and I am filled with joy.
Isn’t it amazing how joy can be found in something so simple?
What a concept! It’s so simple that most of the time we overlook and even bypass those things that contain great nuggets of joy.
The disciples of Jesus were guilty of this.
One day, some two thousand years ago, Jesus was teaching in the region of Judea beyond the river Jordan. The Pharisees came and asked him a trick question hoping to trip him up. Jesus was in the throes of this important conversation when a group of parents attempted to bring their children for his blessing.
His well-meaning disciples told them not to bother Jesus with such trivial matters…after all, he had a theology to debate, sick to heal, and souls to save. But, Jesus looked up from these “important tasks” to witnesses the children being turned away. I’m sure he noticed their disappointed faces. Surely, the children felt rejected by Jesus, even though it had been his disciples that turned them away. No doubt the children faces were streaked with tears from the hurt of his rejection. Jesus, they thought, was too busy and had no time for mere children. Seeing what was happening, Jesus became angry at his disciples and he called out (I believe with a loud voice)…
“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.”
Can you relate to these children? Do you feel Jesus is too busy for you? Perhaps you feel his rejection because of “this sin” or “that sin” you may harbor in your life. Have you felt the judgment of others and mistakenly believed it to be God’s judgment as well?
Once, many years ago, a “well-meaning man of God,” warned me of God’s imminent judgment. I can still hear his voice saying…
“God is going to kill you. It may not be today and it may not be tomorrow but mark my words, if you don’t repent of your sin of lesbianism, He will kill you.”
I remember that night well. I was standing in my kitchen with the phone to my ear hearing his words…
“God hasn’t told me to stop praying for you, yet…but when he does I’ll know it’s time to get in my car and head south in order to attend your funeral.”
As I listened to his words, I became just like the children who had been turned away by Jesus’s disciples. Tears streaked my face and the darkness of God’s rejection shook me to the core. For days and weeks afterward, I was paranoid, carefully watching for some wayward driver careening out of control, and on a collision course for me and my little Toyota Tercel. In time and through my constant faith in a loving God, my fears eventually subsided and gave way to a peace I didn’t understand.
As a Christian lesbian, I look back upon the unsure days of my “coming out” and realize Jesus’s presence was with me through all the tears and sleepless nights. Just as he did to the rejected children, Jesus beckoned me to come, and he took me in his arms, placed his hands upon my head, and gave me the blessing of his unconditional love.
There are so many “religious folk” who still worry about my eternal soul, and to them, I’d like to say that my relationship with Jesus is far sweeter…far closer than it ever was when I was living a lie as a straight Christian. There is no comparison.
Friends, Jesus is not too busy for you. He longs for you to come to him like a child. He doesn’t care if your face is dirty or if your knees are skint, he opens his arms to ALL of his children…and that includes you, wherever you find yourself to be.
Relationships with God are meant to be as simple as cuddling with your kitten. There is no contract to read or sign.
No Ph.D. is required.
Go to him with child-like faith, and He will open his arms and never reject you.
Great Joy is found in the Simplicity of His Love.
Restore to me again the joy of your salvation… (David)
However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. (Jesus)
If you shout a pleasant greeting to your neighbor too early in the morning, it will be counted a curse!
Today’s proverb comes fully loaded with an exclamation mark at the end!
And it should.
Have you ever had to deal with an annoying neighbor?
Picture it…Sicily 1954… (just kidding)
It’s early, still wearing your pj’s, you open the front door to retrieve the newspaper. Your neighbor spots the crack in your door and hollers jovially from across the street, “Good morning neighbor! How are you this fine day?”
Keep in mind, this is early…as in PRE-coffee early!
Whatta ya do?
Always the Southern Belle, even in your bunny slippers, you fake a smile, wave and mumble “Bless their heart,” while making a b-line for the coffee pot. OR if you’re from New England you give your best evil eye, flip them a good morning bird, and head towards the coffee pot, bunny ears flapping in the wind.
Hey Y’all, God knew what he was doing when he told Soloman to write this one down!
Don’t you just love the simplicity!
Since I’ve started this Proverb series I’m amazed at how simple they are. It’s like you want to bop yourself on the head and say, “Why didn’t I think of that!”
I said it before and I’ll say it again: Simple but profound.
Boundaries Matter! Don’t cross them!
I don’t give a “good dag-gone” how nice you try to be…Don’t!
Don’t be Preposterous…show some Respect!
A few boundaries that come to mind: (Feel free to add your own in the comments. This should be fun)
- Respect personal space. If you can see my nose hairs, you’re too close.
- Don’t drop by unannounced. I may open the door naked to teach you a lesson.
- Don’t let your pet poop in my yard, but if shit happens, clean it up.
- Don’t cram your religion down my throat. I have my own church for that.
- Respect your side of my fence. The other side is booby trapped.
“If you roll a boulder down on others, it will roll back and crush you.”
Y’all, this sounds like God’s way of saying, “Karma’s a bitch!”
Could it be that Buddha and Jesus agree? Gasp!
Why should this simple thought bother us?
I’m convinced that most of the world’s religions are in some ways more similar than we believe. Most, at its core, seeks peace with their God and peace with their fellow man.
If this is the case, why is religion used more as a weapon than the intended conduit to peace?
My answer: Pride. Humans in their narcissistic, selfish pride have convoluted the simple message of most religions. Of Christianity, Paul writes, “…I fear that somehow you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to Christ…just as Eve was deceived by the serpent.”
It’s sad to say, but religion in the hands of man has done far more harm than good. I understand the case my Atheist friends bring to the table, and as a Christian, this hurts my soul.
Christianity, in a nutshell, is meant to be “pure and simple devotion to Christ.”
It was never meant to be complicated. It was never about a list of do’s and don’ts. Many who still use the list as a whipping stick have forgotten that Christ took care of the do’s and don’ts on His cross.
Jesus stressed time and time again to “…love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. ALL the other commandments and ALL the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
If we would but follow Jesus’s commands there would be no need for a list of do’s and don’ts! Why, because our motives would be pure. There would be no wars, and peace would reign.
Simple…and yet profound. Such is life.
Friends, don’t listen to those who spout condemnation, those who seek to heap coals of guilt upon your head, and who try to put you once again under the bondage of “do’s and don’ts.”
Those who condemn and judge others would do well to heed the warning from Jesus:
“…whatever measure you use in judging others it will be used to measure how you are judged.”
So, when it comes to judging others…tread lightly, my friends, because Karma’s a bitch!
Jesus and Buddha agree!
One is happy when one believes their Christian life, and relationship to Christ is nobody’s damn business! LH
If you are too lazy to plow in the right season, you will have no food at the harvest.
Today’s proverb reminds me of my bulb story. (true story)
I had high hopes for the bulbs I held in my hands. As I went to the register to pay for my treasures I thought how pretty my yard would look with the new scattering of pinks, blues, and yellows. Yes, I thought, my yard would be the envy of the neighborhood. There would be tulips around the mailbox to greet Jenny our mail lady, as she delivers our mail. I pictured her smiling as she put our letters into the box. Three different kinds of daffodils would wave its yellow hues attracting the bees and butterflies, that would, no doubt, help pollinate my garden. After paying, I put my newfound bulbs in a safe place in the back seat and headed home. Once home, I put my treasured bulbs in the garage and didn’t think of them again until the next Spring when I saw the neighbors’ flowers blooming.
I had reaped what I had sown…nothing!
Oh…okay…sure I made a half-assed attempt to get something from the nothing I had done. I took the forgotten bulbs and haphazardly planted them in one of my raised beds, and again…I reaped what I had sown…a haphazard, sickly mess. After their weak attempts to bloom, I pulled them up and planted corn and cucumbers in their place. So far they are looking good.
So…what’s the “moral of the story?”
If I had to choose it would go something like this:
Intentions are wonderful and quite inspirational, but if you fail to do the nitty-gritty part, then your dream will always be that…a dream.
I stuttered horribly as a child. Verbally expressing myself was extremely difficult. Sometimes I wonder if that is why I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I spent years living with the dream of becoming a writer, but the fear of failure kept it at bay. I mistakenly thought that every single word I penned should be so “earth-shattering” as to move mountains. Of course, I was not up to such a task, so I wrote little.
Then one day a wise person told me…
“If you want to be a writer, write!”
Simple? Without doubt. Profound? Absolutely!
BUT…if we truly stop to ponder the greater truths of life, aren’t they all…simple?
I think about it now and I understand…beautiful words will never move mountains, only faith can accomplish that.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to be or to do? Take the first step toward that dream today…don’t wait.
Most likely the beginning will be arduous and even mundane but persevere, you will reap what you sow.
I thought it would be interesting to start a series from Solomon’s book of Proverbs. What is a proverb? Well according to the NLT Bible, “A proverb is a short, concise sentence that conveys moral truth.” To paraphrase, a proverb is a nugget of wisdom, and when used makes our life better. Knowledge is good, but it benefits us little until it is applied.
Beginning a quarrel is like opening a floodgate, so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out. Proverbs 17:14
There were five lanes of traffic to cross, so I patiently bid my time. When the perfect moment arrived, I pulled out of Food Lions’s parking lot, turned left, and headed West, towards home. I eased into the correct lane and was content on the journey; however, after only a few seconds of peace, I heard horns blowing and tires screeching. I glanced in my rearview mirror to see what had caused such a ruckus. It seemed the truck that had sat behind me in Food Lion’s parking lot, had recklessly pulled out in front of the oncoming traffic. A number of vehicles came to a complete stop in order to avoid an accident. The truck was now speeding, closing the distance between us.
“What in the world,” I said, thinking there must be some sort of emergency for the man in the truck to so carelessly tempt harm. He pulled up beside me on the passenger side. I noticed his window was down, and he was leaning out trying to get my attention.
My first thought… “OMG…I’ve got a flat tire…”
So, I rolled my window down to hear what he was saying. With his face contorted in anger, the man began tossing F-bombs in my direction. My stomach dropped and I wondered what in the world I had done to upset this man, and then the “B-word” came out, and I realized I was being cussed out because of a certain political sticker on my bumper.
I couldn’t believe this person would risk his life and lives of others in order to “rip me a new” over my political views.
After the initial shock wore off, I did the only thing that came to mind…I laughed. That pissed him off even more and again he bathed me with “Bitches and F-bombs.” After he had his say, he floored it and swerved in front of me. I slowed down to keep a safe distance between us. The southern bell in me wanted to say, “Bless his heart…,” the Christian in me wanted to pray, and the rebel inside wanted to flip him off.
On that particular day, I was a rebel.
Not the wisest decision on my part…I know…
For the rest of the day, I played out the scenario in my mind and rehearsed cute little comebacks, I wished I would have said to “get back” at the obnoxious man.
Sometimes I wish I could be “quick-draw” with the witty comebacks! Then, I wouldn’t have to bop myself on the head later and say, “Man…I WISH I would’ve said that!”
I believe it’s human nature to think and feel this way…but that doesn’t make it right.
Cute little comebacks do much to appease our pride but do little to accomplish peace.
Quite the opposite…it only opens the floodgate. Once the dam has broken there’s little we can do to hold back a flood. Most of the time, our best course of action is to drop the matter, or at least put it off until tempers have cooled and the subject can be discussed in a somewhat peaceable manner.
Two cannot quarrel when one will not. –David C. Egner
Holy Spirit, please temper what I say and do. I need your strength and intervention. Amen.
Epilogue…after the incident above, I peeled the sticker from my bumper, not because I was ashamed of my political views, but because I thought it best to curtail future road rage.
This morning I got up, stepped on the scale and said, “Why is this happening to me!”
I have been very diligent in exercising. Most days I run/walk 5 miles a day. My weekly goal is to do at least 25 miles per week.
Since I’ve been on this regime I’ve lost a tad over 20 pounds. The weight seemed to drop fairly easy until now. Now I’m stuck and have been for several weeks.
My weight remains at a certain number, give or take a pound, and it’s frustrating. So, this is why I yelled at the scale this morning.
It didn’t respond…it just kept flashing that damn number at me. I swear when I look at it I picture a Cheshire cat cloaked in its evil grin. I think it’s possessed.
For my morning meditations, I’ve been following Our Daily Bread Devotional Journal. Each day a passage of scripture is given followed by a short prose by that day’s author. Sometimes I can relate to the author’s point of view, and other times, though I may agree, it just doesn’t seem to apply to my situation at the moment. Usually, when this occurs I can at least find something within the passage of scripture that speaks to me.
Today was one of those days.
The author penned a story about a newly married couple who chose to forgo the usual reception, and instead, invited their guests to help them hand out a truckload of food to the needy. As I read it I thought, “Wow, that’s pretty awesome!” And then I thought, “How does this apply to me?”
Well, the answer was simple…in Galatians 5:13 we are called to “…serve one another in love.” (NLT) I do try to make this a part of my life.
However, as I read the scripture passage something else jumped off the page and landed smack between my eyes
What was it?
Well to answer…we need to go back to the subject of the evil entity, my scale.
It was NOT cooperating with me! I bust my tail, faithfully, and still, the number stays the same. I try telling myself, “Something’s wrong with it,” but in my mind, I know it speaks the truth.
Still, I wondered…why? Why God…why can’t I get past that number?
And then…God answered…
“…I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit…then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves…follow the Holy Spirit’s leading in every part of your life.”
“You’ve been so disciplined in your physical exercise…now try applying that same discipline into controlling what, and how much you eat. Rely on my Spirit…he’s always there to help you.”
I have a problem with eating at night while watching tv. I’m good during the day but find myself grazing at night.
So, I’ve decided to try it God’s way. From this day forward, my goal is to eat nothing after dinner…unless it is something healthy like fruits or vegetables. I will try to be disciplined to follow this, but I’m sure there’ll times when I’m tempted beyond belief to eat the cupcake. And that’s when I’ll have to rely upon the Holy Spirit for help. He can and will give me strength during my weakness. However, I must ask for his help, and I must implement his help into my life.
Hopefully, the next time I post a photo of the evil entity below, it will be grinning back a new and lower number.
Let the journey begin!