Share Your World Challenge

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!

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This week’s four questions are:  

  1. 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.
  2. 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…download
  3.  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.
  4.  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.

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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.

    

 

 

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“God Kills Gay People…”

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Luna Demands Attention with her Gigantic Paws!

 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.

***

"You may pet me now."

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)

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Daily Addictions:  Gigantic 

 

Do It In Your Bunny Slippers!

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Daily Proverb:

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.

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Summation:

Boundaries Matter!  Don’t cross them!

I don’t give a “good dag-gone” how nice you try to be…Don’t!

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Don’t be Preposterous…show some Respect!

FOWC=Preposterous

Word-A-Day=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.

***

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Nuggets of Wisdom

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.

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Mad-Driver

 

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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

True Love

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Danica and her new baby sister, Gracie.

It’s not what you say.

It’s not how you say it.

True love is what you do.

Doing…the truest of love…expressed.

***

 

“If we love each other, God lives in us, and his love has been brought to full expression through us.  (I John 4:11)

Remember What I Have Told You

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Sometimes it’s just too easy to forget, and the older I get the more this becomes my super-power.

I feel confident my friends over fifty can relate…hmmm…unless, of course, they have forgotten how often they forget.

It’s true, I walk into a room and forget my reason for being there.  I stand blank-eyed, trying to remember what I was just thinking about before I entered the room.  My reasoning is this, perhaps my last train of thought is what led me to this room, so if I can remember that then maybe that would jog my memory as to why I am standing helplessly looking at the contents scattered within the four walls.

One time I got out of the car, closed the door, and realized I had forgotten my phone.  Knowing I would need it later, I asked my daughter…(on the other end of the line) to wait a moment while I retrieved my phone.  (true story)

Another time, again with my daughter, I found myself stuck in the snow.

I was in the midst of helping her move just outside of Boston.  We finally finished unloading the truck and hauling her stuff up three flights of stairs, and now it was time to go out and grab a bite to eat.  Beth jumped into the passenger seat and I got behind the wheel, we were sooo tired but happy the hard stuff was over.

Well, if you’ve visited Boston in the mid of winter, you know, more than likely, snow will be upon the ground, and it was on this particular day. Thinking about a cheeseburger I cranked up the old girl (my truck), put her in drive, and proceeded to exit the parking space; however, the wheels would do nothing but spin in place.

Two hungry women on a mission would not be deterred…so I told Beth to get out and push.

When that didn’t work we dug the snow from around all four tires and tried it again…me at the wheel and Beth pushing as hard as she could.

When that didn’t work we searched for something to slide under the wheels, hoping it would give some sort of traction for the spinning wheels.  We finally found a scrap of cardboard and I put it under the left front tire, as we were parallel-parked.  We assumed the familiar position, me at the wheel and Beth, outside pushing with all her might…still the wheels did nothing but spin!

Beth, exhausted from pushing, finally stopped and came to sit beside me in the passenger seat.  We were now two hangry women.

Frustrated, I smacked my hand against the steering wheel of the truck and noticed the small red light that illuminated the word brake.

That was the last time Beth has ever asked me to help her move.

Thank God, enough time has passed so that now we can at least laugh about it.

These funny stories came to mind as I read my morning meditation.

The meditation had taken me to John chapter 14.  Here, I found Jesus talking to his friends/disciples saying,

“Remember what I have told you:  I am going away, but I will come back to you again…I have told you these things before they happen so that you will believe when they do happen.”

Jesus was telling his friends that soon he would die.  He loved them and was worried about how they would feel when he was killed.  He worried they would feel confused, abandoned and afraid all of his promises had been a lie.  So, over and over again in the four gospels, he tells them,

Remember what I have told you…”

Friends, I believe Jesus, rich in his compassion, is telling us the same thing…

“Remember what I have told you…” 

When things go wrong and people hurt us…it’s so easy to forget he is with us.  Feelings of hopelessness, loneliness, and utter despair draw us down into those dark places we created as a child to keep us safe.

How easy it is to return to that lonely stomping ground.

Jesus knew this for his disciples and presently, he knows it for us, as well.   If we could but be still in those moments and just breathe…we would hear his voice gently telling us…

“Remember what I have told you…” 

I can write this with confidence because He has put his Holy Spirit deep within us and his Spirit abides with us even our in our darkest moments.  Jesus gave us his Spirit because he loves us so much, and he doesn’t want us to be alone or feel alone.  (It’s possible to be with people but feel alone…been there done that.)   In this world, our most loved friends and family may leave us, but Jesus never will.

“…know that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you…the Father sends the Counselor…and by Counselor I mean the Holy Spirit, he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I myself have told you.” 

“Remember what I have told you…”  (Jesus)

His Spirit moves within us…be still, breathe, and listen.

***

 

 

 

 

 

When Things Get Complicated

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Photo From Urban Wired

What do we do when things get complicated?

Well…here’s some of the things I find myself doing…

  • First of all I get a sick feeling in the pit of my tummy
  • Second I began rehearsing all the “what ifs”
  • Third my mind grasps the most horrendous “what ifs” and runs wild like a cheetah on the Serengeti.
  • Fourth, I become so mentally worn out I sink into depression
  • Fifth, I begin to form a “plan”
  • Sixth I try to implement the “plan”
  • Seventh, I become exhausted
  • Eighth, I pray.

Talk about putting the cart in front of the horse!  Of which I’m the master…so, here, hold my beer while I take a bow!

Why the hell can’t I remember to pray first?  Does it make me a horrible Christian?  On the contrary…it makes me human.

It’s just good ole “human nature” to desire to fix something when it breaks, and we shouldn’t berate ourselves for following our God-given, intrinsic instinct.  If we do, then that, my friend, is the real tragedy.  God doesn’t hold it against us…

Why?

Simply put, God knows how it feels to be human!

God, himself, put on flesh, and walked this earth for 33 years, and his friends called him, Jesus.  During these 33 years he was tempted in all ways, and personally experienced every weakness that can ever befall us.  Remember, He understands.  His arms are open, and he bids us come… “give me your cares for I care for you.”

Now, I’m not so naive as to believe that prayer is some magic wand that fixes everything…

No.

However, this is what prayer will do…

[Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Through prayer we receive God’s understanding, His Mercy, and His Grace.  Armed with these we can face any circumstance that life throws our way.

So, when things get complicated remember….

  • He will not hold our weakness against us…because He has once felt the same way
  • His arms are always open wide
  • He bids us come
  • He wants us to share our problems with Him
  • He loves us more than life itself…for He gave his life for us
  • His Mercy and Grace never ends…it is new every morning

 

Oh what a Savior we have!

***

“…Let us cling to him and never stop trusting him…”  (Hebrews 4:14)

Daily Prompt:  Complication

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This High Priest of ours [Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same temptations we do, yet he did not sin.  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it.

Today…Never Again

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

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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.” 

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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.