Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Silencing The Roar Of The Lion
When daughter, Bev, "Blessed Beyond Measure" sent this week's CWO quote, I intended
posting about it, but may be too late for it to run. However, I feel so strongly about this quote that I will post it anyway.

CWOs quote is "Satan's ultimate lie is that you are capable of being the god of your own life, and his ultimate bondage is getting you to live as though his lie is truth", by psychologist, Neil Anderson. Bible quotes are from The International Inductive Standard Bible, the New American Standard Bible.

I should tell you that I don't presume to be anywhere nearly a learned Bible historian, but offer only my understanding of this.

When time for Jesus who lived on earth as you and I, was ending, He spent His last hours trying to prepare the apostles for what lay ahead. Peter, the strong and outspoken one, would be arrested and imprisoned, and later be killed. Religious leaders wanted to silence those who followed his teachings. To say those were turbulent times is an understatement the size of the universe.

"Rumor had it that Nero had burned Rome so he could rebuild it as he wanted." and needing someone to blame it on, he blamed the fire on the Christians, and began the systematic persecution of God's children".

"Jesus had prepared Peter for the world's tribulation; Now Peter would prepare others. On the eve of Nero's persecution Peter wrote his first epistle. True to God's unmeasurable love, Peter's words still stand today for you and me:

1 Peter, ch.5, v.8: "Be of sober spirit,
be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil
prowls about, like a roaring lion, seeking
someone to devour."

While gathering information I checked the subject Satan, and counted 36 or more references. There even may be more. Two instances about how he operates, probably the ones best known, are when Jesus was tempted, but long before that, the situation in the garden of Eden, of Adam and Eve.

If I understand it correctly, It was soon after Jesus was baptized that Satan showed up. Two things stand out. This encounter wasn't happenstance. The Bible says "Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil". But before that, Jesus had fasted forty days. Isn't it interesting that the first thing Satan used to try to tempt him was about food.

Like a self appointed know it all, Satan thought he knew our Savior's weakest vein, but forgot some things: Jesus doesn't have any detriments, and His fasting only gave him more spiritual strength. But did you notice what Satan tried first? He did the same thing when he tried entangling Adam and Eve, sliley suggested doubt. If, if, if. You'll hear that a lot from him. He so oozes uncertainty.

When Jesus fed him back God's protective word, he quickly moved toward a different attack, but still tried to create doubt.

Next, Satan took Jesus to the Holy City, and had him stand on the pinnical of the temple, the highest point, and with continued effort to instill doubt he was God's son, tried to persuade Him to throw himself off. Talk about orchestration, where he took Jesus was no accident. Neither was his quoting scripture unplanned. Already, the one who would devour mankind was honing in on the would be kill.

For the first temptation Satan used the ruse of needed food. The second one, along with hammering away about doubt, Satan insulted Jesus's God by taunting him, without saying it out loud. "Show me how well your god can protect you" is what he implied. Jesus didn't need to quibble with this angel turned would be roaring lion.

On his third try, which I imagine was Satan's ultimate intention in the first place, he takes Jesus to a very high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory, and attempts his knockout punch. "All these will I give you, if you fall down and worship me". This time Jesus doesn't just quote scriptures. He backs him off with "Get thee behind me, for you shall worship the Lord your God and serve only Him."

The Bible says at this point the devil left Jesus, and angels came and ministered to him. Think about, If Satan had obeyed God long before, he might have had the joy of being one of them.

I'd like to take you now to a place that's very well known, the Garden of Eden. In the book of Genesis, beginning at ch.2, v.5, "Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord had not sent rain upon the earth; and there was no man to cultivate the ground." God could create the world by merely saying it. That's how powerful His Word is, but plowing and chopping and raking and hoeing, might require some human effort.

"But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground."

"Then the Lord God formed man of clay from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being."

"And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed."

"And out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."

"Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four."

To not quote the entire book of Genesis, I'll skip to verse 12: "And the gold of that land is good."

Again, the Bible mentions Adam being placed in the garden "to cultivate it and keep it." What's important about this is not that God needed Adam's help. Adam needed to be responsible, a faithful steward of the land. Giving something back, insteaadof only taking. Who knows, perhaps if he had had less time to check the forbidden tree, he might not have got into so much trouble.
What Sunday School hasn't taught the story of Adam and Eve, how God made Adam a helpmate so he wouldn't be alone. He even let Adam name the beasts and birds, and the cattle. But clearly God commanded Adam and Eve must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This wasn't to tantalyze them, or set excessive rules. If Adam and Eve had only obeyed, they wouldn't have even brushed with evil. Until now they were in a wonderful blissful state, with all their needs supplied.

Until they disobeyed, they were not ashamed, and had no reason to be.

In chapter 13 Satan in the form of a serpent is described as more crafty than any beast of the field. He confirms this by entangling Eve in a not so innocent conversation.

Talk about twisting words, Satan begins: "Indeed, has God said, ""You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?"" Eve's first mistake is that she talks to him at all, but she does, as we may do sometimes, and as Satan tried to entangle Jesus when he was testing Him, the serpent wants to plant some doubt.

Eve may have thought she could explain God's instructions, but that wouldn't have mattered. The serpent had already achieved his goal, to confuse her and try to discredit God's instructions. He says: "You surely shall not die", and then he adds, "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like him, knowing good and evil" Notice how subtly he sneaks that comment in.

Adam and Eve disobey, and are banished from the garden. Adam shifts responsibility for it onto Eve, and she lies: "The serpent deceived me, and I ate".

God gave Adam a paradise garden to tend, but Adam more than neglected it, and in addition sinned. His punishment was to chop weedes and thorns and thistles the rest of his life, and this was handed down,. ike the result of fathers' sins sometime fall upon their children backs.

From there it only got worse, beginning with one son of Adam and Eve killing another.

In chapter 6 of Genesis, verses 5 and 6, we learn what God thought and how He felt about mankind. "Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth. and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil, continually." "And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart."

A God who would love us even after that, care about us individually, so much so that He sent His own son to take our deserved place for sins, that's a God I can serve all my life, but something is required. It's spelled out in the Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt have no gods before me", especially not me.

  posted at 2:42 PM  

Monday, January 29, 2007
I Think I Can, I think I Can.
Any of you who've read a few of my recent posts know I am on a makeover mission. It has nothing to do with shape and size, or trying to look better. I'm in pretty good shape for my current one, or as some might say, I maintain. Anymore,I don't spend much time in front of mirrors. This rehabilitation campaign is not about those things.

A part of it I worked on today was about driving. To lean a little on an old cliche, ignorance may be real bliss. Before coming to Denver my driving was mostly short jaunts around town, to schools and church, and trips to the grocery store. I drove a few places other than that, but not many, except one trip, about a hundred miles long, when I drove my mother inlaw back to her house, but that's another story.

In the fifties and sixties, driver training was not required. If you could pass the test they gave, a little driving, and a written one, you got your license. You wouldn't believe how good I got at pulling forward, and then backing up in our narrow driveway.

Then I progressed to roads around town, but nothing like today in Denver. But before that point in time I drove many years, in my little unautomatic puddle jumper Baha Bronze with racing stripes down each side, bucket seated Gremlin. Remember the silly commercial, about "Lady, where's the rest of your car?" Some did laugh at its unusual looks, but it had a twenty one gallon gas tank, and got good mileage, and I'd just fill it up, and drive and drive and drive, in my simple world of then.
Some might not believe that I learned how to change the air filter, and check fluid levels, but I did. I didn't change the oil, but I knew to get it done.

All the way to Texas, and once to California, I drove, alone. On the Texas trip a New Mexico patrolman pulled me over. Traffic was light. Weather was good, Nobody was bumping anybody. Still he seemed upset, because I wasn't driving in the lane he thought I should. Both lanes went the same direction. I couldn't understand why he was ticked off about which one I used, but I got into the one he motioned toward, and like he said, stayed in it until I got out of his state.

On my way to California, When I reached Utah, things got scary. I somehow ended up too close to what looked like some lakes, and there was a lot of sand. I'm still not sure where I was, but kept going different directions, and finally got back onto a safer looking road. The patrolman talking a little ugly to me in New Mexico only hurt my feelings, because he made me feel so dumb. Being lost in Utah, and night about to fall scared me very much, but somehow I got safely back to Denver. That's where I seem to always return.

Things are much different here now. In the late sixties I don't think I-25 had yet been made. Now there's three lanes each way all around, before you get close to the interstates. I'm a little imtimidated, not by the number of lanes, but traffic's faster speed. Still, if I'm to live here, and get where I need to go, I can't revert to driving the chicken trail easy roads I drove not long ago.

So today, although I had already decided to exercise some courage, and defeat this fear, when I read daughter Bev's, "Blessed Beyond Measure", The Cowardly Lion", I knew it was time. So I posted a few words to Bev about how excellently she writes, and turned off the computer, put my shoes on, and I was out the door, telling myself some little fear wouldn't defeat me.

If we don't pay close attention to them, thoughts and emotions can work us over. It all depends. As I walked to my car I noticed a big delivery truck, easing along right where I needed to go. You need to know I'm mostly very patient, sometimes too much, but today I felt irritable toward the stranger whose job it was to drive the truck. It hardly took a moment for him to go, but I just wanted him out of my way.

I headed toward a road I've only driven once. To get to where I was going wasn't far, less than a mile. I watched the traffic and lights, telling myself if where I needed to turn left was congested, I'd drive ahead and circle back. First challenge done with, the way was very clear and turning was easy. I went on. and soon found the place I was looking for, a bank. but because I wasn't familiar with the area, I parked too far away. Oh well, I got out of the car, and walked the rest of the way, right up a sidewalk. I'm getting upset again. Geese apparently come here too, and leave their droppings right where I needed to walk. I looked around, and decided it was easier to tip toe around it, and just get on to the bank.

Inside, that's right, I'm irked again. The clerk has an accent that's hard to understand, and when he starts pushing,it seemed to me, for me to make some investments, I tell him not today, but he mentions it again, and again. Promising myself I'll read "Boundaries" again, I tell him thanks but no thanks, and no, I don't want anybody to call me about it, and leave. But I still have to make my way through all those geese droppings again. As I leave the bank I promise myself to not walk this way next time. but I still need to get across the street to my car.

When traffic slows in one direction, it comes at me from the other. Three times I wait for it, but more comes through. I'm grumbling again now, and not so silently.
Why do they go so fast, I think, as I turn and walk through more geese droppings to a corner with traffic lights. In my mind I'm trying to remember where another bank branch may be.

Not far away is a grocery chain that's going out of business, and discounted prices call. So I take time to check them out. A banner across the front of the store says 25% off, but inside prices vary. That's awful I grumble silently, and anyway their regular prices are already too high, I whisper almost out loud.

When I finally get to the checkout line, a shopper pulls in front of my cart, and Irritation rises again. I'm tempted to tell her I was there first, but don't, and just stand in line. I'm feeling really grouchy, and don't know why, but decide to be nice to her anyway. A man is with her and they look like they may be poor. When our turns are next she turns to me and smiles, and says for me to go first. In a big city where eye contact can be rare, I'm touched that she showed kindness, and glad I wasn't rude. Man o man, my emotions are hopping all over the place today.

I'm still wondering if I can get the bargains without my card. I ask the clerk and he's very nice as he rings up the sale, especially when you consider his job is about to end. I pay the bill and thank him for helping me, and leave.

In my car I figure out which way and how far to get back home, and make the right turns and quickly drive it. As irritation I wasn't aware I had gave way to relief, I realized I had used it to mask my fear. Did I completly miss what Bev wrote about, To feel the fear, and not miss the blessing of letting God help us, and do what we must, anyway.

I suppose no one would like having to navigate around or through geese droppings. I'm still thinking about that when I realize they're probably the same geese I love seeing fly overhead around here. But if they keep acting like the bank's sidewalk is their porta-potty, I'm taking my money some place else.

  posted at 8:25 PM  

Saturday, January 27, 2007
Same Singer, Different Song
What I'm wanting to say here has buzzed in my head for days. I don't know if the winter storms' mounds of unwanted snow dumped some cabin fever on me. But I think it's more than that. It's like the music I danced to before no longer fits, and I can't keep the proper beat anymore. Do I need a new song, well, perhaps, no, but I don't think it's a maybe. It's a must.

So the next idea or question, now that the first is asked, is where do I begin? I've made changes this last year, and now, and some are reflected in this new place of mine, but I think the task ahead is more inside than out, and when I get that right, the music may emerge.

I don't mean to be self centered, I realize I'm such a minute part of our universe. I'm just trying to understand what my part in it is. God comes first, and family next, and country and neighborhood follow. But I can't serve any of them as I should, until I'm complete.

I start the day praying for guidance, and try to not ask for too many favors, but that feeling of being incomplete still nags. Annual resolutions help, but they're not enough. Old built in survival habits hang around. After using them so long, they seem like a part of me, but that doesn't mean they are good or healthy appendixes, or that they work properly.

When I was five years old, and had appendicitis, the doctor cut out the part that was harmful to me. Now I'm no doctor, I'm a nurse, and I know what's healthy and what isn't, and it's time for self defeating behaviors, no matter how well intended, to leave.

I know I've mentioned this before in another post, but it bears mentioning again. A book that was copyrighted in 1960 was given to me by a lawyer a long, long time ago. I had sought him out because I needed advice. Because he chose this book to give, and urged me to read it, I realized a long time later, that he easily saw how much I needed more self regard.

Some people get tummy tucks or face lifts to try to change their lives. I did not know it then, and obviously not for many years later, but what I needed was a gigantic self-image lift.

Compared to what I've done all these years to believe and feel I'm worth while, I think this mental makeover won't be so difficult. One can use lots of energy propping one's ego up.

I'm still only in chapter one of this tremendous book, but can see how lives can be changed from it. If you're seeing any of yourself in what I write, I so recommend it, PSYCHO-CYBERNETICS, by Maxwell Maltz, only about 250 small pages.

I will also use other things to help me find myself: Be as kind to me as I am to you, and once in a while compliment me. Avoid anything negative. It can only drag us down. Pay attention to what I say, especially to myself. Oh, and here's a very big one, stop apologizing so much. You wouldn't believe how often my elderly patients, and most of them are women, apologize, even over little unimportant things. How can I develop a better image of myself, if I'm still showing me such disregard. Isn't that what I do when I assume responsibility for something I did, or didn't do.

There's work to be done about relationships too. One I'm really working on is being aware of children's choices and circumstances, and caring, for of course I do, but not taking on their responsibilities, or feeling that I should.

For a long time I didn't spend much time with certain grownup children. I didn't know how to deal with problems I saw in their lives. But finally I understood that the answer was already there. I'm not suppose to deal with their personal business, and I'm not suppose to get in the way of their trying to. It's so nice being with them now, not that it ever wasn't, I just made it heavy, too serious in my own mind, and needed to lighten up. Come to think of it, that's exactly what one of my new years resolutions is for.

Last year before I moved away one of my sons would travel quite a distance, up around Greeley, I think, to visit his son who got into so much trouble he was locked up. Several times my son asked me to go with him to visit, but I'd find a reason not to, but any time visiting was allowed, my son was there.

I don't think I stayed away because of false pride. When he went away I felt helpless, and a little hopeless about how it would turn out. But aren't helpless and hopeless nothing more than weak kneed sympathies. Where's the encouragement in that! I think I just refused to deal with it, forgetting that it wasn't about me, but about a boy who needed to know I didn't judge, but cared. When you're too busy keeping yourself mentally afloat, it's easy to miss that someone may need you more.

So I'll continue building up my self, but visit him regularly, and when I walk in the door that a jailor has to unlock, this grandson will be standing there, smiling because I came. That part in the Bible about "I was in prison and you visited me" applies to him too.

He's the one I taught his multiplication tables, although with modern math, they be called something else. And he's the one he and I used to throw cushions off the living room furniture onto the floor, and build crawl through forts for he and I to play in.

What we do now isn't that easy. It still feels strange going behind several locked doors. Last week my son confided that he so dislikes going to that place, but he goes, because his son is there. His young life is nearing a crucial turning point. As much as I'm allowed to I will be there. No more dodging what's uncomfortable or difficult, no more dodging life.

Do I hear a distant drumroll turning into a tune that soon will be a song, I do, I think I do, a new one, mine.

  posted at 10:12 PM  

Share The Love

My daughter, Barb, emailed me last night to let me know I've been nominated for a Share The Love blog award, in the Most Thought-Provoking category. To say I was surprised at being nominated is more than a huge understatement.

The last time I was recognized
for writing was in the early sixties, when I won a radio station contest, by saying in 40 words or less, why I wanted my child to spend a week at summer camp. And like today, I was surprised at that, too. Choosing which of my six I would send was easy, I just picked the most active one.

When I began blogging I first of all, didn't understand exactly what it is, but I am learning. Such a terrific throng of caring and understanding people you are. Compared to that, My imagined great writing ideas are so little.

So, thank whoever nominated me, thank you. That's an honor in itself. I don't know which to be more excited about, that someone thinks something I wrote merits recognition, or the incredible pride I feel that daughter, Barb,"A Chelsea Morning", and daughter, Bev,"Blessed Without Measure", and grand daughter, Sarah,"In the Midst Of It", were also nominated for various categories, with Barb receiving several, and it looks like more coming in. Anything after that is just frosting on this woman's cake, but the award I value most is your letting me be a part of what you are.

  posted at 1:27 PM  

Monday, January 22, 2007
A Journey There, and Here.
Here I am again, almost a dichotomy, short on words, but much I want to say. Was it Moses God chose to lead the sons of Israel out of Egypt, and explained to him in detail what and where to speak along the way.

Still, Moses didn't act like he'd had thinking on his feet training. Grumbled about most everything God told him to do. That's how I feel tonight, a little like Moses, wandering around on dry land.

Part of the problem may be because more than one post is bouncing around in my head, making it feel like work, instead of the high I get when I'm into a good story knee deep. Maybe if I separate the ideas, writers' block will get out of my way.

This all started a few nights ago when I was looking for a certain paper in a satchel full of stuff. That might be simple for better organized souls. Both my daughters, and some of my sons would know exactly where they filed it away. Not me.

I should have a little plaque somewhere around that says: "A neat desk or drawer or old satchel is a sign of a sick mind", but I might misplace it too.

So I leafed through things that had nothing to do with what I was searching for. Old newspapers, some special editions of history making events. Denver's blizzards, recent, and long ago. The paper that has pages and pages about one in 1982 also ran a long account of a 1913 blizzard that gave Denver 47.7 inches of snow. They used horses and wagons to clear enough of it to get around. Piled it up near the State Capitol.

All my treasured relics aren't about the weather. The loss of the shuttle Challenger and the seven astronauts blazed across Rocky Mountain Newspaper on January 29, 1986.

Another paper I had forgotten about, the Beaumont Journal (from Texas) headlined its March 14, 1964 edition with trial results of Jack Ruby, who was found guilty for killing Lee Harvey Oswald.

More recent papers and magazines I had kept because of stories about ex president Bill Clinton. Another dated 1999, of which I am very ashamed, covered the trial and conviction of a John William King, found guilty of a horrendous killing of a black man,in Jasper, Texas, where I was born, my home town.

My grandmother was a King. For all I know, but I don't want to know, the person who did this racial murder may be distant kin.

I kept many papers and magazines about our country's 9:03 a.m. Tuesday, September 11, 2001 attack. I am still mystified that it could happen, and more confused why people act as if it didn't, or that it can't again.

I don't go through all these papers, not often, and I can see why. One story leads to another, and the next thing you know, it's after midnight. That's what happened the other night. I was so engrossed about the hometown killing, and began searching through family tree records for names, and ran across a paper someone must have sent me, when I was tracing family history. My people were from South Carolina, and other Southern states, and resettled in Texas.

The paper is called "Great Sale of Slaves", and is dated January 10, 1855. The ads, it says were taken from three books: "American Slavery As It Is", "Slavery Times in Kentucky", and "Slave Trading in the Old South". Apparently it was a public auction to sell slaves claimed by a John Carter in Lexington, Kentucky. The details about people other people claimed to own made me regret even more that even today, there are those such as John William King, who would still do this, if they could.

I never did find the paper I was looking for. Leafed through other mementos, old pictures of relatives. Found birth announcements of some of my children. Finally put it all away, and fastened the satchel's clasps, and started toward the closet door with it.

But thinking about it, the slave paper still bothered me. At first I wouldn't read it. Nothing about it could be good. But I opened the satchel again, and got it back out. More than one ad mentioned slaves with children. One Said they were six years down to one and a half years old, and could be bought together or individually.

I realize the subject of slavery isn't something you hear much about today, at least not in our country anymore. I looked at some of my family pictures some more, and the little faded birth announcements. If slaves couldn't keep their children, were they even allowed to have records of their births? The newspaper account of what happened in my home town is what got me to thinking about this tonight. In case you're wondering why I take it so seriously, it is because we must care that it happened. Those ads to sell the slaves and their children will always haunt me.

  posted at 10:05 PM  

Saturday, January 20, 2007
CWO Quote Of The Week
"You act more like a Christian by your influence on the lost, than the saved people you impress." is the CWO quote to be considered this week. It is attributed to a Dr. Alvin Reid.

I do not believe that the day we became a Christian we set out to so compartmentalize our new life, But I do believe it happens. Much was already in place to ensure that we would. Early on in my life I understood that God loving people attended church, while those who didn't went somewhere else on weekends.

I understand that even the spiritual rebirth of a person may take a little getting used to. Many of our old habits and ways might not be real welcome, or appropriate, at church.

But I also remember hearing at least a swish of arrogance, from those who excused themselves from church by saying it was full of hypocrites, and anyway they could be closer to God in the woods, or on a body of water. That observation is only part of why society is divided into the saved, or the unsaved.

Efforts to reach those we believe are not, are hampered by other factors: Bigotry and racisism, and various ethnic cultures who it seems, set themselves apart from others. This isn't what the handbook on how to treat people says we should do, but it is what often goes on.

When you add people's need for recognition to this, the spirit of nonjudgmental loving and helping others is not addressed, at least not as much as we should.

I don't believe people intend to be like this. But old mores and traditions repeated and repeated, become common practice. So much so that as we're driving to church, we go right past a new neighbor without taking time, or the chance to know them. Sometimes we'll see a person begging with cardboard sign, and without thinking about whether they're cold or hungry, decide they're faking poverty, and don't want a supporting job. We continue to church and extend social courtesies to those more like us, and think of the poor bum no more.

Not that we shouldn't be careful when dealing with strangers. Of course we should, but there are many long standing reputable charities, we could support one of a little not only for a tax write off, but because we really care about some down and out poor human being.

I realize we won't feel great compasion every day of our life. Some days we're too concerned with ours. But this isn't about feelings that bolster our egos, like choir masters praising our songs, or write ups in bulletins noting the good things we've done. It's about the footwork and heart work that Jesus began, and left us a manual telling us how to do it.

In Sunday School we learned catchy phrases intended to encourage attendance; "If you can't come, send somebody" was one. Notice was paid to how many people we invited to church. While this was all for good reason, people we judge unsaved might be more inclined to follow us to Jesus, if how we treat them resembled Him more.

Matthew 25, verses 34-36 (NLT) "Then the king will say to those on the right, come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me."..........

Matthew 26, verses 1 and 2 (NLT) When Jesus had finished saying these things, He said to His disciples, "As you know, the Passover celebration begins in two days, and I, the Son of Man, will be betrayed and crucified."

Even then, ceremony was more important to religious leaders than the cry of humanity that needed Him so much. Next time we go to church, let's remember that.

  posted at 11:27 PM  

Wednesday, January 17, 2007
A Time For Miscellany
Almost midnight January 17, and I can't find the words I want to say. Is this what other bloggers deal with? Do I search too hard? Sometimes I think I do. So tonight I'll start out telling you, in case you didn't know, how things have been with me.

Several years ago one of my sons and I bought a house. He was starting an apprentiship/classroom program, and I would continue my nursing. We got along very well. But even good things may need to change.

When you live together it's easy to take each other for granted, even Moms and sons, and it's easy to let someone do what you're not wanting to, like driving I-25, or lifting heavy stuff, or shoveling snow.

So we settled things about the house, and at daughter, Barb's of A Chelsea Morning suggestion, I moved to western Colorado. Barb was beautiful. She did everything she could to help me with the move, and we looked forward to being together.

Where some would flinch at all the changes I had to make, I saw them as an interesting adventure. I saw it that way right up until an unbelievable situation about computer and internet service took place that caused me to be without computer access for more than a month, and then it still wasn't over. I don't know if it was because of phone lines, or some nearby transformers. Back here in Denver the computer service runs smoothly, as it did before I moved away.

If I doubted it before I don't now; we really do learn more from our mistakes than our serendipities. It's hard to see it at the time, or maybe I just didn't want to. But if we learn from what we do, isn't it worth what it cost, and not always in terms of money.

I shouldn't have accepted the nursing job I took there. I remember having gut feelings about it that I managed to ignore. So I accepted doing twelve hour shifts, and working three different nursing units. Only ingrained insecurities would drive me to such an awful job. And that was before they stopped how nurses have done their work, almost all the way back to Florence Nightingail. They went computer.

It wasn't that I couldn't learn it. I was making progress. It was just one more thing, a big one, to deal with. I'm usually rock solid brave and pretty capable. I have a long list of things I've done that prove it.

But even before the job became unbearable, especially when trying to straighten out the computer craziness at home, I could barely talk with them, couldn't control sudden bouts of crying. That is not me, and I know it, and I knew I had to change whatever was causing it.

I can't take all the credit for it. God and some beautiful people did most of it. My job was to do a lot of packing before they arrived, and there's that phrase I like to use: be rock solid in my belief that our Saviour would get us across the mountains safely, and He did, right between two terrible storms that killed others and swept some cars away.

You may wonder why I chose that time to chance the move. A son was having surgery, and it was possible he had cancer. If we didn't move then, I would have to wait months for help to do it later.

It wasn't all bad. God took care of the possible cancer. The doctors say there isn't any, and son is doing fine. but he did pay attention to the danger. The day before surgery he quit smoking, as some say, cold turkey.

It was kind of fun, even exciting, working out finding and getting this apartment. I had been in one here, so knew where and how it was. I think I'm being pampered. Those helping me made sure my place is only a few doors down from laundry room. I like that, and even taking garbage out is easy, not far away, and a sidewalk goes right to it. When God takes care of something, He's very good at details.

A good thing that came from living out west is that I drove much more there. When my son and I shared a house, it was easy to let him taxi me around. But when we take on others' responsibilities, or let someone carry ours, that can help them or us be less capable of taking care of whatever's ahead.

Two books I plan to read again, Maxwell Maltz' PSYCHO-CYBERNETICS, and BOUNDARIES, by two authors, Cloud and Townsend. These books address the necessity for self regard and how to get it, and having
healthy boundaries in relationships.

Not all the changes I've recently made were agonizing. I treasure the time Barb and I had there, and seeing even a short span of my great grandson's life. Seeing autumn arrive last year out west was different than Denver's. Unlocking the door and seeing my apartment for the first time felt so good. All of it clean and uncluttered.

It was already snowing (and there's still mounds of it here to walk or drive over). But some times when I'm outside geese fly over, and eventually the snow will go away, and pretty flowers will make their way up out of it, as we can choose to do with our challenges, and sometimes see beauty, even in them.

  posted at 11:12 PM  

Sunday, January 14, 2007
A Serious Conversation
In a psychology class some mental illnesses were described this way: that neurotics imagine castles in the air and sometimes try to build them, but psychotics, they live in them. What I'm trying to write on here isn't as serious as that, but it is important, because it affects people's lives, often not in a good way.

Maxwell Maltz's book, Psycho-Cybernetics, copyright in 1960, was remarkable for its little examined idea that we are, or we become what we think we are. Maltz, who was so ahead of the then generally accepted attitude about self regard, stated that "The most important psychologic discovery of the century is the discovery of the ""self-image.""

This man was a highly regarded plastic surgeon who helped transform lives, with his skill in using a scapel. But he noticed that even when his surgical skills changed their faces for the better, some still saw themselves as before, and in their minds, that is how they still were.

He maintained that people can change their perception of themselves, and his book offers fifteen chapters of how to do this. But he pointed out that it would take conscious effort.

Many years ago I read his book, but didn't apply much of it, so it's reasonable to assume my self perception likely didn't change. Last week I was reminded of this in, of all places, a store that sells bedding and window covers, and many other household furnishings.

I was pretty sure how I'd react when choosing certain items. It's likely I'm a world class "elbow shopper', checking the price tag before the merchandise. So I took along some built in support, a good friend who not only knows what goes well together, but has no compunction, none at all, about spending money, especially if it's someone elses.

The store seemed huge. You could tell I'm not used to such luxury items, and so many variations of them to choose. We started out looking for curtains. I already had bed coverings that would do. But before we went in the store, I told my friend who likes spending that I realized I'd begin penny pinching in there right away. She
just listened quietly, and smiled.

Did I mention that she's also very wise. Almost before I realized it, she headed me toward rows and rows of bedding. I found myself almost knee deep in comforts and things that go with them. Pillows, stacks of them in every imaginable color, at least it seemed. I recognized some brand names, but didn't know Liz Claiborne made anything but womens' clothes.

Even with fifty percent off (the January sale was on), I was still feeling price tag shock. A hundred dollars! for a comforter! and that didn't include bed skirt or shams.

An hour later I found it, the one I had to have. Obvious quality merchandise, in colors so pleasing. But already I was mentally tired, from checking all those prices and tormenting myself again and again over whether it was alright to spend that much money, on me.

I did the same thing while choosing pillow cases, and all those pretty things that just reeked luxury. In fairness to my friend, I should repeat that I invited her to help me shop, and so she did, checked and rechecked how things looked, and quickly dismissed those that didn't. Searched and searched for colors that matched, really good at detail.

The last things we chose were what I went into the store intending to find, the curtains. I grew so tired of checking their prices, that finally, I just found the right packages of the ones I wanted, and threw them in the cart.

It's not that I go on uncontrollable shopping binges, but my attitude about how much is alright to spend, I think that's out of control, but on the negative side. I'm pretty generous about doing nice things for people, even giving money sometimes. So I have to wonder, am I trying to endear myself so someone will think well of me? Do I think they wouldn't, if I didn't?

This psychological dilemma probably can be resolved, but may take some practice, and spending even a little more money, for pretty things to hang on my bedroom walls, and after a soothing bath, crawling under those luxurious covers, and sinking into pilllows just made to cradle my head. Loving the pleasure of soft fabric brushing against my face. But my 1998 nightgown, it needs to be replaced, and a new table lamp would be nice, because I think I'm going to need it, to see how to read Maxwell Maltz's life changing book again.

  posted at 11:19 PM  

Saturday, January 13, 2007
Blessed Of My Father (Matthew 25, V's 34-40)
It was not a long way to where we were going, but the drive seemed to go slowly. Piled up snow banked the road we turned on to. All around me felt like frozen quiet.

Near the front entrance a flag at half mast hardly moved its ragged edges. "It's for Ford", my son said, and that seemed out of place. Honor being emphasized where many examples of less than honorable were confined.

Cold that made me feel so tight surrounded me as I got out of the car. We both walked fast to get inside, and through a metal detector. Someone who looked much in charge led us through showing ID and clipping visitor tags on.

The walk to where he was seemed long. The buildings and grounds offered nothing but silence.

Someone with many keys let us in a door, and showed us where to wait, and brought and extra chair. I saw him hurrying toward us, and there he was. A big smile covered his face. Before coming, I wondered what to say, but I stood up, and motioned for him to, and said "Let's measure", and we did, and he smiled again.

In the meantime his Dad opened a pepsi he'd brought him, and laid something beside it, Starburst candies. I smiled, remembering all the times I'd got them for him.

I asked him what it's like being there, and how he spends his time. He pointed to what he called his room, one that looked very narrow. Then I realized it was one of several all the same size. My God, I thought, it's a cell.

Something was hanging on the doors of them, but it was far enough away I couldn't make it out. So I asked, and he explained they have to leave their belts like that, on the outside of the doors. I took a slow deep breath.

We talked of many things. He checked out his dad's surgical sites at the side of his face, and they touched on counciling sessions, and he needed a consent form signed. Some social something he earned enough credit to do.

They discussed how he's doing with school, and it seems he's doing fine. Just passed required math tests, he said, and as he said that, I smiled.

When he was in an early grade, I decided to help him learn math, and offered him a deal. Grand mothers come up with things like that, but I still think it was good. I wrote out a contract we each signed. It included a reward for completing it.

He would learn his multiplication tables, all the way from his 1 x 1's to 12 x 12's. but it was a package deal. He had to learn them all. "How can you do math, if you know only part of them", I'd asked him.

When we'd be together I'd throw out some for him to answer, never in sequence, All jumbled up. So on graduating day, we did that for an hour or so. Bam, bam. bam. He just rattled them off, and I was so proud he'd claimed them for himself.

"Five minutes" the man with keys to the doors pointed out. So we hurried with anything else. Then he hugged me again. "When can I come back', I asked, even though I knew, and he said. "Saturday, every saturday", and waited a moment.

"I will, I'll be back", I promised, and we hugged goodbye, and his big smile looked so good that I didn't cry. I hardly noticed the chasing cold following me back to the car, where I looked at the flag again, and this time I smiled.

  posted at 11:40 PM  

Thursday, January 11, 2007
Now, And Then.
I don't know where I'm going with this tonight. I only know I must write it. Does the time or the climate have anything to do with it? I'm not sure, but this fourth winter storm since Christmas might encourage a reaching back, all the way to nostalgia.

There's a restlessness about me, and I don't think it's related to the atmospheric pressure. I am a little edgy about the weather forecast. Snow drifts and icy snow packed roads don't scare me to death, but I do respect their possible life changing power. Anybody who doesn't have to drive on them tonight, shouldn't. But I've driven on worse roads, in worse storms, and got home safe. So I think what's stirring in me is more than that. I do tend to flirt with nostalgia.

Strange how a thought, a memory can encourage it. Tonight it was because I read grand daughter Sarah's post, at her "In The Midst of it" about her little boys, and their leaving babyhood behind, to sleep in big boy beds. That Sarah ended her post with the wistful thought of putting the baby days crib back together for her son, pushing the next chapter of his life a little farther than a mom's arms can reach, that didn't surprise me at all.

My sons are much older, but the tendency to want to cradle them remains. I don't do that now, of course. except for grown up hugs, and encouraging pats on the back sometimes.

Certain things become the cornerstones of childhood memories. For daughters, Barbie dolls ruled supreme, but for the boys, hands down, and you probably guessed it, always, it was tonka toys. If I had to put something in a time capsule about their childhoods, those are what I would choose.

A few days ago, while we waited for lab reports that would tell us whether a son had Cancer, he and I shopped a little, to fill the time, and combat cabin fever the snow storms caused. we're walking down some aisles, looking for something, and there it was, a really big Tonka truck, almost yelling for a little boy to spin its wheels.

I looked at it, and remembered, and for a moment longed for when my son's life was about playing with toys, instead of hoping he didn't have a disease that could kill him.

While waiting for lab reports about it, I busied myself however I could, but my thoughts kept drifting back. Maybe that's why nostalga is so inviting. Temporarily, at least, it insulates you, like warm clothes do from the storm, so you don't have to be afraid, or cold.

I waited until I thought my son would be back from his doctor's appointment, and was about to call him, when I saw he had sent an email. It started out about maybe I'd want what was in it written out. The labs are all negative. I'm laughing, I'm crying, I'm praying out loud.

I folded the email, and found my old family album, and turned to a place in it where I could tuck the news, and I swear this is really so. The page I turned to had a picture of when my children were small, when this grown up man was about eight years old, and still played with Tonka toys.

  posted at 11:39 PM  

Sunday, January 07, 2007
When I woke up this morning I had a choice. Get out of bed, or dig deeper under the covers, and doze a while longer. But taking those extra minutes would make me late for Sunday School, and I didn't want to begin the year that way.

Not only that, I had another reason for showing up on time, and giving all of me I could to the Sunday services. I got so happy just thinking about seeing old friends again, and singing familiar songs. But something more important than that needed to be done. Thanks giving, thanking God for taking care of my son.

Many times last week, child like almost, again and again, I asked for reassurance, and the doctors' comments after surgery seemed to seal it. They weren't concerned about it being Cancer. Gary has a chance to live. So I had some serious thanks giving to do, and I did.

Sunday School was about the life of Jonathan. Interesting, some of the battle tactics they used back then, Simple, but effective. Sunday preaching was good, and the singing so welcome. While in Grand Junction I missed these worshipers and their friendliness, and the songs.

Later we enjoyed a pot luck gathering where we could visit more, and finally, I learned who my Secret Sister was, a very special friend.

Before attending church I had talked with my son, and knew he was allright, and on his way home from the hospital. So, after church I drove more heavily snow packed roads to his place, and we visited a while.

No matter how old a child of yours gets, I think it still is a shock, seeing a long row of sutures on the side of their face. Gary has those, and more, and a drainage tube to deal with, but seems to doing allright with it all. What bothered him most, even though it made pain easier to bear, was that a nerve in the area of his ear was affected by the surgery, and causes numbness.

But he had a good attitude, and then shared some very good news. He said he's quit smoking, and seemed quite serious it's a done deal. He showed me health care stuff from his doctor, and mentioned things the doctor had said, and all I could think as he spoke of it was Thank You Lord, even if you had to scare him to get him to quit!

As you may or may not know, I'm an ex smoker, and could go on and on about it, but will give you a break, and not. Maybe some other time I could write about it more.

Wanting to help, I asked if I could get him anything he needed, and his answer was so humble. I guess I should mention he's six feet, four. Another brother recently put together a computer for him, and Gary's enjoying it, but needs a desk chair. As soon as I can get to stores that might have one that fits him better, I will. Think that would be a better gift than candy, or flowers. Can you see where daughter, Bev at Blessed Beyond Measure, may get her practicality from.

Today I learned two very important things. One, that children can teach us. A friend's little girl told me people need ten hugs a day. If that's so, I'm in very good shape because, number two, I thought a few of the people at church liked me a little, but never imagined how glad they were to see me today. It was just hugs and smiles all over the place.

So listen to what a little child may say, and give a hug or squeeze a hand when you can. If this is what coming home feels like, it would almost be worth repeating the trip.

  posted at 10:30 PM  

Friday, January 05, 2007
Coming Through The Storm
The last time I wrote here it was almost Christmas. While waiting for it, I packed for a move back to Denver, and as the days dwindled down to what felt like a crawl, I bravely mapped out good intentions for the next year, and posted them for all to read.

Not only was I eager for a brand new year, I thought I was ready for the next part of my life. Remember an old song that goes something about seasons, then "turn, turn, turn". Perhaps in younger bravery I imagined that described me.

I do understand trouble and pain eventually touches us all. I understand that, and know it's because of our broken places that we become stronger. As a nurse I've seen many people plagued with illneses and diseases that changed how they lived. While I reveled in turning, turning, turning as my years race by, my patients hardly heard the music of their lives anymore, but it goes on.

If you listen you may hear it, in unexpected places. I think I heard a strain of it as each little mountain town disappeared behind the uhaul trailer. I know for sure when I saw the wrap around panorama of the Rockys, notes grew bolder. Emotions tucked safely where they wouldn't allow hurt, broke free and melded. I was turn, turning again, as I've done many times, but this time it was for Denver. Most of me was more than happy, but not all. There was that part that wanted to hug daughter, Barb one more time, and hear the words about leaving we couldn't say.

As I unlocked the door to what would be my new home, notes danced around me. The only sadness or concern was for unanswered questions about a son. He would have surgery soon, and the possibility of Cancer hovered.

A few years ago our family buried another son. I still had the black dress I wore to his funeral. As I upacked it and hung it in my new closet, I looked at it, and wondered who in our family will die next. I hugged the velvety feel of it to my face, and as respectfully as I could say it, told God I'm not ready to lose another son.

Then I straightened the dress on a hanger, and shuddered a little, and shoved it farther down a closet rod. I don't like feeling so morbid, but it was the first time I'd allowed my sadness and fear about my son to turn even slightly in my brain.

Through the holidays I focused on anything happy I could grab hold of. Children playing at the mall. Grownups shopping. Christmas songs pealing out from tapes a daughter sent. A little great grandson tearing into a present, then crawling into the box it came in. Opening a gift and finding a Willlow tree carving.
Looking out the window of my new apartment, and realizing someone had cleared lots of snow off my car.

Grief and heartache has visited this family before, and will again, but tonight there's happiness and thanksgiving. My son had his surgery today, and the doctors say there's no cancer. I have to wonder if some kind of miracle took place. An awful lot of people in various churches prayed for him.

In between the recent storms the snowing stopped, and the roads cleared, more than two hundred miles of it, long enough to get back to Denver. As I write this I suddenly remember Christian friends reminding me, some of them more than once, that they were praying about this trip. Do you suppose........turn, turn.

  posted at 11:22 PM  

About Me
Name: Judith

Location: Colorado

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