28 Apr

I had only attended the Sunday School class for a few weeks. The other students, aside from the friend who included me, knew little of me or my journey. Aside from a few comments I offered little about my path or past. I had made every effort to dress in a manner more conservative than my customary style. However this particular Sunday I chose a thin strapped shirt and long skirt. My shoulders and back were concealed by the light cover up I wore.

At some point the class discussion had turned to tattoos. The teacher and most of the class voiced an immediate dislike of the art form. Not an outright voice of condemnation but close enough to be a second cousin to the thought. As I stood to leave someone said it was nice to have me in the class and hoped I would continue to attend. After removing my cover up and turning I simply said maybe I wouldn’t be welcome displaying the three tattoos on my back. Several people chuckled and assured me my ink made no difference that I was always welcome but what did I imagined God would say about the tattoos. I responded with Rev 19:16. “And He has on His robe and tattooed on His thigh, a name written KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.”

I have met many tattooed individuals and everyone of them has a story to tell about each bit of ink. The grieving mother buries her babe choses to memorializes her angel in ink. The father who has finally kicked his drug addiction tattoos his sobriety date. Others choose uplifting scriptures as a reminder of Gods love. The list is endless.

I’ve read of African customs where tribal members are tattooed following important life events. I found this interesting as my tattoos are my visual of significant life events. My first was a small, yellow, nondescript and unassuming butterfly. It rested on my right shoulder. The life event was simply life. In a moment of untold sadness I attempted to end that life. The tat has grown over the last four years as my life continues to grow and change. It now has many colors to remind me life isn’t the black and white of legalism I had tried for years to attain.

My left shoulder is adorned with a heart with wings. It reminds me of freedom–I am loved by God, I am free to love and be loved by others. It too has been transformed, its color richer than the first. The heart which had become cold and hard was now alive and vibrant.

My life mantra is also inked as the reminder to “Live loving the journey” every day. Would I forget these truths without the tattoos? Not likely. But I have been able to share my journey with total strangers who ask what the ink represents. Open dialogues many from hurting people needing to talk with someone. Yet would probably not set foot in a church. The artwork draws a commonality and opportunity to share. Most are surprised to learn of the scripture stated above from Revelation 19:16.

My friends, if you are struggling while on your journey, don’t give up. More importantly, don’t let criticism over how you look, (where you live, what you’ve done, or where you’ve been) convince you of  your position or importance in God’s family. God loves you as you are. Live loving the journey.


Meets ya on the back Porch

24 Jun

What image does your mind conjure when you think of the wood shed? Could it be one of dread? Many individuals of my generation will equate the wood shed with punishment. How about the kitchen? In your mind is it strictly a place where meals were prepared or is it a time for sharing the events of your day? Did you grow up with a back porch?
I saw a meme the other day that said “all the worlds problems can be resolved by sitting on the back porch shelling peas with Grandma.”
For many the front porch and door was for company while the back for family. If you had a multigenerational home you had the benefit of an extra set of ears to listen and arms to embrace on a bad day. Grandma could tell if you were struggling or hiding something. You learned to show your true self to her. She saw through you anyway. But the “you” shown to visitors or company wasn’t always true.
I fear we’ve lost the wisdom of a fading era. Where the young learned respect for and from their elders. Things like work ethic, morals and putting your best foot forward. We’ve lost that back porch of connectivity to remind us to be honest–to ourself as well as others and that place to run to when your heart was broken.
Is there a back porch to your heart? Do we trade the morally sound mind for the corporately displayed heart? Pushing, pushing until those things held dear are affixed to the back porch door while living the shallow and selfish heart dweller is out front. Dare we trade the wisdoms of the elders for whatever is popular at the moment.
I can think back to when story lines for shows and movies were basically surrounding one race, class and economic demographic. Remembering the buzz when the first show had an African American cast member. Then it seemed every network had to clone the formula. Commercials climbed on the bandwagon and over the years it’s expanded. I hadn’t given it much thought until not long ago an obviously biracial family were featured in an ad for Cheerios. Why this caused some to rethink the concept of “wholesome” that those tasty toasted oh’s represented was insanity.
Similar comparisons have had misplaced concerns. When same sex partners began appearing as regular cast members on sitcoms, dramas and ads many members of the clergy began campaigns to boycott advertisers. I’m not dictating morality–its not my responsibility to be the moral compass for the world. My point is simply this, if we allow the media to bear the sole responsibility for what we expect our children and grandchildren to learn about morality then we’ve abdicated our role. You see, we adults can change the channel, tune out or ignore what’s represented in the media–news, social or any other outlet, while leaving our children no safe ground. It’s no wonder they have become confused in the process.
I am proud of the strong women my daughters have become and the example they are for their own families. As a grandparent I use opportunities to teach my grandchildren the same lessons I taught their parents. Respect for authority. Honesty. Integrity and Love. That hate and violence are never the answer, and that all lives matter–from the unborn to those nearing their journey’s end–and everyone in between. You may choose to disagree. I’m not responsible for what you believe. BUT if you choose to push your agenda on my grandchildren I will take action.
Maybe the meme had it right after all. We need more of Grandma, back porches and shared productivity, and less attention focused on what others think.


No way To the Top

24 Jun

Living on the top floor of an apartment building has its perks. There’s no one above you making noise during the night, rooms are–at least in my building–larger and apartments are further apart on the top floor. And while there are stairs few people use them. That is until the elevator ceases to function. Which is where I’ve found myself for the past five days.
Having a debilitating condition with limited muscle strength, I’ve only managed to make the climb down and back up the stairs once. While the action netted me an afternoon and evening on the couch, heating pad and pillows lending comfort, I am grateful for several things. First and foremost–THE STAIRS! Without them I would truly be stuck. Second I possess the ability to traverse them–albeit limited as it is. And Third, I had assistance of friends making sure I managed the duration.
I am in the minority of those who made the descent. The health limitations, fear of falling, or refusal to even try have caused most to choose to remain where they are. A few happily so–typically the ones who seldom have reason to leave, and others filled with anger and complaint for their imposed inconvenience. The latter playing the blame game of responsibility. Their claims point fingers at the resident who for reasons of her own uses the elevator countless times up and down for no appears reason other than boredom. They blame the management for their imposition–they should have thought a head to the limitations of the device, as if sensing its impending failure–all the while ignoring the fact that the elevator is maintenance every month. The fact of the matter is that the elevator is OLD. We’ve been assured that the necessary parts have been ordered and the device will be working just as soon as it can be made safe for occupants.
Ode to the accomplishments of the elevator which has conveyed the occupants of the building for decades. I’m sure the device has been down in the past. In my few years this is the first time it has failed so epically. Yes, I’ve been stuck a few times. In my desire to get to the top quicker than it was able to do so was disappointing. Sharing the elevator meant stopping at a floor other than mine reveals the elevators lack of favoritism–all occupants are treated equally. No amount of pushing the UP button will improve the operation of the device. Eventually it gets to where it is needed to be. Lastly…if you’re unhappy with the service TAKE THE STAIRS! Yes, it means working harder. I’m reminded of a previous blog. After comparing a friends steps to an upper level as “The steps from hell” I can still hear her response of, “but your ass is gonna look great.” every time I complained.
Life is like an elevator. It has ups and downs. It’s shared with others. Sometimes it leaves you stuck for awhile. And when life seems to be limiting you, it may just be making you a better person for your efforts. So my friends and fellow travelers, if your journey is interrupted, stuck or moving full speed ahead–Live Loving the Journey.

Will be Good to Be Home

15 Jan

Having traveled away from The Lone Star State much of the last year, has increased my world view. Since I enjoy meeting new people the travels have been a great opportunity to “people watch.” I’ve discovered a plethora of material to blog about–assuming I will stay still long enough to write, that is.
While I’m still traveling I was back in Texas for a brief stay and had the opportunity to attend a Ranch Rodeo. What follows are some of my observations.

Regardless of which side of the 2nd Amendment your opinions and loyalty fall some things lately have me shaking my head. I was appalled when The five year old who bit his breakfast pop tart into a gun shape was suspended–from KINDERGARTEN! Recently my grandson was suspended for making his fingers into a gun pose while avoiding in his words the “bad finger”. Are these imagined weapons any more dangerous than the paper towel tube light sabers? (Yes, I’ve seen the newest STAR WARS movie and it may have influenced my writing) Still I shake my head. Thinking this would not happen where I live.

So I experienced my very first ranch rodeo. (Now the phrase, “Not my first rodeo” has a bit more clarity to me.) My companion explained how the working class cowboy took opportunities to hone skills at roping, cutting and branding while displaying his prowess for the ladies. Much smaller than the circuit rodeos these events, preceded the larger counterpart, fostered good natured competition among ranchers appreciative of some down time. The smell of brisket with a side of the more earthy scent of horse flesh. Families came together for some well deserved food, fellowship and fun. I can almost see the shadow of a bygone era of the cowboy dancing with his girl in his arms as the evening wound down.
As we were leaving the sun setting low I reflected on what I had seen. The vast array of cowboy hats, some sporting the summer weight straw while others the felt variety. Although many event coordinators have canceled out of fear from ISIS, demonstrators or violence, not here. Side by side advancing together this was an even playing field. No racial slur uttered, no political correctness debate and as the colors passed by hats were removed out of respect for God and country. No one protested as the prayer was given asking the Lord to lend His approval and protection to the day’s activities. Texas at its best. As a transplanted Texan and several attempts at moving elsewhere, I’m thinking it/ might just be the best place for me to be. Live loving the journey my fellow travelers.

Can You Hear Me?

3 Jan


The Christmas trees and other decorations of the season are being packed away for another year. Hallmark’s Christmas movie marathon of Christmas tales replaced with stories centering on love. Keep the lines of communication open the whole year through.

The little girl was filled with excitement and wonder—it was Christmas Eve. No she wasn’t excited at the anticipation of that jolly fat man in red—she wanted to hear her animals speak. Having heard the tale of the first nativity of how the barn animals being the first to greet the Christ child were given the gift of speech. She just knew if she were there, at midnight on Christmas Eve, she would hear them speak again.

What would they have to say? She already knew they were great listeners, she often poured out her heart to the animals, and in their own way they answered her. Yet to actually speak…that would be wonderful.

Bundled against the winter’s cold she trudged through the darkness, singing with the sweet innocence of childhood faith, “I wonder as I wander out under the skies…” On she walked through the pasture and into the barn. Overturning a bucket she sat—and waited.

No, she never heard an audible voice from them—but she did gain a keen awareness of all living things. Her love and devotion to all of God’s creatures was evident in how they responded to her voice. Regardless of whether it was an excited canine or a beast of labor—they understood one another.

We are all part of God’s great creation. Man created in the very image of God. Yet, mankind is often as unprepared in their abilities and understanding of one another as that little girl was to communicate with the barn animals in her language. It was only by spending time with those animals and observing their nature that she grew to sense what they needed.

Time consuming…? Most definitely it was not learned overnight…or was it? Did God in His great wisdom answer that child’s prayer to hear the animals speak—not in her language as she had assumed would happen…but in theirs? Perhaps that is why she, now as a grown woman, admits to feeling more comfortable in the barn than surrounded by people.

God wants us to be that comfortable with His presence that we may slip into it in an instant. It is His desire to commune with us daily…not just on Sundays or special occasions–or when we need something. He wants us to listen for His voice and learn what pleases Him. All God desires from us is a listening heart and an honest response.

The Wall of Remembrance

28 Apr

One thing Texans are good at is remembering. Perhaps most famous being the cry of “Remember the Alamo.” The lot across the street from my apartment had been vacant for quite awhile. I had heard through the small town grapevine that it would be a place honoring veterans. It didn’t surprise me to see flags for each branch of the military erected. Little by little the corner lot was nearing completion. Walking past the street corner the other day I noticed a flurry of activity. A group of volunteers working to prepare the lot for grass seed.
I was curious to see the granite structure dominating the corner. On it were inscribed the names of every member of the community to serve in the military. I mistakenly referred to the structure as a memorial. No, no I was told, this is a Remembrance Wall a tribute to the living as well as the dead. It was then I noticed the blank slots waiting to be filled with names of future military personnel.
“You see, Ma’am this here is written in stone how proud we are of those who serve and protect our freedom. We teach our children we still have something worth fighting for.”
Flags flying, a park bench anchored to the ground, I was beginning to catch the vision of small town pride. The crew scattered grass seed and straw doing their best to have grass growing in the lot surrounding the marker. I joked mentioning the local canines would be seeking out the grass by summer. The gentleman was quick to point out the video surveillance cameras that would serve to enforce security issues as well as the ordinance regarding pet waste.
“We Texans won’t take (expletive) from anyone!”
Still living and loving the journey–and realizing more and more that “Ya Don’t Mess with Texas!”

My Aha Moment

27 Apr

Have you ever struggled with a concept or a relationship that just seemed like you were the only participant ? There comes a time when you have to decide if your contribution is worth the effort. The underpaid employment opportunity that never panned out to the promises. You believed the travel agent only discovering the vacation came no where near the hype.
When danger is immanent we protect what we value. Yesterday’s tornado revealed what the folks in my building valued…pets and pet food including bottled water and potty pads were taken to the lowest level to weather the storm. Later, after the danger had passed, cel phone messages were answered letting family and friends know their status.
My “aha” moment came as I, unable to make it to the designated downstairs safe zone remained the soul person on the third floor…and had not been missed. It was a sobering thought. Of course family, local and afar, were aware I was safe. Yet. I did some deep thinking in the hours that followed about my priorities.
Today I’m still recovering from the back injury that sidelined me yesterday. Doing some reevaluating from my comfy couch. I have had one visitor today and she was seeking chocolate. No, she hadn’t realized I wasn’t in the safe zone yesterday…but can be forgiven since she’s blind.
So a little battle weary I continue living and loving the journey…just a little wiser. Perhaps the road ahead is about to turn.

Don’t Cry Over Spilt…COFFEE!

19 Mar

It had been a difficult night. Finally, after claiming a few short hours of sleep I welcomed my morning dose of caffein. Loading my coffee maker with water and the appropriate amount of coffee I stepped into the living room to continue chatting with a neighbor. This has been my routine first thing most every morning. I welcomed the first aromatic scent of the fragrant brew. You can imagine my surprise at discovering the entire contents of my morning brew rapidly spreading all over the kitchen counter descending to the floor. You see I had all the elements of my morning beverage–unfortunately, I neglected to place the cup under the spout. It’s like that meme, “Now that I finally got it together I don’t know where I put it.”
Luckily my coffee maker only brews a single (large) cup at a time and my neighbor and I had it cleaned up rather quickly. It was only a matter of a few minutes before I had a fresh cup of coffee. I refused to let the incident define my day but it’s doubtful I will make that mistake again.
How often have you made the effort to take care of a life issue but fallen short of success because you failed to follow one piece of instruction? The lavish dinner you planned but forgot to defrost the main dish. How about starting the washing machine and forgetting to load in the laundry? My mother-in-law admitted to making the most beautiful looking Lemon Meringue Pie but by forgetting to put the lemon in made it rather tasteless.
Our lives are made up of life lessons. What we do with those lessons determines the outcome. Some will spend so much effort trying to be perfect that they accomplish very little and are never satisfied. Others play the game of claiming someone else is responsible, its never their fault. The most damaging are those individuals that live their lives looking back. By keeping their focus on yesterdays calamity they never learn to live for today. My friends and fellow travelers I encourage you to live loving the journey to the fullest every day. Stop crying over spilt coffee.

Are you in a RELATIONSHIP with your Toothbrush?

9 Jan

I find myself trying to explain how I make decisions based on my relationship with God and how it compares to a religion about God. As my followers can attest–anything is fair game to a writer. That said…

There has been much debate about the term “religion” in the role of its followers. Jihad extremist’s violent attacks, suicide bombers, self denial. Even the peaceful protest for the unborn all claim a sense of spiritual direction from their leader to do what they do in hopes of being “good enough” to receive blessings from God.

I pose the question Do you brush your teeth every day and if so Why? Most will respond a resounding YES! Of course you do–and think everyone should. You have encouraged your children to brush diligently every day. (One might say you brush your teeth “religiously.”) Not in a desire to please the all powerful Tooth God with blind obedience. You prefer the outcome of your actions (fresh breath, strong teeth, bright smile, their role in speaking clearly) to the actions of not brushing (decay, lose, pain) Brushing your teeth every day is a habit–a very good habit. One you cultivate because you desire a good result. Does this mean you are in a relationship with your toothbrush? Of course not. Your adherence to the rules of proper dental health care is to receive/avoid a specific outcome.

Many individuals serve their God in much the same manner…obedience out of habit or fear of retaliation. Activities like church attendance, prayer, self denial, behavior modifications all performed because they have been taught to obey or face damnation. I know I did. For years I did all the “right” things living on a form of Christian autopilot. I knew all the songs, read the scriptures every day, prayed before bed and meals and for the lost…all the while hoping for the promised outcome for my obedience. And I did it so well I convinced myself it was the only way to live. Yet it lacked sincerity and joy. Even though I had risen to the rank of a licensed preacher I was a fraud

To remedy this I had to start all over, reevaluate motive, question every action. It was imperative I remove myself from the “churchy” situations–it would have been so easy to slip back into old habits. Only by breaking those habits was I able to establish an honest relationship with God.

Today, my choice to be part of the Christian faith is not one made out of fear but love. I no longer feel obligated to embrace every aspect of church life. I have a relationship with my loving God. I have fellowship with Him through prayer. I praise Him openly and often and I know HE is with me on my journey. My friends, stop the struggle. Live loving the journey and every time you brush your teeth use that time to thank God for his willingness to have a relationship with you.

Finding Comfort

3 Jan

Happy New Year! My new year has started off with a resounding BANG!!! And not from the anticipated midnight fireworks. Rather in the form of an emergency appendectomy. Which is how I find myself now with a plethora of new blog material while recuperating in a Texas hospital.
Day three post operative has afforded me the opportunity to observe and compare several differing nursing philosophies and styles.. the seasoned veteran of the profession provided a glimpse at how everything worked together especially when starting a new IV proved problematic. Trying to tame the IV pump seeming to manufacture its own bubbles provided multiple parties the chance to show their expertise each time the wail of the machine sounded.
Male to female, young or mature, trainee to seasoned, I’ve had them all. Regardless the status each with the same goal–that of assisting my body in the healing process.
One particular participant, a trainee from outside the US proved interesting. Her attention to detail aided by the many notes she used made very sure I was stable before standing and had an adequate amount of space to move about before leaving me to stand alone. We chuckled together at the foibles and faux pas as she learned the ropes of patient care. Her repeated query as to my “comfort” had me mystified until I realized she was asking if I needed to use the bathroom. Suddenly it made sense. She had no frame of understanding of the room designated as a place to relieve oneself of urine other than to consider its ability to comfort an overly full bladder.
Consider that we often refer to said room as a “bathroom” yet not to bathe, a “restroom” in which we do not rest or by a male nomenclature.
I hope as we commence our journey in a new year we might all find a sense of comfort. Comfort at the knowledge the year has no baggage, offers the opportunity to start fresh and brings with it joy of new beginnings. Keep humor close at hand as I most certainly will at least for awhile each time I enter my “comfort room.” Live loving the journey, my friends, and smile.