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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The miracle of Christmas is not found in the ribbons and bows of gifts left under a tree. The true spirit of the holiday is in receiving the gift of God’s love–even when it appears in an unlikely form.
It was Christmas Eve and for the woman an exhausting year. Incredible joy, replaced with dread and loss. Perhaps it was her search for peace or the bond of one mother to another in shared grief. With a heavy heart the woman sat apart from most of the group gathered. The candlelight service typically intended to inspire each to embrace the gift of God’s Son. The carols of Christmas, the special music and Advent readings took on a greater significance in light of recent violent acts making headlines. As 2014 was winding down many felt pulled to seek the Prince of Peace. In a time of much turbulence there’s comfort in sharing the journey even when there are no words.
The little boy was often seen roaming around the busy church building. Whether a church service or social gathering his interaction was normally limited to a select few. It was not uncommon for him to stay focused on his tablet or a favorite book during the church service–Christmas Eve was no exception. As the service was nearing its end he quietly entered the sanctuary. Mom watched from the platform, not wanting to break the spirit of God moving yet unsure of what to do. Strains of Silent Night now had another voice as the lad sat next to the visitor. His hand tenderly holding hers he sang resting peacefully against her. In that moment she felt love that can fill the emptiness of a broken heart, restore joy that was lost, and bring peace to her harried and anxious soul.
Following the benediction the woman approached the boys mom. Embracing her in a hug she thanked mom for sharing her son. What a Christmas message reminding everyone when we come to the throne of God to say, Thank YOU for YOUR Son.
Wishing you Christmas Blessings on your journey.
Ever spent a week or more traveling with your kids over summer vacation? Amid the many, “Are we there yet?” “I have to go” and “When are we going to be home?” conversations of travel it is no wonder so many parents feel they need a vacation to recover from their family vacation. I recall summer trips to an amusement park with my family. Mom would plan well in advance and sew matching outfits for each of us. Her theory was that it would be easier to keep track of her large brood if we all looked. alike. I don’t ever recall getting separated from them so she may have been on to something…however,
The need for conformity sometimes overshadows the joy that is found in experiencing the journey. There is that sense of security in submission to conformity. Yet, handing over the control of life choices comes at the price of independent thinking. Every action has a reaction all part of the orchestrated plan to reach a defined goal. If you–or I, agree 100% with that desired outcome then all is good and well.
It’s easy to be part of the cultural norm, to follow blindly as sheep are apt to do. Have you ever wondered why humanity in God’s word is compared to sheep? It’s because sheep are dumb followers. Without someone to follow sheep will wander off a cliff. For years I identified with the collective group of sheep. Believing if I did the right things, dressed the right way, etc. it would be pleasing to God. Finding myself thrust outside that fold was devastating. It wasn’t long before I found someone to follow. I was back (or should I say baaa.) inside a fold of a different kind.
Several decades later and I find myself alone. Sadly my life choices fail to meet the standards of some “folds”. My expectations of the fold mentality have somewhat diminished. The journey is all I have. Those who travel on my same path and getting from point A to point B in my travels is up to me–choosing to enjoy as much as possible of each day of this journey. That continues to be my hope for the coming year. Travel well.
No matter your age there is nothing quite like opening a box of new crayons and spend time enhancing the pages of a new coloring book. Wouldn’t it be great if discovering your purpose in life was as easy as selecting the right crayon? Most of us started out like a box of new crayons…bright, whole and sharp. Unlike crayons we are not labeled with clues as to our purpose. Brick red, sky blue a host of yellows from buttercup to saffron.
Tightly clutched in eager fingers causes some of the favorite colors to weakened and break. Others after finding their way to the floor may be stepped on and added to the broken pile. The broken pile is the death sentence in the life of the crayon. No one seems eager to use those coloring implements that require the extra effort of removing the wrapper in order to be used. Attempting to use a “built in” sharpener that is included in some boxes is also problematic due to the shortened condition of the crayon. Somehow as the points wear down the novelty wears off.
There are now a vast number of “extra” colors. Forget the primary 8 colors originally sold in 1903, or the secondary and tertiary colors in the box of 48 from my school days. Crayons now come in a host of unique shades. (there is even a Crayola crayon color called INCHWORM)
Over the years, surprisingly, there have been relatively few name changes, “Flesh” one of the original 48 was changed to PEACH. “Prussian Blue” became MIDNIGHT and “Indian Red” became CHESTNUT. Regardless of the name there seem to be a certain percentage of colors that for whatever reason remained in the back of the box unused.
Feeling like a crayon is an apt description of my life. Some days I feel sharp, bright, alert and ready to get started on a project or two. Sometimes I feel squeezed, pressured and ready to snap while on others I may feel worn down but satisfied–a sense of accomplishment at a job well done. There are crayons with names that are confusing–did you need BLUE VIOLET or VIOLET BLUE? Much like the diagnoses of Fibromyalgia, since it encompasses nerve, joint and muscle. (Or misleading, like those students surprised to discover the crayon labeled Indian Red was named for the soil in India and not a commentary on Native American skin tones.)
Friends, don’t judge everyone by what you see on the surface. Just like that box of crayons there are nuances, complexities and diversities in every soul, if given the chance. Remember, no one wants to be discarded or “left in the box” Take the time to experience all the colors life has to offer. May the sunset of your life be a vivid reminder of living and loving the journey.