Did I Miss the Parade?

I really don’t mind missing a parade. I know today is July 4 and a parade comes naturally to mind. For some it’s a tradition and a fun way to celebrate. Watching the parade implies appreciation for those passing by and what they represent. If your own child is in the parade, all else fades and you have one focus.

I’ve never been eager to attend a parade. It seems to me that you have to get there way too early if you want a good seat. There also seems to be a need to carry way too much stuff like chairs, umbrellas, blankets, water, food and possibly a dog. Then, you add all that goes with transporting a pet.

This year I am blessed as no one has invited me to watch a parade.

But, I have been intrigued these last few days with Colossians 2:15  “Then Jesus made a public spectacle of all the powers and principalities of darkness, stripping away from them every weapon and all their spiritual authority and power to accuse us. And by the power of the cross, Jesus led them around as prisoners in a procession of triumph. He was not their prisoner; they were his!    (Passion Translation)

Was there a parade that celebrated the victory of Jesus when He rose from the dead?

Is that parade still marching?

Maybe I need to go to this parade today and celebrate that my battle has been won!!!

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My Morning Gift

I have been expecting to see a doe and a baby fawn in our backyard. It usually happens in the spring.

A few days ago, my hope was realized as a mother doe walked carefully through the trees followed by a fawn. But the fawn was much larger than I had expected and was actually acting as though it had become acquainted with the world.

BUT THEN, another doe stepped forward and watched intently as her tiny spotted baby ran in circles, delighted that he could run, kicking his heels, leaping in the air and celebrating life.

I wondered if this was the first time he had space to discover the delight of being himself.

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False Reading…Please Try Again

Before I get to the point of this post, I need to share some of the background thoughts that have led to this moment of awareness.

As a nurse, although my practice dates decades, I have a distinct memory of learning various assessment techniques. In each case, the placement of the measurement tool is critical. The blood pressure cuff only works when applied correctly. The stethoscope needs to be placed directly over the area of concern.

I imagine most professions learn early in their experience that a measurement is of no value if it isn’t anchored to a secure starting point.

These observations would be too obvious to even write if it were not that they have been helpful to me in an area of spiritual struggle.

My confession is that when worship songs passionately declare that God is good and He never lets you down, I still secretly ponder, “I know He is good and He never lets you down, but I have a brutal picture in my memory of a time when He wasn’t good and He did let me down”. (For those of you who know my story, you will know this is the memory of the brutal death of my friend. For those of you who don’t know my story, this refers to a time when I trusted, really trusted, that my prayers for mercy would be answered in a way I could understand.)

I expect some of you are thinking, “This happened a year and a half ago. Why is she still talking about it?” For this I don’t apologize because it is my honest experience. Last week the grief I thought I had processed came crashing back. That’s my reality.

So, Sunday in corporate worship, I engage in my internal mental dance. I try to push myself into celebrating that God is good and never lets me down. When the picture of this 36 years of unrelenting suffering, that led to a brutal death, comes crashing into my consciousness ,I say to myself, “ I have to choose to trust what God says about Himself and not what I saw happen.”

I surrender my understanding, laying it on the alter, and in its place, embrace His promises. I’ve done this for a long time and it works, to a point, but it is a lot of work.

Then, this Sunday, my spirit encountered a new question. “When you question My goodness (the question was asked gently, knowing I knew that my questioning His goodness was a secret I didn’t even want Him to know), are you measuring in the right place?”

Suddenly, I realized that my struggle to celebrate His goodness was located in the blood stained mobile home where it felt like He left me. Together we moved to the blood stained cross, and He asked me to do my measuring there.

New Reading: My friends Victory was won before her struggle began.

Where do you go to measure God’s goodness?

 

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May I Listen In?

It seems like a bold request that I am making directly to all three Persons of the Trinity.

I am risking this question because of a comment where prayer was described as joining a conversation that is already taking place between the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. So then, my asking to listen in is not an original idea but it is a new step for me.

It’s not that I don’t daily enjoy intimacy with God. I  know that Jesus is interceding for us. It’s stunning to realize that the Designer of the universe is talking to His and our Father about you and about me. I know that the Holy Spirit prays for us in ways that are too deep for us to understand. The very words I am writing are too deep for me to understand but I am taking a step of faith and asking the Trinity if I can listen in as they talk.

I have postured myself in a quiet place and am simply being still; listening intentionally with awe, respect and expectation.

I don’t know if I will actually hear words. I’m wondering, if I do hear words, what language they will be in. I suppose our Father speaks uniquely to each of us in ways he knows we will understand.

My listening now is interrupted by God’s “voice”.

But what I am hearing is not coming to me through words but rather it is a gripping awareness. I am being given a view that I know is through God’s lens. The picture is wrapped in gentleness and intimacy.

He is confiding to me that the people that I love are very precious to Him. Yes, he deeply loves the people that I love.

As I process this I realize that this is all I am going to hear right now.

I feel free to amplify it to mean that the people that I hold close to my heart are also close to God’s heart.

I don’t love you randomly. God has orchestrated our relationship and we are walking together by Divine design.

That means I treat you as a rare and priceless piece of art; a one of a kind creation. It means I treasure you, am careful with you and am grateful to you.

It means I recognize that you are gift from God and I am a channel through which He can love you.

 

 

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Do YOU like it?

For the past few weeks I have been on a mission to make curried butternut squash soup. My passion to do this was launched when my friend, from India, brought me some that she had made.

After tasting it, I knew I would need to have more, but I didn’t want to ask her to keep making more so I decided to learn to make it myself.

This learning process has been grueling for me, but I am also sure that this mentor friend would have found it easier to make more herself than to answer my relentless questions regarding the recipe.

My first batch was a disappointment but not a game stopper. Having “failed” at my first attempt prompted an even greater passion to master the art of making this soup.

I’m proud to say that in addition to learning from my mistakes, I have watched you tube videos, researched the meaning of words that only cooks know, and persisted in texting my teacher/friend about such basic things as how do you split a butternut squash and still have ten fingers.

Well, to my delight, my second batch of curried butternut squash soup tasted as I had dreamed it would. Yes, I had made it myself. Yes, I liked it,

Now, the only other thing I needed was the approval of my teacher.

She came to see me today and before she could get her coat off, I had heated a small dish of this soup and shoved it toward her, asking for her opinion.

She wanted to know if I was wondering how close I had come to the recipe.

No, I said, I just want to know if you like it.

With the grace I have come to expect from this friend she said it was even better than the soup she, herself, made.

As I reflect on my day, it’s not so important to me that I followed the recipe and created a “by the book” product.

What I really wanted to know is if that my TEACHER liked it.

 

 

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Cancel the Dementia Screening

One of the “companions” of aging is the unspoken question, “Am I starting to forget things that I should be remembering?”

This question is a bit comical to me in that, having worked as a pastor in a church, I have observed that “forgetfulness” or “distractedness” is not owned exclusively by any age group.

Children come with a knitted hat and leave without it. Parents of toddlers can’t remember the number of the room their child is assigned, and neither adult women nor adult men can remember what the date is for a seminar they have chosen.

For each of the above, forgetfulness is either taken in stride or used as a reason to laugh at yourself. But, for a Senior, this same level of memory loss points toward a fear of pathology.

For example, I have recently learned to make curried butternut squash soup.  This has been a steep learning curve because I have had to look up the meaning of many of the words from the recipe. I didn’t even know what a butternut squash was. I imagined something the size of a softball. So, when the friend who did my grocery shopping asked what I needed from the store I told her I wanted four (4) butternut squash (as well as the other ingredients that were required for the soup.)

The squash, which I’m sure all my readers already know, is the size of a small baby. My friend, who had done the shopping, assured me they last a long time so I should just keep them all. After putting the other groceries away, I noticed I only had three (3) squash. I assumed I had put the fourth one in the pantry or somewhere.

Since that day, maybe three weeks ago, I have searched everywhere I could imagine for the fourth squash.

I asked myself, on several occasions, “How is it possible to lose a squash the size of a small baby”.  And when I reminded myself that there is no real reason to look where I have looked many times I looked again.

Not willing to leave any stone unturned, I finally asked my grocery shopping friend if when she had brought me the four (4) butternut squash she might have taken one home with her. She casually responded by saying that she had only brought three.

I left the story right there and called in a cancellation for dementia screening.

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End of the Third Quarter

In a few days I will be 75 years old. Another way to say it is that I am beginning my 76th year.  My husband always adds 9 months to his age as he believes life starts at conception. But, however I state my age don’t matter that much.to me. More importantly, I have a desire to mark this event in some way.

I want to find a way to express gratitude for a life of grace and favor. I am aware of being blessed with provision and protection. I am aware of being trusted with the fellowship of suffering. I stand in awe of God choosing me (as He does all believers) to host his Holy Spirit.

There is much to write about that has eternal significance. Knowing that is. in and of itself. too profound for words.

But tonight, I want to write about time. I have often taught that our bodies are tents designed for temporary use.  Unlike perishable food from the grocery we are not stamped with a label that reads “Best if used by…”. In fact, since our spirits do not get old or sick, I know that my most powerful years, spiritually, lie ahead of me.

As I have pondered this next stretch of my journey I am remembering the advice I was given when, at age 70  I prepared for a 70 mile hike: “Fill your backpack with only what you absolutely need; things you could not do without. Then, take half of that out.”

So, I have been asking God to show me what I am carrying that I don’t need. Asking for guidance as to what activities to continue, what relationships to nurture, what spiritual experiences to pursue. How can I posture myself in a way that will lead to an event where I encounter Jesus in a deeper way?

This morning, He tenderly told me I was asking the wrong questions.

Yes, I am beginning the fourth quarter but that doesn’t mean the end is in sight. (There may be an overtime played). It also doesn’t mean that God is suddenly going to provide me with a paradigm for me to follow.

I hear the old familiar advice:

Seek My face, Hold My hand, Follow My footsteps, Hear My voice, Lean your head on My shoulder and listen to My heartbeat.

But, Abba. That’s what you’ve been telling me for the past three quarters.

Then He pulls me closer, “Don’t seek an event”, He whispers, “I am your event”.

 

 

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