Body of Christ · Emotions · Faith · Family · Fear · Lost · Musings

Baby, Don’t Mess with Your Mama’s Posse of Crazy Jesus Women!

File:Haynes new guide and motorists' complete road log of Yellowstone National Park (1922) (14781067312).jpg

My buzzing phone broke my train of thought. It was a recorded call letting me know that a student in my household had missed 6th block at the high school. Perplexed, I glanced at my watch and realized it was well after 4 p.m. He hadn’t kissed me when he got home. I hate it when he does that. I unearthed myself from under my laptop and other paraphernalia on my comfy chair – which is no small feat- and walked to his room. He wasn’t there. Nor was his backpack.  Very strange.

I texted him to ask him where he was. Two minutes. No answer. I dialed his number. “You have reached…” I hang up. What I had reached was botheration. I texted him again “I need to hear from you now!” Nothing.

This wasn’t like him. I texted his buddy. He hadn’t seen him. I called the school bus company. The driver had driven by our stop a while ago but he wasn’t on the bus. Okay. We have a problem. I dialed the school. It was after hours. I texted his dad that I was freaking out a little because the kid wasn’t home yet. I was heading to the school.

I drove the  busy 7 miles in a minute and a half. A few kids were milling around aimlessly. The building was locked but I slipped in as a student walked out. I waved at the janitor busy inside and let him know I was missing a kid. He let me into the office to speak to the secretary.

“We’re closed!” She informed me firmly.

“Yeah, and I’m missing a kid.” I added, matching her firmness.

“Oh dear,” she said as she looked him up on her desktop. “Well he was 7th and 8th block.” That was good news. At least he hadn’t cut class and skipped the bus. She did an ‘All Call’ over the intercom and announced that he should come to the office if he was in the building. Nothing. We ran through different scenarios. Nothing. Presently she needed to leave and lock down the office.

I walked outside, panic mounting, to meet his dad who had arrived at the school on his way home from work. On the way I texted two of my friends that he was missing and asked for prayer. Immense peace washed over me. I knew that in no time I’d be bathed in prayer and support. I caught his dad up to speed, concluding, “I guess this is where I call the police.” They had to catch the bad guys before they dismembered my baby.

A kind dispatcher took the report. “No, he has never ran away before. This isn’t like him… He’s wearing…” This is a nightmare. What on earth? I didn’t know what t-shirt he was wearing but everything else I nailed to a T.

“An officer will call you back.”

I paced for 20 minutes while his dad drove around slowly. I imagined him hollering his name out the window from time to time like one does for a lost puppy. I spoke my mantra. “I trust you lord, I trust you lord. With tears in my eyes and a knot in my heart, I trust you Lord.” Where is my baby?? I found a good photo to show the officer – if he’d ever get here or call me!! Yes this one will be a good one on the 5 o’clock news. What am I saying? What will I do all night. I had flashbacks of Kyron who completely mysteriously disappeared from school years ago, never to be found again.

Mid-stride at one point, I decided to go through our thread of texts.  The one from yesterday was precious. He had me laughing so hard. I scrolled back in time and my heart stopped – there buried from days ago, was my sweet baby’s responsible request to stay after school on Thursday for a friend’s soccer game, followed by his awesome mother’s response that of course he could. Followed by an “I love you.”

Oh Hannah you are a dimwit. I wanted to die. This was as good a place as any for that. I called his dad and told him to go to the soccer field. I called the police and ate crow while I cancelled the report and turned myself in for buffoonery. I cancelled the  prayer chain and confessed my idiocy. I could hear the communal mama sigh of relief.

His dad called me. I answered immediately. “You need to get over here. Turn south on B and pull into the parking lot just past the soccer field.”

There, fooling around with his buddies, wearing his Joe-cool sunglasses and his signature black baseball cap from New Zealand, was my little man. I’ve never been happier to see him. He wouldn’t have known by my demeanor. My bowels growled and I wanted to pass out. I asked him where the bathroom was. Fortunately he needed to go too.

I recounted my woes on the way. He laughed his head off. “That’s not funny, but that’s really funny, mum.”

“Funny.” Now there’s a word  I hadn’t thought of in all my consternation.

As I got text after comforting text while sitting on his bed later that evening, he marveled, “how many people knew about this?”

“Oh baby, don’t mess with your mama’s posse of crazy Jesus women. We crawl down from the hills when there is any distress, my love, like a thunderous herd of buffalo. We come.”

Image retrieved from: File:Haynes new guide and motorists’ complete road log of Yellowstone National Park (1922) (14781067312).jpg

From Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

 

 

Fall · Musings · Nature · Poetry

Nature’s Free for All

 

beaded beads blur bubble
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

If you wake up early enough,

You’ll be treated to visible spider webs.

Everywhere.

Delicate strength,

Laden with dew,

Dancing for you,

Swinging, inviting your hair to romance.

They’ll court you this Fall

Bejeweled like pearls,

They’ll adorn your curls.

They’ll drape your neck,

You’ll scream, “what the heck?”

And bat away at nature’s free for all.

Insomnia · Musings · Poetry · Thankfulness

From Sigh to Thanks to Snore

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I lay awake at 2.36 a.m. and got to thinking that time spent marveling is better than time spent sighing.

I yawned luxuriously, and it struck me, slowly, sleepily, that I was grateful for my mouth –

for my upper and lower lip,

my upper and lower jaw,

my 27 teeth (sans wisdom teeth and the one I sacrificed to the roasted banana gods). Thank you for my tongue, my salivary glands, the hard and soft parts of the roof of my mouth, and for my uvula.

Thank you for my nose – my nose hairs, my septum, my columella and sinuses.

Thank you for ears –  my lobes, my pinna – which is my reading glasses holder, and my wet-willy canal. Thanks for my ear drum, hammer, stapes, and anvil. Thanks that I no longer grow mushrooms in my ears.

I am thankful for my eyes – my upper and lower eye-lids, my lashes, and eye-brows. Thank you for my iris, my cornea, my optic nerve and disc, my aqueous  and vitreous humors, my fovea, my caruncle, and my retina.

Thank you for my brain’s frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes; my corpus callosum, my septum, amygdala, and pituitary gland; my sulci & gyri; my Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area, my white and grey matter; my hypothalamus,  pineal gland, hippocampus, and reticular activating system; my pons, my medulla, my cerebellum

My peduncle, my great-uncle…

Sorry if I forgot any parts… or put them… in the… wrong… place… snore…

Drama · Musings · Walmart

My Dumb-Ass Moment of the Day

There’s a reason I need to take naps every day. Driving home from scouts this evening, I told my son, ” The sunset is phenomenal. Does that cloud look like an angry cash slot? I’m so sad that it’s getting late earlier and earlier.

“You mean it’s getting dark earlier and earlier,” he corrected smugly, which earned him a jab in the ribs for being a smartacus.

I was still reeling from my experience at Walmart an hour prior. One just never knows what’ll happen at Walmart. I made it to the check-stand after picking up a handful of items I needed. I like self-checking. I hold my item this way and that, and I’m rewarded with the familiar beep before I bag it. When my shopping cart was empty, I pulled my credit card from my wallet. I looked around the checking contraption which looks like an arcade toy, circus-like noises and lights to boot.  I slid my card into one of the flashing slots, its landing lights showing me exactly where to go. I would have graduated the University of Walmart with flying colors.

No sooner did my card dock, than I realized it was in the cash slot. ‘Shoot!’ I thought. I reached out to grab it and the arcade monster sucked it in spitefully before I could stop it. Said machine started to grind and sputter. The light on the top started flickering and calling a code. A pregnant woman on aisle 9 passed out. ‘Shoot, shoot!’ I said, breaking into a cold sweat.

The attendant manning the self-check area came running. He was young enough to be my grandson.

“I accidentally put my card in the  cash slot,” I said, pointing to the offending opening. It licked its lips in mockery, then heaved for dramatic effect and threatened to hurl. 

“Oh freak! Not the cash slot,” Josh gasped. His hand hit his forehead to help him assess the situation. “Oh freaking grand!” His calculations showed it wasn’t good.

“Oh shoot,” I added helpfully.

He took off in a dead panic towards customer service. Two steps later he spun around and crashed into the gum display. “This isn’t good,” he was saying, both hands now on his head. He lurched to a stop 2 aisles down as though there was an electric fence that he’d  had a previous personal encounter with. He stuck his head this way and that, up and over the electric fence, muttering in his panic. He was trying to get someone’s attention but they were way over there. Obviously, the only thing worse than my felony was for him to leave his station unmanned.

“Can I go get someone?” I offered.

“Yes, quickly. Go over there and call Kayla,” he was hyperventilating. A massive blood vessel was pulsating on his temple.

‘Now what have I done?’ I said to myself, taking off in a sprint towards customer service. As soon as I got there, I heard him yelling, “Kayla, Kayla!”

I spun around and saw a bright yellow vest approaching him from the opposite direction. He waved me down and I darted back their way, my heart in my mouth. Now I’d done it.

I found him trying to find words to convey to Kayla, “This…” he threw his exasperated hands in my direction, “this… lady… oh my God, … she accidentally, oh freak!” A voice-crack escaped his frantic mouth, and the machine belched fire.

I stepped up to help him, expecting her to pull out her wooden yard stick and rap my fingers or chase me around the store beating me with it. (Parents, don’t send your children to Catholic school.)

I gulped. “I put my credit card in the cash slot.” This was not how I’d envisioned the end but I stepped forward bravely, closed my eyes, and tilted my head so she could slice it off with her yardstick. The machine ground the card to shreds and started to smoke and shake like a pot-bellied stove.

She pulled out the biggest pile of keys from her back pocket as she clicked the piercings in her lips. She has 3 on the top lip and 2 on the bottom.

“Let’s see here,” she muttered, opening the crocodiles mouth with a tiny key. Nothing there. She slammed that shut and opened another panel, lined with circuit boards and more lights. Nothing.

“Oh no,” said voice-crack. “This can’t be good.”

Kayla slammed that shut with a shu-shunk, and opened a third compartment. There minding its own little business, sat my credit card like a polite Catholic school girl.

“Oh thank you Jesus! Thank you Kayla!” I exclaimed and almost hugged her. “No problem,” she smiled and waved at someone else who was yelling her name across the store. Who knows what another idiot customer had done.

“Oh, oh, oh man,” said Josh, clutching his chest and holding onto the check stand for much needed support. “Wow, that could have been really, really bad!”

Kayla pushed the “I solved the problem” button and the arcade machine started playing circus music and blowing bubbles for all the happy children. I swallowed my heart back into its spot, grabbed my bags, and handed one to Josh to breath into.

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Amazing sunset today. Kinda looks like a monster card-eating cash-slot, eye and all.

Entering the World · Letting Go · Musings · Parenting

My Cry for the Day

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It’s 8 a.m. and I’ve had my cry for the day.

At 5 a.m. I gave my beloved a sleepy goodbye kiss as he left for work. At 6 a.m. I heard a familiar clomp, clomp, clomp. It’s my older man-child. He has his father’s heavy stomp and wears heavy shoes to boot. Back and forth. And back and forth. I knew what that meant.

Nerves. Today is the first day of school at his new high school. He’ll be entering as a sophomore after 2 amazing years of home-schooling. I walk out of my bedroom and find him fully dressed, backpack on, popping his knuckles.

“Hi, love.” I venture, smiling.

“Hi mum,” He smiles nervously. “I know. I got ready too early.”

The bus won’t be here for another 2 hours. I hug him and  hold on a little longer than he would like. He spent yesterday settling into a new bedroom and that’s kept him busy. He’s a minimalist and all his few belongings are quickly finding their place in his new space. I keep marveling at how much he has changed. His arms are manly, sculpted. When did that happen. His deep voice resonates deep within me. His hairy legs and feet grow by the day. His sense of humor kills me. He loves 70’s music. Who is this man calling me mum?

He feels sick and wants to throw up but he can’t. I suggest toast but he wants nothing to eat. His lunch is already packed. He keeps looking at the clock.  It’s going to be a long 2 hours. I center him in the Lord to calm his nerves. I have him read Ps. 91 and Ps. 121, slowly, prayerfully. I tell him to lean on the Holy Spirit for guidance, direction, and companionship. At one point I sit with him in his room and chat. He is making a soda can tab bracelet. I love to watch him work.  He’s such a beautiful child. I’m going to miss him.

I tell him how much I cherished working with him the last 2 years and what a great kid he is. I tell him how blessed the high school is to have him and what a joy he’ll be in people’s lives. He smiles his little smile and keeps his eyes on mine. He’s killing me.

The hours feel like 15 minutes to me. No, he doesn’t want me to walk him to the bus. He’s popping his knuckles again. God, he’s beautiful. He grabs his back pack. Something deep within my heart is heaving. Upturning. I hug and kiss him at the door. I slap his back and tell him to have a great day. I shut the door. I shut my stinging eyes and the dam breaks.

I stand at the picture window. There he goes down the dirt road. Confident, determined, nervous, beautiful, trusting, brilliant, self-assured. Who is this man? Where is he going? Go get ’em kid!

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Green · Meditation · Musings · New · Water

III b. The Shepherd and WiFi – A Meditation on Psalm 23 (v. 2a)

Oregon Green

“He makes me lie down in green pastures.”

Image result for public domain oregon woods and river

I live in Oregon, one of the most verdant places on earth. Green screams of abundance of life and lavish nourishment. Everywhere I look in the Willamette valley I see opulent forests and flourishing farmscapes.  The emerald treetops of towering firs and giant cedars whistle in the wind and tickle the clouds. Their enormous legs burrow deep into our decadent soil and wiggle their toes in luxurious viridian waters. Squirrels and chipmunks scamper and frolic across trickling sea-green streams, while elk bugle to the roar of mighty rivers and waterfalls. 

Green inspires deep-breath and rest. Lush meadows invite those that stroll by to sit and lay down their load and might reward them with a mama deer cautiously guiding her young to a clear pool at dusk. A playful breeze cavorts with chartreuse  grasses. Hikers scramble over massive fallen logs rotting on the ground and proffering new life from their musty old-growth. New growth is everywhere as new sprouts, young salmon, and baby robins pop their fresh heads to greet the earth. Green is alive and life-giving. It means water is present in abundance, under-girding all the growth and sustaining life.

Such is our God. Constantly making new things and birthing new works in us. He is continually ridding us of old ways that no longer become us and sprouting new desires and fresh attitudes in us. A healthy heartscape is like an Oregon garden, constantly regenerating and changing. As Lewis Carroll said, I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then. To hike in the woods today is to have a completely different experience than the exact hike yesterday. Today, is a new day. New chance. New hope. New life. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation: The old has gone, the new is here!” (1) Today, I get a new beginning. I am a new woman!

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.” (2) 

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
 They are new every morning;  great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;  therefore I will wait for him.” (3) 

Be green!


Image retrieved 6/1/19 from:

https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/wood-river-headwaters-upper-klamath-basin

(1) 2 Corinthians 5:17

(2) Titus 3:3-7 

(3) Lamentations 3:22-24

Green Pastures · Meditation · Musings · Preschoolers · Rest · The Heart · Training · WiFi

IIIa. The Shepherd and WiFi – A Meditation on Psalm 23 (v. 2a)

My Heart, the Three-year-old

“He makes me lie down in green pastures”

My heart reminds me of a 3 year old: full of life and vim, silly, willful, curious, always learning, trusting, playful, quirky, clueless, undaunted, spirited, and busy – oh so busy.

The 3-year-old is certain they know everything, including the well-known fact that streets are perfectly safe to play in. These citizens are fiercely independent and quite ready to rule the world. We’ll frequently hear them say, “No!” and “I do it myself!” While they are waaaay past the terrible twos, if someone is in their way, the 3 year old is not past knocking them over to get through. Or walking up and bopping a friend with Thomas the Tank Engine. Or saying “mine!” and grabbing the communal Thomas the Tank Engine, then bopping the friend in the head with it. Concepts like selflessness, delayed gratification, and impulse-control are at the pre-delivery stage. Kinda sounds like Hwy 26. Or the adults at work. Or in your family. Or church – ouch!

I have a theory. I’ve been a believer for over 30 years and I’ve learned that, at its core, my heart is still pretty much at the 3 year old level. I’ve met a lot of people in my life, and I’ve never met a person whose heart is much past this level. My theory is that most normal hearts, no matter how old, how spiritual, how educated, or how sophisticated, don’t stray very far from three-years-old.

In some ancient traditions,  the heart (kardia, in Greek) is synonymous with the mind. It is the center of your character, who you really are. It is in the heart/mind that you think your thoughts and purposes. There, you consider and weigh matters, and come to an understanding. It is where you believe and exercise faith. It is the parliament or senate of your physical, emotional, and spiritual life: your will, passions, desires, purposes, intelligence are governed and processed there and then manifested outwardly.

“The heart is the parliament or senate of your physical, emotional, and spiritual life.” hannah t.k.

That is why we are admonished to “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (1) To guard it means to keep it in sight and under careful observation, to tend it. Think of yourself as a high profile security personnel on a mission with a special subject. Guard your heart as there is much of value at risk.

ALWAYS  be on guard because the 3-year-old is always up to something! If it’s too quiet, you better run and investigate what is going on. There are potential risks around every corner, from within the child and from without. Your eye has to be on them regularly. I am not advocating for helicopter parenting. Set the child up to be safe to explore their environment. Allow for their regular exploring, and the occasional fall and bump, it is a vital part of learning. What I am saying is that their cognitive capacity requires overseeing.

So it is with our hearts. While we embrace life and jump in with both feet, we have to be very careful what we allow our hearts to get into. We sometimes put ourselves in situations we have no business being in. Sometimes we narrowly escape unscathed, other times we pay a very expensive price, and that for a long time. How often do we say to ourselves, “What was I thinking?”

It is imperative that we constantly train the 3-year-old. We should carefully nurture and harness the healthy aspects of this wonderful phase. That entails exposing them to intense, ongoing teaching and modeling. It entails repeating lessons you have taught – a lot. Same thing with our hearts – it behooves us to expose ourselves to trusted, healthy teaching and models. We rarely learn important lessons the first time around, or the tenth. It takes repetition and practice.

Why do they force preschoolers to take naps when they have no such interest? Let the adults take the naps while the munchkins rule the world! In addition to training, another dire need for three-year-old is rest. They will go till they drop. A good caregiver will closely monitor activity levels of the three-year-old and learn to read them, anticipating melt-downs, they know just when to cease activity and call for rest. Times of rest avert crises and allow them, and us, to recharge and have a fresh perspective on things. 

Regularly, the shepherd has to make the sheep have quiet time, but they won’t lie down just anywhere. The surroundings must be such that foster tranquility. He will make you lie down, but you must choose to rest. For our hearts, the greatest place of rest is in the presence of The Shepherd, regardless of our circumstances. Wherever He is, there is ‘green pasture’ for the heart – the luxuries of peace and rest. This treasure, that is available to you for free, the world chases after frantically and does not achieve. So no matter what you’re going through today, sidle up beside your Shepherd and know His peace.

“He will make you lie down,

but you must choose to rest.” 

hannah t.k.

His presence is like a powerful modem. He is offering free WiFi. I can’t tell you the number of times I racked up massive phone bills because I was overusing data that I was paying for, instead of accessing the WiFi that was available to me. In what ways are you doing that physically, emotionally, spiritually. In what ways are you saying, “I don’t wan’t you WiFi, I have data”? He has already paid for the WiFi – it’s free for you. All you have to do is believe it and sign-in. Then you can access boundless benefits.

Sometimes I have so many apps open on my device, that it grinds to a halt. My kids frequently lecture me on the need to shut some down so others can work well. I also need to turn it off regularly so it can update. In His presence, I can power down. He’s got this. My work, passions, and dreams will be safe under His watchful eye.  It’s not all on me to make everything happen. I have to trust that when I power down, I’m not going to miss out on life. In fact, life is not going to miss out on me. Nor is the universe going to spiral out of control if I take a break. In His presence I can plug in to my source and recharge. In the words of one of my favorite bloggers, “I have enough time to rest, but I don’t have a minute to waste.” Sonam Tsering “Sonsnow”

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” –Lao Tzu

Take a deep breath little one. Light a while. Trust. Close your eyes. Say with me, “I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child  in his mother’s arms, so is my soul within me.” (2) Do not be afraid. Do not fret. Breathe. Lie down. He’s got you. Turn up the amazing words of the Hillsong song, “Still”, below and be deeply blessed.

“… for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day.” 2 Tim 1:12 (Berean Study Bible)

All images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without the written permission of the author.

All scriptures are quoted from the New International Version

  1. Proverbs 4:23
  2. Psalm 131:2

 

 

 

 

Belongings · Celine Dion · Christian · Contentment · Generosity · Meditation · Musings · Wants/Needs

II. The Shepherd and WiFi – A Meditation on Psalm 23 (v. 1b)

I Shall Not Want –  Of Eunice and Celine.

(To lack nothing. To have everything one needs.)

I have a million-dollar wardrobe. It is a ridiculous collection of almost everything that I’ve laid my eyes on earth that’s taken my breath away. It’s not tons and tons. But it’s quite a bit (eyes averted…). It’s almost embarrassing. Almost.

I have clothes, and shoes, and jewelry that make my heart dance for joy.  In my defense, I grew up with 5 women in the house and had thousands of very fashion-conscious relatives and neighbors. We loved dressing up. We all loved it with all our hearts. I  blogged about that in this post a couple of years ago https://tribalminded.com/2017/04/11/the-unravelling/.

“Do you know what you’re looking for?” a friendly store attendant might ask me while I’m browsing the shelves at a store. “Nope, but I’ll know it when I see it,” I respond briskly. Here I am, shopping, with earnest and intention – for nothing! I just need to buy something. Anything. What is that gaping hole within me, yawning for stuff?

It reminds me of this fabulous clip:

Because I have everything I want  (other that the living arrangement pictured below; oh, and zero debt) it is easy for me to say with the psalmist, ‘I shall not want.’ It’s clothing and accessories for me. I won’t even get into my gardening habit. These are some the things that make me happy, that fulfill me. It might be tools for you, or gadgets, crafts and art supplies, properties, or… Is it relationships? Experiences? Education and knowledge?  The pursuit of great health? If only… – fill in your own gaps. You know what it is that you could always use just one, or another one, or a little or much more of. I posit that all these amazing, scintillating, wonderful, pursuit-worthy elements, in and of themselves, will be disappointing, at best, for they cannot fill the hole in our hearts.

lakefront

Our town is home to an interesting homeless man with an amazing story.  Tom pushes a shopping cart. Sometimes 2 or 4 shopping carts. They are full to overflowing of miscellaneous items: branches, carvings, used left-over food boxes, suitcases, sleeping bags, books, potting containers,etc. He hobbles along all over town and pushes first one a few feet, then another. Mid-afternoon he takes a nap and has a fancy coffee. A day-long caravan of, in my mind, not really going anywhere, and that with a lot of cargo! I could shake my head and sigh at the ravages of mental illness. But ultimately, that is me. I just have a bigger shopping cart and it doesn’t have wheels.

One one end of the wealth spectrum is Tom. There is also Eunice. When I was about 6 six years old, she came to our farm from time to time to work. she had a kind, shy smile. Mum saved tasks for her to do. She had 2 children and had recently had a 3rd. I enjoyed visiting with and helping her while she worked. We did laundry by hand and she handed me small items to wash. She left me a little room in the sudsy basin. Looking back, I must confess I really was no help. The hot mid-morning sun felt good against our backs and I can still smell the Sunlight Soap she used to bathe. She worked fastidiously, humming under her breath, and if I knew the song I hummed along.

“Not too much soap,” she chided me gently, “The water doesn’t have to be running the whole time.”  I nodded my consent and looked up to her face for approval but, as she was bent over and her blouse sagging low, my attention was grabbed and drawn in by the sight of her very emaciated breasts. I gawked at the pronounced blood vessels criss-crossing them. They were empty sacks, dangling straight down off her chest. They looked like Popsicle wrappers vacuum-sucked dry by a thirsty child mid-summer, with a scant rivulet or two left to extract. 

My heart broke as my little brain thought, ‘But she has a baby… What will the baby drink?’

For a moment, forget about me saying, ‘I shall not want’.  Life on this earth was hard on Eunice. She ate one meal a day so her children could eat. They lived in a tiny one-room shack made from wood she’d scrounged around. The walls had many holes. The large ones were sealed with cardboard.

Could Eunice say “I shall not want?’

On the other end of the spectrum is Celine Dion, one of my favorite singers. At the 6-9 minute mark of the funny clip below, she confesses she has a lot of shoes (eyes averted). James Corden chose to give away several of them to strangers on the street. Most took them and some said no – the epitome of ‘I don’t need anything.’ Watch her reactions.

We know very well that there are rich people who are constantly in want, and others who ‘do not want.’ There are poor people who constantly want, and poor people who want not. I aim to strip my heart of unhealthy attachments to things, people, and experiences. The secret, my friends is contentment. May we strive to be “content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (1)

Be content  and marvel at where you are and what you have. “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (2)

Here are 2 practical ways we can foster contentment and glorify the Shepherd. First, be thankful. This is our modern day sacrifice: “Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.” (3)  And again, “Those who sacrifice thank offerings honor me.” (4) “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” (5)

Share with others.  “Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (6) “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.” (7) “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (8)

No matter where we fall on the wealth spectrum, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (9)

It was King David who wrote the lyrics “The Lord is my ra’ah, my Shephard, I shall not want.” I love the man’s heart. Towards the end of his reign, he took up and contributed to an offering to build a magnificent temple for God. He summarized the privilege with this beautiful prayer:   “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. We are foreigners and strangers in your sight, as were all our ancestors. Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.  Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you. I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. Lord, the God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep these desires and thoughts in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.” (10)

Prayer: Lord, if everything comes from you, and I have you, I have everything! Please give me heart of contentment. Amen.

______________________________________

Image retrieved on 5/21/19 from:

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&authuser=0&biw=1366&bih=625&tbm=isch&sa= 1&ei=2nDlXPe3MYed5gLzo4KQBA&q=cabin+on+a+lake&oq=cabin+on+a+lake&gs_l=img.3..0l4j0i5i30j0i24l5.50176.50517..53381…0.0..0.149.557.0j4……1….1..gws-wiz-img.T7EgbE Bb6 UA #imgrc=g4XWWJVbh9xGWM:\

The Jerk video retrieved on 5/21/19 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2X3vVMdh-s

Celine Dion video retrieved  on 5/21/19 from https://youtu.be/dsUURLFnr9k

  1. Philipians 4:11b-13
  2. 1 Timothy 6:6-10
  3. Psalm 50:14, 15
  4. Psalm 50:23a
  5. Hebrews 12:28
  6. Hebrews 13:16
  7. Proverbs 19:17
  8. Luke 12:33-34
  9. 2 Peter 1:3-4
  10. 1 Chronicles 29:14-18

 

Blessings · Body of Christ · Christian · Fellowship · Meditation · Musings · Oxytocin · Relationships · Unity

I. The Shepherd and WiFi – A meditation on Psalm 23

It’s 4 a.m. and I’m wide awake. I take several very deep breathes to relax my body and mind, hoping to drift back to sweet slumber. But I can tell I won’t soon be falling asleep. I’m learning to tune in to when He wants a hang out with me. I open the eyes of my heart. I look up and our eyes lock. I smile knowingly. I love these times. I should have known He would be waiting. He wants to take a meditation walk. I choose a familiar passage. Do come with us…

shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd (1) 

One.

Not one lord among many – but THE Lord. Singular. His name in the Hebrew is the formidable Tetragrammaton – YHWH. The name is deemed so sacred it is not to be pronounced. One of its vocalizations is Yahweh. Yahweh was then Latinized and became Jehova, a commonly used proper name of God. Another title used by the Jews is Adonai, my Lord. Yahweh is derived from hayah which simply means to be or to exist. Thus, He calls Himself I Am.

Jesus boldly made this defiant, ground-shaking statement to the established spiritual leaders of His day, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM! (2) ”  In so doing, He signed His own death sentence by declaring Himself God, equal to Jehovah.

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created… all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross (3) .”

That one, and not another, is my ra’ah, my shepherd. My personal shepherd. He belongs to me and I to Him. We recognize each other. Call to mind the anxiety of being alone in a crowd and the antipode – the powerful feeling of being in a crowd and sighting someone you recognize!  My shepherd and I have fellowship with each other – a symbolic and practical unity characterized by a tight bond of belonging and incredible intimacy. 

We evoke oxytocin release in each other. We are so one that we are identified with each other. We resonate with each other. We understand each other, though He boggles me. He is my guide, my protector, my defender, my provider, my healer, my lover, my keeper and sustainer, my owner. I am His child, His follower, His beloved, His bride, His lover. He receives me, leads me, waits for me, fights for me, tends me, listens to me, nurtures me, comforts me, glorifies me, grooms and enjoys me. He wired me for Him and we are in phase, on the same frequency.

A shepherd is a professional. He knows His job. He is all about sheep. He thinks sheep, eats sheep, sleeps sheep, so to speak. He is watchful and tender and  would die for his sheep – my shepherd did die for His sheep. He put His money where His mouth was:  “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (5) I have learned to trust Him. It is like needing a brain surgeon and finding myself in the office of a renowned and experienced one who was confident about taking on my case. I would automatically and gratefully trust him.

Yet what does a sheep know? The shepherd must initiate and sustain this relationship. No matter how smart I am, I am just a sheep. I know not much, just that I am loved and that I belong. I know to follow Him. I must remember every minute that I am not my shepherd nor anyone else’s, other than a young child under my care. I can be a model sheep to other sheep but I am no shepherd. My job is to point all others to Him.

I love the words “Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty. Neither do I concern myself with great matters, nor with things too profound for me. Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with his mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me (6).

He is no real shepherd who only owns one sheep. Mine owns multitudes and of many shades and stripes. He places me among them for my benefit and that of the fold. I am not an only child. I am not a lone-ranger. I am part of a family. “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God(7).”

 “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ(8).” How, you ask? It is nothing short of a mystery! “The mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus(9).” (emphases mine)

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (10).” When I traveled to the United States for college, my wise parents gave me many treasures but one stands out: “Find God’s people!”

I belong as tightly as a building stone in a wall among other stones.” “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others (11) .”  “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it (12) .” If others are suffering and you aren’t feeling it, come closer to the shepherd. If others are rejoicing and you aren’t feeling it, come closer to the shepherd.

celtic

Triquetra Heart-knot

To a hostile group of accusing Jews Jesus said, “But you do not believe , because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.  My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  I and My Father are one (4) .” Much like a Celtic knot, this is a “relationship of oneness”- they in each other, I in them, them in me, me in the body – it’s enough to make my head spin!

My shepherd is the head of the body, the church – with innumerable believers, past, present, and future. Nor is He at risk of fading out like a trend. The irritated Jewish leaders tried to silence the apostles after Christ’s ascension.  “Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothingbut if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.”

“And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and flogged them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ (13).”

This same good news that came to you is going out all over the world. “It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace (14) .”

_________________________

In my meditation, I only got a couple of verses into this amazing Psalm, yet it lasted hours. I’m delighted to bring you along through my writing. I think this part is the longest because He was laying a foundation of understanding in my heart. When I walked into church later this morning, Mike was teaching on fellowship – the unity between God and His church, and between sheep among each other. So bleet little sheep. Relax into your “sheephood” and relish your ra’ah.

References:

Unless otherwise noted, all references are from the NIV

  1. Psalm 23:1a
  2. John 8:58
  3. Colossians 1:15-20
  4. John 10: 26-30
  5. John 10:11
  6. Psalm 131:1-2 (NKJV)
  7. John 1:12
  8. 1 Corinthians 12:12
  9. Ephesians 4:4
  10. Ephesians 2:19-22
  11. Romans 12: 4, 5
  12. 1 Corinthians 12:26
  13. Acts 5: 34-42
  14. Colossians 1: 6 (NLT)

Sheep and shepherd image retrieved from:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiJy4uzqKjiAhXnxFQKHZOzCS4QMwiLASgxMDE&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbeingfreenow.blog%2F2017%2F08%2F31%2Fdaily-inspiration-august-31st%2F&psig=AOvVaw0RhpWdKvbUkgILeZ0Txsz2&ust=1558380099411747&ictx=3&uact=3

Triquetra heart-knot image retrieved from:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Triquetra-heart-knot.svg

Forgiveness · Maturity · Musings · Personal Growth · Relationships · Silent-Treatment · Vulnerability

Me: The Emotional-Abuser

BATTENING DOWN THE HATCHES

His words and gesture hit a nerve. An internal wound. It’s been replaying in my mind all week – in slow-motion, in fast play, when I’m busy, when I’m quiet. I see it in nauseating detail. I could describe it all pixel by pixel.

I immediately battened down the hatches.

Battening down the hatches means to prepare for trouble. A nautical hatch or hatchway, pictured below, is an opening or doorway in the deck of a ship, covered with a door or wooden grating to allow for access or ventilation to the lower decks.

wooden hatch

Fig. 1 Hatch on old wooden ship (VOC)

“When bad weather was imminent, the hatches were covered with tarpaulin and the covering was edged with wooden strips, known as battens, to prevent it from blowing off. Not surprisingly, sailors called this ‘battening down’.” (Martin, 2019)

I’m pretty good at foretelling a storm and bad weather was certainly imminent last Tuesday night. I swiftly slipped into my deck before he could say “Ahoy mate!”, and securely battened my hatches.

I do regularly-scheduled emergency drills and have gotten pretty good at this. I have done my due diligence and prepared for such events. Down here, it’s cozy, warm, dark, and dry. I have emergency supplies that could last me months. I am in my safe place. I even have a contingency plan for my contingency plan. That’s what it looks like on the inside.

That’s rather different from the outside, where it looks a lot like the ole’ silent-treatment. He hurt me and I shut down. Physically, I am ignoring him. I am avoiding the subject and even eye-contact. When he enters a room, I leave. I use a different tone with him than I do with others.  I withhold attention and affection.

Emotionally and spiritually, I’ve gone from hurt, to sadness, to anger, and entered vengeance-mode. I will have the last word, literally. I think I am better than him. I’m holding him in contempt to make him squirm. I know it bugs him and I hear myself cackling the gleeful anthem of revenge.  I aim to shame him into changing and cooperating with me – or else. I am manipulating. I’m trying to play the parent and make him the naughty kid. I am withholding forgiveness. I’ve locked him out and I’m fondling the key in my pocket. I am punishing him. In my passive-aggressive craze I foolishly think I am winning.

This is emotional abuse!

“They battened the hatches,

But the hatches didn’t hold.”

Bob Dylan, Tempest

I may very well have started off with a good point, but I turned left on Main onto this well-worn back-alley to hell. He hurt me and I had trouble communicating that. I became the victim. I propped up my persona, flipped things on him, and expected him to take full responsibility for the problem that he created.

“Don’t be dramatic, Hannah. You can’t be an abuser,” I hear a well-meaning friend quip, “you’re so sweet.” Wrong!

It’s interesting that this – fundamentally – has little, if anything, to do with him. It’s a lousy coping mechanism I’ve adopted and honed over the years. I’ll save you the details about my adverse childhood experiences and why I am like this. At the end of the day, it’s like hearing from the guy who can’t pay his rent – only the last line matters.

It’s time to call it what it is. I’m unhealthy and immature, even crippled in this area. I have engaged in very pre-adolescent behavior and been driven by fear and shame. In the process, I have hardened my heart.

They say the fish is the last to see the water. Decades ago, he called me out on giving him the silent treatment. I didn’t consciously know I did this. I’d never even heard the term.  After I realized it, I justified it as just a small thing I do.

Recently my friend Patti said the silent-treatment is emotional abuse. Whaaat??!! I was frying other emotional fish at the time so I stuck that one in the freezer. Today, I opened my freezer hatch and it hit me between the eyes like an anchor – this is a HUGE problem I need to be rid of.

I have the resources I need to handle this and need to grow up in this area. I can state I need space. I can process the information and my emotions and come back to it in reasonable time. I may not like how he addressed the problem but it’s on me to respond maturely. For me, this abusive behavior walks hand-in-hand with other avoidant ones such as procrastination and evasiveness, but I’ll stick that in the freezer for now. As Michelle Caswell, of Purely His Inc. states in her book by the same name – which is changing my life – we can choose to have this take 7 minutes, 7 hours, 7 days, 7 weeks, 7 months, or 7 years. I’m going with the 7 second option!

My husband has come a long way in learning how to handle me in this. He no longer stands above and bangs on the hatch to ask if I’m okay or when I’m coming out; or worse, what’s wrong with me and when am I going to learn to communicate. Paradoxically, all this questioning somehow made me rub my hands in satisfaction. He realizes he can’t change me and has chosen to walk the high road. He doesn’t have to play my game. He is the stable one. He continues to say what he needs to and refuses to walk on egg-shells. He finds things to do during times we would be spending together, since I’m not available now. He continues to show affection as I allow.

Today I listened to Dr. Les Carter on his YouTube post “The Silent Treatment” and journaled, “Thank you Lord that he is his own mature adult despite my behavior.” I’m also happy to note that, over the years, I’ve gone from having a massive automatic hatch, pictured below,

massive hatch

Fig. 2 Massive hatch (Folding type, 2017)

To the medium sized hatch pictured below. Note how much muscle it takes to open it. I was willing to do that hard work rather than change.

medium hatch

Fig. 3 Medium-sized hatch also called a dog-hatch

(howlingpixel, 2018)

To this little guy:

small hatch

Fig. 4 Small hatch

I’m done being the hatch queen. The batten queen. It is a fruitless work of darkness, regardless of its size. As I strain towards maturity, I am learning about and living the power of vulnerability; and stripping the false security of shame and fear by unmasking myself. As a powerful healing tool, the Lord gave me a picture of a big red button on my forehead. It says “Expose It”, as driven by the words “Everything exposed by the light becomes visible and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” (NIV, Eph. 5.13).

red button

The “Expose It” Button

So I just pushed that button. I’m doing the arduous work of stripping my safety cabin of its supplies and charm. I’ve spent too much time making it cozy. I’m packing up the comforts and bringing them on deck. I’m locking that last little hatch and tossing the key overboard into the sea of forgiveness.  I did the best I did with what I had. So long little room. It’s a new day. I’m growing up… I’m going up.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. VOC  ship old hatch cannon port rope wooden http://m.imageafter.com/image.php?image=b3_woods023.jpg
  2. ‘Batten Down the Hatches’ – the Meaning and Origin Of This Phrase
  3. Gary Martin – https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/batten-down-the-hatches.html

Dylan, Bob. “Tempest.” Tempest, Columbia Records, 2012.

4. osprey-marine.co.uk. “Folding Type” https://www.marineinsight.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/ospera.jpg, Tanumoy Sinha, Naval Architecture, Different Types And Designs of Hatch Covers Used For Ships, 2017.

5. A hatch on USS Blue Ridge with the hatch dogs clearly visible. https://howlingpixel.com/i-en/Dog_(engineering), 2018.

6. “Construction of ship hatches.” http://www.crewtoo.com/crew-life/helpful-info/don’t-play-with-hatches-construction-of-ship-hatches/

7. The Holy Bible: New International Version. Zondervan, 2011.