Monday, April 16, 2018

Happy Birthday....

In going through my parents belongings, I found this picture.  (My sister added color - that's what she does to everyone and everything - she makes it beautiful with color and creativity.)

This is still me!  I am a 'jeans (that are generally too long - and cute, comfy sweaters - and fun shoes - and 'what is my hair doing? ' - and "look at those mountains... I want to run there" mindset.

I know I have frustrated my more together friends with my love of comfy jeans, my love of lipgloss and too little makeup, my tattoo, and my love of cute shoes.  But this little girl is still me.

I heard people tell my parents I had a belly laugh, and I still do.  I have embarrassed my friends in restaurants and stores and even once in a funeral when I tried to contain a belly laugh but it came out anyway - kind of through my nose.  Oops.

This year (for my birthday) I had this deep urge to write notes to all those who have been such gifts in my life;  I started to write...ok - I wrote... one.  But, in my head (Jim Gaffigan style) I felt like it  sounded more like a reminder to give me a present because my birthday was coming.  You know, like the people who start their birthday countdown on FaceBook a couple weeks before the actual date.

But honestly, I'm so grateful for so much - and so many...

Andrew, Maggie and Jack

Jeremy, Oscar, Tilly and Danita

Tilly styling Grandpa's hair

I'm grateful for miracle babies, and eyesight, friends (both lifers and newbies), and seeing what God has, is and will be in my life.  

This year has held some good surprises, and some difficult surprises - I am grateful for both.  They both strengthen me in different ways.  (Doesn't that sound mature? :-) )

Birthday days are...interesting, right?  Kind of a "YAY", and "Oh brother, let's not talk about this"!

Today, DW took me to Wildlife Safari and I got to feed an elephant, and pet an elephant and have her paint a picture for me.  Her name is Valerie.  I am a big elephant fan.  He scored huge points.

(Yes, the painting looks just like me! Ha!)

Today I am wearing jeans and a sweatshirt and cute shoes and socks that DW bought me that say, "Yes, I do have to pee....again."  :-)

Yep, this is a random birthday thoughts blog.  You figured that out by now!  

Here's my birthday encouragement...

Ps. 37:23-24
The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with His hand.

No Place I Would Rather Be (Set a Fire in My Soul)

Love and encouragement and joy and clarity and a big outpouring of HIS love on you today.  That's what I want for my birthday - besides the whole elephant experience!  :-)


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Old Dog - New Tricks

We have a dog.  Her name is Noel, and we've had her for about 5 years.  She's a great dog, honestly she is - but lately her level of anxiety (when left alone) has gone through the roof.  It appears she has doggie panic attacks that are very destructive.  It's only been happening during the last few months.

We have a friend who is a professional animal trainer who came over to observe and offer suggestions.  She worked with Noel and gave me some instruction.  It seems that I need re-training more than Noel does.  Noel's thought processing needs to be changed, and Jena assures me it will change - if I'm consistent with our new strategy.  I wondered if Noel's age would hinder the process, but Jena insists it won't.

Sound at all familiar?   Things you've gone through in the past seem to effect how you respond to the present.  You hear words that weren't actually said.  Or, you make words that were said have meaning that is a long way from the intent of that person's heart.  You experience fear which is not based on truth, and ignore things that would help - because change is hard.

Romans 12:2 - Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

I love this verse.  Read it over five times or fifty times.  And then use it as a prayer.

I'm so glad that an old dog (like me) can keep changing and learning.  

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Walking in the Dark

Psalm 139:11 & 12
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to You;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to You.

I have never been a fan of darkness or night.  The cause of that is not the subject of this blog - I just want you to understand the depth that I love the Light of God, the Hand of God, the Presence of God that never gets blocked out by darkness.

Almost two weeks ago,  I  experienced invasive eye surgery.  It was not elective.  If I wanted to keep my eyesight I would need to trust someone to punch a couple of holes in my eye and do some work.

The surgery seemed to go well, but I've had a perfect storm of complications as I've tried to recovery.

I won't load your backpack with details - the thing I'm thinking about tonight is how weird it's been to spend the last two weeks with eyes that longed for dark.  Little outside light, my first experience with a pirate patch, my first experience taping my eyelids shut.  (Actually, a lot of "first experiences".)

I've been alone a lot.  I haven't been able to read.  My brain gets tired of listening to stuff I can't see.  I'm super grateful that the massive headaches are gone now - the headaches made listening to stuff not such a treat.

I've never had such long days of literal darkness.

Because I'm a person who is not a fan of darkness, this has not been my favorite season.

But I know this...."for darkness is as light to You."  There hasn't been darkness for God.  I might bump into walls, but I know that He is leading me.  He's holding on to me.  He's holding on to you no matter how dark it feels around you.  He's got you.

Psalm 16:8
I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Psalm 63:8
My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me.

Psalm 139:10
Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

Isaiah 41:13
"For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.'

He's got you.  And...He's got me.  Ok.  Let's all sing..."He's got the who-ole world - in His Hand..."
Second verse..."He's got you and me, brother - in His and me, sister - in His hand..."


Friday, July 14, 2017

Firework Oreos?

Ok - I'll admit it....I love Oreos.  Yes, I hear some of you gag at the thought, and you're even thinking about 'unfriending' me because a person who likes Oreos can't possibly love Jesus.  But - - - there it is.  It might be because we had 0 to teeny bits of sugar and fat growing up in our home.  I had hot lunch at school and no bagged lunch.  (Oh to have experienced a Twinkie.)

I went decades (sigh) without an Oreo.  Decades.

Then, one magical day a little over two years ago I ate an Oreo.  Processed.  Fake chocolate.  Who knows what 'cream' filling.   There's fake lemon that is so fun.  There are thin Oreos and double stuffed Oreos.  Birthday cake.  Filling that tastes like Peeps (didn't try that one).

I generally can't have them in my home because they really aren't the kind of food I'm trying to eat these days, but...a friend gave me a package of open Firework Oreos because...we have grandkids.  That did make me laugh.  Like they'll last till the grands come over.

The hook on these Oreos is that they have pop rocks in the filling.  Oooooooh ya.  I had to experience Oreos with POP ROCKS.  I had high hopes of Oreo fun exploding in my mouth - which just wasn't the case.  I tried several just to make sure that I wasn't missing the explosion.  Nothing.

Until one day.

I was eating slowly, trying to keep the cookie and filling ratio right.  Trying to make each cookie last as long as possible - - - - and I felt it.  Gentle popping in my mouth.  I had to wait for it and pause and not swallow too fast.  The popping was there but it was subtle.  I had to take the time to notice.

One regret I have as I look back on life is that I don't feel I was "present" as much as I wish.  I had goals - good goals, and responsibilities and expectations that I let steal the joy of the Moments.

In my zeal to read the whole Bible every year, my goal was checking off how many chapters I read each day - and missed the joy of saturating my heart with one verse that stood out.  The goal was good, but I missed the Moment.

My need to be a good mom and my terror of not being a good mom over-ran many gentle pop-rock moments with our sons, I think.  I thoroughly enjoyed them - but they felt the tension of me trying to be good at a lot of good things.

I think that's why we see the word "Selah" so often in the Psalms - 71 times.  "Pause and think about it".

During my mom's hardest days with dementia - when I wouldn't know if she'd think I was her mom or her daughter or someone in her room to steal stuff - I'd sit outside and pray each day to have the strength to be a good daughter.  I felt this direction from Him one day as I prayed - "Look for what you can find joy in".  I was to step away from the fear of the unknown and spend the time looking for the joy.  The Moments.

Oh Father - sometimes I really wish you would speak with a shout instead of a whisper, but You know my heart.  You give us gentle pop rocks Moments every day.  Please help us to not miss them.  Thank you for beauty and laughter and breath.  Help us to be grateful and aware of You in our Moments. I love you, Jesus, so much.   Sincerely Yours,   Jeanette

Monday, June 19, 2017

Wonder Woman

Confession time...I think (without knowing it) I've always thought I would grow up to be Wonder Women.

There would be a day when I'd have long flowing hair with just the right amount of wave to look great when the breeze blows while I'm sitting on the beach.

I would have a waist, and a core - and maybe not a six-pack but at least a belly that doesn't slide around.

My thighs wouldn't rub together when I walk - sometimes even making my shorts ride up.  Really, there's no graceful way to pull shorts down once the inseam side has scrunched up.  Brutal.

(What is that yellow thing hanging from her side?  Maybe a scarf she can wear 5 different ways so she doesn't need to carry luggage?)

It's an image in my head.  I have not seen the movie or read her autobiography - I just have an image.

That image told me that someday (if I prayed long enough and tried hard enough)  I could fix everything and everyone that had need.  Always, ALWAYS with Jesus - always.  But my part, I thought, would be stronger and braver and more at rest while at the same time more powerful in prayer and commitment and ... well, I guess ...  everything.  I would be Wonder Woman.

Well, guess what.  Big revelation.  I'm not now, nor will I ever be, Wonder Woman.

I exercise now to push back up what gravity seems to be pulling down.

 And, I will let people down.  A lot.

My face doesn't always look "right".  (I was really sad last Sunday, and someone told me my face looked mean.  In the past I've gotten in trouble for smiling too much.)

My prayers don't always produce the answers I so long for, or what I think the person I'm praying for so desires.

I've given my absolute best to being a Jesus follower, a good mom, a good wife, a good pastor's wife, a good worship leader,  a good lover of people - even a good dog owner.   But, I let people down.

So, I turn to my Father with my hands full of all I've just shared with you - arms outstretched - asking Him, "what do I do with all of this?"

He brings my focus back on Him...

Many, Lord my God,
    are the wonders you have done,
    the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare.  Ps. 40:5

Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders. And blessed be His glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Psalm 72:18-19

Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.
Psalm 103:13-14

“Listen to this, Job (Jeanette); stop and consider God’s wonders.  Job 37:14

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Ps 9:1

...we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.  Ps. 78:4

He brings my attention off of my failures and back to His ... wonder.

Thank you for Your grace... that place of undeserved favor.   Thank you that you remind us that we are made of dust.  Help us to breath in Your grace today, and fix our attention on You - not ourselves. Breath peace and provision and destiny into my brothers and sisters today, my God.
In the Name of Jesus of Nazareth I pray...

Sunday, April 30, 2017

You Are Held

About a million years ago, we tried to adopt a little two year old girl.  Her momma dropped her off at the church office and said she didn't want her anymore, and that we could have her as long as we didn't dress her in pink(!)

She was very independent because her survival had depended on it.  I remember walking up the stairs with her and trying to hold her hand but she wouldn't let me.  She just kept saying, "ME do it, ME do it."  She wanted to hold on to my finger.  The challenge came when she slipped and let go to catch her self.  She didn't see how my holding on to HER would be so much more secure then her holding on  to my finger.

(It was an emotional rollercoaster adoption attempt, as many are.  It was complicated, with {addicted} relatives involved who took her and hid her.  The good part is that she is a survivor of brain cancer [age four], and eventually was able to be adopted by a family where she had other sisters & is very loved.  Yay.)

My message here is really a simple one...

He's got you.
He holds you.
He's not going to let go of you.

For those you love...
He's got them.
He holds them.
He's not going to let go of them.

I know.  It's super simple.  But, incredibly, incredibly, incredibly important.   You can breath, because He's got you in the palm of His hand, or He's got the one you love in the palm of His hand.  Secure.

Is. 41:13 - For I hold you by your right hand--I, the LORD your God.
 And I say to you, 'Don't be afraid. I am here to help you.'