“…and the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.”

Another week, and more rabbit holes to go down. LOL. There is just so much out there on the world-wide-web. You could literally spend your entire day and not even touch the basics. It is overwhelming. Sometimes I think the internet is not really our friend. Electronics were supposed to ease our lives and make them simpler. I really find they take more time away from us. And sometimes our brains are not operating at their best when we just look at screens all day long.

This is, quite literally, outside my bedroom window. It is our strawberry patch. It is blooming from its winter slumber. Up here in the “Last Frontier,” Spring comes later. But when it comes in, it is glorious. The world slumbers through cold nights and days of increasing sunshine, until things just start popping. You will see a bloom or two on the trees lining the highway, and within days the entire forest is green. The leaves just pop open within 3-4 days of each other. It is pretty amazing how quickly it happens. And up here, Spring is not a long event. We usually hop pretty directly into those wonderful days of open windows, slight breezes, and lots and lots of sunshine. The plants here grow massively large. Flowers bloom over and over again. In rapid succession. We will have days where we have 20 hours of sunshine. For some, it is just too much sunshine. I, myself, prefer sleeping in total darkness. I always have. In CA I used to always wear an eye mask at night. I recall instances when my kids would come and stand next to me while I was sleeping. I could sense their presence. I would wake up and tell them, “Don’t talk to me. I can’t hear you. I have my mask on.” And they would giggle and say, “Mom, it only covers your eyes.” It was our morning funny.

This weekend my daughter-in-law and I did our annual plant hunting trip to the nurseries in the area. She had some trees she was looking for, and I am always on the hunt for perennials that are either full sun or partial shade – no inbetween in my yard! Ha-Ha. And the photo above was taken from the back lot of one of our favorite nurseries. I stood there and commented to her that I never want to take this land we live on for granted. I am blessed with views like this from our local nursery, which means this is a local view for me, too. How incredible is this? It is the Eagle River Valley and it takes your breath away. Look at all that green! There is still a little snow on the peaks, but we are barely past our last thaw and the green popping up. Give it a week or two and it will be green all the way to the top.

The photo above is from the same place, looking west. See all the homes nestled in those trees on the right? Yeah. Glorious place to live. This portion of our state is one of the most blessed. I am lucky to live here.

We spend so much time on our computers or in our cars, or just inside our homes and workplace, that we forget to breathe in the clean air and look at all the beauty that surrounds us. It takes discipline to walk away and walk outside. The temps here are finally getting to the point where a morning walk with the dog will work for me. And I am determined to hike some more trails this summer, and to work on my fitness level (which is severely lacking after a long winter’s slumber – I’m like the bears! LOL!). And right now we are in that phase of Spring where we get some amazing rain storms. The skies look incredible with the many types of storm clouds. And quite suddenly we will have a downpour. The day after a long rain, the plants have blossomed even more. The varied tones of green are incredible. The many wild blooms are starting to peek out from the long winter, too. Every day there is something new to see.

Psalm 65:12 “The pastures of the wilderness drip, and the hills gird themselves with rejoicing.”

I am trying to get to that place where I can distract myself from media. I know it is affecting my eyes, because distance vision is blurred so often. I read on my phone the usage report and I cringe. I justify it by telling myself, “Well, you don’t watch TV; you don’t use your laptop much, so it’s okay.” But is it? No, it is not. I do not think this much electronic usage is really very healthy. That might be the weirdo in me, but I think life was better when there was more paper and pencil and less of the iPhones and remotes. I get consumed with what is going on out there, and I need to focus closer to my own garden; tend to my own weeds. Both real and rhetorical…see what I did there? Ha-Ha. It’s my Monday!

I love to find flowers with intricate, tiny blossoms. This one above stole my heart. Well, it is purple. Ha-Ha. I was proud of myself this year because I grabbed a lot of other colors. I even bought some Dahlias that are not purple or pink, but actually yellow and one that is coral. I am diversifying the look of my pots and garden! And it is a lot of fun. Planting and potting and helping things grow does so much for our psyche. I think it is good to get away from the living room or desk and drink in some nature.

Tender blossoms need tender care. They need and require attention to survive. I only buy perennials, so they have to be able to stand temperatures of lows into the -40s. So even if these blooms seem delicate, they are pretty hardy plants! And when I see the handiwork of God in these flowers, my heart softens and I can leave the harsh realities of this world behind, even if it is just to water the garden or do some simple weeding.

And so today, as I begin my week in full, I am choosing to focus my energy on the things of beauty in this life. There is enough ugly to fill eternity (down below, where it belongs) that I know the Lord would prefer my thoughts be on Him. And so I am praying; I am tending to my home; I am turning away from my phone and computer and letting the joy of this season encase my heart with joy and peace and God’s love for us all. I will take note of His handiwork that is growing all around me. I intend to enjoy all the sights and sounds of this land He prepared for us. I will focus on creating that “white space” in my home, my yard, my mind, and my soul – allowing me room to grow and maneuver. Giving me the space for God to enter into all things. Clearing the clutter and Spring cleaning is something we all need to do. It is amazing where the cobwebs hide in our lives. Where the clutter in our hearts, minds, and souls resides. We have clutter in our homes and clearing that will also help us clear our lives of the unnecessary. Of the flotsam and jetsam of life. Just like cleaning up those corners where the dust bunnies live! I am still aware and in tune, but not laser focused on all this chaos around us.

There is a distinct advantage to living in the “Last Frontier.” It is quieter. Remote. Insulated to some extent. Fewer people and distractions. Nature all around you. Clean, fresh air. Lots of elbow room. Cooler summer temps. Glorious blooms and sights everywhere. It has helped me in my walk with God, to be able to be more focused. It is sort of forced upon you when the weather is nasty or you live miles from people. It has been so good for my soul. I think I’ll stay. Peace be with each of you in the glory of Spring, and this time of growth and the renewal of life. It is a glorious time to be alive, my friends.

 

“..the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”

You know, it’s wonderful when, as we age, we realize we know so little. I have book learning – lots of it. My mind loves to travel and unravel, discover and learn, on lots of subjects. I am reminded of this saying, “Jack of all trades, master of none.” That’s me. I learn enough of something to feel satisfied but certainly not all-knowing or expert. But I like that I know a little about a lot of different areas. It has helped me grow as a person. And I love reading. It is one of my favorite pastimes. One of my favorite places is a library or bookstore.

Someone asked me recently how many jobs I have had. Dozens. Maybe more. But only 1 or 2 career jobs. The others were paychecks and time fillers. Places where I was learning – I would learn a skill and move on. So let me see: In high school, I did ROP. That acronym means Regional Occupational Program and what it allowed you to do was work in positions to expose you to careers. Like candy stripers to see if you want to be a nurse. Well, I worked in the ER as a nursing assistant and that was incredible. I was allowed to massage a beating heart in a patient who was dying. It ended up being incredible because he was actually saved! (Not by me). I was a physical therapy assistant. That was the best. We gave each other hot packs, ultrasounds, and massages after shifts. Even sat in the hot tubs. Loved that. My most memorable assignment was to do range of motion exercises on a guy who was 2-3 years older than me, and who attended the neighboring high school, who had been in a car accident and was comatose. It was surreal. They kept his room quiet and dimly lit, with the same temperature, which was warmer than the hospital in general. I was then assigned to a professional football team. I did that job off and on through college. I would tape ankles, help with therapies, wrap sore muscles, and the like. It was pretty fun. Then I also was a hostess and waitress at the local diner (Fiddler’s Three Restaurant). I worked at a floral/gift shop. I then signed up with a temporary agency and began my careers in business. I trained to type and file and answer phones. I was taught accounting and became a certified cost accountant. I was a certified receptionist on those ancient cord-boards for telephone systems (dating myself a little here). I also worked for my dad off and on until my mid-twenties doing office work and sales. I did professional presentations with slide shows and material demonstrations at hospitals all up and down the coast of CA, OR, and WA. I worked as an intern for the county coroner’s office, learning my Forensic Anthropology skills and practicum. I worked on anthropological digs in CA, NM, Arizona, and Mexico (Teotihucan was one site). I became a customer service rep for American Express, working with the businesses who accepted the card. Even going on sales blitzes in CA, AZ, and NV. I then worked for TGI Fridays as a management trainee. I learned the kitchen, the office, and all the details on the sales floor. My favorite thing was bartending. I think that job fit me probably the best. I could gab all night and get paid for it. LOL. I used to make more than $300/night in tips alone. I then went to work for Beckman Instruments as one of their pool cost accountants. I then promoted into the manufacturing side and was the secretary to the production manager. But the best was in the chemistry division. I loved it so much. And by this time I was married with one son. We decided I should stay home. So I quit and became a full time, homeschooling, stay-at-home mom. I did that until our middle son started high school, and our youngest son began kindergarten. Then I went to work for a county in our state, in the Recorder’s office. I worked with anything you could record – lots of titles and deeds and even was deputized to perform marriages. I did only a couple of them and hated it so much, they allowed me to not do that rotation. I then transferred to the welfare department, where I was the supervisor of an entire building of clerical staff, as well as the people who kept it clean, our security staff, and a day care center. I only lasted about 2 years because it was killing me. The time it took with all the personnel and their paperwork, as well as working with the public, required me to work on my days off. I had to get out and applied for a salaried position. I then promoted into the Human Resources department and there I oversaw all the EEO cases handled by the HROs. I assisted in record keeping and scheduling. I attended meetings upon meetings. I recorded and prepared union contracts and forms for state and national EEO programs. I sat on two County Commissions as staff. It was fun but exhausting. It was a salaried position, so the benefits were good. The company I kept was great, and I loved my boss. I finally quit to stay home with our youngest son to homeschool him, and am still here, at home. He is now 21 years old, and has embarked on a career as a welder. He is a 2nd year apprentice and doing very well.

So I guess I have done a lot. I am sure there are jobs here and there that I have forgotten. None of them meant much to me, when compared to schooling our boys and being a mom. And the ability to be me at home, coffee cup in hand! My father was annoyed I did not complete my degree (although I have enough credits for a master’s degree, but not enough in one area – which is hilarious to me) and become a doctor. He told me I was wasting my time, raising my kids, when I could be saving lives as a physician (his dream for me; not mine). And you know what? I think he missed the mark completely. The most fulfilled I have ever felt is when one of my kids learned to read. Or when we could discuss some point of history or science and I could see light bulbs going off in their heads, and I witnessed actual learning. It is like seeing your baby take his first steps. I got to do that every day with my three sons. I feel fulfilled and blessed as I watch the men they have become and the families they are raising. It is a blessing from God. Truly.

So yes. I have had lots of jobs. I have followed my intellect where it has taken me. And it has been varied, to be sure. Sometimes it has been drudgery. Sometimes it has been exciting and I have looked forward for my work day. But nothing, absolutely nothing, beats being at home with my boys. As I look back in my mind, I smile. So many funny memories. The boys tell me their favorite year was the one when we did a unit study for the entire year on the medieval era. Even as adults, married with kids of their own, they fondly recall that year and tell me it was their favorite. Everything we did was about knights and castles. About battles and the growth of technology. We made castles out of sugar cubes. We crafted trebuchets out of popsicle sticks and glue. We made swords. We went to museums. Our math was oriented towards life in a castle. They dressed as knights to sit around the table and learn. It was glorious.

I may know a lot of fun facts. Sometimes my family uses my brain like google or something. But I love how varied what I know is. Now I am learning new things. So many new things. And I am having to unlearn things that were fed to me, that I now know to be false. “History belongs to the victor,” as they say! Science marches on and some of the “facts” I was taught are now found to be erroneous. I sometimes think I am owed a return for all the stupidity I was forced to memorize in high school and college. It’s often hard to reconcile it all. And sadly, I passed some of this false history on to my boys, thinking I was sharing facts and authentic history. Some of it is good and will stand the test of time. Some, not so much. But it is okay. We become set in our ways and rigid when we cease to embrace the new, and to learn new factoids. I do not want to be caught in a rut. Many things will pass me by. Technology is one of the things that is racing by me. Labs and such I once knew no longer have some of the machinery I was used to. I am out of date about so much. And I am uncovering so much. It’s good to be fluid!

I think above and through all of this, I have tried to follow that small voice inside my heart, the nous, or center of where God and I chat and commune; where He speaks to me. And I do feel that I have done what jobs I have had, worked with who I was given to work with, and gained the skill set I have gained because God led me to where I am now. He allowed me time with my sons. He has graced me with a husband who let me do all these things. And I know I am blessed beyond blessed. And am still learning. God is good. We are all on a journey from dark to light. We can allow it to happen daily, and not wait until we are facing our mortality. Keep learning. Keep walking, from dark to light. Do not be afraid of the light.

 

“…and rest in your holiness…”

Even in the midst of this “pandemic,” there can be spots of joy. I am doing a 6-week program online and in this first week, I was asked to focus on liberating truths, and to understand my “why” in pursuing the goals of the program. Well, I thought about my why. Why do I want to do this? It’s because I want more years with my husband, and I want to be there for my sons as they progress in their lives. I want to share their achievements, their joys, and their sorrows. I want to be the grandma my grandchildren love visiting and hanging out with. One who enjoys life with them. And I want to share their landmarks in life – as my eldest grandchild is only 7 years old, I really want to be around for a lot longer. Am I sick? No. I am actually very healthy. But I am overweight and out of shape. Part of this program is to leave “white space” in your life. Enough space for movement and for relaxation. And these white spaces are in the areas of your health, in your faith, and in your homes. Today, the reality of keeping white space in my head has made me want to share this with you. My brain feels like it is exploding! I am looking forward to all of it – tackling all these areas of my life. One of the things we were asked to do, is when we visualize our why, to get something that represents this why and put it where you can see it. So I printed this out and it is on my refrigerator:

These are most of my reasons for my “why.” My husband and grandchildren. My family. I think we all know that as life progresses, we start to hone in our focus to smaller and smaller groups. Our friendships shrink to just a handful. The older we get, the closer to home we seem to stay. We were never overt partiers. Even when we could stay awake past 9:00 o’clock – hahaha.

This pandemic brought our family closer in lots of ways. We are the crowd we don’t mind hanging out with. Our kids from the lower 48 came for a week and we just saw one another. No sightseeing. No going to places with other people. It was glorious. We walked, we played in the house, we had the kids use chalk on the driveway and paint rocks for our garden. We had special cereal and dishes for the kids and they loved it. We bar-b-qued and we baked. We had lots of art projects for them; things to keep 4 little girls occupied! Let me share that having your granddaughter want to sleep with you is just priceless. Having 2 of them in your room each night is beyond grandparent heaven!

Watching cousins interact was so precious. I loved the relationships that were strengthened with this time together. When it comes down to it, our time here is limited. Someday, my husband and I will be gone and we will not be the glue holding our family together. They will need to hold onto one another. And it is a beautiful thing to see it developing.

They were looking at our fairy garden from last year, playing with all the little features we crammed into those pots. And even though we are barely past the thaw this year, it was great to see them in the sunshine, playing together. My heart was so full. And I am counting blessing upon blessing to have this family. I know God gives us trials to strengthen our faith, but He also abundantly blesses us.

And today I am a little reflective. I have been doing so much research and diving down some radical rabbit holes online about so many subjects. And I re-read Revelations in its entirety today. I have been praying with prayers upon prayers; supplications for myself and my family and friends. And as I contemplate all this new reality, I recall the sound of little feet in the house and my heart swells with love and gratitude to God, for this gift of family. When you start spreading your intellect out into this viral world, it can often sweep you away. And then you just sit there, in stunned silence. And looking at these faces grounds me, it gives me impetus to be the best me I can be – for all of them.

My kids give me the grace to pursue the best me, so I can be there for them. God knows my struggles. He does. He provides me with a foundation. In all things, #godwins. He knows where I am and he knows my heart. He guides me where I need to go. He also holds my hand. “Word of God, Speak” is a great song by Mercy Me. And as I listen to the comforting words, I know all I need is to be with God:

“Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You’re in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak”

I may seem maudlin but I am quietly at peace. I wrote prayers to God, seeking His mercy for my family and for my soul. Because the world is insane. And so much is about to change. So much upheaval and our “new normal” will be something none of us ever envisioned. But, God has got this. All of it. He holds our world in His hands and with that, He holds our souls.

“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.” Revelation 20:12

And so I pray, seeking forgiveness for the deeds I would rather not come to light, and for a hedge of protection for the souls of my family and friends, country and world. I ask for mercy, for grace, for tomorrow.

John 5:28-29 “Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and will come out – the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation.”

I guess you could say I am contemplative today. And I am listening to a mash-up of music while I type. Mercy Me is one of my favorite groups. I have all their music on my computer. And I am so thankful for their lyrics; so many times they have brought me to tears and I have to pull to the side of the road and just let it out. (Most of the time while I drive alone, they are playing on my stereo). “I can only imagine” is one of my all-time favorites. It can still bring me to tears in the right moment. And because I have so much of their music on my computer, songs keep coming up. I think this one is helping me so much right now, that I will leave you with the lyrics. Blessings. Always.

 

“Flawless”

There’s got to be more
Than going back and forth
From doing right to doing wrong
‘Cause we were taught that’s who we are
Come on get in line right behind me
You along with everybody
Thinking there’s worth in what you do Then Like a hero who takes the stage when
We’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late
Well let me introduce you to amazing grace No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless Could it possibly be
That we simply can’t believe
That this unconditional
Kind of love would be enough
To take a filthy wretch like this
And wrap him up in righteousness
But that’s exactly what He did No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless Take a breath smile and say
Right here right now I’m ok
Because the cross was enough Then Like a hero who takes the stage when
We’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late
Well let me introduce you to grace grace
God’s grace No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless No matter what they say
Or what you think you are
The day you called His name
He made you flawless
He made you flawlessNo matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless

“Children, be obedient to your parents in all things…”

Colossians 3:20: Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord.

I grew up in the late 50s and 60s – graduating HS in the early 70s. It was a far different time. We walked – a lot. Mom always dressed nice – even her “working clothes” were nice. She always had on make-up and I remember her wearing toilet paper pinned around her head so her hairdo stayed nice all night. LOL. Neither of my parents ever owned “dungarees” or blue jeans. It took me until my sophomore year in HS to get my parents to allow me to wear them, especially to school. The image above pretty closely resembles my family on a weekend or vacation. However, my parents are weird. And our family is weird. And it all hit me today. LOL.

This is how my mom made toast, because this is how her mom made toast. You place that directly on your stovetop and let the bread get all toasty/crusty. The darker the better for my mom! LOL! As I was toasting a muffin this morning, my brain whooshed me back in time. A time when toast was not served warm or buttered, either. The occasional use of Marmite. My folks are from New Zealand and England and they would occasionally use Vegemite, but since that is the Australian take on the goo, they preferred Marmite. All I can say is it is gross…to me. As a kid I would almost vomit when mom put it on my toast. Yuck. I tried it as an adult and it did not improve its flavor. LOL. Another thing the British do is they do not butter their toast right away; nor do they serve it warm…not even close to warm. It is served in a toast stand.

The one above is as close to what my mom had as I could find. I wonder what ever happened to it? LOL. I am sure it was tossed for a more American use of toast, like a warm, buttered stack of toast. Yum. So you would get this cold toast, which basically is a large crouton (that idea cracks me up) and there would be toppings available to choose from.

The photo above reminds me of my youth so much. Cold toast, softened butter in a dish, and some sort of jam or preserves. I grew up loving orange marmalade, especially when my great-grandmother made it. And I have always loved preserves with the seeds from the berries still in it. My favorites are the dark berries – blackberries, for example. And my mom could do 3-minute eggs so well. (My father-in-law would spoil me and my sister-in-law with 3-minute eggs, too. It was so wonderful). What is a 3-minute egg? Absolute heaven.

I adore them so much. And this morning as I was toasting my muffin, I looked across at my stove and just smiled. This is on top of the stove:

My grandma’s 3-minute egg timer. Oh the memories. And it was not until we were teenagers and mom had sort of adopted American ways of doing things, that we had pancakes from Bisquick or cereal. Most of the time it was tea and toast and an egg or two. And that is just kind of weird, but in such a wonderful way. It harkens back to when breakfast was a meal taken with time and family to start your day out. We were all dressed and ready to head out the door; mom was in her dress with her apron and stockings on; Dad would be in a suit with his briefcase nearby, and then she would throw a table cloth on across the center of the table and serve us breakfast like in the photo up top. We would chat about school or dad would share a little about work (what he could share – he worked on the Space program and most of his job was top secret stuff), and then we would take our books and sweaters and head out to school. School started at 9am and was done by 3pm. We had time for breakfast.

When these cereal boxes came out, that changed everything. Not only was it enough for a kid, you did not even have to get a bowl dirty. Mom adapted well to America! LOL! But our family was still weird. We had 3 sets of clothes. One for school and only school. One to play in after school and on weekends. And Church clothes. I think they all started as Church clothes or school clothes and as they wore out, they became play clothes. But we were not allowed holes in anything or to wear anything torn or raggedy. My mom was strict about what we wore. And she ironed EVERYTHING. And I mean EVERYTHING. (Yes, underwear and sheets; even towels were ironed. I learned to iron by practicing on my dad’s undershirts and our sheets and tablecloths). Her entire family had been tailors. So clothes were a big deal for her. After school we had to change and put on play clothes. We could play until 5pm when we had to clean up for dinner. We had to change into clean clothes for dad to come home and us to eat dinner. Then it was shower/bath, pj’s, and bed. By 7:30pm at the latest. Sigh. We did not have a lot of clothes, either. But what we did have, well, it had specific purposes and mom never allowed us to deviate. God forbid you wore school shoes to dig in the dirt or ride your skateboard!! LOL!

Exodus 20:12:  “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.

My brother and I love our parents, but we do laugh at the odd way we were raised sometimes. I remember things he was too young to remember and he recalls things I have forgotten. (There are so many other examples of British/New Zealand oddities, but I thought I would stick to just a couple of them). Our parents eventually dressed like everyone else (except for the jeans thing. That did not happen until they were both retirement age! LOL!) and they lost their accents. It used to be so funny to hear my mom call us into the house for dinner, “Mark, Jan, dinner!” but all our neighbors heard was, “Mock, Jahn, dinnah!” because of mom’s accent. She could not pronounce a hard “r” if her life depended on it. Now that they are both over 90 and are suffering from memory issues, the accent is returning. Mom is still a NZ citizen and our “resident alien,” refusing to give up her NZ citizenship even after almost 70 years in the USA. And Mom, when she talks about her childhood, she is often thick with her NZ accent. I like hearing it again. And if I am honest, I like that we were sort of weird; it’s kind of cool. But I also realized that I prefer my toast warm and with lots of melted butter. And I also prefer coffee…shhhh….

 

“…Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Proverbs 12:26 The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.

Proverbs 20:6 Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

Ephesians 4:29-32 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Colossians 3:12-14 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

CS Lewis: “The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.”

CS Lewis: “Is any pleasure on earth as great as a circle of Christian friends by a good fire?”

Can you guess my theme? LOL. Friendship. Friendships are precious. I can honestly count on my hand, friends who I know would come running if I needed them. Even though I live 1000s of miles away, they would do their best to get to my side. I know that. Those are the deeply treasured humans in my life. And I have lots of casual friends. People we hang out with because we have something in common. When that common thing goes away, so does the friendship. It took me decades to not be hurt by that. Friends are made to come and go; to be there for the time they need to be. We learn from them, and they learn from us, and then we let them go. The hurt is when you are “let go” all of a sudden and it is over something that has nothing to do with why you became friends in the first place. And there is where the hurt lays today.

Today I realized a lot of people have “unfriended” or “unfollowed” me on various social platforms because of my beliefs. And for that, I am sorry. Most of us came together because of our faith, but our politics drove an irreparable wedge between us. And that makes me very sad. I don’t care about what law people want enacted, what politician they back, or how they vote. I care about their souls. I care about the person who is spending time with me. I honestly do not judge. I have very dear friends (ones in that inner circle who would run to my aid if I needed it) who are divergently opposed to my views, politically. But we have maintained a close relationship for more than 25 years. We joke that we all have to vote each election, so we can cancel each other out! LOL. And I love their hearts and their souls and I trust them with my life. But not my vote. LOL.

And that is not being harsh or callous. I would not want someone to hang on, if they dread each encounter, out of some sense of duty or habit. We all deserve the best from one another, and if someone feels I am not the best for them, then I would prefer they go. But I rarely give up on someone, unless they sever ties and walk away. And then I chew on it; I review all the pieces; I smile at the many laughs and enjoyable moments; and then I work on letting go. Letting the relationship just die of its own accord. But I mourn. I do.

But I cannot help but feel these days are calling for us to remain strong in our faith, to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2) and to stay on the front lines, in defense of freedom and what we know to be right. And this book of 1 Thessalonians, which Paul wrote to the community at Thessaloniki, brought me such comfort. This is Chapter 5 in its entirety and I think it describes life right now. I hope you will read it.

1 Thessalonians 5

“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. Brothers and sisters, pray for us. Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss. I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” 

We will lose friends along the way because we are strident in our beliefs and we feel that we cannot compromise our firm belief in our country, in our republic, and in the basic truths of right and wrong. I do not think these days it is anymore about left or right, conservative or liberal, democrat or republican, but it is very much about good vs evil, and the very salvation of our land and our people. Without freedom, we have nothing. Without law, we have anarchy. Those who prey upon the weak or the unknowing, they need to be held accountable. We are unified in our trust of God; I just wish we could all be unified against evil. Against tyranny in all its forms. Against loss of personal freedoms. But I cling to hope and I know, still, that God wins. Always.

 

 

“Once you awaken…” – updated and edited.

I am pretty upset. Tears and frustration. That deep, heavy, dread that settles into your stomach. Yeah. That is me. Why? Well, I have walked a different path from so very many people I love. I have researched and dug deep into subjects and I have come to differing conclusions than so many of my family and friends. And that is because I refuse to be a sheep. I do not want to walk, lock step, into lines or behavior patterns that many in government are asking from us. It is not right. We have lives we need to live. We have work we need to do. We need our country (and the world) open again. We need America back.

I am not a Bill Gates fan. I do not like vaccines. My mind and attitude on vaccines changed dramatically with my youngest son, who had a pediatric neurologist (for lots of reasons). He begged us not to vaccinate at all, or at least wait until after puberty. Then he started explaining to me how vaccines work, and the chemicals in them and how they affect neurological development. I have not believed in them since then…over 20 years. Not to say my kids did not get vaccinated. They did. But the number of vaccines was far less than now. Gates is proposing trackers within vaccines (photo above). He is stating there will be no further public gatherings until everyone is vaccinated (like he has a say in this!!). This is the same guy who says he can reduce the world-wide population by 10-15% using VACCINATIONS. How do vaccinations reduce the population? Ask the healthcare workers in Africa. Yeah. Truth. It sickens me.

The photo above is just a small sampling of some of the products I use. I prefer as natural a treatment as I can get. I prefer going to a health food store and getting probiotics, vitamins, and other natural treatments to keep myself ahead of the game. I also use Essential Oils and supplements from Young Living. I see a “mainstream” doctor as little as possible. I was sick last year and had 4 interactions with health professionals. It cost us over $24,000. All to be told that even though I was overweight, I was very, very healthy. The doctor, during a procedure where I was under a general anesthesia that could be lessened to allow me to wake up and move for them, or they could put me under again (Propofol – remember Michael Jackson? Yeah; same med), asked the nurses when my blood work had been done and he asked they take it again and rush it because he did not believe the numbers/values were accurate. They knocked me out and took more blood. Woke me up to congratulate me on how healthy I was and that the tests they had done came back pristine. Except I was overweight. Well, I am working on the weight part, but doing it naturally. And I take even more vitamins and supplements now….do not want to catch anything. Even the Chinese Covid-19.

So, I am awake. I have delved into the great rabbit hole of information floating out there on the world wide web. And now I cannot un-see or un-know this vast amount of knowledge. This Covid thing is so much more than a virus. A virus less deadly than the flu. A virus we could all handle with little intervention. Why is it, when 40,000 die each year from the flu, we are not locked down or quarantined? Why is it that there are hot spots where the Covid virus is running rampant? Why is it very few people we actually know, have this illness? I know some who have had it, and even died, but I do not know them directly. I also live in a place that has had very few cases, and mostly from people who have traveled and brought it back with them.

There is just so much more going on than we realize. I do not watch mainstream TV. We unplugged cable almost 2 years ago. We live-stream most of what we see. We choose what comes into our home and what does not. We watch You Tube and have regular subscriptions to people we watch and listen to every day. We have podcasts. We are on some social media, but we tightly control what we see, who we follow, and who follows us. We keep our information nailed down and private. We protect our systems with a VPN over all our devices. We stay away from Google. In other words, we do not believe what is being spewed out there. We watch our President, live, on the White House app every day, to hear from him, his information in its entirety. We look things up, not even taking his word for it all. We follow up with people who have said things and look into what they say. Our knowledge is our own because we researched it and read it from original sources – we did not accept the highly redacted versions shown on national – MSM – media outlets. We do not let them think for us. There are about 6 companies who control all media in the world. All of it. Songs, movies, TV shows, books, etc. Check into it. About 6 corporations. And when you look at those companies and see who owns them, you feel like a marionette. Not kidding. It is insane!

And now we come to the crux of this post. How are we, as a culture, to move forward from this “plannedemic?” How do we get beyond this new way of interacting? Ways in which we no longer see our smiles? Ways in which we no longer hug, or celebrate, or share as we once did? What will be normal from here on out? Will we call and turn in our neighbors for not following proper social distancing guidelines? Will we cross the street when we see someone without a mask on approaching us? We will gather in groups larger than 10 people, ever again? Will kids play in parks or playgrounds ever again? We will have team sports ever again? Concerts? Stadiums full of fans? Rallies and races? Beaches packed with sun worshipers who do not wear masks? Churches full on Sundays? Holy Days? Feast Days? What is going to be the blueprint for how we move on?

Unless you live under a rock (or escaped into your hidey hole and have not come up for air in awhile) you know there is a storm here. The media and the President, the Senate and the House, the mayors and governors – they are all at each other’s throats. The US has pulled funding from the WHO for lying to us and manipulating data. The Chinese lied and we have now defunded the Wuhan Lab that President Obama originally funded with Dr. Fauci for millions of dollars. The CDC and HHS departments say one thing, and doctors on the front lines say another. Some doctors who say this is a farce and had gone on YouTube and been interviewed by Laura Ingraham, had their video pulled from You Tube. Alternative treatments and their information are being blocked by Google and the social media platforms of You Tube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Why? Big Pharma! It is a multi-billion dollar thing – keeping us dependent and sick, needing their medications. Well, I truly believe alternative modalities are making their way into our group-consciousness; our group-think; our lexicon of thought. But there are so many of us who just do not want to look down that rabbit hole. The status quo is comfortable and familiar, as false as it might be. It is what most people know. Me? I did not want to believe any of this stuff. My dad was a scientist in the Space program before becoming a doctor of medical engineering and moving into treatments for paralysis and other ailments, from an engineering perspective (totally unaccepted then). We were Goldwater Republicans who believed everything told to us by our benevolent government. I did not question anything. Reagan was a hero. George Bush was our rallying point and guide after 9/11. I never thought my government would be the impetus or originators of such a tragedy, and that politicians would feel 5,000 lives were acceptable collateral damage for their schemes for more power.

Some days my head feels like it is exploding. I will comment to my husband, “Are you kidding me? That is what really happened?” We watched an amazing documentary of an alternative energy symposium from 2012 (again, on You Tube) from Dr. Judy Wood. My brain was hurting the entire time. It was all about 9/11 and the Twin Towers. I cried and I hurt – for those killed and injured, and for my country, and for all those killed because of 9/11 worldwide. We should be ashamed.

I have watched “Out of Shadow” on YouTube (highly recommend it) and countless other videos like “The Plan to Save the World,” and “The Best is Yet to Come,” “Dark to Light, ” and “We are the Plan.” There is also a series entitled, “The Fall of Cabal.” That is 10 parts and very worth the time. Sickening and sad, and a wake up call, but worth it. These all delve into subjects I did not even know existed. Subjects that are inherently evil. Pure evil. One of the hard parts about learning all of this is a saying many of us have adopted:

And I want everyone to come with me. To see what lies ahead. To know we have a future and it is wonderful. To know that above all else, God wins. Always. And God is in control. Always. And we just need to offer ourselves to prayer and to lay all these questions, burdens, and information at His Feet. We owe it to our friends, our families, and our country to look into all these issues, and oh so many more, that we question. There is a wealth of information that will shed light on questions that nag at us; things that go bump in the night. There is a horrific evil out and about in this world, inflicting unending harm upon the innocents. Evil that is actively being stamped out, but it is an onerous task. Thanks be to God for the Patriots we have, working for the good of all mankind, and especially for our children. Something our brains just cannot settle on but is actually happening. It is called the Silent War and it is raging all around us. From “Dark to Light,” and soon everyone will know the Truth. In amongst all this chaos and static, yesterday the US Navy released videos of confirmed UFOs. Yeah. UFOs. Definitely where I do not want to go. I prefer to believe in the earth and the God who created it, and to let infinity and outerspace and whatever is out there, just be out there. But here we are. Confirmed information on UFOs. Talk of opening all that Area 51 hoopla. Many are now disclaiming this as a distraction to what is going on elsewhere. Like how George Soros bought a video game company and Disney is taking a Star Wars game offline because communications between DS (Deep State) operatives was done on games, like the Star Wars one and even on Minecraft – in their online chat rooms. Oh boy. The rabbit hole just got a twist in it. And that twist in the rabbit hole is very, very deep.

My friends, offer everything to God. All of it. Be open. Learn. Research for yourself; make the knowledge others present your own. Knowledge is power. Pray. It’s what I do and my faith is what I cling to every day.

“…and only a few find it…”

Have you ever had a series of “aha” moments that just flat-out add up to truth? Well, it has been called, “The Great Awakening.” It is happening where more and more people are noticing things that just do not fit; things that do not make sense but are presented as truth. It is happening in the world at large surrounding the Covid pandemic. Yes, there is definitely a virus making people very ill, and even killing those with pre-existing conditions, or the elderly/infirm. I agree. But more people die from car accidents and the flu than this Covid-19 thing. Why then is our country shut down? Why am I wearing a mask in my grocery store? Why can’t I meet my friends at our local diner for breakfast on Saturday morning? Why are we not working? Funnily enough, those are all because of edicts by local government officials like mayors and governors. This is not a federal edict. All that was federally recommended was social distancing – staying 6 feet away from those who are not members of your immediate household. But what has developed is forever changing all our lives.

Whether you sit on the right or the left of the aisle in all things, there is something that is more basic than any of that. We are daily in a battle of good vs evil. And there is evil all around us. If you accept the good in the world, there is also evil in the world. They are complements, or opposites, of one another. In the end, God wins. Hands down, the ultimate victor. I firmly believe that. Have you heard the saying, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, and only a few find it. Beware of false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.…? That is from the book of Matthew 7:13 – 15. And it seems so very appropriate in our day and age. Well, it is an eternal truth, but it is entering more and more into the public’s awareness.

One of the evils that is all around us is the horrific evil of child and sex trafficking. It is an international epidemic. And it is all around us. More than 800,000 children disappear in the USA every year. How? Where do they go? Why can’t we find them? There is a sophisticated operation all around the world that traffics women and children in the sex trade. I belong to a women’s shooting organization (the Well Armed Woman) and during our monthly meetings, we are given some amazing presentations. One that I learned a lot from, but did not enjoy, was a presentation on human trafficking in our state. It is horrible. Beyond what anyone would think of; right under our noses. The presentation stayed with me – I did not sleep well for nights afterwards.

Recently, I watched a video from a famous champion boxer, who said that there are many arrests happening, right now, in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. And he also said who is involved will shock America. And it all is surrounding pedophilia and sex trafficking of women and children. I was sickened.

I love mahjong. I was taught the table top game, as well as the tile matching version. I like to play it on my iPhone. I had beat a version awhile back and so I downloaded a new one yesterday. I started playing and, because I am so cheap and only download free versions, an ad popped up. And imagine my shock when it was a photo of a young girl with the words, “Young, nubile, girls available.”  There was no link or phone number; I assume you would have to click on the photo. I freaked out and deleted the app right away. And it kept me awake most of the night. So this morning I contacted the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-373-7888) and talked to them about it. I was scared to call because, well, it’s about something so horrible. But I knew I had to do something. I was able to describe enough that they were able to make a report. And the woman on the phone said, “If everyone who saw something odd would say something, we could stop this.” And it was on a mahjong game! Imagine all the other places it could be.

I read – a lot. I have a Kindle Paperwhite. It is just for reading. And in black and white. It does have a night light, which I love. But it doesn’t play games or movies. It is just an e-reader. And I adore it. I kept thinking about the ad for that young girl, and the inherent evil in this world. Some mythological stories are evil, enshrouded by mystery and adventure. But when you dissect them, evil is present. I have always loved historical fiction. And I have enjoyed paranormal stories for years. Well, today I went through my Kindle and I deleted, literally, hundreds of books. Why? They do not support my faith. In any way. And I do not need that stuff banging around in my head. My soul does not need that, either. And neither does yours. Think about what we are. We are human copy machines. What images, phrases, and ideas do we take in and allow room in our hearts and souls? “Broad is the way that leads to destruction,” my friends.“Narrow is the way that leads to life” – and I think I’ll take that route…you?

 

 

“something in your soul…”

You know, I am pretty quiet about a lot of stuff. I don’t make waves. Not really. I can get religiously preachy, and I know that. It is not so much to tell people anything, but to share what I have learned. And I have been doing nothing else but learn new information over the past few weeks, being quarantined and all that. I am an insatiable reader. I have a Kindle Paperwhite and it has over 800 books on it and I have read almost all of them. I am trying to move some off because I want room in case I find more books and run out of space! LOL! Told you I am an insatiable reader. My tastes are all over the place, too. I was so into historical fiction. And then I moved into Young Adult. I like that broad genre because they keep it pretty clean. I do not need overt sexuality in my books. Nor do I need violence or drug use. I also prefer to not have aberrant sex or promiscuity between married people or same sex scenarios. It is just not something I want in my head.

There is a vast treasure of information out there. A lot of what is being discussed internationally and nationally, as well as locally, is all out there for our own discernement. And I have found that I have had more questions than answers and so I have looked for myself. I have read lots of tripe. Lots of misinformation. Just to put my cards on the table, I am pretty conservative. I do not listen anymore to the the MSM, or mainstream media. I know they are lying to us all. I watch YouTube videos and documentaries. I share some with friends. So many do not want to hear what I have to say, and that is fine. Truly. I believe that unless you dig and learn for yourself, the information will never become something you believe, just what someone once told you. To believe it, you  have to learn it and discover it for yourself. And that takes time and effort.

Our culture has become one of instant everything. Instantly calling someone your best friend. Instantly getting coffee in a drive thru; your meals in paper sacks; your information through memes and sound bites. We have so few people who turn off and tune out. Very few who read books. Most want the “cliffs notes” version of everything – just the gist of a subject so they get the overall, and don’t ever bother with the little details. Like how you just agree to another contract with some provider, without even reading the fine print. We do it all the time. Every time our computers update or our phones upgrade, we click on “agree” without reading their pages of information. Which is why we can never sue them – it’s all in that fine print.

I have come to the conclusion if you go through life in this instant mode, or in the cliffs notes version of everything, that will be the depth of what you understand and how you operate. And trust me, the powers that be are counting on that. We are manipulated all day, every day. Do you know there is a cliffs notes version of the Bible??? That is the one book you need to read for yourself, cover to cover. At least once in your life. Honestly, I have grown as a person more from reading that one book than all the others in my lifetime, combined. God wants so much more for us. So much more than the short cuts we all take, every day.

One of the best, and biggest, blessings in our life was the day we pulled the plug on cable TV. Don’t get me wrong, we have a “smart tv” and stream all sorts of things. But we control what comes in our home, and into our heads. And now that I have researched more and more, I see things through this filter. I realize how manipulated I have been my entire life, and I look around my home and see what I was manipulated into having. How my likes and dislikes were formed using input through TV and the media, itself. Leaving Facebook has been a remarkable thing for me. I definitely missed it. I had media withdrawal. Seriously. But now, I do not miss it. I still tweet and Instagram. But I have narrowed that down to what I know will be positive for me. I listen to podcasts from some amazing priests and learned people who I know I can trust. I listen to music that is life-giving and 98% of the time is Christian (and definitely on the rock and roll side). I do have some soundtracks from movies I like. And I love classical music. I am learning to discern everything that comes through my senses. And it is an awakening thing. Truly.

And during this time of quarantine and confinement, why not use the time to grow as human beings, so that when we get back out there, interacting, we are better people? Read a good novel. Do some research. Reach out to friends via letters, texts, or phone calls. Reconnect to people you have not spoken to in years. Dig deep inside and look to those dark places that perhaps could use some light. Awaken things inside you that have been dormant or sleeping. We have time – we are socially distancing ourselves. Become that artist you wanted to be. Redecorate your house by decluttering or up-cycling things for different purposes. Switch kids’ rooms. Repurpose your living room into a great room so you can all be together – knock out walls. Paint. Get those windows clean from the dark and wet winter. Put the music on loud and dance. Enjoy this time we have been given to be together, outside of and instead of, the world. Get closer to the ones you love, and get closer to God. Pray as a family. Read Scriptures together. Craft together. Enjoy the time with your kids (they will grow up and be gone before you know it).

All I am saying is that this quarantine can be looked upon as a gift. Yes, people are sick. People have died. And that is horrible. But so is the flu. We have less than 1% chance of dying from Covid-19. Less than 1%! That is almost nil. There is so much more going on behind the scenes!! This virus has shut down the largest economy in the world. This virus has brought the world to its knees. Why? When it is not as fatal as the flu? In your deepest soul, you know something else is happening. I can assure you that it is. Lots and lots of interesting things are happening, world wide, right now. I think that after this quarantine is lifted, we will welcome in a new world. We will all have been changed by this experience. World wide changes will have occurred in most cultures. Some say people we will no longer shake hands, or hug, in public. Some predict we will be required to wear masks in public from here on out. Some say we will be required to stay home unless it is imperative that we leave our homes. Far fewer group activities and events. I know my eldest son is dying for his Chicago Bears football team to play again. Some want to attend concerts. Go to restaurants. Some say those activities will forever be curtailed. I hope not. But it will not be the same since a full quarantine was executed. Funnily enough, the quarantine was not instituted by our President. He only imposted social distancing. The state governors are who imposed this quarantine. So how that all works out will be interesting to watch.

Please, do your own research in all things. Learn for yourself. Come to terms with what you believe. Embrace your faith. Pray more. Know that God always wins. Always. And take comfort in that promise. But know it for yourself.

 

P.S. If you are interested in truly learning more for yourself, might I suggest this YouTube documentary? Just be prepared to learn things that perhaps you did not want to know. Reality can be rough sometimes! “Out of Shadows – Official” is on YouTube. It has had more than 4 million watches since it was released! “OutofShadows.org” I fully believe it will change your life. God wins!

 

Bright Monday blessings!!!

I have been feeling glum, blue, and that feeling of claustrophobia is strong. When you live in a snow state as far north as we do, there are so many different things about winter people in the lower 48 never have to even contemplate. For example, you have to decide it is cold enough that you probably will not be opening any windows any time soon. So, you remove and wash your window screens and store them wherever it is you store them, for the winter. We keep ours in the rafters of our shed in the back yard. It’s where all the summer things go each year to die until Spring. LOL. And you just never open your windows all winter long. Mostly because it’s -25 outside with blowing snow. And who wants that in their living room? We can stay this way from late September through May. Yeah. That’s a LONG TIME without opening a window. My diffuser works overtime in winter. I try to freshen the air and mostly, it works. Today it is almost 1 o’clock in the afternoon and I can still smell breakfast in the air. One of the downsides of winter.

We are now moving into “break up,’ “Spring thaw,” “slush season,” call it what you will. Some people romanticize living in the far north. I know I did. I’m kind of over it. Why? It is raining. It started yesterday and we had “chunky rain.” It was rain mixed with snow. The snow melted right away because it was 35-degrees. Not cold enough to stick. And it is making a glorious mess. We have a large portion of our back yard that is basically a muddy lake with its own iceberg. It’s own glacier. Floating in the midst of dead grass and mud. (That is it, above, and is almost the same angel of the photo below). And, I have this:

He is our very energetic, 1-year-old Standard Poodle puppy, Kolbe. He loves the snow. He will run and play and chase snowflakes. He will stay outside in a snowstorm until he is white with snow all over himself. He will run and dive into snow banks. He turned 1 on January 2nd and weighed in at 71.5 pounds. We have not weighed him since, but I know he has grown a lot. And guess what? He discovered rain. And mud. And sticks from last year that have been buried in snow. And running through the yard at break-neck speed. And running into the house, avoiding our flailing arms with towels…right onto my white carpeting. Yeah. I inherited that designer choice when we bought this house three years ago in June. Hopefully this year it will become hardwood floors. Because I am so over white carpeting. I have two dogs. I have a husband who sneaks into the bathroom without removing his boots “real quick.” And a son, although he has been gone for over 6 weeks on a remote job site, who always forgets we have a mud room with a bench for a reason. A mud room that is tiled, no less. A mud room you walk into when you enter the house through the garage. Sigh. White carpet in Alaska. Who does that???

So we are keeping our distance. Social distancing. Six feet at least. Ugh. We have been watching/streaming some old TV shows. Some blew me away. (Captain Kirk has always been a lecherous man, by the way. We started with Episode 1, Season 1. And dang, some of those female character outfits! Wow. And all those poor guys in red shirts. I totally ignore them now). We started new ones, like the Mandalorian (which we love). We have pretty much kept to ourselves. And now we have this stupid rain and thaw thingy, that is making staying home annoying. But being out in the rain is no fun, either, because wherever you go, they make you line up, on the red “x” and wait. And wait. Only 1 customer at a time. Where is your mask? Frankly, I am over it. And the funny part? I’m a stay-at-home housewife and mom. It’s not like I am out and about. But I miss being able to, if I want or need to be. I broke a tooth and have been waiting for a crown for over a month. It doesn’t hurt so it is not an emergency. So I wait on that. And try not to smile real big. (Even if I do smile, who is going to see it???). My poor hubby. Maybe I need chocolate! LOL.

And this was the first time in our married life we did not spend Easter/Pascha in Church. The only thing that saved my sanity was that our previous pastor, who moved to a parish in Alabama, is live-streaming the Divine Liturgy! It sounded like heaven. Their choir is amazing. Their reader is so very good. The sounds of the prayers and the movement of the Liturgy felt like home, and I miss it very much. This Easter was sort of empty for us. No real celebration. I miss the fasting/feasting aspect of the Church. The rhythms of the Church. It is so hard, being separated from our faith communities. But we lit candles. We had our icons out. We anointed our home with holy oil (so handy having an ordained deacon as a husband). We said prayers. Even mini-processions in our little house are reminders of those processions we had in community. Nevertheless, this Lenten season was so empty because it was apart from our community. I did participate in a Lenten Study and I cannot even begin to share how important that has been for my faith, and my sanity, in these crazy days. So, Happy Easter! He is Risen! Indeed He is Risen!!

There is much to be grateful for. We have not contracted the virus, that we know of (although we suspect I had it in January). No one in the family, or nearby friends, are ill, either. Most of our family and friends are still able to work – thanks be to God. And with this nasty part of the year, the “slush season,” we will get more sunny days. We will get higher temperatures, and eventually, that mud will turn into a wonderfully grassy and beautiful back yard. The earth is renewing itself, just like it does every year. The orb we live on is turning and tilting. The Church in her wisdom, is moving us along this week, which we call Bright Week. No fasting. No sour faces. The Lord has come. We are a redeemed people.

Happy Bright Week!

 

“…tossed by the wind.”

Lord, Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Lord, Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. Lord, Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Most major religions have a tool for believers to use when they pray repetitive, contemplative, prayers. Catholics have rosaries, in the east, we have the Prayer Rope, like the one above. They come in various lengths. I wear one pretty much every day, and mine is much smaller than the one above, whereas when I am at home or traveling, I use the longer ones. Most priests carry one that is longer (150 knots or so) and monastics also carry them as one of their few belongings. But I often find myself just saying the prayer above, the “Jesus Prayer,” whenever I find myself stressed out.

Today, I have been doing. There’s dinner in the crock pot, laundry is whirring away in the laundry room, my prayers were ALL said this morning (major miracle) and I have been scrubbing away at the parts of my oven my husband took out for me. Why? Well, I spilled a chicken and rice casserole, upside down, on the bottom of the oven. Don’t ask. And we have been digging out rice ever since. He took the oven door off and took parts out so we could get to the bottom of the oven, itself. The dogs were happy to help with the rice clean up, too. We were able to vacuum under the oven and found a Hot Wheels car! My grandson will be happy.

I have been praying all day about this quarantine thing. I have spoken to two close friends more than once on the phone today. A very old and dear friend is going through a very rough patch and we spoke at length. And my heart was breaking. So I rattled off some Jesus Prayers while we spoke. It was a hard conversation. Very hard.

I was putting clean clothes away, lost in my task, when I turned around and promptly tripped over our 13-year-old Springer Spaniel, Miss Poca. I tried not to hurt her and I found myself dancing and hopping like an Irish Sword dancer. And I was yelling for her to get out of the way, and our 1-year-old Standard Poodle thought this was lots of fun and started jumping on me, too. I wrenched my entire left side. This weekend I threw out my back trying to lift a stupidly heavy box. So this was just peachy. And I fell to my knees, and just bawled. It was like all of this pressure has been building up and with all of these things heavy on my heart, I just fell apart. And I wept for all of these things – friends, family, our country, the world. It is sometimes too much.

And then I started praying the Jesus Prayer. It really is so simple. Jesus, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. And when I pray that prayer I offer up all those issues that are assailing me. I prayed so so hard. Over and over and over again. And then I recalled the Scripture from this morning….the book of James.

James 1:2-6

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

And as this passage is so famous, I was shocked at how much it struck me. The last half of the last sentence more than most: “…for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” Is that true these days or what? We are tossed by the winds of information, or lack of information, or quarantine, or whatever. I am on overload and I did not even realize it. And I must continue in genuine prayer, without doubting, asking for steadfastness in this period where my faith has been sorely tested. I know I am not alone. Perhaps we all need lots of the Jesus Prayer in our heads and hearts, to help keep our focus on the important things in this life – our faith, our family, and friends, our country and the world. We (read that as “I”) need to keep in the forefront of my heart and mind, that God totally has us all in the palm of His Hand.