“The sky is falling…the sky is falling…”

Chicken Little

Well, I agree, to a point. It all depends on what is above you when you look up. Perhaps you are in an area where things are falling out of the sky, so to speak. I feel like it most days. I cringe when I think of the money flying out of our account for various things. It’s mind-blowing. Our senators meeting overnight to enact/approve Red Flag Laws for weapons. The insanity of that is bad guys don’t jump through government hoops to get licensed firearms. They get them off the streets. Illegally. Us regular people go through rigorous background checks already. And it’s not the combat vets you need to worry about – it’s these young men hopped up on psychotropic meds who are marginalized and seeing a shrink, who are mostly responsible for these shootings. So many rabbit holes about that entire subject! And the news media pumping out more fear mongering for everyone to chew on. It’s become comical when you watch those montages of programmed news spew the exact same words on stations across the country. Verbatim. It’s an eye-opener…

Verbatim News

I’ve become increasingly tense about everything. Will we have this life, this country, in the next 20 years? Where will the USA be? What will the USA become? Do we have the luxury of the next 20 years, or is it much shorter? 5-10 years? That long? Around and around I go. At night, it is the worst. Going to bed stresses me out because I KNOW I will toss and turn and take forever to get to sleep. I have tried it all – meditating, praying, no Kindle or TV an hour before bed (right?!?), taking melatonin. I’ve tried Benadryl and Tylenol. I now drink Golden Milk every night and it does seem to help. (I know it is helping my blood sugar, for sure). And I feel like this big thing is pressing down on me, and worrying me, all day long, intensifying at night. The dark makes everything worse. Up here, darkness takes so long to happen and it doesn’t stay long.

Today’s Light Hours

I try to just let it all go by the wayside. I focus on getting my sheets clean that my lovely puppy peed on this weekend while we camped. I try to come up with nice meal plans for my husband. I focus on my grandson’s baseball tournament coming up, or my middle son’s recent job interview and our youngest son getting enough work hours. There are things up close and personal I can focus my time on. I can let the rest of the country sort of fade from constant thought. I can opt to trust in God’s plan for everything and all of us and trust in my faith to carry me through. I can’t worry about the details. I can’t worry that the sky might be falling on my country, and that this world could be on the cusp of massive change. I can listen for my washer to ping to let me know the bedding is completed; figure out why the dogs are barking; try to keep the house below 80 inside without A/C (Alaskan homes don’t have air conditioning). On and on I could go. But why do I continually come back to the falling skies???

Anxiety – give it to God

Over and over, I have to remind myself I do not walk alone. God and His promises walk beside me. My husband walks next to me and I know beyond any doubt, he was God’s plan for my life. I absolutely love the life we have together and each moment of these empty nest days warms my heart. I cannot imagine my life without him in it. And I am blessed with amazing children, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren, and some amazing friends. I know I am blessed. My heart soars when I think of everyone in my life, and when I look outside and see the land where I live. Totally blessed. The big “but” is next…lol. But I worry. Daily. Obsessively I think. And I am desperately trying to rein it in – again.

Do Not Fear

Once again I choose to cast my worries onto God. He spent 3 agonizing hours suffering on the cross for me – for my sins – for my doubts – for my worries. He paid the price – for me. I can do nothing to repay Him except to believe in Him and to love Him above all else. God makes no demands on us. He requires nothing from us. Just full acceptance. And in this age and in this chaos, the peace He offers is undeniable.

My peace I leave with you..

The sky may fall. Our culture may collapse. The world as we know may cease to be structured as we know it. We may loose our land, our homes, our families. We may lose our own lives. But we will never lose God, because He loved us first.

Believe
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“But understand this….

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of Godliness, but denying its power. Avoid these people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Good Advice…

I have had a rather rough week. My mom passed away a year ago on Monday. It bothered me more than I thought it would. I can hear her voice and see her smile, and the way her eyes would crinkle up at the corners when she had a big grin on her face. I recall my stepdad telling us a story and mom leaning in and quietly saying, “Like I haven’t heard this one before.” And chuckling at her husband. He was an awesome story teller and even though he told them with great embellishment, we all enjoyed them, laughing all the while. He truly made my mom happy. Now they are both gone and I miss them being in my life so very much.

My dad is still with us. He is 95 and lives in a memory facility on the other side of the country. We chat now and then. This past weekend, he told me he was moving and was busy, and out of breath, packing his room up. I texted my brother, and he confirmed dad was going nowhere that he had been told. I texted my stepsister and her response was, “These are the delusions we live with. This is why he is where he is – we could not handle him any longer.” I had thought it was because of dementia and did not realize his dementia included delusions. It was a hard pill to swallow, as I have been enjoying what I thought were many lucid conversations with him. I spoke with him today and he had no memory of moving anywhere. He lamented that he had lived a good life, is making peace about death, and told me he is lonely. Told me no one comes to see him. And he misses me and wishes he were with me. (I have not seen my dad in person in about 20 years. So this was sort of a shock). He told me he wants me to come and get him and bring him to my home. He realizes I live across the country, but he said he is lonely for family. My stepsister told me that he tells her he does not speak to his kids, just his step kids. Sigh. Dementia. The long goodbye.

Dad’s under the impression that he has led a good life and that he is going to heaven. He also told me that after he hugs Jesus, he’s going to tell Him all the mistakes dad thinks Christ has made. Oh boy. Head-slap. His impression of himself fascinates me. And he knows he is in his last days, and he is beginning to realize that he may not awaken in the not-so-distant future. But he really has no concept of humility, nor of being subservient to anyone – especially if they don’t have the correct credentials. Dad doesn’t respect people very much who are not degreed or wealthy. Where he lives, there are at least 200 other people. He says they lack the education and only talk about farming, fishing, and hunting. None of those subjects interest him. So he sits alone, being miserable, watching birds outside his window and putting together jigsaw puzzles. Alone. In his misery.

The Ladder of Divine Ascent Icon

The icon above is one of my favorites. This is just a portion of it. I have a replica hanging next to the sink in my bathroom. Odd, do you think? Well, I chose that place so that each time I brush my teeth, I contemplate this icon. There are many rungs and there are pitfalls all along the way. Not all of us can hang on until we make it to heaven. Many are heading up there, but demons and choices yank us off. Before we die, if we are aware, we can make better choices and climb up that ladder, having a firmer grasp on our choice of heaven. Everything we do is a choice. And every choice moves us closer to God, or further away. It may just be a tiny step, but the direction is firmly one way or the other. Every, single, day we choose our steps. Every, single day.

In the world right now, life is chaotic. There are so many people making poor choices over and over again. Some people are at the ends of their lives; some are still so young. As I have aged, I have become more tolerant of people whose lifestyles do not align with mine. I choose to worship so differently than most of the people I have in my life, including my children, and other family members, and most of our friends. I do seem to be drawn to like-minded people in the areas of general faith, politics, economics, home life, etc. but they often worship differently. And that is okay. As long as their aim is upwards, towards God, I am good. Some of my friends dye their hair, whereas I do not. Some prefer trucks, while I drive a grandma sedan. Some are vegans, whereas I love my red meats. It’s okay to be friends with those different than us. However, as things get dicier and dicier, I return to the admonishment of St. Timothy above, “Avoid these people.” And in a way, it’s funny because my lifestyle precludes me from associating with many of those exhibiting those traits. Except for some family members. And there is the rub.

Sage advice,,,

I am deeply grateful for my life. I love my husband more than I thought I could love anyone. He is my best friend. He is who my world revolves around. We have amazing kids and grandkids. We live in a gorgeous place among the trees and mountains, streams and lakes. We have two amazing dogs that are accompanying us on this last journey. I have Medicare and just applied for Social Security. Times are slowing down. The glory days are behind us; peace is ahead. And still I ache over issues from family members. My dad is a case in point. We have not been close since I was in my early 20s. Once he left mom and chose to live apart from his family, that’s been his path. And it took him to the opposite side of the country. My youngest son only met him twice – once as a newborn and once as a 4-year-old. He is now 23. My kids have no relationship with their grandfather and he laments that – now. It never bothered him, up until he really started to age. (My kids adored my stepdad, so the roll of grandpa was fulfilled on my half. Their relationship to my in-laws was wonderful. They adored them. So that was great).

My thoughts center around the demented, aging population. How do they reconcile with God? My mom had no concept of God near the end of her life. Dad just thinks he knows better and would like to lecture God about the world. He has always been like that, which is why he flitted from denomination to denomination throughout his life. He could not abide preachers, thinking he knew more than they did. (He also thinks he has multiple doctorates, but that is part of his delusions). I had an Alzheimer’s counselor tell me once that the demented are at peace in their minds. They just don’t communicate out loud very well, and that God knows them intimately, and He knows their hearts. I was somewhat comforted.

Clinging to this for myself, and my loved ones.

And so I am trying to let this go. I seem to be on the verge of tears a lot. My granddaughter is getting three fillings in her teeth today – I wish I could be with her. I wish I could be out of my head some days and find peace. I am going to my grandson’s ball game later this evening. I will endeavor to find joy in the ballfields, amongst the sounds of the game and the children playing all around us. I will suck up the joy and youth and spirit and the life! God knows the hearts of His beloved. He will care for those I cannot care for. He loves us because we love Him. He knew us before we were even born (“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…Jeremiah 1:5) and He will take care of us, as Isaiah reminds us above.

I leave all these thoughts with you because my brain is so busy and there is just so much rambling going on!! May the Lord bless you with peace…

This is for everyone in our lives, but especially our family and friends with dementia.

…”even the winds and the sea are obedient to Thee.”

And most of us don’t know it!

The days are getting stranger and stranger. Things are happening worldwide that boggle the mind. The USA is now being called out on their bioweapons labs – over 300 and counting – around the world. The ones in Ukraine are being systematically destroyed by Putin, and he has completed his task and is now working on peace with Ukraine. However, it is looking more and more like the recent bout with this plandemic was indeed that – a planned pandemic – that our own country has released upon us, and the rest of the world. (Research the China games with our military). DNA markers show us that Moderna had a patent on the genes in the virus. That our country is testing even worse viruses and diseases worldwide. The plan to reduce the population is being put into effect. What what is next? Honestly, I’m not surprised by much any longer. An article posted this morning was about the CEO of Disney being arrested (and then later released) for child trafficking. Meanwhile over 100 people were arrested in Florida for child trafficking and there were a few who worked at Disney World. The rumors of tunnels and kids missing from these theme parks are turning out to have much more truth to them. And it should scare everyone.

Help Stop Human Trafficking

The catchy phrases like “Save the Children” and others are not merely words to be bandied about. In most of the conspiracy theories out there, it all comes down to saving human beings from being treated like cattle – or worse. There are innumerous stories of human trafficking worldwide. There are names and places that crop up like Clinton, Haiti, Epstein, and others, all connected to this horrific trade in human beings. Children go missing at the rate of more than 460,000 per year in the US alone. How do we lose almost one-half million people EVERY YEAR????? And minor children at that??? Where are the values on human life in our country? We simply do not value life enough.

The Intrinsic value of each human life.

“The times, they are a changin'”…as the old song tells us, written by Bob Dylan in 1963. If only he knew then how much we would all change by now! He was born in the 40s and has seen so much change in his life, as I have in mine. The taking of the life of an unborn infant was so rare, and illegal. Yes, I am aware of backdoor clinics and drives in the night to have it done anyway. However, life was much more valued when I was a child. Each person had their own dignity, be it recognized or not. The societal changes that came about in the 60s is still affecting us in 2022. There were many good things, yes. Many! When I was a young girl in my teens, and I wanted to open a savings account, I had to be accompanied by my father – my mom couldn’t help because only men could do that. As weird as that sounds now! So many things we take for granted are now all being questioned. I trusted the world at large as a kid. I no longer do. Actually, to be perfectly honest, I trust almost nothing any longer. Like I posted before, I want a refund! LOL!

Because geometry….ugh

So much of what I was taught is bogus. And of course, the one above, geometry. It was the least favorite subject of mine in high school. Miss Vogler. She honestly used a pencil to keep her hair in a knot on the back of her head. She reminds me so much of the crazy teacher character in Men in Black they show on the big screen. I crack up every time I see that. But the point is, I seriously did not get geometry. So to use it as an argument about the sun doesn’t help me, but the graphics work better. LOL.

Sun dogs? Maybe not…

Here in Alaska we have this phenomena called Sun Dogs. We see more than one sun at a time. It is much like the top two photos. And then there are the bottom two photos. Ugh. We have been fooled once again.

So I have a wandering mind. My dad this morning (he is 95) informed me that he always loved that about me. How I would dive into a subject, get the gist of it, and move on to the next thing that caught my imagination. Ha-Ha. I responded that I am very much “a jack of all trades but master of none” in my intellectual pursuits. He replied that he wishes he could invert that about me. (Still not exactly meeting his expectations, even at my age!). He did, however, tell me he was proud of how I pursued knowledge in many, disparate, subjects. In college, I changed my major so many times that when I went into change it for the final attempt at grasping a degree, the kid at the counter asked me if my student ID was fake because “that’s a real old ID number.” So I took 10 years…I learned a lot. Ha-Ha-Ha.

Today I am still in that exploding brain emoji pattern. I keep being shown more and more evidence that still has the ability to rock my world. Hubby is coming out of it, but he is just pissed in general. It is part of that “cognitive dissonance” experience. I learned just a week ago that honey is actually bee vomit. We eat bee vomit. And it has rocked my world. I haven’t had honey since that day. Euwww….although I have since learned that bees have two stomachs, and one is for honey nectar and water. They do, however, spit it out of their mouths from this special stomach. So for me, still euwww. (Ha-Ha-Ha! Some things should not be messed with).

Bee doing its’ spitting thing in a hive…

So perhaps you can see how my brain does not let me get good rest. I keep throwing all these things into the air and grabbing onto them, and more I have not listed, daily. And as I sit here, I am trying to decide what dessert to bring for our pinochle game tonight. It is a veritable rabbit’s warren in my head. How do we find peace in amongst all this chaos? For me, it is in prayer. It is in community with like-minded people. You know you have found your tribe when you can express what you are thinking, sans any filters, and are accepted for who you are. How refreshing is that??? Good friends, community, all hemmed in with faith and prayer. The world can careen out of control, but if we tend our own yards, we can find peace. If each person in this world would tend to their own yard, imagine how quiet and peaceful the world could be. Of course, there are variants in all things, but the overall, and overreaching, tone would be one of peaceful growth – in self and in gardens and in community. So that’s where I hang on. I cling to the promises of God; I commune with Him all the time (“Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner – on constant repeat), and I seek like minded people to commune with. God is so good to me – some days I flounder particularly hard, but He always calms my spirit and brings perspective to all of this. Pray – constantly – my friends. Pray.

Pound Cake

Maybe a pound cake for tonight. Hmmmm….yep; aways thinking…lol! Maybe we are all mad here. LOL.

Save me, O Lord, for I am perishing! Behold my ship is imperiled by the battering of the waves of life and is nigh unto sinking! But as Thou art full of loving-kindness and sympathetic to our weakness, with Thine almighty authority rebuke the tumult of tribulations which threaten to overwhelm me and drag me down into the depths of evil. And let there be calm, for even the winds and the sea are obedient to thee. Amen.

Akathist to Almight God – for Help in trouble, st. paisius orthodox monastery

“…and I choose joy…”

Choose joy…

Today I read an interesting post. It spoke about how there is just so much ugly in the world – anger, violence, disrespect, war, famine, disease, deception…. over and over. It is almost like people are choosing the wrong thing on purpose…

There are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.

Stairway to heaven – Led Zeppelin, Robert Plant

In this post, the writer urged everyone to choose joy, to choose the right path. Choose to write, to compose, to dance, to sing in the rain, to love this crazy life and to be the light to others by the way in which we live. To be that example of a life well-lived.

Our son showed us a video last night. The video showed a pile on the floor of one jelly bean for every day you are going to live. I’ve lived over twenty-three thousand days. That’s a pretty big pile of jelly beans, so far. I’m hoping for ninety, so I have another 20,000+ to go! How many days did I waste? How many spent doing absolutely nothing of consequence? The video broke down bathroom time, TV time, relationship time, even how much time you will spend commuting! It brought me to a sobering moment – of the waste of what God granted to me.

Francis Chan and the Rope

Francis Chan is an evangelical pastor. I happen to like his approach. A lot of people do not like him because he keeps straying from his “lane” and sliding over into mainstream beliefs and he’s dissed the evangelical movement a little here and there. He’s sort of a spiritual rebel and I gotta say, I like it! The photo above is when he spoke about “what are we preparing for?” and he showed red paint at the end of a long rope. In his explanation, he said we spend so much time worrying about the red section and then we forget about all that length of rope, representing eternity. The red section is our time here on earth. It is very short. In light of eternity, it is miniscule. But we focus on paying bills and getting married, buying the right house and driving the right car. Some women collect purses or watches. Some men collect guns or sports memorabilia or fishing trophies. It is pretty insane. We seem to put our investments where our heart lays. Where is your investment?

Investments

I have been digging into my soul today. There are corners that need to be mucked out, that is for sure. Great Lent is just ahead. The readings for the Pharisee and the Publican were just read in Church. And once again I had to look at myself from the perspective of the Pharisee, and Publican, both.

Now he also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and told others they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt. “Two men went up to the temple to pray; one a Pharisee and one a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and began praying in this manner to himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: swindlers, crooked, adulterers, or even this tax collector. I fast twice a week and I pay tithes all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to raise his eyes toward heaven, but was beating his chest, saying ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner.’ I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other one; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 12:9-14 (NASB)

Do I attend church so others can see me pray? Do I perform gestures or dress in a certain way as to gain approval from those around me? Or do I attend church because I need to be there?

The church is not a hotel for saints, it is a hospital for sinners.

St. Augustine of hippo

For me, finding God has been pretty much a lifelong pursuit. I have been baptized seven (7) times – you read that right. Seven times. Why? Each time my parents changed churches, we were baptized again. Because each time it was a different denomination of Protestant. Guess they didn’t trust the other guy. When I entered the Catholic Church, the priest and I met many times. He asked me about baptism and confirmation and any other sacraments I may have had. When he learned of all my baptisms, he asked if I had been baptized as an infant and I let him know that I had – St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. He said, “Yay! Trinitarian! We’ll take it!” I thought that was hilarious. But that started me onto another path, searching for God.

The Pathway to God…

I had an interesting chat with a friend’s mom yesterday. She told me she had left the Church for 17 years and the infant son of her daughter brought her back. And she discovered Christ in the Tabernacle. She knows, with no doubt in her heart, that Jesus is there, always. And she visits Him often. She worries for her daughter, because she no longer attends Mass, but I assured her the faith was there, just not the practice. She may not attend Mass, but my friend is a prayer warrior! Their pathways are different, but their common goal is Christ. And although many of us worship differently, we all share a common belief in Christ.

I really hate arguing about faith details, because to some, your salvation is judged by the denomination of the church you attend; how believers look down on you if you are not of their particular persuasion. People are becoming more and more black and white – judgmental. I am trying, as hard as I can, to be more accepting of others. To ignore, or look past the package, and see the person. As far as I believe, we are all endeavoring to make it to the presence of God in Heaven. The route might be different, but the goal (as I said before) is the same. I would propose we support one another in our chosen pathway, and assist as best we can. There are people who purport to be Christians, but they do not treat others like Christ would. They neither support nor encourage our walk with God. And that, my friends, is sad. Heaven is a big, big tent. None of us have been there and returned to explain the details. We all have the Scriptures and various preachers telling us how to proceed. Well, proceed with caution!

Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture! declares the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:1
The Cross and Crown

Today it is blowing snow. We are expecting up to 5″ just this afternoon. And we are supposed to get 2-3″ every day over the next week. The sun must be up there because we have “light” but it is hard to see the back fence. I know the sun is there, because I have seen it. I have spent gloriously sunny days mucking about in my garden. I know the brightness and the warmth of the sun on my head. I know the tingle my skin gets when I have had too much sun. And today, in a pretty crazy snow storm, I am choosing the joy of the sun! I know it is there, even though I cannot see or feel it. I know it is there.

God is there. Always. The King of Heaven, who hung on the cross for me. He is there always. Like my friend’s mom believes when she visits the tabernacle – He is there. And so today, it is a joyful day. Among the muck of the world and people losing their freedoms, shortages on the market shelves, and the black and white of it all, and all this snow – both God and the Son are there. So today, I am joyful.

On a dime…

On a dime…

Every once in a while, your life goes in a completely different direction. And it does so quickly. Like spinning a dime. My husband and I enjoy relative good health. We eschew many mainstream medical choices. Our GP is a DO – and osteopathic doctor. Treats the whole body. The whole person. I like that. Believes in taking control of your health. Likes vitamin regimens. Likes to see you exercise. Likes to see all her patients happy and healthy. We rarely ever visit her office.

Around the beginning of October, the hubs and I were exposed to Covid. So we stayed home. We treated it like the flu. We did our vitamin regimen. Probably not as diligently as we could have, because we got pretty sick. He was sleeping 20 hours a day and was so groggy and so tired. I just felt lousy. Our adult kids came to see us at the behest of our youngest son, who was concerned about us. They walked in and I guess I looked pretty sick. They called 9-1-1 and I was sent by ambulance to the hospital. Severe Covid. My blood oxygen saturation was 71. It is supposed to be 97 or better. Probably too much information, but I ended up being in the hospital for 6 days. My husband was sent by ambulance about 4 hours after I was. We ended up next to each other in the ER. He had Covid dementia. I did not know you could get that. It was why he was sleeping so much. It happens in about 20% of all cases. You can also get paralyzed. Who knew? I learned so much about Covid while in the hospital. I am still learning. I am home, but on oxygen 24/7. I got an enlarged heart from Covid, and I also became diabetic. It was just such a nice basket of goodies. And we are slowly coming out from under this thing.

Fearful?

I was asked if I have changed my mind about vaxxing or the illness itself. The “plandemic.” And I can say that many aspects of it have changed for me. For example, I am a little fearful of getting sick again. I almost died. And I am so conflicted on the mask thing. I know in my head they are useless. I just don’t want this again. So do I wear one? Do I stay home? I’m still connected to the oxygen machine, so I am literally tied down at home. (I need to get my portable one filled before I can go anywhere). I even used a shopping app on my phone and did my grocery shopping online, and we had a pick up time and everything. It was so weird, but kinda easy, too. It helped when neither of us was able or had the energy to go to the store. But am I becoming a hermit?

Wilderness Get-Away

We already live in Alaska. Which for most is rather isolated. But we live in a neighborhood. However, I only know one of my neighbors. So we are sort of isolated already. However, you can isolate yourself in a 20-story apartment building in downtown New York City. It’s how you move through life that counts. And we have a smaller circle of friends. We do. We have narrowed it over the years. But interestingly enough, when we got very ill, we had a community rally behind us. Calling us. Coming by to assist us. And our friends scattered over the lower 48 rallied with prayers and FaceTime. It really made me see how treasured some of the people in our lives are.

We could not have done a thing without our kids. My son and his wife who live near us, saved our bacon. They called 9-1-1. They took over our bills and even made our house payment online for us. They contacted our insurance. They stocked our refrigerator with healthy food. They were our go-between when we needed one. They were our connection with hospital staff and family members. It was something I was so honored to have. A real relationship. It goes deep and I treasure it.

Here we are!

Now it’s pretty much just the two of us. And our dogs. And now that the drama of our illness has passed, while we are recuperating, the intense scrutiny is over and so are the calls. I don’t blame anyone. Not one bit. We spend our days doing more and more, but still resting and napping a lot. Luckily my husband works from home and he can set his hours. He is pretty much back up to speed. I’m hampered with breathing and blood sugar. But we are bored and lonely, too.

Recuperating from something as serious as this was, makes you stop and think. I have never prayed so much in my life. I was laid in this special cushion on my stomach with a face cut out sort of like a massage cushion, while on intense oxygen therapy, for 7 hours a day. They were trying to get the infected junk out of my lungs. And so there was not much to do. I was able to squeeze my phone under there and I would stare at my screen saver of my husband and myself, which was taken just in September. We were both laughing and having a great time. And it kept me going. Seriously frightening to have your doctor tell you there was not much more they could do before they would have to intubate you! I fought for every breath I took. I am still fighting for deep, sustained breathing. They would let me out of this cushion thing for meals and a couple of hours of TV and sitting up, but then right back in it….all night long, too.

Maternity Massage Pillow I used.

I had legions of angels around me. I could feel the prayers. I could feel the energy. And I would do my breathing exercises as much as I could until I was exhausted. The nurses came and patted my back. They gave me breathing treatments by reaching the machine down and under the face part. They were as determined as I was to get me well. And I literally thanked God for the nursing staff. The doctor and I butted heads, but at least he supported my point of view. He even told me, “I am not your dictator. I am your partner in getting you well.”

Dr. Pol

It has been an amazing journey – into the hospital/medical side of this thing. Is it what I thought? No. It’s far more. The doctor told me they have no cure. They have no magical drug. Each person’s reaction is unique and they are running by the seat of their pants. There is no protocol in place. No perfect way to treat anyone. Each person’s case is unique. And with each person’s reaction to this thing, they come up with another way to attack it. I had no idea I was at such risk. I had no idea how poor my health truly was. I had no idea my life was on the line. And it stopped me short. And it has me contemplating for most of my days. Unless I’m watching the Hallmark channel, or The Incredible Dr. Pol on National Geographic. Ha-Ha. Trust me, they relieved my stress!!!

Am I all better? Not by a long shot. I am learning about blood sugar and food. What I can and cannot have. I have experimented with recipes. But it zaps all the strength out of me to cook, and so I am stuck with a few favorites that work. I know I will master this diabetes thing in time. But it is frustrating as all get out, on a daily basis. Who knew? I certainly had no idea. And my fingertips are sore from all the poking. Ha-Ha. My lungs are healing and that is amazing. They would feel like shards of glass were in them when I would breathe in. It was not fun. It is still there, but very minuscule in comparison. I hate having this thing up my nose all the time, but at least I am clear-headed and can breathe. I’m such a mouth-breather and had no idea how bad that is for your lungs! I am learning.

Do I believe in vaccinating with the vaccines being offered? I do not. I have natural immunity now, and with my temporarily enlarged heart, I cannot have the vaccine. Do I think you should get it? No, I don’t. There are too many unknown variables and too many outcomes that are not good, that are being hidden from the public. If you only watch TV for your information, you are missing out on 99% of the story. For a virus that is 99% survivable. I survived it. I am a survivor. Did I almost become a statistic? I certainly did. But I did not succumb. And if I can do it with all my comorbidities, so can you. I do not believe this is about our health. I believe it is about control. I believe it is about big government and big pharma and keeping us sick and dependent. I hate that I am dependent now. I abhor the way it happened. But I would rather it turned out this way than to become a vaccine injury statistic.

Is covid real? It is. It is a weird virus that can effect every person in a unique way. I had no idea about the depth of this virus. Do I thank God for every day? I truly do. I feel like I have been given a second chance at life and I do not intend to waste a moment. Hug those you love. Tell them you love them. Pray to God every moment of every day. Thank Him for your life. And live every day to its utmost.

God meets you where you are.

I bought this gift for myself this year. I normally hang my calendar (s) near my washer in the laundry room. I catch up on upcoming events and holy days, and give myself something to ponder while mindlessly doing laundry. But this calendar is special. Even the paper it is made of is pretty and strong and thick. So this year, I hung this calendar next to my desk. And my sweet husband has not noticed the new hole in that wall. LOL. He will after he reads this, if he does. LOL.

What I wanted to share is that this simple calendar really touched me. I love this sort of primitive folk art and her colors and content just captivated me. It spoke to my heart, right where I am today. Let’s face it, 2020 kind of stunk. There were joyful highlights to be sure, but the tone of the year will go down in the history books as one of the least fun years. I find it fascinating that a strain of flu has been used to shut down entire nations and their economies. The CDC estimates that the death rate overall in the USA will be less in 2020 than it was in 2019, before this bug invaded our country. But the lockdowns are still around; curfews are being implemented; people are protesting; and even the more liberal among us are pretty much over the mask mandates. So many people I know have lost their livelihoods. And many more are no longer friends with people they’ve known their whole lives; not to mention all the families with members no longer speaking – all because of a simple flu strain that is 99% recoverable. It saddens me that so many do not question narratives but choose to mask up and abide the lockdowns.

There is so much going on out there. The Rally at the Capital had a dramatic turn/twist. I fully believe that there was no rioting by Patriots, but by actors inciting and leading the way. I find it interesting that politicians had fully typed commentary on the “violence” by Trump supporters prepared and were able to preach and pontificate, even proposing legislation and enacting public policy, so close on the heels of their “frightening” ordeal. After a warning on their laptops, they retreated into their tunnels and safety from the antics of the paid actors (there are a series of tunnels and trams that take politicians to all the major DC buildings. Otherwise there would be no room for the rest of humanity of the city streets). The sole alleged murder (because reports of this being a false flag are circulating today. No blood at the scene and a sighting of the victim on a return flight to CA) of a peaceful veteran was not by a DC policeman, but rather by a staff member paid to protect a legislator. There are conflicting reports but I certainly will never again trust our media. The on-the-scene cell phone videos are far more trustworthy than our media is or has been. And the eye witness accounts paint a far different picture than CNN.

The world is not peaceful right now. People are angry and upset. And feel like they have no say and no power in their lives. Many decades ago, my mom worked for a real estate company that specialized in governmental acquisitions. Her job was to finalize purchases and to ensure all the titles were transferred properly. There was a project in the greater Los Angeles area for a new freeway expansion. The homeowners had no say in this project and they were required to sell their homes to the government. They call it “eminent domain.” The government was being fair, right? They get fair market value for their homes. No chance to make a profit by holding out, nor the ability to not sell and stay put. And that is when I learned that nothing I own is really mine. Whenever my husband and I have purchased a home and we have made those horrendous house payments, we have discussed how this beautiful place we call “our home” is never really ours. Until we make that last payment, the bank owns it. If the borough or the state decide to put in a skating rink and declare “eminent domain,” they can forcibly take our home, or remove us from it. Nothing, and I repeat this, nothing is ever really ours.

For Christmas, I was given the book above, Pierced by a Sword, along with the two other books that are in this series. God meets us, truly, where we are! And when we need Him! This friend prayed I would read these books as she gathered them together as a gift for me, along with some baked goods, a coffee mug, and a rosary her dad made, all wrapped in a warm shawl. Her dad has Alzheimer’s and is now confined to a memory facility, but he can make a rosary. How profound is that? Anyway, to make a long and interesting story short, I read this book – again. I read it several times more than 20 years ago. And I even knew the author and gave his books out to people (St. Jude Media distributed these books at no cost. Please go to their website at http://www.catholicity.com for the fastest way to get one into your hands). Let me just say, this gift was heartfelt and the Lord placed it on her heart to give it to me. And trust me when I tell you – this book is even more relevant today than it was 20+ years ago. I wept. I laughed. I was hooked, once again, on the characters and the storyline. I was also reminded that our world is careening out of control towards heathenism, debauchery, and absolute hell on earth. And nothing, absolutely nothing, is ever really ours. We cannot depend on our country or government to stay intact, nor our home being ours; nor our friends remaining friends; or our family staying intact. The sole thing we can rely and depend upon is our faith in God, and His unending and bountiful Mercy.

If you think the political and social world we are in right now is bad, it can easily be much, much worse. We are truly in a battle of good vs. evil. This is so far, far beyond the scope of Democrat vs Republican, or Liberal vs Conservative. So few of us bother to do more than give a cursory glance to what the media tells us. The black box in our hands or on the walls of our homes drones endless streams of information into our heads, and sadly it is not for our betterment. There is a narrative and those who control the media control that narrative. And through that, they control most of us. And they have no interest in the freedom of religion. They want our god to be our jobs, the car we want to buy, the purse we carry, the latest movie being released or the next sports game being televised, or the house we buy – anything but the Lord of All Creation. Because they deny God even exists. They removed Him from our schools, our sports, the movies, and TV – unless it shows a weakened, watered-down version of faith. God tells us all life is sacred – but our government, the medical professionals, and Wall Street all sell us that if a life is getting in the way, get rid of it. There is nothing parenthood-related about Planned Parenthood – its’ goal is to stop you from being a parent. What is our defense? The Full Armor of God. We need to seriously turn off those black boxes, and we need to return to the life of an active Christian. If you are Catholic, get yourself to Mass. Pray the rosary. Go to confession. Receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. And if you are a different strain of Christian, attend church services. Go to bible study. Get your kids to youth group. Character counts – surround yourself with people of character. People who strive to be their best selves. People who believe in God. Fill your homes with the symbolism that reminds you and everyone who comes to your home, that you are a Christian. Hang pictures, put a cross up, apply those decals that spell out great Bible verses on them, onto your walls. Do not let the evil one get a foothold into your homes or families, because he is prowling about, seeking the ruin of souls.

As the book, Pierced by a Sword, captured my heart and brought me to my knees, it also gave me peace and hope. If the world does go like some think it will, we will live in love and peace. If evil prevails, it will be our own fault through lack of faith and prayer. Because God is just waiting for us to turn to Him. Do not wait. Do not pass go and collect your $200! Time marches on and evil is prowling about. I can feel it. It is like the world is collectively holding its breath. And God waits. He waits on us all to turn back to Him and ignore the chaos all around us. Deep breath, and pray:

And the great doxology: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

Sensory and informational overload, God and a fern…

I know, another photo of the beauty up here. But I can’t help it! This weekend we were privileged to tour a national park and it was so amazing. The couple we shared it with made the weekend even better. But, sometimes I get overwhelmed with input. You know how sometimes you can just get sensory and mental overload? I got that. My brain was blurring what I was seeing. Too much nature over too long of a time. LOL. It sounds awful, doesn’t it? That I saw too much beauty and my brain shut down? Sadly enough, it did. Perhaps if I lived in a completely different area, it would seem different or fresh. But it quickly became “more of the same.” Yes, it is stunning and amazing and beautiful. But when you drive in a bus for 8 hours in a national park, your brain starts to rebel a little bit. I had to fight to not take a nap!

Have you ever felt overloaded with information? I know that my kids have complained about it while studying for exams, and I recall the feeling in college, too. You actually look forward to the test, in some perverse way, to spout all that information you have been cramming inside your head, just to get some relief. When you study for the test, cramming just gives that information temporary residence. Once you take the test and spew it all out, most of us retain very little of it. And I was worried about that this weekend. I was seeing so much beauty and nature, I was concerned I would not (a) appreciate it to its fullest, or (b) retain my memories.

Sometimes when we are around something too much, we forget the beauty and the incredible part it plays in our lives. Sometimes we even forget we live among beautiful things, because we have had it all our lives. I’m going out on a limb here, but sometimes it reminds me of former smokers or drinkers, who love to talk about how life is better now, while you sip that glass of wine. Or, worse yet, converts. To whatever it is you already belong to, a convert’s joy and fervor almost drives you away. Ha-Ha. Unfortunately, I am a former smoker and a convert. So I have been teased and teased again for my excitement and fervor.

This weekend, I met some people traveling by cruise ship, who were bussed and took the train to where we were visiting. We had a nice chat. One lady was from Los Angeles and the other had retired to Tennessee. They meet at this hotel each year and go on cruises together, with this national park as their starting point. Their perspective on the state I live in was interesting. They love looking at it, but “could never live here.” Too much sun in summer, and not enough in winter. Although they did say they loved the long, summer days and mild temperatures, the winters scared them.

And I found myself listening in my head to all the things I had heard and seen this weekend, and some thoughts came to me. It made me sad that others loved where I lived, but “could never live here.” How often do we become lax and cynical about our faith, because it has always been there? For those of us who are new and discovering our faith (I’ve been learning and discovering for over 30 years now) we seem to notice all the little details and nuances, because we are learning. When it becomes old hat or repetitive, we need to take a look inside. Just like I was dismissing all the grandeur around me this weekend. I had to mentally slap myself in order to amp up my excitement and joy over what I was experiencing. I also knew I was cramming a lot of information into my little brain, and I desperately did not want to lose any of it. I quickly did a photo album on my FB page, to share with others, and I am posting photos here, as well as thinking about all of it. I am hoping it will stick!!

Some of us are suited to small, intimate gatherings and crowds just don’t cut it for us. We can relate one-on-one, but could never speak in front of a crowd. Sometimes we get what is called “over stimulated” and cannot wait for quieter, simpler interactions. I spent 8 hours on a tour bus peopled with complete strangers, with a wide range of personalities and excitement levels, not to mention traditions, cultures, and even languages. It was a good experience for me, but I could not wait to get back to the quiet of our little car and just the 4 of us in our party. I felt so full of voices and sounds and sights…I needed quiet. So off to our hotel rooms we went, to rest up before dinner. We had some down time and then enjoyed a patio dinner before rushing inside to avoid the rainstorm! What a memorable trip with some really fun traveling companions!

Do you ever attend Church at a new place? Like when you are on vacation? And you don’t fit in, or you stand out, because you are different? We stopped at this little town on our way home and went to the most amazing little place, the “Roadhouse.” What a great experience we had. It is a family-style restaurant and hostel for people who are going to scale the large mountain we had just visited. The place is not fancy in any way. And I loved it. They had chairs and benches, lots of old photos and flags, telling the stories of people who had scaled the mountain, and those who had lost their lives attempting their climb. I enjoyed the best Mushroom/Swiss Quiche I have ever tasted. They are not afraid of mushrooms! And we all tasted some raspberry/rhubarb wine that was divine. I even brought home some hand-made cinnamon rolls we had for breakfast this morning. It is a place I will gladly return to again. But did I fit in? Not really. In some ways, yes I did. But one of the funny things is that I truly didn’t care. I just took it all in and found enjoyment where I was. We ran into people we know, whose daughter lives in a small town in Northern California, where dairies are around every turn in the road, and we know people in common. How random and how perfect for our weekend!

How often do we become “sensory blind” and not notice what is around us? How often do we miss little joys like a fantastic mushroom quiche served in a building that has been there since the 1800s? How often do we miss the nuances of life because we have become inured to them and don’t notice?

This can happen in our faith life, too. Every once in awhile I have an amazing experience where God physically and emotionally touches me, and makes me know He is truly here with me, in person. But for the majority of time, I trust. I have faith that He is here. I don’t worry about finding Him at each liturgy I attend. Some people look and if they do not see Him or “feel” Him, they leave. They want an “authentic” experience each and every weekend. And sometimes looking so hard overloads their input….like I experienced this weekend at the national park. We have to be conscious of our surroundings at all times, looking for the gentle whisper of God everywhere. I experienced that this weekend, imbuing myself with nature and the grandeur in which I live, learning to appreciate this all over again. Each and every time we pray, we read Scripture, or we attend Liturgy, we need to renew ourselves and our faith. And quite often, we will find something unexpected, like a fern growing so far north…

“…break off and have a cup of tea.”

God is so good. I am loving my journaling experience so much, and I am filled with hope, and joy. I am so beat-up tired, but I am happy. Exultant, even. I am so over moving. I truly hate packing stuff and shoving it into a box. I really do. I am, however, looking forward to our new home and putting down some roots. It feels good.

And then my day got going. And I had a fairly enjoyable time, enjoying breakfast with my kids and grandkids, getting some stuff we needed at the store, gas in my car, and resting up a bit (it was Sunday). And then we headed over to our son’s home, where he is installing a fence.

Sunday was a feast day – the celebration where the Apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit. I mean, I can sort of relate to how the Apostles must have felt. They had followed this Man who filled them with joy and awe. He was healing people and speaking truths they had never pondered. He was doing and saying things that normal men could not do. Who was He? Was He truly God Incarnate? Their lives were up-ended and completely changed. And then He was crucified. It was a horrific death. And the politics were crazy at the time, too. They ran; they hid; they were afraid. He promised He would return, and He did! He showed up in their midst with the holes in His hands to prove it was Him. But then He said He had to “go home” to the Father. And they were, once again, afraid. He also promised to send them the “Holy Spirit,” Who would fill them with love and be with them always. And we celebrated this on Sunday – the Descent of the Holy Spirit onto the Apostles – Pentecost – 40 days after Christ rose to be with His Father, our God. And we believe the Holy Spirit is still with us, protecting us and enervating our lives. We keep this sense of the holy within us. We celebrate how the Holy Spirit resides in all peoples, across the world. Some believe that can only happen if you accept Christ as your personal Savior. Others say only 144,000 will be saved. (Had that argument a time or two). Still others say that only if you are baptized in their church, are you “saved” and going to heaven. Yeah; I have other things to say on that.

People teach their children by their words and their actions. And if you keep them at home to school them, you are their sole example of life. That is it. I know many homeschoolers who isolate their children from the world, thinking it will somehow save them from being affected by it. I have known homeschooled kids who also snuck off every free moment to do drugs and have wanton sex with many partners, while teens, and while being perceived as “innocent” and “precious darlings” by their naive parents. Boy, were they surprised (and frankly, so was I about some of them!!). And I have known many publicly schooled children who were far better saints. I believe it has something to do with how you model life for them. How you are in front of your children, when no one else is there. Those precious, teachable moments. Those moments cling far more than an English paper they were forced to write, prayers they had to memorize, or keeping your kids away from other children who are being raised differently than you are raising yours. We chose to homeschool for the academics, and the faith followed. But we never isolated our kids. For most of their pre-teen years, we had no network TV. However, they played baseball, soccer, ice hockey, and even rugby. Our kids were always in this world, but we taught them to not be of this world. And I saw character in my kids yesterday, and I was proud of them.

I was, however, profoundly disappointed in myself yesterday. I was angry. I was not carrying a palm branch for peace to anyone. I was not an example of the Holy Spirit to anyone. I was a mother bear and I was going to bat for my kids. And my kids have kids. They are adults. They are married. LOL. It doesn’t matter one iota. Someone has been attacking my family and I was protecting them. Trust me. Do not harm my family. Ever. But I am disappointed that I allowed my protectiveness for my family to over-ride my faith. I know Jesus lost His temper many times. And He was totally justified. I am not sure I was. I did not model a decorous, peace-loving, quiet hearted, Christian woman. Rather, I was a shouting, angry, protective mother. Not good. My heart was racing and I as so very, very angry. It has taken about a year to build up, with my kids being insulted and spoken down to; having their dreams shattered at the hands of people who say they are one thing, but act totally the opposite; and having people do little things to place yet another pea in the mattress of my kids’ lives. And when I received a call with an hysterical, sobbing, daughter-in-law on the phone, I reacted. We raced to their sides. (We discovered my new car has a lot of “pick up and go”!!) We defended our family. And their legal rights. And their character. And we tried to shelter the little children from all of it.

The truly sad thing is that these people did not shelter their kids, at all. And they affected my grandchildren. Ugh. I get angry just reliving the moments. And I missed going to Church, trying to calm everyone (and myself) down; trying for a compromise with people who don’t understand the concept of what that truly means; and trying to help my own kids feel like they were not bad people, after having their very character called into question. It devolved so badly, it will now be in the hands of their attorney. (They already consulted with their attorney and KNOW they have all the rights and these other people have no leg to stand on. And yet, refuse to accept the legality of it. Raspberry bushes and fences – disrespectful people and little children run astray. It could be a soap opera. And now we start the next phase. So so sad!). And my grandson, last night, asking his dad if he was all those things the neighbors accused him of being. Broke our hearts.

And so, how do I find peace? How do I relate to the Holy Spirit in this conflict? I was told many years ago, by a priest, that sometimes we are called to be elsewhere, doing other things, and not be attending Church, and, that at those moments, we are BEING Church. Like when you want to be a part of the Liturgy, celebrating Easter (this totally happened to us) and have a VERY FUSSY BABY, that will not be calmed by anything other than a nice stroll in the sunshine, outside of the Church building. And your priest calmly telling you that at that moment, pacing with your baby, you were doing exactly what God called you to do, and that is BEING CHURCH. Not attending, and barely even taking anything in, but BEING what it means to be called, “Christian.” And through my anger yesterday, I knew I was off the rails a little bit. My presentation lacked. But the message was the same. (Stop spouting things at people, being a hypocrite and not living the same things you pretend you are. Stop accusing and manipulating your children; stop acting out like a child yourself. Take personal responsibility for raising good, Christian kids, like you say you are.). I said many things that were truth, but they perhaps were lost in the presentation, and for that I sought forgiveness. Not what I said, but how I delivered it. And in the end, I felt the hand of God on our family. The Spirit was there. (Perhaps in overabundance of fervor and zest, but there!).

We all learned something about ourselves yesterday. We truly, truly love one another. We will be there in a pinch. When the chips are down, we know we have one another’s back. We are blood – by birth or choice – and we are united. In all of it. And for that little test, I am supremely grateful. Our family is strengthened and was proofed in fire, so to speak. Thanks be to God.

I also learned that sometimes my sense of family, and my protective instincts, get the better of me. And I need to work on that. There are so many wise Church Fathers who exhort us to let the things of this world pass us by. And I forgot it all yesterday. Which means I have so far to go in my growth as a good, solid, Christian woman. And for that, I will redouble my efforts at finding that sweet spot between being in this world, and becoming a part of it. The Saints really had that down – our recent, modern day martyrs for the faith in the Middle East and elsewhere have exhibited it, far better than most of us, up until experiencing even death for their faith. I fell remarkably short.

Father Vasile Tudora posted on the Orthodox Christian Network. In an article about Depression, he wrote:

“So what to do? In an interview I recently read, the Archimandrite Sophrony Sacharov, of blessed memory, at that time a younger monk, was asked by a visiting priest: “Fr. Sophrony, how will we be saved?” Fr. Sophrony prepared him a cup of tea, gave it to him, and told him, “Stand on the edge of the abyss of despair and when you feel that it is beyond your strength, break off and have a cup of tea.” Obviously this was a very odd answer, and the young priest was definitely confused. So off he went to St. Silouan the Athonite, who lived not far from there, and told him everything, asking for advice. Long story short, next day, St. Silouan came to the cell of Fr. Sophrony and the two started a conversation about salvation. The beautiful fruit of their conversation was an unforgettable phrase that I would like to also offer as the answer to our conversation today about depression: “Keep your mind in hell and despair not.”

At first glance, St. Silouan’s take on salvation is not less strange that Fr. Sophrony’s initial answer, but it actually makes great sense. In traditional Christianity, the difficulties of life, the hardships are assumed as part of our fallen existence. Our bodies and our minds suffer the torments, but this is nothing but a temporary stage. The ascetic Fathers considered them as tests on par with the athletic exercises, very useful in practicing and improving the powers of the soul like patience, kindness, hope, faith and so forth. We keep our mind in hell when we consciously assume the pain of living in a fallen world, when we learn from this passing agony to avoid the even greater torture of an eternity without Christ. But there is hope in this suffering because Christ himself has suffered them first and has opened for us a way out of despair, a way out of pain, a way out of death. Christ is the well of life, the bread of eternity, and the only Man we need.

So as Christians we keep our minds in hell and we despair not, but courageously give glory to God in all things, even in pain, hoping, always hoping, in our Savior, the only One who can take us out of the brink of despair and set us for a new life in Him. In Him we put our hope, in Him we find our purpose, and on Him we set our goal.”

And today, I take solace in loosing my temper, in being a poor example. Because today, at 4:30 am, awaking from a fitful sleep, I realized that the great work of my salvation is far from over. It is still a work in progress. I did not accept Christ into my life as a one-time experience and was then perfected. He snuck into my heart, little by little, embedding Himself in the nous of my existence. And He exhorts me, even in my sleep, to reach for better. To keep getting up again, retrying my salvation in light of this world, and to learn to be thankful each time I do misstep and fall, because He is there, helping me back up. And the Holy Spirit is in me, whispering for me to rise up out of my bed and deal with the things that flutter in my heart, causing me unrest; causing me to rise with the bleak rainfall and see the green that is growing around me, the world that is blooming after a harsh winter, giving me courage to keep trying. Hope. It is still there, and I am smiling again today.

“…burst out in songs of thanksgiving…”

SOOOO much going on!! We are in escrow on a new house. Always seems to be a few bumps in the road. Trying to be organized and diligent. But sometimes my stomach just cannot handle the stresses assailing us right now. And today, it is not happy – my stomach that is.

Yesterday, our youngest graduated from High School. We homeschool but use a system here that is amazing, and is called IDEA. They put on a very nice graduation, combining three districts, which means we had 110 graduates on the stage. Some of these students had to FLY in to be here. We have a large state. Coming from a public school background myself, I know that 110 students is not a large number; I think we had 300+ in my class. But they do something really cool – they have the parents award the students their diplomas (the fake ones) and each student gets to say a little something if they want to. Then the family poses for photos. This was done at our performing arts center downtown. On a stage. With 110 students. Yeah. It was over 2 hours. The speeches were short and sweet; the musical performances were amazing; the student’s receiving their diplomas was …. long. Even the Master of Ceremonies (the Dean) was ready to get that show on the road! LOL! My stomach had been upset as we were rushing out of the house to get there in time for rehearsal (they do it before the ceremony) and to find a parking spot. I still get lost going downtown, much to my family’s amusement. I had a map the school provided with me, so that helped, but I am still not used to where I am going. Once we parked, all my nerves settled. I wasn’t even that nervous going up on the stage. As I went up, I reminded myself the hard part was over. We completed 12 years of schooling and he was done! All that was left was a hug and handing him that fake diploma…and photos. LOL. But it wreaked havoc on my system…the nerves, then eating out and far too much, and now this escrow hiccup this morning…my tummy is letting me know enough is enough. And I need to listen. Sometimes too much stress is NOT healthy.

“The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” Psalm 28:7

“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!” Hebrews 10:35

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22

I found these quotes in a lovely article on the Proverbs 31 site by Linda Evans Shepherd, the author of, “The Stress Cure.” She has a blog, too. And her thoughts were great. And then, as I read in my Proverbs for today, “A house is built by wisdom.” (Proverbs 24:3) and then I read…“If you fall under pressure, your strength is too small.” (Proverbs 24:10). And these verses spoke to me. And to my stomach. I keep trying to rely on myself. And with so many things up in the air right now in our lives, I am letting the evil one whisper in my ear. And I need to shut that down and focus on God’s promises to us all.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1Corinthians 10:13).

That quote is where we get the adage, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” And I know I am tempted to give in to the negative, which is what my stomach is trying to remind me of. I cannot rejoice in my blessings if I am constantly focusing on the minor things going awry in my life. The way out that the Lord gives me is my faith. And to trust in those around me, working for my good. Rushing to appointments and getting lost in traffic, or not being able to get a parking spot, those all things common to everyone. And the Lord did not let me down and I believe that is where my peace came from. As soon as I pulled into that parking spot yesterday, my soul was at rest. Today, as my stomach roiled against me and I had to fight the urge to actually throw up, I was able to calm myself by reaching for my faith. And for me, it is currently the Book of Proverbs, and my Bible Journaling. And guess what? The Lord did not let me down, again. He is always there to buoy us against the “wickedness and snares of the devil”….

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle,
be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil;
may God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host,
by the power of God, cast into hell
Satan, and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Amen.

I am not alone. The angels and the saints are doing celestial battles for me. I have prayer warriors all around me, that I can call on to pray for me. And when I focus on my many blessings, I realize how foolish I am to get myself all worked up about things. I certainly have far more blessings than trials. And it is almost turning my back on God when I allow my stresses to override my sense of well-being and blessings. That, my friends, is our stupid free will inserting itself into our lives. It is a blessing, to freely think for myself, but my head often gets in-between me and my faith. I need to reign it in and rely more on my inner heart, or the nous, the place where God resides within me, to lead the way.

“Mind is invisibly engaged in battle with the mind––the demon’s mind with our mind. And for this reason it is needful for us to cry out of the depths at each moment to Christ, that He will drive away from us the demon’s mind and give us the prize of victory, as He loves men.”  Hesychius of Jerusalem, Writings from the Philokalia On the Prayer of the Heart, p 289

And so I am declaring myself to be a “stress-free” zone! I am choosing to focus on the Word of God for me, and not that other guy…the bad one who only seeks to destroy. The future is God’s…the end of the story is that God wins. I need to remind myself of that and just relax in His promises for me, for all of us who believe. Won’t you join me?

“…whenever you face trials…”

The weeks seem to race past us. Days become a blur. And every once in awhile, we stop, look around, and get confused. What day is it? What was I going to get accomplished today? Some days I am so tired and I cannot figure out why. I think stress is taking its toll.

I know I am not the best when it comes to managing issues. I prefer to ignore them until I have to deal with them. Putting your head in the sand truly helps no one – especially yourself. We always hear about people being afraid of something and then when they experience that fearful thing, comment something like, “It wasn’t all that bad. I don’t know what I was afraid of.” And truthfully, you sleep better once you tackle that thing you are avoiding.

For me, there are just so many plates I am juggling right now. And the pots are boiling over. And I dropped the ball…again. Sometimes it is just more than one person can focus on. I feel like I should just fall down in a blob of crying messiness. But somehow, when I think I will collapse, I just feel empty. Like a great silence. I can feel my heart racing. I know my blood pressure is raised because I can feel it in my ears and at the top of my head. And yet, I feel still and silent. And that sort of scares me.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Inside my heart, and sometimes actually in my right mind, I know this verse. I know the Lord is with me, and what I face is NOTHING compared to those 3 hours spent on the Cross for me. NOTHING is compared to that sacrifice. And so I started thinking of other promises from God, as I could hear my heart beating in my ears:

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Just reading these verses calms my heartbeat and restores a lovely pattern of inhaling and exhaling that is not one of stress. And as I calm down, once more I recall one of my favorite Psalms:
“When hard pressed, I cried to the LORD; he brought me into a spacious place.
The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 118: 5-6
It is hard to stress too much, when we truly believe in the promises God has given us in his Word, and through our Traditions. God has placed Himself here for us. We can visit Him in
our hearts and minds, and we can join others in rejoicing when we attend Church as a community of believers. It is so nice to know that there is a place I can go where I am welcome and I can pray with others. We can also seek asylum in the friendships we develop around us. We can share our stressors and sometimes just talking about them really helps.
Sometimes we are just called to juggle things for awhile. The Lord is setting the pieces in place and when it is time, everything will settle in. I know that. I do. Reminding myself of that is the hard part. Reminding myself that the Lord is in charge, and not mere mortal man, gives me great comfort. It is a practice I need to hone! LOL!  And as I look at facts, figures, and my calendar, I sometimes let the issues of mortals cloud my peace; they interrupt my sense of the holy. And that is a man-made construct, of which I am guilty. I need to embrace that emptiness and that silence I find when I stop to contemplate my stressors, because what I have come to see is that the silence is the peace of God and the faith of God in my life. He is allowing me to calm my heart rate and my breathing, and grasp the fact that He has all of this. Truly all of it. I write this to remind myself. And if I can help give others hope and a sense of security by sharing this crazy journey, that is an extra blessing.