Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Guilty as Judged

When I am able to resist the temptation to judge others, I can see them as teachers of forgiveness in my life, reminding me that I can only have peace of mind when I forgive rather than judge. ~Gerald Jampolsky

I suppose this battle is a constant undercurrent in my mind, but since that 40-day fast, it seems to have taken more predominance in my day-to-day clashings of thoughts. I am ever so aware that everything—and when I write "everything" I mean everything—that I would find as a fault or infraction done by another person is something of which I am also guilty...by my own judgment. I hear condemnations coming back at myself. Either I have done such at thing or I really wanted to do it...even to I would do it if I had no fear of punishment.

I have evil in my heart. I am just as guilty of every sin there is as any person can possibly be.

It is a very odd thing, the discipleship of a Christian! How you feel so liberated upon accepting Christ because your sins are forgiven. For the very first time in your life, you feel freedom. At this point, you are like the disciplines when Jesus first said to come with Him. It is wonderful...but, even as you are walking with Jesus, you realize you still have human emotions and struggles with sin and the difficulties of life happen. You are learning, but many things seem to be difficult to understand, some meanings seem hidden, and what is all this stuff in parables instead of a clearly defined law?

Hopefully, in your walk, there will come a day that Jesus says for you to leave...go out and pass on what you have learned. You may not feel ready but it is not how much you know that will be of use to the Lord, but how well you listen to Him and how willing you are to do as He asks of you.

Then you begin to realize that everything you preach is speaking to your own soul. You begin to the see the hypocrisy within. You finally begin to see what God would see in you if not for the sacrifice Jesus made to cover your sinful heart and it is there that you feel the terrible sorrow that you have been trying to hide from yourself using Christianity as a shield. God has forgiven you, you will say, so you don't even need to remind Him of what you really wish He could not see, what He already knows.

But it is there.

I am Peter, who talked boldly and lied cowardly. I am Samson, who had such strength because of the Lord but was terribly weak in my humanity. I am a stone thrower and the one they would stone. I am every sinner. I am every sin. I am sorrow.

I am guilty and my sins are my sufferings...but I must not shun away from my Lord now. No, I must run to Him, seek to please Him more, and be closer, even though it might cause me to suffer more for now. I should not just be prepared to suffer but to desire that suffering, not the sinning, but being willing to suffer so that I can stand closer in the radiance of His glory without fear of it.

Again, the hypocrisy...I want that, but do I want...that?

God is so close and I am yet so far away....

~ My Lord, let my desires be only for You and Your desires. ~

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Painting on the Artwork of God

Personally, I experience the greatest degree of pleasure in having contact with works of art. They furnish me with happy feelings of an intensity such as I cannot derive from other realms. ~Albert Einstein

There is something rather special about adding designs and colors on people. Each person is so different. Each being a challenge to paint in differing ways. The most special part, though, is knowing that each has been made by God's hand. I am painting on a being with unique qualities handmade by God. What greater works of art can there be and who am I to embellish them!

I will be face painting this coming Saturday for the 4-H Horse and Pony fall fund raiser. I also have been asked to face paint with a friend for her grandchildren's elementary school fun raiser the Friday evening before, but I am not so sure that I will be able to help with that one. She wanted to learn and she thought it would help me get business. Although I really do enjoy face painting and would like to make some money doing it, I cannot plan such events in advance and be reliable with my husband's work and travel plus having only one car and the Princess would usually have to be with me. However, I am thinking that the Lord will provide the opportunities if that is what I am to do.

I am getting excited about face painting again and I just bought a large a tool box at great price (I am beginning to really like Big Lots!) to fit in all my stuff. Although I keep adding to them every now and then, with the latest addition last spring being neon paints that actually glow under black lights and all different colors of glitter this summer, I was still doing fine with just a basket because the paints and brushes and glitter do not take much room. However, other accessories like water cups, baby wipes, paper towels, hand sanitizer, petroleum jelly (as a colorless glue, basically, for getting the glitter to stick) and such do take up space. I suppose I could put those things in a separate bag as I was doing, but it is nice to just grab the tool box and have everything already in it.

I have not done much face painting since the spring—I even have to bribe the Princess to allow me to paint her these days. So, to help get back into thinking of face painting, I thought I would post some the designs I have not put on my blog before. If you would like to see some of the ones I have posted previously, just click here.

Unicorns are favorites with girls.

This was the design the Princess had when we went to Medieval Times.

Snowflakes...just in case you could not tell.

The Princess attired for the 4-H Horse and Pony Club fun raiser last fall.

A rose to match the designs of her dress.

Butterflies in dots to match the butterfly design of her shirt.

A simple treble clef on her hand.

Giant lady bug gone wild!

My first with neons!

~ My Lord, I cannot improve any being because each is already a work of art made by You, but if it pleases You, let the people be pleased with the art I do and raise the needed funds. Oh, and good weather, my Lord, would also be much appreciated. ~

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Blogiquette for the Blog Crasher

No matter how well you know the rules of netiquette, you will eventually offend someone who doesn't. ~Don Rittner

Have you ever had a blog crasher or...been one? Recently I have had the experience of being crashed in on, which gives me the opportunity to forgive the trespasser and examine my feelings on such actions. I am not writing to give this person's blog more advertising, which is the goal of the blog crasher, but just explain why I feel this behavior is so disrespectful.

First of all, I would like to address the very first excuse used in defensive of blog crashing by most who do it, which is the blog is in the "public domain." Okay, if I am at the park, that does not mean my purse, which is visible to you, is now public domain and you have the right to look into it to find my address book and copy it down, all without my permission; my purse and its contents are still my personal property. I did not want to make my blog completely inaccessible except to approved friends, but I also did not want to broadcast it to the entire Internet either, so I set my blog so it is not picked up by search engines. The only way people find my little sanctuary is through an invitation from me personally or through the few followers I have, who found my blog worth recommending. All of which has been working well. I picked up a few very respectful followers from other people's blogs.

However, there always are going to be people who seem to push the boundaries of etiquette, using one to link to others, and it saddens me greatly that the worse offenders seem to do it in the name of the Lord! Just because I love the Lord and hope I am worthy to be called a Christian does not mean that a fellow Christian has some special right to ignore etiquette, push my buttons to have his way, and not apologize for such trespasses. (My daughter would be in the corner thinking this one over, believe me!) Jesus Himself did not let the Pharisees tell Him how He should be doing things. Yeah, they were not "Christians" and Jesus was Jesus, but they were the religious leaders who seem to have a way about telling everyone else how to do things to please God and it seems we have Pharisees among the Christians of today.

Now many of my regular readers, my friends, are probably thinking what in the world happened get me so riled up, after all it was merely an invitation to a blog in the comments of a post, which I deleted because I could see that the only interest, the only purpose, in commenting at all on my blog was to advertise another blog and get as many followers as there as possible. If one simple deletion would have been sufficient, I would have not had to pursue this, but it continued. So, I was discrete and sent a private email asking the blog owner not to continue using my blog to advertise, but there it was again again the next day. Then I tried to leave a public comment on that blog again asking not to use my blog to advertise, which you will never see as the comments there are moderated, but I did finally receive a reply in an email from that.

Now I am not completely unreasonable...at least, I don't think I am, but you be the judge. I don't mind someone giving a link to their blog if they have a post relative to the subject in my own; I have done this myself and I suppose some people would be offended by that and in such a case I would apologize readily. I also don't mind being invited to another blog (once will do) in the comments section if it is obvious the person doing the invitation actually read my post and made a comment relating to it in a respectful manner; actually a new follower recently did this on my blog and his comment has not been deleted. (I do think this is better done privately in an email though.) However, I will not enable someone who seems to have a boundary problem and tries to make me feel guilty for not enabling him all in the name of the Lord we both serve.

Also, please do not use the excuse that your blog is not about you but all about God when the very name for your blog more than suggests otherwise. Being honest with yourself, being respectful of your fellow Christians, and practicing good blogiquette is a far better witness for the Lord than any of the spiritual truths you have written in the blog itself...not that the blog crasher will read this, but it may be helpful to someone else. While my blog is not all about God, it is my purpose to honor Him in all I do, particularly in blogging.

Oh, and to my Christians friends, please do not enable other Christians to be bad witnesses for our Lord or to make you feel guilty in the name of the Lord because you do not enable their ill-mannered behavior, but do pray for such people as God has a purpose for everyone. Please pray that we all are directed in the way God wishes for us to be.

~ My Lord, please forgive me when I have not been worthy of being called a Christian, when I have use Your name wrongly, when I have trespassed on another, and when I have stepped outside of Your will. May I be as forgiving as You are when others do the same and always be encouraging to them to stay on the path of serving You as You wish.~

Friday, September 24, 2010

Do What You Can When You Can Because...

Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you're beyond the need of God's grace. ~Unkown

You just never know when you are going to go the farm where you have been getting raw cow milk for the last six years and stub your toes on the uneven walk that you have walked over countless times and fall down on your right knee--thanking the Lord it was not the left one you fell on roller skating about four years ago that gets a bit touchy every now and then--and all this while one of the farmhands sits watching about fifteen feet away and does not say a word (even a giggle would have been welcomed); and then drive 25 minutes back home wondering if you will pass out because you have a low threshold for pain and again thanking God, this time for cruise control, which you never use, but seeing how your toe feels like it is being split into two every time you step down, you fumbled with the buttons with a foggy mind and raw nerves to find it still works, although you cannot believe you even remember how to use it.

(Taking a breath!)

You finally get home, without your child screaming and remembering most of the way so you sigh a breath of relief that it is likely you did not pass out, and have to move all the stuff you had moved out of your pantry, because you are reorganizing it too today, and placed on the chest freezer before you left just because you just had to go to nearest Big Lots (a discount store) to get more of those $3 crates because all the other Big Lots you went to yesterday on your errands are out of them, and you were worried when you called and they said they had a lot of them that they did not really mean a lot or that a group of people would beat you there and buy them out. As you limp painfully along moving everything from the top of the chest freezer into the crates you just bought so that you can freeze the eight gallons of milk you just bought, you remember that your daughter, who now is asking to play with the neighbor, still needs to eat lunch.

(Taking another breath!)

And so after rubbing some arnica cream on everything you think might bruise and admiring the skinned knee, which feels sensitive but mostly it is just a scrap, you take some Valerian to calm those frayed nerves as you fix lunch and sit down; noticing you left your computer conveniently on the dining room table, you begin thinking of writing down your misadventure while you eat and rest your injured leg on another chair, because you now do not want to do any more lessons with your child for the day, you just want to make up excuses and perhaps take a nap and start over later...or even not at all, but there is math to finish and that pantry is still strewn all over the place in the garage and tomorrow you simply must get the items listed for the consignment sale next week.


And all this started with this dream of organizing and simplifying your life....

~ My Lord, I don't get days like this but I am sure there is another one of those spiritual lessons in it somewhere and I will probably see it clearly when my toe stops throbbing. ~

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Change of Life

For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fasting always gives me a different perspective about things and this last one helped me to see that the things I really want to do at this time of my life, even those things for my Lord, I was not putting much real effort into making them happen. It was like I have been waiting for something—perhaps for things to be handed to me?—but really I just needed to do give up some things and start doing the others.

While many people make resolutions at the beginning of each year, I usually do not. Instead, I tend decide what I would like to change at certain stages of my life. For instance, at forty years old, I was pregnant with our one and only child. I obviously had no particular goals other than enjoying her babyhood and my motherhood. That was a very welcomed, big change!

Yesterday I turned fifty. After having so many birthdays, the fanfare is not necessary for me. It is just another day, marking another year. I suppose it is an accomplishment I have lived this long, but it seems that many others do so what it so significant in that? You know, we have so many other things of greater interest to me that I had forgotten until my daughter asked me the date so she could put it on her math paper. It was not a special day, really. We all did the normal things. I prepared outgrown clothes for a consignment sale and my husband worked at the office until it was bedtime for the Princess. Although my husband did present me with brownies on his arrival—I do have a thing for brownies and I am pretty easy to please that way!

My husband and I both have felt a leading to become self-sufficient. This feels so much like when we sold our lovely conversion van and bought the mini-van. We did not know it then, but within a month he lost his job and that worked out perfectly to help us financially get through that time. So, I am a little anxious about what this might mean about our future, but I also know that God's leading on that made it all work out, so this will work out as well.

You see, when my husband and I moved here all we wanted was a house we could afford having come from a mobile home and we prayed for the house and area for two years, then on our tenth year anniversary, he was told either he was fired tomorrow or he would agree to moved to an undermanned city within a month. You can imagine that our anniversary dinner was not exactly as romantic and carefree as we hoped it would be, but we finally recognized it as the answer to our prayers.

Life is not easy all the time, but I believe that God does grant us the things we really want. (Or is it that He places the desire in us the things He wishes to give? Always boggles my mind that.) My husband and I have wanted some land, not a lot of land, but about ten acres to have a sufficient lifestyle and the money is just not here. We would like to have a large garden, meat and milking goats, chickens or ducks for eggs mostly, and at least one horse for the Princess.

We have been desiring those things, but for the last few years we have wondering if we getting to the age that it would not be feasible. Still, I have been praying about this, the Lord has been telling me to do with what we have. Not just be happy where we are, but more of work with what we have as far as we are able. It has been very strong all this summer. To be honest, why would He provide us with more when we have not been making use of what He has given us so far?

Now that the Princess is a pretty responsible nine-year-old and able to help with so many things and the Lord seems to be guiding us, my husband and I have felt that it is time to make a few changes. We will be using our yard more for food gardens, but we do also need a couple of barn cats to keep the squirrels from stealing so much. We did not even get one ripe peach off our tree this year and they are just as bad with tomatoes! I am praying that the Lord will provide the right cats, good hunters who will bond with us well and that our dog will stop chasing cats, or at least will not chase these cats. Starting with kittens might be the best way to go, but we are waiting for the Lord to provide them. Shelters here have $100 or more adoption fees per cat!

Since we cannot raise our own livestock, my husband decided that it was time he did something he has always wanted to do. He will be hunting for deer. He hardly ever had weekends off before and the hunters he knew never had the same weekends off he did. All that has changed and this year land to lease for hunting became available quite late before the season, so he got a few friends together to form a club and won the bid on a piece of land that has good deer activity. Actually, they raised the hunting limits this year because the deer population is quite high. There are no guarantees with hunting, but I believe the Lord has blessed this as well.

We have our work cut out for us in the months ahead and for me it just all seems to fall into place. Since the fast—I just have to say again what a blessing that was to us personally—my husband and I have a dream and a united purpose, we have stronger, hardier bodies to do the extra labor (Such a huge difference there, I cannot tell you!), and many other resources that just seem to be making it happen within our means, even though we are stretched pretty thin financially right now. My Lord is so good!

~ My Lord, thank you for providing what we desire and reminding us that we must work with what we have and giving us the blessing of health to be able to do it all. ~

Monday, September 20, 2010

For K

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
~2 Corinthians 4:16-18

We talked about in what we find security and the big picture last night in Sunday Service. How our lives as Christians do not work out as we think they should, particularly when we are believing on promises in the Bible. How God will allow hardships in our lives because He sees how those hardships will shape us or others spiritually and be more fruitful for His purpose. However, from experience I know that this realization and level of trust and faith does not come without a considerable price to the individual. Perhaps each sacrifice we make is one more step, the shedding of the temporal, so we better perceive the eternal kingdom in which we dwell.

One sweet older woman with great burdens cried nearly the entire service. My heart was just breaking with hers. She is one of my stealth visitors: one who reads but does not leave a comment. (Yes, K this one is for you.) She is a working woman in her sixties married to a man with a deteriorating mental state and she just never knows what will happen from one day to the next. She fears going home to what she will find every day. Will you pray with me for K, please?

I had different circumstances but I know the feelings of living with someone who is unstable and the aftermath. I had them nearly every day from the time I can remember until I was in my thirties. Yes, it was several years ago now but it was still over half my life and the feelings refresh so easily. I still live with the knowledge of how fragile life can be, how easily I can be there again, and with no fault of my own. God knows how much in my heart I fear how life can just...go bad. I know and fear that whatever someone else is experiencing could be me. As I caught up with her after the service thinking these thoughts and began listening to her feelings: To my surprise, she pointed to me as one of the "happy" people.

I knew she was not really seeing my experiences in the big picture. She was only seeing this small portion of my life. She was seeing the Princess and me cuddling, my husband and me holding hands, and perhaps my appreciation with what the Lord has entrusted to me at this time, but I know there is no security in the future regardless of how well we plan. I know the only secure thing in this entire creation is the One who created it, which was the point of the lesson.

Still, I so remember the feeling of being trapped, of being in a hole so far down you wonder if God Himself had any idea if you were there or cared, of no change and no end in sight, of that day-to-day survival mode, of that deafeningly quiet desperation! Had she known me in those times, she would have seen a very different picture of me.

I have no promises to give her. I am not sure what God plans for her, but I know that nothing stays the same forever and that God does have plans. Perhaps it is not about her at all, but others. That is the problem with the big picture, our perspective is so terribly limited. If we were given specific choices, what would we choose: a happy childhood or an abused one? Of course, the happy one. But, what if part of that choice was that the abused one would eventually make the person more effective for the Lord and have far greater potential to store riches in a truly secure place (heaven) depending on how it was used in the Lord's service? Would that be worth the sacrifice? Would that be worth the risk?

To be honest, when you are in that pit, it really does not feel like it. You just want out of the pit, but what if by being there, other people learn something about love, sacrifice, and the Lord, would that be worth it to you? When personal burdens seem hidden within the confines of the walls of the home, it does not seem it passes through to touch other people, but I know from experience that it does, it has, and it will.

I love you, K.

~ My Lord, please give K encouragement this day and all that follow. I know You have felt her fears and tears. Please give her confidence in knowing that You have a purpose for the sacrifices she has made. ~

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sinners Among Us

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. ~2 Timothy 3:1-5

Before you read on, please listen to this beautiful song:

I feel like I am the last person in all of Christiandom that heard the announcement Ray Boltz made in 2008. Now if I really am not the last person and you do not know about his announcement, please stop and consider whether you really want to read on because this will change your perspective of the man and all the beautiful songs he wrote and sang, at least it has for me. In a way, I wish I had remained blissfully unaware, but now that I know, I know and I cannot make it unknown.

Last warning...stop reading right here!

Ray Boltz is a father of four children who was married for 33 years before his divorce became official in 2008. His reason for the divorce: he is gay. He decided that if that is the way God made him that he was just going to live that way and his former wife, Carol Boltz, is highly supportive of him and other Christian homosexuals, as she reveals on her blog.

Now this does bother me quite a bit, but I know that we all are sinners and we all must sin against God in some "little" ways throughout our day, as if there is ever a little way to sin. The truth is that anything we say, think, or do that is outside of God's will, a stray from His directives, can be a sin or at least the passing shadow of evil. Sin is not always something we do, it can be what we entertain in our hearts and minds.

With that in mind, I am a sinner and I have not met anyone who is not. I cannot even imagine how Jesus did it, how He lived a completely sinless life yet had human emotions—it is just impossible for me to understand! It seems my mind and heart are the battlegrounds between evil and good, world and kingdom, self and God. I would like to think I am doing it right, that I am pleasing God in all that I do, but I also know that I fall short constantly.

Like so many of us with our secret vices, Mr. Boltz must have been entertaining such a sin in his heart for a very long time. Now that he has paved the way, another Christian artist, Jennifer Knapp, has also made it known that she has been in a eight-year relationship with another woman. And, so it will go. There will be others, no doubt.

I don't know how I feel about these people exactly, or what I should feel. I am terribly sad, ready to forgive, but will I listen to their music now? I know we all are sinful. No sin is worse than another. However, the difference for me is that these people were not making confessions and repenting. Some of us struggle with sin everyday, but they have chosen to disregard their choices as sinful and continue in them. I always cry when I hear "Thank You" and "Watch the Lamb" and my very favorite "Feel the Nails" which I have sang for church services years ago, but now I will be crying with an added reason in my fore thoughts; in fact, it will be difficult for me to hear the words of those songs over this blaring knowledge.

However, the concept that causes me to churn with sadness, incredulity, anger, hopelessness, fear for the lost of morality, and more is that people have created sects under the name of the Christian religion that accept homosexuality as normal and not even sinful! If there ever was a sign pointing to what my Lord warned about the end times, this is definitely one...and there will be more! With each generation, Christianity will degrade more and more.

I could not believe such a thing when I was younger, even though I read the prophecies, but now I see how people will shape the church to suit themselves. That people are so far removed from God that they feel justified to make it up as they go, to make the Bible say what they want it to say, and all this really comes down to they want to make themselves like Jesus. Yes, I said "like Jesus." They want to make themselves sinless...by their own judgment.

Those of us holding on to more literal interpretations of the God's Word will be considered an embarrassment to the new Christianity. We will be the old that they will try to wipe out, because under it all we remind them just by what we believe, just by living our lives, that they are sinful after all. We will not have to be condemning, but some will be called to condemn them directly and I can only imagine how this will spur atrocities against Christians.

Yet, should the church be accepting of those who choose not to recognize sin as sin? This is my struggle with organized religion itself. I think of the years that Mr. Boltz must have wrestled with this sin in his mind and heart. From out of his tortured soul came these beautiful songs before he finally gave in to the deception: homosexuality is the way God made him because science says it is a fact...not that God said so, but science, the new religion tearing down the old in our own churches. As if with scientific research papers in hands, Mr. Boltz basically has throw it all back on God, instead of taking any personal responsibility. Worse, some sects of the Christianity have patted him on the back for it. I am so sad for him, for them, for all the world. How many more will he cause to stumble?

In closing I can only say, we cannot stop what is to be, we can only choose what we will do as it progresses.

My Lord, please make the people hear You above all.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Bye-Bye to Twenty

Sometimes you have to let go to see if there was anything worth holding on to. ~Unknown

I now feel I can tell this unspoken thought on my blog. I let go of something...a part of myself. I am not sure I will ever get it back. I am not sure I ever want it back. Yes, I am pretty sure it was not worth keeping, although I could get it back if I really wanted it.

It happened during the 40-day fast. I did not mention it before because I did not want to take away from the spiritual focus and significance of the fast. However, I lost about 15 to 20 pounds during that fast. It is gone. It has stayed gone for nearly month with a vacation (of sorts) in between. I am thinking it will not be coming back easily and I do not need it. It is a vanity thing, I know, but I am very pleased with the way my clothes are fitting—actually I should say that I am very pleased with the way my thinner clothes are fitting because many of my jeans are just too big now.

My husband lost about 45 pounds! We both weigh about the same as when we were first married. Of course, being that it is over twenty years later that weight just does not have the same look, but we know how to shape our bodies because both of us used to practically live in the gym. My husband was a competition body-builder and trainer. He even was part owner of a gym at one time and trained a co-worker of mine, who won a number of local competitions (more than he did, I think), but I found that he had trained her after we had met later.

We have a workout area in our garage that was recently cleared of clutter (Yay!) and we have been begun using it again. We just gave up on working out mostly after the Princess was born, but before that it was not only a big part of our lives, it was one of the main things we had in common when we met. I still enjoy working out and I wanted the Princess to learn the proper ways of doing it also. She has begged us to show her since she was four years old—I suppose I should not be surprised. Then there is that whole modesty issue with it that I will have to address with the Princess, which was not an issue for me when I was working out and lived in Florida where swim suits were common wear and shockingly tiny. In comparison, I was fairly modest (most of the time).

I have digressed....

I wanted to share a few of things that this fast confirmed for me:

1. Typically, a person loses several pounds in the first 5-7 days and then usually about a pound a day until the fast gets to about two weeks. At that point, the body makes adjustments in metabolism so a person tends to slow down the weight loss; this is one of the reasons that if I am fasting to lose weight, I usually only go up to two weeks. Of course, much depends on the amount of body fat one had at the beginning and what type of fast one is doing. Our fast was supplemented with juices, broths, teas, and raw milk, all diluted with water, as well as water alone. I read somewhere that the average American has enough body fat to do this type of fast for 70 to 90 days. Unbelievable, right? I have heard people tell me they cannot fast even one day although they had no health issues to prevent it; this is simply a mind-set and fasting does help a person change his ideas about what he can and cannot do.

2. Having about two to four ounces of whole raw milk before bedtime actually stimulated the metabolism enough even after the first two weeks to continue a higher rate of weight loss for my husband. When I only lost two pounds in two weeks and was waking up twice a night and having difficulty sleeping, my husband suggested the milk before bedtime. I slept better and began losing weight also, even though I was supplementing with juices more during the day! Just a little fat can be a good thing after all! (I did do a raw goat milk and water fast many years ago and I was very pleased with the results, but that was a health experiment, not a spiritual fasting thing.)

3. On long fasts, your body will regulate its weight loss according to how much body fat you have. My husband lost more than I did, because he had more to lose.

4. Regardless of what many medical professionals have told people for years, fasting does not make you gain more fat after the fast is over and you start eating. Their philosophy is that the body goes into starvation mode and begins storing even more fat whenever you eat. Actually, the body has so much greater need to use the nutrition it is taking in that it cannot bother with storing it! (Honestly, it scares me sometimes when I think these people have degrees.)

5. Longer fasts are like hitting the restart button on your metabolism. It is definitely higher than before the fast and produces a more energetic feeling. Digestion of food is far more efficient, energy is increased from the foods eaten, and healthier foods are more enjoyed.

6. Based on recent research, fasting heightens the human growth hormone (HGH) naturally. HGH enhances healing, slows aging, encourages fat loss and muscle building, and even brings back some youthful qualities! This bears repeating: Fasting can actually stimulate muscle building and fat loss.

6. Fasting is a self-discipline that inevitably infiltrates other parts of your life.

7. After a fast, it is just as easy to maintain the new lower weight level as it was to maintain the previous weight level. I really don't eat much less than I did even before I began working out. You probably are wondering how can one be leaner eating as much as one did before? I have lots of ideas as to why this happens including many of the aforementioned benefits of fasting, but regardless of what reasoning I have, it still seems like a miracle to me as well.

Fasting has a number of other benefits such as detoxing the body, but I just wanted to address the ones that were a confirmation of what I already believed but had not really experienced since I had not done a fast beyond two weeks before. It was an amazing spiritual experience and now I am enjoying the physical advantages very much.

I could justify that we are working out to be stronger and have more endurance because we plan to do some laborious tasks planned in the coming months and that is a part of it. However, to be honest...well, I suppose it is vanity, but...yeah, I am going to say it: I do look good!

~ Thank you, my Lord, for the miraculous health benefits of fasting. ~

Thursday, September 16, 2010

But Do You Really Know Me?

Without wearing any mask we are conscious of, we have a special face for each friend. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

I was reminded, recently, that even through blogs I do not really know a person, I only know what that person is willing to share publicly on her blog. However, there can be, usually are, many layers under a blogging mask.

I do not follow many blogs. Not that there are not enough that would interest me! Oh, no! There are far too many! I want to keep my life simple and I do not want to live on my computer...actually, I should say that I am trying to back off the time I spend on my computer, because when my own child convicts me with "you love the computer more than me" then...well, what can I really say to that?

Have I not taught her that the things on which we spend our money and our time the most are the things we love? If things get more attention than loved ones, than my Lord even, does not that person have the wrong priorities or may be idolizing those things? This is my constant internal conflict with technology and for my daughter to learn to balance this well in her life, I need to show her balance in mine.

On the other hand—I warn that this might be a huge rationalization that most of people reading would feel is justified—I would not have met some of the people I have come to really love. With some I have jumped out of the Matrix to become in real life friends, as much as we can be with the distances. With them I have come to share the things that are never posted on a blog.

Yes, we who offer up a portion of our lives online are all not the people we really are. I am not, they are not, you are not. You know it is true. We blog to entertain ourselves and hopefully others. We blog to share only those things we feel safe in sharing in a semi-anonymous but public way. We blog showing the best of ourselves, perhaps with a few of our swallow frailties to help people connect with us, but it is all very safe.

Yes, it is VERY safe. We can control the comments...just delete the ones we do not like. We can even delete or modify any post we have made that is embarrassing. On a blog, we can practically clothe ourselves in our own spotless white robes without the need of my Lord's saving grace...but that is not who we really are.

The Internet is the mask we hide behind, that we use to reach out to others while never really revealing much about ourselves. (I know I am guilty of this as I do not even use a picture of my face on my avatar!) Are we so ignorant not to realize that everyone else has a mask?

I have seen people who sign up as followers to hundreds of blogs but they are just an avatar with no depth at all. I have seen homeschooling mothers on message boards or blogs posting so often that I wonder how they have time to homeschool or even just prepare meals? The more time we spend here, the less time we spend in our real lives.

My husband has no enthusiasm for blogging or for me blogging. He thinks that it is a waste of time and it takes away from my family. It does. That is the honest truth of it. However, he readily admits he is not a person who likes to write and understands that I do. He also realized that when some of these online relationships developed and spilled over into my real life that it was good for our daughter to make connections with people from other parts of the world with differing cultures. He was concerned that I would be disappointed when I actually met these people by phone or Skype, but I have not been yet.

Even though we all have own masks, we are constantly hoping and on the search for that one true friend that will see us without the mask and still love us...just as my Lord does. Isn't it a beautiful thing when that happens?

~ My Lord, thank you for the friends I have met through the Internet. Guide me daily to do with my time the things that please You. ~

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Wordless Weeping

To perceive is to suffer. ~Aristotle

I wonder how God does it. How does He hear every cry? See every tear? Feel every hurt? Why does He even continue to bother with us at all?

I cannot share all of what is on my heart this day, because it is not about me but about others who are close to me: my husband's parents needing assistance a day's drive away, families working through some painful emotional issues, a friend whose mother refuses to accept her children because of skin color, an exhausted and depressed friend whose house is currently being cleaned up of smoke damage, a husband who had a near-miss from a chunk of tunnel ceiling falling through the windshield on him while he was driving hundreds of miles away, a woman who has been in constant pain for years now unable to work, people with financial problems all over and there are others...so, so many others.

I know there is much more sadness and far more atrocities beyond these things in the world, but these are the ones that touch me personally, because these people I know, people I love. How does God do this every moment with every living being?

This is one of the reasons I fast one day each week, Wednesday, this day. If for no other reason but to remind myself that others are suffering...and to just weep with them, for them, because most of the time I do not even know for what I should pray. The heart has a wordless language that my Lord hears.

~ Still, my Lord, how do You do this every moment? ~

Monday, September 13, 2010

Missing a Few Puzzle Pieces?

The art of simplicity is a puzzle of complexity.
~Douglas Horton

We spent the last week in Florida with my husband's parents. Actually, we spent it in their home, but neither one of them was home much. Dad was in a rehabilitation nursing home for therapy to strengthen him and Mom left nearly every day to spend much of the day with him. We helped with some things that needed to be done at the house from just general cleaning to replacing a faucet to power washing the slippery moss-covered cement of their entrance way to ridding their home of numerous wasps nests. The Princess enjoyed playing their Wii having the highest bowling score of 207 beating her father (even though she likes the boxing more) and we did go to the beach early one morning to watch the sunrise as they live on the east coast.

For many years, Mom used a room just for craft making and storing all the supplies, but now the table in that room is used for jigsaw puzzles. I really like putting puzzles together. I don't really have the time or space for them at home, so imagine my delight coming into a room where there is a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle just waiting to be put together: a winter scene of an American Indian on a white horse with four white wolves in an white birch forest. Beautiful! The pieces had very unique shapes too.

It was about a third done, but I finished it practically all by myself in about two days--puzzles just call me. This one, however, will remain unfinished forever as one piece was missing. I knew its shape. I knew what it should look like. I knew all that because of the surrounding well-fitted pieces clearly defined what would be needed to fill in that the hole. I asked my daughter if she had taken the missing piece because she learned that my uncle would take one piece of a puzzle so that he would always be the one to put in the very last piece. She thought it was cute so she did this a time or two, but not this time. Somehow I felt robbed of that long awaited for moment of final accomplishment, of completeness.

No matter. Another thousand piece puzzle now called to me. This one of a serene scene: a two story Victorian house with golden glows of light from each window and a lovely garden, even a collie lying on the brick walk. Some pieces had interesting shapes but not especially confusing. Done in two days. Too easy. But, quite a peaceful scene.

Then there was the one on which the Mom and Dad waved a white flag before I got there. This one was 1500 pieces with a lovely pastel background with five blue birds with yellow breasts on a dogwood tree branch in blossom. I began it too late in the week, so I did not finish it before we left, but I understood why they gave up on it. The subtlety in the background was a challenge of itself, but worse was that every piece was so similar in shape that it was very easy to get a piece in the wrong place and that one piece would affect how other pieces fit too.

I began to think, as I often tend to do, that there must be spiritual lessons in my jigsaw puzzle adventures. First, we are never truly finished. Second, we are never satisfied with our work for when we are not challenged. Third, we often fit things into our lives in our own way not always according to God's plan, but those wrong pieces we will eventually discover and put into their correct places under God's patience and grace.

Then my Lord brought my thoughts to this: What if I have been provided all the puzzle pieces but never saw the picture? What if I turn the puzzle over so that I did not even have the colors to help me solve it? What if I was completely blind so I could not even see the shapes?

That is how it seems with life sometimes. I know that it all fits together in God's Kingdom, but I cannot see the big picture. Sometimes I feel I have nothing to guide me or that I am completely blind to God's purpose. How am I to fit each piece together when I cannot see what it is supposed to be in the end?

Yet, God reminds me that the greatest joy was not in completing the puzzle, but finding that one piece that fit, each and every piece, each and every time.

~ My Lord, thank you for again reminding me that even in the unpleasant parts of my life, You are guiding me. I trust You to make me the pieces in my life that do not fit your purpose obvious to me, even when I am blind to the big picture. ~

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Mysterious Muse

Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
Sing, Heavenly Muse,...
~ John Milton, opening of Book 1 of Paradise Lost

I love to write. I love keeping a journal of my thoughts, events, spiritual trials, and even my prayers. You may have noticed that I do not typically use the word "love" in my writings. I have a high regard for expressing it, preferring to reserve the word "love" in describing my feelings for things that have life, as I do not like to demean the significance of the word. Of course, there are different kinds of love but...if I say I love this and that several times a day, as so many do, how can I emphasize my love for my husband or daughter so they don't feel they equate to a couple of scoops of Brownie Mud Pie Ice Cream? If God is love, how can I possibly suggest that I love a pair of slouch leather western boots?

A cousin once told me that a person cannot love anything that has no ability to love in turn. I was a teenager and I remember that day opened my eyes to what love should be, a sacred trust that God chose to share with us. Now, God is worthy of my love. People are to be loved, whether they are worthy of it or not. I care for animals, but I love my pets as they, at least, show a preference for me, should one contend an animal cannot really love.

However, when it comes to being creative, the joy it gives me is beyond even chocolate. I love creating things and writing qualifies. However, to my own surprise, I struggled with keeping a private journal. I liked the idea of it, but the execution only met its minimum purpose; it was rather dry, perhaps lifeless, to me. I did not love it. I did not know it at the time but I needed a Muse.

Muses are the inspirations of artists. The term "muse" comes from mousa in Greek, literally meaning "song" or "poem". In Greek mythology, Muses were goddesses able to originate and also personify mousike, the art of the Muses, now known as music.

I met my blogging muse years ago (How many has it been? Perhaps five?) on a message board and slowly developed our friendship, a comfortable pace for us both. I did not recognize her as my muse then and I did not really get to know her until I began reading her blog. I realized then that message boards may be where one can meet people, but I never really got into the life of a person. With the discovery of blogs, they became my preference quickly. My muse inspired me by her own writings and perhaps also with some pleadings for me to begin blogging.

It was there that I found what I was missing! That essence of life in journaling I had been seeking and that I so much needed! Blogging inspire me to write...but not just blogging of itself. In very the beginning, I had only one reader: my muse. My blog is not private but it also does not come up on the search engines so I had this little corner of the Internet pretty much to myself and my muse. I would write knowing that she may be the only one who found any interest at all in the musings of my mind, yet not writing to please her at the same time. Just knowing she might read my blog was enough of an inspiration to continue writing.

I love my writing muse, my friend.

P.S. I must confess something. Although I used the quote above, I have only had a vague knowledge that there was a book named Paradise Lost, but not ten volumes! And, of course, I have not read any one of them--what a shame! I have read a bit of it on online here and I must say definitely worth the reading.

My Lord, thank you for all my friends I have (have had and will have), for they all inspire me in differing ways and may they all do so according to Your will, and a special thank you for my writing muse.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

In Between Extremes

Housework is something you do that nobody notices until you don't do it.
~Author Unknown

I fear have not done well in minimizing my earthly possessions. I am not sure I have taught my daughter well on this subject either. You see, my daughter is a collector...of everything, so it seems...perhaps with some hoarding tendencies? Hoarding runs in my family...actually there are extremes in my family: hoarders and obsessive cleaners.

I have to say that I leaned heavily on the side of the obsessive cleaning type when I was a younger person. I had little in possessions then, but my house always looked nearly white-glove clean. Though, I would not say I ever cleaned liked my aunt did at the same age. Now there was a woman who could make coffee nervous for being in the cup too long!

It is a joke, although with a large measure of truth, that my aunt washed the paint off the kitchen woodwork the first year they owned their house. She often told me of how she would empty an ash tray several times while the person was still smoking the same cigarette, probably making them want to smoke another just to see how may times she would get up to empty the tray for each cigarette. (Remember this was in the late fifties when it was in vogue to smoke.) She just could not stand for anything to be out of place and everything...ev-er-y-thing...had a very particular, hand-picked, fits perfectly place in my aunt's house! The folding of towels and bedsheets had to be done in a particular way to fit in the hall closet so all was in neatly stacked columns using the entire shelf so that there was not even the teeniest space left anywhere on it. She was quite proud of these accomplishments and did not allow things to to be done any other way.

In my aunt's defense, she lived with a hoarding mother. My grandmother, perhaps because she was a child in the Depression era, kept everything in boxes with stacks of boxes everywhere and who could possibly remember where anything was without going through several boxes to find it? My great aunt, Grandma's sister, was even worse with just stacks of newspapers as high as any side table taking up space in the living room--well, to be honest, every room--in several piles. I remember how dirty everything looked with the kitchen table only clear enough to set down two dishes for herself and her husband to eat. Spaces they did not need to use just to get around their house were filled with stacks of stuff. Going through their house was like a dark crazy maze. My grandma, however, kept the living room free of such debris; nearly every other room could be a cluttered mess, but one could entertain comfortably in the living room.

My aunt grew up in a large house that used to be the aristocratic part of the city when her parents were children, but the house needed some superficial work done that my grandfather, working long hours as a railroad engineer with ponies for which to care, just never had the time or energy or money to do. Outside the house always looked well maintained with paint and trimmed hedges and gardens. Inside, though, the plaster walls were bare without paint or wallpaper for all the time my aunt lived there.

I believe this is why my aunt was extremely the opposite to her mother. (Perhaps this is also why my youngest sister is as well because our mother certainly did not find housekeeping as important.) I lived with my aunt's family for two years as a teenager and, at one time, I was largely responsible for cleaning my aunt's entire house because she was taking college courses and did not have the time. As you might imagine, this was no small task with my aunt's very high standards on housecleaning and she often had very specific instructions as to how she wanted it done, quite different from my mother's home. I cleaned several rooms each day after school and homework was always secondary to the work that one was to do at home. Usually the entire house was cleaned each week. Nearly every week, cushions were removed and all furniture was vacuumed so there was no lint anywhere, not even in those crevices and, yes, she would check. Nearly every week, I removed every single shoe out of my aunt's and uncle's closet to sweep it out, because my aunt did not like dust bunnies that seemed to collect around her shoes when this was not done...and let me tell you, that woman really liked shoes and had quite a few of them!

I remember dusting furniture where I could not see any dust unless I looked at the flat top of the furniture at a nearly ninety degree angle! If you took a bath, you were expected to wipe the tub down before you left the bathroom, or else...and I really never wanted to know what "or else" was. I remember one night being woke up and called to my aunt's room. She was certain I had not cleaned her bedroom. I said I had and asked if she could see any dust. She said no but that she also did not see how I could have cleaned everything properly because she had a collection of figurines filling a shelf that had obviously not been moved. Ah! But I had a secret. Knowing how meticulous my aunt was, I would carefully remove every single one dusting each and place them on the floor exactly where she had them, angle and all. After thoroughly dusting the shelf, I would put them all back the same way. I told her that I knew that if she put them on the shelf that way that is the way she wanted them. Her eyes sparkled as she said when her own girls would dust they moved everything so she would had not thought that I would be so careful to keep them as they were. (I remember it was then my turn to be shocked that her daughters took such liberties!)

I actually liked how my aunt's house had a place for everything and everything was in its place. I have often described her house as one that you could take a photo shoot for a magazine at anytime...although my aunt would probably disagree unless every light fixture had been thoroughly cleaned and the walls had just been washed and the paneling oiled and every book had been in her library had been taken off the shelf for thorough dusting and airing as we would do twice a year at spring and holiday cleaning. I began my housekeeping in the same manner.

However, a series of events in my life caused me to have a change of heart about housekeeping. I will spare the details but they ranged from a debilitating depression to having nothing while living with my grandmother in Florida for a time to having severe back problems soon after I married. The back problems really altered my ideas of what was important...I could not do many house cleaning tasks for weeks at a time and so I had to change some of those lofty ideas about not ever seeing a little dust now and then.

Then I kind of began my venture on the other side of the spectrum. I began collecting things, mostly things deeply discounted that I might use in creating art and craft kind of things. Because I still could not stand for things to be sitting around in stacks of boxes, I would limit myself only by the amount that I could store in a semi-organized way, but being creative, I found I could come up with many creative ideas in storing things also. I still have some things that I bought nearly twenty years ago unused, but I am hopeful I will use them...someday...for something. However, having these things also gives me a strange sense of pleasure and when I go through a well organized drawer, I still find little treasures I had forgotten and it reminds me of such treasure hunts in my grandmother's house.

I have in recent years have found that I have stacks of boxes piling up, which is driving me crazy now. One of the reasons I am craving simplicity so much right now. These are things I would like to sell in a yard sale, but yard sales do so poorly where we live. We hoped to haul them down to Florida to my in-laws where yards sales do very well in the coolness of the fall when people come from the north to stay for the winter and people buy much to re-sell at flea markets.

Being that I have both extremes in my family and, apparently, within myself, I try to find a median that allows me to be comfortable. I do not like collecting things that need dusting--I will qualify that with this--unless I really, really find those things adorable. After all, I am going to be dusting them nearly every week for as long as I have them. Yeah, I pretty much weigh the worth of something as to how much work it will take to maintain it. Things that have a practical use or can be used to create something that could be practical or even impractical but adorable have far more worth to me.

I wish my daughter could learn this because she keeps EVERYTHING and not everything has a practical place. I find numerous rocks, feathers, and tiny snips of paper with a little color on each dotting a shelf in front of her books so I have to pick each one up to dust...thankfully, she is dusting her room now so she can understand why I think they should not be placed there. However, we must NOT throw them away because she hand picked those rocks or found those feathers or they are her artwork! I have given her collection boxes and three places to stack her artwork and those stacks would be as tall as I am if I did not go through them once in a while...but I confess that I, too, have a difficult time tossing out anything that is her artwork, even if she has nearly the same picture done twenty different ways. She also collects horses and just any little knick-knack that strikes her fancy. One day, she may realize it is just one more thing to dust and ask herself if she likes it so much as to dust it every single week. I wonder when she will get to that place or if she will, but I am hopeful she will find a place in between these extremes.

~ My Lord, I am thankful that I have my family and a home. I am thankful that I have things that are pleasing to me, but, my Lord, if any of these things take more time to maintain than they are worth, if they are taking time away that I should use in serving You, then give me the heart to let them go. Also, help me to teach my daughter what is You want her to see as most important and guide her, my Lord, to make wise decisions about what to keep. ~

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.
~Henry David Thoreau

We all think if only the rich man could have trusted Jesus when He asked to give up his riches. It was not that riches of themselves were the problem, but that Jesus knew the man could not surrender them. Simplifying one's life is surrendering those things which give us comfort and at times even those things that give us security. Whatever comes between us trusting God needs to be surrendered...and I am saying this not to be preaching to anyone more than my own self.

I have been watching a young lady wrestle with restlessness. The kind one has when one is sure of what she is to do with her life, but she is not yet doing it, so she feels. Most of my readers know her well from her mother's blogs here and more recently from her own here. God has given this young woman the heart to do missionary work in South America, but she is not yet there. Currently she is working on an alpaca farm.

On the farm, she lives in a simple one room cabin, homey and rugged. She did not even have electricity until an extension cord was ran out to it. She does have a computer so she can stay in touch with the outside world. It sounds like a wonderful way to live to me--Oh, how I wish I had done this on a horse ranch when I was her age!

If I could sit down with Lobstar, I would be telling her of how much harder it is to give up things we have had than to never have had them. How keeping one's life simplified is a blessing, gives us freedom, and leaves so much more time to focus on the Lord, and the real challenge in life, I think, is to always want the Lord more, to always desire seeking Him above all things...even our own family, as difficult as that might sound.

Still, we want what we want when we want it...even if it is to start our service for the Lord. We think we are ready and able now so let's get to it, and that is something that does happen just that way for some. God will always use whoever He can even when they are not prepared and perfected, but it does not happen that way for everyone. Some are given time and circumstances to become more prepared spiritually prior starting a special task, but in actuality the task has already begun.

Being a sci-fi fan, I always remember this one quote from the most logical Mr. Spock of Star Trek, because it really had a profound effect even though I was a child at the time: "After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing, after all, as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true."

We often know just what we want and we might even think we know what God wants for us, but often what we get is not exactly what we thought it would be and, even if it is exactly what we thought, we tend to find it does not bring the pleasure we were pursuing in the acquiring of it. That is why we should try to always be desiring only what God wants in the way He would have us desire it and be in preparation for the receiving of it.

Then there is the other side, the harder discipline of learning that what is wanted or what is comfortable is not necessary and even can hinder you from doing what is most important to the Lord. That is the path the rich man would not take and I cannot blame him because it is a very hard path...perhaps a glimpse of which I am seeing before me right now.

I knew a young missionaries couple just married, who was preparing to leave not only their families but all they knew to go to Albania with nothing but private backers. The young lady seem to be a bit afraid of living there because of the conditions. She would get a far off look every time they talked about it and the look on her face was not one of joy but of worry and fear. They did not have running water, but a few hours a day, and never on schedule--showers were out as the pressure was too low. Electricity was even worse. Their bathrooms, no flushing toilets, just a hole in the floor...beyond that I cannot even go into describing! Toilet paper was purchased in a neighboring country and carried back with them on the bus trip. They were threatened and some people even tried to burn down their home too. Yet, when she came back to the States for a visit, you could see her heart had completely changed. She even said that the U.S. held nothing for them at all. She had learned to live with the simplicity of life she at first feared.

Why Lobstar is working on an alpaca farm right now instead of being in South America at the missionary work she so desires to be doing is not entirely clear to us, but I know it has purpose...God's purpose. If we trust God to lead us where we must go, we must also trust that He knows the way we need to go to get there as well.

~ My Lord, show me what needs to be stripped away from my life, where I need to better discipline myself, and to find joy in the simplicity of life. Please give peace and understanding to a certain young lady who eagerly waits to serve you by being a missionary to children in South America. ~