Plot twist! 


This one will seem a bit mysterious.

But only to those of you who either don’t know me or are only here to lurk.

This thing…yes, it stopped me in place. Took my breath away. Left me picking up the “pieces” and sorting through some very raw and real emotions.


And the irony? I’m ok. Better than ok. I’m growing, healing and evolving through it all daily. (And being blessed in the process)

Who knew that at 48 you could still face something like this and find yourself feeling as if the very foundation you stood on was yanked out from beneath your (mostly) steady feet leaving you feeling like gravity malfunctioned and you’re free-falling through outer space.

After a few months of what certainly took my breath away emotionally – I’m anchored firmly once again. Shook myself off and finally “caught my breath.”

I always keep my eyes on what God has in store. Because, I guarantee you, that this- This “plot twist” in my life has a higher purpose. One that is unfolding before my eyes day by day.


This “plot twist” has taught me more about myself and people than any other event in my 48 years. It’s been, for a lack of better words, indescribable at times. I’ve felt and am still feeling emotions I have no words for.

Some of you will find that unbelievable- me left unable to form just the right word for what I’ve been going through. Actually, for what I’m still processing.


I’m sorry this post had to be so very mysterious and seemingly rambling. It’s just the way it needs to be for now.

I’m ok. More than just “ok.” God has a plan. He always has. He’s already proven this to me long ago and over and over.


And by the way, for those of you that have a friend or loved one going through something “difficult” and you don’t know what to say to them so you say nothing. Maybe you fear you’ll say the wrong thing. However, saying nothing or pretending “it” didn’t happen? Not the better choice.

If you care- say something…anything. Pick up the phone- just ask…”you wanna talk about it?” Simple. If they don’t want to they’ll tell you. But, I promise they’ll be conforted just knowing you tried.

After all, it’s sometimes the smallest acts of kindness that make the most in someone’s journey to healing.

 

 

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Thoughts on thoughts etc…

The overwhelming thought I’ve chewed on lately is of how we far too often complicate our lives with overthinking, regrets, “shoulds,” comparisons, and “what ifs.” (Oh the irony) I’ll let you overthink that last line for a second… Another thought- I wonder what percentage social media plays in contributing to our mental chatter? There’s no denying that it’s brought much more of the outside world into our minds that surely make our thoughts a bit noisier. 


 So, here’s a thought- What if we actively chose to just live simply and peacefully to the very best of our God-inspired abilities in spite of all the chaos and noise from the world (and online news stories) and from within our own minds?  Life really doesn’t have to be everything spectacular all at once or something that makes the headlines. Those ordinary, quiet, trudging along days are always enough and still valuable. 


Our lives don’t  need to be perfect, neat, or free of discomfort to be wonderful. Our lives don’t  need to be overly busy to be productive. And our lives sure don’t need to be posted daily on social media to be considered significant or noteworthy! 

EVERY SINGLE DAY is a unique treasure whether it is posted, journaled or even remembered. Every single day counts simply because  IT WAS LIVED. 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard in me- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

P.S.- the pictures above are a few iPhone shots from a trip we took to Florida last month to visit relatives. I know they have nothing to do with the theme of the post- just thought it would be nice to add a little sunny Florida scenery. 😊

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this morning 


These gentle morning breezes are hinting of the coming season change…flowers are making their last grand displays or just quietly fading away…shadows play on the sun soaked newly mown lawn…an impatient hummingbird hovers near the empty feeder reminding me, once again- but what was that rule? Do we stop filling the feeders in September? I make a mental note to look it up later. I’m too content and comfy right now to write it down. I’m cuddled underneath the weight of my beloved gray blanket shawl- the one that I started making into a poncho. I smile as I recall how it all went chaotic and I took it apart twice only to allow it to evolve into what it now is…and it’s much better than what I had intended it to be. So much like life in general: sometimes that plan B(or C), well…its just better, maybe even cherished. Like this handmade coffee cup, a simple unique gift, warming my hands, sending up delicious aromas of my favorite strong coffee. This year has brought some difficult blows to my heart- a loved one’s brush with death, a daughter’s move across the country and several other opportunities to test my strength in many ways. A year filled with so many emotions and at times great excitement…exhaustion…overwhelm. Yet…still miracles and blessings. This morning I feel a peaceful sense of renewal and gratitude for the simple things. But mostly for the quiet peace that fills my heart. I feel God’s presence here…in the joyful sunlight, nature’s orchestra of bird songs, the smell of freshly cut grass and even in the exquisite taste of this morning cup of coffee. A new day granted, once again, by the Giver of the Best Gifts and all wrapped up in the peace He sends. 

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burning bridges?

dirt-path_thumb.jpgThere’s been one too many times in my life I’ve had the overwhelming urge to “make a run for it.” I’ve actually seen a few people do this lately, selling out, packing up, and moving away in search of a new thing…in search of peace. Running from something or someone or themselves…leaving behind all they know, leaving family and friends.

We all entertain thoughts of this kind of great escape at times. We yearn to burn all the bridges, cut ties, and start over. Maybe we even want to just burn “it” all down in one dramatic cleansing moment of frustration.

roadinmaui-edited3.jpgLooking back, I remember running away, making a dramatic “move” of some sort to escape the circumstances I’d found myself in. But, this kind of impulsive “move” in life rarely pans out the way we want it to. The newness of the new thing or place always wears off. We are then left with just another daily grind.

The universal truth is, wherever we go and where ever we live, some things are absolutely the same. There will always be someone we can’t tolerate or who challenges us more than we care to deal with. There will always be conflicts of some sort. There will always be things that must be done that brings about the “daily grind.” There will still be bad weather and environmental difficulties over which we are helpless. The grass or pavement on the other side of all fences may be different and enticing but isn’t always better.GA-PATH-BW_thumb.jpg

The deep restlessness many feel comes from discontent. The cure for discontent is finding the source of true joy. Truth is…that peace and that joy only comes from within and being filled with God’s Holy Spirit is the only way to successfully fill in all those aching empty places in our hearts.

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I’m thankful that we don’t have to trek far to find this kind of joy and peace in life. We can  find it “being still” and letting God’s goodness and mercy catch up with us. “Surely goodness and mercy and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell forever {throughout all my days} in the house and in the presence of the Lord.”(Psalm 23:6 AMP)LastingImagesByLisa_2009 10 13_3181_edited-1

However, if life leads you to wander for the pure joy of seeing and enjoying God’s great “wonders” then do so with gusto! And if your heart leads you to wander far from your usual stomping grounds in desire to serve God, then trust Him with  your adventures and go bravely in that direction!

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You. (Isaiah 26:3)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)

Blesses are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matt. 5:9)

 

 

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So very far from Eden…

I’m trying desperately to muddle out of this new chaotic “thing” that’s reared its ugly peace wrecking head in our lives. The tension in the back of my neck and the deep sorrowful ache in my heart is consequence of attempts to find reason in what should have been so simple. It will be a miracle if the sleep comes tonight. Most of the time, I choose to see the good in a situation. I choose the joy. Even if it seems to be hiding, I seek it out…call it forward. 
And then there’s these kinds of days. You know, the ones that scream with all the force of darkness…dredge up every negative emotion. 


The world is so very broken. There is so much pain and suffering. So much selfishness and pride. Sometimes I am amazed at how comfortable the majority seems to be in this darkness. God, we’ve come so far from the beautiful Eden you created. We still turn our backs away from the bountiful wonders you set before us…always seeking more or different…As if there just might be something better…as if You were holding out on us. Our greedy hearts always aimlessly wandering towards what ultimately only brings misery. 


How long will we all walk in this desert circle? How much does it take for some to see that You and You alone are all we need? 

My soul is in such deep thirst for your comfort and protection tonight. I need spiritual shelter under Your all-seeing, all-knowing power. I am laying down every burden of my heart and leaning into Your peace that passes all understanding.

Psalm 42:5-8The Message (MSG)
5 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?

    Why are you crying the blues?

Fix my eyes on God—

    soon I’ll be praising again.

He puts a smile on my face.

    He’s my God.

6-8 When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse

    everything I know of you,

From Jordan depths to Hermon heights,

    including Mount Mizar.

Chaos calls to chaos,

    to the tune of whitewater rapids.

Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers

    crash and crush me.

Then God promises to love me all day,

    sing songs all through the night!

    My life is God’s prayer.

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It’s a choice 

 All these things truly are choices, although we sometimes live as if we are shackled by our daily circumstances and obligated to be sucked into a vortex of busyness and living a joyless life.

Jesus came to give us a life more abundant, not one where we daily struggle to barely survive because we’re so stressed out.

If you have been living on the verge of a total meltdown or just barely surviving the daily grind, dragging through your days weary and broken inside- ask yourself “why?” Are you choosing to allow your circumstances to enslave your heart and mind?

Joy really is a choice.

 Choosing to live joyfully requires changing how we think about what’s going on around us instead of  being tossed about by a sea of emotional reactions. As the annoying, yet oddly wise, Disney song says “let it go, let it goooooooo oh….!”

Today, I’m choosing joy…in spite of it all! I’m choosing to slow down and live more intentionally. I’m choosing to not let worry squash my mind in its crushing vise. I’m choosing to “let go” of the negatives and grab hold of the overflowing mercies of God!

 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

 

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Stop flogging yourself and go color…

The other day some ladies and I were talking about those new adult coloring books. Several of us in the conversation admitted to owning one and how surprisingly fun they were. Then a comment was made that actually spurred a flurry of introspection on my part. She said, “Oh, I could never sit and color! I’d be too busy thinking of how I could be up doing something more productive!” The comment was her honest opinion and may be the opinion of many others, but it struck an uncomfortable chord with me. An old and familiar dogged emotion began nipping at my heart- guilt and shame.  But why?

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So, the next few days, I over-analyzed my reaction to her words because that’s pretty much the way I roll- I’m an avid over-thinker (which is probably why I write). I came to the realization that I have struggled my whole  life with feeling guilty when I am in recreational mode and only feeling valuable when I’m being productive. This struggle is complicated and aggravating because I’m an artist- I’m truly in my element when I’m singing, playing piano, drawing, painting, taking pictures, doodling, creating, etc. Some of what I like to do with my free time doesn’t “produce” anything profitable.

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Google the definition of productive and here is what you get:

pro·duc·tive
prəˈdəktiv/
adjective
  1. producing or able to produce large amounts of goods, crops, or other commodities.
    “the most productive employees”
    synonyms: fertile, fruitful, rich, fecund

    “productive land”
    • relating to or engaged in the production of goods, crops, or other commodities.
      “the country’s productive capacity”
    • achieving or producing a significant amount or result.
      “a long and productive career”

     

Google the word “productive” and you’ll get tons of articles and advice on how to “cram, crush, and shove more productivity into less time.” Keep reading and you’ll soon realize that we live in a world that places the highest value on how “productive” you are and how much work you do in the shortest amount of  time.

So, is an activity only valuable if it produces something or brings monetary profit?IMG_0525Is it a waste of precious, fleeting time to do something for the pure joy it brings?

There are so many things I enjoy doing but some produce nothing but the shear pleasure of doing them – such as painting, drawing, singing, or just goofing off with my kids. Yet, I also like sewing, crocheting, and photography. I suppose one could argue that the latter activities are more valuable since they produce something of value. Crocheting will bring warm items such as scarves, blankets and hats. Sewing creates clothing and useful things for housekeeping. Photography creates a permanent record of a moment in time proving to be useful for record keeping or instruction.

But…what of the recreational activities? We all have them hopefully. Do we fully engage in them without the nagging guilt of “I could be doing something more useful?” I’m sure there are those blessed with the ability to be immersed in some much needed down time without flogging themselves mentally. I wish I were one of them.  But…I struggle with that nagging voice-over in my head…”you are too behind and busy to be doing this…what about the laundry, wouldn’t it make more sense to use your energy to reorganize that messy drawer, etc etc, blah, blah, blah.”

 

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I make “to do” lists every week. I nag myself silently if they aren’t crossed off. I pick up that ole bag of guilty regret and drag it into my day. Ugh! This is truly one of the things about myself I absolutely strive to change. Every. Day. Its my “thorn in the side.”

Now before anyone gets the notion that I’m ditching the idea of a lifestyle that contributes to those around them, please hear me out.This is not at all what I’m getting at. This whole wordy purpose of this blog post is to argue the value of recreation. I truly believe that we should live meaningful, purposeful, Godly lives filled with doing good things for others and, yes, for ourselves as well. But, there is great value in recreation. Its actually a God-given gift, in fact.

 

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Rest, recreation, and doing something just for the pure joy it brings is not a sin.  The world will not stop spinning on its axis if you sit for a while and color in your adult coloring book or drink coffee and watch the sunset. No one will fire you from the human race if you decide to doodle mindlessly while listening to your favorite band on iTunes. You are not a disappointment to our monetary-reward-driven society if you keep an art journal filled with paint splattered pretties that only you will ever see. And its perfectly alright if your idea of a “good time” is watching your favorite sports team and napping during half-time.

We should never measure our value as human beings by what we “put out” in terms of productivity. It really is alright to enjoy our lives….even “waste time” as some may define it.

Look at this definition of the word “recreation:”

 

 

rec·re·a·tion

(rĕk′rē-ā′shən)

n.

1. Refreshment of one’s mind or body after work through activity that amuses or stimulates; play.
2. An activity that provides such refreshment.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

recreation

(ˌrɛkrɪˈeɪʃən)

n

1. refreshment of health or spirits by relaxation and enjoyment
2. an activity or pastime that promotes this

3. (Education)

a. an interval of free time between school lessons
b. (as modifier): recreation period.
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

rec•re•a•tion

(ˌrɛk riˈeɪ ʃən)

n.

1. refreshment, as by means of agreeable exercise.
2. a means of enjoyable relaxation.
[1350–1400; Middle Englishrecreacioun (< Middle Frenchrecreation) < Late Latinrecreātiōamusement, Latin:restoration <recreāre(seerecreate)]
rec`re•a′tion•al adj.
Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
Notice the Middle English? Recreation is simply “restoration.” {{{Yes!!!}}}
It is in these times of recreation or relaxation that God restores my soul. Its when I sit and watch the sunset that I hear Him speak the clearest. And its when I’m creating something in my art studio that I allow rest to wash away all the weariness the duties of daily living can bring. Will any of my drawings or paintings bring a profit? Maybe never. . Will my singing and piano playing be recorded as the next hit song? Obviously not. Will I ever get paid to blog? Well… maybe someday…But also, maybe never… And this is alright and acceptable- simply because the act of doing these activities brought joy to my life. They restored my mind and put a dash of pizzazz into my world. They’re the rainbows after my storms and the butterflies in the middle of my winters. They’re that little spark that lights my fire again.  I always come to the other side of them with a sense of renewal. I feel re-created. And I smile more. And I feel inspired afterwards to get on about the duties that call out to my sensible, responsible, to-do-list-crossing-off-task-driven side. So…there truly is priceless value in our little free time pleasures in this life.
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What do you do that restores and renews you? How do you recreate? Do you struggle with guilt when you do?  Here’s some bible verses to help with that:
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.(Proverbs 15:13)
A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.(Proverbs 17:22)
Do not weary yourself to gain wealth,Cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone.For wealth certainly makes itself wings like an eagle that flies toward the heavens. (Proverbs 23:4-5)
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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.”(Matt.11:28-30)
Our ultimate rest and restoration comes from God. He has instilled in us the desire to be useful but also to find enjoyment in the fruits of our labor in this life. There is joy in work, especially when it helps others.  And, undoubtedly, there is satisfaction in completing tasks and even making money to support the needs and wants of living. But, there is also joy and contentment in those seemingly less “productive” activities in life. They are the fuel that recharges our batteries to do the things our daily lives require.
If you’re curious about what the bible says about rest and relaxation read this interesting article here: http://www.gotquestions.org/rest-relaxation.html
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