Pew Thoughts

My faith has been a long journey.  I was not always a Christian, though I tried to be a good person.  I was taught right from wrong and a good understanding of respect for others.  My grandmother gave me a Bible of my own and I read it often, though I didn’t always understand.  It wasn’t until later in life I fully gave my heart to Jesus and accepted him as my Lord and Savior.

I always wanted to belong to a church, and I finally joined one in the small community I grew up in.  It was not my first choice for a church, but it was close and I knew some of the folks there were really good Christians.  Soon, I learned that even in church all was not perfect.  Soon, I learned the difference between Christians and pew dwellers.

We all sin, we all fall short, we all struggle.  Some admit it, some don’t.  It was difficult for me to accept that even Christians had serious flaws.  But I also knew Jesus healed the sinners and made them want to sin no more.  I knew I had to keep my eyes on Jesus, but sometimes I faltered and didn’t.  I was a sinner who needed healing.

I moved out of that community to return to my home.  I gave up on churches for a while.  I visited some other denominations, but none of them felt right.  Then one Sunday morning, I walked into my present church and knew I was home.

I volunteered, I attended every Sunday, I went to a Sunday School class.  Going to church was something I loved.  I loved God and the people in the pews.  There was nothing I liked better than to serve the Lord, and eventually I was hired as the Office Manager.  It felt right.

Fast forward seven years.  A series of heart breaking experiences within the church have questioned my belief in the “church” itself.  Oddly enough, my faith has grown stronger into a relationship with God that keeps my hope renewed.  He is my Rock.  Without him I am nothing.  He has picked me back up every time I have fallen.  My faith stays strong.  In the midst of dissension, God has given me grace and a stronger, deeper love for him.

Yet, I am struggling.  I have once again seen how human nature and the devil can sneak into a church and play havoc.  The devil is a sneaky bastard, make no mistake.  He’s crafty and mean, and he likes getting into the pews every Sunday.  He likes getting into the people sitting there, getting into their heads and hearts.

In my eyes, I am seeing a slow motion movie play before me.  The characters look familiar, they look like Christians, they say they’re Christians, but the stones are flying and no one is safe.  Slowly, they stone each other to death, and at the end of this movie, no one is standing.  I’m watching it play out before me and I don’t know how to stop it.  My body is bruised and bloodied from the fresh wounds of stones against my own flesh.  And I just stand there, waiting for the stones to stop, but they don’t.  I don’t know how to stop others from getting hurt, either.  There are just too many stones.

Sometimes I think there are too many pew dwellers; they outnumber the Christians 2:1.  The devil dances with them during sermons, whispering in their ears so they won’t hear the message from God.  He promises them pride, power, and a religion of their own making.  

I also know the devil does not like prayer.  He seeks to destroy those who call on God, those who praise God’s name.  Yes, that devil is crafty and mean, and he makes the pew dwellers crafty and mean, but he is no match for the power of prayer and God’s saving grace.  

So I pray.  There’s nothing else I know to do but pray.  I will pray for the pew dwellers, and I will pray for God’s people.  I will pray for unity and love and for the stones to stop being thrown.  I will pray for kindness, compassion, and forgiveness to replace all the stones being thrown.  I will pray for that Christian love like Jesus gave to us.

Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, people are people.  We mess up, we fall down, we get back up, we forgive, we love, we hate, we fight, we laugh, we cry, and we do it all over again.  It is so easy to point the finger at someone else and blame the troubles of the world, and the church, on them.  

I’m praying for a church I can call home again.  Where I feel safe, loved, and respected.  I believe it can happen.  With God, all things are possible.

My faith journey has only begun.
Take care of you.

Trish

Five Days Later…

It’s been five days since I heard the words “You may have cancer.”  What have I been doing?  Thinking?

On occasion, I have wondered how I would react if I had to hear those words.  I pictured myself breaking down into hysterical sobbing, making out my will, writing my obituary, and planning my funeral.  I was certain I’d never be able to drag myself out of bed again and I’d be making arrangements for new parents of Maggie and Jonnie Katt.  I didn’t think I’d ever be able to stop crying, I’d drown in my own tears at night while sleeping.

In reality, none of those things have happened.  There is a peace within me, hope surrounds me, and I am finding strength in God’s promises and scripture.  I’m filled with optimism and feel certain all will be well and my body will heal itself of whatever is ailing.  I have surprised myself.   I still haven’t cried.

I’ve also learned a a few things about people.  There are people who are kind and tell me they are there for me if I need them.  Some of those people surprised me with their unexpected kind words.  Some people just want to be nosy…I expected that.  Some people don’t want to be around me, like maybe they don’t know what to say or they are afraid they might catch cancer from me.  The silence from some is deafening.  There are those who won’t say anything to me but are quick to talk about me and make speculations as to what is wrong with me and what type of cancer I may have.  And there are those who are reliving in their minds losing a loved one in the past and are very emotional.  They are still filled with pain.

I’ve also learned some things about myself.  I don’t want anyone around me crying and being sad, immediately thinking the worst.  If they cannot share in my faith of God’s healing, I’d like them to stay away from me.  I’m going to be quite selfish right now.  I believe in God’s healing power and prayer.  I believe God’s got this, that He will not leave me nor forsake me, and if I have faith as a grain of mustard seed, I can move mountains…and cancer.  It’s important that those around me believe right now, too.

I have learned that my trust has to be in God.  All of it.  I love the people around me, but when all is said and done and it’s the end of the day, it’s going to be God and me.  I cannot expect the world to stop for my friends, they have to live their lives.  God alone is my refuge and strength.

I’ve learned my faith is stronger than I knew, and my love of God is greater than I thought.

So what am I actually doing while I wait on my next doctor’s appointment?  I’m being kind to myself.  I’m resting, making time for things I enjoy doing, and smiling at strangers.  I’m hugging my pets every day and telling them I love them.  I’m reading the Bible down by the river, and praying.  Every morning on the way to work I thank God for another day, for all the shades of nature’s green, for sunshine, flowers, and a warm, gentle breeze.  I laugh at stupid things I read on Facebook, drink Diet Coke with wild abandon, watch The Golden Girls, and still wonder how Donald got elected President.  (Please…no backtalk from my Republican friends.  I listened to your whining for eight years; I’m entitled to my thoughts.) And I pray for others who are going through their own health scares and struggles.  I understand the journey.

One thing that has especially touched my heart is hearing from cancer survivors, those who have had the cancer scares, and those fighting the cancer battle right now.  Your strength, compassion, and kindness has touched my soul.  You are all in my prayers.  You are all amazing.

So if you see me out and about while we are going about our daily living, tell me a good joke and let’s laugh together.  Share a funny animal video with me on Facebook.  Sit down and drink a beverage with me.  Share your thoughts about life with me and tell me how I can pray for you.  Don’t be sad for me during this wait.  Rejoice in knowing we each can have a relationship with the greatest Healer.

God’s got this.


Take care of you…

Trish

So What Now?

May 30, 2017.  Today, I was told I may have cancer.  So…what do I do now?

I wasn’t expecting this.  This happens to women who have family histories of cancer.  This happens to other women.  Heart problems run in my family.  Diabetes runs in my family.  But not cancer.

What do I do now?  I hurry up and wait on an appointment with a specialist.  I patiently wait for the phone call that tells me when and where my biopsy will be.  Calmly, I go about my daily routine as if I never heard those words.  I go to work, I function, I act normal.  No one will know unless I tell them.  No one will know everything that’s going through my mind, how I’m making plans.  Who’s going to care for my pets?  How much recovery time should I expect?  What kind of treatments will they do?  Will I ever be able to sleep again?  Will I ever laugh again?

But nothing again will ever be normal, because I’ve heard those words telling me I may have cancer.

Part of my brain is numb.  This information is still processing and I can’t quite comprehend it all.  I don’t think I’ve fully accepted it.  I haven’t cried yet.

So what do I do now?  Today, I pray.  Today, I ask all my friends to pray for me, too.  I talk to God and somehow find peace with all this.  I ask Him for healing and strength and comfort and I don’t doubt for one second that He will get me through this, and HE WILL HEAL MY BODY.

Today, I was told I may have cancer.  Today, the earth shook a little, the sky darkened a little, and my life changed.  Today, I learned that four words, you may have cancer, would forever be implanted in my memory.

Today, I learn to praise God through the storms.
Take care of you….

Trish

How Disposable Am I?

It’s no secret we live in a disposable world.  There’s not much we cannot replace with something newer and better.  Disposable plates, napkins, utensils, serving trays, and cups are used every day. Disposable diapers, bottles, gloves, and hygiene items are made by the millions.  Cheaply made cars built only to last a few years have been experimented with, remember the Yugo?  I have to ask myself, in such a disposable world, how disposable am I?


Early on in life, we learn that pretty much everything can be replaced.  A broken doll, a rusty bicycle, tattered socks.  Sometimes it hurt to lose the original item, but that pain was soon erased by the excitement of a newer one, maybe even a little fancier.  But then, we learn that friends can also be replaced.  Your best friend in first grade moves across the country, never to be seen again.  Then a new kid moves to town and the old friend’s memories begin to fade.  The dog you grew up with ages and dies, leaving a world of hurt and emptiness, but your parents say not to worry, they will replace the old Fido with a new puppy.  And they do, and soon the pain begins to lessen as the bond between you and puppy grows.

As a teenager, a boyfriend replaced me with someone who would have sex with him.  As a wife, I was replaced with someone skinnier and blonde.  

A few years ago, my boss told me that I could always be replaced in my job.  He was right, but I wanted to think I offered something special as an employee that no one else did.  I felt valuable, even if I wasn’t.  I didn’t like to think I was that disposable.

How many husbands and wives have you known that were replaced through divorce?  How many foster kids have gotten shuffled from family to family?  How many pets are in animal shelters because their owners thought a different pet would suit them better?   How many employees have quit their jobs in pursuit of one better?  How many employers have fired employees in the pursuit of one better?

I know I am disposable.  I know every day I go to work that I can be fired on a whim just because someone doesn’t like me, or they don’t like the disorganization of my desk, or the Christmas tree in my office.  I know I can be replaced in every Committee or team that I serve.  I know there is no one standing in the sidelines waiting to rescue me or to stand up for me.  I can be replaced in a heartbeat, and it feels kind of lonely.

I’d like to think my pets would miss me.  But the truth is, they would probably only miss me for a while, until someone else took over my roll as parent and caregiver and friend.  There is no “significant other” in my life who would miss me or feel I could not be replaced.  There is no family who would miss seeing me.  There is no need to replace someone who is already missing.

I cannot say I like knowing just how replaceable I am.  But in truth, I’ve done nothing in my life to make myself irreplaceable.  I’ve done nothing extraordinary.  Nothing unique.  I’m not lovable. I’m not beautiful, to be admired.  I’ve not devoted the time to cultivate relationships to a deeper level, always distancing myself before that closer bond develops.  Yes, I am replaceable.

And yet….as replaceable as I am in this world, I know I am worthy of God’s love and grace.  I know that Jesus died on that cross to save me from my sins.  And I know God will never leave me nor foresake me.  His love makes me feel valuable, worthy, and a little less disposable.  


May God’s undying love for you make you feel worthy and unique.

Take care of you….

Trish

What to Do When You Can’t Touch Your Toes Anymore

Seriously, what do you do when you cannot touch your toes anymore?  I’ve heard about this day, back when I was five and I could pretty much put my toes anyplace I wanted them…over my head, behind my back, on my fanny.  My Grandma Petty used to watch me pretend to be a gymnast and just shake her head.  “One day you won’t be able to do that anymore,” she said.  I laughed hysterically.  Not me, I thought.  I will do this forever.  But now I can’t.  Now, I can barely put my shoes on without utilizing the kitchen refrigerator for balance.

Age and arthritis has caught up with me in a race that began in my 20’s.  It is a mean and vicious competitor.  It will stop at nothing to slow down my body with creaks, snaps, pops, soreness, and stiffness.  It easily trips me if I’m not looking, and hits me from behind in the knees.  Quite frankly, Arthritis is one mean bastard.

Self-pedicures are now a thing of the past.  Oh, how I long for the days of being able to save a few bucks by soaking my feet in a warm bath and then scrubbing them with all the pedi paraphernalia and creamy, perfumed lotions.  Thankfully, there are lovely women trained to now do this for me.  And it’s wonderful.   It is wonderful to be pampered while taking a few minutes of “me” time to zone out to the world.  But it does come at a cost.

Shoes that tie?  No, thank you.  Those have been replaced with mules and clogs and sandals and slip-ons.  Bras that fasten in the back?  Slowly being replaced by front loaders.   Washing my back?  Long handled brushes have been made for that, apparently by someone else who can no longer reach places where they once did.

When my mom broke her hip, the hospital equipped her with a long handled device to help her pick up things and to assist with pulling on her socks.  I’m about ready to purchase one of those, sans broken hip, but with a stiff hip.  

So what do you do when you can’t touch your toes anymore?  You adjust.  You find alternate ways to put on your shoes and bra.  You pay someone to polish and pamper your feet, or beg the help of a friend.  You start doing gentle stretching exercises to help with the stiffness.  And you keep on keeping on because that’s what you do.  You laugh in old Arthur’s face, and you giggle when you start wobbling without a cane. The alternative is not nearly as much fun.

May God Bless all of you, from your head to your toes.

Take care of you….

Trish

The Handshake

Just yesterday, I posted something on Facebook about acts of kindness, some examples of acts I thought were kind, like replacing an empty roll of toilet paper, changing a lightbulb for someone who cannot climb, and a few others.  I asked for the thoughts of folks on what they considered acts of kindness, but no one responded.

Today, while working at the church, I was shown an act of kindness that took me by surprise, and it warmed my heart.

A young man came into the church office and sat down.  It is not unusual for strangers to come into the church and I was studying him as he sat down across from me, on the opposite side of my desk.  Often, I have an immediate sense in someone’s presence whether I should be fearful or not.  I felt no fear of him.

During our conversation, he mentioned he liked our church, he really liked our Sanctuary.  I shared with him of the first time I walked into our Sanctuary and immediately a warm feeling came over me that I was home, and I invited him to visit us some Sunday.  He shared the name of the church he was presently attending, of which I was vaguely familiar with.  Then he thanked me for my time and as he was walking out the door, he said, “I will come back to visit some Sunday.”  Normally when someone tells me that, I think nothing of it.  But I believe he meant it.

Now, here’s the part that took me by surprise.  He must have gotten about half way to the front door when he turned around and came back to the office and asked, “What is your name?”  I told him it was Trish and he walked over to me with hand extended and said, “My name is _____, and I am glad to meet you.”

Wow.

This stranger took the time to ask my name and shake my hand.  I know it sounds like something so small, but it seemed so kind at the time.  It was a “moment” that made my day.  Someone took a moment out of their day to know my name.

Maybe too often we don’t do kind things because we think it’s going to take a lot of effort, or cost too much money, or take too much time.  With just a few seconds, a few words, and a handshake, a positive difference was made to my day.  I’m still smiling inside.

Take a moment to be kind to someone.

Blessings
Please feel free to share this post with others who may be blessed by it.

Spring Ready

Even though it’s not officially here, I always think of March as the beginning of Spring. Easter flowers, lilies, and tulips begin pushing up through soil dampened by the showers that have been ever present this winter. Grass grows greener and lawn mowers get prepared for the cutting season. Short sleeves, shorts, and umbrellas are sighted, no matter what the temperature is. Sneezing, red eyes, and runny noses renew their appearance with the pollens, and vegetable seeds, hoes, and garden gloves replace snow shovels in the garden centers. It’s Spring, and she is welcomed.
This Winter has been mild, which I have loved. Many are worried that we haven’t had a long enough freeze to kill bugs and diseases. My thought is that even with long freezes, we still end up with bugs and diseases. But one thing is for certain, we cannot control the weather.

I love seeing the early blooming flowers and shrubs in yards as I drive to and from work. The first sighting of new plants outside Bob’s Market always brings a smile to my face. Memories of driving mom around to purchase her seed potatoes and vegetable plants back when she was active and able sneak through my mind. It was a serious deal for her. She couldn’t wait to start tilling the garden soil and get her hands dirty with planting.

I did not inherit the gardening gene that mom and her mother had, and probably a long line of women before them. I’ve made a few feeble attempts at pot gardening but seem to fertilize too little or too much. Same with watering. My preference these days is to enjoy the fruits of others labors later in the Summer when they harvest their crops. I guess that works out OK for everyone.

There was a meme floating around Facebook which said what was wrong with the world today is that no one snaps beans with grandma anymore. How true that is! Many of my Summer hours were spent on the front porch with grandma stringing and snapping green beans, shelling the shell beans, and listening to the stories she told of both her youth in Ohio and adult years spent in California. Sometimes it bored me and I would have rather been reading a book, but mostly I loved it because it was time spent with her. Well, except for when we were shelling Lima beans. I would have rather cleaned out a calf stall than shell those Lima beans! Oh, they surely made my thumbs sore!

I’ve been watching the extended two week forecast and it looks like days in the 50’s next couple weeks, with nights still not dipping into freezing. I’m OK with that. March can be unpredictable, though. She’s been known to dump more than a few snowfalls on us, so I will enjoy and savor the warmer days each day they come.  

The arrival of Spring makes me happy. Fresh colors will soon begin appearing every day in nature’s landscape. God is an amazing artist.

What do you look forward to most about Spring?

Take care of you.

Blessings 

23 Signs You Need a Vacation

Are you a workaholic who doesn’t know when to quit?  Finding it difficult to relax?  Do visions of sandy beaches or night time camp fires invade your thoughts throughout your day?  You may be in need of a vacation.  Here are some signs:

  1. Your daily coffee cup consumption exceeds your weight in pounds.
  2. During meals you pour sugar on your plate and make believe you are running your fingers through white beach sand.
  3. You find a broken fingernail in the sugar and believe it is a shark’s tooth.
  4. You determine whether to make a clothing purchase on whether it will pack well in a suitcase.
  5. You buy shampoo and deodorant only in travel size.
  6. You spend all your free time making lists of what to pack for vacation.
  7. You keep a suitcase packed at all times for a quick getaway.
  8. You keep a marijuana plant in the bathroom and make believe it is a palm tree.
  9. You get heart palpitations at the smell of coconut.
  10. You think all umbrellas would look better on the beach.
  11. You play a sound machine of crickets at night while sleeping in a sleeping bag on your bed.
  12. You search the Internet for campfire chili recipes.
  13. You put on your sunglasses, turn on your Happy Light while running bath water and make believe you’re at the ocean.
  14. You start having road rage symptoms before you start your car of a morning.
  15. You use hand signals as a second language while driving.
  16. The words “good morning” make you chew an antacid.
  17. All beverages begin looking better in a martini glass.
  18. You sing campfire songs while roasting marshmallows over the gas stove burner flame.
  19. You spend months working on the perfect grocery list foods to take to the cabin.
  20. Your vehicle is always fully loaded for a week away.
  21. Pigeons begin looking like seagulls.
  22. You dream of being on the Titanic and are just grateful it’s a cruise with great food.
  23.  You pretend your significant other is a cabana boy and slip a $2 tip down his/her shorts.


Life is short.  Take care of you.

Now, stop dreaming and go on vacation!

Blessings.

The Power of Words

words1So many times I struggle with finding the right words for the right situation.  When someone has lost a spouse, a family member, a pet, a friend, it is very difficult to find the words to convey how sorry I am and how much I care.  Too many times, my day has been totally ruined by one word, or a series of words.  And then once in a while, much to my surprise and delight, just the right words find me at just the right time.

This week has been rough.  It has been an emotional roller coaster ride and believe me, I hate roller coasters.  My heart was shattered, my pride stripped and burned with a hot iron, and my spiritual life questioned.  I felt disrespected and abandoned.  The future looked bleak.  I was angry, confused, rebellious, and broken.  I felt like a fox with my leg caught in a trap and I was prepared to bite anyone who came close to me.

But then, an amazing thing happened.  On Thursday,  I entered the Fellowship Hall to attend a meeting and no one else had arrived but one pastor.  The first thing he said to me was that he had been reading over the notes from the last meeting, which I had written, and he told me how good he thought they were and how he appreciated me doing them.  Wow.  Talk about being knocked off my feet.  Not literally, but the appreciation was unexpected, nice, and boosted my feeling of self-worth a notch or two from the gutter it was laying in earlier.

That is not where the conversation stopped.  It was probably 3 or 4 minutes before another person arrived to the meeting and in that 3 or 4 minutes, that pastor said every word I needed to hear at that moment, on that day.  He was from another church and had not been in contact with me, so he had absolutely no idea of what I was struggling with.  But somehow, the brief conversation took a turn down the street I needed to travel.

You see, I was fully prepared to resign from that team.  My plan was to tell them that would be the last meeting I would be attending for this event..  And then, I was going to go back to my office and write my resignation from my job, having no other job lined up, and not knowing what I would do.

Within three minutes, I heard the right words, the words I needed to hear on that day, at that time.  God was alive and working through that pastor, and He was working in me.

A word can be tiny, but pack enormous power.  Simple words can mean the world to someone at any given moment, and complex words totally miss their mark.  Make no mistake, words can wound and maim.  They can bring the most powerful to their knees, and the weakest to destruction.  But they can also renew hope, bring understanding, and show caring.  We have the choice of choosing our words to either tear someone apart, or boost them up.  It’s important to choose wisely.  Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.  For all of us, it is a constant struggle, if we really care.

The pastor was holding the door open when we were all leaving the meeting.  As I walked through, he shook my hand and said he would be praying for me.  Kind words spoken with meaning.   Knowing someone cared enough to pray, even though he still had no knowledge of what I was struggling with, only that I was struggling.  They were the right words for me on that day.  They were powerful.

words have power

How have words shaped your day?  Your emotions?  Your life?

Be kind to each other.

 

Blessings.

Get Angry!

Tonight, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, occasionally clicking on a headline I wanted to read, when I came across a particularly disturbing headline. It was at the bottom of the article I had just read and a few other articles were “recommended.” There was a picture of a young girl and right beside it the same girl as an obese adult woman. The headline stated that she was now a “hideous creature.” Wow.  
Instantly, I felt a stabbing pressure against my heart. That could have been me in those pictures. It could have been a number of women I know, none of whom I would ever begin to describe as a hideous creature. They are caring, loving, successful women who are wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters.
My own struggles with obesity and self-esteem all came surging to the surface for a brief moment. All the tears, rude remarks, disgusted stares, and feelings of unworthiness again fought for my attention. The men I’ve heard say to me, ” You’d be a nice looking woman if you would just lose weight” echoed in my mind. The refusal of my ex-husband to be seen in public with him because I had become an embarrassment to him ripped through my heart. Watching in my mind a replay of a man at a dollar store hold the door open for the slender blonde woman in front of me, then let it slam in my face, and it was a man from my own church. Remembering an awkward conversation with a gentleman from my church coming into my office to tell me I was fat and needed to lose weight. And then I became angry.
In a society that strives to include all races, nationalities, religious beliefs, and sexual orientations as being equal and worthy, how is it that it is still acceptable to be rude and hurtful to fat people? How is it that it is OK to make a person’s weight the subject of jokes and insults? How is it that a person’s worthiness can be based on the number on a scale? How is it that there can still be headlines describing a woman as a “hideous creature?” Why would any woman be described that way?
So many times I have asked myself these questions with no acceptable answer. These things happen because the word respect has no meaning to a large majority of our society. Overweight people are easy targets because we are so humiliated we rarely strike back. We just want the insults and embarrassing moments to be over. People laugh at all the “fat” jokes, encouraging comedian’s to tell more. Well folks, it’s not funny, and it hurts.

No matter what a person’s size, weight, or shape, they are worthy of respect and love. Our hearts are not immune to painful words. All women are beautiful and deserving of kindness. We are all God’s children in an imperfect world that keeps trying to mold us into a perfect, unobtainable image. We all have love within us just waiting to be accepted by someone else.

Ladies, if any of you ever doubt your worth, let it be only a fleeting moment. Remember that your beauty and strength runs much deeper than a headline. Your dignity cannot be destroyed by the insensitivity of the ignorant and immature. Get angry, get excited, get motivated to stand up for yourself! You are a child of God, and you are worthy.

Blessings