What Matters Most: Loving God & Living Simply…part one

It’s getting close to my birthday and there’s nothing like getting a year older to make me stop in my tracks and ponder life. There is no doubt in my mind I want to make changes. How will I go about it? What are my first steps? I ask myself questions:

  1. What matters most?
  2. What have I accomplished?
  3. What do I want to accomplish?
  4. What do I need to eliminate?
  5. What brings me joy?
  6. What needs changed?
  7. What needs to stay the same?
  8. What is God leading me to do?
  9. Are there people I need to distance myself from?
  10. What goals do I need to set right now?

Wow. That seems like a lot of questions. I’ll answer the first one first: What matters most? To love God and live simply. This is what is the most important to me and how I want to move forward with my life.

The next few weeks I will be answering these questions, and I will share my thoughts here. This is my way of taking steps to change my life and to recognize my priorities. I’ve been feeling a bit stuck, like my feet are trying to ice skate in mud. It just doesn’t work. And some things in my life don’t seem to be working, either.

OK, back to my answers of what matters most. This answer has two parts, so today I will address the first part. For me, loving God is where it all starts, where it all leads, and where it all ends. God comes first. Without him, I am nothing. So, how do I plan on loving God?

  • Through daily prayer. My conversations with God can be lengthy or short, complex or simple, tearful or happy. The important thing is to keep the relationship strong and active. I totally believe God understands my frustrations, anxieties, heartaches, sorrows, and joys and wants me to lay them all out to him. Part of the healing is in our communication.
  • With daily devotionals. One book of devotionals I’ve been reading is Jesus Calling. It’s written as though God is talking to me. I am his child, He loves me, and I am important. Most days it touches a part of my heart that needs healed. I will continue with this, and I will add in a variety of other readings from time to time.
  • By studying God’s Word. By not only reading the Bible, but actually studying thoughtfully what it says and gaining understanding, it draws me deeper into a relationship with him. I will read the Bible daily and continue my Wednesday night Bible Study at church.
  • Journaling. My journaling often turns into “Dear God” letters. What I cannot say with my tongue, I can usually write into words. It has been sporadic in the past, but I will strive to make this a daily practice now.
  • Worship. Oh boy…this is where things get really complex and uncomfortable. I haven’t been attending worship services for a multitude of reasons. My agoraphobic issues, for one. The rest I cannot disclose for risk of being fired from my job. Suffice to say things are uncomfortable. This week, I’m going to see if a pastor within another denomination would be willing to talk with me about my concerns and perhaps give me some guidance, or at the very least pray for me.

So there is step one. This step has been relatively easy, thus far, but I know there will be more challenges to come.

If you’d like to follow along with me on this journey toward a new life, subscribe.

Take care of you.

Trish

I Have a Purple Hair There

Flash back about three years ago, when I first started noticing more young men and ladies coloring their hair like a box of crayons. Blue, pink, orange, green, purple, and everything in between. Oh my, I thought, why would anyone want to do that? It looks stupid. Crazy stupid!

Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I would now be sporting purple and turquoise stripes in my hair at age 57. I mean, it is so not like me. My personality is not outgoing and bold. I do not demand or encourage attention to myself. I’m an introvert, more given to staying in a quiet corner by myself, reading a book. Yet, there it is; there’s a purple hair up there.

Searching in my mind for an explanation to my uncharacteristic behavior, I have come up with a few possibilities:

  1. I am experiencing dementia and need medication.
  2. I am overly medicated and sane.
  3. I am going through a mid-life crisis.
  4. I have multiple personalities I’m just now getting around to meeting.
  5. I just don’t give a bunny’s butt anymore.

Ding dong! Number 5! We have a winner!

That’s right…I no longer give a bunny’s butt what other people think or expect of me. Don’t like my hair? Stop looking at it. I’m 57 and I will wear my hair any way I want to. Don’t like me? Stay away from me. Have an opinion? Good for you, but I don’t want to hear it.

At my age, I have earned the right to be unique, creative, offbeat, and a little eccentric. I have earned the right to have fun with my life. I have earned the right to make choices, to play, and today, I choose to wear a purple hair there and anywhere!

Life is short, incredibly short. I have learned that it’s ok to have joy, to smile, to laugh at silliness. It’s ok to want to look at life through multi-colored glasses. It’s ok to make changes, experiment, and try something new.

It’s ok to be me.

Take care of you.

Trish

Friendships


I sat down by the river for about an hour tonight. I watched a family fishing, two barges chugged by, one heading upstream and the other down, and a couple small boats. It was quiet and peaceful. Darkness seemed to come in swiftly and I wasn't able to read my Bible, but there was some good Jesus and me time.

Pondering can sometimes help me solve problems, sometimes it just gets me deeper into confusion. I thought of friendships…what it takes to be a friend, to keep friends. It's always good to have friends. But the more I thought, the more it was clear that having just any kind of friend isn't my goal in life. It's having friendships that add positivity to my life, nourish my soul, and are true and honest. Those are the friends I want to hang on to.

I've never been a social butterfly. Being an introvert, my circle of friends has been small at any given time. But they were usually friends of substance, meaning they were at least mostly trustworthy, and enjoyable to be around. Sometimes, I pretty much knew when certain friends would not withstand the test of time. They were just there for a season of my life, and then the seasons changed, and so did the friendship.

Occasionally, I have been both surprised and disappointed in a friendship. Like when I realize I've been used for a specific purpose, or betrayed. I've been hurt several times over the years by people who have said they were friends, but were really wolves in sheep's clothing, just waiting to attack. The dark side of human nature never ceases to surprise me.

As I've aged, I've come to appreciate good friendships more, especially the ones that have lasted decades. They've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly side of me and still stuck by me. Those friends are God's blessings to me. I can only hope to be as good a friend to them.

Some friendships are fragile and require a lot of work to keep them functioning. I have to wonder if these are truly friendships or just acquaintances in disguise. All friendships require a bit of effort and care, a mutual respect for each other and boundaries. But some are just easier, it doesn't seem like effort because it just flows gently on its own. It's low maintenance. I like low maintenance.

Some friends can be from a distance, some I see often. There is value in both. Distance doesn't make one less valuable than the other; they both nurture a part of me.

By the time I left the river, it was nearly 10:00pm and darkness had settled in. My thoughts were beginning to wander more toward bedtime. But I drove away with an acknowledgement inside me that I no longer want to waste my time on friendships that do more harm than good to my life. Finding friendships that are loving, honest, and open, with no hidden agendas, may be a little harder to find, but they are definitely worth it. They are one of God's greatest gifts.

Take care of you.

Trish

Night Thoughts, Again

I'm lying awake, once again, with sleep no where close to being within my reach. I've tried counting sheep, counting fish, counting lightning bugs, and counting Diet Coke cans and nothing puts me into a slumbering dream state. I have no magic pills that make my mind stop thinking, and no magic wand to take away the hamster that is surely running a treadmill through my brain. So I write.

Sometimes I wonder how people cannot see themselves the same way I see them. Like the kind lady I think is so beautiful, and she only sees the age of life etched deeply on her face. Like the self-absorbed man who is drowning in his own pool of depression, yet says he is perfect in every way. Like the self-righteous church goer, who has forgotten why they were saved. Like the buffoon who makes a mockery of anyone he disagrees with, yet is crying inside from his own pain.

If life were so simple that we could all wear a mask and no one would be the wiser. Along with fake news and fake smiles, we would have fake faces to match our moods of the moment. We could skid through life on the slippery ice of our frozen personalities. We could hide behind our condemnations and judgements and change the world just by pointing our fingers. That would solve everything, wouldn't it? But what about faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these being love? Where would those come in?

It is tiring to listen to the echoes of voices that say nothing. Those echoes are everywhere… on the news, in classrooms, on the streets, at the supermarket, in the church. Sometimes they are difficult to tune out because of the shrill loudness and number of them. But by golly, I'm determined to find the volume control!

Trying to stay positive amongst the deafening roar of naysayers and hissy fitters is certainly a challenge. It has driven me to my knees in desperation on more than one occasion. Tears have been shed in infinite numbers during wee hours of the night, and with embarrassment in the light of day. Some say I am much too sensitive. I say they are much too harsh. Some say I'm a wimp. I say the cruel thrive on bullying the wimps of the world. Regardless, I am who I am and I cannot be who they want me to be. If I weren't sensitive, I would be like them, and I do not want to be them. I am me.

I made the mistake of glancing at the news headlines today. There is so much sadness, anger, blame, hate, fear, rebellion, and cruelty. So I found the OFF switch, and then there was no volume. They no longer existed for me.

Perhaps the trick to living happily is to make the OFF switch a continuous thing. Turn OFF the echoes of negativity swirling around life. I'm finding it easier said than done, though. There's still a part of me that wants to save the world from self-destruction. I want to make kindness a type of virus everyone wants to catch. And I want smiles to become the greatest sport every played in competitions. It's just hard finding that OFF switch sometimes.

I will keep trying to lower the volume of the mindless echoes. Every once in a while, I might give a big ol' yodel and listen for its echo to get back to me. Wouldn't that be fun!

Take care of you.

Trish

Evening Thoughts

Like a train whistle, it suddenly hit me how quickly summer is chugging on by. It's the middle of July, it's hot, the sun is shining, and what have I done with my summer besides working? Nothing. And this is not altogether a bad thing.

Most folks have lots of summer plans, vacations to exciting destinations, picnics with families, visits to zoos and gardens and national parks. They race to see who can bask on the beach first, or hike up a mountain trail. Their itineraries would wear out the fittest athletes. It's all about doing the most they possibly can in the shortest amount of time.

As for me? I parked down by the river a few minutes to watch a barge go by, see two squirrels playing tag on a post, and read a daily devotional while I talked to God. I spent a half hour on the deck this evening watching the lightning bugs sprinkle the night with light. I spent a few minutes on Facebook, a few on Words with Friends, and a few talking to my fur kids. My pace is slow. I like to savor the moments.

I may not visit exotic places, may not swim in the ocean, may not attack the day full force like a hurricane, but I thank God for having another day, even if I've spent it working. It may not seem exciting to anyone else, but I sure love lightning bugs, and I sure love spending time with my fur kids, and I sure love Jesus.

For the most part, we have the ability to create our days to reflect the life we want to live. I've decided I want less stress in mine. I want to follow a lifelong dream, and I want to watch lightning bugs. I want to live simply, laugh much, dream often, and write stories that entertain. I don't want to race to the next big adventure; I want to savor the little things I've always taken for granted. I want to sit down with Jesus and chat for a while. I want to be happy.

Isn't that what we all search for, happiness?

What makes my introverted self happy is not what would make most people happy. But that's ok. There's room enough for all of us to claim our own kind of happiness.

Whether you want to run the race or sit and watch the lightning bugs, do what brings you joy. Life is short. Create your happiness.

Take care of you.

Trish

Night Thoughts

I once heard that the mind was a scary place….one should never go there alone. I’d like to add one should never go there alone at night.

Night time is when the heavy negativity hits, when problems invent and magnify themselves in seconds, and when speed bumps become mountains much too steep to climb. Every bad thing that has happened revisits and plays in slow motion. It’s when dreams become serpents chasing me in the darkness. I’d like to say it was caused by something I ate, but I didn’t eat anything. It’s just my mind playing cruel games in the dark. 

 To sleep deeply with the innocence of a child again, that would be amazing. To be free of stress and worry and wondering where the next blow is going to come from would be amazing, because it will. Someone will strike, it’s only a matter of when. And then someone will preach a mini sermon of how I’m not handing it over to God. Who are they to judge what they don’t know? They have no idea the conversations with God I have had, and know nothing about my faith, yet they judge swiftly and sharply.  They cut and stab with their words and feel righteous about doing it.

Maggie, my dog, sleeps beside me…deeply, innocently, with none of the troubles reserved for us humans.  Yet every so often even she will whimper in her sleep, and I wonder what she is dreaming.  Is a big dog chasing her?  Is she upset because I’ve gone to work? Is she fussing because she didn’t get a treat?

The darkness of night brings me no calm.  My thoughts run rampant and free.  Some nights I worry about North Korea, and some nights I worry about our own country and wonder why some people still cannot see what they’ve done by electing someone so undeserving to lead our country.  And still other nights I imagine a new life, free of worry, free of stress, filled with peace, quiet, and happiness.

So I put these thoughts down in the hope of clearing my head for sleep, replacing them with thoughts of beautiful gardens and gentle waterfalls.  Or maybe just a different life, one in which the garbage disposal works.

Sweet dreams.

Trish

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