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

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

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

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.

I Will Not be Silenced

flagWell, it’s over.  The people have spoken by election of Mr. Donald Trump, President-Elect of the United States of America.  For better or worse, he will be our Commander in Chief the next four years.

My feelings have been a roller coaster ride since the night of November 8th.  From my doubt that he would have any real chance of winning, to total disbelief as the polls began turning in their results, to absolute sorrow at the announcement that he had won.  My emotions were blanketed with doom.  Surely, we would never come out of this presidency alive.  There will be wars, men and women will lose their lives fighting senseless battles that should never have been started.  Questions were filling my mind.  How could this have happened?  How could the good, hard working people of our country vote for such a man into one of the most powerful offices of the world?

My television remained silent after the election.  I couldn’t force myself to turn it on.  There wasn’t anything in the news I wanted to hear.  All the speculations of the previous months were shattered on November 8th.  The media was all abuzz over more speculations about where they went wrong, how they could have underestimated his appeal, and it was all the “uneducated white male’s” fault.  At least I knew who to blame now.  But I couldn’t.  I could not blame any one portion of our population for what had just happened.  Throwing blame serves no purpose and solves nothing.

A few days after the election, I noticed a news headline on my Facebook feed that mentioned riots.  I followed the link, and then another, and then another, and that was when I first knew of the riots happening across our country in reaction to the election results.  I was shocked.  I expected riots if Mr. Trump lost.  What on earth were people thinking?  Followers of the Democratic party, like myself, were rioting and causing millions of dollars of damages, people were getting hurt, and to serve what purpose?  Could they not see that what they were doing was exactly what the Republican party was hoping for, thriving on?  What happened to “When they go low, we go high?”  I understood their anger, frustration, and hurt, but this was no answer and would only make the situation worse.  My prayers for peace and for our country took on a more fervent tone.

In the meantime, all my Republican friends were celebrating their victory.  Rude jokes and defamation of the character of anyone and everyone of the Democratic party continued in earnest.  Some became arrogant in their victory.  Others were full of hope for the future, seemingly putting all or most of their hope for our country in one man.  “He’s going to fix America and make it great again.”  Over and over I read those words…he’s going to fix America.  Over and over I read the words that said all Democrats were worthless, unemployed, stupid, and living off government welfare.  Over and over I felt I was also being attacked by my “friends.”

On November 13th, 60 Minutes ran an interview with Donald Trump.  I agonized over whether I wanted to watch it or not.  Did I want to make myself upset again, or live in ignorance of our current President-Elect?  I chose to watch the broadcast.  Trying to keep an open mind, I listened to his answers, watched his demeanor and facial expressions for evidence of true or false statements.  At times, I wondered why he didn’t conduct himself in this manor before the election.  But then I realized if he had, he would not have been able to amass the targeted audience of voters he was aiming for.  He knew exactly what he was doing and who it would affect.  There were brief moments during the interview I felt hopeful, that perhaps our country would be OK, that maybe he could be relied upon to make sound decisions for the good of the people and not just for himself.  No sooner had I felt that glimmer of hope than he would then say something with self assured arrogance about himself and would bring my newfound hope to an abrupt halt.  The ego was still taking over.

It is now nine days post election.  The sadness has eased, but not disappeared entirely.  There is still a foreboding within me of something bad about to happen.  There is also a bit of hope I am wrong, that good changes for our country will be made, an improved health care system in place, and fewer people will be living in poverty within this great nation.  My trust for these changes lie not in our President, but in my faith in God.  I continue to pray.

My thoughts this day are:

  • America is a great country right now!  No, it is not perfect.  Yes, it can improve.  But it is an amazing country filled with amazing, hard working people who are trying to get along the best they know how.  For those who don’t believe this is true, perhaps they are the ones who should look into relocating.  This is my country; I love it and I’m staying.
  • President Obama has served and led our country well, with dignity and grace.  He was fought tooth and nail by the Republican party every step of the way.  He was not given the chance to do even greater things because of the never ending roadblocks and the right wing crying “foul.”  Yet, he continued to go high when they went low.
  • I have a right to my opinions, just like everyone else.  My voice will be spoken for the equality of all people, for the rights and respect of women, and for the fight against bullying.

The next four years will be a challenge for everyone, all political parties.  It’s time to work together more than ever.  It’s time to lay down the egos, lay down the prejudices, and lay down the personal grudges.  For those feeling that same sense of sadness and loss that I do, it’s time to make our voices heard for what we believe in.  We can still make changes to our communities for the better.  We can make changes within our homes to promote respect and love for each other.  We can raise our children to know right from wrong.  We can renew our focus on God and rely on our faith to overcome all the challenges ahead.

This is not the time to be silent.

Blessings.

 

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Spring Fever

spring-06I’m the first one to admit I don’t Winter well.  Cold weather, shorter days, snow, and ice just do not make me a cheerful person.  In fact, I get depressed during the Winter months.  The cover my head with a blanket and leave me alone kind of depressed.  But after suffering through a few months of cold, damp air and sleepless nights wondering if it was snowing out and whether I would have trouble driving to work, a lovely thing happens…March.  And with March comes Spring.

Now, don’t get me wrong, March can still deliver some bang of Winter cold and snow on occasion.  But for the most part, temperatures begin to warm up, days are longer, and the birds start singing a little louder in the morning.  The time changes, giving us longer days of light, and Spring officially arrives on the calendar.  My head comes out from under the blanket of a morning with a little optimism.  The sun seems brighter.   Maybe, just maybe, I have survived another Winter.  I can do this!

Spring is that time of year when I think of new beginnings.  I want to do something, start a new project, change something in the house, remodel, buy a new pair of shoes, or a new shade of lipstick.  There is new hope in the air!  The promise of warm evenings outside on the deck and flower pots overflowing with blooms brings my emotions out of their sad state and start coming alive again.

 

Some of my friends like to clean at the first sign of Spring.  That’s not my favorite thing to do, but Spring seems like the best time to do it!  Clean the house, clean out the handbags, clean out the kitchen drawers, clean out the desk drawers, and clean out the mind.

seedling

Yes, I’ve got the fever for Spring!  I’m ready to grow something.  I’m ready to plant a seed of some kind, like the seed of a thought or a project, and watch it grow.  Who knows, I may even decide to plant a tomato seed, sink my hands into rich, fertile soil and nurture it until harvest time.  It’s Spring, I can grow something now!

How does Spring affect you?  Do you get the fever?