Tuesday, December 23, 2014

God Will Provide.....




"If you happen to find some money on the ground and looking for some place to share it.....remember us."  These words were spoken to me this past Monday as I delivered Meals on Wheels to the people of Winnsboro.  The week of Christmas, I find myself in a dirty, rundown apartment complex, where the sound of TVs blaring and the smell of cigarette smoke was the norm in this fishy section of town.  The lady, probably in her 50's but looked closer to 70, looked down on the ground as she slowly spoke these words to me. 

As our eyes finally met....I saw the most beautiful hazel colored eyes filled to the brim with sadness and fear......loneliness and hurt.  She explained the only food they had in the house was the Meals on Wheels meal I just brought them....they had no money....and their six grown children were spread out across the country with one sitting in prison....again.  My gut told me a series of bad choices was how they found themselves in this condition....and if I were to give them money, I might be enabling them....giving them money for vices instead of food.  I hugged her, told her I would pray for her, and left.

As I put the Jeep in reverse and started backing out, I paused.  I watched as she picked up tiny pieces of trash from the parking lot and put them in her hand....and a war was raging inside of me.  Do I help her or do I not?   Would I feed her belly or would I feed her habit?  All the way down Walnut St. to the next house on my list, I prayed.  I prayed if God wanted me to help this couple, He would drop the money in my hand. 



As I entered the next house....a simple, clean house of a dear friend that I have visited many times on my route, I handed her the Christmas gift Chuck and I had made for her.  It was a simple wood frame with a picture and the words, "I will provide for you.  Don't worry!"  Luke 12:22-34.....and she handed me a tiny envelope with my name on it.  As I opened the card, a $20 bill fell into my hands.  I just stared at the $20 while playing back the prayer in my head I had just prayed not 5 minutes earlier.  I looked into her eyes, told her the story and asked if I could give this money away.  She ran into the other room, handed me another $10, and said, "I want to be a part of this story too."

I was downright giddy as I headed back up Walnut St. towards the rundown apartment.  I found the man sitting in his recliner, and as I knelt down next to him, I asked if I could tell him a story. I shared how much God loved him....that this money came straight from Heaven....and was earmarked just for him.  With tears in his eyes, he whispered, "But why?"  And with tears in my eyes, I whispered back, "Because He loves you!!".


"I Will Provide For You.  Don't Worry."
Luke 12:22-34

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanks-Giving.....Alone



It's the season of Thanks-Giving......a time when many struggle to find even one thing to Give Thanks for.....and try as they may, it simply doesn't come to them.  They sit quietly as the fog of life envelopes them....just waiting...no, BEGGING....for this time of year to be over with already.  And I just want to whisper to them.....'Hold your hand out....hold it out and let Him grab it...you're not alone."

But they can't.  


It was a day ago I learned that my good friend, Brian, had killed himself.  Drove his car straight into the house I first met he and his wife in, and shot himself.  Tragic.  No one knew the pain he was going through....but amongst the 7.125 billion people in this Whole Wide World and the 196 friends he had on Facebook and the 84 followers on Twitter and his ginormous family who loved him, he was alone. 
A-L-O-N-E.

Sometimes it feels like the earth is cracking.....and people are falling into the cracks.  And as we carefully step over the cracks, we say "What a shame about your friend Brian or Robin Williams or Cici Paris......." and we move on, shaking our heads as we turn our eyes away from those who are barely hanging on before falling into the darkness of this world.   And we convince ourselves if we didn't turn away, it would mess up our holidays.

May I suggest that maybe....just maybe....if we worried less about our holidays being messed up with a messed up person and more about inviting that messed up person to share a seat at our holiday table, that maybe....just maybe....it could turn our holiday into the PERFECT holiday.  That the greatest gift we could GIVE and RECEIVE would be to extend our hand and pull that person out of the darkness that is closing in around them....to open the door to hope.

Look around......grab a hand.....and Give Thanks.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I Need To Give Up.......Control

November 2014


She arrives tired.  Been a long day and a 3-hour drive to get here......and my girl is tired.  
Tired because she's just physically tired.....and tired emotionally.....and stress tired.  
And she came to me.....
to this place of solace and rest and peace and no TV blaring and no busyness happening here folks.....and as I looked into her tired eyes, 
I saw my own tired eyes in hers.

I was there in the delivery room when she was born, you know......that was 30-something years ago ...and yet her eyes still look like those in that Beeville Hospital bassinet that cold November day.  How did she get to be in her 30's so quickly, and when did she get so smart......so grown-up.....so opinionated....so...SO.....beautiful?

We rest.  We wake.

We grab our cameras and go in search of things our eyes haven't seen before......Together.


Somewhere along the way, a question is asked....a floodgate is opened.....words and emotions are flowing out quicker than either of us can absorb or grasp.  A memory of confusion and disappointment.....love and broken hearts....of understanding when its impossible to understand.

And I try to tuck them back into the hole they came crawling out of......but I can't.

It's too late.

I love this girl.....she listens when I rant, cry and shake my fists in the air because its November and I'm scared of Novembers.....She is that person who stands and nods her head when I finally get the breath to say, "I don't understand....I just don't understand."  And I try.  And I lose.  And I keep fumbling my way back to something I can't have.....and she still listens.

And yet I discover through the opening of the floodgates that there's a real way to slap God and people in the face  - wham, wham - at the very same time; when you find a way to say with your actions and your words, "It's just not enough.....I need more....I long for more."

And I'm ashamed.

I'm ashamed that I had 20 years to gain maturity on my girl, yet......I'm the one stomping my foot, banging my head on the floor with fists beating against the concrete screaming, "It's not fair!".

And like someone carefully and meticulously threading a needle, she reminds me God is always fair.....He always shows up....even when we don't see Him.....He shows up.....and He shows up differently in each of us.




Sunday, November 9, 2014

"GO FASTER......WHAT BUMP?"


 I am reminded almost daily how crazy in love I am with this man.....

And how flying down the road in his lap


Me yelling "GO FASTER".....

And him hearing, "WHAT BUMP??"


Brings so much joy to my life!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

It's The Little Things You Miss The Most......



While cleaning up my home office yesterday, I ran across a familiar brown bottle of liquid that I hadn't seen in several years.  As I stood there, staring for what seemed like an hour at the bottle in my hand, I slowly removed the lid and placed the bottle to my nose.  I took a deep breath in and tears immediately spilled like a waterfall down my cheeks and I could taste the salt as they hit my tongue.  

It was "Youth Dew" perfume......and had belonged to my Mom.

I can't remember a time Mom didn't wear Youth Dew.....she OWNED this smell.....it was hers.  And smelling this once again after saying goodbye 2 1/2 years ago, brought back a flood of memories.  A virtual downpour of precious souvenirs for me.  But mostly, the love I felt when she would hug me.....smelling of Youth Dew.....and how safe I felt in her arms.....how perfectly and utterly safe my heart was with her.

So, why am I telling you this?  

I really don't know.  

Maybe it's because another Liz; a friend I grew up with, lost her Mom this week and my heart grieves and breaks for her....I want to grab her, hug her, feel her wet salty tears on my shoulder....and to tell her to save her Mom's favorite perfume....she'll need it later.

To tell her it's the little things that she'll miss the most.....

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Here's Your Assignment........Be Still.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


I'm stealing the words below from a girl named Sarah Bessey.....because these could have been my words had I had the ability to write so eloquently.  And when I opened my inbox and read her words the other day, I found myself knowing exactly what she was going to say next......

You see, living where we do, God has graced me with peace....

He has opened my eyes and is teaching me to close my mouth......

And life is sweeter now.....although harder in many ways.....as He has brought me to a place where I can take a full, deep breath......

Friends, I challenge you to do this......it will change your life.

Sarah Bessey:

"Find a bit of water to look at, it doesn’t have to be much. Maybe a pond, a lake? if you’re really lucky, find the ocean. But go there alone at sunset. I know it seems indulgent and impossible – that’s because it is. But every once in a while, the best way to keep moving through your life is do something that seems impossibly kind for your own soul.

So go. Alone. Late in the day.

Leave behind the book. Leave behind your prayer journal. Leave behind the notebooks and schedule planning. Leave behind the mobile phone – if you’re in a good spot, there won’t be any reception anyways.

And here is your assignment: sit down and watch the water.

That’s exactly it.

Sit in silence at the edge of the water and learn to be satisfied.

This is the tricky part when your life is full with good and necessary and hard things, I know. Your mind will jump around from thing to thing to thing. You’ll feel guilty and then you’ll feel indolent. You’ll feel like time has slowed down.

You’ll start to think that you need to make this time “count” for God and so you’ll start to formally pray in the ways that you were taught to pray – stop that. Then you’ll want to journal or read that God-book you’ve been meaning to get to because you think you really need to grow spiritually and the only way to do that is to try harder. You’ll get restless. You’ll think of all the Things You Should Be Doing. You’ll feel twitchy perhaps. Then you’ll remember how when you were a kid you used to be able to just be in a place without compulsively needing to check text messages or chase around getting things done, and you’ll think I didn’t used to be so fragmented and urgent.

Be silent and watch the water. Do one thing right now and do it with your whole self.

Prayer will come, it just might look a bit different than you expect. Rest will come to your mind, you have to wait for it in patience, this isn’t the province of multi-taskers. The middle distance of your mind will rise up and envelope you in an exhale just as the sun sinks begins to move towards the horizon. You’ll start to notice life as it is happening in that moment and this might begin to feel in your body like how poetry is meant to sound.

A fish will fly up out of the water and return, leaving only a ring of circles going further and further out to every shore. You’ll see a bird and try to figure out what kind it is – a heron? look at that elegant neck – swooping down low over the water heading for the reeds. You’ll see dragonflies swooping and after a few times, you won’t duck in a cringe anymore. You’ll watch the clouds drift and the water move and the sun sink and your soul will begin to stretch out into the space left open. 

This is not only what you need – this is what you want, what you desire and even those are sacred things at times. Before you know it, your hands will find a spot to rest and your breath will slow down.

Become acquainted with the silence in your own soul, you might be surprised by the sound of you. 

Sometimes you might rise up in gratitude and thanksgiving, other times the pain you’re finally allowing yourself to feel might overwhelming, sometimes your soul feels like worship and sometimes this feels like encountering a stranger – do I know you? Then sometimes it might simply feel like a good friend you haven’t seen in far too long and you’ll think to yourself, why don’t I do this more often?  

Let the sun set over the water. Be baptized in the gracious last light of the day, the satisfied light. Close your eyes and feel the light against your darkness, warming you.

When the sun has disappeared, the light remains. And when the night sinks down in shades of indigo and navy blue, you’ll be ready to be friends with the night and the silence, and hopefully with your own soul at last. The first star of the evening will appear at last like a benediction for the patient.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Home Is In Heaven

September 3, 2014
Home


"My Home is in Heaven; I'm just traveling through this world."
Billy Graham

No truer words were ever spoken.

As we drove south out of Ouray, Colorado heading home a few days ago, I must admit I was desperately sad to be leaving this place I've come to love over the years.  The beauty and the sheer "Heavenliness" of it.


And as I watched it disappear out my rearview mirror, I found myself pulling my head out of the sand that I have been hiding it in for awhile now.


The truth is, this trip was hard on Chuck.  Very hard.  There....I said it.  I've been putting off typing those words on the screen for 30 minutes now.  And I've been putting off pulling my head out of that proverbial sand for longer than that.  He never once complained, but it showed on his face.....it showed in his legs....and it more than broke my heart to see him struggling so.


This man I fell in love with 20 years ago....who battles daily and hourly with Multiple Sclerosis......and who is now battling Congestive Heart Failure and recently an Aortic Aneurysm we found out he has days before leaving for Colorado, stands tall despite a failing body....smiles at everyone he meets......and rode in a tight Jeep to and from Colorado for 36 hours because he loves me......because he knew how desperately I wanted to see Colorado again....BECAUSE HE'S A GOOD GUY.

"Grow STRONG in your WEAKNESS.  
Some of My children I've gifted with abundant strength and stamina.  
Others, like you, have received the humble gift of frailty.  
Your fragility is not a punishment, nor does it indicate lack of faith.  
On the contrary, weak ones like you must live by faith, depending on Me 
to get you through the day.  
I am developing your ability to trust Me, to lean on Me, 
rather than on your understanding.  
This is how you grow STRONG in your WEAKNESS.
(Jesus Calling, August 31)

To see our last 1-minute trailer of leaving Ouray, click here:
http://youtu.be/wZw5z583lH4?list=UUlzBpeuych3t_TKfemOtHgQ

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Our Last Day In Almost-Heaven......

August 30, 2014
Ouray, CO


Today was our last day in Ouray.  Sadly, we pack up and head out of this little slice of Heaven in the morning. 

So, what do you do when its your last day in this magical place?  


For starters, you walk the town.  


You soak in the uniqueness of each store....


You enjoy wearing a sweater in August and you try to get just a little more mud on your Jeep....

And you put the Jeep in 4-wheel drive one last time by taking an unknown trail.

Which is exactly what we did.  As we set out trying to find that "perfect" trail, we came across a road marked County Road 14b (the "b" stands for BAD) just north of Ouray.  Sounded innocent enough to us and the GPS showed it to connect up with the trail we were currently on so we were like "Let's do it!".  


About a mile into this trail, that little voice inside me was saying, "YOU'RE AN IDIOT" and found ourselves unable to turn around.   So we plunged forward several more miles gaining altitude with each mile.....my beautiful red Jeep scraping the edges of trees and shrubs as the trail became less and less of a trail....

After following this pea-brained idea of mine for what seemed like FOREVER, we finally did connect up with another road.   I believe it was at this point (shortly after I stopped kissing the ground) that Chuck, my cheerleader through this agony, turned to me and said, "We should have filled up the back seat with people and charged them for this adventure!!"

Ohhhhh......and our buddy Jim took the Black Bear Pass trail again today (seeing as we couldn't see anything during the rain, sleet and snow of 2 days ago) and look what happened to the Jeep right in front of him.......

I TOLD YOU IT WAS DANGEROUS!!!!!









What A Difference A Day Makes

 August 29, 2014
Ouray, CO


What a difference a day makes!  Yesterday was rain, snow, sleet and 40 degree temperatures and today.....well, TODAY was 72 degrees and SUNNY!

Murphy took this picture in case you were wondering....
 So, we decided to teach Liz a little bit about how to use her 4-wheel drive gears today.  Chuck surprised me with this Jeep almost two years ago for Valentines Day (thus the red color!) and I have loved every minute of it!  It will go ANYWHERE....climb ANYTHING.....float through EVERYTHING....and today we proved all three of those things!

View of Red Mountain from Brown Mountain
We took a little trail called Brown Mountain that was rated a Class 2, Moderate in difficulty.  That, compared to the Black Bear Pass of yesterday which is Rated 5, EXTREME....we were thinking this was the "perfect" road for Liz to learn how to use the Jeep for what it was intended for.

Brown Mountain Trail
 And at this point, I would like to apologize to our son, Troy, who loaned us his hitch carrier to carry Chuck's scooter on......I "might" have heard it dragging a few times in a couple steep, narrow rocky sections that I read later should have been attempted by an experienced four-wheeler. Sorrrrrry.......

Wildflowers just before the PANIC ATTACK
We are almost to the top of Brown Mountain, above the tree level at 11,500 feet, when everything turns to rock.....lots and lots of rock....and I'm expected to continue on up this incredibly narrow, rocky ledge (I use the term "ledge" loosely...much like the rocks that were occupying that ledge) and I just can't do it.  I stop....I panic....I get that "shifty-eyed" look of "WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?" I inform Chuck I'm backing up......he then gets that "shifty-eyed" look like "YOU'RE KIDDING, RIGHT?".....and I slap that puppy into reverse and down we go.  And this was a Class 2 beginners trail.....
My Passengers
We eventually found our way back down this beginner mountain, headed into Ouray for a little ice cream and people watching after meeting up with our buddy Jim from Florida.....but not before I took a tumble in the middle of town....in front of the world.....chasing Murphy who was chasing a big dog who belonged to a nice couple from California who had to pick me up off the street. (thank GOD there's no pictures of that...)

The 3 Men...Jim, Murphy and Chuck
So we have survived (barely) yet another day in Ouray.  Tomorrow is our last day here and I'm sad to be leaving this little piece of Heaven.  The views are like nothing you can imagine.....it literally takes your breath away.

Murphy & Molly hanging out on the bumper trailer
And the BEST part of today?  I got to spend time with my sister Debbie whose on vacation here too!!! Best part, hands down!! 

So, here's just a few pics from what our eyes saw today.....we are so B-L-E-S-S-E-D.....















Friday, August 29, 2014

Rain, Sleet, Snow......Black Bear Pass

August 28, 2014
Black Bear Pass, Ouray, CO



We Lived.

Barely.


I drove 1,000 miles to travel back up the Black Bear Pass......a memory of three years ago that I held on to so tightly that my inner-self wouldn't rest until it lived it again. 


And today, that happened.  But a completely different memory was formed this time.   I'm struggling to find the words to describe this trek up that beloved treacherous mountain....


The weather said partly sunny....high of 66......but when we woke this morning, it was pouring rain. P-O-U-R-I-N-G.

We went anyway. 


As we headed up that perilous wet 12,000' mountain.....the only Jeep to tackle it this day.....the temperatures were dropping into the 40's...the rain turned to sleet....then snow.....and the fog was so thick the mountain disappeared from view. 


Did I mention we were in an open-air itsy-bitsy Jeep with 5 people in it?


This was not for the faint of heart, folks.......climbing over 12,000' on narrow, wet and dangerous trails with only inches from the edge.....and being the only Jeep in sight did cause me to rethink whether this was a good idea or not.


And then it happened.

I had to pee......

BAD.

I held it as long as I possibly could.....I was sitting on the hump seat in the back and kept "mouthing" to the driver in his rear-view mirror how desperate I was getting....but folks, we are hanging off a mountain....there's just no rest stops on this trail.


He finally stopped.....I climbed over the rear spare tire.....told everyone to sing while I relieved myself at the back of the Jeep in 40 degree weather with a fantastic view of Telluride.....and all was well in my universe once again.  Ahhhhhh.


After a warm, dry lunch in Telluride, this little group of 5 who feel like family now, headed back to Ouray a different route over the mountains....a sunny, beautiful, aspen-tree-lined route this time.....


......and promptly kissed the ground.