Category Archives: choices

It’s that time of year …

not for celebrations and parties.  Not for get-togethers with good friends and people you may know.  Not shopping for bargains and gifts, not meeting up to have a good time and not for having a nice glass of wine with like-minded folks.

Well, actually, it is that time of year, but not for everyone.

For some, this time of year means eating a cold can of beans alone in an empty room without power because the electric bill wasn’t paid.  It wasn’t paid because the baby needed medication and there wasn’t enough money for medication and electricity.

For some, this time of year means standing on the street, in the cold, wearing street clothes and house slippers because there wasn’t enough money for rent and if there wasn’t enough money for rent, there certainly wasn’t enough money for a coat and shoes.

For some, this time of year brings memories that are bitter and hurtful; thoughts of years past that ran, one into the other, with no happiness or joy.

For some, this time of year means nothing.  It is simply the passing of time while watching the world go by, just like the year before and the year before that.

For some, this time of year means family, food, friends and fellowship.  It is these people who embrace the season and enjoy it as they always have, together with the people they love and are comfortable with.

But what about all the others?

Who, when they set down to their family table laden with food, surrounded by family, warm, cozy and perfect, think of those who have nothing, expect nothing and know nothing different from the emptiness they feel every year at this time?

I and many others call ourselves followers of Christ.  We say with our voices  how much we love and want to be like Jesus.

We sing praises, bless our food and continue on in the same traditions we have followed for years.  We praise Jesus and say we want to be like Him but prove time and again that we recite words we believe but don’t, deep down, mean and we fail the very Jesus we say we want to be like.

He wants us to share what we have; not just home, warmth, family, friends and food, but the very word that would bring others to love and honor Him.

Invite a stranger to Thanksgiving dinner.  Invite several strangers.

Let’s bring someone homeless to our home and make them, for one day, family.

Let’s show them that Jesus is real and that they are loved.

This time of year is our time, the Jesus follower’s time.  Our time to put our money where our mouth is.  To be hospitable, to offer shelter and food for those who are hungry and the ones the world calls outcasts.

It is our time to take in everyone, despite everything, and to show them Jesus.

If we, who claim to be the hands and feet of Jesus don’t show love to the oppressed, be certain that the evil one will.

He will entice and enchant them, then make them slaves to his depravity and hatred of all things good.

Don’t give the devil the satisfaction of beating us to the punch.  Let us be the Jesus we claim to want to follow and lead someone to Christ by being the hands and feet of the Savior.

Make no mistake –  Satan is working hard to win the souls of the lost and if we don’t work harder, he will win because he doesn’t give up if he doesn’t get a response on the first pass.

Be Jesus to the world and don’t give up just because you can find an excuse.  Having an excuse doesn’t excuse us, but overcoming excuses and finding a way to be Jesus to the world shows our true alliance.  We are with Jesus or not with Jesus.  It is as simple as that.

Everyone reading this post is welcome to Thanksgiving Dinner at my mom’s house.  You, for one day, will be our family, you will be warm and your bellies will be full.  Must love, or at least tolerate dogs, though, because our place is lousy with them!  🙂

Being just on the cusp …

of sanity is a truly difficult place to be.

Reality is real.  That’s factual.

Yet fantasy can justifiably be just as indisputable.

That sound ridiculous, but in my  world, it is how it goes.

I spend as much time daydreaming as I do actually living the life in front of me.

I think about all sorts of things, rearranging them from time to time so that I have no doubts or regrets.

That, in itself, is lame.

Time can’t be altered.

There are no “do-overs” in life.

It is what it appears to be.

I would, if I could, change some things, but wouldn’t go back and do it all again for all the blue in an October sky.

I have to find a place of contentment in my chaotic world, otherwise, I couldn’t survive.

If I dwell on what didn’t go my way, there’s a better than average chance I will lose focus on my blessings.

And they are many.

My blessings.

While it is true that I took some blessings for granted and, in doing so, lost them …

I’ve only myself to blame.

Each day is an opportunity for me to rectify that which was irresponsibly lost.

What I do with that opportunity is solely on me.

I wish many things, but at the end of the day, I am where I am because of the choices I’ve made.

But then, aren’t we all?

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Ernest Hemingway said …

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.”

I believe this to be true. 

I’ve been broken so many times that I’ve lost count.

A couple of times, the brokenness nearly won, but for the most part, I came up with my head above water.

What breaks us doesn’t define us, but  having the desire to put the shattered pieces back together does.

I was many times, in the broken places, at my strongest.

I can’t begin to explain the transformation; but there was one.

I’m still looking for lost pieces, but I have faith that if they are meant to be found, they will be.

I do believe Hemingway was spot on when he, a very broken man, said that string of words.

If one hasn’t been broken, they’ve yet to be born and can’t possibly understand the beautiful array of colors that a skewed, broken and pixillated life has to offer.

Until you break it, you can’t begin to know what is inside.

A bit like a Sand Dollar.

Once you’re broken, you can’t stop looking at all the intricate shapes, shards and pieces.

I’m not much on working puzzles, but the pieces and parts of life fascinate me.

I don’t start at the corners.

Instead, I start in the center and build outward because the corners will always be corners.

Those broken already know where the corners are; it is the center that perplexes us and makes us stronger than we would have been were we not broken.

I, as we all do, struggle sometimes.

It’s part of the journey.

If we don’t struggle, we lack understanding and in doing so, give up.

If we give up, the broken places win and the corners cease to matter.

I’m not a poor loser but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t prefer to win.

Romans chapter Twelve is my favorite place in the bible. Each verse speaks to me directly …

But this one, in particular, (Romans 12:12) speaks louder each time I read it …

It says “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instantly in prayer.”

There are times I’m certain God doesn’t hear me. I know, as any believer does, when these dark, silent times come.

The silence is deafening.

Unnerving.

Unwavering.

But at others, when the silence is broken and I know He hears me, I’m mesmerized.

Goosebumps threaten to overtake me and nearly make me forget what I was praying about to begin with.

Life is hard.

It’s hard for everyone.

None of us have the franchise of a life unriddled with trials and hardships.

But it’s also, if you pay attention, riddled with joy.

To give up or give in is a selfish act that says we weren’t willing to fight; to survive.

A coward’s way.

I was a coward for much of my life.

I refuse to be one through the rest of it.

I’ll look for those missing pieces, lost friends, severed relationships, missed opportunities.

I haven’t always, but I do now; but, if I don’t find them, so be it.

I’ll find them somewhere along the way or understand they weren’t for me to begin with.

I’m OK where, often alone, I find myself.

I always have been.

Whom shall I fear?

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Five years later …

or nearly so, I am still sorting through my late husband’s things.

I should be past overpowering sadness by now.

I suppose I am, mostly.

But being a writer and photographer hinders that absolution.

Just when I begin to ascertain peace in my life, words intervene; I write about him and tear those nearly closed wounds open again.

It is as though he died this day, this moment, this hour.

Sadness seeps through the crevices the words carve.

Normal humans move forward, live their lives, make something of themselves from the shattered remains.

I want that, too.

But I’m a writer.

I’m a photographer.

I keep tearing those wounds, just as they’re healing, open.

I love writing about everything and photographing God’s perfect beauty; but it has a price.

I pay dearly through my words for they rip open wounds I’ve desperately attempted to close.

I bleed, painfully, and use photography to heal me.

Each image I capture stitches the brokenness and, simultaneously, pours remembrance on not quite yet healed hurts.

If one is not an artist of some kind, time will ease your pain.

For the rest of us, those with creative pieces in our soul, time simply laughs.

When the words, melodies and images are in our head and heart, there is little time can do.

What it can do is soon undone by what we are.

Sadness is my destiny, peace my hope.

And yet I write.

I photograph.

My hope is great.

My healing never really comes.

I have to ask myself if I would be willing to sacrifice my writing and photography for peace.

No, I answer.

I can live without peace.

To live without words and images would truly and altruistically destroy me.

That which brings me sadness will fuel my hope.

I am a writer and photographer.

Therein lies my hope.

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Friendship …

is sacred.

A thing that transcends space and time.

Or should.

But everyone knows that people come and go in our lives

It is part of the natural order.

Fate.

Luck.

Devine intervention.

I look at my own life and see a series of failures.

I was blindsided many times.

Left trying to find the individual pieces among the shattered remains.

Abandonment.

Divorce.

Death.

Trusting becomes more difficult with each betrayal.

But I’m glutton for punishment and keep trusting people.

I can’t help it.

I am an optimist.

And on some level, I suppose, a sucker.

But aren’t we all just that now and then.

Wounded.

Scarred.

Survivors.

Strength comes through trials.

Difficulties.

Impossibilities.

It comes at a price.

Sometimes, that price is steep.

But who am I if I’m not myself?

And who are you?

Something to think about.

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Being broken …

is a blessing.

Yes, you read correctly.

I am broken; have been broken and will, God willing, be broken again.

I am closest to God when I am broken for He loves me enough to be with me during the times in my life when I have nowhere else to turn.

I don’t seek out opportunities to be broken, yet find myself there.

I try to be good, to honor my Lord, yet I fail Him more often than not.

Ones who don’t love me have long given up on me.

That number is many.

People I have loved and adored as friends have cast me away as flawed, unworthy and incapable of love or friendship.

I don’t blame them.

I see myself that way.

But He sees me differently.

In His eyes, I am, though I’m broken, redeemable.

He sees something in me I can’t imagine.

Something worth saving.

Something He can use to help me reach out to others like me.

I am broken, yes, and being so, I am blessed.

I’ve lost so much, endured many trials, felt the hatred of those I held close to my heart.

It hasn’t been easy, but in order to be of use, it has been necessary.

I’ve been to the worst places;  destitute, friendless, homeless, persecuted, forgotten, scorned, and yet have survived the flames that threatened to burn me to ashes.

It could have hardened me but instead, it gave me an understanding I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

The fire refines me and, with each refining, I am stronger than I began.

Given a choice, I would have chosen an easier path.

An easier path, however, would have likely made me hardened and judgemental; useless to the work He had in store for me.

He lifts me above the flames so that I might relate to another’s trials.

I’ve been there.

In the fire.

In the desert.

In the wilderness.

Alone in the darkness surrounded by shattered pieces.

And wherever I was, whenever I was there, I wasn’t alone.

I will never, as He promised, be alone.

I once thought myself cursed, but now I find myself chosen.

How lovely to suffer for my Lord so that I can understand the heartbreak of His children.

I cry often, yes, but each tear that falls, falls into His hand and is treasured.

I understand who I am because He understood who He made me to be.

I love because He first loved me, though I was so often unloveable.

All of us, regardless of what we perceive ourselves to be are, at one time or another, unlovable.

That, we have in common.

Don’t follow my example, but learn from it.

That is my blessing and I am thankful for every heartwrenching trial.

Without them, I would be just like everyone else and, to my delight, He has set me apart.

Grace, mercy, tolerance and understanding are mine so that I can see, without blinders, His people.

Thank you, Lord, for eyes to see and an often broken heart to help me understand.

Amen.

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I got lost …

for a bit of a while.

Wandering aimlessly even though I knew full well the direction.

But I didn’t follow them.

The directions.

It happens to everyone at one time or another.

I left what I knew to be true and followed what I wanted to be true.

A path that can lead to nowhere in particular.

I have made it clear in previous posts that “religion” has very little to do with me.

Depending on what someone believes, their “religion” could be just about anything.

I love Jesus.

I do.

I fail to show it more often than I succeed, but it is true.

People fail.

It is in our nature to falter and to struggle.

We. Are. Not. Perfect.

But Jesus doesn’t expect perfection.

And that is a very good thing.

Otherwise, we would all be doomed to what we have done.

Don’t shake your head and say you haven’t done anything because trust me, you’ve done plenty.

If my past was the crux of my salvation, I would already be doomed.

I could tell you stories that would curl the hair on your head, and if your happen to be bald, it would sprout growth.

I deserved to have stones thrown at me.

I still do, every day, and yet, for some reason, Jesus loves me.

One day, He will dry the last tears I will ever cry.

That is a lovely line and I would like take credit for it, but it comes from a song from Casting Crowns called “The Wedding”.

It says a lot of things that mean something to me.

Why?

Because I know that any goodness I have, have had or will ever have comes from Jesus.

He made a choice to give His life for all of us.

God didn’t make him.

Jesus was, as we are, of free will.

He could have opted out and even prayed that the cup be taken from him.

He could have refused.

But He didn’t.

It should be enough to know that he could have and didn’t.

I judge myself daily, multiple times.  I don’t need others to judge me, but they do anyway.

All I really know is that He shows me incredible things through His creation.

I feel the wind on my face, the sun on my skin … see the lightning and hear the thunder.

I am amazed by who He is and what He has done.

I feel odd saying that He loves me, but He does.

I don’t know why and have stopped asking.

He just does.

Via Casting Crowns:  “There’s a stirring in the throne room” … “the last tears she’s will ever cry have been wiped away”.

Today is Easter.

The “Third Day”.

“Resurrection Day”.

I believe this just as I believe the birds sing, the sky is blue and the moon is beautiful.

He loves me even when I am unlovable, tainted, scarred, sinful, judgmental .

He finds me beautiful as He will find you.

I will share this day, not my photographs, which He has given me through the eyes of His spirit, but a song by the group Casting Crowns.

Know your worth in Christ.

He is beautiful and finds you to be the same.

Don’t be ashamed of who you were, be joyful in who you are.

We are His and He loves us even though we are not worthy.

A beautiful thing, that.

Psalms 139:14 ~ I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.