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The Back Porch

cardinalsThe Back Porch

I’ve lived a lot of places in my life. For a long time, I lived in some major cities, sometimes in a house where you were so close to your neighbor that you could crawl from your bedroom right into theirs, and sometimes in apartments with very thin walls where you could hear everything going on in the next apartment.

I’ve lived in some dangerous neighborhoods and some upscale neighborhoods. I’ve lived in 55+ parks and I’ve lived on farms. I’ve lived in the country and in the suburbs and a five minute walk from downtown Cleveland.

I’ve always like the outdoors. Fresh air, a blue sky, trees, flowers, grass and plenty of wild birds, squirrels, chipmunks, possums and yes even skunks doing their own thing ignorant of any and all around them, is, I think, the most beautiful setting in the world.

I’ve dealt with rush hour traffic, bumper to bumper, accidents and inclement weather, construction, parades, school zones and rerouting when driving to and from work. I’ve driven down so many streets in some of the bigger cities that I could draw you a map without a problem, but I have always preferred to drive in rural areas.

The best move I ever made was to a small rural town where people are just completely different from what you find in the big cities, where they actually talk to you and look out for you. I’ve lived in three houses here and I have to say this one is the best. It has a front porch and a huge deck/back porch and I have always loved porches.

The back porch is my favorite. I’m out there first thing in the morning while my coffee is heating up. I grow plants on it and I feed the birds on it and sometimes I just stand on it and drink in the peacefulness of it. On many days I just stand out there and pray, thanking God for all the blessings in my life and thanking him for my back porch. It is one of my most favorite places to be. Today I am thankful for the peacefulness of my back porch.

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The Rain

lighteningThe Rain

I know I haven’t posted much lately, but it is going into summer and I am bound and determined to spend as much time outside as the weather allows this summer. We have had thunderstorms all day today and they are predicted throughout tonight, tomorrow and most of the week so that kind of puts a damper on my plans.

However, I love the smell outside after a refreshing rain. I don’t like the water bugs that show up on the back deck afterwards, and I don’t like how slick the deck steps get. I don’t like the puddles that lead from the steps to the garbage cans, but I do like the fact that when it rains I don’t have to water the plants,

The Bible talks about the droughts that God inflicted on people at certain times. You’ll find references to droughts in Amos, Isaiah, Chronicles, Kings, Leviticus and Haggai just to mention a few. Droughts were often used to punish people or to try and get them to turn from their wicked and sinful ways.

The weather over the last ten or twenty years has changed considerably around the world. There are more strange weather conditions, more tornadoes, hurricanes, and tsunamis than ever before. You never know what to expect from the weather anymore since they say that it can be affected by solar storms, volcano eruptions, earthquakes and Ocean disturbances. Sometimes it seems like it is just a toss of the dice.

I read, not long ago, that our water tables are still low from the last drought we suffered a few years ago. The water tables are important because without water the crops will die, the animals too will suffer and many will die. We drink it, we bath in it, we wash our clothes in it, we play in it and we water our crops, herds and household plants with it. We also use it to generate power. Today I am thankful for the rain, even when it interferes with my outdoor plans.

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Mother

wringer washerMother

It seems like I am always running behind on things, but Mother’s Day and Monday were pretty busy. We had an ER visit on the one and running to do on the other. That’s my excuse.

Mother’s should be celebrated everyday, not just one day a year. A good mother spends most of her time seeing to her family’s needs, taking very little time for herself.

The Bible says a lot about what mothers are to be: Titus 2:4-5 says and “so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands that the word of God may not be reviled”. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 refers to being available morning, noon and night “and these words I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk about them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you arise” and the famous one that applies not just to mothers but fathers as well Proverbs 22:6 “train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he shall not depart from it”

Motherhood, today has changed. It is not as is it was in biblical times. Most households have to depend on both parents to work so the children end up in daycare or with relatives so the strong bonds between a mother and her children are often weaker than they should be. Then you have the single mothers, those who didn’t choose to wait until they were married and those who have lost their spouse, either through divorce or death.

Too many parents have chosen different ways of raising their children, trying to be open minded and allowing them to be exposed to all the evils of the world without warning them of the consequences. Others have just stepped away totally from any kind of interaction with children, allowing others such as the school, daycare workers or teachers the job of teaching their children, often, also depending on electronics and technology as babysitters so they can have their “me” time.

Some mothers weren’t meant to be mothers at all. Everyday in the news I read about some horrible abuse perpetrated on children by their parents, some even starving, beating and killing their own children. No, society has changed the face of motherhood a long time ago. Many of these abusive parents didn’t want children to begin with but were careless and didn’t take any responsibility for curbing their sexual appetites. Others were addicts and some must have been mentally ill.

I’ve had five mothers and several who acted as mothers in my life. Some were good, some not so good. I had two foster mothers and my own mother who really loved and cared about me, and two who didn’t see any reason to treat me as family. I’ve been blessed by having more than one good mother. I’ve been blessed by having others who treated me as their own child. If you have a mother, even one who could not always be there because of extenuating circumstances such as illness or the need to work, celebrate her every day. Love her, be there for her. Today I am thankful for all the “real” mothers I have had in my life.

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Family

hen and chicksFamily

For many years I didn’t understand what family was all about. I guess it was partially due to being raised for several years in foster homes, some good and some bad. The last one, however was the only one where I actually felt like I was part of the family. I loved them so much and grew so attached to them that I actually cried and asked if I could stay when it was time to go home to my mother.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved my mom, but spending so many years away from her with only a few visits a year, she became a stranger to me. Before you jump to any conclusions, my mother was a good woman. She wasn’t in prison and she didn’t lose us because she didn’t take care of us. She was in a mental hospital for six years.

They diagnosed her with a nervous breakdown, but back then they didn’t know as much about mental health nor did they have the medications to treat people with problems. I know, from what she told me, that there were times she was sedated for days and that there were times that they actually gave her shock therapy. If they had the knowledge back then that they do today, she may have never needed to go into that hospital.

All in all, I had five families growing up. Four foster homes and then home with my mom. Going home to her was a little rough. I didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t have that bond that a mother should have with her children, no, in fact my mother and I didn’t bond until I was in High School, a year or two before I graduated, and then I was gone because my step-father had rules. When you turned 18 you were to be out of the house and on your own.

Before my 18th summer was even over, I was getting married, mom came down and signed the license, then her, my two sisters and brother were hauled off to Mexico by my step father. He said it would be a better place for them to live. I never saw my mom again. Six years later she was gone.

As a young adult, I still didn’t know much about what family was, but when I became a Christian I started learning about “true” family. True family is not always blood related. True family was like the last foster home. It was made up of people who loved you, cared about you, respected you. A true family would give you advice, listen to your problems and help you the best they can down that long road called life.

I have gathered a lot of family members through two marriages and through the marriage of my son and through Gods orchestration of events in my life. I have more children, that I did not conceive, than I ever thought I would. I have a ton of grandchildren. I have more sisters and brothers than I left home having. When I think about all my blood relatives, all my Christian relatives, and all the ones in this little town that have become extended family, I have a huge family, and we all have the same father, God

Today I am thankful for my father and for the large family he has given me.

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Holy, Holy, Holy

jesus doorHoly, Holy, Holy

You don’t often hear church bells unless it is Sunday or a Holiday in most towns anymore, however in our small town, we hear them every morning and I think in the evening. This morning when I walked out on the deck, a beautiful morning, I heard the church bells trolling out the song “Holy, Holy, Holy” (of course they are all computerized now).

I used to love to sing that song in church but I couldn’t remember all the lyrics. In fact I could only remember the last set as shown in the italics and bold below. As I stood there listening to the melody playing out, I started thinking “it’s not about me, it’s all about him”.

I love to write and my favorite subjects all lead back to the Lord. I like to look for the blessings in each day, something, no matter how small or how large, to be thankful for. If you knew my past you would agree with me that I have an abundance of things to be thankful for.

It’s not about the nightmares, injuries or problems that my past has left me with. It’s not about the day to day struggles that I go through with the diseases and bodily malfunctions that I have. It’s not about how I feel in the morning, how my day has gone or how I feel before bed, NO, it’s all about him. It’s about allowing him to show through me.

It’s about sharing his love, his mercy, his grace, his forgiveness and salvation. It’s about letting others know that it is there for the taking if they only repent and believe, and it’s free to all who seek it. Its talking about him, it’s praying for others, loving others, sharing with others, helping others, if we are physically able to, but mostly it’s about being a living example of who he is.

Our daily lives should reflect as much of him as we possible can. Sure, there are those who are limited in what they can do, but they can be an example in how they speak and act and they can certainly pray if they can’t do anything else and they can certainly share their love of the Lord. Today I am thankful for the reminder this song brought to mind.

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty, God in three persons, blessed Trinity!
Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee, casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea; cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee, which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.
Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee, though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see, only thou art holy; there is none beside thee, perfect in power, in love and purity.
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea. Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty, God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

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Catching up on a Few

eyeApril 17, 2018 – Three Lives

I’ve read a few different versions of the Bible. I’ve read the King James, the New King James, the Good News Bible, the NIV Study Bible and am presently reading the Prophecy bible by John Hagee. What I like about the John Hagee Bible is that there are footnotes that tell you what is going at the time that particular book you reading was written and other inserts here and there that gives you some insights into interpretations of certain verses, books or chapters along with Diamonds for Daily Living.

I have other books that I have picked up at thrift stores including several put out by Readers Digest, including “Jesus and His Times, Great Men of the Bible and After Jesus”. These books are very informative. They go into detail about the way people lived, the laws of the rulers, the laws of God, the battles that were fought and the different early versions of the bible.

One insert that I read in the John Hagee Bible got my attention. He talks about the fact that there are three lives talked about in the Bible. The physical life- union of the soul with the body, the spiritual life – the union of the soul with God and the eternal life – eternal union of the soul with God.

I also look at three lives we live, the first is our past life before we knew Jesus, the second is our present life serving and believing him, and the third is our eternal life when we join him in heaven. Our past life is a reminder to just how sinful we were, our present life is trying to live and do as he wants us to, which in society today is a struggle, and the third life starts either when we pass away of when the Rapture comes, whichever comes first.

Today I am thankful for the knowledge learned from the first life, the opportunity to serve him which comes from the second life and the eternal life I will have with him some day.

cardinalsApril 18, 2018 – The Cardinals

I love nature. I’ve mentioned this several times in other articles. I like to walk through the woods, drive through the country, and watch the actions and habits of the animals. When I was younger, I climbed mountains, I went hiking and I swam in lakes and streams. I connected with nature, it seems, in a natural way. I always felt comfortable around it.

I’ve lived in some very congested cities, like Cleveland, Ohio and Largo Florida, and for the most part I never enjoyed big cities. I remember telling my foster sister in a letter, when we moved to Cleveland, that when it rained, mud rolled down the walls.

I live in a small rural town now and I don’t think I will ever move again. I’ve had a family of raccoon on the back deck who just looked at me when I walked out and didn’t flinch. I’ve talked to possums outside and even a skunk when it walked through the yard. We have had a variety of squirrels that have hung around whatever house we lived in, often coming right up on the porch to get nuts, or sitting up in a tree chatting at us.

In the summer it is not unusual to have Blue jays, several varieties of Sparrows, Robins, Starlings, Doves and Cardinals eating together on our back deck. We try to keep food out for them on a daily basis and even though they fly away when we come outside, they always come back.

My favorite, I think are the Cardinals. They are so beautiful and they are more social than most people think. A male Cardinal will sit and watch over his mate while she eats. There have been many times when they have actually come up to the window sill and looked into the kitchen, and few times there has been one up in the branches singing at me in the morning, not flying away when I talk to it. One superstition about Cardinals is that they are a sign that Angels are around, another states they are the spirit of loved ones letting us know they are still around and some believe they are messengers from God.

While I am not superstitious, I like to believe that God could/would send animals and birds our way to brighten our day. Today I am thankful for the beautiful cardinals in my back yard.

older woman prayingApril 19, 2018 – Better Than Some

When I was younger, I was active all the time. Even though my mother said I had asthma, and my older sister said I had horrible attacks when I was little, I don’t remember them. I only remember on asthma attack the six years I was in the Foster homes and it was brought on by extreme emotional distress.

When we moved back in with my mother after the foster homes, she had be taken out of physical education because of my asthma (even though I wasn’t having any attacks) but every time her back was turned, I was running, jumping and exploring without any problems.

When I was younger, I felt like I could go on forever, nothing could hold me back. I very rarely got sick and when I did, it was usually gone in 24 hours except when I had what they called the Asian flu. For most of my life, even though I made no effort to take care of myself, I was pretty healthy, so when I got older and decided I needed to pay attention to my body, it was a shock when I started having different diseases show up.

First it was high cholesterol and a slight re-occurrence of the asthma. Then they told me I was depressed and had osteoarthritis. A few years ago I showed up with uterine cancer which they were able to get all of because it was caught early on. Today I suffer from several other maladies, some of which cause me a lot of pain, and some of which, if not kept under treatment could eventually kill me.

We are at the hospital and clinic several times a week, and as I look around at some of the people there, my heart breaks when I see their suffering and pain. Today I am thankful that I am doing better than some of them, and I give all the credit to my Lord who has taught me how to cope with my illnesses in more positive manner.

bibleApril 20, 2018 – God’s Word

I can remember trying to read the bible many years ago. It didn’t take long for me to put it down and just let the pastor of the church guide us in what to read. Not only were some areas just completely boring to me, like the genealogies, but with other verses and chapters, I just couldn’t grasp their meaning.

But as the years went by and I became closer to Jesus, I kept trying. It was still a struggle but I kept trying and I actually read several different versions from cover to cover. I did online bible studies and I went to mid week bible studies at church, but I still had problems staying awake when trying to read certain parts of the book.

As the years have gone by, Jesus has worked with me on understanding the history of our creation and the word of God. I make it a habit to always read a chapter from the Old Testament and the New Testament each morning, and I flip through the bible and online sites when I am trying to write an article, still, sometimes I don’t completely understand what I am reading. This last couple years I have been reading more and have finally discovered what a great and interesting book it is. Sometimes passages just jump out at me and I can’t put the book down. I have come to realize just how exciting a book it is. Today I am thankful to be able to read and understand Gods word.

common senseApril 21, 2018 – Adjustments

I guess I am becoming an old fogie. I like things just a certain way and can get cranky when something isn’t just right. We all have to make some adjustments in our lives because our lives are constantly changing.

We may go from being healthy to developing sever ailments that we didn’t plan on. We have to adjust our lives to deal with these. We lose people we care about and love, family and friends and often we have to make adjustments in our schedules, living arrangements and financial status to compensate for the void left behind by their demise.

We get older, we get weaker, and often are not able to do some of the things we used to. We might not be as energized as we used to be, or we may have handicaps caused by injury or illness and we have to make adjustments for that.

I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments many times in my life. My living conditions have changed from bad, to good, to very good,and back to not so good several times, so adjustments had to be made. While I still like things just a certain way, I am thankful that the Lord has been giving me patience over the years to make these adjustments that need to be made.

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Discombobulated Days, Energy, Best Gift and Unworthy

question markApril 13, 2018 – Discombobulated Days

I learned several years ago to never try to completely plan my day out. No matter how much I tried, the more I planned the more would happen to interrupt what I had planned. Sure, there are days when there are activities that must be done, but I try not to plan too much around the necessary events. I call these my discombobulated days.

No one that I know appreciates discombobulated days. They interfere greatly with what you want to accomplish. It seems like everything can just fall apart if just one thing doesn’t go as you plan. I’ll give you an example. On infusion days, I usually go to the store afterward to stock up on what is needed because I want to enjoy the next day, a free day, but somehow that has all gotten twisted around and I have had to go to the store on free days because they changed the time of the infusions.

I don’t even try to completely plan out my free days. I will make a list of what I would like to accomplish and if I get anything done that I want, I cross it off the list and leave the rest until another day. This used to frustrate me a lot, but like my sis says “it is what it is” and I’ve learned to just do what I can and worry about the rest later. Today I am thankful that the Lord has given me the patience to get through these discombobulated days.

lighteningApril 14, 2018 – Energy

When I was a young person I seem to have an endless supply of energy. I could go all day and most the night and not feel exhausted or tired. In fact, I even had problems gaining weight. I was a skinny little thing, always smaller than most people my age.

My mom had the doctors check me out one time and they said I had a very high metabolism. They said I didn’t gain weight because I never slowed down, I burned up everything as soon as I consumed it. All of that changed years later. As I grew older, I slowed down.

Even in my 40’s though I still had enough energy to work eight to twelve hours a day, go to dinner, come home and clean, and then get up every two hours to make international calls from home for the company. I was the person who always had everything organized and done before it was due.

Today, because of different diseases I have and medications, I don’t have enough energy as I want. On most days I end up taking at least a two hour nap. I’m energized in the morning when I first get up and then around two or three I hit that wall and have to go lay down. So much for time released medications, huh?

There are days when just vacuuming three rooms completely wears me out and I feel like such a failure because I can’t keep the house as squeaky clean as I would like it. Don’t get me wrong, the house is clean, but there was a time when I would mop and vacuum every day. But, even with this huge lack of energy in my life now, I am still thankful for the energy that I do have for I know those who have no way near as much.

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April 15, 2018 – Best Gift

A gift is a gift, a present. It is not something you should ever have to pay back. I’ve heard conversations over the years concerning the gifts that people have received. I’ve heard good comments and bad. I’ve hear people talk about how they thought a gift was cheap, beneath them, less than they thought they deserved and I’ve heard people complain that they didn’t care for the gift they received or couldn’t use it.

I have appreciated every gift that I have ever received. I know that most of them come from the heart and a few come from what others feel is an obligation. Growing up poor, I learned to be thankful for all the gifts I received and tried to make good use of every one. It’s true that sometimes people don’t give you a gift that you enjoy, and is usually because they buy what they would like, just assuming that if they like it, you will like it too.

I’m sure that there are probably times in my life where a gift I picked out wasn’t appreciated as much as I thought it would be. I’m sure that there were times that I chose something I liked instead of considering what they other person might like.

There is a gift that I received that I will always cherish. That is the gift of salvation, of eternal life promised by Jesus when I repented of my sins and accepted him has my Lord and Savior. This is the type of gift that you not only get to keep and use forever, but it is also one that you can share with others my sharing the word of God and telling others about Jesus. Today I am thankful for the eternal gift of salvation that I was promised by the Lord,.

oldman prayingApril 16, 2018 – Unworthy

Have you ever felt unworthy? Have you ever felt embarrassed when someone praises your for something you said or did? I have, many times in my life. I have never been one who knows how to react when someone pays me a compliment or when someone builds me up in front of others.

There have been times in my life where I was rewarded for something I did and I didn’t feel like I had earned that reward. I felt like there was more I should have said or done. I felt unworthy, that I didn’t deserve the reward, bonus or award.

I felt this way at a few jobs, when my boss would pat me on the back and tell me “well done”, or would hand me a bonus check, or as with the last company give me an award and a gift of some sort. To me it was earned, I only did my job, I only did what I was supposed to do.

Most of my life I have been an over achiever. In school I was the nerd with all the high grades, with the awards for Citizenship, Deans List, Presidents List, Honor Roll and Merit Roll. In fact when I went to college in my late thirties, they created a special award for me “Overcoming Odds”, because I never gave up. When most people would have quit after missing a week or two, I hung on after missing two weeks because of an accident.

I like to believe that I will always try to do my best in any given circumstance, but still I feel unworthy of anyone taking notice or complimenting me. We are all unworthy of God’s love, mercy and care, but he gives it to us anyway when we accept his son as Lord of our lives. Today I am thankful that he still loves me even thought I am unworthy.