change

Rescue dogs Lulu and Lily and I drove to our favorite beach last week only to find  very large, old and rusted pipe blocking our access to the water.

Picture0217181432_1.jpgSo we clambered over (I carried Lulu, Lily jumped)

There’s been a lot of pushback along the eastern seaboard lately. Nobody wants to have any fracking or exploratory blasting or drilling here. At all. Apparently Florida has gotten a pass, maybe because the sitting president has a large chunk of real estate on the east coast. But we do not want any of our sparkling shoreline damaged, nor any sea life either. This section of the east coast is called the crystal coast for a very good reason. And we don’t want brown sludge or dead fish and other sea life washing on shore.

So a few days later we walked out to the same part of the island and saw this

Picture0217181429_1.jpga dredge sitting just off the shallows of the inlet

The pipe clearly was too narrow to be a conveyance for oil or gas but with all that’s being discussed and protested it was enough to frighten. Moving a little sand to scoop out the channel or replenish the beaches makes sense.

Drilling does not.

I have few issues with the person who was elected president. He has a clear agenda and for the most part wants to protect America and our people. I realize I am not taking a popular side. However, as with the last several presidents I know it is important to respect and pray for the president and all leaders–

“I urge then, first of all, that petitions, prayer, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people– for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all goodness and holiness.” 1Timothy 2:1-2

God is our only true authority, forever. I am not so naive as to want everyone to get along, though that would be great. It isn’t possible. We believe different things. We want different things. But in the end we are each of us responsible for ourselves. What and how we think, act, say. So I know I am grateful for a little dredging of my own thoughts, clearing out some things and working through them. When I look at them alone the effort seems hopeless. When I look through the filter of God’s love for me I see clearer. With compassion, truth, hope. Alone I become frustrated, angry. With His help I have more patience, understanding.

“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope. Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus.” –Romans 15:4-5

Picture0217181745_1.jpgHope

 

 

 

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broken Love

So I was driving somewhere this week and the radio station I happened to be listening to was asking what people were planning to do with their loved one for Valentine’s Day. One woman said she and her husband never planned anything for Valentine’s Day. Their marriage was one in which their love is such they do not need a special day to show it.

I’d never heard that one before. Impressive.

So much hype comes with days like this– birthdays, anniversaries, remembrances. It doesn’t have to be like this.

After my divorce I was a complete mess. There was a comic strip I used to read, “Beetle Bailey”, this scrawny private in the military constantly being beaten to a pulp by his superior, Sarge. The comic would show this with a flattened remnant of an individual, feet and hands sticking out oddly, a few teeth gone.

That’s what I felt like.

So with whatever was left I decided to self-destruct. I became involved with some unsavory characters. I drank too much. Even though I had a child and managed to look respectable I also struggled hard to dig further into the hole I found myself in. Not sure how bleak I hoped to make it but one morning I woke to see my son standing in the doorway to my bedroom. At that point I realized what I had been doing. Ignoring that which was important. Living in a black pool of anger and resentment regardless of any cost.

So  as I walked into each new day I functioned. I cooked, I cleaned, I took care of my son as far as my brokenness would allow. Hoping no matter what I said or did he could know that the brokenness was not his fault. Hoping he could know love despite the personal chaos I had created. I kept an orderly home, worked, paid bills on time, for all intents and purposes things looked fine. Normal, whatever that is. But inside I was a wreck. No order about my thoughts, just survival. Life. Later in the year my son was visiting his father. I found myself reading a little religious magazine I’d subscribed to but never read. I kept the issues I received bound in rubber bands. No idea why. And one day I came across them.

It was a sunny, fresh day. I took them outside to my condo’s little patio and unwrapped the rubber band. I sat in the warm sun, taking them one at a time I read through each one. Each telling me no matter what God loves me. That His Son died an undeserved, humiliating and unimaginably painful death because my pitiable human life is such that I cannot come before my Creator on my own.  Because of His incredible love His sinless Life died for my sinful one. No matter how bleak, how dark, how distant, how bad. Before I was halfway through reading these little booklets I was in tears. A complete mess, but a good mess. It was the old me, the stubborn, angry, bitter me melting before Him Who came to save me. It was me realizing, understanding maybe for the first time ever that there was nothing I could do or be to make myself good, acceptable, clean. It was me seeing this One, this Perfect One who came to this planet to save all people from self and sin, and He was holding His arms out to me, His heart open as it probably always had been but I never saw it. And in Him I saw true hope.

I walked into those arms. I have never felt lost again. I have been alone but seldom lonely, wrong but He is always quick to forgive when I come to Him honestly and tell Him everything. I have been sad from rejection, from hurt but He has always comforted me. I have been afraid, maybe of something I imagined but afraid just the same and He has given me courage. He strengthens me, nourishes me, refreshes me, guides and instructs me, sustains me.

His love has been since before this world and will be, forever. And He won’t ever let me go.

So even though today or any day I find myself at a place of fogginess where I can’t see the road clearly in front of me I know He is here. I know whatever direction I take, wherever I go He will be with me.

I won’t be perfect. But life will be ok. And it will be right. And true. And real.

Picture0210181032_1.jpgThank You God.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

 

 

home

There is a small sea animal called an auger (we always called them drills because that is what the little animal did– drill a hole in the hinge of a small clam to open it, then eat it).

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Either this little animal then dies or something else eats it. Either way the abandoned shell is often found on beaches.

Picture0204181202_1.jpgAuger shells rescue dogs Lily and Lulu and I found recently

Nothing in the ocean goes to waste evidently (except human trash– plastic bags, cans, fruit peels, cigarette butts) because often a small crab, hermit crab, finds the shell and makes it its home until it is outgrown and moves on to a larger discarded shell.

shell-92188__180.jpg                                                     Pixabay Free Stock Image

Even in the dark, cold ocean these little creatures are at home. Out of the water, bright artificial lights and dry air they will die in a matter of hours.

When I find myself in the dark time stops. It gets scary. Answers don’t come. I feel out of my shell. I wait, wrack my brain, pose theories, test them to logical conclusions, attempting to factor in components that may affect outcomes. I talk to my rescue dogs, they listen intently turning their heads interpreting intonation, verbal sounds, scents of my feelings. But they don’t offer advice. Not always, anyway.

This is anxiety. And I remember a favorite Bible verse: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-6)

I still may not have any answers but I have something more important. I have peace. I am no longer giving myself headaches trying to worry out a solution or response or reason or answer.

This peace is not a new shell to grow into but I have let go in order to find understanding.

A sunny day, still very cold, we picked a few of these shells.  Later I took the shells out of the container we’d collected them in to see a little crab in its shell clambering around. I had checked each one very carefully to see they were empty when I picked them up. This little one was cold-stunned and drawn far into the shell. Being inside the warmth revived it. So we put it back into the container and took it back to the water.

Picture0204181041_1.jpgHome

 

 

 

Poetry in motion

Picture0125181100_1.jpgRescue dog Lulu testing the ice during the recent cold snap

She just walked right out on the ice. It is a small pond at a favorite park. I can’t imagine the ice was thick, it had not been that cold for very long. I did not try to walk on it. Lulu only weighs about 20 pounds. Still, she walked maybe 5-10 feet out on this pond. Both she and husky-mix rescue dog Lily enjoy their watering hole but not much in the way of refreshment even with licking the ice. She carefully stepped off the ice, we went on our way.

Picture0127181702_1.jpgRecently we visited another nearby park. Lulu enjoys stopping to sit on a bench to rest. Directly in front of us was a wetland. Small brown birds darted in and out of the dried reeds crackling in a gentle breeze. Suddenly a flash of white, an ibis emerged slowly stalking prey. Taking no notice of us it continued to move as fluidly as the water, stabbing the shallow waters for a bug or small mollusk.

I do not share this coordination. I can trip over smooth sidewalk. I’d like to say I inherited this from my mother but really can’t blame her. Like a stutterer that can sing as beautifully as Pavarotti Mom was a graceful dancer. Alas, I am not.  And I drop things, lose keys, forget appointments. It’s not dementia, I have always been scatterbrained.

Then I read the 8th Psalm …

“When I look at the night sky and see the work of Your fingers –the moon and the stars that You set in place– what are mere mortals that You should think about them, human beings that You should care for them? Yet You made them ….”

So with all our flaws, troubles, challenges, idiosyncracies, self-consciousness, fears, inhibitions, cares, we are seen by God. In Zephaniah 3:17 He loves us so much He sings over us–

“For the Lord Your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

So the One Who made this

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loves us so much He not only made this for us, He sings over us!

Thanks and praise be to God.

(Bible verses quoted from New Living Translation)

 

Quill Commander Award

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I am honored to have been nominated for this award which seeks to unify, through patriotism and sharing acceptance, love for our fellow persons a unifying for the world. I’ve been happily writing this blog for a little over 4 years and have read so many admirable words and thoughts. I am grateful someone thought much of mine.

Now let’s begin. The purpose of this award is to promote patriotism. Along with it, this reward is created to unify bloggers from different Countries through tolerance and appreciation of their nationality. We are already unified by our love for writing and reading, so this is a token of that love.

The rules:

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and post a link of their blog
2. List the rules of the award
3. Post a photo of your National flag and anthem
4. Leave a favorite quote
5. Nominate a few loyal bloggers

(Optional rules: Link the creator of the Award, decorate your blog with the “Dronstad Wings”)

I thank you Scheska, a beautiful young woman in Haiti, for nominating me. Her blog: Realm of hope

Blog Award creator:

DRONSTAD

My Flag:

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National anthem: Star Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key

Oh, say, can you see? By the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming;
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air.
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:
Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave?
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Favorite quote:

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” — C> S. Lewis

Some bloggers I would like to nominate–

Shobhna Wadhwa Brother Murf’s Corner THE RIVER WALK  brianandlily Holy Spirit, You are welcomed here.

 

Little ones

So this week I volunteered to help keep the children of my Bible study leaders. I am on the list but more the we-are-desperate-and-cannot-find-anyone list. This has absolutely nothing to do with the children, or the requirements for keeping them but solely based on my own fear.

My son was born in the peck-of-dirt years. Those halcyon days where the more dirt and grit a child consumed the more the moms believed their immune systems were strengthened. The antiseptic baby and prophylactic pup poem is probably the best way to describe this:

“The antiseptic baby and the prophylactic pup were playing in the garden when the bunny gamboled up. They looked upon the Creature with a loathing undisguised — It wasn’t disinfected and it wasn’t sterilized…”

My first awakening to sanitation with babies was when my niece was born, 2003. I could not wait to hold this tiny precious child and as I happily reached for her a bottle of sanitizer was shoved at me. I took it and cleaned my hands, then held her, but the joy was most guarded.

Anyway, here we are in this classroom. Five toddlers and one 10-week-old infant. There are cardboard blocks, a small wooden train set, a couple of bins with soft dolls and plastic baby dolls.

The inmates were definitely in charge of this ward.

The lady working with me was (thankfully) a grandmother. She had more recent experience than I. Her grandchildren live close by so little people didn’t frighten her at all.

Let me say right at the start, like horses, babies can sense fear. And react in different ways. They may cry, fearing a lack of control so total that they are suddenly plunged into an emotional abyss rather than cozy boundaries of lovingly murmured “Good jobs” or “no, no, we mustn’t hit our friends on the head with hammers…”

Alternatively they may simply run with it. WooHOO, no restrictions, let’s see how far I can push the envelope! The rest fall somewhere in the middle. So we had one little one who would absolutely not remove the little backpack calling for his mama, another wide open throwing toys, kicking those cardboard blocks, whooping it up, and 3  in the nirvana middle.

After an hour or so of unstructured play we sat everyone down for snack. Couldn’t remember whose bag was whose so we had random drinks, cookies, crackers, spilled water, wet napkins, cries for more. We tried to take a walk but 2 could not walk well (this 10-week-old baby) and the little one whose head got bonked with the plastic hammer.

As luck would have it there were some workmen who were making some sort of repairs which was far more interesting than our large-muscle exercises and walk up and down the hallway. So we one-handedly managed to corral everyone back to the room, until one got loose, saw one of the leaders also out in the hallway which reminded him of mama. Thus began the tears again. So we broke out the cookies –somebody’s cookies– and the magic once again settled in the room. An attempt to have a rest time was an utter fail, so the baby-whisperer grandmother suddenly had those ambulatory ones marching single file around the snack table. Pied Piper of babies. I hustled around the room replacing toys, stacking those cardboard blocks, putting the soft toys back in their bins in the cabinet and replacing the train cars on the tracks. So like “The Cat in the Hat”, all order to the room was restored when the big people returned and moms came to collect their children.

By some miracle.

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Poem: “Strictly Germproof”by Arthur Guiterman

Trust

 

Ten years ago I retired from a job in New Mexico and planned to move back east to my home state of North Carolina. All my life it had been my dream to see the Grand Canyon. I invited my son to join me.

We stayed at the North Rim. It is quieter because there is nothing there but a gas station, a Park Service lodge with several rustic guest cabins and the Canyon. The South Rim is more popular, there are shops, restaurants and more hotels.

The Lodge at North Rim has a lovely dining room, a general store, saloon and cantina. Kind of its own little village on site. And some options for excursions.

Like mule rides down into the Canyon. Sounded like fun we thought so we signed up.

It is not expensive, money-wise but you basically sign your life over to the little company that manages it. There are registration forms, waivers, last rites and funeral pre-arrangements (just kidding!) But you do sign forms saying you will not hold the park service, the company managing the rides or anyone else liable in case of injury or death.

This did not daunt us. A group of about 8, we met our mules, were assured each animal had a placement in the line where they were friendly with the mule ahead of or behind it. In my case that wasn’t quite true since my mule was determined to rest its head on the right flank of the mule ahead, who was not quite so accommodating. Sorting this out was not easy. We had been strongly cautioned before we set out on our ride not to attempt to guide the mules. At all. The narrow trail down was maybe 3-4 feet wide. The mules by nature would walk the outer edge of the trail they said. Yes, I wrote that correctly. The outer edge. With a vertical drop into the Canyon of a few miles. I am dizzy just recalling this. We were also strongly cautioned that angering our mules by attempting to guide them might cause them to relieve themselves of us, hurling us down into the Canyon.

So I let this mule rest its head on the flank of the mule ahead of me. And was very tense.

This was a half-day ride so went maybe 3/4 down into the Canyon. I realized my life depended not only on this mule’s sure-footedness but on my ability to stay calm and keep from trying to control the mule. About halfway into our ride I began to relax. This mule had done this countless times. The mule did not appear nervous or afraid (not like I was anyway). I began to trust that this mule would if not protect my life, certainly not endanger its own life, thereby not bringing harm to mine. The views were breathtaking when I permitted myself to tear my eyes from the back of my mule’s head.  We got to base where we could rest, drink some water, walk around a bit. Then half an hour later we mounted up again for the ride back up the Canyon. This went far better.

We enjoyed our lunch following the ride and subsequent shower with a great deal more appreciation for the beauty of creation. Despite some agonizing stiffness from using muscles we’d not used maybe ever we did survive. And trusted. And saw a glimpse of God’s majesty.

IMG_0604.JPGLooking south off the North Rim toward Flagstaff, AZ