Friday, August 30, 2013

red sky

red sky at night, sailor's delight...
evening came with soft pink cotton candy clouds as the
day quietly closed.  as the sun set farther into the night

sky, it looked like the bay was filled with pink lemonade.
keeping close to the shore, a blue heron fished for minnows, as a
yipping yapping Yorkie tried to intimidate us with his bark.

Trooper and Annie ignored it as we walked toward home,
where two chihuahuas protested our walk just as vocally.
So grateful that my kids have manners.

5 minutes: worship

GO:

This has been an incredible week for me.  It actually started last week, the night I began reading the book of Job ... a book I'd heard about but never actually read.  I opened my Bible to that book on the day I got some more discouraging news and was in a very dark mood.

"..."Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. 
The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. 
I am the only one who escaped to tell you."
Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. 
Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said,
“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
and I will be naked when I leave.
The Lord gave me what I had,
and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!”"
~ Job 1:19-21 ~
NLT

Job lost everything, yet he continued to worship God.  I've nearly lost everything ... and have found God in all that I lost, all that I have, and in the faith of all that I will have again.

Worship isn't just song and praise.  It isn't just getting down on your face in front of someone. Worship is an act of reverence and of giving honor.  It can be a simple gesture, or it can be an extravagant one. Worship is giving thanks, it is being grateful, it is knowing that all we have is this day, this moment, and it can all be gone in an instant.

When we worship ... give thanks ... for what we have right now ... it can open doors for us to have so much more.

I got a job ... while I was reading Job ... and while I was gratefully giving worship, praise, and thanks, for what I had.  How awesome was that?

STOP
Five Minute Friday

Thursday, August 29, 2013

when all we can give is an offer...

  Two days ago, I saw a man bathing in the (salt water) bay near my home.   The shampoo in his hair was a dead giveaway.

  I didn't know the situation except, ugh, seriously, that bay water stinks to high heaven on my dogs after they swim if I don't rinse them down with fresh water immediately after they get done playing.  Even if he'd been just cooling off and washing stray fish guts off him after fishing ... still ugh.

  So I pulled up and offered his wife the use of my water hose if he needed to rinse down, because really, ugh.

  They didn't take advantage, and I let it go.

  Then last night I noticed them in the area again and that they had driven to a secluded (from the road and the eyes of the police that patrol) area that people fish occasionally.  It was "under the bridge" but not under it literally.  I began to suspect that they were living in their car.

  This morning I saw them again, near the boat dock, while I was walking the dogs so I walked up to their SUV and just asked.  "Are you living in your car?"  I explained that I wasn't judging since I was in a almost similar situation myself.  The answer was yes, they were.

  Michael and Debbie are my age (indenial50somethingplus).  I didn't pry and ask what got them to that point, but I told them that if they wanted fresh water ("oh yes please all three of our water bottles are empty") or to take a hose shower in the shadows of my doorway, they could.

  At this point in my life, I really have nothing more I can offer to them.  They said they knew where all the food banks were, and had plenty of food, just not any fresh water.  I'm wise enough not to open my door and say come on in (learned that lesson the hard way).  Without any air conditioning, my house is as hot if not hotter than where they are right now just living in their car.  He said they were waiting to hear about Social Security, and has a sister in the area who gets mail for him.

  But I could offer them the use of my water hose ... and sometimes that is more than enough.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

waiting... anticipating...

will the phone ever ring?  will the email ever
arrive?  like watching a tea kettle set to boil
it seems that no matter how many
times the receiver is lifted to check for a dial tone or the
inbox is opened to look for that
new mail envelope ...  still waiting ...
going to take the dogs for a walk ... that always works.

savoring...

We usually think of food when we hear the word
savor.
We think of flavors and tastes that make our stomachs growl
and our mouths water.
We think of the smell of something cooking that remind us of good times
and comfort.

But there are other things that we can
savor.

Savor the memories of a loved one's touch.
Savor the song in your heart or in your head that makes you want to dance
when no one is looking.
Savor the sunrise on that day that turned out to be life changing.
Savor the sunset that began a night you will never forget.
Savor the stars that twinkle,
like angels winking at you to say everything is going to be just fine.
Savor the moon smiling and laughing down at you,
with the knowledge that tomorrow will be another day,
a better day.

Savor life.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

just show up...

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is the thing you want least to do.

When getting out bed seems like it is more than you can do ... get up anyway.
When you don't want to put on any makeup ... put it on anyway.
When you'd rather wear your pajamas than put on a business skirt ... put on the skirt anyway.
When leaving the house to look for a job is just too depressing ... go look anyway.

Because you never know when today might be the day.

~*~*~

The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

"People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas 
can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway."

Monday, August 26, 2013

clear skies...

clouds blown away by strong east winds.  I
let my hair blow as I face the rising sun.
early morning promises of the day to come.
although I know that in time the clouds will
return, I feel much more at peace with a

strength that comes from
knowing more sunny days are
in my future than dark ones.
even when the darkness does come again ...
so will the sun.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

blessed...

I stopped in for church this afternoon at the little brown church in the vale.  It is such an amazing experience for me ... singing from a hymnal that was published in 1938, following a service "order" that hasn't changed in 157 years.

It is like taking a step back in time and truly worshiping God in the way He might have intended us to.  Personal, honest, loving ... fellowship.

There are no big screens showing all the words to the songs, no drums or electric guitars, no microphones.  Windows are opened to let the fresh air flow... there is no air conditioning, and what electricity there is for standing fans comes from a retrofitted plug in the floor.

But this is more than just a building, this is a fellowship of believers who come together to sing praise, to raise up prayers, to listen to His word from visiting preachers, to come together and share a meal afterward.

When I walk in the door, I feel the power of the Holy Spirit in this place, a love that wraps around you.  It is amazing and I have been so blessed by the presence of this church in the vale.

In October they will be having a Fall Sing ... an afternoon of gospel singing and fellowship over a meal.  I'm looking forward to it!

Friday, August 23, 2013

5 minutes: Last

GO:

Last night on my knees in prayer...
Last thought in my mind as I drifted off to sleep...

First thing I do in the morning...
First thought in my mind as I face the day...

No longer is my faith the last thing I reach for when my day or thoughts become dark.
What was once last is now first ... and last.

Because I have seen and felt the hands of faith wrap around me...
reassuring me that I am not last in His thoughts either.

I face the day with a grateful heart for all of the people I know,
all of the people I meet,
all of the people who reach out to me ... reaching out to them.

I once felt as if I was lost,
but no longer,
because I stopped making Him last.

STOP.

"I cried out, “I am slipping!” but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me. When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer." 
NLT

Five Minute Friday

Monday, August 19, 2013

after the sucker punches ...

  change is inevitable.  whether we want to admit it or not, at some point in our lives we all want change to happen.  we want to be tall enough to ride the big rides.  we want to go to school.  we want to get out of school.  we want to marry.  we want children.  we want our children to go to school.

  for the most part, we go through our lives adjusting to change in small steps.  we know when things are going to happen, when things will change, and we prepare ourselves for them.  the only surprise that often comes with those changes is that we realize that they weren't as bad, or as scary as we thought they would be.  buying a house is a big change that comes with a lot of stress.  but later when it is all over and you are relaxing on the sofa with your feet up admiring your empty walls and wondering what color to paint them ... you realize that it wasn't that bad, and you are so grateful for what you have.

  even those most painful of changes ... the loss of a loved one after a long illness ... the loss of a job ... the loss of a marriage ... we suddenly realize that we are on the other side of grief.  the other side of the change, and while it was just as horrible and painful as we imagined it would be ... we realize we have survived it and we quietly celebrate our survival.  we raise a glass and toast the memory, grateful that there are more days without tears than days with.

  but then there are the sucker punches.

  those changes that come suddenly, with no warning, no time to prepare.  you turn a corner and BAM life hits you right below the belt.

  the last three years, i've been trying to cope with changes ... some expected ... some unexpected.  at times i have felt overwhelmed, as if i was being sucked down into the darkness, with no sign of light.  this past year was the worst of it.  the darkness at times simply suffocating.

  i'm grateful to have survived it.  truly.  there were times when i just didn't know if i would ... or could.

  so i am writing this to let you know ~ to you, reading this in the middle of the night because you cannot sleep ~ to you, reading this in the middle of the day because you want to give up ~ to you, crying because you feel so overwhelmed and alone and don't know what to do anymore ...

  don't let go.  don't give up.

  there is life after the sucker punches.  keep believing in it.  keep reaching for it.  keep clinging to it.

  every day there is one thing to be grateful for.  every day.  that thing is you.  be grateful for you.  no matter what the darkness is telling you, believe in yourself.  wake up, be grateful, take a step, then another, then another, until the day is finished and you can rest to do it all again tomorrow.

  life is worth it.  you are worth it.

fog

fine mist hovers in the air, just
over the trees and water, making my skin
glisten as if I were wearing a shimmering layer of love.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday silly (do-over edition)

Apparently my link was not good the first time so here is a "re-do"
Image from Bing (search kitten and lizard)
Disclaimer:  no kittens or lizards appeared to be harmed in the making of this video.

However,
I'm certain that the kitten now suffers from Herpetaphobia [fear of reptiles such as snakes and lizards],
or more specifically, Scoliodentosaurophobia [fear of lizards].

I do hope that the owners do not continue to tease it for their own entertainment.

Friday, August 16, 2013

5 minutes: small

GO:

I felt small when I stepped out onto the limb.
Thinking I could do things my way.
Thinking I knew better.

And He let me take that small step.
Somewhere between faith and fear.
Somewhere between here and there.

That small scar in the palm of His hand?
Lifted up to His Father.
Washed clean.

That's me.
Small in His grace.

STOP.

"That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever."
~ 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ~
NLT
Five Minute Friday

storms...

sometimes the storms we face in life
can uproot us
sweeping our feet out from under us
casting us adrift in the flood waters
throwing us up on the unknown shores
of what comes next
what comes next is this ...
cling to life
drink of the living waters
send out new roots
grow
bloom
thrive

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

awakening ...

a cloud covers the sun as it rises bright over the
water.  defiant, it is determined to rise
above the grey clouds.  rays break forth.
knifing through the water, a fin glides and
ever so gracefully, another smaller one appears.
nosing along the shallows, the two dolphins work
in synchronized movements to corral smaller fish.
now the sun has broken completely free of the
grey.  glorious.  glowing.  grateful.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

2 John 1:13

13 The children of your sister, who is chosen by God, send their greetings.
[NIV]

2 John is a short one chapter book of the Bible, with only thirteen verses.
The Apostle John wrote this as a letter, and depending on the translation, 
it is addressed to either a sister congregation, or the lady of a house and her children.
The apostles often stayed at the home of a believer when they were traveling,
and so either translation could be true.

In all translations, this much is clear ... 
John is writing to someone he considers to be family,
whether in the sense of them being all children of God,
or someone he is related to.

In this chapter, John stresses again that we should love one another,
and he also warns about those who would deceive us,
and trick us into following their wicked ways.
Especially family.

10-11 If anyone shows up who doesn’t hold to this teaching, don’t invite him in and give him the run of the place. That would just give him a platform to perpetuate his evil ways, making you his partner.
[MSG]

Yes, we must love one another ... including family.
But we must also guard our hearts ... and our souls ... from those who would harm us.
Even if they are family.

Ephesians 6:2-3 “Honor your father and mother.” This is the first commandment with a promise:  If you honor your father and mother, “things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.”

Honor.  Respect.  Praise.  Glorify.  Celebrate.
Love.

We can love, honor, praise, glorify, celebrate, love and forgive our family.
But that doesn't mean we have to participate in their lives or follow their actions,
especially when those actions are contrary to what God teaches us.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

a little of here and there ...

Moon rise Friday night ...
Tiny fingernail moon.
 Sunrise Saturday ...
Yes ... I could be comfortable here ...
Tonight's sunset.
The rainbow actually went up behind that grey cloud and was lightly in the large white cloud.
It was incredible...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

forgiveness...

forgiveness isn't just what you can do for
others.  it is what you can do for yourself.
releasing yourself from the burden of hurt and anger, it
gives you the freedom to reach out and reach up
in love.  when we do the
very thing our pride tells us not to do, we
embrace joy and peace.  we
need that feeling of love, joy, grace and peace
every day in our lives to grow, to not become
stagnant with bitterness.
stretch your heart, raise your arms.  forgive.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

steps...

  I've been taking steps this week towards many bigger things ...

  I wrote a note to someone whose actions hurt my feelings quite a bit.  I apologized for what I felt caused the distance, and said how much it had hurt that they had pulled away.  I told them that I had always felt we were friends.  The kind of friends who could talk about anything and everything, and so the silence had been especially painful for me.

  It was a step towards standing up for myself more.

  I also wrote a thank you note to someone who appeared at my door a year ago and changed my life with one small act of kindness.

  It was a step towards appreciating this past year for what it has been ... and appreciating the life in that year.

  I interviewed for a job this morning ... and got it.  Part time, but it is a steady job, with set hours and days, and I still have the option to substitute in the mornings.  It was not the location I really wanted, but I'm beginning to believe that it is doing what my heart really wants to do.

  It is a step towards getting where I want to be.

  I've begun to realize that sometimes when things seem overwhelming, hopeless, and dark ... if I just keep taking steps towards the light, things do get better.

I have followed your commands,
which keep me from following cruel and evil people.
My steps have stayed on your path;
I have not wavered from following you.
I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.
Bend down and listen as I pray.
~ Psalm 17:4-6~
NLT

Sunday, August 4, 2013

distant thunder

lightning dances
in the sky behind clouds of
grey and black
high above me
to the west and
north, the wind blows towards me
it looks like fireworks exploding in the
night sky and I hear the distant
growl of thunder approaching

Saturday, August 3, 2013

let me lift him up ...

  One of the precious monkeys angels I work with at the school summer day care program is a mischievous precious hyperactive energetic six year old who I will just call "L."

  L is really a sweet kid ... really.  I mean, at six years old, who wasn't or isn't a sweet kid?  Six year old monkeys angels are just on the cusp of being in "real" school, they are learning all about what buttons to push to make you pull your hair out reading and writing and basic math.  They are like small sponges with feet and hands ... and mouths that repeat everything they have heard or seen...

  L frequently winds up sitting alone in time out because he mimics things he has seen going on at home ... the language, the behavior, the physical interactions.  It is a sad situation because while we have "guidelines" and rules for behavior at our program ... they aren't the same as what goes on at home, which is absolutely nothing apparently minimal.

  Recently when L's mother came to pick him up in the afternoon and found out that he had gotten a write up for inappropriate language, "Mom" loudly threatened spoke to him telling him that when they got home she was going to beat his f*&king a$$ and he better be glad she didn't have a belt there or she would do it right then.  When "Grandma" drops him off in the morning it is with these words of ugliness love "Be good or your mother will beat your a$$."

  My heart breaks for this sweet child, who is just trying to figure out his place in this world, and perhaps with a mild medication for his hyperactivity could be a focused and loving young man.  Instead, he will wind up learning nothing about love ... and everything about anger and hate.

  There is nothing I can do except lift him up and encourage him when I have a few hours with him ... and hold him in my prayers.  If I could ask "Mom" anything, it would be this ...

  If you didn't want your child, why didn't you just put him up for adoption?  There are so many wannabemothers who would have gladly taken this child and given him a home filled with love ... I certainly would have ...

Friday, August 2, 2013

5 minutes: story

GO:

I went to a new church Wednesday night.  I've been hoping to find a church "home" where I could plant roots and grow.  The service that night was "not the usual" service, it was a special event, but I think God knew what He was doing when He put me on the path that lead me there.

That night there were people who were there to tell their story.  Their testimony about how God had worked in their lives, their marriages, their homes to heal their brokenness.  As they told their stories, I sat with tears streaming down my face.  Yes, that was me, yes, that could have been me, yes, that was how I felt, yes, that was how things were.

In telling their stories, I could embrace mine.  I could accept my brokenness and know that I needed to also be transparent in my story telling.  That there was no reason for shame, no reason to hide, no reason to doubt.  Because my story could be her story, or his story, or their story.  Your story, his story, her story could be my story.

When we share those stories of brokenness and healing, we share hope.  We share joy, we share love and laughter.  We share our belief and our faith ... and our story becomes something that lifts up someone else to encourage them to share their story ... which just continues to spread those branches of healing ... from those roots that are planted in faith.

A story can be that salve of healing for someone ... that lets them know that they are not transparent ~ that they are seen and heard and loved ... no matter what has happened to them, no matter what they have done.

Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
I will proclaim your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
they will sing with joy about your righteousness.
The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
~ Psalm 145:6-8 ~
NLT
Five Minute Friday

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dear Donald Trump, Barbara Corcoran ...

... Shark Tank "Sharks" and any other visionary real estate moguls and developers;

  I remember a past where shopping centers were thriving, bringing jobs and money to small urban communities.  They were usually anchored by a large chain grocery store, then smaller stores and restaurants that catered to the community's needs.

  Now these centers have become part of the urban blight that plagues communities, towns and cities across this county.  Sitting empty, they speak to a depressed economy ... and the depression of the people who live in that community.

  The first chapter of my book, Trooper's Run, was based on my final thesis when I was working on my Master's of Business Administration degree.  In it, I took a failed shopping center and revitalized it into a center that was specialized to the needs of the community.

  Instead of tearing down, or clearing forested land, and building new buildings, can't we find a way to recycle what we have?  If not a dog care themed center, what about a school or child care center?  What about a medical center?  Or even a church and school?  Wouldn't it be wonderful to have fewer vacant buildings, and more green spaces, by utilizing the space we have?

  I have a dream ... that one day there are no more vacant shopping centers and instead there are centers filled with people who are proud of their jobs, their creations, their community.

 I have a dream that one day instead of urban blight ... we have urban light.


                                                                                          Respectfully,
                                                                                               Cindi Summerlin

“Trooper’s Run” was every dog’s dream park and day care facility. Cidney had designed it with her large dog in mind, knowing how he loved to run and play. She had wanted a facility where she knew he and his play buddies would be safe and protected from the elements, especially in the sometimes harsh Alaskan winters.

The large grocery store had been converted to an indoor dog park with a running track along the interior perimeter of the space that would allow for a continuous run. Ramps had been constructed that gradually took the running dogs up and over the doorways, and an eight foot Plexiglas wall kept the dogs within the run and also allowed her to see where they all were, as well as allowing the dogs to see what was going on in the rest of the space.

In the center of the building, four rooms for dogs and an office had been built with tall Plexiglas walls. All of the rooms and each corner of the run were equipped with cameras that relayed images to a website where owners could click into each room to watch their dogs during the day.

Three months after the Run opened, she opened the Dirty Dog Wash. Cidney had installed a row of large waist high tubs, sinks and walk-in tubs where owners could come in and wash their dogs. For less than what a professional groomer would charge to bathe a large dog, she provided the water, shampoo, clean towels, and blow dryers for clients to do it themselves. She wondered at first if it had been a mistake to open it, whether or not the local community would even want something like that. Two weeks after it opened, however, she could barely keep up with the laundry. Not only did the local dog owners come in for the convenience of being able to bathe their dogs without hurting their backs, but a surprising number of vacationers who traveled with their dogs were also coming in.

She opened the Bow-Wowza Bakery in November, just three months later. It was the only dog friendly bakery and coffee shop in town that the health department had finally approved to have dogs inside the shop. All of the cookies were made with organic ingredients and could be eaten by dogs or people. Even the carob-chip cookies were safe for dogs. The organic roasted coffee beans were also a huge success, and the warm, inviting atmosphere with light therapy lamps at each table for the dark winter months kept the bakery packed from sundown to … sundown.

The last shop she opened was the Woof-tique. The boutique was filled with unique gifts for both pets and people that had an animal theme of some sort. Cidney tried to showcase local artists in the area of all ages, and so most of the gifts were handmade and one of a kind. During the long winter, many of the locals worked on wood or bone carvings or quilting to keep them busy when it was too cold to do much outside. It soon became a favorite stop for tourists from the cruise ships and other vacationers.

Now, with the plaza’s anniversary celebrations just two weeks away, Cidney was reviewing a lease agreement and recommendations for a veterinarian that was moving to the area to open a practice.   If everything looked agreeable, he would open an office in the last vacant store front on the other side of the Woof-tique. It would complete the plaza and tie everything together.