Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post Christmas Blues

Well, the mad rush is over and normalcy will return in a week or two.  (Until the credit card bills arrive). 

I hope that everyone had a wonderful time and reconnected with family and friends you may have lost track of over the course of the years(s).  If at all possible try to make it last into the coming year.
My Christmas was great.  I spent the morning hours in church and the afternoon feeding my inner man more than he could handle. Maybe that is why they put the extra holes in those belts I keep having to buy?  Hmm

I must say, I am not suffering from the passing of Christmas day and the food and presents and family members filling our homes with cheer.  No. The post-Christmas blues I am suffering from are a result of the bruises and sores from the mad rush of holiday shoppers in the same stores I went to.  The week or two after Christmas is like the off season for retail workers and "overly festive shoppers". Some down time is greatly appreciated and the slow pace does wonders for the feet and bodies.  And the nerves.

People never cease to amaze me with the feel-good moments of the season and roller derby fierceness displayed while trying to get everything on their wish lists.  Go figure.  Be that as it may, I am most grateful for all things surrounding Christmas.  The lights and decorations, freshly baked goods waffling through the air, colorful clothing :) and SNOW.  This year is an oddity, we have not had too much snow or hardly any to be exact.  That is OK  as I'm getting older and it takes more cups of hot chocolate to lubricate my bones enough to get them going in the right direction

Just wanted to say that I will try to get one or two more posts in before the end on the year, this week.  Ahhhhh!!!

Joking!!  It can be done.  Transitions part 2, and hopefully my current writing project "As for Me".  That one I am really stoked about and cannot wait for you all to read it. 

So, Happy New Year and  may the new year bring you peace, love, joy and happiness through the person of Jesus Christ. God bless

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Hello, old friend"

Diversity is the spice of life.  Or so I'm told.  This morning, while sitting underneath the golden arches I am having a cup of (suspense)----coffee.  Yes, coffee.  For all who know me, know that my drink of choice is hot chocolate.  Today, however is just a break from the norm.  I have not been abducted and switched with an alien counterpart or kidnapped and had an evil twin assume my identity.
In this post I would like to introduce you to an old friend named N.Y.  No, not New York.  He is called n.y. because he has a name that his parents gave him and it is easier to defend in its shorter acronym.  I have known n.y. for about 23-25 years. While growing up in Chicago I had known of n.y. for years before meeting him, but did not really get to know him until my junior year of high school. 

As with most of us, during this time of year with the holidays and all, we think about and run into friends of old.  Some time has passed or we hear from so and so about certain individuals.  Well, this happened with ( N.Y.)  N.Y is a sort of drifter and really has no roots of his own.  One look at him and you will automatically assume he has been around forever.  (Which he probably has, or close to it).

Our relationship is an odd one to say the least.  We see each other and we make all these great plans and what we will do together and the like.  For days and weeks on end we are practically joined at the hip.  Then something happens and we slowly drift apart and soon lose contact with one another almost always until the holidays roll around near the end of the year.  Someone reading this is wondering, why? and what happened?  Life reinserts itself and reality sets in.  Our obligations become obligations anew.  Work, families, other interests, you name it.  There are no fights or disagreements that cause up to go our separate ways.  It just seems to happen.  Truthfully, time apart is good for the both of us.  We get to experience life from a different perspective and our energies are renewed. 

Many of us have a friend(s) like N.Y. in our lives.  Someone we often think about and try to reconnect with.  Someone who has had a profound effect on us in one way or another (hopefully for the better) and we clamor for their attention when we do see them again.  Hmm, strange indeed.
I see a group of older Americans sitting near me in McD and they are talking of times past and laughing and conversing about 'old friends'. (It startles me how one and all of them can remember the names of each and everyone that joins the growing circle.)  Many of which center on the grand kids and their wish list for Christmas or their latest antics or sayings. What a wonderful time it is.  Those days are not to far off for me and most of us.  We may even be doing it now.

Life passes by and sometimes what we have now is not as good as what we had before.  The music, the friendships, families and even our jobs.  A small amount of freedom has been lost because we now have others depending on us, kids, spouses, elderly parents, etc.  Remembrance is good and it does a heart well to rediscover our former years, but lets not forget 'the present'.  This is the problem Al Bundy had in "Married with Children", he was continually stuck in the past.  Although this is the ideal time to see and reconnect with family and friends, to catch the latest pictures and hear the current events, I don't cherish it because of personal reasons.  Nevertheless.  As for me, well, I still have N.Y. and he will pop us soon enough.  He always does.  I could set my clocks by him.  What will we do or plan to do with the end of 2011 coming fast and 2012 right on its heels?  I don't know and I don't care.  For once I will just take it one day at a time. God says in the bible "We are not to worry about tomorrow.  Today has enough troubles of its own, tomorrow will take care of itself."  As always HE is right. 

One that note I would like to wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR. 

If one truly wishes to delve into the past, think back to 2,000+ years ago and the death of Jesus on the cross for the sins of the world.  When you hear the 'Christmas story' from Luke chapter 2 this coming Sunday think about the TRUE meaning of Christmas.  Our greatest gift has already been given to us.   "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  Jesus may not be your Lord now, but if you accept this free gift from God then you to can inherit eternal life.

Before I close this entry let me tell you what N.Y. stands for---New Year.
Pretty obvious, huh?  This refers to all the resolutions we will be making and for sometime into the new year we will keep them.  And as with me and mine, you will drift apart from the ones you make and soon forget them.  This coming year, don't plan for anything to 'keep to'.  Take it one day at a time and enjoy life.  Just like old friends we will remember them.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Transitions Part 2

Life is great.  The Lord has seen fit to bless me with many things (some of which I do not deserve). 
Among the many blessings are the people he has put into my life that I can call friends.  In this well-past-due post, I would love to introduce you to Trahn and Tonia.  What a wonderful couple they are :)

Trahn, Tonia and I have several things in common.  First the majors:  We love the Lord, we love the many children he has placed in our lives and we LOVE THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS.  Definitely divinely inspired.  Now the minors:  we all love hockey (they the Penguins of Pittsburgh and I the Blackhawks of Chicago).  For contractual and writing obligations I had to list the Penguins first, but they are not, the better team. See ya all Sunday, hehe.  I have known Trahn and Tonia going on 10+ years and it has been a pleasure.  (whispering) Mostly theirs. 

Transitions are a part of everyday life and in almost all instances one life has to end before another begins.  Not saying it has to be a 'life', it could be a lifestyle, a job or circumstances, ones thought process or whatever (depending on the person).

Recently, over the past couple of years, Trahn and Tonia have gone through several transitions.  The biggest  one has been the addition of Ben.  I'm not sure if he can say hello, but i am afraid to ask what he is thinking.  Hmm?

When I first come up with the "Transitions" series for my blog I knew that I had to include these guys because of the change that has gone on in their life and who better to tell that story than them.

There are but two words I can use to describe Tonia's journey from wife to mother--faith and perseverance.  It was her faith in God that allowed her to believe that He would answer her prayer for a baby to call her own. Her story is almost a mirror image of Hannah from the old testament book of 1st Samuel.  Hannah ,too, was a wife who desperately wanted to be a mother.  Hannah and Tonia both sought the LORD in prayer and fasting and there were others who prayed in agreement with them for this miracle to come to pass.  The LORD had not turned a deaf ear to them.  No!  On the contrary, Jehovah in all of HIS goodness answered the prayers of both women in their spirits. At the end of verse 18 in chapter one it says of Hannah "and her countenance was no more sad".  I cannot really speak for Tonia on this matter here, but I am almost sure the same thing happened to her.  Tonia went before the LORD in prayer and when she was finished, she just knew that God had heard and answered her prayer.   However, only in God's timing did it happen.

Perseverance comes in, along with the enemy Satan, and the words of doubt he without fail threw at her.  What can one do to fight off the enemy of us all?  Stay strong in our faith.  There were women around Hannah provoking her and giving the suspicious looks.  Tonia, I am sure had people around her saying 'It may not be Gods will', or 'Maybe there is something wrong with you', or 'Give up'.  Who are we to listen to?  Hannah did not listen to the voices of those around her, and neither did Tonia.  Only when the time arrived that God choose to answer their prayers, did both of these  ladies know that is was the voice of God.

What a joy it is for me to read about Hannah and her faith and God fulfilling his promise to her.  We all know what kind of life Samuel led.  He was raised in service to God, in the house of God, becoming a prophet and a judge over HIS chosen people. 
How much sweeter is was for me to hear about and see God fulfill his promise to Trahn and Tonia, two wonderful people?  Someday and I have no doubts about this, Ben too, will be used by the ONE TRUE GOD to do great things.  Will he be a preacher or a teacher?  Prophet?  Time will tell.  Ben is being brought up in the house of God and given a firm foundation at the same time.  He has also been adopted more times than legally allowed by law, but that just shows how much Trahn and Tonia are loved and it also shows how much they too have loved. 

Trahn and Tonia I salute you for your unwavering faith in God and your devotion to all things that are HIM.  God bless

Friday, December 9, 2011

Time Part 2 (archives)


Time to wake up and thank the LORD for HIS renewed mercies. 
Time today to go for a walk on a cool brisk morning.
Time to see the various forms of life around me begin their day.
Time.  What a precious thing we have, if used correctly.

I, in my sudden infusion of time, started praying more.  First, for a new source of income.
It did not take long before the God began to show me how selfish I was being and that there is a reason for my having less work and income.
Not trying to risk sounding insolent, but I could not foresee a particularly good reason for all this to be happening.  After a few more days of stewing, God's wisdom reached me.

Where was my loyalty while I was working?  Was it to the company that was paying me to do so?  Was it to the things I was preparing to buy once the company I was working for payed me?
While I was working all those crazy hours I did not always have time to read the bible or even pray to God, or spend time in HIS presence.  Thinking back, time was what I wanted most from God, so I could spend more time with Him. 

Humbled and humiliated by all of this, I asked God to forgive me.  Within my own psyche I was doing all this for God, showing myself to be a good employee and willing to go the extra mile.  However, the extra mile was taking me further from the One who had provided it all to me. 

It says in the bible, "we cannot serve God and money.  One we will love and the other we will hate."
During this 2-month period of my life, daily (yes daily), I questioned the veracity of God. 
Each and every day the tentacles of Satan were digging deeper and deeper into me.  The pain I was experiencing was not from God, to whom I attributed it to, but Satan.

I was so in tune with the cares of this world and its riches, that I lost sight of the ONE who created it all.

When the reality of my decisions hit me, I literally, tried to crawl under a rock and bury myself.  Had I the power I would have pulled a mountain down on top of myself.  Tears flowed at an unbelievable rate.  Why?  I was dangerously close to cursing God and walking away from him. Was my eternal salvation worth worldly treasures?  Was my loss, greater than the one God suffered two thousand years ago?  Absolutely not. 

The struggles within me were great and I knew that the battle and my soul would be lost if I continued on the current path of decision making and hatred.  I stopped and cried out to God, "help me."  My pleas were met with silence.  Satan was back to his old tricks.  He tried to use them on Jesus as he fasted in the desert for 40 days. 

Taking Jesus up to a high place and showing him the kingdoms of the world and all the glory attached to them. Satan said to Jesus, "Fall down and worship me and I will give you all of this."   Jesus, even in his weakened physical and mental state , stood firm and said, "Get the behind me, Satan: it is written, we must worship the Lord the God and Him only we must serve."

It is written

Now, I spend my time wisely.  I pray not for myself or my needs.  They are continually met.  But I pray for others who don't know Jesus and are being led astray by the cares and riches of this world by Satan.  I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ, that they may grow stronger in the faith.  Daily I read his word and meditate and listen to His Spirit as he teaches and guides me daily.

Now in my unhurried existence I spend my 'time' with THE MOST HIGH.

Time, our enemy or our friend?  Depends on you. 
As for me, my time is spent "being still and knowing that HE is GOD."


I was reading through a couple of chapters in the book of Genesis one night getting ready for a class, and while doing so I wondered, what was it like to walk with God?  Hmmmm
Enoch walked with God it says in chapter 5.  Noah walked with God it says in chapter 6. What did they talk about during these walks? Other people? Worldly conditions? Things to come?

One day while reading and meditating on a particular passage of scripture, I too, had a walking conversation with God.
Here is my take on it.
It is where HE speaks when I am...still
It is the wind after Jesus spoke to it...still
It is the heart of the believer when the word of God is brought to rememberance...still

The words of God are in quotations and mine are not.  Enjoy

How can I find YOU, when all is tossed about?
When the world and my brethren come against me. How can I be...still?
"Be still and know that ,I AM, am GOD"
Yes, you are here my Lord. Where am I?
My thoughts continue to betray me. My enemies seek to destroy.
"Be still to feel my comfort and peace."
"Take my yoke upon you and be at ease."

My LORD, remove me frome this place. Envelope me in thy saving grace. Renew my hope, freshen my spirit, strenghten my resolve.
"Endure to the end is all that I ask."
"He that does shall be saved."
Save me now! Most High
The flood is coming, the fear is mounting.
"My strength is made perfect in your weakness."
"Is your spirit willing?"
My mind says yes, but my flesh reveals otherwise.
Forgive me master.
"Your trust should not be rooted in the words of man. Your faith needs to increase. As does your dependence on me."
Your words slice through to my heart.
"As it should. Its very presence within, MY HOLY SPIRIT, convicts and reminds. It also teaches."
Teach me your ways that I may walk worthy of this calling.
"Put my word into your heart. Put your life back into my hands."
Unworthy. Doubt has been a constant friend for so long. Can one so easily lose it?
"Yes. But if you truly are mine, do you need ask?"
No, I do not.
"Return to thy borders."
Yes, yes, and yes.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Transitions Part 1

The next few blog posts will be about changes and how we are affected by them.  It will consist of three parts and three people.  People at different points in life and where one life ends and another one begins. 

Life is full of change. 

One of my biggest fears in life is change.  Why?  I'm not to sure really.  As I look around me many changes are taking place.  Summer has given way to the fall season and we will soon head into winter.
The leaves on the trees transition from life to death because they die and fall off.  And if one really thinks about what change is all about, it is end of one thing and the beginning of another.

Over these past few months I have experienced many periods of change and I must say I fought tooth and nail to not let it happen.  Once again, why?

My track record bears witness to my reluctance of the inevitable.  Music is a big part of my life.  Not so much now as it was before.  I remember when Cd's were first 'forced onto us.'  It took me a couple of years before I would even buy a CD.  Cassettes were the norm for me and I did not want them to go away.  Almost everyday I would picket the music stores and tell the inbound buyers, "Cd's are just a fad and they will go the way of the dinosaur in a year or two.  Just wait and see."  As we all know, I was wrong and Cd's flourished and continue to sell even in today's wireless age.  Let me add, the first cassette I bought was U2's "WAR" and I loved it.  What could the CD offer that would make me turn on an my old friend the cassette?  Nothing.  I was very adamant about that.  When it dawned on me that the people would buy Cd's despite my protests, and very sore vocal chords, I decided to give up.  I was convinced the downfall of society was soon to follow.  Needless to say, a couple of months later I broke down and purchased a Cd.  Which one?  U2's War once again.  I was blown away.  The clarity and sound was amazing.  And best of all?  You could go directly to a song, any song and listen to it.   No fast forwarding and rewinding.  No tapes breaking in the radio or cassette player.  Embrace it I did not, but I was warming up to the idea of Cd's.

Why the hesitation to move forward?  In short, FEAR. 

Fear gripped me when I was let go from my job of almost ten years.  Why?  I had grown comfortable there and I knew what to expect everyday almost.  I knew the people and they knew me and I was respected.  It was a way of life for me.  Change meant starting over and I did not want to.  Moses is a good example of this in Exodus chapters 3-4.  Moses is on the backside of the desert and tending sheep for his father-in-law Jethro.  It says of Moses in chapter 2 verse 21 "And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he (Jethro) gave Moses his daughter Zipporah his daughter (to marry).  For fourty years Moses hid there.  I say hid there because Moses had killed an Egyptian and was in fear of being found.  After while Moses' family grew to include two sons and much responsibility within the land.  Until.....he saw the burning bush.  During this time with God, Moses was told to go back to Egypt and free His people.  Moses thinking of himself and his past troubles tries to get out of it.  But after going back and forth with God to no avail it says in chapter 4 verse 14a "And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses." 

Moses feared change.  He had grown comfortable and content in the desert and only did what he wanted to do, with very few responsibilities and accountable only to Jethro.  Not so with Jehovah God.  It is when we get comfortable and content that we often forget we are called to serve the MOST HIGH.  Moses knew of his brethren in bondage and still he wanted to stay where he was.  He did not want to face his past life and deal with the issues that he left behind, but never dealt with.

My season of transition was much like the one with Moses.  I to had issues I needed to deal with and "hiding in the desert" was not going to make them go away.  If I was to move forward with God and what he has called me to do, then I needed to lay to rest my past once and for all.  I needed to take responsibility and be accountable for what I had done.  Moses saw this and when he accepted it and dealt with it, then and only then could God use him.  And we know that God most certainly did use Moses to do great and wonderful things.  

Change is not easy because we are going into the unknown and it makes many people uncomfortable and fearful.  Some are encouraged by change.  Not so with me.  However, I was not seeing it from God's perspective.  The Greater perspective.

I know God is in control and nothing happens without HIS permission.  So now I embrace change and have come to realize, it is not so bad.  


Friday, December 2, 2011

Time Part I (archives)

Just wanted to offer a quick note on this journal entry, Time part 1.  This is actually from the archives of my many journal entries and writings that I have done over the years.  I hope that you will gain some insights into me and who I am. 

What a precious commodity it must be since so few people ever seem to have enough of it.  I've checked to Dow Jones and the Nasdaq  and cannot find it listed there.  Maybe it has a synonym?

Anyway, I have recently come into a lot of it lately.  Like so many other people around the globe, I have seen a reduction in my work schedule. 

At first I was a bit put off,  and I began to worry about "stuff."  Stuff like, bills, food, clothing and other necessities.  What am I going to do?  How will I make ends meet?  Now mind you, my hours were only cut and I still had a job.  Two points entirely lost to me over the next few days as panic set.  Full blown panic would set in  the next week as I started falling behind on my bills. 

Let me fill some holes.  Months before my hours were cut, I was increasingly frustrated with my current condition and I knew God was leading me to go in another direction.  But, I wanted to do it my way.  Sounds familiar?  Read Exodus 33 and it will come to you. 

This, as we all know,  requires faith. Mine was sorely lacking because I was not completely walking with the Lord during this time.  My words and actions did very little to convey the message that I had a relationship with the MOST HIGH. 

Day after day, I began to get angrier and angrier because I felt that I did not deserve this.  Why would God allow this to happen to me?  My 10 year anniversary was coming up and surely this was just Satan attacking me and I was having a trial.  Something had to give and foolish me, I thought it would be God.  I began to question His reasoning and even HIM. 

Yes, I questioned God.  Shame and regret fills me when I think about those dark days and nights.  Feeling empty and abandoned.  Satan had gotten a foot hold into me because I let him.  Isaiah 59:1-2 says, "Behold the LORDS'S hand is not shortened that it cannot save; nor his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your (my) iniquities have seperated me from my God; and your (my) sins have caused God to hide his face from me, that he will not  hear me."

Pretty easy to see why my days and nights were filled with emptiness and abandonedment.  Instead of seeing this as God trying to get my attention, to tell me I was backsliding and needed to return to my borders, I rebelled.  Prayer was not a part of my extra time neither was bible reading or study.  I only did enough to meet the obligations I had at the time.

Well, something happened on the way to insanity.  God's never love for me finally broke through and the Spirit began to comfort.  Well, I should say I stopped looking at myself and turned my eyes upward out of desperation.  Several passages of scripture were brought to my remembrance. 
Psalm 37:25   "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging for bread."
Matthew 6:28-34 (v.33) "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and HIS righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

My anxiety began to wane.  In doing so I began to focus on what these passages were saying to me.  WHERE WAS MY FAITH?

Talk about getting punched in the stomach!!

I will end it here and post part 2 in the coming days.