Parking Lot Birds

parking lot birds

The meaning behind songs interest me.   I am always interested in why someone wrote a specific song.  What was going on in their lives at that time?  What was the reason’s they wrote this song.  This morning I was doing my devotions and listen to music.  One of my favorite songs “His Eye is on the Sparrow” came up so I thought I would look up who wrote this song and why.

The writer of this song was Civilla D. Martin and her husband.   On a trip to New York, the couple make friends with another couple by the name of Doolittle.   Both of the Doolittle’s were handicapped.  Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for 20 years and Mr. Doolittle had been in a wheelchair but even though they struggled through their limitations they were happy and brought inspiration and comfort to all that were around them.  When the Martin’s asked them what their secret was to being so hopeful and happy,  Mrs. Doolittle said, “His eye is on the sparrow and I know he watches me.”

Often, when I am out shopping and walking through the parking lot I see sparrows everywhere I think about this song and the scripture.   I call them parking lot birds.  The are in most any parking lot just hopping around looking for food.  They are just that common!

One day as I was out walking during a break from work; thinking about an issue I was having to deal with, I came across one of those parking lot birds just happily hopping around on the sidewalk without a care.  Immediately, God reminded me that if he cares about this common parking lot bird then don’t I think he cares that much more about me?

Sometimes we get sidetracked with all the other things that are going on in our lives.  We forget there is a God that is interested in our lives.  That if he cares about the parking lot birds,  how much more important we are than a sparrow.

His Eye Is on the Sparrow. (2015, June 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 16:09, August 4, 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=His_Eye_Is_on_the_Sparrow&oldid=667628695

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Living Examples

my flower

Today at work someone said something amazing to me!

I work in a Psychology department at a hospital.  Each year we have students that come and go and sometimes stay as employees.  The last month we’ve been introducing new students to the department and getting them established with computer access, business cards and all that comes along with becoming a full-fledged Psychologist.

I was having a conversation with one of our new Psychologist students just chatting about different things and what she wants to focus on when her year is up as a student.  She said that she would like to help women that have been through trauma and just to help women in general.   I told her about my experience of being married to an abuser for 20 years, and then we continued on with our conversation about how far women have come, how we are still treated and how much further we have to go.  In the course of that conversation, she said that I and my boss were role models to her as an example of a kind, caring, strong working women.

I was floored by that statement.  Not the fact that my boss could be a role model because she is fabulous and a Psychologist herself, but the fact that someone like me, just an administrative person was a role model for her.  I was flabbergasted by that.  Once she left I started to cry.  I had made such a mess out of my life, I never thought I was a role model for anyone.

For the last few years, I have tried to figure out my place in life since my life changed so drastically.  I don’t really feel like I fit in church anymore.  I feel like that middle child.  Too old to play with the young mothers and too young to hang out with the older crowd. Lately, this has made me think about what my life is and where I belong and I realized that I was still trying to get back to that place I was 15 years ago instead of accepting where I was right now.

God needs me to just be me. That’s all.  God has given me favor that most all people like me.  No matter their backgrounds.  I don’t say that bragging.  I believe it is a gift from God.   I think that somewhere my ancestors prayed that the generations that came after them would have the favor of God.    I don’t need to have some kind of ministry at church.   The people that need examples of how to live are out in the world with me.  They are around me every day.  It is my neighbor that needs encouragement or that new Psychologist that is watching my actions at work.  This is what living a clean, pure, Jesus girl is about.  This reminds me of a scripture I learned as a girl.  Philippians 4:8 says, “Whatever is true, honest, just, pure, lovely and admirable – if anything is excellent and praise worthy think about such things.”

 

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The Rear View Mirror

rear view 1I was having a conversation with a friend a few days ago and she said something that made me think.  She said I keep looking in the rear view mirror!  I have thought about this ever since she said that.

I was having one of those days where I felt like things in my job weren’t going fast enough for me.  I work for the federal government and have been at my current grade for eight years.  A grade is based on the amount of knowledge we know or the responsibilities we are given.   We get step increases (raises) while in a grade but for my job, in order to move up a grade, I have to move out to another job that offers the promotion.  Currently, my supervisor is working on opening a job that I can move into that will give me that promotion but like always, the federal government moves at an extremely slow pace.

I was feeling this way because I’ve been doing work two grades above me because someone in our office is new to the position and doesn’t know much about the department where we work.  Although I like learning new things, I was also getting annoyed that I’ve been waiting and waiting for the promotion that seems to be just out of my reach.  Meanwhile, people that began with the federal government around the same time I did or after me, have already moved into higher positions.  So I was feeling rather discouraged  about my current situation so I went to talk to my boss about how I felt.  I have an extremely good boss that cares about my career and where I’m going so she stopped and listened to what I had to say.  It was in that conversation that she said I tend to look in the rear view mirror a lot.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since she made that statement and this is what I discovered about looking in the rear view mirror all the time.  When I consistently look behind me, obviously I can’t see clearly in front of me and could miss something.  A rear view mirror is a very narrow view of what is behind you.   It doesn’t allow you to see “the big picture” of your past.  It’s like you are looking though a filter and depending on how the rear view mirror is positioned,  you can only see that one area of the road behind you.  Looking forward out the windshield you can see the whole road and what’s coming up ahead!  I think we miss lots of things that God has for us because we keep our eyes in the rear view because we think what we had behind us is better than what is in front or it was more comfortable than where we might need to go.

I think we look back because it’s comfortable and it’s what we know.  It doesn’t matter if your past was bad we still look back and long for the familiar but that’s the problem that God has with looking back.   Our past can’t be changed and we can get stuck wishing it wasn’t so which creates regret.  When we start the journey of being Jesus followers or when we come through a difficult past,  we need leave our past behind and press forward.  Sometimes that’s hard because all we know is what’s past.  God has a plan for out past.    He want’s to use our past as part of our future but in order for that to happen, we have to let go of the “weight which so easily besets us” of the comfortable past and push forward to the future and let God take care of the unknown.

God will never steer us the wrong direction.

 

 

 

 

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Flashes of the Past

Sometimes I have one of those days where my emotions feel like they’re running amuck!  This is how I felt a few weeks ago.  I am 53 years old but I felt like a teenager with my chapelemotions all over the place.  It took me a little bit to figure out why I was feeling that way but it finally dawned on me.

Thursday, May 4th was the National Day of Prayer.  I work at the VA hospital so we have a chapel as do most hospitals.  During certain times of the year, the chapel has a service for specific events.  During Easter, it will be Lent services and during Christmas, there will be Advent services.   Occasionally we have memorial services for employees or veterans who have passed away.  So, since it was the National Day of Prayer the chaplains provided a prayer service for people to attend and I went.   This was the first time I had gone to a service at a chapel in 13 years.  I had no idea that this little 15-20 minute service was going to cause a flood of emotions.

As I was sitting in the service, all of those memories of past started to surface.  I work in the Psychology department and learned that these moments are called triggers.  I had no idea that going to the little chapel was going to cause such a rush of emotions.  When we were stationed overseas, we sometimes attended the chapel services on a post.  Suddenly, while sitting in that service, my mind went back to all the chapel services we had attended in my past life.   I remembered the little chapel we attend while stationed in Italy and the chapel in Wiesbaden, Germany and all the friends I had made during that time.   In my mind, I could see each of those chapels just like I was looking at a picture.

All that emotion bubbled up to the surface.  I wasn’t sad for the loss of the ex-husband but I was sad for the loss of that life.   I was sad for all the little chapels I will never attend again and sad for all the people I will likely never see again on this earth.  I loved being part of a military family and being an Army wife.  I have also discovered that it’s okay that I can love parts of that life without loving all of that life.

This is one of my favorite songs because it reminds me of home, but it also reminds me of the past roads I’ve traveled!  My way has been rough and steep but I walked out into the beautiful fields that God provided for me and I am free.

 

 

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Into the Pit

tunnel 1

Lately, I have felt God nudging me to re-read the story of Joseph.  I have heard this story many times as a kid.  I know it by heart.  Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob.  His brothers were jealous and decided to kill him but had a change of mind and sold him into slavery.  In the end, Joseph rescues the very ones that sold him into slavery plus the entire tribe of Israel.

I can’t get this story out of my mind.  When I read about Joseph, I think how unfair that was.  Why did this happen to Joseph?  He was only a boy.  Why were his brothers so mean?  There is a bigger picture going on here than when I heard the story as a child.    I believe that God is trying to draw my attention to some things.

Joseph was sold into slavery when he was a teenager.   I’ve always heard that he was boasting about his dream to his brothers but I don’t think that was the issue at all.  The story does not say that.  It says that Joseph had a dream and told it to his brothers.  Maybe he was looking for an answer to his dream and was consulting his brothers.  He was the youngest and the older brothers should have been a guide for him.   Instead of praying and asking God the meaning of the dream, they get angry.  They were jealous.  They are the ones with the issues, not Joseph.  This is a clear story of jealousy.  If you remember past stories about Jacob’s family, it seems this is on of a number of running themes in this family.  First, Jacob was jealous of Esau and deceived his father into giving to Jacob, Esau’s birthright.  Then, all through Jacob’s life, he had to contend with more jealousness.  Jacob was in love with Rachael but was tricked by her father and was forced to marry Leah.   Rachael was jealous of Leah because she could bear children and Rachael could not.  More jealousy.  More deceit.  Get the picture?

I’m sure that when Joseph was sold into slavery, he was hurt and probably even a little bitter at his brothers.  The story doesn’t talk much about Joseph’s attitudes but he must have kept a good one because the Word says a number of times that God gave Joseph favor.  He had favor from Potiphar and became his attendant and God blessed all of the households.    Then Potiphar had him thrown in jail because of a lie.  I’m sure Joseph was thinking what the heck is going on?  I just got out of jail and now I’m back again.  I’m sure nothing was making sense.  Then later, after a couple of years and through a series of circumstances, Joseph gets out of jail and becomes the Governor of Egypt.  There was no one higher than Joseph except Pharaoh.

I have a feisty little Chihuahua named JP that is always testing the length of his 6 ft. leash.  Even though the leash goes out that far,  JP still wants to go further than the leash will extend and will pull on the end of the leash and I have to guide him back to where I want him.  I don’t feel like God has me on a leash, but I do believe that God guides me back to the path he has planned for me even though my gypsy blood gets pumping and I want to move.  Right now I feel like this is what Jesus is doing and why he keeps the story of Joseph in the forefront of my mind.   As a Jesus follower, I believe my life is directed by Him.   I believe my life has always been guided by him even when I was lost and confused after my divorce and running away from Him.  Even during those running times, I believe that God was directing my path.   I believe that what I’ve gone through in my life has prepared me for what is to come.  I just have to learn how to be content in whatever state I find myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am a Changeling

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If you are a Star Trek fan, you will know what a Changeling is.  It is someone that is liquid form and can shape themselves into anything they want.  They can become rocks, trees, humans and so on.    They are also known as Shape Shifters. This is what I feel like right now.  A Changeling.  I think we are all Changelings at some point or another.

Lately, I have been feeling lost in the middle of my life.  I think I’ve been feeling lost for the last few years but I haven’t been able to figure out why.  I kept thinking that maybe it was because of what happened in the past.  My other life that was destroyed.  Maybe it was decisions I’ve made that are causing me to feel this way.  Well, yesterday I had a revelation that only God can provide.

This lostness has been weighing on my mind almost continually for a while.  It turns out that I’m not weird (although that’s debatable).   It turns out that I am in midlife.  The autumn of my life!  Yes, I’m having a midlife crisis!  No, I’m not having affairs, no younger men, and haven’t run out and bought a fancy convertible sports car.  But nevertheless, it is a midlife crisis.

Yesterday, as I was searching the internet to explain my lost feelings and trying to find the answers, I discovered an article that explained where I was in my life.  I think God lead me to the article because I’ve been feeling desperate to find my way out of this fog.  It was exactly what I’ve been searching for to explain the way I was feeling and how to get through this.

The article talked about how when we are young we think like astronauts.  The sky’s the limit!  We’re always moving forward, pursuing our dreams because we feel we have plenty of time.  As we get to midlife, we become archaeologists.  We start digging through our past trying to make sense of things that happened to us.  Looking at our past relationships trying to figure out the “why” of that situation.  The author cautioned that in order to effectively review our past life we must first come to terms with three things; aging, the death of your dreams, and regret.

For me, the aging part doesn’t really bother me.  I never feel like I’m old and I’m in good health.  The death of my dreams dig up a few emotions that I didn’t realize were there but the biggest thing for me is regret.   As I continued to read, the author made some statements that were eye-opening for me.   If I am struggling with aging, dream death and regret, it means I have trusted more in “things” and not in God.   Romans 1:25 says that I have exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped things instead of my Creator.  Wow!  That was a revelation for me!

The impact of this was mind blowing!  For the last few years, I have been searching through the rubble of my life looking for the answers to why my ex-husband didn’t love me.  Why he abused me and my children.  Living with the regret of why didn’t I leave sooner.   Trying to understand why I was abandoned by the church and people.  Not realizing that my trust was in all these things and not God.

As I was telling my daughter about the article I sent her the link to read it.  She said, “Mom, this was perfect for you.”  Then we went on to discuss the article and one of the things that she pointed out about me is that I like to do everything myself, my own way.  She is correct.  I have trusted myself and made decisions based on my way and not God’s way.  I have taken refuge and security in my decisions and my own righteousness.   I think this became more of a way of life for me because of the trust issue I have with the church.

God has presented these things to me to challenge me to step up and stop trusting in my own righteousness.  I can repent of the pride and arrogance that my self-reliance  has sprouted and pray for God’s guidance, he will hear me and answer me.  Proverbs 16:3 says, “Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.” MSG

My life is not over!   Actually, it is just beginning.  God’s grace extends way beyond any decisions that I have made without consulting him.  It means that God has opened doors for opportunities that have never been opened in the past.  All that I’m required to do is trust him and move forward.   Stop digging in the rubble of my past.  There’s a line in one of my favorite movies that goes, “Regrets are a waste of time.  They’re the past crippling you in the present”.  (Wells & Sternberg. (2003),  Under the Tuscan Sun, )  Everything that has happened in my life will be used by God.  It will all work for my good.

 

I still think I might buy that convertible.

 

 

 

Tripp, David Paul. (2010) “Feeling Lost in the Middle of Your Life”.  Retrieved from http://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/life-issues/challenges/mental-and-emotional-issues/feeling-lost-in-the-middle-of-your-life

Wells, A. (Director).  Sternberg, T. (Producer) (2003) Under the Tuscan Sun [Film] United States.  Touchstone Pictures.

 

 

 

 

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Lost Compass

compass

 

I feel like I do this frequently.  I can no longer figure out where I fit in my life.  I know everyone is tired of hearing the same old song and dance.  You don’t fit!  No friends!  and so on.  I’m not sure what season of life I’m in right now, but it’s not a very fun one.

I don’t really understand the place in my life at this moment.  Maybe this is the leftovers of what happens to you when the life you lived for 20 years disappears.    I figure that 13 years and another marriage later, I should be past it but apparently, I’m not!  Is this what happens when you get divorced?  Is this the remnants of that leftover life still floating around?   I’m trying to figure that out.

Maybe it’s a midlife crisis!  After all, I am 53 and what is my life?  I go to work every day and the people around me have made great careers for themselves.  People, younger than me with their degrees and starting out on their life path!  What did I do?  I got married, raised children, followed my ex-husband around in the Army for 20 years, got divorced, remarried and went to work.  The end!    No great fanfare!  Now, it is 13 years later and I’m standing here in the middle of all this trying to figure out my space.  Maybe if I buy a convertible, it will all be clearer!

I think it all starts with divorce and the shattered, obliterated pieces of my life.  I think divorce has a way of doing that to you.  Everything that you thought was supposed to be permanent, is destroyed.  On top of all that, the person I was married to was abusive and controlling.    Yes, the divorce was good.  I was able to get away from the abusive person.  Maybe if I had divorced sooner, there wouldn’t be this imprint.  I would have been able to move forward without all the searching that I seem to be doing right now.    Maybe it’s harder to adjust because I got used to a controller telling me what to do.  Not being allowed to think for me.  There was no plan “B”.

I not sure if the place I’m at right now is designed by God or it’s the results of me doing my own thing but it is what it is!   It’s the place I am right now so I’ll keep walking until I can find my compass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Religion

religionwordlewhiteround

Since I was nine years old, you have been my companion.  I was very good at learning all your rules and requirements.  I have tried hard to complete all the demands that were put on me by all your rules and although some of them didn’t make sense to me, and I couldn’t find any proof in the Bible regarding these rules, I still felt obligated to try and accomplish these tasks, lest my salvation be in jeopardy.    I am now 53 and have a few questions to ask you.

Religion, with all the rules and regulations that I was required to abide by, where were you during the time I needed you the most?  During the time when my life was falling apart, your rules and requirements did not assist me in overcoming all the obstacles that were placed in my path.  There was no rule that told me what to do when your husband verbally abuses you.  Where were you, Religion?  There were not any rules that guided me or told me what to do when I found out that my husband was abusing my daughter and son.   Where were you during that time, Religion?   You seemed  no where to be found.

Religion, where were you when I was searching for a path after through the ashes of my divorce?  Oh, I heard your voice now and again during that time but again, you never presented yourself with a rule that would guide me to freedom.   I was good at performing and knowing all the right things to say.  You were a good teacher.

Religion, since you have been such a lazy companion and not really committed to our relationship, I’m breaking up with you.  I have found someone better that has helped me through the most desperate times in my life.  His name is Grace.

Grace has been the one that has taught me to forgive myself.   When I was searching for that path in the aftermath of my divorce, Grace found me and picked me up and helped me get on my feet.  When I was working on rebuilding my relationship with my daughter and son, Grace was there to give me his guidance and support.  When I was feeling let down by you, Religion, Grace came and comforted me and gave me strength and told me I could make it.  Grace told me that my past is in the past.  Grace said he loved me just as I was.  He did not require me to preform for him.   He told me there was nothing I could ever do that could make me worthy of his love.  He just loved me because I belonged to him.  Grace didn’t have a list of rules for me to follow.   All that Grace wanted from me was love.  Just to love Him with my whole heart.

So I say good-bye to you Religion.  I am no longer bound by your performance requirements.  I have learned there is a better way to live and I don’t have to be controlled by you anymore.

Grace is amazing!

gracechangeseverything4-w855h425

 

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