October 14, 2016

Faithfully Wielding The Sword of Truth

Several years ago, while trying to put up a live Christmas tree with my girls, I thought it would be a great idea to put a hole in the bottom of the trunk so it would center on the pin in the bottom of the tree stand.  I was in a hurry and grabbed the drill and a bit.  Now the folly comes in the part where I tried to use a spade bit instead of a helical one.  And then I tried to use my left hand because of the position of the tree, while being a very right handed person.  The bit slipped on the sappy trunk and landed, still spinning, in the bone of my right thumb! How stupid was that?!

I felt really dumb and disgusted with myself because I knew better, my kids were watching, and I hate when things like that happen...because I feel sooo worthless.

Occasionally, over the years, a tiny piece of bone or cartilage left over from the damage works it's way to the surface.  It itches and irritates until I can't stand it anymore and I scratch it out like a cat.  One of those instances happened during the final lesson of a Bible study my girls and I were finishing up this week. They couldn't help but notice my frantic scratching and we had a good laugh, at my expense of course, about my careless mistake all those years ago.

A periodic reminder of an incident I'd like to forget.  Every time it happens, I feel a surge of that old "sick in my stomach" feeling that I got that day when I realized that I could very easily have severed the nearby artery, or worse, hurt one of the girls instead.  The foolish, dumb, irresponsible, stupidity that makes me feel like a failure.  Granted it's kind of a small thing that we joke about now but after our lesson, I thought about it again and realized that it is a perfect picture of what we were learning.

The Armor of God - Bible Study Book

The last lesson in our Bible study,  Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer ~ Lifeway Press (every woman should do this study!), was about wielding The Sword of Truth (The Word of God) to actively protect myself from the lies of Satan.  He loves to distract me from God's love for me and the promises that come with the grace of salvation by steering me toward believing that I am not worthy or that God doesn't really mean that He will stand by me through whatever I face.  He likes to throw me off my Jesus groove by making me think that the sins of my past leave me undeserving of God's love.

I am continually both amused and bemused by God's sense of humor and the way He uses things to help me grow.  That tiny bit of tissue that makes it's way to the surface and distracts me from what I'm doing by itching and bringing up the memories of that careless mistake was a parallel to our lesson that I just didn't pick up on until a few days later.  Satan uses the same type of tactic to remind me of sinful things I've done in the past that he wants me to think about instead of focusing on who I am in Christ. A lesson learned and reinforced by something that happened years ago.

When Satan tries to distract me with fears and memories of past sins that threaten to pull me out of rank (military reference due to the nature of the study), after donning my armor, I need to pick up the Sword of Truth and wield it in offensive battle to keep the lies of Satan on the retreat.

Ephesians 6:10-19New International Version (NIV)

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,

Pondering My Meanderings...
with much herbal love,

August 2, 2016

I Get It, But I Can't Do It

This year's presidential election has my head spinning!  You, too?
My father was very politically minded and would argue loudly for the 'best' candidate, in his opinion.  But my mom couldn't have cared less and often did not vote.  I would often hear her accuse him of voting party lines regardless of who was running.

As a young adult, I often found it hard to discern which candidate was the best choice and felt the need to vote as an idealist.  As an adult, I find myself leaning more toward looking ahead...so if I vote my conscience (which none of the candidates are really speaking to) am I burying my head in the sand?  Am I making a choice that will do no more for the future of this country than make a tiny, little, soon-to-be-forgotten statement whose only purpose will be to sway votes to the opposite side of the party line rather than defend them?

I get it.

But, it's not that simple.  It's not about which candidate, it's about the future!  It's about the legacy we leave behind.  It's about the issues.

As a grandma, I can see so much further into the future than I could before. What will things be like for my grandkids?  Will they be able to live in freedom?  Or will we be so far gone that they won't be able to be free in this country or any other?  Is that why America, the greatest country on earth, doesn't seem to play a part in the book of Revelation?  Does the downfall start here?  What is our responsibility?  Does it even matter?

So here I am, stuck in the middle between my head and my heart.  More like somewhere around my neck where I feel the pressure to do the right thing.  And I really want to.

If we vote outside party lines, I know what that means.  She, who shall not be named, will be our next president and we'll all be wondering why our religion, which has taken a few hits under current administration, is now being persecuted right here on American soil, more than ever before.  Churches and Christian schools closed because they are made to conform to government standards. Freedom lost.

We'll be crying over the audacity of a panel of supreme court justices, waffling on the edge of equal representation now, which will be overturned and strengthened by possibly 4-5 more seats during the next presidential term.  These appointments, for life, may last the rest of my lifetime and beyond. That's something that should make everyone sit up and take notice.

And then there's the global warming.  I'll be the first to say that God has given us a gift in this delicately balanced earth.  We should take care of it.
The present Commander-in Chief implemented law that has had a huge impact on our local and state wide community.  The coal industry has been hit hard by emission standards that had to be met and that means that companies who run on coal fired energy had to make some hard choices.  Many of them have or will be closing because the cost to change to another fuel source is too great.  Not to mention the folks who harvest coal for a living!  Many people say that this is a win because emissions are responsible for climate change.  But it was a loss to many and a personal issue for our family.
Meanwhile the Marcellus gas sites are taking over the landscape in both rural and forested wilderness areas baring acres of ground for their set up and operation, as well as injecting the ground with chemicals that are harmful to water supplies and wildlife, not to mention humans.  And its hard to tell how far this contamination goes when rain water carries it into the water sheds that feed the streams and rivers that flow through our land.  How is that better, Mr. President?
But unless you are completely off the grid, driving a horse and buggy, leaving zero carbon foot print, can you really point fingers?

And I can't look at my little granddaughter and say that in any way should abortion be glossed over as a non issue.  How could anyone think it's okay to do that to an unborn child even if studies show that the numbers are down from where they were?  I guess that's part of the issue.  We know from her own words that the female candidate from Arkansas thinks that unborn children have no constitutional rights until they leave the womb.  How scary is that? I get that there are special cases but those cases shouldn't be law for folks who just don't want the responsibility of their actions.

Maybe one of those aborted children would have grown up to be the one who finds the answers to global warming!

You may say that life will go on regardless of who's in the White House.  And I'm sure it will but you may not like the direction it takes.  Is God in control?  Of course He is!  Can we overturn His plans for this country?  Nope!  But what about the responsibility we have?  The mandates He's given us about honoring our leaders and following their laws?  We can have an impact on what that looks like for the future by casting our vote.  Withholding your vote because you are not thrilled with either party candidate is not the answer.  Look at the issues for the future. And then humbly pray.

I get the whole idea that evangelical leaders throwing in their lot with the candidate on the right seems totally wrong to some and that millennials are feeling like our generation doesn't get it.  But I think you are missing the point.  My generation has lived through all of the things you have experienced in war and change and progressiveness for ethnic groups and women.  There were wars before you and there will probably be wars after you where people fight for this country, sometimes making the ultimate sacrifice.  For those and their families I humbly say, "Thank you!"
The past century has seen so much change and for all the good things, there will be bad...abuse of power and inventions, privileges and rights.  Progress is good and with it responsibility is required.  So I get that you feel your generation thinks it has the most to say and that any one older than you who holds to some of the old things instead of wishing for so much progress is outdated and looking back with rose colored glasses at a time when things don't look so good to you.  But we have experience you don't have.   We've seen things and lived through times that you will never know except from a history book and there's something to be said for solid values and simpler times.
I get what you're saying but I can't agree with all of your conclusions.

When evangelical leaders choose a side, you feel abandoned.  But maybe they are trying to make you see that the changes in the next presidential term are going to be much more far-reaching than you realize.  Idealists will be further from reach than ever if you don't vote, vote for independents or vote left in this election even more than elections past.  Maybe you don't agree that voting for the candidate on the right is a sound moral choice.  I get it.  But I ask you to seek God's voice on this.

So how does that look on election day?  Is it worth making a ripple in the pond that will soon be absorbed into the shore or do I want to be part of the wave that may not be all of my ideals in one but looks a far cry brighter than the other choice?  WWJD?  I'm not sure so I'll certainly be praying about all of this until I cast my vote.

I'm just touching the surface here but these are things that I'm pondering.

June 15, 2016

Cages of Bitterness

This will seem abstract to some and not make a bit of sense but these are things I've been wondering about.  And thinking about and pondering because sometimes, when this happens, the results impact a lifetime...generations are affected by this and they don't know what to do with all the feelings and self-image that comes with them.

There is an anger that lurks deep in the heart.  A bitter wall of longing and separation that eats at the soul and mind until an impenetrable shell with barbs and flashes of stinging words effectively exclude the very affection the heart desires.  The enemy has defeated the senses, filling them with only self inspired loathing and hurt which spews from the mouth without care or discretion in an effort to cast down and belittle anyone who dares to reach out without complete abandon to the opinions and understanding of the dictator.  All things done out of kindness are twisted into malicious intent...all questions into hurtful accusations...all pleas for approval and love, dashed in a topsy-turvy effort to keep ANYONE from getting inside, all the while blaming them for not caring.

Requests must be met in exact detail, immediately without any hesitation... no thought for the responsibilities of others ...no variations allowed.  There is no way to understand or consider the feelings and actions of others, except to see their weakness and stupidity.  No compassion, no forgiveness, no mercy, no compromise, in spite of the fact that all these things are either expected in return or believed to be unnecessary for their own hurtful actions.  There is only one interpretation, only one possible meaning, one intention...to somehow hurt or take advantage of the being inside the shell.  The cage that shrinks with every nasty, hurtful thing that's said in response to others who are trying to please or help until the confines have completely cut off any outside influence.

The bitterness wins.

The enemy triumphant.

The captive...alone in a prison of their own making...because of bitterness, unforgiveness, anger and hate.  A pitiful multifaceted personality that can change with little provocation into a prodding, vengeful, hedgehog of a being that feels unloved because they won't allow anyone to love them.

Where did this bitterness come from?  I think I know.  The hurt of a parent who strikes out and takes away childhood...uses their fists and body to make people do what they want...thinks that their needs/wants are the only ones that matter.  Do dictators create dictators?  Are the actions of a parent responsible for forming the worldview of the children?  Do personalities influence how the dictatorship affects the children?  Why do some rise above while others are oppressed?  Are words and actions as hurtful and influential as fists and physical domination?

Unconditional love says that even though this may be the case, we are to love anyway.  How does that look?  At what cost to ourselves and our family?  Can we fix it?  Sometimes the best we can do is love from afar. Much like the gift of salvation, love is a gift that can be accepted or rejected.  Does the rejection mean the love is faulty or unreal?  It's a struggle that's been raging for the biggest part of a century and as time and age take their toll, the walls become thicker and the rejection more bitter.

The irony of the situation is that the very desires of the heart are the ones that are rejected the most.  It's not logical but most dealings of the heart are not ruled by logic.  The downward spiral of a self defeating spirit cannot be changed from the outside...change is a heart issue that begins within.

Pondering My Meanderings...

May 27, 2016

Limbic Imprints

So... I've been wondering and pondering an idea about why I feel so...at loose ends...without direction...unable to feel my memory foundation.  Do you suppose that it has anything to do with limbic imprints?  I've been reading more and more about the memories that are unconsciously stored in our mind from birth and are recalled through the process of smelling something that takes us back to another time.  You've done that, right?  But what if those are not the kind of memories that you want to recall?  What if you, also subconsciously, suppress them in an act of self preservation?  And that act then leaves you feeling as if you don't have a starting point.  It's all in my head, I know this...but still...could there be a connection?

Pondering My Meanderings... with much herbal love, Wanderer

May 24, 2016

Things I Learned At The Beach

My husband and I have been married for 32 years.  Our honeymoon destination was a beach front room in Virginia Beach where we spent nearly a week playing on the beach and swimming in the ocean, among other things. It was a week of firsts including my first time to see/swim in salt water...which means it was my first time to be stung by a jellyfish!  This experience made a big impression on me...it was very painful.  So, I haven't been in a hurry to go back.

First let me say that it was a mistake not to plan some sort of annual family vacation.  There were a few trips here and there but we allowed lack of time/responsibilities/lack of finances to limit us. Now, I'm not saying that it's alright to be irresponsible but find a way to carve out the means to get away even if it is a week of camping.  Staycations always turn into work weeks.  Get away!

So, back to my story.  Our oldest daughter, who married a missionary over a year ago, is expecting our first grandchild in December.  We are soooo excited!  It's always been my husband's dream to go on a long vacation out West to see all the sights.  We were going to go that route this year because if all goes as planned, our missionaries will be leaving for Africa in the spring.  But with a little one on the way, we thought a destination that was a little closer to civilization would be a better choice.  A relaxing mid-September week at the beach sounded perfect and it was.

Here are some things I learned at the beach.

If you need it, take it with you, including all your food.  Seven Mile Island is a strip of sand dunes separated from land by a salt marsh.  During the vacation season, there are lots of little shops, etc. but after Labor Day, most of them are closed or are selling out their stock for the season.  Finding a grocery store was not easy and we didn't see a gas station on the island. Take lots of water or a filter pitcher.

Vacation is not the time to experiment with DIY sunscreen!   I am fair skinned and don't spend a lot of time in the sun.  For the most part, I burn and then it goes away...no tan.  Bummer!  My girls and husband tan very easily and don't often burn.  I made a homemade sunscreen to take on vacation without testing it ahead of time.  I'm sure that it is very effective under normal outdoor conditions but I'm also sure that I did not reapply it nearly often enough to protect me from the hot, reflective sun at the beach.

Be prepared with DIY sunburn remedy ingredients!  Thankfully, I had what I needed to take the heat out of some very sensitive, painful sunburned skin.  A little lavender essential oil in some water really made a nice compress that quickly eased the discomfort.

Note to husband...even if you could stay out in the sun all day without sunscreen as a teenager, your skin is more sensitive 30 years later and the beach is different.  Sun reflecting off of the sand and water amplifies the tanning/burning action of the sun.

Dolphins and porpoises are not the same.  You may think this is an obvious statement but it's not something we thought about.  We just assumed that the large fish we saw jumping out of the water and swimming parallel to the shore were dolphins.  A local told us that they were porpoises and that they have been known to save people from shark attacks.  That made me feel two things at once. First, SHARKS?  And second, how nice that these fish would go out of their way to save people. And third, SHARKS?  Porpoises have a shorter snout, curved dorsal fin, more portly body shape than dolphins and are less talkative.  They were so beautiful!

Don't underestimate the power of the waves!  After playing in the waves and floating through the crests for several days, I thought I knew how the surf acted.  Most of the crests and rollers that came in behind me were spaced out and I could brace myself against the waves coming up behind me as I headed back to the sand.  But one larger, double crest caught me unaware and hit me mid back...like a kidney shot.  It kind of took my breath away and left me with an aching back and neck for days afterward.  The sea really is unpredictable!

Don't take for granted the time you have with family!  Just a short while ago, our girls were small and we had so many adventures together!  Now our time is limited and soon, we'll be half a world away from one of them.  You can't get those times back so make memories that you can keep in your heart.  And make time for your spouse, be intentional, because when the children are grown, you don't want to have to get to know them all over again.

The beach is peaceful but not quiet!  If you are looking for a quiet vacation, the beach is not the answer.  The roar of the breakers hitting the shore, the seagulls hovering over the waves calling back and forth, the whisper or whistle of the ever present wind, the rustle of dune grasses, make a loud cacophony of noise that surrounds you all the time.  And yet, it is a peaceful place that seems to make time stand still.

Things I learned at the Beach

Foam riffles along the surf
chases tiny seabirds to and fro
Little clams dig vigorously,
empty shells wash ashore,
Seagulls scream greedily,
over sand and over sea
Sun beats down to warm
the water, the sand and me
Wind whistles, sand blows,
dunes grow, tides turn
Porpoises jump, boats pass,
surfers ride, swimmers float
Kites fly, clouds sail,
children squeal, I begin to peel.
Breakers roar, peace reigns,
time slows, memories made.

 Pondering My Meanderings... with much herbal love, Wanderer

May 21, 2016

Time for a kitchen update!

My kitchen makes me happy...and cozy with a warm fuzzy 'at home' feeling.

The feel of cool slate beneath my feet...which are usually bare...gives an earthy feel.  The colonial colors, the primitive border, the eclectic blend of vintage/antique furniture and accessories gives the room a warm and cozy feel.  And I love it here so I don't want to change it just tweak what we have while fixing a few things. More of an update.

In this photo you can see the wallpaper border that I chose to pull it all together.  It's been on these walls for about 16 years and I would pick the same one over again.  

The rag rolled walls started out with a coat of sunflower gold followed by a blend of glazes that gives it that pumpkinish color.


This turn of the century Sears and Roebuck cabinet was gifted to us years ago and has had several homes within the rooms of our house.  Once originally painted white, a color which has no place in this room, it is now a blend of barn red over Windsor green, combed over in wavy patterns so the green shows through.

This chalk board was in the basement of my childhood home and I spent many hours playing "school" with my pretend students.  Little did I know that one day I'd be using it to homeschool my own children!  Now that they are grown, it's a great place for messages or reminders, even the occasional artistically inspired chalk drawing or Bible verse.

When we originally painted the house we used one color for the walls and ceiling throughout.  It gave us a good base for any future paint or wall paper and made the move a little quicker since we moved in on Dec 15th and baby #2 came on Jan. 14th.

The kitchen ceiling is still the antique linen that we started with and it's time for a change.  So I'm thinking about pulling the Wedgwood blue from the flowers and birds in the border to give it a homey touch.  

There are patches of antique linen showing on the walls where we decided to rearrange the wall cupboards a while after the rag rolling was done.  We've ignored it for a while now and I'm ready to fix it.  I'm not sure I can duplicate the rag rolled colors or pattern so that it won't be an obvious patch job.  So going back to my wall paper border, the barn red keeps calling to me! 
Stay tuned to see what we end up with!

February 2, 2016

Quiet Time

There is a still small peace that comes from spending a little quiet time each day.  How do you fill that space of time?  Do you read?  Do devotions or Bible study?  How about yoga or prayer time?  Maybe just getting lost in your favorite tunes...

One of the newest ways, at least for me, is coloring. Yes, I am an adult!  But if you search for coloring books aimed at an adult doodler, you won't have to look far to find hundreds, even thousands, of coloring books with varying themes just for you!

Here's one that I picked up over Christmas for a friend and loved it so much I bought one for myself!

This inspirational book is filled with beautiful black line illustrations just waiting for you to customize it with your own color combinations...your own work of art.

For me, this is great because, although I can make mechanical drawings, my artistic drawing skills offer little more than stick figures and primitive 2-D images.

The designs in Whatever Is Lovely create a wonderful release as you get into the art of blending colors and filling spaces with happiness. 

You can use markers, crayons, colored pencils, or gel pens to make these pages your own!  Here's a nice set of gel pens from Frog Lily.

Why not pick up a copy of Whatever Is Lovely, turn on your favorite music and get lost in a simple, relaxing coloring page?!

Pondering My Meanderings... with much herbal love, Wanderer

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