birds flying free  There’s a freedom I really haven’t experienced in so very long until about 2 months ago. That’s when I finally decided to stand up to those dark, long-held grudges and anger toward some relatives. Down on my knees at the foot of my red recliner I cried and asked the Lord to forgive me for holding on so long and not forgiving and moving on to love unconditionally. I asked Him to  take away all that junk in my dark soul and then almost immediately,  like years of wax built up in my ears, finally being pulled out I heard the sound! Oh the sound of relief!  Of music! Truly! Of freedom, as the flight of the birds winging gracefully over the highways. Far above and out of reach of the chaos.

I know the freedom now  and what it means to just LET IT GO! I got on my bicycle and rode down the track – my get-a-way retreat. And my heart soared for love of my precious family who so long ago “meant well” when one sweet relative asked me if there was anything she could do for me when I came home from having given birth to our first-born. Came home with empty arms as he was so early. Well, I stammered, running through my muddled mind, “some diapers”? After all, I hadn’t thought to purchase diapers six weeks early. “Well, you can get those at the store,” was her not so warm reply. Well, then. Yes, I thought. So, what were you thinking to do for me, then? I mean, okay. I’ll go to the store. Thanks for your offer “to help.” And never again, did I ask her for help. But I had held on to the hurt……and other things from time to time. Those memories are now scattered in the air.

The proof. Thanksgiving Day at my brother and sister-in-law’s lovely home on the other side of town. The usual family. The usual spread of delicious home-made dishes atop the usual lovely table decor. Gone, though, was the usual grudge and inner resistance to totally love from the depths of my soul. The love for my family – all of them – this year was deeply genuine. I love them. Each of them and harbor absolutely no animosity, jealousy, ugly guilt. Nothing. Is this then, truly the love of Jesus from me to them? Oh, how light and joyous I felt all day and into the evening. Was it the letting go? It was. It was also the confessing and leaving that hurt right at my Savior’s feet. Sigh. Yes.flying birds

But there was still some deep down pain inside coming from something or someone else. My precious cousin and college girlfriend. There was that time when we were close. Weren’t we? I mean, I remember each of them on an occasion saying, “Best friends forever!” Being the Amelia Bedelia minded, I took that literally. Forever. Always. But, like mine, their lives are so busy in their far away towns with their own families.

Why have I held on to the expectation that they write???? That they call and just say hello? I don’t know!! Is it because it’s not a two-way street? And I’m tired of always initiating?  Do I particularly enjoy this feeling of gravel in the pit of my stomach? This “I’m owning this relationship and you’re not and I want you to and it’s painful and still why don’t you write. Was it something I said? I feel so INSECURE about our , well, is this still a relationship? Has it truly gone sour?”

I stood in the middle of my den and out loud proclaimed, “I let you go, sweet cousin. I let you go, sweet girlfriend from so long ago.” Go. Be free. And I will too. You who are so very far away from me and seem to choose to be. You who have so much on your plate. Always have. Always will. but no where on your plate is there room for me. It’s all okay now.  I let you go and I will clean out my belly of hurt, emptiness over a lost whatever this was and like you, move on. Oh, I’m still here. In the same house I’ve lived in for the past 18 years. Going nowhere soon. You have my address and phone. But you no longer have my heart. If you never bother to call it’s okay. If you don’t ever text or email, no problem. May the Lord continue to take good care of you and your family. Love you. Bye.

I do have some very precious friends right here in front of me and I know now that the enemy of my soul has been successful in making me feel less content, less fulfilled because two very precious folks are not in the forefront of my life right now.  Their presence in my life was rich and I am grateful for what we had. But now I choose to focus on the friends I have here. In my life right now. I choose to encourage them. Love on them. Treasure them as they are but having held too tightly before, I know now to always, always hold my friends loosely. With air to breathe. With freedom to come and go and be real and up close and far away and to know that from me, it’s okay.

bird in handRecently, in prayer group, some were discussing some long-ago friends who had been a part of the group (long before we came in) and had moved on. But there had been some small degree of dissension.  You know, one quipped, we can be Believers and not all agree on everything and it will be okay! Consider Paul and Barnabus; Paul and John Mark, I responded. Not even the early Christians got along with one another! We’re all human, she returned. And we’re going to have some strife and struggles along the way or, we’re going to move away from some friendships and that’s okay, too. We’ll all sit at the feet of our Savior one day! And then, it won’t matter anymore if we got along on the earth or not!

Holding tightly to anything will bring hurt and a stabbing pain. Open the hand and the joy will be everlasting! Because of the first Love. His love. Deep inside, wanting to be free and expressive. Loving this flight! I believe it’s time to take another ride down the track by the gully!

May you go out with JOY and be led forth in His PEACE!

Earnest Conversation

Precious Friend, name so like mine, and I meet while we can – those sacred days after the cherished-with-family-time of  Christmas and before having to return to work, when time moves more slowly… we can linger long over lunch.

I look into her delicate blue eyes surrounded by gentle lines, reminders that she also has slipped past child rearing; and I hear her concerns for American Believers, swept way up into the thick deceitfulness of the culture. We don’t hear about sin and repentance anymore, she sighs. I know, I acknowledge. But they say they are Believers, yet……it’s okay to live together? They say they are Believers, but they are not getting along with their spouse, so the “d-word” is being tossed around like a tennis ball? As if that permanence of separation will solve their problems? Are folks really just saying the “Christian” word but really have no clue as to the covenant relationship that is required because that’s what God means on His end of the bargain?

This morning, the first of January, the first part of reading from the beginning, the Word and there, in the very beginning is the cry to beware of sin. “Sin is crouching at the door,” says the writer of the Holy Word, “and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” We talk about that. We say that it seems that divorce, affairs, questionable ethics, all seem to be accepted by Believers. I tell her that I had just that morning written a letter of encouragement to my church staff mentioning that scripture verse, saying, the enemy does not like what is going on at our church and he will work hard to bring us down. He would begin with the seemingly harmless things. Things that would go unnoticed at first. But slowly, undetected, those behaviors would grow and before long would become issues to be addressed and by then it would be too late. So, I would urge our Godly men and women, to keep the door open, when counseling a person of the opposite sex alone. Be accountable to one another. Lunch with one man and one woman doesn’t look too good – you know what I mean.

I read the geneology of Jesus this morning, I tell her over delicious lunch, and more delightful conversation at our now favorite rendezvous from our familiar neighborhoods. And I found grace throughout. Tamar, then Rahab, though a prostitute, my friend reminds us both, yet she was searching and found the Truth and became a Believer and Worshiper of God; and  Ruth, also a non-Jew; a Gentile, like us. I pause. I stare a long time at the polished wood table then look directly into her soul and quietly say,” but Friend (I softly say her name), I did not find one homosexual. Not one.” She sees me. She sighs. I know, she says. I don’t find a single homosexual named in the Word of God, I say more earnestly. She nods. She knows. God called it an abomination. She’s traveled that perilous road – the one where she said, in love, in the love forged deep in her soul by her Creator Savior, to one of her own, precious child, the road you are on is leading to sin – a deep separation from your Creator/Father. You need to look inside and repent. Turn completely, rethink and respond according to the Word and He will forgive you. Completely. Together we smile at one another’s glowing eyes. We know the story has a happy ending.

Oh, I don’t want to be a coward. I want to be brave for my Lord, she says, again, that earnestness in her tone. This year I want to be able to say out loud that the W ay, the Truth, the Life are in my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. I want to say it in love. And I know, I tell her, that finally, the responses are not to me; they are to my Lord. He said He would be the stumbling block. Folks hate it when they hear things like “surrender,” “repent,” “live for the Lord, not for self.” Folks balk at anyone challenging them on their independence.   I sigh. Again. Friend, I say to her, looking directly at her intently, and pause. Why is it hard to say it? Because I’m checking on my own self. Am I able to say? How do I know if God and I are in right standing with one another at this very minute? Who am I to say? And then I say, “but if folks are not willing to put the Lord first in their life, then……..” and this was where I paused for more than a second…….”they really don’t love the Father deeply at all. Perhaps they weren’t His all along.”

She hands me a heavy something wrapped securely in tin foil. Your fudge for the year, she says, as we hug and  she hands me her Christmas gift. Keep it in the freezer and it will keep all year. Just eat one at a time.IMG_20140103_201732

By the time I had gotten home  three were gone. Into my tummy. So utterly delicious and addicting!

Those Thanksgivings We Remember

new orleans trip 011 Sometimes the school district declared a week long Thanksgiving Holiday. Other times, in their desire to keep kids in school even when they and the teachers were mentally tasting the turkey and playing in the leaves, they’d make us all miserable by having us come to school on Monday and Tuesday of the week of Thanksgiving! I’m sure some kid learned something and maybe one or two teachers were happier in their classroom than at home in their footies! Not me. We looked forward to that week long holiday at the end of November as a time to GET AWAY! Yep. Well, of course, we didn’t go out of town EVERY year at Thanksgiving. We enjoyed many a meal around the family table with Grandpa and Memom, my brother and his family. (Oh, I’m speaking of those Thanksgivings of recent past as parents of our own kids who enjoyed some years with just our own foursome family off somewhere in the hinterlands.) As a child, yes, Thanksgiving was a sacred time at home around the table of our parents and the holy of holiest football games – the tea-sippers of Texas vs the Aggies. Dad was usually seen wearing his traditional orange polo and slacks. Mom would beam at him. After all, she was the one who not only bought the shirt but laid it out for Dad to wear that morning! She always claimed he was color-blind.

Not too many years ago, on the day following Thanksgiving,  the four of us packed up the van and loaded our bikes onto the bike rack on the back and headed out for the six long hour drive to New Orleans.  We had also heard it was going to be a cold one the next day. No kidding! The following morning we awoke to 28 degrees of brilliant sunshine! We donned everything we could find: scarves, hats, gloves, sweatshirts, more socks, you name it. We each resembled bulging overstuffed forgotten turkeys. We drove to the public park just outside of town at the foot of the levee and unloaded our bikes. Burrrr! It was quite nippy! What on earth are we doing? We nearly forgot about the cold after we walked our bikes to the top of the levee and saw…….oh what a beautiful sight! The very MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI RIVER flowing right there in front of us! We rode slow – I did, taking in the sights on either side of the asphalt running track atop the levee. It was an amazing glorious bright sunny crisp cold day and we had 12 miles to enjoy it before riding straight into Audubon orleans trip 038

Once in the park Beloved and I found a park bench on which to sit and view the pond with its fountain in the middle. After resting just a moment or so, we mounted our bikes and headed for the lovely well planned zoo! The elephants were hilarious and delighted all of us onlookers ! We stayed for about 2 hours before getting on our bikes and heading back down the levee. No, it wasn’t as much fun. Okay. We were hungry and we had now seen the Mississippi and the lovely homes and it was time to eat! We spotted a sports bar/café at the foot of the levee midway along the ride so we turned down the hill and parked and ate. Huge delicious hamburgers. Oh how we all enjoyed the rest and the food! When it was time to head for the van, oh my goodness, we had truly over rested! Can one do that? Yes! Those last six miles were the worst.

Eventually we each found the van and loaded the bike on the back and tumbled in ready for a nap at the hotel. I will long remember that delightful trip to New Orleans and the scenic ride atop the levee. The four of us cycling together in a straight line alongside the Mississippi one side and lovely homes on the other.  What is my take away? Watching my sons as they enjoyed one another along the ride, at the sports bar chowing down on their huge hamburgers, laughing and teasing one another. I’ll remember watching them ride around the park together while Beloved and I sat at the park bench, resting. And of course, our reactions to all the “interesting” folks out on Bourbon street that night when we went to hear the New Orleans Jazz Band. And seeing our eldest drive us home that long stretch through Louisania with all our nine million fellow Texans that Sunday evening.  Lasting loving memories. Savored over time.  This Thanksgiving, as we gather around the table with extended family we can recall the Thanksgiving trip to NOLA  and laugh at all the memories as we share them with others. I’m thankful. Thankful to the Lord, for His provision of my husband, two sons, jobs which help fund such a great trip, and the health to enjoy them more.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!new orleans trip 059