Monday, September 29, 2014

Falling Leaves

     This morning as I drank my delicious cup of Pumpkin Marshmallow Latte on our comfortable deck under the newly built pergola, I was simply letting God speak to me of the wonders of His creations. The rustle of clumps of falling leaves and chirping birds was all that surrounded us, myself, Copper, my Bassett Hound and Kali, our Boston Terror (because she's such a little monster), my most loving companions. Acorns clicked and cloncked on their way down amongst the intertwined branches, taking with them weakened, color turned leaves. God, in His majestic, yet soft and soothing voice spoke, "You know, I created humans to be much like leaves. In the Spring of life, birth of an infant, you are like the emerging buds of a leaf, a little fragile at first on such a thin stem. It gains it's strength from the nurturance of the limbs and branches and the sap that runs through the trees. Grandparents, Parents and siblings, close family members and friends are the limbs and branches, past family members the roots and blood, the sap."
     I stopped rocking to observe the beauty and significance of that wondrous, magnificent Oak tree that stands multiple feet from the deck and shake my head in agreeing action. Than my God continued. "Those leaves grow to be many with just the blooming of a few, with new ones continuously sprouting forth. The brightness and warmth of the sun, like the love from our family and friends, help them to grow stronger and surround them when the wickedness of storms strike, like the Summer of life. But they withstand the high winds, and pounding rains and scorching sun, when they work together to support one another. They sway to and fro with the rhythm of the breeze. Than Fall comes upon them and this is when they show their true colors. Some so bright in their reds and oranges, some in yellow standing out like a glow and than the others in maroon, rust and browns."
     "Even though they are of many colors,  I love them all the same, for they came from my hand thought of in my heart. They all served a purpose and did their part. But as they take the catwalk for their final state of fashion, some are ooo'ed, wowed, and aahh'ed at, while others are not given a second glance. All in the end carpet the green grass below to protect it from the coming Winter's snow. It mattered not their color when hidden by the snow. Beauty is no more special than the power that protection of any color holds."
     You see my beloveds, we are now in that time of approaching Winter. We must not allow the "color" of the outside to take our views away from that of what we and others hold on the inside. We are all blessed to carry out the work God has set before us. Sometimes it's to stand out and sometimes it's to play a small but very insignificant role. We are all protectors of other's in the end. We help to surround and bring upon unconditional love to those "newly" born into our families. What we say, how we act and what we allow becomes a model for those placed within our family from our mighty God. We all play a part, but not all will set forth what you have been given to be told.
     You are setting an example for those who follow, and God will hold you to that when it's your time to answer to His call. A maple is there for a great show, an elm is only living for itself. A cherry is a sweet smell to other's. A cottonwood sheds it's problems unto other's and a birch stands out amongst the crowds. A willow continues to weep of all it's troubles, and a palm leans to help other's. But an oak... the mighty, mighty oak, stands tall, strong and steady and provides shelter from the most catastrophic storms. What tree in life will you be??? Continue on beautiful falling leaves....

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Living Your Vision

     Encouragement and discouragement derive from Cor, Latin (and French) for "heart," the same root as the word courage. Encourage means, "to inspire with hope, courage, or confidence; to give support to. Discourage means, "to deprive of confidence, hope, or spirit."
     The encouragers in our lives are those who have helped us take heart an find courage to become the people GOD intends us to be. The discouragers are the ones who disapproved of any dreams or desires we had to follow our hearts rather than our heads, (our theirs) in choosing our life's pursuit.
     God gives us encouraging voices throughout our life, and often times we just needed to learn HOW to hear them. A small list of those who inspired or encouraged me to believe in myself as an artist for one was my paternal grandmother Florance LaMarche, Meme. She would show me how to use mostly natures items to make beautiful things. One in particular was making Hollyhock dolls. Than there were the dandylion chain bracelets, seashell paper weights. From household and craft materials we would make yarn dolls, and bologna "colorform" shapes on the refrigerator, catalog trees. And oh the wonders we would create with fabric! She also had a button tin that were worth more than any jewels to me. I would count, separate, and admire them for hours on end. Her best and most creative masterpieces were what came from the kitchen stovetop and oven! But the most creative part of meme was her spoken language; a little bit of English, more of the French and than just a bit more of something else. Zinc for sink, fark for fart, and her favorite saying, "make any difference to me." Her laugh shook everyone around her, even if you weren't part of the discussion going on. Watching comedies with her were made even funnier because she would get the joke and laugh to the point of wetting herself a good 15 minutes after the joke was told.
     Whatever I created she loved and praised me over and over for, telling me, "C'est tres beau." Than she would take my face into her hands and kiss me right on the lips, where I could feel those little spikey mustache and chin hairs poking me. I LOVED her kisses, and she always ended them with a reverberating, "mawmp!

Meme at age 16

     Another very encouraging woman who was very influential in uncovering and giving authentic reflective feedback and teaching me my artistic endeavors was Mrs. Ranger. She was a widow from our church that we attended when I was 12 years of age. My parents volunteered much of their time helping her with household repairs and cleaning she was unable to do for herself, for she was in her 70's. A very talented artist, in drawing, oil and watercolor painting. Beautifully soft spoken and sharp looking. She taught me how to hold my paint brushes, shade in charcoal, make prize winning pictures in  colored chalk, which became my favorite medium to work in. It was her works of art that set me on fire to become an artist. Not as a famous painter or even in selling works of art like herself. Just for the love of it. I also loved, loved, loved, writing. Set impression in my mind was to be an illustrationist. I loved the works of Hans Christian Andersen and would imagine the pictures he painted in words, and I would put them down on paper what the characters looked like in my storybook minds vision. It's one thing to word our a vision and an entirely different world in giving them visual character. That was the path I would pursue, so sure I could live happily in a small cottage by the sea, with one small hurricane lamp on a tidy desk filled with colored pencils, colored chalks of course, paint brushes and a small pallet of water paints and lots and lots of graphite pencils and soft spongy erasers and a never ending supply of paper. In this small cottage I would have a comfortable, fall full into the luscious linens and blankets bed, that gave me a dreamy sleep where God would bring to light my next days endeavors. It would be heated with a small wood stove, fired by the drifts of wood shards I gathered on my mornings walk upon the deserted beach, with my pet companion falling in line with my bare feet sinking into the wave tumbled sand, leaving my prints for whom ever wanted to follow.  Albeit the world was sure to get in the way. How will you eat? How will you pay for utilities? How will you survive? Well, you see, I was going to be an artist, and, well... 

Meme as I will always remember her
     Which brings me to my next encourager, my middle school home economics teacher, Mrs. Hartz. She instilled in me, basic sewing, child development, comprehensive homemaking, home and family living skills. More than that, she became my friend, confidant and although she didn't know, mentor. So now this is what I strived to become, a Home Maker. Wasn't quite sure about the wifely duties but being a mother? Oh bring on the babies!! Now my life set off in a whole new direction with the artistic "wanna be" tucked into my back pocket.
     Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. This verse implies that God has a plan for our lives, one that we would do well to seek rather than relying on our own preferenced shaking plans. I really didn't believe that God had an interest in my personal life or the development of it. I thought He just sat by silently observing and when I "thought" I had messed up, I was taught to go into "the tiny closet where there sat a man, like the Wizard of Oz, and tell him your wrongs and he will penitence you with prayers to say and all will be forgiven." Oh, well that's pretty simple, mess up, pray, mess up, pray.... I did not learn what it meant to have an intimate and personal relationship with this God I'd heard of, until I was in my early thirties. What I learned was that God is our greatest encourager. If and WHEN we firmly place our hand in His, we can relearn that childlike trust we need to develop a vision of who He wants us to be. But an important initial step in coming along side and giving yourself to His service is to forgive ourselves and more importantly others.
     If we truly want to regain our dreams and start to give birth to the process of them, we must first let go of the past. Forgiveness is not just something we give to another person, It is a gift we give to ourselves, freeing ourselves from the bad feelings about whatever that person did. But in order to understand forgiveness and to truly feel forgiveness, we should recognize that forgiveness is NOT the same as telling that other person that what they did or did not do, or what you needed done or said, is "okay". It was NOT okay; it was REAL, it was NEGATIVE, and because of these things and actions, kept you from having the confidence you needed to pursue your dreams or think better of yourself. Whatever their motives or lack of believing, if they even had one, was damaging and wrong. It's not saying you need to immediately forgive them or even admitting that maybe you have been too hard on them all these years. What it is, is your willingness to truly let go of all the negative feelings you have because of what YOU FEEL that person did that hurt you.
     The discouragers may or may not have even known that their words or actions caused us to give up on our goals, but regardless, the truth of their discouragement was the same. It left us lacking in ourselves, the courage or belief in following our dreams. It eroded us by discouraging messages coming form most often the people who knew and were suppose to love us the most. We also need to understand that forgiveness is not the same thing as allowing ourselves to be victims of another's words or offense done to us.

     But in the end, those words only have as much power as we give or gave them. Why should we harbor resentment or anger against someone who discouraged us when we have a Heavenly Father who has given us these gifts, and abilities. He gives them to us for a reason, and we are to find that reason and not let it go to the wayside. He knows us by name, and all the needs we have, the dreams we have, the hurts we have. Stop letting the "discouragers" take up room in your heart, soul and mind. Focus on God and instead give room to the encouragers, they really are all around you if you look for the sunshine through the rain.   

Thursday, April 24, 2014


     Broken; the word alone conjures up negative images: broken bones, china, toys, and the most painful one, heart. In God's mind though, brokenness is seen as a good thing. And for His works it is essential. For he uses only people whose hearts, human spirits and pride HAVE been broken. Brokenness is like that teacher that gives or gave you lots of homework, pop quizzes and very hard tests. While studying you  curse the teacher for all the preparation time it takes away from your "free" time. Your brain goes into "overload" and your hand cramps like talons of an eagle who clamps on to his prey. But by God, when that pop quiz is sprung on you, you know the answer and pass. And that in turn prepares you for the ultimate test. And when you are put to it, you slow your pace and breathing and with assuredness, start checking the boxes and filling in the spaces. 
     When you have been broken, you are forced to sit in quietness to reflect on the lesson it has taught you and it is during that time that the splint is attached to keep the "break" straight to heal correctly, the glue to dry the pieces firmly together, the wound to heal cleanly and without too much scarring. When in these stages, "support" is needed. A splint needs a cast, a dish needs two hands to hold it till the glue has time to harden, a wound needs to be cleaned out and held closed with stitches, staples or surgical tape until it becomes healed enough to not split wide open allowing infection to enter.
     For broken hearts and spirits, God sends His healing through others who receive the urging from the Holy Spirit. We are placed here on earth to help carry one another's load. That concept has been sadly pushed aside by far too many these days. The world's instructor, Satan, loves it when others choose to turn their head, to make them so busy with their life and goals they chase after, that they trample over the wounded leaving them hurting and bleeding. Another tool is to feign interest while leaving their thoughts to wander about... "what should I serve for dinner, I sure hope that package gets delivered today", or inwardly pick apart the imperfections of the person who stands before them. They really have no real desire to listen or to help them by just merely holding their hand, giving them a much needed hug. It's just half hearted sayings or something they throw out pretending to seem sincere to, "rack up points in Heaven", to look good in front of others for their ego's sake, to add to their "resume".
     When the wounded lay bleeding, they NEED "someone" to apply pressure to stop the bleeding, a hand to hold and squeeze while experiencing the excruciating pain. An ear to hear their plea, another's lips to pray. The worse thing a body of believers could do is to offer false hope and walk away and leave the wounded stranded. In every single one of us, upon birth, God has given to us the ability to help others. Otherwise God would have created us with only one of everything, one hand, one leg, one ear. His idea was one for us, one for another. His Son however used both feet and both hands to let them nail Him to the cross. He allowed himself to be broken, both heart and spirit, to feel our pain, hurts and disgust from our sins.
     We are called to love one another, not to ignore the pains of others. We all will experience brokenness at some point in our lives. Death of a loved one, a body shaken with illness, a depilating injury, a divorce, rejection from family or a friend. God "offers" a choice of brokenness and those who are willing to cast themselves on Jesus in thanksgiving for His death on the cross, by submitting their wills and all that they are to Him, will be broken by Him of any arrogance, hard-heartedness, and self centeredness.
     This will not and has never been to anyone taking this "offer", a pleasant process. However it is an absolutely necessary one. And here is a warning to those who do not submit to Him, he will ultimately "fall on them". When things fall upon something or someone, the force of  it can only be described as "crushing". The choice is ultimately yours... broken before Him, or crushed by Him.

Monday, April 21, 2014

You Teach People How To Treat You

     It is sometimes difficult to pin down the source of intimidation. I had a VERY critical spirit about myself, comparing my looks, intelligence, talents... life in general with others and found myself wanting in many areas of my life. In a sense I was an "internal intimidator", with an ever changing cape, with a huge 'I' symbol in bold red, and outfit get up that was ripped and torn in so many places. I set about trying to "save" others while being totally out of control and causing much damage to my own self. I only felt strong when I donned "the cape"!!

     Truth is, I set about seeking my own path the moment I learned to crawl. And ever since that moment, I set out with my own set of goals, making my own plans, referring to the "blueprint" I designed instead of the "boldprint" of God's design. I overlooked the very thing that could set me on a path toward spiritual fulfillment. I was "sheepish" when it came to seeking, hearing and acting on God's vision for my life. (Baaaaa d pun I know). The careers I tried to follow, friendships made, family units, schools I attended, churches I tried to make my "home", obligations I felt I needed to make, life in general took center stage. I set instead down the path of making a living as a "wholesome" wife and mother, creating a "house" but not a home, a family that looked good from the porch steps and outward, but suffered greatly behind the closed, cold steel, brightly colored door.

     Shoved aside was the God created me. I instead buried my wants, dreams and talents in the back of my heart and minds closet. Perhaps I had heard too many "discouraging words", perhaps I thought others "knew" me more than I knew myself. Old "injuries" and debris being dumped and pressed tightly like a garbage truck on pick up day. Than anger started to make itself extremely comfortable in my "inner house", which set off a powder keg of emotions; discouragement, fear, resentment, fury, rage, irritation, being offended easily.

     The "new and unimproved" me set about fueled by flare ups, fumed over the littlest change, rolled eyes or smirk. I fretted like a hypochondriacs parrot, repeating the same ole hurt or offense I could react to. At times I would storm about breathing fire on anyone willing to "fan the flame". My blood boiled and hissed like a pressure cooker and took it's time cooling down but never falling to the completely cold inner core that was forming deep down inside. Even the outer me took on one of  an orey-eyed monster, red faced, flaming tongue, wildly fisting anyone who came near.
*taken from my journal 2 years ago: Wounds have left a hole in my heart. Some of the wounds are old and they make me angry. Some of the wounds are fresh and I'm hurt. Part of me is broken, and the other part is bitter. Part of me wants to cry, and part of me wants to fight. The tears I cry are hot because they are coming from my heart, and there a fire lies burning. It is the fire of anger! It's blazing! It's consuming! The flames leap sometimes steaming up a pot of revenge!
     I must make a decision: "Do I put the fire out or heat it up more? Do I get over it or should I get even? Do I release it or do I resent it? Do I let my hurts heal, or do I let my hurts turn into hate?" But does it or has it ever done any good? Has the resentment ever brought me any relief or peace? Does it or will it grant me any joy?
     I think... No, I know, it's time to allow the hole in my heart to heal.

     So for today, let me leave you with this, forth which the Holy Spirit guided; "Serving people for the sake of their gratitude is a guaranteed formula for disappointment. Someone will expect too much from you and accuse you of letting them down. The focus must not be on serving others or on being served. The focus must be on Jesus. We do not serve men; we serve God. Have no expectations of men. Look to Christ alone for gratitude. he will reward you for serving other; In fact, He is the reward. So ask yourself often, "are you serving others for the praise you will receive, or for the pure pleasure of serving Christ?"

Friday, April 18, 2014

Though He whispered "it is finished", It Is My New Begining

     When you have survived a series of storms the Bible says God will send someone to build you a fire to help you revive your heart and soul. When I woke this Friday morning, for the first time in a very long time, I felt the fire ignite and I knew that as I awoke from the nights beautiful slumber, God was fanning a flame in my soul and I heard Him say, "My daughter, it is time for you to be the fire starter. Arise and greet this morning with anew vigor and healing. The embers have laid dormant for too long. Time has come to help free the souls of others. Help to light their hearts and souls on fire once again. Every victim becomes a victor sometime in their life, and your time has come to help others win their race."

      So on this solemn afternoon of Good Friday, in remembering Jesus' heart wrenching words to His Father, and feeling the consuming ache of the feeling of being forsaken that I have all to often felt too, I hear Him whisper, "It is finished....", than he shed one tear, swallowed his last breath, closed his eyes and hung his bleeding and heavy head. I'm sure his heart exploded with such pain and yet with that pain came an outflowing of love. Love for them, you... me. I for one could not let his suffering and death for my sins, be in vain. This is my thanks and this is how I will commend Him.

      I love to paint pictures in other's minds with words. I ache to help other's through their burdens for then mine seem so light. I want to serve a purpose for the sufferings I have endured. Most of all, I want to free other's from the chains that had kept me a prisoner for most of my adult life. So through my life's story I pray you can come to; look up into the galaxies and touch the stars, be overcome with the love like that of looking into the eyes of a new born babe, or being able to close your eyes and smell and feel the salty droplets coming at you from the waves of the crashing sea. That when you hear the claps of thunder, the roar of a hungry lion, you have peace instead of fear. Or when in the silence of a country night the frogs stop to acknowledge the voice of God and all His power.

     No body can truly know what it costs to be you, the pain, the crosses you have carried, the meaning behind the scars... But remember this one thing and let me walk you back down this path, "Greater is HE that is in you, than he that is in this world." The only way these shallow waters will be able to drown you, is if you don't stand up in it to find, after all, the water is only ankle deep. And if you have been stuck in the " pitty pit", (if you look upon the walls there you can see my initials scratched there too!!), asking God why He allowed the "snake" to bite you, you will learn as I did that it is to show unbelievers and semi-believers the He CAN bring the bitten one out of the poison the has filled the veins.  The greatest difference between saints and sinners... the survival rate. Be that survivor! Throw all the rotted, dried, termite infested wood in a pile and let's light and burn that pile!!