Stuck in life’s cinders?

Cinderella is a fairytale that has caused many young girls to hope one day a true prince will rescue them and give life a happily ever after ending. Cinderella is a tale of a kind and young girl, bound to a life of grueling servitude, sitting in the cinders of the fireplace, under the rule of a mean step mum and two inept and spoiled stepsisters. Beautiful Cinderella is finally rescued by a handsome and rich prince who gives her the life of a princess. Problem is, freedom was always there for Cinderella.

Cindy, why’d it take you so long?

A few versions of the Cinderella story exist: the original mild version by Charles Perrault which focuses on Cinderella’s kind nature, that she is totally in capable of being mean, or the Brothers Grimm more gruesome tale where the older stepsister cuts off her own heel to fit the prized glass slipper and the younger stepsister saws off her own toes to fit. One tale has Cinderella’s father alive but under complete control of his new wife, so he never rescues Cinderella. In the other rendering the father is unfortunately, dead. Similarities of the two tales lie in Cinderella being kindhearted and doing whatever is bid her, like a little puppy seeking his master’s approval. Aren’t we all like this – seeking approval, acceptance, pleasing others, and attention seeking before we meet the one true Prince?

We go through life, maybe physically pretty, maybe not, maybe in a difficult life situation, or maybe not have a materialistic need in the world, and yet our heart searches for someone to help, we’re lonely, depressed, anxious. We make jokes about our caffeine and sugar addictions, always striving for something, someone to fill that ache, that hole in our soul. Pascal said it well when he said, “There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.” In Ecclesiastes 3:11 we read that God has set eternity in our hearts. We want to know him, although sometimes we aren’t aware that we want to.

 Cinderella’s days are full of grunge, dirt, and chores. The constant barrage of disparaging remarks and lack of any encouragement would leave even the strongest person anxious or depressed. But, Cinderella didn’t have to live that life. In Romans 1:18-21 we read that God has made plain to even the ungodly, what we can know about Him. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world; in the things that have been made so they are without excuse.  So, Cindy really had no reason to wallow in her self-imposed prison. God showed himself to her as he does to all of us, but she was too mired in her life circumstance she didn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t look up see him. Sound familiar?

Anyways, in the story, it takes a royal celebration and a couple of fantastic magical things to happen before the prince comes to rescue her. We know the story of the pumpkin carriage and the rat footmen and the fancy dress and the midnight curfew and of course that little glass slipper that lost its mate in Cindy’s rush to get home before the whole evening’s fantasy crashed down and she was back in the cinders again.

Even still, when the Prince searches for his future bride; the beauty who stole his heart and lost her shoe, and her family hides her away, Cindy really had every opportunity to step up and be courageous. (Joshua 1:9 be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.)  A sound, a cough and knock on a wall, something to reveal her presence was all that was needed.

Our own lives are sometimes sad, sometimes dangerous situations present themselves, and we may feel adrift in a stormy sea. But, Jesus, once seen, lovingly welcomes us. We are free to accept the gift of grace which is eternal. He is right there with us. He has promised he will never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5 – be satisfied with what you have, for God has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you”). EVER. (John 10:29 and no one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand.) He wants us to have a full and abundant life! (John 10:10) He died for that! (Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.)

But, Cindy, poor little Cindy, just sitting and waiting for the Prince to finally notice the glass slipper didn’t actually fit not just one sister but two, (I tend to think the blood from the heel and severed toes would be a giveaway, although why he didn’t notice it immediately, just shows that even the most important folks are sometimes not the smartest or most observant,)  before she had a go at the slipper and of course it was a perfect fit. She becomes His bride. And a Princess. Happy Ending.

We don’t have to cut off any part of any appendage to be Jesus’ bride. We don’t have to be born of the right station or have the right job or live in the right country. We don’t have to be the most beautiful, or the favorite anything. Our prince (Jesus) willingly gave his life because of God’s great love for us and desire to be with us as we once were. (John 3:16 God loved us so much he gave his one and only son to die for us so that we should not perish but have eternal life). We as believers are Christ’s bride. Ephesians 5 so well compares our marriage relationship here on earth with the one final relationship we will have in our eternal home.

If you are living the self–imposed prison life of our Cindy, be it physically, emotionally, or spiritually, then don’t wait for a flesh and blood prince to come rescue you.  The Bible says he’s already here; his name is Jesus, and he is waiting for you, all you have to do is say yes.

What Makes You Brave? OTHSO60

It’s Life On The Other Side of 60 LEARN edition.

It’s the scariest night of the year, Halloween. Celebrations range from sinister and evil while others – It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, for instance, are fun and light hearted. The sinister stuff is meant to scare and frighten. I like to be scared every now and then – when I know it’s going to last for only a moment and it’s not ‘real’ (although that is debatable, too).

There’s a different kind of being afraid. And that kind is when we let fear define who we are. That’s what I’m addressing on this The Other Side of Sixty – Life – Live Brave.

Once upon a time I lived in fear. Fear had me bound up tight. And, not just fear of on one or two things. FEAR defined me. I was afraid of heights. I was afraid of open waters – so much so that I would get seasick standing on a dock watching boats out on the water. Oftentimes I didn’t want to go anywhere, claiming I was pretty much a homebody, when actually I am an extrovert, but I was afraid people weren’t going to like me. I was afraid because much of the time I didn’t like myself. I was afraid that if someone saw ME, the real me, then it was over but the singing. I was afraid to try new things. I was afraid to try any activity that required me to perform in front of others : bowling, zip-lining, church soft-ball. And, I still have a problem testing out a new mattress in public. I probably could call myself a justified fearful person, because my looks and character were severly judged when I was younger. So, then, I COULD be a victim of that and justify my fearfilled life.

In fact, I wouldn’t actually call myself anything because I tried to not do any sort of introspection. I had zero desire, as an more mature person to try and figure out why I was afraid. I realized, at one point that I was dealing with all the fear and feelings by eating. Literally eating my emotions. . to the point I reached 216 pounds.

What changed me? I am not free from fear, no, but I am free from the fear of fear. Is that a head scratcher?? It’s come in stages: My soulmate, the Man…Lance. We’ve been together for 45 years. He is my best friend and my husband, and the love of my life. When we would go on vacation he wanted to try all the things. Things requiring doing new stuff in front of strangers. I caved most of the time, but can say I was so scared during some events (zip-lining in Jamaica for the first time for instance,) I didn’t enjoy the time. I simple wished the activity would end. Then on one occasion, where we were going on a cruise and spending a lot of extra money on shore excursions. There was a walk through Rome, seeing the coliseum etc, which he suggested we forgo the guided tour and go on our own. He had proven through our long relationship that he wouldn’t put me in danger, and would always protect me. So, I decided, to trust him and if he suggested we do something, then I was going to say yes. This Rome excursion is one of our most fun memories. We got a little lost, bought some paintings that were probably done in China, we got lost in a torrential rain storm, the staircases of ancient buildings suddenly become waterfalls and we we talked about the possibilities we might miss the ride back to the ship! But, in it all, we were laughing and having the best time! We bought souvenir sweatshirts and ate thick slices of pizza from a street a cart before getting on the ride back to the ship. All of this because I had decided, made a choice to trust the character of my love and just say yes.

2. When we lived in Australia, we made some wonderful friends…we call them fRamily. We are Nan and Pa to some of the kids. We shared our lives. One of the reasons for my fear, the fear that manifested in seeking people’s approval and wanting everyone to like and to never disappoint anyone. I believe, is the bullying that took place in my younger years. Some boys had taken to call me Frankie because I was so ugly, they said, that I looked like the monster Frankenstein. When it was picture day, they would tell the photographer that I had to go last because I was so ugly I would break the camera. When it was time for us to move to the US from Canada, one of them left a copy of the Ugly American on my desk. I carried the destruction they wrought on my spirit for years. I was fearful. I believed their lies. Then, in Australia, one of our friend’s daughter’s had a lovely daughter. They named her Frankie…because in their native language Frankie meant beautiful. I decided that I would replace the broken Frankie meaning with this new one. And, there was a freedom. Then, I was given a painting of a woman, holding high an open cage with birds flying to freedom.

3. Ultimately though, it’s Jesus. When life is totally given over to Him….fear still creeps in, but you have the assurance that you’re not alone. He is the all in my all. If you don’t know Him, I am happy to introduce you! Fear shows itself in a variety of ways: anxiety, anger, crying, depression. But, know this…every fear, anxiety, anger whatever, you bring to Him, only secures our choice to trust Him. The bible assures us numerous times that God is always with us, has gone before us and will never leave us. We are told that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. You can have that assurance too.

Recommended podcast : The Bema Podcast (a discipleship/evangelism podcast.)

Recommended devotional: Nobody Left Out: Jesus Meets the Messes by Michael Murray

Recommended song: Brave by Moriah Peters

The Other Side of 60 Continued

As we continue on the LIST, I’m particularly drawn to : Life. Let’s just say up front that for me to think that a person could address all of life things in one single podcast or blog, is absurd. So I’m not going to. I’m going to share what I’m learning in my life at the moment. For me, Life On the other side of 60 can seem a little shady. I have a tendency to look back at what could have been, and then look forward to what might be- either with hope or anxiety. Depends on the day.

Looking back. We got married way too young. I was 17 and he was 18 and he was fresh out of Marine Corps boot camp. We didn’t elope, it’s just that no one could make it to the wedding. We got married at nine o’clock at night at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel on the Las Vegas strip. It’s interesting that our actual wedding took place like this, the two of us without support, except for his Marine Corps mates, who honestly, were more interested in going to Vegas than our wedding. We’ve kind of lived this way our entire marriage. This year, we celebrated 43 years of marriage – 45 years together. It’s been sweet and at times, sour. There have been brilliant adventures and scary events. We’ve lost our parents. We both wanted a large family, but after numerous miscarriages we thought maybe God had other planes for us. But, our love kept us going.

This most recent move back from Australia to Texas marked our 34th address change since we’ve wed. I say we have itchy feet. Maybe some gypsy in our souls. The two things have allowed us to always see our way to each other: 1) Jesus. We are both devoted Jesus followers and He comes first in everything. 2) forgiveness. I forget who said it, but someone said that marriage is just two broken people forgiving each other. And, that in a nutshell is us.

Every now and again though, the one thing the Enemy whispers in my ear is my lack of education. A high school diploma doesn’t go far when you’re looking for a job. It’s long been a barb he poked and twisted in my esteem. It used to really bother me, but spending time with my adult children who are also our friends and who walk with Jesus, along with their spouses. (I refer to the spouses as my children, too, but people get confused.) I know we made the right choices in the early years. We have 15 grandchildren, who of course are fabulous and wonderful and beautiful. (and our fulfillment of the dream to have a big family! Some of that is because I wasn’t chasing an education in Josh and Jen’s formative years. Lance was working, studying making a way for our family to be secure and stable. Teamwork! That’s us~

Although I understand all this, …education or lack of, raised it’s head again last week. I was having all kinds of doubts about the blog and the podcast and what’s the point…and I picked up A.W. Tozar’s book on the Holy Spirit. He says, “How did God use someone as uneducated as me? I never finished the 8th grade. I never went to Bible College or Seminary. I was the least educated person God could select to use for His honor and glory. This brings me to the point that God does not choose us for who we are, or how qualified we are, but for who He is and what He is permitted to do in our lives.” Talk about a balm to my soul. I knew this already. Lance refers to it as being F.A.T. faithful, available, teachable. But in the long days and short years of this life, that had been buried. Reading this theologian speak what I think was amazing. So, I told the Enemy there’s no fortress for him here and in Jesus name he should go.

Looking forward: What I’m learning in Life On The Other Side of 60 means not wasting time on trivial stuff. It means earnestly seeking Jesus first thing in the morning, through the day and before I sleep at night. It means forgiving, forgiving, forgiving. It means loving first because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19) It means looking beyond the impossible to see the possible (Luke 1:37) through Jesus. Life on the other side of 60 means applying long ago learned truths to TODAY. Like F.A.T. and another one: put faith in the facts and the feelings will follow for days when I can’t see Him or hear Him. I have faith that his promises are just as real on my worst day as they are on my best day, because my faith is in him and not me or my feelings. I now see how good it is to take myself out of strained situations and regard others more important than me. (Philippians 3:2) Yet, this one remains challenging for me; it’s not necessary to attend every argument I’m invited to, nor is it necessary to be able to check the win column on my scoresheet because there is no more score sheet.

I’m learning that life is not supposed to be a feel good paradise. Often I would get frustrated with God because I was faithfully presenting my wish list to him, yet most of it wasn’t happening. Where was he? Then when hard times came, and things didn’t go as I planned, I thought he had abandoned me. But, now I see that’s WRONG! When the hard times come and the struggles come, I think He’s using that to show me His grace. Paul David Tripp says that ,”This present life is meant by God to be a time of preparation for our eternal home. ” I reckon now, if there are no struggles or challenges in my life, then I aught to search myself and see what’s going on or not going on. Another good Paul Tripp truth is that when we pray, it shouldn’t be us presenting a list of demands to him for his signature at the bottom, but rather, us presenting him a blank sheet of paper which we have already signed at the bottom, fully anticipating what He reveals.

We should always remember, that He is the same as he was yesterday, is today, and will be tomorrow. (Hebrews 13:8) His promises are faithful and true. (Colossians 1:27). Before I say the end, I’d like to ask a favor. I really enjoying feedback, and I appreciate when folks tell me if what I’ve said is nonsense or helpful. I’m going to keep doing them because I feel His urging to do so. Maybe someone just needs to read/hear that they are not alone in whatever they are going through. Maybe someone needs to be reminded we’re all flawed and on one is perfect. ( None. Nope, not even your favorite Pastor or Celebrity pastor.)

If you’d like to ask a question or ask for prayer, please do it. Would love for this to be more than a one way street.

Resources for this one:

Devotional : Restoration Year devotional by John Eldredge

Song: Good God Almighty – Crowder

Podcast: Living in Post-Christian America

AFTERTHOUGHTS

When I wrote this the complete and utter failure by the American government in Afghanistan had not yet taken place. I ask that you keep those who were left behind by the Biden/Harris administration (along with millions dollars of equipment) in prayer. Well, don’t keep the actual equipment in prayer, just the use of it, or the return of it. I’m reading online that the Afghan Church is still alive, despite being hunted. Please pray for Afghanistan.

Listening (TOSOF60)

Could be because I have no idea what I’m doing, and partly because the words don’t come or they come too fast, but I have really struggled to get this second podcast done. Let me just say life is chaotic right now. And, it has been for a few years. Instead of looking for a significant word that will define my year (Hope, Love, Yes) mine has been more of a theme. And, this last five years….”it is what it is.” Most times I can hear God’s voice in the chaos of life, but more often than not it’s the Enemy’s voice who comes first. I reckon it’s because his voice is accusing, lying, berating, quick and LOUD. In this in between world, that resonates most with me. Maybe you, too? I don’t understand it, but it is what it is.

I read once that the person you have the most conversation with on a daily basis is you. Constantly, throughout the day we’re feeding our selves information. It’s not neccesairly the truth either, could be true, could be lies. We are either openly or unknowingly listening to the enemy, who by the way, has only hated humans since they were created, first and If you’re like me, you have to STOP to hear the voice of God.

The voices battling for prominence during my day are: mine, God’s and Satan’s. There is a battle. (see Ephesians 6) But, we -God and I will win. To be able to move beyond lazy listening….there’s a process for me.

When I’m a lazy listener, I will remain, or maybe become , more defeated and depressed. The first ‘thing’ that comes into my head is what I go with. And, for whatever reason, it’s usually an unhealthy thing. Lazy listening brings with it a defeatist attitude that would be easy to sink into. Like a mud pit. The Bible challenges us in a few areas about listening – lazy or otherwise. (This is why it’s important for me to get back in the habit of memorizing scripture! So it’s in my heart and I don’t have to go to the phone or my bible). In Hebrews 4:12 it says, His powerful word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to LISTEN and OBEY.

If we are Jesus’s followers, we should have great hope that he himself has said, he is our shepherd and he KNOWS us, and we KNOW him and KNOW his voice. (John 10:27) At the end of this great promise from him he says, No one can steal them (his sheep – us) out of his hand! So, no matter how loud the enemy roars, no matter what he says, it has no other power than what we listeners give him.

Here’s what I’ve learned to listen to God:

Be quiet, be still, be intentional. Colossians 4:2 – Devote yourselves to prayer with an ALERT mind and a thankful heart. Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God. It’s going to take building not just on our faith, but our time.

Talk less. Proverbs 15:28 – The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking. Also, it’s hard to talk when you’re listening.

Be honest in your relationship with God. This is kind of a challenging one for me. In the book of John Jesus says he goes before his sheep and his sheep follow him, because he knows his sheep and they know his voice. (see John 10: 1-17) In verse 4 He says, After he has gathered his own flock, (talking about the shepherd who has collected his sheep from the protected group of sheep behind a gate) he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.

Ask questions: one of the most challenging things for me is to move beyond religious speak and ask exaclty where I am in my relationship with Him. Is it close? Am I honest with Him? Have I asked Him to search me and show me my wrongs so I can be redeemed? Uh, usually the answer is no. My spiritual muscles of listening, learning, loving etc are getting stronger but I’m a long way from where I need to be. It’s painful to ask these questions, and to listen to the answers and to DO SOMETHING to change, but our beautiful God, who loves us so much, is mercifully grace filled when He answers. He promised He would never leave us or forsake us and in this promise, we can confidently go to Him with all our ickness and sin and questions.

In addition to these things, I would love to give some resources that have absolutely helped me in my journey on the other side of 60. (Landed on 61 this month!)

Daily Devotional: New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp.

Music: I listen to the Apple contemporary music playlist which is often updated. But, my favorites are Mercy Me, Big Daddy Weave and Crowder.

Podcasts: Y’all…this is an easy one: The Brant and Sherrie Oddcast. My number one podcast that I eagerly look forward to.

Ok. Hope I made sense. Y’all be blessed and thanks for listening.

Fairy Floss Faith or Mustard Seed Faith

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Cotton candy (U.S., India, Canada), candy floss, or candyfloss (UK, Ireland, New Zealand, India and South Africa), or fairy floss (Australia) is a form of spun sugar. Since it comprises mostly air, a small initial quantity of sugar generates a tremendously greater final volume, causing servings to be physically large and voluminous. A typical serving on a stick is approximately 1 ounce/30 grams. (Wikipedia)

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The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” and the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. (Luke 17:6)

I’ve noticed a trend recently where strong faith, built on a firm foundation is being disregarded for a more superficial feel good kind of thing. The sort that is not really built with a small grain of mustard seed, which is small, tough, and prolific in its growing, but rather the sweet fluff of fairy floss. Light and wispy, nicely colored and sugary sweet.

What triggered my concern was a little meme I saw. It said, “Jesus doesn’t care how many bible verses you have memorized. He cares how you treat people,” this time instead of a quick chuckle and moving on, I paused because this meme is spreading a dangerous concept. How the devil must delight in this sort of thing! I reckon he’s not immune to using social media to twist and pervert God’s words, or mislead God’s kids. Am I a little too tightly strung? I really don’t think so.

While it’s true that Jesus does care about how we treat people, it is also very true that we, as his kids, must know his Word. So one does not have to be exclusive of the other. In fact, the two should go hand in hand.

I know some folks like to wield the word like a, (well, I was going to say sword, but it is indeed the sword of the spirit, Ephesians 6:17), so we’ll say instead hammer to hit a point home, and sometimes Jesus’ grace, mercy and love is entirely missing. But, we can’t let some people’s bad behavior prevent us from knowing Him completely.

To know Him is to know his WORD. Jesus himself quoted scripture when Satan, in the wilderness, tempted him:   Matthew 4:3 – During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But, Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, People do no live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”  Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the highest point of the temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a  stone.'” Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.'”  (Matthew 4:5) Next, the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  “ I will give you it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him, “For the Scriptures say, ‘ You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.'”  (Matthew 4:8-10).  And the result? Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus. Matthew 4:11 (NLT)

So that’s a whole lot of Jesus answering Satan with the Word. Does this mean we should do the same? Yes! Consider the Psalm 119:11, “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Finishing with Psalm 119:16 “I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.” These two verses indicate the Word is important to have so well learned that we won’t forget them.

We all know the most famous verse for memorizing his Word; Deuteronomy 6:5-7 -‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and will all your might. And, you must commit yourselves whole heartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talks about then when you are home and when you are on the road, when you are getting up and when you go to bed.’ How’s this going to happen if you’re just tripping along in your walk with him feeling good and treating others nicely? How will you determine the true needs of yourself and others if you don’t know how to apply His Word to your life or to their life? There’s hope, peace, love, truth, life and rest in His Word; you do yourself a huge wrong if you don’t know it.

A recent twitter from a famous Christian author said, “God is not surprised when hard times hit, he is surprised when you quit.” Really? God is taken by surprise when I do something? Well, maybe the author didn’t know about Joshua 3:1-15, which tells us that God is already in our tomorrows. And, Jeremiah 29:11- “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and hope.”, or, Romans 8:28 -“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” How can we surprise Him if he has it all worked out? The trouble is we too often go to popular authors works instead of going to the Word to get our doctrine and our answers, and the problem with that is – Authors are wholly human. God is not.

I had a conversation once with a sister-in-him who was struggling with a life issue. After talking and searching the word, we prayed, and she quoted something she had read from a book called, “Jesus Calling.” I had never heard of this book, but even if I had, I would still have advised her to go to the Word. Her response? “I don’t know how to read the Word.” Really? If you know how to read a book, you know how to read THE book. And are directed to do so. In Acts 17:11 – ” And, the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.”

God gave us a book full of direction, hope, and love so that we could survive in this temporary life. It is a love letter to us. Maybe because the days of getting a hand written letter in the mail is long gone we don’t really appreciate what this means. But, even still, getting an email from a loved one is often received with joy and read repeatedly. We eagerly read to see what the person’s been up to, what they think, what they want, how they feel. The same should be for the Word of God.

I’m afraid if we don’t know the Word we’ll be like the man who built the house on the sand and when the storms of life wail against us our house (we) will fall. Or as Ephesians 4:14 says -‘Then we will no longer be immature children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth’.

Jesus says that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed (which is about the size of a pinhead), we can tell a tree to uproot itself and plant itself somewhere else and it will, and we can tell a mountain to move and it will, but if we don’t know his word, have it planted in our hearts and minds, how will we have such a strong faith?

Fairy floss faith requires nothing more than sugary sweet thoughts, and performing warm loving acts and deeds. We eagerly believe each ‘big author’ that puts out a Christian book or a podcast which can lead to spiritual  stomachaches and soul cavities from the overly sweet fodder.

Yes, it is important to show His grace, mercy and love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 it says, ”Three things last forever-faith, hope, and love -and the greatest of these is love.” Let’s strive to have a full and rich journey with Him, knowing His Word while loving those in this temporary world.

Linda Mae Baldwin

Baldwinacres

Be still and know … and then what?

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It’s April,  May, 2019. In January,2019 I attempted to write what God had impressed on my heart for 2019. What word He was giving me for this year.  For the past three years the phrase for the year has been, ‘it is what it is.”  The only thing I was sure of this time was that wasn’t the phrase. But, what WORD was it? Still wasn’t sure in February, or March. Then I got an inkling that maybe my word for the year was JOY. Or in a phrase – Choose Joy. Life events collided and seemed to make that word and that phrase a feat of incredible fortitude and strength.

Come and muse along with me…: In January I was finishing up my school bus driving career of approximately three months. Honestly, I wasn’t sure why God had directed me to drive a bus. I totally killed the written tests and the driving tests, so good in fact that my trainer was using me as an example of an excellent driver and encouraging others to follow my lead. Yet, I was a little hesitant. Seems I was right to be.

My first time out on my own I took down a carport parking structure with the bus’s big right mirror, while maneuvering out of the way of an oncoming speeding car – and while my supervisors and trainer blamed the incident on the non-assistance of my assistant and the other car, I knew it was ultimately my responsibility. At one point I got lost with very spirited kindergartners on the bus….while they flipped over the backs of seats and ran up and down the aisle, I missed a turn on the route sheet and got completely lost. We weren’t allowed to us a gps or a cell phone, and I had zero idea where I was, so I kept driving. I didn’t venture far…mostly driving in a big square, but soon the kiddos were yelling things like, “where are you taking us?’, ” I wanna go to school”, “we’re lost”, “can we go to the pool?” Finally, I pulled over and gathered them up by me and told them I was lost and needed their help. We needed some good team work…they changed, “team work, team work!” I looked up their school in my phone and using team work,  they were going to tell me if the phone was telling me the right way to go. If I had been previously familiar at all with the area I would have known I had only to make my square one block shorter to arrive at their school. We walked up to the door, they hugged my legs before going to class. I explained to the teacher what had happened and she, bless her, was more concerned about the kids wayward behavior than the lateness of us getting to school. She said she knew I was obviously intelligent and I would get them there. Driving home that day I was sure I should quit. It was then the anxiety attacks and insomnia set in.

On my route I had a particularly challenging middle school group. They were mostly ESL kiddos living in a big trailer park and hotels by our Costco. Some of them didn’t understand English and unfortunately I don’t speak Spanish. Some were very loud and just as mobile. The turning point  for this group came when we left school in the pm and one of the students dropped onto the aisle and sat there. On the floor. I was  at the stop light and told her to get back in her seat. She didn’t move. She probably didn’t understand me. The light turned green and the kids screamed – “Go! Go!”. I calmly told them I couldn’t go until everyone was safe in a seat and asked her to please sit in a seat. She didn’t move. The kids continued to yell- “go, go”. I repeated that I couldn’t go until everyone was in a seat. They yelled a few insults and called me some not very nice names….I explained that I couldn’t go until everyone was safe  and I could stay there all night if need be. The light turned red. Then green again. “GO!GO! We want to go home!” To which I replied, “me, too! Everyone get in a seat and we can.” The other kids turned on the aisle sitter and said, “she’s not kidding, get in the seat.” (There was also a lot of Spanish but I have no idea what they were saying.)

All this this time, I cried, a lot. And I have such an ugly cry face. Seriously, it scares children and small animals. Finally, the compilation of driving the bus, but getting lost, no GPS, unruly kids and very little disciplinary aids available, Lance and I decided I should quit. I prayed a lot about it, because I was sure, initially, I was preparing myself for what God had prepared for me – to be a bus driver, but the anxiety was so overwhelming…it was untenable.

My resignation was refused. My supervisors were kind and explained away all my problems so that nothing was actually my fault…(while that feels good, I know that a portion of the issues were indeed on me.) After my refused resignation they put me on a different route. It was in a suburban area where the garages are in the back of the houses so everyone parks in the streets. It was like driving down a very narrow alley. One day I squeezed down a street and I moved slightly to the right to let a car pass (when you’re driving the bigger vehicle, don’t be polite. It’s always easier for the smaller to move out of the way. ) I sideswiped a parked truck and took out his extended mirror. I was devastated. When I got back to the depot, my boss asked a trainer to go out with me and review some driving strategies. We drove my route and came up on the road construction. He asked if I told the bus depot about the construction. I said, “No. Was I supposed to??” He replied yes. ( Even thought the truck and I had met blocks over). I have nothing but good things to say about those supervisors. They wanted me to succeed in the best way.

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Be anxious for NOTHING. I knew the scripture well, but anxiety was having a hay day with my brain and heart while I struggled with should I quit or not…or be an assistant….I had some heart troubles and ended up in the ER. I and the folks at work, were attributing the heart discomfort to the stress. But, a subsequent visit to a cardiologist and the testing showed some blockage.  And, with this news, my sweet boss accepted my resignation.

The very next week I received a call from Home Depot asking for an interview. I had applied to Home Depot a year earlier. I had worked for them before we moved to Australia and really wanted to go back to them, but they hadn’t called. I was hired and started the next week in the gardening department.

I love working at Home Depot. I love the interaction with customers and the management at my Home Depot is excellent. From the store manager on down, I feel like I matter.  Come see me at the Wiley, Texas store!

The heart thingie still exsists. I have been on new meds, had some new tests that revealed new stuff and I am scheduled for an angiogram which will reveal if I need a stunt or not.

So, as God does, He chose this time to have me move into a position I NEVER thought I’d have…Back Up BOOK KEEPER! (When I was about in the third grade I developed a real nemesis with the maths.) But, I am determined to accept all that God puts before me.

God keeps laying out the challenges and I keep trusting and hitting them head on….but I wonder, honestly, what is He preparing me for?

First, drive a bus. Pass all the challenging tests, get a job, then FAIL….and next?Get a job you love. Do it for two months and get ‘promoted’ to the vault as a part time book keeper (aka a career I AVOIDED at all costs) and for what??

Well I guess we will see! The Man said a couple of weeks ago that God is preparing me for something He has prepared for me.

My heavenly Father is a GOOD GOOD FATHER and I will trust and try and love everyone to Him as I go along.

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Gypsy feet are on the move again,but the body resists.

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Just about this time, one year ago, God moved us to Australia, again. We arrived thinking we would be here for a long time. We bought a car that we could explore this magnificent country in, some nice furniture that would last awhile, and signed a lease into the next year. Now, all that has changed.

We are heading back to America (to live in Texas this time) and find ourselves doing another international move in the span of 12 months. I truly believe God has it all handled and all the pieces will fit into the move puzzle, but my body seems to have not recieved the memo. Everything hurts. Sleep is elusive. The gut is acting up big time. Frustrating! Every night after four hours of restless sleep, I get up, achy, stiff, sore. My mind wants to start the day, tackle the chore list, start the decluttering but my body stumbles to the recliner and if not for some vigorous self talk would stay there. I feel like I am living that scripture in Matthew – “the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” or as the Message puts it, “there is a part of you that is eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.” That’s me – an old dog sleeping by the fire (but there’s no fire).  Mostly, though, this old dog wants to sleep.

In the years from 2010-2014 we were active folk. We did skydiving, scuba diving, hiking, biking, and all manner of exploring. From 2014-2016 we had our little hobby farm and had our family close. Although we didn’t see the adult kids that often, we did entertain the grands on many occasions. Then we moved back here. But the year, 2016 was stress filled, too…unemployement, a new job full of uncertainty and then the move back to Australia. Then 2017 brought new changes to the new job, and the realization that our plans to buy a house here etc, wouldn’t come to fruition. More stress. But, all along my walk with Jesus grew closer. I heard the Spirit more clearly, when I read the Word, things seems very evident, no mystery. So, why can’t my body catch up with the Spirit?

I reckon this is where intentional living comes to play. Managing all aspects of life. What we eat. What we drink. How we move our bodies. How we interact with others. When we sleep. What we nourish our brains with. What we feed our spirit with. I feel like I already do most of it, but probably lazy in some areas. Honestly, the thought of doing any more tires me. But, it’s necessary.

So, how’s your walk through this temporary world going?? How can you change things? or are you ok with the way things are? Is your subconscious reacting one way, while your spiritual life seems to be another? Why? God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear but of courage and power and a stable mind, so don’t be afraid of changing things. Don’t fear diving into why you may be having trouble sleeping, exercising, or any questions of life in general. No worries. His desire is for  you (and me) to have a rich and satisfying life! (John 10:10 NLT).

 

 

 

Do kookaburra count as farm animals?

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It’s been seven months since we made the move down under. For the most part it’s been good. Actually, compared to the first move down here in 2010 it’s been FABULOUS. Interesting fact: it’s as if the Man and I have swapped personalities since last time. When we moved here in 2010 I was very sad and it took me about six months to settle in.  He, however, was super happy, and excelled at this work. This time around, I’ve settled in quite nicely but he struggles. But, I digress.

When you move from one continent to another, you expect that things will be challenging, that you will miss the familiar and your heart will ache for your family. What I didn’t expect was how much I miss the small hobby farm that was Baldwin Acres.

Here in Oz, we are awakened by a cacophony of bird noise. Can’t say it’s songs because there seems to be much anger in some of it. A family of kookaburra live in the big gum tree behind our house. They share this space with some Common Miners and some little birds that I can’t identify.  Every morning the kookaburra engage in seemingly heated exchange. Is someone stumbling in late? Did they run out of geckos for breakfast? Who knows. Maybe it is the language of love in kookaburraeeze, whatever the cause, it is very loud in the morning. And, annoying. On Baldwin Acres with a few roosters in residence, it was loud in the morning as well. But, a little calmer loudness. I miss that.

I didn’t think I would miss the animals so much. Not just the sound of the rooster, but the bleat of the sheep and the strange noise the goats made. I miss being greeted by everyone when it was feeding time. They were all ranging free so even when I was just out tooling around they were eager to see me. Nudging my leg, nibbling my shirt hem. smelling my boots. I miss the way our very large sow, Olive, would leaning against my shins until I scratched at her side until she flopped down and exposed her belly for more rubs. I miss Bob, our male goat, who followed the Man around the same way our boxer Remus did. I miss fresh eggs and waiting with broody hens for their charges to hatch.

I don’t miss the sometimes rough odor, or all the poop. There was a lot of poop. I am not sure why that took me aback because obviously every living thing does…but so.much.poop. was really unexpected. I don’t really miss trimming hooves or chasing curious wayward pigs back through the woods to the house. I don’t miss when the little chicks, or tiny piglets for whatever reasons, didn’t make it. But, I do miss them. All of them.

We go back and forth here about rescuing a dog or a cat. Which of course would be lovely, but seriously, they’re no pig or chicken. How could such a small farm make me so attached?

It’s not only the animals I miss, it’s the orchard with plums, pears, cherries and apples. The garden with lettuces, kale, tomatoes, squashes, onions, garlic, herbs, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, beans, peas, carrots..all fresh and ready to be eaten right from the picking. I miss the feeling of accomplishment achieved when we were able to eat, can, butcher, gather, all the things our own hands produced. God richly blessed us.

So now, what to do? I have a small plot and a patio tower in which I am growing I pepper, basil, aloe, lettuces, tomatoes, herbs, not the same as the raised beds, but still getting my hands in the dirt and freshness in my belly is amazing.

We’re in the waiting phase right now. Waiting on God to show us where we go next. He has already set the path before us, but right now it’s difficult to see. As we wait on Him, and seek His will, we will enjoy the memories of what was,  relish the moments that are now and expectantly look forward what will be.

Daily visits from the kookaburra’s and patio produce, will keep Baldwin Acres busy until then.

 

 

 

 

Baldwin Acres is a state of mind.

For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33

 

For the two + years we lived at Baldwin Acres we were blessed.

Now, we face a new journey, one that will take us back to the land down under. Last time we lived there, 2010-2013 was like a three year vacation. I had just turned 50 and really doubted God was calling us to that place. But He was and evidenced by the friendships that still remain, and the spiritual growth I experienced, He was correct. We were adventurous and discovered much about the land, people and ourselves. However, this time, we reckon things will be a little different.

We are familiar with Australia and we understand the nuances that last time sent me to weeping. (No Tide detergent?! How will I survive?) We have, what we call, fRamily, waiting for us there, so there won’t be that vast space of emptiness we experienced last time. This time we know we want a piece of land, raise animals, and we intend to treat this time as living there and not a vacation. Last time we knew we would be there for three years, this time we’re not so sure how long we will be there.

People thinks it’s strange that we are moving back there, so far from family and all that is comfortable for us. We do have 13 grandchildren who will be in America  without us. But, in the three years we were here, we spent little time with them, in fact, I believe we spent more quality time with everyone when we came home from Australia  for a three week summer vacation. Do you know, with a family with six kids and a family of seven kids, those families are very busy?!?! In my head I understand the busy timetables but in my heart I want all their time with me and why can’t it be?( I have expressed this thought to a few other grandmas and they feel the same way, too. But, we refuse to be ‘that’ grandma who forces company via guilt. How awkward is that going to be? )

All lives change and move forward. Familiar relationships are very fluid and I love it that way. I certainly don’t want that to change that. Fluid is much better than stagnant. At certain times of their adult lives, we’ve been closer to our daughter than our son, or our son than our daughter. Yet, we always are  immensely proud of both of them and their spouses  and we completely get their schedules. So we encourage when needed, we attend sports events when able, we even bought the dreaded iPhone so we can have FaceTime with the grand’s. Not an easy purchase when you work for Microsoft.

Today, when chatting with my sister, she expressed how much she would miss me, and I agreed. But to put it in perspective I am moving not dying. And, yes, I am moving very far away, but they have the wold wide web there, too.

Living on Baldwin Acres enriched my life and the grandkids lives, too. We were exposed to situations that both challenged and refreshed us. I reckon that will continue in Oz.

We follow where Jesus leads us, (you can read previous blog posts to see how that works), and yes, it’s been a struggle. 2016 brought with it unexpected unemployment, surgeries, estrangements, illness, and a whole lot of other ailments. But, when I practice spiritual breathing: Breathe in Jesus, and breath out (name a thing here: anger) breath in Jesus, breath out – fear. Breathe in Jesus, breath out discord, breath in Jesus, breath out anxiety, breath in Jesus, breath out envy…well you get the picture. As long as it takes to breath it all out is what you should be prepared for. Sometimes, it’s a little as five minutes, sometimes longer. You might think, who has time to do that? The thing is,  as long as we are alive  we are always breathing so it adds nothing to your schedule. Keeping our heart and spirit focused on God makes all the difference.

Until then, thanks for reading and commenting and get prepared for some more adventures from the folks, who for now live not physically, but mentally, on Baldwin Acres.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter is not my favorite season.

Except for Christmas, winter is not my favorite season. I think we must be on day 427 in a row of rain and gray skies. The back pasture has flooded at least twice. The pig sty looks like,well, a pig sty.  The damp coolness plays and pokes at my joints and muscles, and my hair is in constant need of a hat. Winter and I do not get along.

When you don’t get along with something you can either live in misery and complain about the situation, which admittedly I do from time to time, or you can look for the good. the old making lemonade out of lemons idea.

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Snow on Baldwin Acres

This winter scene is pretty. Snow makes the scenery a little more beautiful. This is our raised garden and small orchard area. This doesn’t fit into my winter blah scenario because it is lovely, lasts only a while, and allows a little respite in activity.

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This is a close up one of the garlic beds. The white stuff is not snow. They are ice spikes. We had so many days of freezing cold and rain, that these ice spikes adorned all our vegetation.

DSC_0009Here is a picture that sort of shows the mess I’m referring to in the back pastures. The tractors have stopped work for a while, because the ground is boggy. The area is spotted with puddles and little streams of water. To the left of the barn is the pig sty, in the barn is our supply of alfalfa and our livestock nursery. Currently Pork is housed in there, waiting to give birth to little piglets. To the right of the barn is the feeding area. There’s a tub for grain and an alfalfa feeder on the wall. We recently spread a ton of rocks in this area because the continual traffic of the  livestock (Jacob sheep and kinder/Nubian goats)  really has churned up the mud. A person (me) could (has) get stuck in that muck.

When it rains, if you’re not out in it, not mucking out poop, or tending to animals, but maybe just observing the landscape, it can take your breath away. Or at least let you appreciate God’s creation.

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These beautiful water fowl (ducks) take advantage of the winter pond. This area completely dries up in the spring and summer. But, it’s a nice treat to see wild birds taking a little rest here.

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And, finally, I will appreciate the wet, mucky, season because without it there would be no spring. There would be no dormant time for the earth to recover, and the seeds to die, so when the spring sun warms the soil and dries the seasonal puddles and streams, we can grow healthy non- pesticide laden food and new livestock will be born. There is great contentment in the weariness at the end of a long homestead labored day.

The Bible attests to the need for seasons. Seasons not just for our homestead schedules, but also for our lives. Ecclesiastes 3:

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

2-8 A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.(The Message)

I’m trying my best to live in each season. Because in the season is where we find life, purpose and hope.