Monday, December 16, 2013

My Christmas List ...

Every year, for the last 7 years, I have made a list of 3 things that I want for Christmas.  Not things that can be bought ... or wrapped to be placed under the tree.  Three intangible things ... things that stir the spirit and cause my heart to leap with joy ... gifts that bring
the meaning of Christmas home.

I generally make my list early in December ... with the caveat that they will materialize by
New Year's Eve.  So far ... I haven't been let down or disappointed.

Everything about this Christmas is different.  And plans keep changing on a daily basis.  For real,
I thought I had already experienced all of the disjointed, dysfunctional holidays one could imagine.  Looks like there are a few more of them lurking around in ole Santa's bag.

Yesterday I realized that I hadn't made my list yet ... and I was running out of time.  It's important to allow enough time ... because generally my list is made up of things that aren't clearly defined ... or exactly easy.

It's ok.  God assures me time and time again that He's up to the challenge!

So all through the morning I pondered the possibilities.  After quite a bit of brainstorming, I came up with several things that seemed appropriate for this season.

For weeks, I had been planning to attend a different church on this particular Sunday.  There was a very special Christmas service planned ... it was going to be quite a production ... with lots of fabulous music.  And I really thought it was where I wanted to be.  God had
something else in mind.

We missed our time at Grace last week due to the ice storm.  It's very unsettling to Jessi & Donald to have their routines disrupted that way.  And I knew that the idea of going to a "different" church ... even though it's one that is very Jessi-friendly ...  was going to cause them some disappointment.

On the way to pick them up, I decided ... or maybe God decided for me ... that rather than let them down somehow ... the thing to do was to go on to Grace ... and forgo the special Christmas service.

As I settled in my seat, I decided to put my Christmas list on paper.  I opened my journal and wrote the following 3 things:

~ a little awe & wonder
~ a change of heart
~ an overwhelming of hope & healing

I chuckled as I wrote them out like that ... thinking ... there you go, God ... sure hope it's not too much to ask this year.

The service started. Del wasn't there.  It was shared that he had a very special baptism that morning ... a grandson in Texas.  I had to smile.  Obviously, I am not the only one who puts BIG things on their list.

So today the music and the message were going to be provided by two young men ... who always amaze me with their passion & purpose ... because I remember them as boys struggling to find their way.

There was no BIG production.  Or fancy backdrops.  Or anything like that.  As a matter of fact, at times, the worship music faltered a little and it wasn't always easy to sing along.  That's what happens when there worship is led from the heart ... and not practiced over and over until it's perfect.

It was real ... and genuine ... and exactly what my heart needed to prepare it for the rest of the day ... the rest of the season.

Then came the message.  Drew speaks to us from time to time ... when Del's not around. He is always sharing a truth that is working on his own heart.

He opened with a simple prayer ... that he asked us all to pray individually ...

Show me something new, Lord.

I sighed.  And prayed right along with him ... the something new prayer.  Then my heart whispered ... Show me you are near.

Drew fidgeted a little there on the platform.  He's always a little nervous ... until he gets started ... then the good stuff just comes pouring out.

Taste The Wonder

That's what he said he was going to talk about this morning.  I sat up a little straighter so I wouldn't miss anything.

There was something up on the screen ... as he continued to speak. It said something about the "Awh and wonder".   I had to smile ... as I did a double-take.  No way it actually said that ... it had only been minutes since I wrote those very words down.

,.. and the whisper came ... "Seriously, MaryJane, how much time did you really think I would need?!?"

Life has a way of beating the awe and wonder out of us.  That's what Drew said ... and he's right.   He went on to say that God did not intend for us to be spectators in our own lives.  Drew had a lot of powerful things to share. (It's worth a listen ... Taste The Wonder)

Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the Lord is good.

Taste ... means here .. and now.  Living in the moment.

Living in the moment is somewhere God has been leading me throughout this year of changes & transitions.  Woven into Drew's message were the themes of a changed heart ... that bears the fruit ... that comes from ... TASTING ... the goodness of God.

It was very cool.  God tapped into my "awe & wonder" idea ... it was His way of letting me know He was near ... showing off a little with the whole answered prayer thing.

Drew was on a roll.  Overwhelmed, he said.  It's one thing to be right ... it's another thing to be overwhelmed.

His words ... took my breath away.

God does what He's got to do .. to interrupt our lives ... so that we may SEE the awe of Him.

"A little awe & wonder, MaryJane?!?" chuckled my best friend God, Creator of the Universe affectionately. "Get ready ... for something new!"

(c) December 2013

Sunday, September 1, 2013


A hummingbird flew up ... just outside of the patio screen.  It seemed to be attracted by the colorful spinning wheels ... of Icky riding in the wind. 

It darted ... and hovered ... until it had captured my attention.

Isn't there an old hummingbird feeder out in the shed?!? I asked myself.There's bound to be one out there somewhere ... we had so many ... once upon a time.

So on a day ... in a week ... when everything in my life seemed to be stalled ... I became overtaken by the idea of a hummingbird feeder ... 
outside my patio door.

Nothing I have done ... or attempted to do ... in the last two weeks ... 
has panned out.

Things I cook so routinely that I could do it in my sleep ... have ended up burned or somehow not right.  Appointments made ... randomly cancelled.  Activities started ... but somehow not completed.  Things placed ... only to be discovered in a misplaced place.  Conversations with clearly spoken, carefully crafted words ... misheard and misunderstood.

It took two days to get around to it. I've been a bit distracted ... by kittys ... and drops ... and other people's dreams.  All in a good way.

The shed is a sad, scary place.  Even though I've attempted to clean it out a couple of times over the last eight years.  Gosh!  Has it really been that long?!?!

A few minutes was all it took to find what I went looking to find.  In keeping with the tempo of my life at the moment ... turns out it was only a partial hummingbird feeder that was hiding there.  That's the reason it was left behind, no doubt.  It was missing something essential.

I carried the glass bottle inside and washed it up.  There was the bottle with a red cap-like thingy on top that made the hanger. And a screw on thingy that once held the nectar dish in place.

Problem was ... there was no nectar dish.

Immediately, I felt defeated.  It was just one more thing ... in a string of things lately ... that just wasn't going to happen the way it was 
supposed to happen.  

And it was such a simple thing.

The next day ... when once again ... my plans to pro-actively & productively do something that was at least a little bit tied to my work ... were scrapped ... I wandered back to the idea of a hummingbird feeder.

Surely it couldn't be too hard to adapt the partial hummingbird feeder ... or even to make one from stuff around the house.  I said that outloud .. then allowed myself to be distracted once again.

Several times throughout the day, it was mentioned.  "Have you gone online to see about making a hummingbird feeder, MaryJane?" or "I bet there are videos out there to show you how to put one together, MJ?"

Intended to be supportive and encouraging, the suggestions were more like the frantic waving of a red flag in front of a bull.  Motivating me, yes, but not necessarily in the intended way.

"Thwarted. I refuse to be thwarted!" I mumbled to myself.  And in an instant, I realized that I had been grappling with that word for ... 
some time.

Thwart.  To defeat the hopes or aspirations of ...

My mind immediately raced back a month or so ... to the day when gathering up limbs in the yard ... we stumbled across a lunar moth ... resting on the ground.  It was being very, very still ... hoping to blend in with the grass.  So still, that we thought it was injured.

Turns out, it was not injured. Just hiding.

We attempted to assist it by nudging it ... hoping to help it fly.  Once it realized that we weren't going to let it be ... it spread it's wings and took to the air ... racing headlong into the inevitable.

A huge bird shot out of nowhere ... and took it in one smooth, swift swoop ...  Just like that.  Poof!  Into thin air. 

In the blink of an eye, it was gone!

The lousy feeling ... of having prodded the moth ... to its demise ... has lingered.  A graphic visual of ... thwart.

It's not enough to stay positive ... to keep the faith ... to focus on the tiny baby steps as you march towards your dreams.  Or so it seems.

I watched a couple of videos on how to build hummingbird feeders.  A fairly elaborate one ... and one so simplistic it was laughable.  Cut holes in a red solo cup ... punch two holes at top ... run a piece of string through them ... tie a knot ... fill with sugar water ... and hang it on a nail.

And after a failed attempt at adding a bottom to the existing feeder, I did exactly that ... with a red solo cup.  Frustrated ... and with a bit of attitude ... I strung up the iconic red cup ... and just hung it out there.

Refusing to be thwarted.  That's what I said about it.

Setback ... has followed setback ... in all things MJ.  Laughing in the face of adversity on all fronts has been the tangible indication of a shred of hope & promise at the end of each day.

Paradoxically, success ... after success ... has burst forth in the lives of many who are important to me.  Results of staying positive ... keeping the faith ... and taking those tiny baby steps ... proof positive that the MJ walk-the-talk ... is the ticket.

The ticket ... for everyone else ... not me.

On more than one occasion, I have been busted out for having a victim mentality.  An o-woe-is-me-Eeyore attitude.  Each time, I had to laugh. I don't feel like a victim ... nor do I share Eeyore's pessimistic view of life.  

Maybe it's more like Pig-Pen ... from Peanuts ... perpetually wandering around in a cloud of his own dust. Dust that he has come to accept ... finding a sense of pride and ownership in the cloud comprised of dust from ancient, lost civilizations.  Swirling about ... at all times ... attempting to obscure whatever joy is to be found in the moment.

Thwart.  It's a test of some sort ...or possibly an attack.  I am not really sure which ... either way ... I refuse to let it get best of me.

A sponge ... that's what I was after when I entered the hardware store.  It was easily found and on the way to the checkout ... the solution to the hummingbird feeder design presented itself.  It was random ... as all things worthwhile in my life seem to be ... the thing that I saw that triggered the creative response.

Back at home, I secured the flat lid of a small plastic container around the drip hole of the glass bottle ... and punched a few holes around the edges. 
I added a bit more sugar water and some red food coloring ... then snapped the bottom of the container in place ... and hung it just above the witchy yard kite.
In a matter of seconds the first little hummer discovered the spot.  Flitting in and out, it hovered over the lid and drank of the sweet nectar.  Then dashed off to tell the others.  Soon there was a parade of hummingbirds ... some drinking in groups ... others darting in for a quick sip ... off again, on their way.

Overcoming the odds and difficulties ... with a positive result. Victory. That's what it felt like.  And it was good. The not being thwarted. 

Over coffee ... the open-ended conversation continues ... joy found in a litany of good things happening to good people ... clouded by the murkiness of MJ obstacles.  A mathematical exercise ... brightened by the presence of the hummingbirds ...

"Don't become discouraged, MaryJane.  
He is saving the BEST for last."

Simple words.  Not a whisper this time.  Spoken words ... offered up as a soothing balm ... an encouragement ... a hope ... to go with the smile ... that I cling to ... and tend to hide behind ... lately.

So what could I say?
What could I do?
But offer this heart, O God, 
Completely to You.

Sometimes on a day during which nothing seems to happen, MaryJane, everything gets way better. ~ so saith the Universe

 (c) September 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Answers ...

I got lured into watching a movie ... that I really didn't want to watch. And I had so much to get done today.  Funny how that happened to me ... so soon after I had exhausted myself ... on the whole subject of ... wasting time.

It was a story about life ... choices ... getting lost ... finding yourself ... integrity ... doing the right thing ...and the love that always follows if you simply learn to live life as ... you.

A wise woman in the movie said ... sometimes the tree grows too fast ... and you have to chop off the top of the tree ... to protect the roots.

Mulling that over ... I stayed put ... somehow knowing ... there was something more to come.

There are no answers.  Only the search.  Same wise woman said that, too.

A jolt ... this time ... more than a jab. 

I am always amazed when I wander down a random path ... and discover that a message was tucked away there  ... especially for me ... waiting to be found ... at exactly the right moment.

The movie was totally predictable ... and had a happy ending.  I liked it, though, that there was no promise of happily-ever-after ... or anything as silly as that.

Just a reassurance that all storms can be weathered ... if you live life out of love.  Had to smile ... Del had a thing or two to say about that this morning as well. Props to the choreographer.

Throughout the movie, one question took hold of my mind ... repeating itself over and over and over ... with a steady tempo ... urgent, persistent, disconcerting ...demanding to be asked ... outloud.

What really happens when two worlds collide?

I will spend the rest of the afternoon wondering where it came from ... and why. Tomorrow ...  well, tomorrow will quite possibly be ... the first day ... of the rest of my life.

... like a drum baby don't stop beating ...
(c) August 2013