Dreams Lost, Dreams Found


“Before beginning a Hunt, it is wise to ask someone what you are looking for before you begin looking for it.” Winnie the Pooh

I am currently in the process of hunting. What I’m looking for is old friends I have lost touch with, friends which I owe a debt of gratitude, news, or connection. Some friends were lost over time, through no fault of anyone; other connections were lost as a result of problems within the relationship. I hope to one day enjoy the experience of happy reunions with all of them, God willing. What I have come to understand, however, is that sometimes you have to confront in order for changes to be made. I have been faced with this task in the past, and on more than one occasion I have been the one confronted. Let me tell you that a truthful scolding from someone that loves you can really hurt, but it is absolutely necessary in order for us to grow.

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27:6

I have seen many times in airports and bus terminal, the infectious joy of reunions. They are fairly similar across the board: the hugs, the kisses, the smiles, the tears. I love watching these happy scenes. I think there is something in all of us that longs for these kinds of experiences. We are not meant to live our lives alone and isolated. Even Adam, the very first man, eventually had his fill of solitude.

“We need others. We need others to love and we need to be loved by them. There is no doubt that without it, we too, like the infant left alone, would cease to grow, cease to develop, choose madness and even death.” Leo F. Buscaglia

Maybe there are those you long to see again. Maybe you have been parted by time, place, situation, or even confrontation. Might I urge you today to begin thinking about what it would be like to have a joyous reunion with this person? What if you could forget the old hurts, lay down the grudges, forgive, and look past the parts of them that make you unhappy?

Now, for any of you who have read past blog entries, you will know that I have some history with spousal abuse. I DO NOT advocate a reunion that would be unwise or unsafe in any way. Sometimes goodbye is the healthiest word we can say to someone.

BUT for those other people in your life that should be taking part in your joys and sorrows and life events, take a little time and consider if maybe it is time to start building some bridges again. The weight of unforgiveness is too heavy to drag around the rest of your life. Be free, and be reunited to people who will enrich your life as you once enriched theirs.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5 : 14-19

Deep as an Ocean


“I have seen the sea when it is stormy and wild; when it is quiet and serene; when it is dark and moody. And in all its moods, I see myself.” Martin Buxbaum

Moods are funny things. They can make things seem easy or they can make things seem hard. Moods are like shadows, shifting, and insubstantial. They are untrustworthy, unrealistic, and fickle. It is unwise to base your life on moods, whether positive or negative. Sometimes it is important to remember that no matter how we feel at any given time, reality has not changed, and the moods will pass.

Like the sea, moods can be frightening. Like a tidal wave, they can threaten to swallow us whole, leaving nothing but destruction and chaos in their wake. Where moods rein there is anarchy, pain, uncertainty, and all kinds of trouble. When beliefs, however noble, take a backseat to moods, trouble results.

“Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted in spite of your changing moods”  C.S. Lewis (British Scholar and Novelist. 1898-1963)

When dealing with confusing circumstances, it is important to be able to know that some things are certain. Some things are sure. If the tide was going out, and you were caught in the undertow, what would you do? If you were smart, you’d find a big rock and hold on! Sometimes, our lives can be uncertain, stormy, and full of doubt. If we are not anchored, we can be washed away.We need stability, security, a Rock to cling to in these frightening and uncertain times when the waves of life threaten to wash us away!

In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
    let me never be put to shame;
    deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me,
    come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
    a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress,
    for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
    for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit;
    deliver me, Lord, my faithful God. Psalm 31:1-5

Once More for the Seats in the Back


“Temper is a weapon that we hold by the blade.”

James Matthew Barrie (Scottish Dramatist and Novelist best known as the creator of Peter Pan, 1860-1937)

One of the best ways that I know of truly embarrassing yourself is by losing your temper in front of other people. Let us, for conversation and speculation’s sake, say that yesterday was such a day for me. Let us suppose that I lost my temper. Let us suppose that I lost it royally and spectacularly. I had gone past irritated and into full rage. It was the kind of rage that pulses in your head and face and makes your eyes feel like they are screaming. Its when you are so in the sway of your emotions that you are irrational, often incoherent, and completely unpredictable. Yeah, that kind of temper. Another way to put it would be to say that I threw a spoiled brat temper tantrum, as an adult, which is simply inexcusable.

In our lives, we have countless opportunities to prove to the world and ourselves exactly what kind of person we really are on the inside. I have a bad temper. I usually do my best to avoid confrontation of any kind, because I carry a vague recollection of this fiend that lurks inside of me. I can actually brag slightly and say that I have gotten much better at keeping my temper in check than I used to be. There are times, though, when the demon of temper is able to wrestle free and the eruption of venom that is poured out as a result is stomach turning.

Irritability is immaturity of character. If you are subject to being cross and unpleasant with others for no apparent reason, you need to come face-to-face with the fact that you are thinking too much of yourself. After all, your feelings are not the most important things in this world.” Anon.

It’s not like I have never had a temper tantrum. I was a child. I was, and am I have to admit, fairly selfish and self-centered. We’re all wired this way. It is as common in humankind as it is undesirable. Its one of those things that the most successful in life have learned to overcome, for the most part. In fact, the people I think of as absolutely classy and “together” do not lose their temper in front of other people on even a semi-regular basis.

Temper, naturally, is not the only short-coming that can embarrass us when on public display. Greed, jealousy, gluttony, pettiness, lying: you know, those things we’re supposed to be over and done with as mature adults; these things can ruin our self-satisfied lives. Any one of these things is the elephant in the room when your boss goes off on a tirade and doesn’t apologize, when your spouse spends a little too much at the store and tries to hide it, when someone drives into the parking lot in a new car and the heads of others turn and whisper. Of course other people may be guilty of these things, but never us, right?

“To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others”

Hindu Prince Gautama Siddhartha (Founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)

I have never known, or even known of, someone who had attained perfection. In fact, for all our days, however many there may be, we will be beset by failings that will continually humble and abase us. Additionally, the more we fight against the truth of this, the more we will be detoured back again around the same old movie loop of embarrassment, hurt, and eventually ruin. Whether or not we may consider ourselves a “quick study”, the majority of human beings are exceedingly slow when it comes to learning hard life lessons.

Thankfully, for all our sakes, there are endless opportunities for us to behave in increasingly mature ways as we overcome the barriers that have held us back from being truly trustworthy, humane, and happy. Thankfully, there is One with forbearance almost as infinite as He is; and above all else, He wishes for us to be the best that we can be. So sit up, back there, and pay attention! Your next test of character is not far away.

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

Romans 7 : 15-25

Rockin’ the Journey


Whoa, we’re half way there
Whoa oh, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand and we’ll make it I swear
Whoa oh, livin’ on a prayer                                                                    

Livin’ On A Prayer lyrics
Songwriters: Bonjovi, Jon; Sambora, Richard; Child, Desmond

That’s it, keep going….you’re almost there….now a little to the left….a little to the right now…..keep going, keep going, you’re getting warmer, you’re starting to sizzle, you’re burning hot…….

Each of us is on our way somewhere. Sometimes the road stretches out further and further in front of us and we aren’t quite sure if we have enough gas, enough snacks, enough patience, or enough stamina to make it all the way. There are plenty of times when we may have every inclination to turn around and go back the way we came, instead of pressing on toward our goal. The path of least resistance doesn’t make us particularly happy or give us satisfaction or a sense of accomplishment, but it is much easier than trying to force our car’s screaming, protesting transmission up yet another steep incline.

Let’s take an imaginary trip together in our imaginary RV. (Notice: I am not really an “RV kind of person”, this is just for demonstration purposes.) We have our fridge packed, plenty of fuel in our tanks, with a little to spare for emergencies, a cold soda within reach in the cup holder, and our most comfortable non-embarrasing-should-we-need-to-get-out-in-public travel outfits. We’re taking things pretty easy, enjoying the time spent in one another’s company. Our destination: the Grand Canyon.

Along the way, there are lots of things to see and do. Some of them are pretty distracting. We might find a train museum, or a little art gallery, or a cute little burger stand with a stream running along side and shady places to eat at picnic tables. We might see unusual birds, striking sunsets, dazzling lightning storms, or cascading waterfalls along the way that beckon us to stop for a bit and practice our photography skills. We might also encounter flat tires, tourist traps, getting lost, having our wallets stolen, and throbbing sunburn.

When we’ve found our way back on the road and have double and triple checked that we’re going the right direction, we notice that not too far ahead of us is a mountain. As we grow closer to this mountain, we can see the slender hair of our road zigging and zagging up the side. You check the map. This is the only road. You groan at the very thought of driving this pull-out-all-the-stops monstrosity you HAD to have to take this trip up that steep road. (Sorry, I told you I wasn’t an RV person.)

When climbing long inclines, your RV needs to be operated within its power band.

The power band is a span of engine RPMs where you have the maximum horsepower available to handle the extra load imposed when going up long inclines.

This becomes even more noticeable with diesel engines…. (Link for this info)

 

Now, say we’ve been on a really long drive in this RV, hundreds of miles long. The Grand Canyon is a long way away from a lot of places. We’re on the way to the Grand Canyon, and we’re starting to see it on road signs we pass. The distance is shrinking mile after mile. When we’re about 50 miles away, our engine starts to overheat, we’re out of the good snacks, you and I are feeling worn out and cranky, and on top of all of that the baby is out of diapers. Oh Boy! * Hold that thought *

When I was younger, I went on a trip to the Grand Canyon with my Grandma. It was a long, hot drive. I was very excited. I had never been to the Grand Canyon before. When we got to the park, the road wove in and out of the rises and dips of the high desert landscape.We rounded a bend, and there it was, gaping like a hungry giant’s maw, stretching on and on into the distance. I jumped out of the car and ran for the guardrail to peer over the edge…and received a sharp reprimand from my mother. I cautiously, continued on my way toward the guardrail, and marveled at the sight of this one-of-a-kind wonder. It was well worth all those long hours in the car just to see such an impressive thing. True story.

My grandma absolutely refused to get out of the car. So, after we had urged her repeatedly and in vain, we spent a little time there and drove home. Now, over 20 years later, I still remember this incident. It always seemed like such a waste to me, such a pointless thing for my grandma to go all that way, and then stop before she got to the point of the trip. Isn’t that like working all the way up to payday and then refusing your check?? That’s like a big steaming plate of what’s-the-point topped with crazy sauce and a side of DOH!! (I loved my grandma very much, but sometimes she just made no sense to me.)

* OK, back to our RV trip. * So, we’re getting close to our destination. We see the signs everywhere that prove it. The road has gotten a little rough and our tempers are shorter than they were when things were smooth, we had our favorite radio station, and there was plenty of our favorite treats to go around. Now we’re stuck with a steaming radiator, the radio is stuck on the farm report, and the snack bags are full of greasy crumbs. What should we do? Should we press on, or give up and turn around? It might be a little more familiar, but think of what we’ll be missing!

When we’re in the middle of our life journey, we will have times when things go a little rougher than others, but we cannot give up and go back home. In order to be different than the person we’ve always been, in order to have a different life than the one we’ve always had, we’re going to have to complete our journey. We cannot just decide it is easier to stay the same. We’re not happy this way, but the travel time seems so long and the trip is so hard. The destination is at the end, not in the middle. We need to keep this in our minds next to the place where we keep our name. The point is not to stop, but to keep going.

“…Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus…” Philippians 1: 6

Drain the Cup


“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman (American Theologian, Clergyman and Activist. 1900-1981)

Sometimes, the cup we are handed is full of lemons; sometimes, it is full of lemonade. Whatever we find in the cup that we are given to taste at this particular point in time, it might be important to note that, as at dinner time at your mother’s house, you won’t get a refill or something new to drink until you finish the drink you already have. Another way of saying this is that life is full of seasons, to a purpose.

Every part of our lives, each individual cup full of life circumstances, has things that can benefit us. For example, bitter coffee wakes us up, sour wine can relax us, tart lemonade refreshes and cools us. Too much of anything can be bad for us, but we can pull purpose for our lives as well as grow-up lessons out of each situation which faces us. A long wait can teach us patience, and if we can take our eyes off of our watches, we might look up and see the people around us, who could benefit from a smile, a “thank you”, a prayer, a word of encouragement (Nice shirt!). When our eyes are focused so close to ourselves all the time, we many times get the impression that the world revolves around us and no one is as worthy of blessing, respect, authority, or notice more than we are. The world is full of these kinds of people already and the results are plastered across cemeteries, the newspaper headlines, and missing children’s stories, among other things.

To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.” ~ Leo F. Buscaglia (American guru, tireless advocate of the power of love, 1924-1998)

When we fail to learn the important life lessons early, we will get another chance, and another, and another. The message we seem to miss so many times is “clean your plate” or “drain your cup”. How many times do we really want to go through this same thing in this same way? Wasn’t it enough the first time? Drain the cup, learn your lesson, and move on. Be healed, be stronger, be wiser, be free!

Just as important is enjoying the drink when it is especially refreshing. We really need these times of respite in order to be able to face life’s hard times. Therefore, when you are handed a particularly delightful cup, drain it, and be rested so that tomorrow doesn’t find you weary, stressed, and unprepared. We do not always get to choose what we hold in our cup; but if we can learn to drain it even to its most bitter dregs, we can move on to be happier, more generous and whole human beings. That, I think we can all agree, is something that will benefit everyone.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4: 8-13