Monday, October 25, 2010

Topic for week of 10-25 to 10-30

Hi, the topic for this week is Choices.  Friday's Blog will be a reprint of Aug, 5. 1996.

The choices we make have many ramifications, some good and some not so good.  But, we cannot be afraid to make them.

Friday, October 22, 2010

God Made Learing Simple (Originally written Aug. 1996)

I was on vacation the week of July 8th.  I spent 5 days in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  The first night we stayed in the town of Brimley a small lake community 20 minutes southwest of Sault Ste Marie.  I had a dream and in this dream came the message "God Made Learning Simple."  I didn't have an immediate picture of what that meant; and asked God to make it clear to me.  Life is about lessons; about understanding how to go about doing the duties God asks us to perform.  Our lives should be simple and uncluttered.  The Spirit needs a simple environment in order to guide us.  Think about it, there was nothing obviously complex about Jesus.  There is nothing complex about his teachings; we make it that way.

Here is an example of how learning can be simple.  Have you considered how easy it is to believe the negative things someone will say even though you may have heard thousands of positive things?  When I was in the 10th grade my favorite teacher, Sister Grace Ann, told me that I had talent as a writer.  She was very excited about my abilities.  In the 11th grade a teacher whose name I cannot remember told me that I worked too hard.  Standardized tests showed that I was a "C" student and so I should "lighten up".  What do think stuck with me?  You probably guessed, the comments that I worked too hard.  Isn't it amazing that I cannot remember the teacher's name, but I can remember her negative comments (and she thought she was doing me a favor).

The lesson is simple; throw out the junk.  God does not have a quality control problem.  He only creates masterpieces.  Through a very bad habit of accepting "junk" into our spiritual space, we are led to believe that we are less than perfect.  Jesus took care of the problem long ago when he died so that we could be free.  Free to do the will of God; free to make our own choices.

I am going to spend the remainder of this year learning the simple lessons God has to teach me...How about you?

This lesson from 1996 is very relevant for me today.  I am still learning the simple lessons; I am still trying to unclutter my life.  I am still a pilgrim on the journey.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Embracing the Truth

Scripture:  Ephesians 4:25 "Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another."

Thought:  On Tuesday my thoughts centered around the lies I tell myself.  Today I have been thinking about "embracing" Truth.  What does that mean?  What does it really mean to embrace the truth?  How will such a concept impact my life and the people I encounter everyday?  What will it do to me on a spiritual level?

Does embracing the truth mean tactfully telling someone when they have crossed the line instead of a weak "it's okay"?  Does embracing the truth mean speaking up when you see injustice instead of saying "not my problem"?  Does it mean agreeing to disagree when agreeing would cause you to compromise your principles?

I do not have all of the answers.....that is why I am on this pilgrimmage.  I know that part of my charge is to eliminate the former self and take on a new self.  A self that follows the example set by Jesus.  He preached with humility and he told the truth in a quiet manner.  He could discern the thoughts of those who wanted to trap him in some sort of falsehood.  He understood the reluctance of those in authority to embrace His truth.  He also discerns my thoughts and my reluctance to embrace His truth when it becomes uncomfortable.

Do I embrace the truth when a homeless person asks for money and I say I don't have any because I am scared to open my purse.?  Do I embrace the truth when I gossip?  Do I embrace the truth when I accept poor treatment instead of sticking up for myself?

Seems like I have a lot of questions today.  Well I do.  Does embracing the truth mean I have to be super blunt and snarky?  Does embracing the truth mean that I am always right and you are always wrong.  Does embracing the truth mean that my neighbor has to embrace "my" truth?

"My your teeth look yellow today."  It may be true but do I really have to say anything about my friend's teeth?  "Giiirrrlll, did you see the shoes on that man, look like he bought them in 1930."  Is this a necessary conversation?  "Yesterday I prayed for you" when in truth you have not prayed in months.

For me embracing the truth is going to be a lifelong process.  What about you?  Let me know your thoughts.  We are all on this journey together.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

To Thine Ownself Be True....But Know Thyself First

The thought for this week relates to truth.  On my pilgrimmage through life, I have not been as truthful as I would like to be.  Who have I lied to the most?  Myself.

"This above all — to thine ownself be true;"   Polonius, Act I, scene iii in Hamlet
"Know thyself" - Socrates

On Saturday I attended my third painting class.  Our assignment was to paint a still life. The items were staged the platform are some of the items you see to the left.  I wondered how in the world was I going to do that.

Our teacher assured us that we would leave class with the beginnings of the portrait.  I was not convinced.  I muddled through the landscape last week, this was going to be much harder.

I got all of my tools set up, filled three tubs with water and waited to begin.  We were going to be working with cadmium red and cadmium yellow, alizarin crimson and pthalo blue.  Nice colors, but I am still thinking I cannot do this. 

Our instructor asked us to take out our sketch books (we needed a sketchbook???? Oh no).  I actually used my small note book and drew one image per page.  Let me go back for a minute.

Before we were asked to take our our sketchbook, we were told that we had to draw the images on our paper before we painted them. "Uh, Oh.....I can't draw, no way no how.. I am a good tracer, not a drawer."  I was ready to pack up and go home.  Then the instructor said to draw a circle, square, triangle, rectangle and an ellipse in our sketchbook.  "Ok, I can do that."  She then explained that anything you are going to draw is made up of one of these structures, the bottle is a rectangle for the neck, half circle for the rounded part, ellipse for top and bottom connected by two straight lines.  The base of the wine glass, a triangle rounded out and so forth.

That day I sketched the bottle, the wine glass, the apple, the lemon that looks like a football (I need to work on it) and some grapes.  I drew like I was sitting in my bedroom at the age of 10.  I drew and painted and laughed and grew.

On my way home I thought about a question that has haunted me for years,  when did I start telling myself that I could not draw?  When did I start doubting myself so severely that at every turn, I tell my self "I can't".  I find that on a daily basis I lie to myself, I stopped writing because I told myself I was not good enough.  I stopped making greetings cards because I told myself no one would want them.  I stopped having fun because it was not the "adult" thing to do.

Somewhere along the line, I lost the ability to know myself, and if I don't know who I am, how can I be true to myself.  If I do not know myself, how can I speak the truth to others?  See, I first have to define what is my "truth".  That takes a lot of introspection and it is not always comfortable.

Why did I sign-up for the art class?  My outward explanation is that I wanted to learn how to manipulate and mix colors.  The know myself truth is that, next year I will be attending ArtFest and taking a trip to Orvieto in Italy to explore the countryside and record my thoughts in and art journal.   After looking at the work of other participants, I just didn't feel good enough.  So, I needed to prepare myself by taking a class. Pretty much that is my answer for everything.  I cannot to it until I take a class.  However, this time I am getting much more than I bargained for because, it's making me look in the mirror and tell the truth. I have to ask myself the hard questions and begin to dig deep for the answers.  Who knew all that could come from a painting class?

I combined two famous quotes into one because I have come to realize that at least for me in order to be true to myself, I have to do the work required to know myself.  It starts with telling the truth myself.  It does not matter what others think; it does not matter if they like my work or not; what matters is that I have used my God given talents in a manner that will bring him glory. 

I always pray that God allow me to use the tools he has given me to accomplish the things he needs me to accomplish.  He answered my prayer and now it is time for me to get busy.  Life does not have to be as hard as I make it, instead of living the lie..."I can't."  I have to life the truth...'I can".


Monday, October 18, 2010

Theme for week of 10-18-10

The theme for this week is Truth.  I have been thinking for quite some time about the Lies I tell myself.  I often wonder where they came from?  How did I fall into the groove of such gross self denial?  So this week as I travel this road of life, truth will be on my mind.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

It Occurred to Me

Even though I have published a schedule that I really intend to follow, sometimes thoughts come to me that I just have to record while I am in the moment.

This has been a really special year.  Nov. 14, 2009 I celebrated my 60th birthday.  I decided to make the entire year from Nov. 14, 2009 to Nov. 13, 2010 a year of celebration and do things that would bring me joy.  What did I do?  Let me tell you......

March 2010 attended ArtFest for the first time.  I had wanted to attend this event for 10 years and always found some excuse for not following through.  I decided that going to Port Townsend Washington was going to be a birthday present to myself.  I created some wonderful art and the flood gates were opened.  I made lifelong friends and had a hoot of a time.

August 2010, I went to Alabama for the first time.  Visited with my good friends and toured their new home.  It is their retirement dream home and it is simply gorgeous overlooking Lake Tuscaloosa.

October 2010 attending an Acrylic Painting class and participating in Blogging 101.

Nov. 13, 2010...My brother Kenny's 60th birthday.  Kenny died in 2005 after a long illness.  We were very close and  I miss him terribly.  I will celebrate his 60th for one year from Nov. 13, 2010 to Nov. 12, 2011.  I have some really cool stuff planned and I will have his picture with me so his spirit can enjoy the journey.

Life is mean to live, not just think about....

My Blogging Schedule......

My Blog schedule will be as follows: Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
On Sunday I will post the theme for the week.
Tuesday and Thursday's blog posts will be about new journey experiences based on Scriptures and favorite quotes related to the theme for the week.
Friday I will answer comments and repost thoughts written early in my journey.

I will be writing my blog posts for Tuesday and Thursday on Sunday afternoon and schedule
them for the week. I will be writing Friday's Blog on that day.

Why repost thoughts written early in my journey?  For may years many of my family members and friends have asked that I digitize and share some of my earlier thoughts on line.  Before this class I was at a loss and truthfully afraid to make the attempt. 

I went to Alabama in August to visit a friend and attend her daughter's wedding.  She called me a couple of days before I was to leave to say that her husband wanted me to copy a couple of thoughts and bring them because he enjoyed them so much.  The Lord truly has a way of opening doors because I had already registered for "Blogging 101" so there would be no excuse.  This is the perfect vehicle for me (my writing Mercedes if you will); I have a map and it is time to go.

A few words about answering comments on Friday.  Answering comments had not crossed my mind (probably again the fear that no one will read or be interested.  I know, I know I am working on that).  I read Barb's schedule and realized it was such a great idea, so I "borrowed" it.  Thanks Barb.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Alaska....Serenity at Sea

The picture above was taken from the veranda outside my room on the Alaskan Cruise I took in July. The ship floated slowly through the Endicott Arms Fjord providing unimaginable photo ops. The naturalist on board explained that we must be good stewards to protect the fragile ecosystem. As a result, the engines were cut to minimum speed, no announcements were made so as to keep the noise level as low as possible.
My room mate and I stood on the veranda for hours taking pictures. We were in absolute awe. There were dozens of waterfalls; lush green pine trees; mountains covered with snow; whales and dolphins following the ship and glaciers with the most beautiful bluish hue.
The black tracks that run down a glacier are the marks that show where two or more glaciers merged.
I truly felt like a pilgrim on this trip while exploring sights I had dreamed of for years. My spirit was lifted that day as I did what one of my favorite Hymns suggests...."Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


"Some choices are easy, such as deciding to each a banana or take a walk; some choices are harder like whether to sell your stocks or wait out the storm." Each day we have to make choices.

Each Tuesday I have the privilege of team teaching 15 second graders who are preparing to Celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation and receipt of Holy Communion. These children are so fresh and honest. Some fidget in their chairs; some have to resist being a "tattle-tail"; some want to be our helper and others want to be your best friend. Most of all they want to learn.

Today we talked about making choices...the choice between right and wrong and how hard that can be even for a seven year old. Think about it.

I come from a small family. It was just my parents, my brother and I. My brother and I were 364 days apart...we were the same age for 1 day. I was pretty much the "goody two-shoes" of the family mostly because I didn't like spankings. My brother on the other hand would try to get away with as much as possble.

When you grow up in a family with only two children there is a dynamic that can be rather bothersome. The "I did not do it" syndrome." My brother had a great habit of making the wrong choice. Draw on the wall--He did it. Dig into the wooden table with a knife...he did it. Eat Daddy's piece of pie...HE DID IT. There was just one problem, he would never admit it. It would go something like this..."Kenny did you draw on the wall? No, Mommy I didn't." "Glenda did you draw on the wall? No Mommy I didn't." "Well someone did so you both will get spanking." "Kenny did you eat your father's pie? No, Mommy." Glenda did you eat it? No Mommy." "Well some one did...." Are you starting to get the picture.

So, one day, my brilliant brother was batting marbles and broke the storm window. I looked at him , at the window and made one of my most outstanding choices to date. I was not taking a spanking for this one. No way Jose. This was major. I went to the living room, sat down in the most comfortable chair I could find and waited.

Daddy came home first. With all of the gusto and innocence I could muster I pointed and said "He did it, you will see it and when you do, He did it!!!!" That evening my brother got the spanking of his life while I munched on ice-cream and cookies. Ah, the glory of it all. Choices.....

Have all my choices worked so gloriously? No. Have I had to learn hard lessons because of my choices? Yes.

I look into the eyes of my 15 weekly charges and realize that some will remember the lessons we teach them this year. Some will forget and some will simply ignore it as they move through life. They will all at some point have to choose between right from wrong; between happiness and sadness; between obedience and disobedience....

We all have to make these choices every day. I told the children today that when they don't have anyone who can help them when making choices, simply pray. Pray for the strength to make the right choice. I need to follow that advice, how about you?


Monday, October 11, 2010

Don't Let Fear and Negative Thoughts Cloud Your Way

Scripture: 2 Timothy 1


For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.


Saturday October 9th 1:30 pm Pacific Time....Teacher states with glee "Each of you is going to leave class today with a completed landscape of the oceanside." My first thought was Suuuurrrreee I will. Me who cannot draw a straight line will paint a landscape.

Fear sets in, what was I thinking signing up for an Acrylic painting class? I did look good sitting there with all of my "appropriate" tools. The right paint brushes; all of the paints listed on the class sheet. Two buckets of water, masking tape, everything I needed except TALENT.

I almost talked myself out of a great experience. I was about to succumb to the menace that has haunted me most of my life. "I am just not good enoughitis." Not good enough to even try. Not good enough to follow the advice I have given to so many others. Now, is it just me or do people who are so busy encouraging others forget to follow their own advice?

I made the first brush strokes laying down the background color and it looked pretty good, of course I forgot about the rule of 3rd we had just learned but it was fixable. Next came the waves, the outlines of rocks, and my light house that looks more like a bowling pin. I made clouds with my fingers and white caps for waves with a sponge and gesso. I was having so much fun. I was learning to allow my self to play. It did not have to be perfect. I did not have to be afraid, I just needed to "chill out " and let the juices flow.

On my way home I knew I wanted to write on this blog about this experience. I do not drive so I was on the bus proudly carrrying my painting taped to my drawing board. One of the passengers noted my "Masterpiece" and stated how nice it was. That sealed the deal, I had to put this experience on my blog. I wanted a scripture to reflect my thoughts and this morning it came to me, the verse above from Second Timothy. I always tell my friends the God had given us all of the tools we need to accomplish the things we need to accomplish. We just have to use them. We just have to get out of our own way. Time to follow my own advice again....

I could have looked at my first attempt and went "YUK!!!!" I could have said, "Told You so." I could have done the cowardly thing and hidden the painting you see above. But, if I am to live by the scripture written above, I needed to pay homage to my very first attempt at a landscape. I needed to look at it with pride and see where does it need a tweak and a nip and get busy creating.

Gabby our teacher reminded us that in three hours you are just going to learn the basis, you are not going to become Picasso. I just have to enjoy the process, smile with pride and play, play, play.


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Friday, October 08, 2010

How do we receive God's Guidance?

The theme for today's thought is Guidance. Scripture reference Psalm 25:4

"Show me your way, O Lord, teach me your Path."

Thought: "Teach me O Lord what I am to learn, grant me the strength to do what you ask." Over thirty years ago a friend told me to say this short prayer and the Lord would show me what to do. I didn't think of it then as guidance and I was not very good at following the advice.

When things were going good, I just went along my merry way living and running full speed up and down the freeway of life. When trouble reared it's ugly head I would forget to call on the Lord for guidance. I worried myself into an ulcer; made many false starts with possible "solutions" and was pretty miserable.

Once I took the time to stop and breathe (sometimes voluntarily and sometimes through force), the simple words of guidance would come to me..."each me Lord what I am to learn, grant me the strength to do what you ask". Hmmm such a simple concept and yet so easy to forget or more truthfully ignore. You see I also am a bit of a "chicken". What if the message was something I did not want to hear, something I didn't what to do? Ignoring God's guidance didn't seem like a good idea, so it was better not to ask.

"Show me your way, O Lord, teach me your path." Simple concept, yes. Easy, not always. Have I learned to make this simple request more frequently ? Yes, I have. Do I still relapse? Yep. Do I keep on trying? You know it, isn't that what Spiritual growth is all about?