Showing posts from 2013

Once Blind

Several years ago, at the age of fifty-six, I accidently hit on the Book of Tobias, Chapter 14:1-4.

"And the words of Tobias were ended. And after Tobias was restored to his sight, he lived two and forty years, and saw the the children of his grandchildren. And after he had lived a hundred and two years, he was buried honourably in Ninive. For he was six-and fifty years of age when he lost the sight of his eyes, and sixty when he recovered it again. And the rest of his life was in joy, and with great increase of the fear of God he departed in peace."

I thought the age similarity interesting, especially since at the time I was struggling with a horrendous crises and teetered on the edge of serious depression. Of course, God was there, as always, but I couldn't really see His hand in my struggle. I was blind to His presence.

Looking back, I have been blind to His presence most of the time. Oh, I saw His miracles and gave thanks for them, but each time one appeared, it did…

Silent Communication

As I have aged it seems my relationship with God has increased. I see Him everywhere, His messages are in my Scripture readings, in my devotions, and in every nuance of my life. When I form a thought, He answers (confirms) in silent communication, that is silent to others, loud and clear to me.

The future is fraught with uncertainties, and yet now after years of worrying, I have learned put it all in God's hands and leave it there. The miracles surrounding the purchase of our new home gave me the final push to finally do this. In our payday to payday existence, owning another home was an impossibility that God made miraculously possible.

Yes, we closed on the loan last Friday. We are homeowners once again, inspite of all the roadblocks and deep canyons. God removed and spanned each one, and taught me, once again, to believe in Him rather than my circumstances.

As new issues on the emerged on the horizon, I have not (as yet) opened the door to Worry and Anxiety. This time I passed…

When The Other Shoe Drops

We were told we were approved for the house loan, then the day before Thanksgiving, the Other Shoe dropped. Now the underwriters want a guarantee from my employer ( a temp agency), that I should I be laid off from my current position, which I have held with the same company for over two years, that I will be placed immediately in another position.

My blood pressure soared. No employer can give a guarantee that an employee will never be laid off or fired. And, how can a temp agency guarantee an employee will be placed in another position immediately? Impossible.

Bill and I were agony. One week away from closing the loan and everything else approved and then have the dream of owning a home again snatched away at the last second. I called my employer (the temp agency) and told them what the underwriters were asking for.

The Miracle Turkey

This Thanksgiving my husband and I are thankful for the impossible gift of a home. Every stumbling block evaporated and we will close on our new home next week. As I wrote previously in Our Gordian Knot, the difficulties surrounding this were an impregnable fortresses only God could extract us from.

As I fell to my knees in thanksgiving, another memory surfaced, and given this particular feast day, I want to pull one story from the archives and share once again. Although this did not occur on Thanksgiving, it did involve a Turkey and I have not looked at one quite the same since this incident. God does indeed unravel our Gordian Knots, clothes us, pays our bills, and sometimes does the extraordinary through the very ordinary.

We were flat broke with several more days to payday. With three kids to feed and a pantry nearly bare, things looked pretty grim. I mentioned my concern to a close friend at work.
"Remember when God paid your insurance? If He will do that, he will surely fe…

Choosing to Believe

Our loan officer announced our application has gone to the underwriters and a decision should be made within the next two or three days. It is hard not to be anxious. We are ready to settle down and stop moving from place to place and from house to house. It seems now is the perfect time. The house is perfect. The price is perfect and interest rates are the lowest they have been in years, and yet, is it God's will for us?
So far, the issues of the down payment, the closing costs, the inspection costs and the appraisal costs have evaporated, all taken care of in ways we did not foresee. My heart says not to worry, but my mind still conjures images of things that could yet go wrong - until.

The Night of the Banshee

Bill brought Rusty home the day after Christmas, the year of the record snowfall, a plump white puppy too cute to resist, filled with an abundance of exuberance. The two were best buds from the first night. Ten years later, I was the Interloper who came onto the scene mid-way into the act and it was not love at first sight, not on Rusty’s side of the equation. Oh, he was charming enough during the initial greetings, it was later, after Bill and I sat down on the couch to watch a movie that his jealousy showed.  He wormed his way between us, giving me a look that said, "No one comes between me and my Dad." When Bill gently moved him to the other side of the couch, he got down, shot us an insulted look and headed for the bedroom. I did not think much about it, but I should have. My purse was lying on the bed.

Our Gordian Knot and Something Odd in the Sky

The freight train of trouble increased speed this week when my dad called regarding my mother. Doctors say she will have a major stroke if she doesn't have surgery to clear the clogged artery, and yet, given her current situation, they give her only a 50-50 chance of surviving the surgery. Another consultation is set for this coming week.
Shortly after receiving this heart breaking, nerve-wracking word, the car left me stranded - again -this time at the gas station.
Which issue do we address first? Should I take unpaid time off from work and make the seven hour drive home to see my mother, taking our only working vehicle or do we rent one? Do we fix the car first or do we we march ahead with buying a house? If we do go for the house, we avoid the double cost of two addition moves and higher interest, not to mention prices. If we go for a loan, will the job last long enough to close? We can only do one and by choosing it, will delay our ability to do the other for several months…

Playing Chicken

I'm not an adrenaline junkie. I don't like to sky dive, or climb steep cliffs, clinging by fingernails and toenails. I don't plan on being in an Indie 500 hundred race or become a fighter pilot. Yet, life sometimes forces me to play chicken with oncoming crises. I see the freight train coming, and I would prefer to get off the tracks, but I can't, not yet. The train has to get much closer before I can react. 

The Unexpected Journey

This past week Facebook hosted Throwback Thursday and many posted a nostalgic picture of either themselves or family. I resisted most of the day, but after enjoying the photos of others, I decided to participate and dug out my senior photo. I didn't remember this young woman.

I stared at the photo for several minutes before the memories returned. I still don't remember the day the photo was taken. I know I was seventeen, because it was taken in September of my senior year. With this memory recalled, more pieces fell into place.

I was dating my first husband at the time, and had no clue what was coming. I wouldn't say I was innocent, (my family could quickly illustrate that was not the case), I was however, naive. Growing up in a loving Christian home, I couldn't imagine the horrors some people could inflict on others. This young girl found out too quickly it isn't always safe to trust someone who says they love you.

Regaining My Sight

Rain is predicted all week. Although the moisture is needed, I spent most of our unusually hot August looking forward the the more temperate days of fall. Only a few trees are changing color. Will we not have the brilliant displays this year?

The weather seems a good metaphor for my own mood. As positive as I've tried to be, I can't push out the thought that the job will run out before the lease on the house, and our finances will be too tight to really prepare for our impending life on the road. Added to this, the car we planned to sell to help finance some of these expenses (and which we will no longer need when I quite work) wouldn't start last Friday and left me stranded in the parking lot at work. Not good timing for many reasons.

My husband and I had planned a weekend trip up north to scout out campsites and RV services in several areas we hoped to spend some time. We had already made reservations at a lodge along the Salmon River and it made us sick to think of can…

Plan G or is it Z?

Between our impending move and  the tenuous situation with my job I felt overwhelmed, unmotivated and frustrated all week. Added to this, I am struggling with the edits for my novel. During the best of times, writing is hard, and editing will cause any author to pull out fistfuls of hair. As a first time novelist, I am unsure, overly critical and overwhelmed. Good thing my hair grows fast.

My husband and I put our heads together and made some plans to offset the job situation and the move. We may end up with a Plan B or even G, but at least we have a current goal, something to shoot for. It felt good to be able to take some action, rather than just sit around and wring our hands.

What Is That?

I must admit I have created some rather memorable recipes when too tired to think, like the time I used cinnamon instead of chili powder in the taco meat.  I can’t describe how that smelled. Even the dog wouldn’t eat it.
Do you know baking soda foams when substituted for cornstarch in sauces? It looks something akin to Mt.Vesuvius the second it hits the pan, and it not only removes odors from the refrigerator. It also neutralizes all flavors.  I am not sure how to describe what was left in the pan, but it certainly wasn’t Oriental Pepper Steak, and no, I didn’t not bother to offer any to the dog.   

When I accidentally substituted the baking powder with baking soda in the tempura batter, it didn’t foam, but to this day, my husband swears the shrimp bit back.  
If you'd like to read the rest, I am a guest over at 777 Peppermint Place. Hop on over and join in on the rest of the fun!

What's Behind the Door?

When a friend approached me with a lead on a permanent position I nearly leapt from my feet and hugged her.  I've been working under a temporary contract for two years and it now looks as if the job maybe outsourced to another country sometime in the next few months. In view of this, this opportunity for a regular job seemed perfect - until I dug into the job description.

Yes, it is within my experience and skill set. Yes, I am a good candidate. What I read that has me not so thrilled were the words: may need to work holidays. I have seen this before, and it usually means shift work. I've tried working nights when I was younger. It was a disaster for both my employer and myself, and yet in this economy, and at my age, can I turn down the chance of employment with full benefits? 

Rough Night in Paradise

My husband and I have made five major moves in the eleven years we have been married, and literally lived on the road for five months in the RV, looking for the proverbial Paradise, the greener pastures, or whatever you want to call it.

We lived in our first house only three years when he decided he would rather live in Arizona. We left Oregon for Sierra Vista. We stayed one year in that city.

Wanting to travel, we bought an RV, put all of our household goods into storage, and hit the road as full time RVers. We passed through Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho in one month, We loved Idaho, and stayed in that state for four months. I wanted to move there, but we instead went back to Arizona. My husband felt it was financially prohibitive at that time to relocate such a distance.

The Juggling Act vs. The Wish List

So, how did I do this week with my attempt to balance my life? Well, the it resembled the picture to the left, there won't be any talent agencies offering me a contract for my juggling abilities. Out of all the balls I tossed into the air, I manage two phone calls to family and only made it out to the glider once - for about five minutes. 

What black hole is sucking up my time? After more reflection , I think I've discovered culprit No.2 - age. ( seeThe Wish List for Culprit No.1).

Yep it's age. When my kids were still young, I dreamed about all the time I would have after they were grown. Then, my dad burst that bubble. "You won't have any extra time after the kids are gone, because it will take you twice as long to do everything."

Guess what? Now that I have reached that same age bracket, I have to admit he was right, and that is something I fail to account for in my To Do Lists and my Wish Lists. When making those lists,  I feel invincible  with more energy t…

The Wish List

Every morning this summer I have vowed to spend a few minutes on the back patio watching the sunrise. I envision swinging on the glider, with my cup of coffee soaking in the serenity. How often have I accomplished this simple wish? Not one single morning, not even on the weekends, and it is August already.

How many other simple things do I push away feeling too harried and too rushed to accomplish? In all honesty, I am a bit nervous about opening that door, afraid of what I'll find stuffed in there. A few come to mind without much effort: more time spent with my husband - quality time - not the kind where we sit on the couch side by side with our computers or watching T.V. How often do I call friends and family? How often do I make the time to meet with them? 

The Twilight Zone

It was the day before my sister's wedding. I hadn't even finished hemming my dress, but figured I could squeeze in a quick lunch with a friend. I stayed too long of course, and raced out of the restaurant, right onto the Twilight Zone. My portal? A flat tire.

The tires were new. How could  I have a flat? I looked at my watch, three o'clock. My husband should be home. It was in the age before cell phones which meant I had to go back into the restaurant and use the pay phone in the lobby.

There was no answer. Odd. My husband and the kids should all have been home by then. I waited several minutes and then tried again, and again. Finally one of the boys answered.

"Where's your dad?"

"He's not home, Mom. Oh wait here he comes. Oh oh. They're towing the truck."

"Towing the truck? But, I have a flat tire! Never mind. Tell your dad I'll call your Grandfather."

After a thorough search of the car, my dad and uncle gave up trying to disc…

Better, Best, But Mostly In Between

Events over the last few days have not brought out the best in me, and yet they did not extract the worst either, but something in between.

 I didn't respond with a snide comment to my co-worker's cutting criticism, but I am sure my body language expressed my feelings loud and clear. Still,  it was better than uttering a unkind remark, right?

Not Peace?

Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword.  Matthew 14:34

For those of us seeking and praying for peace, these are harsh words. The text goes on to say there will be strife among families as well as neighbors and anyone who loves father, mother or siblings more than God is not worthy of Him.

 In Matthew 10: 16:23 Jesus further reveals the turmoil Christians will face. The brother also shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the son: and the children shall rise u against their parents, and shall put them to death.

In light of these passages, my personal experience this past week should not be such a shock. Family issues related to religion and politics and co-worker provocations knocked me off my feet and sent me reeling. I have tried to swallow my anger with limited success. The above scripture continues with the assurance that the kindnesses we do will not be without reward. Does holding my tongue and restraining my anger…

Coming Soon to an Amazon Near You - Sneak Preview....

Susannah Carlson’s premonitions do not foretell cataclysmic world events. They reveal child abductions, heinous crimes perpetrated by heartless monsters on innocent children. Knowing the exact time and place of the abduction, Susannah arrives ahead of the predator, and waits. When the criminal strikes, she intercedes, snatching the child away to safety, and ensuring the pedophile’s arrest and conviction – if all goes according to plan.  
When things go awry and people get hurt, Susannah must push through her doubts, worries and emotions and continue rescuing the children. Then, at the exact moment it appears she will lose everything, God grants her a miracle, and answers her most heartfelt prayer - if she can hold on to her faith long enough to receive it. 

Planned launch Fall of 2013. 
Cover by Lynnette Bonner at Indie Cover Design

Thick Skinned or Standing Firm?

With the approaching launch of my novel, I have read numerous blogs and articles about book reviews. Even  the most intriguing and well-written stories receive some bad reviews, and my work will be no exception. I think I'm mentally and emotionally ready. I think.

Stories, like art, are subjective, liked or disliked based on the viewer/reader's preferences. Does a bad review mean it is a bad story? Not necessarily, and then, maybe.

As with all criticism, the comment must be evaluated. Does it have merit? Would it improve the art to accept the suggestion? Or, is it only a personal opinion that doesn't bear any true relation to the quality of the art?

Divine Persuasion

Skeptics have asked, "If we have free will, then how do you explain Divine omniscience?" The answer of course lies in the difference between knowing an event will happen and controlling the circumstances that cause the event.

After becoming a parent, I related this to my youngest child climbing the so-called-no-climb-fence. The design merely slowed her down until I could race out the backdoor and nab her before she got to the top, usually.

It didn't take Divine omniscience to know what would happen should I fail, and my knowledge of the outcome, did not alter her freedom to choose. Same with God and us, except on a much higher scale.

This thought leads me to the idea of praying for someone's conversion, or change in behavior. What happens to free will in that instance? Do we, or God, force the person to act against their will? Of course not. This is where the power of Divine persuasion comes into play.

What's for Dinner

There are many weighty issues on my mind, the state of our world, the suffering of so many people, crime, wars, political scandals, personal issues. It is overwhelming.  My heart and soul are bent under the weight of it all.

I have heard all the usual axioms: think positive, don't worry about what might or might not happen, in other words don't borrow trouble. Who's borrowing? One look at the news, or an honest evaluation of my own circumstance tell me I don't need to borrow any. There's plenty of trouble right here in River City. Yes, folks, plenty of trouble.

City of Angels - Why Would an Angel Want to Be Human?

One of my readings, from the book of Tobias (one of the books of the Apocrypha), describes the Angel Raphael taking on the form of a man, a man recognizable by others  as a member of a particular family. A footnote to the scripture stated the angel personated the man.

Thinking about angels personating men reminded me of the movie, City of Angels. The premise is endearing, but flawed. How romantic to think a heavenly being would be so passionately in love, he would give up his angel status and become human. On more than one occasion Hollywood has implied this world is far better than the next, and all life would choose to be human.

Work - That Four Letter Word

I am aging, getting closer to that golden egg called retirement. I have all these grand ideas illusions about how much time I will have to write, paint and do all the things I've been dreaming about, not to mention not worrying about the stress of work. Am I doing a good job? Am I making too many mistakes? Have I annoyed anyone today? 
Believe it or not, worrying about whether I've annoyed someone gives me more stress than the others, almost. I worry about how I treat others to a nearly obsessive level. Why? Too many years in retail. My entire livelihood depended on whether my customers were happy enough to come back, and tell others about my business. I could not afford to offend anyone.

Nothing To Prove

Scriptures state it. Motivational speakers repeat it. Devotionals reinforce it. I believe it. Then I forget. I let the concerns, worries, and tribulations of the world rob me of this truth. I have nothing to prove.

God knows my heart. He knows my errors in judgement and my bouts of selfishness. He also knows my good deeds, my unselfish moments, and the times I truly acted with altruistic motives - even if no one else notices. He loves me. He  loves me when I am living my Christian faith and He loves me when I fail. So, what do I think I have to prove?

Like most everyone, I want people to like me. I want them to think good things of me. I want to be thought of as a good employee, a good friend, a good spouse, a good mother. Those wants encompass a lot of work and keep me in a constant state of worry, self criticism, and self promotion. And I don't need to do any of it.

What I keep forgetting is simple.

I Wish I Had the Video

It was one of those moments when you really regret that you don't own a video recorder.

New snow fell during the night, coating everything in that beautiful blanket of white. It wasn't really a  good consistency for cross country skiing, but my late husband, Shannon, and I were too eager to try out my new skis to wait for better conditions. We loaded up the gear and the dogs, Iger and Freida, and headed out to the mountains.

Love Not Sleep

I have not posted in awhile. I've been sloughing off on a vow, playing Jonah, and this week, God put me in the belly of the whale. I have a project He wants me to complete, one I have fought with Him over for years.

In the Why I Write Tab, I describe some of God's motivational techniques to keep me on track, among which have been lions, odd coincidences, and weird phone calls.

There's No Crying in Baseball

This past week was filled with the usual challenges, perceived injustices, and concerns. I responded in my usual manner - the movie scenarios. I mentally created a script, scene by scene, where I was either exonerated or the offender saw the light, corrected their misbehavior and apologized. Childish, yes. 

I have grown up some. I never seek revenge in my little scripts. I don't wish the perpetrators ill. No, just a scene wherein we mend the rift -  see how good I am trying to be? (I know, I still have a lot of growing to do and trust me, I am working on it.)
These little self indulgent movies always end in prayer, asking God for help in putting things into the proper perspective and to help me act out of love and compassion rather than from ego. And, God usually answers that prayer, sometimes immediately. 
After a series of challenges, blows to my self esteem, I hid out in the bathroom (the only room where I can truly be alone,) and tearfully asked God why I deserved what had just h…

Does It Really Matter?

Does it really matter? That question haunted me all afternoon, triggered by tests of patience, and insults to my ego. The cranky driver on my commute (I see a lot of them on the evening commute), the testy, rude co-worker. These are my Achilles heel. The incidents that worm their way into my emotions and ruin my inner peace.

An incident yesterday sparked another wave of What If fantasies. What if I did this? How would that make them feel? Or, what if I did this?

Boomerang Prayer

This week I have again struggled with being gracious to those who are inconsiderate and hurtful, not to mention thinking bad thoughts and stressing over world issues. I've allowed myself to get worked up into knots again. Sometimes it is not easy to escape the vortex of emotion when insulted, accused of wrong doing and observing atrocities happening in so  many places to so many people. Sometimes the anger just boils up and takes a long time to settle back down.

Swayed By the Wind

Resilience. Adaptability. Tolerance. Capacity for change. All good virtues, right? Except when they go too far and allow for too much tolerance for the wrong kind of changes. It seems we are more easily influenced by negativity or wrong doing than good. At least it seems the wrong things tend to spread more quickly than the good. Bad news, or gossip will circumvent the world faster than a good word or deed, unless it borders on the fantastical.

Gosh Awfuls, Jackalopes and Other Tall Tales

I grew up in what is known as the Oregon Outback, Eastern Oregon. My dad is a retired logger, and my childhood was spent in the woods, camped a few miles from where he was working at the time. Most often we were next to a lake or a creek - a wonderful way to spend childhood summers, except for my dad's tall tales.

Not only did we groan at the puns, my sister and I were often the stars of the tale.

One of these occasions we were camped about a thirty minute drive from the town of Silver Lake, up in the Gearheart Wilderness area. My father announced we were going to town for a Tube Steak dinner. All excited we loaded into the pickup truck and headed down the mountain. We never noticed the twinkle in his eyes, or the wink he gave the waitress when he placed our order. We waited impatiently for our Tube Steaks to arrive, totally unaware we were being duped.

 The waitress finally returned with plates piled high with French fries and something familiar looking in a bun. I looked at my …

Thus Far He Has Helped Us

Although there is nothing magical about January 1, as it is only a man made date on a calendar, we have over the centuries attributed it to new beginnings.  We make new resolutions, we plan, and we hope.

With so many changes in our world and our society, this new year brings more anxiety and I struggle with hope. The escalating tragedies, the fiscal cliff, the threat of higher taxes, another personal financial blow, uncertainty with my job (still working in a temp position), and on and on goes the list.

Then, I opened Streams in the Desert for December 31.

"Thus far the Lord has helped us. (Samuel 7:12.)  
The Lord who "thus far" has helped you Will help you all your journey through. 
And He has. I can look back not only over last year, but the year before and the year before that and back as far as I can remember. He has helped me. Comforted during the hard times, always offering hope for a brighter tomorrow. The hard times were only for a time, not a lifetime. This b…