Monday, December 20, 2010

Stress: "Smile if your heart is aching".

Monday afternoon. 1300.cst
(photo from dinner at Jamison's 21st birthday dinner)

Well yesterday I asked two congregations, "who had noticed stress in people as they were out shopping this last week" Hmmm.
Naturally, only about 20 percent ever respond unless it's a joke.. lol, but with that said there were a lot of smiles. Smiles. Hmmmm. What a concept. Infectious, intoxicating and invigorating. When mixed with a heart full of unconditional love, it's a powerful weapon against all forms of ---- crap that the world will throw at you. So why is it so hard to do.
Think of the people you love the most and want to be around. Close your eyes and envision them. Are they happy or smiling or full of love and grace...?
Think of the people you pray the most for, want the most for, ache the most for. Close your eyes. are they pictured as happy, full of love and grace or hurting, broken, prideful and unhappy?

As we finish out through this season of remembering Our Only Hope who came into this world helpless, let's (me first) try to look for those around us who need the hugs, need the gifts, need the kisses and kind words, meals, SMILES and the Prayers. It's easy to do this to the ones who are healthy. Pretty hard to do it to those we're trying to avoid. I think it starts with an honest smile from our hearts, reflecting the love of Christ buried deep into our deepest places. That wells up and shouts, "this smile is supernatural". You know it when you see it. It makes people want it, or convicts them when they run from it. Love, yes love, Agape and Philadelphia does not put self first or demand or expect. It just "does". And oh how "I", we need more of this attribute of Christ more and more each day. Judgment, condemnation, anger, malice, self-pity and self-righteousness somehow just don't seem like the one who set us free and lives within us.
So today whenever you encounter someone in a room, on a street, at work or play or home or ANYWHERE, try beginning your very first contact with them with a smile... even if your heart is aching. See what happens.. Surprise me God.
The phone is ringing, can't people just leave me alone when I'm in my quiet place..

Monday, December 13, 2010

always and never

We've always had a rule in the house that we dont' say "never" and we do not say "always".

What we actually say face to face, and what people actually hear from our words are sometimes so mistaken that you want to laugh, cry or just plain give up on English.

With the advent of V.Mail to email and now to texting. its hrd 2 evn remtly undstnd w peop are syng. Add in that someones keyboard might be malfunctioning and, well, or they dont' recieve your txt or email in proper sequence and you can have ww3 on your hands.

How do we communicate and make sure we are really communicating with people in the ways we intend to...

The photo above, is Jane and I in Tuscon AZ on a walk, taking a photo of the drybeds that lead to the Mexican border... :) Didn't realize our shadows were there originally. Make for an interesting photo. What's real, what's fake. Did I intend to put us in the middle of the pic?. Well everything depends on what you're thinking at the time.

We have a dear single friend Beth. She needed her car shoveled out at the airport and I said to Jane "Every single girl needs to have Triple A "AAA". She responded " well I don't". I responded "You're not single".. To which she responded " You DID say every single girl. Am I not a girl"????. Well there it is. What did I say --- and what did she hear? Single OR Single.....:)

What's important in this... We did not get pissed and shout at each other. We did not assume one was trying to make the other wrong. We just didn't understand what each other was really saying and by "calmly" talking it through we ended up laughing about it instead of arguing or fighting about it. How does that happen? WELL it doesn't ALWAYS.

We try so hard in life to please each other. To not offend each other. To be kind to each other.
We fail so often with the ones entrusted to us.

Prayer, Word, more Prayer, More Word, Confession and Worship are the solution for this mortal. Without covering myself in the presence of God, I find it harder and harder each day to deal with what we do to each other. How bout you... oh mortal friends.

Monday, December 6, 2010

This Christmas

It's another Monday morning. Christmas is looming in the distance, and all that brings to the commercial and the sacred. For some it's the best weeks of the year. For others the worst. Like all seasonal markers and holy days, it's our memories that make them what they are and can be. I thought about all those who are without some or all of those they love this Christmas.

On my way to a friends church last week to see him lead worship

I thought about this and began writing a new Christmas song that was finished by the time we arrived home. I recorded a demo that afternoon at home and a few days later created this video from that audio demo.

It's my prayer that at least for our military men and women, that this message resonates with them and brings them hope this holiday as they are away.

For myself and others, it's not having all those you love by your side at Christmas. Those who've come and gone, are miles away and those you just miss being around.

I realized that the only thing I can really do is "pray and let go". Leave them in the Fathers care and pray all their needs are met, whatever they may be at that time.

There are so many hurting this season with our nation struggling in many areas. I went to a Sr. Care Facility to see my mother this last weekend. Usually when I go, I see just one or two people visiting the hundreds of folks living there. So many alone. But last weekend there were at least 500 people with lines so long for food, they went down the halls and around the corner. With 45min waits for food. Two things struck me. One, the lines reminded me of the depression and what could happen here with our current apathetic and political trends. We could end up with soup lines again, and the people who actually have a place to live, sharing their homes and food to strangers. Churches opening their doors again to take care of widows and orphans since the Govt. will no longer be in a position with our tax dollars to do it.. (no comment here).
Two, I was reminded of how few of us (me included) take the time to see and visit our loved ones every week who are in care facilities. All those people with all that life knowledge and wisdom locked up, not sharing that information with others to learn from... So Sad.

So as we enter the Christmas season, I pray that I'll first of all, be more responsible to those in my care, and second to those to God brings across my path each and every day.

Crap, I see the mail man is knocking on my door. What the heck does he want now.... ;)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The bigger the better or badder.

Why is it that we are happiest with the small things but think we'll be happier with the big things.

When my second grandchild / first grandson was born I was reminded that like all parents, my daughter and husband were again to have a life of many hardships raising children. In that, they would see the hand of God over their own choices and decisions.

For our families, friends, lovers, enemies and neighbors we love to have the bigger, better, badder, newer, shinier. It brings a feeling of accomplishment, and feeling of pride, a feeling of richness, and yes, a feeling of god.
Not that any of it is bad. NO it's not, but it can give us the god complex of false superiority, lordship, worthiness, creator and dominator/denominator. That whole thing brings us white robes and big rocks in our hands.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, the poor, the hurting, hmmm the humble masses yearning to be free.... We / or better yet, I am reminded less than I should that it is in our poorness we are rich, it is in our hurting that we are strong. Yes, this doesn't preach well in a lot of church circles anymore, but I think it's talking about core spiritual principles that will affect in part the natural versions of the same things.
I struggle much with the whole aspect of living and teaching law vs grace with many of my contemporaries and friends from different walks of life.
As much as I hate the sin in me and the capacity to sin in me, I hate my god complex of being judge and jury over those less fortunate than I on any given day. I can pick up a stone as fast as anyone on a hot topic but never think it's as bad when i do it.
I love my Jesus in the face of Mother Theresa, MLK, Doctors without borders, church greeters doing the same thing at their job place. I don't see Jesus on the face of much of the modern church today. Not that we're worse than we've ever been, just maybe a bit more "smarter, slicker and relevant". All that can be incredible when applied to a humble foundation of the beatitudes, but dangerous when applied to any foundation of the "me/god foundation".

So as i leave for services this morning, I'm brought to tears again by Oswald C. on Aug. 22nd "My Utmost".
"When He comes, am I prepared for Him to drag into the light, every wrong thing I have done?
It is there when He comes. Wherever I know I am unclean He will put His feet; wherever I think I am clean He will withdraw them.
Repentance does not bring a sense of sin, but a sense of unutterable unworthiness.
.... The reason God can not come into my life (in more measure) is because I am not through (with my self) into repentance."

May pride be seen on my face Lord and may it be pride in only You and what you are doing in and through this revitalized holy, sanctified, marvelous.... oops I mean humble, broken, unworthy and thirsty vessel filled with moments of Your holy, sanctified marvelous grace.

pretty cute grandkids huh....:)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Remembering Fathers Day

Well here tonight on my deck I'm reminissing of my best friend. On fathers day I'm reminded of the thousands of smiles, tears and laughter I was blessed to share with my dad. He never talked about himself, the wars, his pains and struggles. He just had a kind gentle way of loving just about everyone. Taking over 100 foster children in with his 5 kids and a dog and cat, his only frustrations came out watching sporting events, muttering over a 3 putt or a duff chip, liberal politicians and trying to find a way to not argue with mom with "Oh Marilyn".... Never complained about 3 jobs, losing his company, 2 heart attacks and bypass surgery, lung and brain cancer. NEVER.
Could have had surgery for the lung and brain cancer but like the end of Private Ryan said "I've lived a good life, I'm ready to close this short story and enter the novel of all novels. Never talked about another woman other than his wife. Rarely ever took time for himself and Never complained about that either. Loved to shine shoes on a Sat. PM and wear a turtleneck with a sportcoat. Loved mustache wax and relished every moment of a good cigar (from me:) lol, cause he'd never spend over 2bucks for one. I think my favorite moment was taking him along on a road trip to Palm Desert for a gig. He'd not been away from my mom more than 2 days in over 35 years. We stood alone on a lush Tee box as the sun came up in the desert with the mountains all around and I don't think he ever thought he's be that lucky to do that. That look, that smile, that "gosh this is something" gaze with a fist pump... forever priceless.
And now every day I stand on a course we used to play or at a restaurant we'd eat at... I'm reminded of how grateful beyond measure I am for such an incredible friend for so many years.
And then yesterday walking off a golf course past the clubhouse window I glanced into the window and saw him.... It was a reflection of me in the window... who I can only hope is somewhat a reflection of a man much larger that I'll ever be.

Monday, May 24, 2010

"The Look"

Here is a photo i took this morning as I was writing and having my first Espresso . Does this look like the "look of love?"
Burt Bacharach and Hal David once wrote a great tune "The Look of Love".
Dusty Springfield was the lucky girl to be blessed to do the vocal track back in 1967. Well all I remember from '67 is that I had a crush on my 5th grade teacher who drove a brand new orange "Barracuda"fastback. WOW she was like Dana Fitzpatrick.
Honestly 40 years later I now love the version by Diana Krall and I wanna fly fish for Barracuda.

Today Jane and I have been blessed to raise three uniquely incredible children. If you showed this photo to our three children, all three would tell you that that's "the look".
I never liked spanking, but all three of our kids up till the age of around 5 got there share when all else failed. Marissa would rightly tell you she got the most over the boys. She had the most "my will not thy will" inbred. (hmmm where did she get that?).
Well there comes that time when you really must stop corporal punishment and move to other methods of "teaching" lol. I developed "the look". When I'd give this look to my kids it meant " don't even think about it", or "you are Not serious" ,or " If you lie to me I'LL know anyway".

It's important to keep that and other things in your parental arsenal to "hopefully" use when you feel those you love are slipping, have slipped or are headed to slip and hurt themselves.

The look would never honestly be used to hurt those you love only to help them, or help them stop, think and or pause to understand something. (If only children could understand that).

GOD..... How bout God....

What has He done for us? How does He convey "the look"? What is His method of trying to get you or I to pause, stop, think, reflect, pray, search our memory banks for "Word" to help us make proper decisions.

Today think about if you couldn't talk out loud or be seen by your kids -and- you had to find some way in love to encourage, discipline and help shape your kids destinies. How would you do it? How would it make you feel to watch them make bad choices and you couldn't speak outloud to stop them. How would that break your heart.

GOD.... How bout God....

Jesus was and is "the look of love", "the word made flesh", our living example of life. The living Word is all we have to hear clearly God's voice and His opinions. Prayer/Worship is our supernatural connection to knowledge, wisdom and power. and although it's one of the things we spend the least time at, it is like eating the Word one of the hardest to be faithful at. It's so much easier to go have coffee with friends and talk about other faults while reciting a verse or two.

Father today, help me so that I can make better decisions and choices in this walk of faith and not have to fall off any cliffs I see as adventure. Keep my conscience open to Your direction and help me see "the look".

Monday, May 17, 2010

Using Your Imagination

So here is a photo of a new "fly" I tied last summer for Smallmouth Bass. #8 upsidedown turned eye. Yellowdot barbells, olive marabou, rubberlegs, crystal flash, chenille, peacock herl and a tail cut of silicone from a worn out C-pap mask. lol
So what makes one think of these things and tie them all into a flyfishing fly? The need to create! God put it into all of us. We are created in His image. Will it ever catch a fish? Doesn't really matter but I KNOW it will :) You gotta love the sharpie black dots on the silicone to represent frog or dots on a minnows body. Come on, cant you see it bouncing on the bottom with the hook up (so as not to get caught on rocks) darting up and down with the marabou pulsing and the rubber legs moving in the current with the tail swinging and the peacock and crystal flash reflecting light. oooooh, so exciting for a fly tier. Yes it will probably get caught and a rock and snap off only to never be eaten but just maybe... :)

Now you all read this and say to yourself , whew I never new Craigt had such weird hobbies outside of songwriting and creating food dishes. Well it's only the latest I'm confessing.

How bout you. Those who have strong creative gifts already know what they are but it's those who swear they cant create anything but a mess that I'm interested in. You just need to let go, design time to develop your inner passions and forget who thinks anything about it.
You may love designing. Start it on paper, then bring it to your medium. Arts/Crafts, clothing, horticulture, science and on and on. You may love writing or music. There is no end to where you can "create". Begin in your home. Don't worry what your family says so long as you enjoy it and it doesn't take away from your life responsibilities or obligations. There is something "whole" that happens when you use your God given imagination. Note to self: "don't EVER look for others to think it's good OR think it's good yourself. Unrealistic expectations are the death of most creators. They are not met and we give up. I wonder what things God created that He finished and said, "hmmm, I can do better that that". One thing's for sure, He didn't say that when he created you.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Remember before you forget...

Last night I was watching a movie of love and life with Morgan Freeman as a therapist. Lot's of broken hearts, death and dying. In the movie his own son dies of heroin overdose and he had no clue. As a counselor he felt a failure. Staring at young adults and children at a wedding he sadly mused, "it's beyond tragic". His wife looking at this celebration said, "what do you mean". He replied in pain, " they have no idea what they are headed for. The pain, sorrow, hurt, brokenness of life that ends sadly...
I shed a tear, agreeing in so many ways that this is really truth. Regardless of our beliefs and creeds, there are basic truths we in a life of faith try to gloss over. Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come and the years draw near when you say, "i have no pleasure in them". Ecc 12:1

Above is a photo taken last year of my mom with her grand and great grandchildren at our homestead. I see the joy of everyone in that moment but am reminded that as my father passed on three years earlier of brain cancer and my mom began a slow journey into dementia , that life will have remarkable twists for all these grand and great grandchildren. 100 yrs from now their children and grandchildren will look back on this photo and tell stories of their lives and journeys. Have we prepared them for reality? Have we shown them our failures so they do not have to repeat them, or have we hidden them away for another generation to suffer? Have we spoken Solomon's final summary in Ecc. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments." So simple yet so hard to live and teach as fallen/redeemed mortals. I look above and pray for continued new beginnings, lessons learned with the ability to grasp grace and humbly receive and grant mercy in all things to all people. Thank you Jesus that you are the foundation of all on which we can stand, hope and believe when life sends it's blows and we are grasping for the very air You breathe.