June 28, 2007
What's Under Your Mountain?
View From the Mountaintop, More Mountain at Eureka Springs AR
From the pen of the great Dr. Robert Rhom, of Personality Insights,Inc. a thoughful peice on what we think of as "Our Mountaintop Experience"Re-evaluate your mountaintop experience.
Most of us have had some type of mountaintop experience during our lifetime. Perhaps it was getting the coveted driver's license at the age of sixteen. Maybe it was getting married or having children. It could have been graduating from college and then stepping into a dream job. In any case, whenever something really wonderful happens to us, our excitement causes us to view it as one of life's mountaintop experiences.
I recently heard a man say that he had worked all of his life to get to the top of his own personal mountain. He talked about the struggles and challenges he had faced both personally and professionally. The relationships he had with family and friends had caused him both happiness and sorrow. He reflected on the massive amount of time, effort and energy it took to reach the specific goals that he had laid out for his life.
Finally, one day he reached the top of his mountain. As he stood there looking out over his life and all of his accomplishments, he looked down and realized that the mountaintop was not at all what he thought it was. It was simply a huge heap of "junk" (both good and bad) that he had climbed up in order to get to where he was.
The heap he stood on consisted of all the obstacles and difficulties that he had faced. There were broken relationships and many long hours of hard work and study. Under his feet lay challenge after challenge that he had encountered in his business life. The many heartaches and tears shed over painful relationships with family and friends were also part of the pile.
Mixed in with all of that were some great times of happiness too. All of the things he had done and experienced in life brought him to the place where he stood at that moment. It actually turned out to be a good place. Though it had not been easy, it had all been well worth the journey to get to where he wanted to be in life.
When I heard that story, I identified with it so very much. I love life! I love to see goals attained after hard work. I love to see groups of people work together and everyone succeed. I love to see families encouraging and helping one another. But, the truth of the matter is, the mountain really is made out of a lot of "junk". Hard work, traffic jams, taxes, wasted time, frustrating situations, wrecked dreams, dashed hopes, broken relationships - the list of challenges that we all have faced at some time in our life could go on and on. Yet, if we keep going, if we keep climbing, we will keep moving upward. And if we keep going upward, we will eventually get to the peak of our own personal mountaintop. That will be a great experience!
Why not begin to consider what "stuff" makes up your own mountain? Things may not be the way you want them to be right now, but as long as you do the next right thing and move in a positive direction, you will continue to grow.
The aspect of a beautiful mountaintop experience has a whole new meaning when you realize that it does not matter what the mountain is made of. It matters not that the mountain is composed of a lot of "junk". What matters most is that you end up standing on top of it all rather than being consumed by it! If you keep striving and climbing you will eventually get on top of it and you will have a life that is helpful to you, your family and your friends.
I will see you on the mountaintop!
Robert Rohm Personality Insights, Inc.
I read this in the midst of a personal crisis, I am truly reevaluating my "mountain" and finding that there is a lot of rubbish there...Praying for a transformation in my life, and a "forgetting of the things laying behind"
June 23, 2007
Matthew 6:25-34 Don't Worry, Be Happy!
This Beauty doesnt worry about what to wear, a lovely butterfly at the Butterfly Farm, Branson MODo Not Be Anxious
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear?For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
June 21, 2007
Bloom Where You Are Planted
bloom where you are planted... A young tree in a pasture near Rogers Arkansas
Post started 6-14-07
As some of you know, the title of the photo on my masthead is "Bloom Where You Are Planted" That tiny ironwood sapling growing out of a lava flow, pounded by daily high tide and surf was a beautiful metaphore for my life in Hawaii, with its constant struggles in the midst of intense beauty...
This picture of this tree, surrounded by green grass, with a ceiling of summer storm clouds that bring needed rain, is a picture of my life two years since our return to the mainland. Yes the tree is at risk from grazing animals and the bulldozers that continue to destroy the beautiful farms here for unneeded housing tracts. (there is housing standing empty here since the bust, we dont need to build a new house until 2012 and would have plenty for new commers to the area,)It could get whacked by a haymowing machine, or blight...but for now it is just happy and growing in this pasture under God's sky. It is the way I need to be... the way I need to look at life.
Here at home, things have stablized under a sort of truce. Woody is reading the blog regularly something that he didnt do before and I am not sure why this changed maybe he will see this and tell me. It does inhibit me somewhat which is symptomatic of the issues in our life dont you all think? I am a pretty straight up person but fear that " anything said can and will be used against me" so the bit of caution.
While at the retreat Father Bob advised me to sit and wait and see how things turn out. I think its good advice. Because of our radically different work schedules, our mutual nocturnal restlessness, and perhaps a need to widen the space between us, Woody is moving into the room that was going to be my office, sewing, ME room... sunny and bright with my books and momentos from Hawaii in it. Because the hall way bath is right there and I have been using that one, I will have to move out of it too. Woody is moving out of the partially compleated Masterbathroom (remember the horror of a remodel? that shower has NEVER been used...Its full of shelving and other construction materiels, and stuff for the final work to finish off the room and its never been done...hmmmm. Draw your own conclusions about that.) I have never had the time myself to work on this. Perhaps now I will have some time to work on it.
I am moving the office and all of that into the materbedroom and we are buying new beds. It feels final and is as drastic as a real move. It marks a change that will be a good thing as I will pursue working nights with a passion now that I have discovered how wonderful it is. However,I feel like I am losing something...
For nearly 12 years I have prayed that God would intervean in our relationship, and He has chosen not to. Both parties have to be willing and there has been a lack of willingness. Now that situation will decided.
I have lived a double life nearly all of my life. Everything looks great on the outside while I am bleeding to death on the inside. I think its time for that to stop here with regards to this situation. I love Woody, he can be a great guy, but he is not easy to live with... neither am I but I know that much of my demands and issues are the normal stuff of living. Its not wrong to want a task compleated, or something done in a timely way. Its not wrong to desire attention and not to be treated like you dont have feelings...
My life is good, even in this current state of uncertainty. I am materially better off than I ever have been and have more opportunity now than ever. But there is this nagging feeling that I have surrendered, given up. And yet another dream has died on the vine... Anger that Woody gets his way again, now he can be married and not be a husband...It hurts....The biggest tragedy is that Woody thinks hes being altruistic and that this situation is a good thing, which of course in a practical sense it is...But my heart is not practical, and that I see the symbolic separation as being a separation in fact.
I can only hope that this drama of moving will satisfy the need for constant upset versus a workable relationship. In the mean time I will try to bloom where I am planted, knowing that my Father in Heaven is looking after me. He will only allow what is truly for my good. I must trust and believe that all will be well.
Labels: Breaking News, Woody
June 17, 2007
1 Samuel 2:1-10~Lord, there is none like You!
Wailoa Park Hilo Hawaii
“My heart exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
“There is none holy like the Lord;
there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble bind on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low and he exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord's,
and on them he has set the world.
He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
for not by might shall a man prevail.
The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces;
against them he will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king
and exalt the power of his anointed.”
June 10, 2007
John 6:28-70 Jesus, the Living Bread
Dogwood Blossoms Honey Creek State Park Grove OK
John 6:28-70I Am The Living Bread
Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?"
Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent."
Therefore they said to Him, "What sign will You perform then, that we may see it and believe You? What work will You do? Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"
Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always."
And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."Rejected by His Own
The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." And they said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, 'I have come down from heaven'?"
Jesus therefore answered and said to them, "Do not murmur among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."
The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?"
Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven--not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever."
These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum.Many Disciples Turn Away
Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, "This is a hard saying; who can understand it?"
When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, "Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father."
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?"
But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve.
June 06, 2007
In The Steps of St. Francis
Cross at dawn...outside of the chapel of Little Portion Retreat Center at More Mountain, Eureka Springs AR
I went away this past weekend to a retreat at the Little Portion Retreat Center in Eureka Springs. The Retreat Leader was the wonderful John Michael Talbot
who has a myspace page that is fun to look at so I have linked it up. If you are into Contemporary Christian Music you will love all of the other notables that have commented and "friended up" JMT, so you can see their links too. I cannot begin to express the impact this man has had on my life for years and years and to have him practically as a neighbor is wonderful.
Our Retreat Master John Michael leading us in worship
You can see by how John Michael he is dressed that this is not an average guy. He stops people in their tracks at bus stations and airports. He took the Franciscan habit and manner of life some 30 years ago. He lives a life of total evangelical poverty...meaning that he has a lot of things in his life that make him not poor, but in fact he would tell you he owns nothing. He has made, Im sure millions, in his life as a musician, but has given all of it away. Instead of the limelight he lives the life of a religious hermit, spending a large part of his time in prayer and solitude, and when not doing that living a life of service to others... a well balanced existence...
The retreat was on the life and legacy of St. Francis. I am not a scholar and know only what I have read of the life of this man of God, but he captures the imagination as his day was not unlike our own and Francis chose the life of living with no stuff rather than following in the footsteps of his father who was a very wealthy self made man...
me at Little Portion standing next to a bias relief sculpture of St Francis in the herb gardens. Once 60 members strong this community like many others has seen fewer vocations, and doesnt have themanpower to sustain large gardens. They are now raising free range organic chickens to support themselves, rather than growing produce. They were once considered the best organic produce farm in Arkansas.
The first discussion was on the actual life of Francis, debunking myths and trying to understand and place him in a historical and religious context. Then focusing on the major teachings known as the Evangelical Counsels of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. ...Gospel poverty, which again means not so much not having anything but rather doing without something for the sake of another having what you could have taken. We can all agree with one statement that stuck with me, that we live in a society that is so focused on gratifying every desire, every want... that we don't know what it is we truly need anymore. Without pointing a finger at anything we could all look at modern life and say this of ourselves. We have so satiated ourselves with our desires that we have starved out our needs, and in turn perhaps deprived another of the chance to get their needs met. I have mixed feelings about expanding this to the world poverty situation the way he does, because I think that we have a lot of corrupt governments in the business of keeping their people starving, like Mexico for example, or better still the horror of Darfur.
Much of the trouble in our home is exactly what this is getting at. I very much doubt that Woody knows what he needs, he gratifies pretty much every whim I know of. I am not much better but there was a time when I was not as bad as now. I realized this late last year as I was charging up a storm and buying stuff that really wasnt needed... So in response I am trying to do less of everything that involves spending or using more than I need, and trying to find out what that means...Working on my weight, cutting back and nearly eliminating spending and debt. Paying off my van... I got the title to that today...And, as we are making plans to change our lives as far as our relationship goes, not buying but rather selling some of our possessions so that things will be easier and more equitable between us. These are the types of things that were discussed under the topic of Poverty
Chastity is thought to mean the absence of sex, but it is a way of thinking that holds the moral high ground if the face of the onslaught of moral depravity we see everyday in our lives. For me it meant that making this change to nights so that a certain married man here at work spends less time hanging around my desk and causing loose talk, is a way to maintain the moral high ground. It means turning the channel when garbage is on, or not reading books that are little more than verbal pornography. I am always surprised at the number of "Christian Romance" novels that are nearly as trashy as the "regular" kind...
St. Francis saw himself as a true knight. He had been in the military service of a prince and the Pope and was a young man caught up in the age of Chivalry. His views on the capabilities and mores of woman were much higher than his peers. This is evidenced in his writings and in biography. He felt that immoral behavior was not to be tolerated especially in the church. There is no evidence he ever had a relationship with his lady followers as is sometime suggested.
The third counsel is perhaps the hardest. True obedience isnt just a military "Yes, Sir-No Sir" sort of thing. Its bending your will, even breaking your will to that of your superior. John Michael is the Superior of a religious community
, perhaps of of the most extraordinary communities in the US. It is the only one that has mixed vocations, but more on that some other time. My point was he deals with all sorts of people and its true of all of us. Everyday we need to bend our wills to those that God has placed over us. For me its Woody, who while he is my husband and doies have authority over me he so seldom makes the hard decisions that its hard for me to bend when he does... and lately I am glad that I havent because I am not sure what is driving him these days...but one thing is sure...its not God... and of course for me my employer is one that I find that I have had trouble with in this area but when I gave in and put my mind to working being committed to "thisplace " as my job and put my heart into the work it has gone much better for me.
brother Andrew ringing the chapel bells, This gentle man puts his heart and soul into every task I see him perform.
Its also doing what you know is right and not sitting around until you have to do something. I find that I am at this point spiritually. I will be starting to attend Mass regularly and if it all works out, I will be entering the Roman Catholic Church. One of my great heroes in the faith, Elisabeth Elliot Gren, admonished me from the deepest recesses of my mind this weekend. As JMT was talking about Obedience, her voice sternly reminded me that "Delayed obedience is disobedience". I have been waiting for the right time. Its time. I will likely lose the rest of my family and the few friends from California that I have left, however I know that this is what I want to do.
bell tower at Little Portion Monestery
I stood in that chapel surrounded by the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, both Consecrated and Domestic, as well as the other retreatants,... they were just the most amazing group of people, a full half were not Catholic, and there were three pastors among them searching for the truth of this unique presentation of the ancient faith. You would never know that this was a Catholic Mass, until the liturgy of The Word was over and the liturgy of the Eucharist began... ( it was first saturday night so there were "smells and bells" and the Gloria too)We sang the original music John Michael wrote for the Mass, which they say they never grow tired of, and we received...
"Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but just say the word and I will be healed.
How I long for that.
I long for a deeper more radical commitment to God. I think that I have found it in the steps of St. Francis. When a person is interested in getting involved with a monastic order they are invited to "Come and See"... I am in that place of looking and seeing. May God grant me the humility and the courage to follow my heart on this, as I seek only His truth for my life.
the sheeprun near Holiday Island
Labels: Faith, John Michael Talbot, Little Portion