Sunday, January 15, 2017

Taking a Walk on a Snowy Day

Walking in the snow, especially new snow, is an educational experience. I love it. I can see what happens when I'm not around.

The one-and-a-half-inch-wide trail pushed in the snow from one small hole to another shows me how the moles and mice move during the winter (and probably every other time of the year).

Over there are seemingly random scattered bunny tracks mingled with the stray dog tracks. (We don't own a dog.) The dog was out for a morning adventure and came upon a rabbit that was irresistible. I can see whose dog it is from where the tracks arrive on my property.

Then I come upon a large groundhog hole. No tracks. Maybe he's sleeping.

I can see where the deer emerge from the back woods and where they meander along my large back yard until they appear at my window, looking for food at the bird feeders.

Tiny finger prints show me a raccoon lives somewhere and travels the path I walk each day.

And then there is the occasional boot print signaling a hunter who has been given permission to take rabbits on our property, which lends a different explanation to the dog and rabbit mixer a little earlier.

I may not be getting high aerobic exercise, but the education is priceless.

Friday, January 13, 2017

I Can't Fix This

(photo from Mid-Day.com)
(by rachel hope turany mendell)

My life was thrown up into the air and fell, shattered into tiny bits.

I tried desperately to put the pieces back together by myself, but I couldn't. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do: fix my life, be a grown up, get it together. But the life I put together was twisted and angry, bitter and ugly, the precious glass was leaking and the glue wouldn't hold.

Then God said, “Stop. Be still.”

Actually, He had been saying this for a long time. I just finally listened … and obeyed.

I stopped.

I quit struggling.

I dropped the few pieces I had in my hand, seeing that the damage was too great. I couldn't mend it.

I couldn't even clean up the mess without cutting myself.

So, I sat back and looked at it.

And God said, “It's okay. I'll clean it up. You just sit there and rest while I do the work.”

So, I did.

And He began His work. I couldn't see what He was doing and sometimes I craned my neck to take a peek. It was then God said, “Rachel, I've got this. You have to trust Me. The new wine glass will be good as new – better than new. In the mean time, I have some things You need to do for Me.”

“Okay,” I said.

It took me months to stop trying to peek at God's handiwork. When I tried to see, He would remind me that I had other work to do, and my wanting to see was distracting me from the work He had given me.

And all the while people were swirling and twirling around me saying, “Why aren't you dancing with us? You should be singing. Don't waste the gifts God gave you. You should be earning money. You sure got boring all of a sudden … Just clean up that mess quick and come join us!”

They didn't say, “Rachel, you changed. We want the Old Rachel back,” … but it felt to me like that is what they were thinking.

So, I am in the dining room or the study, doing the little jobs God has given me to do.

I know God is in the kitchen cleaning up the mess I helped to make. (I can hear Him working in there sometimes.) He has shown me how I helped to break the wine glass and those actions and attitudes and beliefs need to go out with the rest of the trash and be burned.

And once in a while I go up to God and say, “How much longer? Can I help?”

… and He is silent.

… and I go back to my study where I am reminded of a job I said I would do, but forgot because I was imagining how nice the wine glass would look if I was the one who fixed it.

And each day, God reminds me:

  • to worship Him in the place He chooses;
  • to study His un-measurable wisdom and knowledge in His Word; and
  • to love the people around me in the way He shows me.

All those people who wanted me to be Old Me are growing silent. The waiting becomes easier because of it.

And I don't ask what it will look like anymore – I'm not ready to see it yet.

Because when God reveals my wine glass, it will be exactly what I need and completely different than I expect.

And it will be the very best wine in the world.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Sondra, the Warrior

The Sword of the Spirit
I miss her – a lot. I was supposed to have a meeting with her last week. Now I'm counselor-less, but more important, I lost an excellent friend.

I never thought I would ever “need” therapy or go to a counselor. But life happens and things were happening to me I never thought ever would. So I made the call.

And God blessed me with an awesome, Spirit-led friend.

Sondra was a Christian counselor and a friend I could count on: “Remember, I'm only a text away.” She gave me solid, time-tested, Biblical advice – which worked. She also gave me my space: “Just let me know when you are ready to have another meeting.” She knew who I was before I knew who she was. She was available to me before I was ready to let her in. In fact, a friend suggested I call her several times … until the day I was desperate, and then that friend insisted.

And I am so glad I dropped my barriers and called her. She was concerned right from the beginning and was willing to set up an emergency meeting.

Our meetings were filled with insight, prayer, praise, caution, warnings and encouragement. Always encouragement. She trained me in communication. She showed me how to plumb the depths of my mind and heart to find, with God's help, what was causing me pain. She helped me discover behaviors and thought patterns that I didn't realize were harming me. She trained me in spiritual warfare and saw in me a warrior.

She made God bigger in my life.

I'm glad I copied down her texts. I can reread them today to remind myself of my strategy when I am under attack. I'm glad I took notes at my meetings with her. I can study them and practice the skills she shared with me.

When I heard that she passed I was shocked. She was only 65 and busier than she had ever been. Then the shock was replaced with empowerment. Sondra wanted me to share my skills with others, especially my daughters. I was drawn to the story in the Bible of Elijah placing his mantle on Elisha (1 Kings 19:15 and 2 Kings 2:1ff). Sondra passed her gifts to me. She turned on a light inside me that revealed the gifts I already had, but wasn't using.

I'm not sure how I'm going to use my gifts, skills and strategy. But that doesn't matter. Sondra urged me to be ready, always. She said I was in the Holy Ghost school, just like she was and He had a lot to teach me. All I had to do was pay attention and do it … or to quote Scripture, “blessed are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

Here are a few remembrances of her and her lessons. Maybe one of them will encourage you or urge you on to what God has planned for you:

She always called me “Sweetie.”

She used the Amplified Bible.

Her favorite essential oils were black spruce and frankincense.

She trained me in Spiritual Warfare: “The promise to you is that if we seek His Face … God will give us The Divine Strategy. God has a plan. Once you Pray and Cry Out … the Entire Spiritual Realm is Activated.”

She suggested books: “Strongman's His Name … What's His Game?” by Drs. Jerry & Carol Robeson (I highly recommend this one); “God Calling” (a Christian classic) by A. J. Russell, “Exposing Witchcraft in the Church” by Rick Godwin; and “anonymous: Jesus' hidden years … and yours” by Alicia Britt Chole (totally recommend this one - gave me a huge sense of peace).

She reminded me:

- I don't need approval from anyone except God. I do not have to defend myself. If they want the reasons, they can ask. Then I speak a word of truth.

- I don't need to apologize for the decisions I make.

- I am free because Jesus set me free. (John 8:36)

- I need to be assertive in my relationships, not passive, not aggressive, and not (the always ugly) passive/aggressive

I don't know if or when I will get another counselor, but I know God will show me who it is supposed to be. I know God took Sondra because her work here is finished. That means I have been given everything I was meant to take away from my meetings with Sondra. That means if I don't know what to do, I immediately run to God.
I now feel a sense of urgency to continue on with what Sondra has given me. I am working through all her notes again, making more notes, creating cards and art with her quotes - so that I remember. Because she gave me SO much in the few short months we met together. I'm continuing in my personal Bible study and furthering my research on subjects were covered like manipulation, tithing, lying and assertiveness in love.
I am steering clear of regret, which would be easy to do since I was given her number years ago and never called. I could have also called her more often for meetings. I know these thoughts may creep up in my weak times, but I also know God is bigger!
Sondra showed me God is huge, way way bigger than I imagined yesterday and He will continue to grow in my heart as I meet with Him and study His Word.
This is not the mushy, sad remembrances of a great friend now lost forever; it is some of the Marching Orders handed to me by a fellow warrior. This is not the hole of hopelessness. This is the call to action.
She told me to remember: John 10:10 (AMP) - “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, til it overflows).”
and: 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (AMP) - “For though we walk (live) in the flesh, we are not carrying on our warfare according to the flesh and using mere human weapons. For the weapons of our warfare are not physical (weapons of flesh and blood), but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, (Inasmuch as we) refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the (true) knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”
This is the last passage she gave me. It's tacked on my desk right above my computer so I can read it every day: 1 Peter 5:8 (AMP) – “Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring (in fierce hunger), seeking someone to seize upon and devour.”
I will close with another passage she gave me – my go-to when I am weak: John 8:36 (AMP) – “So if the Son liberates you (makes you free men), then you are really and unquestionably free.”
Sondra Meek

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Wall

by Rachel H.T. Mendell

Recently I posted a photo of a wall on my Facebook page. No words. Just a brick wall. I was surprised at the response I received. Walls seem to bring emotional responses from people. Walls that keep us in. Walls that keep us out. Walls can be safety. Walls can be prisons. I will share my friend's responses with you. Feel free to share your responses with me.

Kay said, sometimes you just feel like another brick in the wall...hey this could be a song!

Jenny said, Who ya gonna call? Brick Busters!!!

Sue said, I keep waiting for Michael Jackson to dance by. The Wall was my favorite album of his.

Jane said, Sometimes I feel surrounded by that wall.

Mark said, Sometimes it takes a whole lot of bricks to make a wall.

Jon said, Sometimes the wall is SO high … it can take YEARS for it to come down.

Maggy said, Sometimes you have to be like Harry and just walk right through

Maggy responded again, 9 3/4

Abigail said, Sometimes you just feel like bashing your head into it.

Vallerie said, Sometimes...it is necessary. Gives you a chance to reconcile your data. Perhaps you can then find the way or revise the plan. Breathe.

Vallerie responded again, Oh yeah...? Ya.

Cheryl F. said, Boy, do I get it.

Fred said, Sometimes we're so focused on the bricks and mortar of life and we miss the builder.

Marcia said, Sometimes I walk right into the wall, at 90 mph.

Theresa said, ... what's up!!??

Jonathan said, Bricks. Red. Hitting the wall. :)

Edith said, Not good. Get better!

I responded to Theresa, What does as wall mean to you ...

Cheryl G. said, 'Just another brick in the wall' comes to my mind!

Kim said, climbing the walls (here :-))

Cheryl F. said, Getting absolutely nowhere!

Susan said, Zechariah 2:5 – 'For I,' declares the LORD, 'will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.'"

Cindi said, Walls are built brick by brick but not always taken down that way. Usually the walls come down in sections. Sometimes it can be pieced back together like a puzzle, other times it is crushed and beyond repair. We should be careful how we build our walls and be sure of the reason we build them. And when God knocks one down and it is beyond repair we should move past it and not seek to repair what He has destroyed. If He wanted you to fix it, He would have made it repairable. Have courage! “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

Vallerie said, It is a sign ... reach down for your bootstraps, lifting yourself up and digging in ...Go over, go around or go through the problem...just do it.

Noel said, Everybody has a brick. We each have our own brick. Sometimes several bricks. They add up to a large wall that we can all go bang our heads against. Some days that's what it feels like, and then poof, the next day the wall is gone!

Rob said, The Mortar of Life begs for Kool Ade Man to burst through. Oh yeah. 


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Sower, The Seed and Me (Luke 8:4-8)


I grew up in the church. This is a wonderful thing. But sometimes, as I study the Bible, I come to a passage that explodes in my head: “All this time (i.e. my whole life) I thought this, and now ...”

So it is with the Sower and the Seed.

Somehow I got it in my head that there was One Seed for me and my duty was to be the Good Ground. I went through life listening to the Bible preached at various churches, reading my Bible in various versions, taking my various Bible classes and believing I was the Good Soil and that I was ALWAYS the Good Soil.

But during my most recent study of Luke 8, I realized at different times, at different days, even at different hours during that day, I can be – and I am – all the different kinds of soil. It's all a matter of the condition of my heart, my willingness to change, my ability to pause, my sacrifice of time to ponder at the time the seed is planted.

“... some fell by the wayside …” (vs. 5) – When I read the Word, or read a devotion, or listen to a sermon, but I'm not really letting it in, I have a hard heart. I might even block it out even as it is being read to me, intent on thoughts of the week to come or the lady in the next pew over or what am I making for dinner? The Seed disappears from my brain before it even has a chance to get to my heart. I have too much going on in my life that I think I can handle on my own, so I become a cement walk-way inside, and the seed I received just lays there, getting stepped on by the world.

“... some fell on rock ...” (vs. 6) – On the way home from church I'm excited about what I heard, but no one is joining the discussion with me so I allow it to die after just a few hours. It needs further study. It needs more water. But by bedtime I'm worrying about all my work and the seed dies of thirst.

“... some fell among thorns ...” (vs. 7) – At church I have taken copious notes and feel overwhelmed by The Seed I have received during the service. I get home and I allow every thing to crowd around the New Seeds I have gathered: TV, family, responsibilities, conversation, homework, checkbook balancing, shopping, work duties, a new movie and animal care. Whatever was planted drowns and chokes until, by Monday morning, most of the seedlings are forgotten, dead.

“... but others fell on good ground ...” (vs. 8) – I get a full meal of Seeds at church, or I have worked through my daily Bible study, and it all comes together and makes sense. I wait for God to tell me that I am finish digesting, that the Seeds have sprouted. I see clearly how I need to work those Seeds out in my life and I go back to them the next day, and the next. I DO The Seed, going beyond hearing The Seed. And my walk with Jesus is sweeter, stronger.

Being a weak, sinful, variable human being, I cannot physically, mentally or emotionally be Good Soil all the time. But seeing the reality of so many soils in one person encourages me to pray, “God make me the Good Soil today.”


Luke 8:4-8 (NKJV) – And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside, and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundred fold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Luke 8:11-15 (NKJV) – Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Only

Only the Good Die Young - Only One – My One and Only - This Way Only - Be Only - Only a Game - Adults Only - Kids Only - Teens Only - Seniors Only - Staff Only - One Way Only - Sample Only – Am I the Only One? - You Only Live Once - Today Only - Only One Per Customer - Men Only - Women Only - I Can Only Imagine - The Only Game in Town

If only …

… I had studied more

… I chosen a different school

… I had gone into a different profession

… I had married someone else

… I had had more kids

… I had had less kids

… I had quit that job

… I had stayed with that job

… I had applied for that job

… I had gotten a different degree

… I would forgive more

… I would accept people as they are

… I would listen better, longer, more compassionately to their needs and concerns

… I could find common ground

… I could approach people with humility

… I could remove all judgment

… I would pray for the opportunity to share my story

… I would trust God and dare to take Him at His Word

… I would believe …

… that the only thing I need is God

This is Day 31 in the 31 Day Challenge -  http://write31days.com/

(this blog will be slightly dormant during national novel writing month ... check it out - http://www.nanowrimo.org)

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Cutting

I didn't make the first cut.

There were nine candidates that applied and seven of those were given interviews, the first of two before the final decision was made. I knew I could do the job: keeping the website, emails, keeping the Facebook updated frequently, making sure things stayed positive, communicating with the public, etc. I wrote my plan and went over it many times, sending it to a friend to check for stupid mistakes, typos, grammar problems and glaring holes. She made a few suggestions and I was finished. I had more fun preparing the plan than going through the interview, which was almost a waste of time, since it was obvious the decision of the final hire had already been made. So I made the most of my time and was as sweet as pie while firmly presenting as much of the plan as I could while being interrupted.

I knew walking out I hadn't made the first cut, and I was relieved I was finished. I kept tabs on some of the other people that were up for the job, only one of which had a second interview. That's okay. I need a lot less stress in my life.

I cut my hand while slicing the turkey one Thanksgiving. Our visitor and friend was amazed that I didn't scream. “I'd be screaming and going nuts,” she said. I suggested she give birth.

Some cuts heal on their own. Some cuts need stitches. Some cuts that need stitches heal on their own and the scar looks wonky. Some cuts are stitched and when it is healed it looks wonky.

I wrote a lot of stories about government budget cuts in 2009. Things looked bleak in 2008. Some were even seeing it coming and warning people in 2006. It was interesting to watch county officials fighting over dollars they felt they deserved and then gossiping about how other government officials misused their funds and wasted taxpayer money. I was pleased to see that some officials were more mature and did the best they could with what was allotted them without complaining.

I was never cut from any team I was on (except in the business world), but my brother was. In fact, he was the only boy in our grade school who was NOT on the basketball team, or in track. He was awkward and sickly and spent most of his eighth grade year at home, but he graduated and made it to the dog-eat-dog world of public high school.

I got cut (laid off) from the newspaper staff because of the previously mentioned budget cuts also affecting the newspaper. I was last in, first out. I was also doing a lot of investigative stories that were making people mad. It was a win-win-win. Win for the cut in expenses. Win for getting the heat off my boss. Win for me in the end as conspiracy theories spread like a fire on a dry day as to why I was REALLY “laid off.” Win for me because I needed to leave that uber-stressed environment.

I was cut from another job (laid off) because the new owner had overheard me sharing my faith with one of the students.

I was cut (laid off) from a studio job because the person on maternity leave was ready to come back.

There have been lots and lots of jobs I have applied for and have heard nothing in response. There are a few jobs I applied for and got the generic “the position has been filled.”

I have learned to deal with a cut to the family budget, cut a chicken, cut ham into cubes for stew, cut a turkey so the slices are thick enough to withstand gravy, yet thin enough to allow for a party of 12.

I can cut vegetables and fruit in a variety of different ways. I like to cut my salad into little pieces before I put the dressing on and the extras, which some in the family find weird.

I love to cut paper, cut grass, cut flowers and cut my nails so I can play piano.

… and those are my thoughts on CUT


This is Day 30 in the 31 Day Challenge -  http://write31days.com/

(this blog will be dormant during national novel writing month ... check it out - http://www.nanowrimo.org)