Joan Reynolds

Real Faith, Real Life & Real Joy
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Faith or Fear…Who’s Home At Your House?

June20

I was playing around with these words today, because it seems to me they are the two most important words in dealing with everyone, everyday. No matter what our situation, how we handle it has everything to do with how we approach these two words.

Fear and faith cannot inhabit our bodies, minds or souls at the same time, therefore we are continually choosing the one for whom we will open the door . Is it the one who gets there first? In that case, is your faith only visiting when you call and ask it to come over?

Do you let fear in the moment he knocks, immediately pondering worst case scenarios, moving on from there to call a few friends who, depending on their own relationship with these two visitors, either add to or help dispel your fear? Finally, after much inner strife and struggle, do you finally turn to God to replace fear with faith in your current situation?

FEAR. F+Ear. What it looks like to me is we get to choose our own F-word. Whichever one we give our ear to is the one who takes up residence.

We can listen to God and give ear to Faith, or we can run into the waiting arms of the enemy and let fear claim squatters rights. It is truly a matter of choice. Whomever you let in first is difficult to evict. So take a few moments to choose wisely.

Faith on the other hand, separates into this for me:

Faith =

Am

I

Trusting

Him?

Pretty simple actually. Answer that one and you will know why you run where you run when the unexpected or unwanted happens. Keep an eye on those guys! It is your choice, you know.

Magical Mystery Journey!

June14

I was getting ready to write about something else this morning, but as I put my prayer results into my prayer journal for yesterday I just could not help but continue on the vein I have been on!

I have taken a normal composition book, the kind we all used in school “back then,” and on the left side every morning during my quiet time I write down my prayers for the day as I am talking to God. On the right side I usually put the answers to prayers I have received. I will usually do the answers to the previous day before I pen the requests for the current morning.

I have been doing this for a couple of weeks now. I got the idea from a book by Kathryn Stockett  called The Help. The main character was infamous in her church for the book in which she put her prayer requests. It seemed everyone wanted to be in its pages, as she appeared to have a direct link to God’s heart.

What I have noticed is how incredibly specific and daily are those answers, now that I am seeing them in my journal the very next day. I think sometimes we feel blessed and we thank God for answers to our prayers, but there is a vagueness to the timing and we often don’t notice how much He did in any given day.

My results are written directly across from my requests, and it is difficult to obscure the obvious! He is right on it, like white on rice, as they say. I am sure I am not alone in this, but perhaps I just rarely hear of others with my same observations. Partly because I am in the midst of a big move based solely on faith I may be more finely tuned than normal, even for me.  The unfolding of His plan for me from day to day is absolutely thrilling!

How apparent setbacks or obstacles quickly turn into blessings is clear as can be, especially if I haven’t given them even a moment of worry in my own mind. What a remarkable friend we have in Jesus, and how awesome is our God, able to do anything we cannot do, just because He loves us so!

 

God Is On The Move!

June7

This was a very interesting weekend, full of amazing ‘God has been there before me’ moments!

There are almost too many to mention, but it started with trying to find and book an inexpensive flight to LA to celebrate both my birthday and my daughter-in-love’s shower the end of this month. there were only a couple round trips left that would come in at my budget and they necessitated a back up for my Nanny job two evenings that week. I  didn’t have a back-up person, so I was hesitant to hit the Book It button.

After a few hours of looking for alternatives, I committed and just did it. Withing two minutes the phone rang and a friend shared the good news that her next door neighbor, a friend of mine as well, would be glad to take the nanny days I would miss! Yea. Then the mailman came about five minutes later and brought an envelope containing a check from someone I had helped find a tenant for his rental property several months ago. It was for just over the price of the round trip ticket to LA! Double yea.

Then my son came over and shared that he was in a new and happily compelling relationship with someone he met several weeks ago. Which was also an answer to my recently stepped-up prayers for my youngest son to meet the love of his life. I don’t know if this is the one, but if not it will help him get ready for the one! Triple yea.

Then today I found out the price of the bridge I will need to replace a bad tooth and a few minutes after that an offer on a house I had put in for an investor got accepted, giving me almost the full price of the bridge just in time for me to need it! Quadruple yea.

There are several other things that have also been happening, but I can share them tomorrow after I know the outcome. I am excited, because God is definitely moving to California with me, and I guess we are going sooner than I had thought. He is a good husband, always providing for me with plans He has set in motion way before I am aware of it all. It always blows me away how He has prepared the way for us. That’s when I know for sure that being single never means being alone, and I am so very grateful for that. We will celebrate our 29th anniversary this December. I don’t think we have ever even had a fight!

 

Time And Love

May29

While these really don’t appear to have anything to do with one another, they often do. Love is an expression; of our feelings, our commitment, our connection to one another.

Expression can be through the written word, or the spoken word, but usually it is in one of those forms. In a busy life contained within an even busier world, very often time limits everything. What we choose to give our time to often points out where our priorities, and often our hearts, lie.  If you are in constant contact with someone, a small comment like “I can’t talk now, I’m…….” is perceived as neither  a slight nor particularly personal in nature. From someone with whom you haven’t spoken in a year, someone as close in relation as, say, a brother or a sister, it is difficult to receive without a slight personal edge to it. We all have our duties and our allegiances, those to whom we are very careful not to let our words carry unwanted thorns. And then we have times that we are busy just trying to accomplish all that we have to do for those in our inner circle, or for ourselves, where adding  anything else to a full plate seems overwhelming.

Lost in those moments (we do not have time for) is often the essence and the promise of our future relationships. Will we even notice the place where the other person finally surrenders to not being a priority, not being even a little important, no longer an unexpected but perhaps wonderful interruption to their schedule? It is where one person seeks to exit from the pain of not being noticed, and withdraws to a more comfortable place in the shadows of anothers priorities. Much like the clear message that there can’t be a fight if one party stops fighting, there also can’t be depth and a growing love if one person stops making time for the other. It becomes a void where the absence becomes a hole where love used to be or almost worse, a numbness to any feeling at all. This being preferable to a harbored grudge or resentment, it becomes merely a bruise that over time and neglect will no longer hurt.

I am often struck be how a person’s smile, or face lighting up as they catch our eyes, does more for our bodies and spirits than any amount of vitamins and reading spiritually uplifting material can do. It takes little time, but instead a real recognition of the persons presence and value in our life. We all remember to say those things to their relatives when they have left this life, but did we always take the time to let the person themselves hear the light in our voices or our words that let them know they were priorities?

We can always improve on this as we face each day. We can always notice those to whom our noticing really matters. For me, it always comes back to the differences in the way God created us in the first place. There are amongst us individuals to whom everything seems personal. There are also those amongst us to whom life is a mountain of details needing to be handled. We each bring needed perspectives to our daily living.

The trouble arises when we forget our innate differences and just assume everyone sees life exactly as we do. Bridging those rivers is what real relationship is all about. Love, for me, comes from someone remembering to notice how different we are and yet taking the precious time to work at building and maintaining the bridge anyway.

 

 

Barnacles, Be Gone!

May26

I was talking to two good friends this morning and noticed I had repeated the same phrase twice, so I figure there is more than one person who needs to hear it besides me!

I was talking about going through my years of stuff, something I also find I am not alone in doing these days, and so many things no longer need to be saved. They are pictures, letters, papers relating to a me that I have outgrown. Oh, a lot of clothing goes in that category as well! Seriously, there are things that you have grown beyond, people who are no longer in your life, things that were important that have taken their seat in the balcony, or the basement.

We grow, hopefully, into the best version of ourselves over time. This requires updating, as would a previous edition of most books. A little editing, refining, making current the most important parts of our story. I referred to this refining as getting the barnacles off, as one would remove them from the bottom of a boat, so that it could skim through the water faster. That is what I am doing, scraping off barnacles for my own ease of movement to the next phase of my journey. What can I let go of that will allow me to travel easier, faster, a slimmer, more compact version of myself?

There are some parts I will leave behind. Past ways of earning a living, such as real estate and faux finishing, are probably best served traveling only as memories. They both carry a lot of weight in supplies and paperwork, past clients and information galore. I actually enjoyed the relief that followed my shredding of past files and was aware of a heaviness that lifted immediately off me. I am still wrestling with furniture, what to sell and what to give away, but that will sort itself out soon.

What I want is to take the very best, most streamlined version of my best self, pared down only to the necessities to maintain that self, and then begin my new life armed with the knowledge of who that person is, today, and what is important to her. On that I can build my best new life!

Fighting Overwhelm!

May10

Forty-five days and counting. Still haven’t cataloged the furniture to foster care vs. to sell. Spent another day scanning papers that might be needed (or wanted) for review someday….probably only if I write my memoirs, but who knows at this moment?

Another call to Salvation Army who will be by with their weekly truck for pick up. Why does it seem that I am hardly making a dent in everything? Because I have waited 35 years to do this, that’s why!

I am really seeing the value of less is more, in regards to everything. The few things I should have been remembering to do on a daily basis (take vitamins, exercise, eat well) got lost in the volume of stuff that I probably just kept moving from room to room, pile to pile, house to house, all these years. No wonder I felt tired!

It definitely helps to have a goal, but just setting up easier methods in the computer can take an entire day! At the end of the day I just have to appreciate that the piles are lower, the system is there for the future, the appointments are made. It’s something. One more step toward freedom from the clutter that surrounds me! Resist the temptation to toss it all as there has been ‘gold in them thar hills’! (was that from the Beverly Hillbillies?)  :-)

What Have We Lost With Instant Mail?

May3

I am amazed at how many situations are made easier with instant cell phone calls, texting and emails. Plans can be changed in a split second, people can find each other in malls, one can know immediately of one anothers needs or successes.

Again, the boxes of pictures and letters, and the endless processing. Today I grabbed one more big green plastic container that had long ago lost its lid. It has a small fuzzy stuffed bear and a string of Christmas lights and what seemed to be as stash of  very old crayon drawings from kindergarten times. I wasn’t even sure which child may have drawn them, but I determined to wade through them, just in case.

There were several stacks of things that weren’t keepers, but I put them aside for review by the child whose early efforts at artistic expression were recorded, just in case there were clues to his life that might be of interest to him. The other son had already looked through this particular box this weekend, dismissing most of it with a cursory once over.

Somewhere toward the middle I began to find remnants of a retreat called Chriseo, that I had been part of on Mother’s Day weekend in 1991. It is a Christian ceremonial tradition of a three day walk with God, the “fourth day” being the beginning of the rest of your life with Christ. One of the wonderful things they do, while the pilgrims are preparing to go on their walk, is ask their friends and family to write letters that will be given to them the third day.

Often we don’t sit down and tell people how greatly we admire them or treasure who they are in our lives. Sometimes we make reference to those feelings in a card at birthdays or other occasions, or when they are honored at a function for business or community service. For the vast numbers of people, however, those thoughts may never be put to paper until we are addressing their relatives in a sympathy card after they die. I know that it is those cards and letters, mixed in with all the other bits and pieces of my past, that have been the things I moved to a separate spot, my new box of treasures.

Here amongst the others was a hand written letter from my Dad. He began by saying he realized he had mostly put pen to paper to tell me the things that he was concerned about as I made choices about my life. They had often been harsh and full of the potential negatives that he felt I might run into, should I choose a certain path. Unfortunately those letters had left scars that, while I was certain were unintentional, were never completely healed.

This letter made quick reference to those  other letters, but went on to address all the ways in which he admired the choices I had made. He confirmed the excellent job he felt I was doing as a parent to my boys and how I provided them not only the necessities for living but an abundance of love and support for them as well as a firm grounding in the love of God and knowledge of Jesus.  He told me how compassionately and unselfishly he saw me live my life and attend to the needs of others. His pride was evident in his choice of words and especially in the ones he underlined for emphasis. That letter gave me the opportunity to let go of all the harsh-sounding words that had rung in my ears over my lifetime, condemning me to try to resist them as the truth about myself. Here, in his own words, were all the things I had ever hoped he had felt about me; here was an opportunity to erase the familiar voice of the liar who had held space in my head most of my life.

As the mailman goes the way of the Pony Express, and email cards take the place of handwritten ones, I wonder if we will ever again hold those saved missives, bearers of both good and bad tidings. Is it our loss or will the gains be worth it? Will we tell each other more often how much we love and appreciate one another, so that summing up our feelings will never be as necessary? Only time will tell I suppose. With the fast sharing of news, in less than a week we have had to process the death and devastation of horrible tornadoes, the happiness and splendor of a Royal wedding, as well as the capture and demise of the man who caused the most incredible hurt ever to happen within our borders since the Civil War. In six days that requires a lot of emotional endurance, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the rapid delivery of news, and quick sharing between friends and family of our emotions that can be facilitated today.

My prayer is that good news and loving thoughts are hitting the airwaves and bandwidth just as quickly. That an email that conveying an unmeant but hurtful message will be quickly responded to with a phone call that heals what might have become a serious wound. It is possible, if we keep our hearts alert to what is/ or is not hidden between the lines of type. I know for me those important things were often written at the very end and up around the right side of the last page of the letter. The last P.S….and then the P.P.S. If we commit to keeping our emotional databases as up-to-date as our news, we will have a wonderful, healthy world (and family) indeed!

 

Preserving Memories

April30

We never realize how long it actually takes to go through those boxes containing our past. All those seemingly random pictures, cards and letters saved, thrown into boxes, mementos of a life lived.

I think if we never allow ourselves that time to process them, we are missing out on some very important substance to our lives. It is a review of what we considered important, and a way to see if it still holds meaning for us. In many ways this can be confirming, or it can assist us in making future decisions or commitments.

I have found letters I thought I had thrown away, as well as some I never remember receiving. Like the one from my brother-in-law, mentioning that nothing was more important than my choosing Jesus in my life, and that everything else would fall into place after that. He was praying for me that day as he wrote. The date on his letter was Dec 9th, 1983. I ran from the garage to the house to check the bookmark in my Bible. It commemorated the day I had asked Jesus into my life. A single mom from the church I was attending had come to my home that day and cleaned for me while I was taking care of a newborn son. She asked me at the end of the day if I would like to ask Jesus into my life and when I said yes she prayed with me. She gave me that bookmark to remember the date. When I pulled it from my Bible, it confirmed exactly what I had thought, Dec 9th, 1983.

My brother in law mailed that letter that day and I received it three days later. But God didn’t wait on the mailman, He responded immediately to his fervent prayer and sent an angel immediately to my home. I found that to be an amazing testimony to His loving attention to our requests. I will now keep both together in my Bible.

We need to take time, and spend time assisting our older relatives, to process those memories. They hold a lot of good information and clues to a persons life. It is too difficult to do at the same time as we are trying to move someone out of their home, or after they have died. How much better if we make time to sit with them once a month or even once a year helping them preserve those treasures by scanning photos and letters, taking pictures of furniture that might be willed to family and making notes about its history while the person can still tell the story about it.

A gift of time is indeed a gift of love, and as in the instance of the mom who came to clean my house almost thirty years ago, or my brother in law taking time to write and pray, it may be the most important gift a person ever receives!

 

Foster Care For My Furniture?

April21

I am sorting through the past forty-five years of my lifetime in bankers boxes of paperwork, along with the furniture I have purchased and accumulated through ten homes, plus that for which I have assumed responsibility from my Mom, and it is a most interesting process.

Initially I had trouble deciding whether to sell the furniture (to help pay for my move) and be able to get what I will need on the other coast, or to store it here for a year until I see where I land and what I need and/or might want to have at some point. Hating to be an Indian giver, I resisted asking my family if they wanted anything, not knowing if I might want it back.

The idea of garage sales brings me nothing but headaches, and I find them to be largely a waste of time for me. I have found that donations are a better solution for most things I would consider garage sale items. I also realized I would rather someone in my family was enjoying  a favorite item, rather than realizing I had sold it for about one eighth of its cost to me, and missing the value that just seeing it once it enjoyed and used provided. It also seemed like such a final decision when I really can’t possibly know what my life may look like a year from now.

The most interesting thing that I have noticed was the fact that what I really wanted was more what the furniture represented than the item itself. I had asked for the dining table and eight chairs that represented all the holiday meals we shared when our family gathered at holidays. Having the table didn’t give me the gathering nor the large family it could seat. The memories were already in my mind. Truly the table was more a sad reminder that I mostly ate alone, so passing the table on to a family member who might actually have those gatherings was a much better solution than keeping the table.

In the same manner, I realized I have bought over fifty cookbooks and carried them around for years. While I often take them out and look at the pictures, envisioning meals and lingering conversations with others, I almost never cook for more than myself and rarely get together with friends, except at restaurants for lunch when our schedules and wallets permit. The cookbooks merely represent the desire of my heart to eat with others more frequently, not the desire to cook or to eat the foods I pick out in the pictures.

After several weeks of indecision, I have decided to take digital pictures of my furniture and ‘valuables’ and send them online to my children, siblings, nieces and nephews, and after that perhaps to my close friends. I will seek foster care for these items for the next year or two. I am really looking for someone who would really enjoy my things and would care for them as though they are their own (as they may well be in the future). It is preferable to putting them in storage for a year or more.  I may ask for a small deposit(or donation) which I will refund should I later request the return of the items.  That would give me a start on helping me purchase the basic necessities when I get to my new home.

At least for now, that is my favorite plan. What I take with me is the courage to find new friends to eat with, a sense of community that embraces me, and more opportunities to linger over coffee with friends and family. A tiny studio with basic necessities will be more than enough room to house the things I really need to sustain me.

Its All About Sharing Ideas

February14

In my last post, I wrote about what I knew about, shelter dogs. This drew two wonderful responses from friends who had had cats and/or pedigreed pups. They were adding their insight to what I saw and provided information that helped me to expand what I saw from my own experience to now include theirs.

It is all about sharing ideas in this worldwide classroom we call ‘online’. That is what is so fascinating about it, that if we choose to participate, we will find that our views are not the only ones out there. I think of it as a classroom, where the teacher calls on different people and each of them share from their own lives or minds. While they may disagree or just come at the issue from a different place, we all leave the room changed in some way. Our thinking is a little broader, more inclusive.

In a classroom you have often met the person, spoken with them about other things, perhaps shared a meal. Online, this person might be a total stranger, with a name that doesn’t give you a clue to whether they are male or female, American, or from some other country you know nothing about. Yet somehow your ideas found each other, and you passed them back and forth like the salad at a friend’s home.

The first tenet to being open to enjoying this maybe first assuming you don’t know everything, that there is no right or wrong way to see things here. If your background made you believe there was always only one way of seeing things, this could be difficult. I do believe the more you take part, the more you begin to enjoy the fellowship of ideas and the broadening of your experience, if only somewhat vicariously.

Thank you for reading and sharing your comments. You stretch me and also make me realize I am not alone. Although I may see things differently than you, our insight and feedback is invaluable to the whole that we see, and as I go through life today, I will bring with me the thoughts you have shared as a link to my own, and I will see more than I did yesterday!

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