walking in the woods without a flashlight

Sometimes that how I feel, like I’m walking through the woods without a flashlight.  Do you know what I mean?  It’s like sometimes there’s darkness all around.  I hear noises and I wonder. Should I be afraid?  Is something out there ready to pounce? If I had a flashlight maybe I could beam it at the noises and scare whatever is hiding behind the cloak of noise. But maybe the light would shine so bright I would see the monster that is lurking.  And maybe that would be the worst thing that could happen.

What’s worse? Walking in the woods and being afraid of the unknown or being able to put a face on the unknown? I hate ambiguity but sometimes it’s not all bad. I can think of a situation where I’ve decided that it’s best not to know. I already know more than I should and I’m choosing now to know nothing more than what’s already known. Ignorance can sometimes be our best friend.

When we know too much, when the woods are no longer a dark forest but individual trees that we readily identify, then we can no longer pretend. Now that we’re able to put a name on what scares us we can no longer pretend it’s nothing. Sometimes that’s exactly what we should do and in the future I’m going to suggest we need to do exactly that to defeat depression. But I’m very tired tonight so just for now, I choose to be afraid and not know. I hope that makes sense. It makes perfect sense to me.

empty spaces equal strong minds

Church on a field, Glendalough, IrelandI read something interesting the other day.

“Do you want to know what makes music?” The answer is, the space between the notes. If it weren’t for those quiet spaces, all we would hear is constant noise.

Where is that space in our lives? Where are those quiet, contemplative moments in our life? If our lives minds are constantly “chattering”, how does wisdom find a home?

Plato and many other philosophers have all subscribed to the notion that declares “an unexamined life is not worth living”. I agree one hundred percent but in this day of constant stimulation, it’s hard to quiet our minds to examine anything. I think that perhaps this is the greatest challenge we face in this century.  It’s not just a problem for teenagers who are constantly “plugged in” to something. It’s a problem most of us have. I know I do.

It’s rare that I sit and read a book. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m always reading but it’s rare that it’s quiet when I’m doing so. Either the TV, the radio, my I-phone, my Nook or my computer are nearby and fired up. I worry that I’m losing the ability to enjoy the quiet.

Exercise quietness for a strong mind.

For today, try to find even as little as five minutes of quietness to allow yourself time to think. Contemplative thinking (quiet time to be alone with our thoughts) is most definitely getting to be a lost art.

More about this subject in the next post.

oh, the joy of being impaled by a rose bush

Yesterday was wonderful. Warm and sunny. Worked in my garden and pruned thirty or so rose bushes. I have the scars to prove it.  At one point, I got tangled up in an aggressive climbing rose and couldn’t get free. I could just see the headlines:

“Woman impaled by rose bush.”

Today’s weather.  Not so great.  Rain today and tomorrow, AND snow.  Oh, well, I’m not discouraged.  Why?

Because last night my local weatherman said spring is coming. And the weatherman is never wrong, right! 🙂

Have a great day.

just because a door opens doesn’t mean you should walk through it

45306_151123941725631_633878061_n(Heads up-this is a longer post than usual.  Just wanted you to know.)

“God never opens doors that have been closed. He opens other doors, but He reminds us that there are doors we have shut (bold is mine), doors which need never have been shut, imaginations which need never have been sullied. Never be afraid when God brings back the past. Let memory have its way…..God will turn the what “might have been” into a wonderful culture for the future. ” (My Utmost for His Highest”, Oswald Chambers)

I’ve used this devotional for years and years. The first copyright is 1935 so the language is a bit stiff but the daily readings are incredibly powerful. I’ve yet to feel that I’ve gotten to the debth of what Chambers is saying. Every day seems fresh and as though I’d never read it before. .

My personal copy is so marked up I need to use my newer one but the over-worn pages of this one are too comforting with its scars, underlining and dog-eared pages. I would feel like I was abandoning a friend. I share the quote above with you today because I sense someone needs to hear it.

I’m hesitant to even discuss this as it’s such a complex subject and certainly one relatively short post doesn’t begin to do the subject justice. But because this kind of thinking seems so prominent I feel prompted to at least try. This whole “open and closed doors”, whether one is a Christian or not, is highly overrated as a sign to determine a course of action. It’s like saying, “If that purse is on sale when I go back to the store, it’s a sign (open door) that I’m supposed to buy it. If it’s not (closed door) it’s a sure sign I’m not supposed to buy it.” Ridiculous, huh, but we all do it. I’ve done it often myself.

Christians often take it a step further and mistakenly assume that an open door automatically means God is behind it and a closed door means He’s not. But doors are opened all the time that are not good for us and closed doors may well mean God wants us to work harder or go in another direction. If Moses had accepted Pharoah’s first denial to let the Israelites go as a closed door, the Israelites might still be in captivity!

If I went by my own experience with learing how to blog as an example, all I can say is I’ve felt like a lot of doors have been shut but I keep plugging away anyway because I am sure in this case.

Years ago, my husband was eagerly sought out by a local businessman who wanted him to come and work for him. My husband was feeling the pull strongly as his current place of employment at the time was undergoing some difficulities due to the fact that it was a family owned business and they were squabbling with each other. The new offer was also more money. We discussed it and we both felt it was time to move on so my husband accepted the job.

His new employer said he and his wife would like to take us out to dinner that night. We agreed. When we got into his car, it was as he had morphed into someone my husband had never met. I was meeting him for the first time and I can honesly say, I felt a kind of terror when I looked him in the eyes. This was a man who oozed malevolence.

As the evening wore on, my heart sank deeper and deeper.  I knew I had met the first person I would characterize as truly “evil”  His demeaning behavior to the wait staff at the restaurant was embarassing to say the least. His revelations about his family said a lot. My husband was feeling the exact same way. We kept exchanging glances that said, “Oh, no, what have we gotten in to?” The minute he dropped us off at our house, my husband and I looked at each other and knew we had made a huge mistake.  No amount of money in the world would make up for working for this man.

It was about 10:00 in the evening.The night had gone on way too long as this bully of a man ordered people around as though they were his personal servants. We hoped his former employer would re-hire him but you can figure out how that went.That door was shut and God didn’t open it. I can remember that night clearly.We looked at each other knowing that even worse was coming. We were not mistaken.

It was a year and a half of hell. My husband’s mood fell really low.He felt incredibly sad, Eventually, it developed into a full blown depression. The stress was so great his  back went into spasms that continued for months. As it turned out this man was criminal in his business practices. After about a year, my husband reported him to the board of directors. He was eventually fired but by this time the company was on its way to complete failure. My husband found another position for about another year and that too went south. All in all it was about three years of hell.

Finally, after three months of unemployment (thank goodness that’s all it was), my husband was hired into his next position at one-half his former salary. Ouch! This time though we knew it was a door that God had opened. We also knew that our years of turmoil was our own fault. We had been greedy.This new position turned out to be the best job he’d ever had.The people were great; the company was great.This was the job that led to international travel and allowed us both to see the world.

We keep this expierence in the front of our memory always, as a reminder of how easy it is to think that when something looks good, it is good.  Not so. How many people have been led down a path to destruction because they haven’t taken the time to think through a situation.

When something doesn’t smell right, doesn’t feel right, we need to step back and let God clear our thinking. And even if it does smell right and feel right, we still need to step back and let God reinforce the direction we are taking or put a roadblock in our way.

I’m not suggesting it’s as easy as I made it sound. Sometimes it is; sometimes it isn’t. And, yes, sometimes we can talk ourselves into believing God has directed us to take a certain course of action and still be wrong. Sometimes only time will tell.  In our case, we hadn’t rushed into our decision but we also hadn’t brought God into the equation as we should have. Those three years were our training ground in learning to lean on God. But we don’t believe this was God’s preferred method to teach us.

This is a big subject, God’s leading. I certainly don’t mean to come across as an expert but I have had a long walk with God (since I was very young) and I’ve done my homework. And the arguement could even be made that we did make the right decision and that God intentened for us to go through a tough learning experience to grow our faith, that the depression and back issues were because we were slow learners. (I should add that I had my own issues during this period but mostly they were centered on excessive worry where my husband’s health was concerned.)

Even if all that were true, the concept of being slow to assume an open door is God-sent still applies.I just know that when something “good” comes our way, both of us are much more cautious before we walk through that door.

What do you think? What has been your experience with “open” and “closed” doors? I would love to hear from you.  I guess it’s every bloggers biggest hurdle-to get people to comment.

(If I could figure out how some people have managed to place a little tag on their blog that says they always reply to comments, I would. But that door is closed for the moment. :))

God,you’re kidding, right?

NoSnowO.K. I know I’m not the only one who has had it with this weather.

I just want to ask God, “Is this a month-long April Fool’s joke? And if so, why? What did we nice Michiganders do to deserve this?” For those of you in other states southward, you really wouldn’t believe our weather. We even have snow in the forecast for this next week. I guess I’m directing this to people outside the state because no one in Michigan needs to be reminded about how lousy this spring is.

But here’s the thing about Michigan.  We are sill truly blessed to live in this beautiful state. Except for spring coming in at a snail’s pace, we have no hurricanes, mudslides, forest fires, and rarely a tornado. We are surrounded by water. Not a lot of people live here so we don’t have to put up with over-population. All in all, a great state.

Plus, we have the wonderful experience of welcoming in Spring like few other states can.  Soon people will imerge from their “long winter’s nap”, trees will bud, warm winds will blow, and the state will explode with life. It’s like you didn’t even know you had neighbors and now you have lots of them. People will run outside instead of on their treadmills. Any street you drive down will be alive with people working in their yard. Everyone is happier. It will be like we’ve been given a shot of adrenaline. (Okay, now I’m just trying to make myself feel better.)

The truth is, I can’t even remember feeling warm. Oh, now I remember. When I’m in bed with my electric “blankie” turned up. Now here’s the funny thing. I hate hot weather even more than I do cold weather! I have a narrow temperature comfort range, about sixty-five to seventy-five.  But that’s what electric blankets and air conditioning are for. 🙂

I really love Spring as it agrees with my comfort level. So come on, will you?

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