Scribbled Notes on my Heart

‘Bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablets of your heart’  Proverbs 7:3  God wants for us to remember.  So it is written.

And so that is where your name is written ‘M’.  You have been written on my heart.

And I write these words, for you, for me.  I Remember.

This story is so unique to me.  Your journey, your experiences as you have shared them.  Bringing you to this moment.  This place in time.  I will attempt not to make assumptions, about you or your future.  But i will make observations based on our many conversations.  Mostly this will be about me… but as it applies to us, you must be included.

Ultimately, my desire for you is a richer, fuller, peaceful life.  I pray I can help you decide to live that way.

I call upon remembered stories, shared moments, intense moments, smiling, laughing and tearful moments.  I struggle deeply.  And my struggle is not with you.  Not directly.  The struggle is with decisions.  I can make mine.  I want to be able to make yours.  I cannot.  And so I struggle.  Fixers love to fix..  Sometimes when I fix or assemble things too quickly, I leave spare parts on the table when the job is ‘done’  You are not a quick fix job.  You are a special person in my life…. for life, I would hope and pray.

I have said to you, “I must do what I must do, you do what you must do.”  That is a bad statement.   This is the new note written upon my heart.  “With God’s help, I will do what I decide I must do, and I will be here to love you when you make your decisions.  I will not make those decisions for you, but will be here to lift you up, attempt to soften your fall, and walk by your side as you suffer or enjoy the consequences of those decisions.”

As I have watched you now and listened to your stories, much of your life it seems has been a reaction to others’ bad decisions.  Forced to make decisions at a very young age that now shape your today.  Father, Mother, Sister, Boyfriends, Girlfriends, have all caused you to make decisions at a very young age which have set the framework for decisions you continue to make today.  Though I hardly agree with some of your most important decisions, I am here.  I will go NOWHERE.  That is my decision.

It is difficult for me to realize that our history is really just around 80 days in length..  A long time when you are in a balloon circling the globe.  So very short in the world of relationships.  But truly the depth and intensity of this 80 days is, as I have shared, like no other in my entire life.  You are on the Mount Rushmore of my best moments in life.  You are on the Mount Rushmore of the worst moments.  And you are perhaps the best “just friends” woman I have EVER known.

Last night as I wondered where you might be, and knowing that “he” was taking you out, God brought to my mind the moment.  The moment I knew.  When I actually caught a glimpse of just how smart and funny and conflicted and caring you were, you are.  We were sitting at my filthy dining room table, having a business building session.  And for some reason I shared this pyramid with you.  I’d used it in sales training before, but for some reason I knew you had to see it.

I have the notes from that meeting.

Hierarchyofneeds

You were the first person I had ever shared this with that truly was at the ‘Safety’ level.  And it was like it popped in your brain.  A light, I saw the light come on.  Lots of business and sales people that I trained in the past are at the Belonging/Self-Esteem levels.  You were the first person with a business, a good, hard working business woman, who was just floating in the Food/Water/Shelter/Warmth mode.  And lots of folks do live at this level, and I have.  But you were the first for me.   The “he” in your life provided shelter in his mother’s house.  But with those physiological needs met, you were in an unsafe living situation.  And so after you left my home that day, sometime perhaps over the following 48 hours, God spoke to my heart.  I decided to provide a safe place for you.  I could not decide for you to accept.  I could only decide to offer.

So you need to know, and I know you do know.  My house is now your house.  The bedroom is yours.  The home is ours.  The bedroom is yours.  The dogs of Casa Canine and I are so pleased that you are a part of this place.  Because of you the house is richer and cleaner and happier and brighter.

Just know that you are free here.  You are safe here.  You can work on understanding “Love and Belonging” here.  You already a part of my love and belonging.  I am honored that as you struggle to work through all of your historical issues, you choose to do it at Casa Canine.

I have learned so much.  You have written on my heart.

“M” first appeared in my blog in Feral for Real posted 1/11/2014

Watching the jugglers, spinning the plates

As I was growing up I was easily entertained.  I don’t mean that I was good at sitting in a room by myself, reading a book and pondering whatever it is that an author hoped I might ponder.  But set me in front of an episode of “Leave it to Beaver,” or allow me a few minutes with Barney on the “Andy Griffith Show.”  Well I would sit engrossed and enthralled.  I could not wait for the rare moment that Barney would reach into his pocket and pull out his single bullet.  Do one thing Barney, do it well.

I could watch any sport.  I could watch the rain.  I could watch the effects of the wind.  I could listen to music and memorize the words to every Simon and Garfunkel song.  I could stare out the window in the middle of any class I was forced to endure.  Nothing in school ever captured me.  With one exception, journalism classes.  I did enjoy writing, and when I discovered it was a craft, well I just ignored it for about 4 decades until I started this blog in November 2013.

For the first 30 days, I wrote daily.  Some good stuff I think, and some not so good I know. But it was fun and is fun and greases the wheels.

Strangely, though a journalism major, I can’t write for a deadline.  And though I do like to read fiction on occasion, I can’t craft a character or a situation to save my life.  I am a stream of consciousness blubberer.  I actually believe that people will be entertained if I write what I think.  OK, actually I thing I will be entertained if I write what I think, and I am flattered if you come along for the ride… or the write.

And today, I must tell you, I am baffled.  No disturbed.  And this my friends is my rant.  What the hell is multi-tasking.  And what makes people think they are actually doing the multi-task dance on this ballroom floor of life.   I have to ask, what makes it so special?  What is this skill set?  I hear people speak of it as if it was something to admire.  In the corporate world I once lived, I think it was the catch phrase for how to work someone to exhaustion.  Why focus on excellence, when quantity will do?

As I was growing up I use to be fascinated by jugglers and plate spinners.  The juggler I most admired.. W.C. Fields.  And I could watch him do his cigar box balancing/juggling act again and again.  Loved it. (you should YouTube it) And Plate spinners, a feature on the Ed Sullivan show, the circus actors who would place multiple plates on multiple sticks and run from stick to stick to keep the plates spinning and not falling. Wobbling, Wobbling, spin and save.  But these were not multi-taskers.  They were doing one thing with several moving parts, and doing it very well.

Seriously, what is it?   Multi Tasking.  Is as simple as playing the guitar and singing the words to the tune you are strumming?  Now that I understand.  I even understand the one man bands  Those performers are certainly on the edge of multi-tasking.

band

There may be one legitimate group in this realm.  Actually there is one group.  I must admit, Mothers, with children of any age, may be penultimate multi-taskers.  They are, it appears to me, the one woman bands of the human race.  They put the corporate wanna be types to shame.

Most Multi Taskers are just doing one thing.  Then stopping and doing something else. If this qualifies,  Eating lunch at the desk, and talking on the phone, and looking out my window.. then I was also an accomplished multi-tasker.  But honestly the whole concept confuses me.

I recall the first time my parents took me to the 3 ring circus, Kansas City, the late 50’s.  Oh how I enjoyed it, and hated it.  How does one watch 3 rings and enjoy them all.  Trapeze, little dogs and hoops, Clowns… movement everywhere.  I know I missed things.  As an adult the same thing happens at a Cirque du Soleil show.  People are climbing, and balancing, and tumbling and doing everywhere at once…. love it…. hate it.  Multi Task observing.  Tough on me.

My rant is now complete.

So enjoy your day.  Stop and smell the flowers, sing a song, and wave hello to a stranger.

For those of you on the way to the office…… Barney, pass me your bullet.

That’ll leave a mark….

the eye

People want the story…  And they appear to want a “juicy” one.  When I posted “the eye” on my facebook page this is what I wrote…

“Curiosity is a very good thing however I can tell you from experience that you need never test the hardness of a bathroom counter in the middle of the night by bending over to pick something up and if you do want to test the hardness, use something besides your eye socket — at Casa Canine”

So I am being encouraged to tell a story.  It has come to my attention that folks did not like or appreciate the eye to counter retelling.  People like stories it seems.. I hope you like this one.

In 1974-1977, I lived in Branson, Mo.  Yes that Branson,  I lived there before it became what it is now it.  All the big Music shows and Family entertainment capital of the world.   They all showed up after I had moved away. I worked for Silver Dollar City.  In the Entertainment troupe, the crafts, the retail.  Honestly I still think of it as the BEST job I every had.  I have friends I worked with then, and they remain employed at SDC.  But as is my tendency, I am wandering, I do that when I remember things.  Particularly when I remember fondly.

The story.  It was probably 1975 or 76.  In addition to my employment, I worked as a volunteer with Young Life of Branson.  A Youth ministry outreach.  And often in my spare time I would meet high school kids on the fields or courts and play ball, and chat, and chew, and spit.  And you know.  On one particular day, several of us were playing what some may call basketball.. for the story it was what I will call it.  And on this special court was a lowered 8′ basket and backboard.  For those not familiar, the standard height is 10″.

An 8 foot basket was created for 2 reasons.  First, so that young boys and girls could throw a ball up and get it in the basket to score.  A lowered basket obviously increases the make ability of a basketball shot.  And of course, the second and most important reason, so short adults like myself can boost the ego by dunking a ball like the tall kids could.  It really works. It is a wonderful idea.  Well, until…….

I have always wanted to dunk at basketball.  When I jump really high I can sometimes slide a slice of thick Texas toast between my feet and the ground.  Not so high now as I have aged, but in 1975, I could catch air.  And this was the day.  I could feel it.  And I had an audience.

Did I mention, this playground had an 8′ basketball goal?  Oh, did I also mention that the backboard was of home made heavy construction, crafted lovingly of 2 x 4 lumber with a goal attached on a flimsy pole?  I really do need to mention this, for what is about to be a very good reason for mentioning.

I had the ball.  The crowd was gathered.  I made my approach, gathering speed, elevating, the ball balanced in one hand above my head, the rim within reach… fly …fly….

And clunk.  The ball in hand, I jam the bottom of the rim… double clunk.  The ball delivered with such fury that I knock the goal off the pole and its comes crashing down, and this 75 pound hunk of lumber ricochets off of my head and shoulders to the ground.  The crowd is frozen in wondrous awe…  I am knocked to the ground.  I am young, strong, I pop up immediately and exclaim, “that could have hurt a smaller man.”  That is the truth.   Those were my words exactly.  The backboard downed, I am without injury.  Not a mark on me.  Not even a scratch.  I exit the playground triumphantly.  I am the victor.  I have beaten the backboard.  I do wish I would have dunked however.

Fast forward to my eye.  A mark has been left.  Permanent, I would think not, but it did cause me to recall and share a story.  It leaves a mark, remembrance leaves a mark.

I read of the glorious remembrances.  Recollections from just folk who raise and elevate their life experiences immersed in recollections that are shared about people and animals who pass from now into forever.

Remembrance leaves a mark.

I like that.

Say What? Don’t give me any grief, share it. I sorrow in your sorrow…..

Two weeks ago, my friend, my attorney, my confidant and I had lunch.  Steve and I hope to share and catch up weekly, though it seems that busy times tend to make that monthly.  And this get together was long overdue.

I arrived first, sat and waited a few, and Steve arrived not long after the determined time.  A quick hello, and then the strangest first question I have ever been asked.

“Do you think animals go to heaven?”

Now Steve and I have known each other for decades, since my first journey to Tulsa in 1977.  We shared many moments back then, including working together in Youth Ministry.  So deep or unusual or probing theological questions are not new to us, but frankly this one was unexpected to me in the context of this lunch get together.

My answer was short.  “Why not?”

My follow up, more significant.  “Why ask?”

Steve’s cat of 15 years had passed just hours before.  Found warm by his 17 year old daughter, still on the couch.  Slumber and life had left.  Steve and his daughter, who had known that cat essentially all her life, were in the throws of grief.

Grief.  Oh beloved, heart wrenching, soul searching, life consuming, control abandoning, and life giving grief was wrapped around my friend.   Yes I did start this sentence with Beloved and end with Life giving.  Grief has changed my life.  Or for those who know me, God changed my life by introducing me to grief.  And oh what a glorious ride my life has been since discovering MY truth as I deal with MY grief and try to respond to yours.

Let my say that most of my life I just ignored grief.  It was not that I was cruel and unusual, I just thought that grief was something that should be handled.  I find this strange now, because I would cry in sadness when growing up while watching movies and “Ol’ Yeller” was shot, or Bambi lost her mother.  But I truly did not understand grief.

I was one blind guy when it came to this grief experience.  And I am not sure I am prepared at this moment to discuss the whole journey into revelation.  But here are the grief highlights.

My first real brush, 1990.  Which I come to find out now was no brush at all.  My Father at age 71, fell, hit his head, brain hemorrhage, dead quickly.  The service was sad, some emotion, and I got over it.

Then lots of people and family of people I know died, and lots of other people’s animals died. And I would say I am sorry.  And then I would go on.  I did not know anything.  I did not feel anything.  I feigned caring.  And would use my Spiritual “ignorance” to remain above the fray.  Just rejoice and thank God in all things.

November, 2009, as some of you may know, I came home from work to an unusually darkened house.  I found Michelle, my wife, dead in the bathtub.   Sadness, anger, shock, fear, helplessness, this was about to get personal.  I was about to meet grief.  It would not be at her service however, that was just sadness.

tanksong9

I don’t remember the day.  It was not my first visit to be with Michelle after her passing.  It was however the first time I took Tank.  GRIEF, it was THAT day.  My best friend of 4 legs, the dog that Michelle rescued in the first months after meeting her.  And I tell you in all candor, as I tear up now, looking at this picture, I am consumed.  Hello grief.  Excuse me… I need a break.

I am back.. gut wrenching, soul touching, out of control, wailing, crying out… and as quickly as it appears, it recedes. Cathartic and unexplained.  It will not appear every time I see this picture.  It will just appear when I need it to… yes need. (and I share that as I proofread and edit this before publishing, and add this line, no return of grief.)

For it is in grief, that I walk on holy ground.  I have read that “God’s heart grieved”  Grief is the very image and essence of the God I know and love.  It is so special, it can’t be conjured.  It is unexpected, and now a welcome visitor.  It is beloved.  It gives me life.

And it caused me to pray a new prayer.  “God help me to be a comfort when a person is grieving.  Help me to say what should be said”  To any and all who grieve… What would You say God?  How do I speak into someone’s sorrow.

And so it came to pass.

Steve, I believe you will hear the purr of your kitten again.  Yes in Heaven, why not.  And for you, and all who grieve.

“I sorrow in your sorrow, I grieve with your grief, and when appropriate, I will smile with your remembrance.”

May you be blessed, may grief lead you into joy and life anew.

Awakened

P1430506Refreshed, I arise refreshed.  But not because I slept in length and luxury, but because with the awakening comes a new opportunity to be alive.  In truth the nights are far shorter than they have been in a very long time.  And though I still enjoy a deepening slumber, I relish even more recounting the joyful play of the now passed day, and anticipate without expectation that joy will abound in even greater measure when I awake.

I do not lie awake filled with questions of the day.  My active mind is a testament to the joy awakened… feral animals, for real people, all alive, and often far better because our lives and paths have crossed.  I review the day, and try not to laugh out loud, though I would only disturb my dogs.

In review, among the many other blessings.

A bowl of food consumed an the front porch.

A meal prepared in my kitchen and shared around the dinner table for guests who’s lives have touched mine.

I am so much richer today than I was yesterday.  I hardly have time to put words to paper, but I feel it necessary to make this time.

When the gift possessed is the gift of hospitality, it is a gift unused and neglected unless given and received.

I am awake.  I await patiently, expectantly the next call.  I did not know I would get so young as I aged.

I am awake… it is a prelude.  “Dumpster” diving for living treasure.  Look what I found!!

And the band plays on…

I need to remember that on occasion the music stops. The enjoyment will pause.  My life does NOT end. Every dance band takes a break between sets. And I will hear the melody again. I WILL sing a new song daily. I dance with joy.. Fulton 7:77

I am awake.

Feral for real.

Quoting from Wikipedia “According to the dictionary definition a feral animal is one that has escaped from a domestic or captive status and is living more or less as a wild animal. Other definitions define a feral animal as one that has changed from being domesticated to being wild, natural, or untamed. Some common examples of animals with feral populations are horses, dogs, goats, cats, and pigs.”

I live in a feral world.  South of  downtown, West of the Arkansas River,  Urban neighborhood, Tulsa, Ok. USA.  It is a place for families, and government housing, and emerging neighborhoods, and crack houses, gangs, cheap real estate, and river view value homes.  It is heavily industrial, home to the refinery, storage tanks, interstate highways, a grade school, fast food restaurants, liquor and convenience stores, and many small churches with outreaches to the fringe living in the neighborhoods.  Cross the bridge to the East side of the River, and the real estate values triple, and mansions of the early Tulsa Oil Barons dominate the landscape.

And cats.  Lots and lots of cats.  Many colonies I am guessing. They are seen and unseen.  They dine on rats and mice and the occasional bird and mole.  And one colony that visits me daily and nightly. Survivor, Thor, Spooky, Midnight, Madras, Dijon, and Snow.  These are the cats I know that visit me.  Other than an occasional night time glimpse I know little about Madras, Dijon and Snow.  Such is not the case with the others.

The cat adventure at my house started nearly a year ago.  I had moved to the West Tulsa neighborhood, returning to Tulsa after a 30 year sojourn round the country.  I was joined on my move with Tank.  My beloved dog of 10 years now.  We moved into Casa Canine together.  My house was a “flip” property.  It had been empty and abandoned for several years.  Tank and I were the first new residents.  I would come to discover, there were some squatters who had been using the property.

As I have written before, Tank is a special friend, and a constant reminder or my deceased wife Michelle.  Tank stories can be found on my blog.  Tank is not a feral, but he is a player in the story.

Survivor was the first.  Almost certainly I remember seeing her from the early days of my residence.  Prior to my move, there had been the removal of an old brick building in my backyard.  I guess now, as I survey the neighborhood landscape,  it served as a popular cat hotel.  But it was gone by the time I moved.  And with it went the resident cats.  All but Survivor.  Survivor was a hanger on.  She wandered around my house, dined on mice and moles and an occasional bird.  And then on dry food I would set out on my porch.  We eventually became friends, and I wanted to adopt her and give her a home.  The shortened version is, friendship, “capture,” a trip to the vet, and a move inside my house.  The move lasted only a week.  Survivor was not pleased with the inside accommodations, she had friends on the outside.  And though she befriended my dog Tank, she was destined to return to her love interest Thor, though now she would never bear his children.

survi1 tanksurvivor

But this story is not about Feral Cats, it is about Feral People.  And let me tell you they exist. One of them is “M”, a wonderful person of the streets.  Not exactly homeless, not exactly with a safe place to lay her head.  Let me assure you, she is not a bum.  A hard working “junker” and scavenger of the streets.  Collecting scrap metal and cans, dumpster diving, and rescuing “junk” to sell weekly at her flea market booth.  I actually met M at the flea market, and had purchased some hearty mums from her… which are actually pictured above, on the porch with my feral cat friends.

M was “just a flea market vendor” to me until the day she got hurt.  She had dropped a very heavy object on her foot, I happened to be around, and went to get her some aid and relief, a bandage, pain meds, and cigarettes.  She ultimately was fine but sore.  And we became friends.  Over the weeks, we would chat on occasion.

I also have a storage unit space at the flea market, though I rarely worked it.  (I am more an EBAY guy.)  Because of this “junker/picker” connection,  M and I are in a similar area on a weekly basis.  We would small talk.  She had a significant other.  However, one day not long ago, M also had a swollen lip.  I am not afraid to ask questions.  And though I will not share all details, I will say this, I got her number, I made sure she had a safe place to stay, we had a “safe” word that she could text me in case of an emergency.

During this same time frame, I had started to become very restless in my own home.  Casa Canine (my house) was the landing ground for around 7 feral cats, my 3 dogs, and some foster dogs.  My house was also a warehouse and shipping center for my business.  As I tell people, I am either a hoarder on the mend, or a picker gone bad.  Whatever the truth is, my house was becoming a place of paths and stacks.  I believe I was weeks away from a reality TV session filmed locally, if you catch my drift.

It was time to act.  I must confess, I was paralyzed.  I would look at the piles.  I was paralyzed.  But action was required.  No one felt comfortable in my house, not ever me.  So I decided to hire someone to help me open Casa Canine to 2 legged guests.  I set a goal.  Invite friends to my house on a future date, and fix them dinner. I needed to find help.  The house would NOT clean itself.

I employed M.  She was hard working, I had seen that.  She also made her living as I shared earlier working outside selling and scrapping… and scraping to get by.  The winter in Tulsa, as in many places, has not been the place to try and make a living this year.  Too cold to dumpster dive, and too cold for customers to walk the flea market and purchase.  Even the before Christmas buying season was hard on the flea market population.

So M and I made a deal.  I figured I had about 40 hours of work or more at Casa Canine.  And I had thousands of items of inventory.  I would offer her a fair wage, which she could take in cash, or in inventory for her booth as we emptied my house, or any combination in between.  All her choice.  It was a great arrangement, and the end result was a successful dinner party for 8 just days ago.

But here is the drama.  M and I have become friends.  She is smarter than I could have ever known by her street life.  She is prettier than I could have ever seen behind her street appearance.  She is a victim of tragedy with the loss of her mother, killed by a drunk driver.  She has a heart beyond kind.  She is the only car owner among many of her friends, so she is the taxi for almost all.   She has a hard time focusing and committing to scheduled arrival times.  “Be there tomorrow morning” could easily mean 2 pm, or not at all.  Time, it seems is contingent on a friend’s immediate need, or the attraction of a pile of junk seen in an alley on the way to come to work for me.

In the 6 degrees of separation that is our world, I came to find out the first time M came to work here, is that she knew my property.  She had knocked on my door one year earlier to see if she could scrap the old air conditioner on my driveway, and take the old train board in my back yard, as well as other remnants of the “flip house” conversion.  I was not at home during these “knock-time” events.  I never answered the door, I had always wondered how that “crap” had disappeared from my yard. I was always thankful it was gone.

But as I shared earlier, dinner for 8 was served this past week.  It was postponed one time for an additional 2 days in order to get M focused on the task at hand.  But when she arrived, she would work hard.  Sometimes we would work together, as we sorted my ‘discards” to become her “inventory.”  Generally, she worked alone, and she worked hard.  She did a great job.  And we talked a couple of times.  But mostly she worked hard.

Just don’t depend on her to make good decisions about her life.  Because she, like Survivor, find that lifestyle changes are uncomfortable.

During our conversations, I came to find out her “safe” house remains the same house she was always in.  Even though a spare bedroom has been offered for her protection until other arrangements can be made, M has returned to the streets.

She has not returned my texts in two days, except one line “still sleeping.”

Maybe I will see M at her flea market booth in a few hours.  Saturday is a work day, and today will be warm in Tulsa.  Maybe I won’t.  I don’t know where she lives, but I do know where she hangs on most Saturdays and Sundays.

I choose not to moralize.  M my friend, like Survivor my cat, are welcome at Casa Canine anytime.  I can’t make them live inside.  I can only love them as I am allowed.

Feral Cats and Feral People are for real.

Cats, it seems, have an easier time accepting help.

Consider it……. resolved!

What is the purpose of a resolution, after all is said and done?  For many the new year is the trigger point for resolutions.  And for many the resolution is broken quickly and forgotten.

In my current state of affairs, I challenge myself to resolve to a process.  Otherwise, I believe that resolutions are a set up for failure.  Resolutions I contend, are triggers, starting points, not the completion of an action, but the beginning of a process.  And so I hope to share with you my resolutions from around 1977, still working on them, but resolved nonetheless.

The groundwork.  I can’t change tomorrow because I say I want to change something.  I can alter a moment.  I can start a process.  If I choose a good process, I have discovered that it remains fresh and new and alive.  I may waiver, but that is because I am not perfect.

In 1977, I resolved to quit tobacco, chewing, smoking, dipping tobacco.  I have been tobacco free for about 12 years now.  So that took a little over 2 decades.  But frankly, that was a resolution to me, and finally a victory over what I considered to be a bad habit.

In 1977, I resolved to lose weight.  I think the last time I weighed under 200 pounds was around 1978.  I would be happy now if I were under 300 today.  So that is a resolution that needs to be revisited.  More bad habits I need to correct.

In 1977, I discovered that life, and my Spiritual life in particular was and is a process.  My relationship with God is not a resolution, it is a process.  And in that year and every year since then I have learned that I travel a road, not paved with steps of perfection, but with the process paving blocks that lead toward a life of perfection and maturity.

I had been a student of the Bible for many years.  But in 1977 I accepted a position as a youth minister in Tulsa, Ok.  Honestly, little has been the same since.  Nothing has been more challenging than the honest questions and searching of bright teenage men and women.  Doubters, believers, followers, wanderers.  I loved that group of folks.  So much so that it probably motivated my return to Tulsa, after an absence of 30+ years.

And in 1977-78,  a process was started that continues to this day, and this moment… and this moment.  For those of you who are not believers, feel free to do as you wish with these words.  For those of you who do believe, I hope the discussion of this process brings you hope.  It is a part and portion of God’s resolutions for me.

I share with you the most powerful verses to touch my life.  I did not discover them in those early Tulsa years, the discovery was years before.  But the resolution… I believe the birthplace of the resolution was Tulsa.  This is my resolution.

James 1:2-5  “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,a whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”

“Consider it pure joy”, it is a resolution followed by process.  Trust me, as a person who has resolved to quit tobacco, or lose weight, or consider it joy… the resolution is easy.  It is the process that takes time.  The process does not require perfection.  The process requires an awareness to the process.  The process forges perfection.  Like the refiners fire for gold and dross.

Considering the process is really a blessing.  I mean it is easy to consider it joy if all of the circumstances of my life are just as i wished or hoped they would be.   But the trigger in this verse is to consider it joy in the midst of trials and tribulations.  I could write about this for pages, but I will sum it up with the belief that this is a faith trigger.  And for believers, faith is the touchstone of …. well….  faith.  And “without faith it is impossible to please God.”

And the process continues, faith produces endurance.  Why must we endure?  Well I believe endurance would not be necessary if I had the life cycle of a fruit fly.  But I am blessed with years and multiple challenges.

And If I allow endurance to have its perfect result, I will be perfect and mature, lacking in nothing.  And that my friends is the reason for my resolution in the first place.  I desire changes in my life.  Why?  So I can be mature and complete lacking in nothing.  And though the challenges are manifold to reach this destination.  Resolved I am, to get there.

And it all starts with Consider it all joy.  Consider it all joy.  That does NOT mean everything is a joy.  Not everything is a trigger for thankfulness.  In fact my first blog post the day before Thanksgiving, 2013, was entitled “A moment to be Unthankful.” It startled some wondering about my mental well being.  But there is light in the shadows.  And my resolve is to consider it all joy.

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And for those in the process, I am pleased to point out that there is actually a caveat.  Tucked at the end of this Bible passage, the promise of wisdom.  When I don’t understand the process, when I struggle with the ability to consider, I have an “out.”   An open invitation to ask God for wisdom.  Given Generously and without finding fault.  Wisdom is a glorious gift.  And a blessing to be received in the midst of any process.

I can already tell 2014 is going to be a great year.  I have considered it.

Were those instructions meant for me?

WAKE UP I SAYrinse

WAKE UP.

There are moments in my life, omg (oh my goodness) moments, moments of realization. Often followed by reformation and life renewing energy

Today, it seems a moment like this arrived.

My life has been filled with bad decisions.  As well as good.  But the moments of caution ignored.  I reflect on my youthful actions, and marvel that I still enjoy life.  I have been guarded and protected for reasons only explained for me with Supernatural explanations.

And I am a guy.  I somehow think I can avoid instructions and directions.  I will learn as I struggle.  Of course I will also assemble a kit and finish the job with leftover pieces.  Oh please work.  Please, please, please.  I was once a professional cook.  Recipe?  Really.  Yes really.  And I made many a covered dish to share with friends, neighbors, church suppers and the like.  I even had my own restaurant.  “Bob, that was great!  Can I have your recipe?”  Why sure.  Knowing full well that the requester would probably never make the dish again I would fumble through a written copy.

What is remarkable is that instructions actually have a purpose.  No I am serious.  There is a reason to do things in order and according to design, as written on the sides of boxes and bottles, and assembly guides.  That does not mean that I am loyal to this process, but today, this morning I actually followed some instructions.  I did it to prove that I did not need to.  I did it because I was certain the guidelines were without purpose.  I am only 62, I can learn, but I can also use my vast knowledge to debunk the myth.

So I find myself in the shower.  Nothing unusual.  But the morning was cold, and I was particularly stiff and achy.  So I decided to linger under the warm streams of water.  The lower back was truly a beneficiary of this extended time.  And then I had a Serendipity moment.  As I shampoo my head, I laugh and said these words aloud.. or I think I said them.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

When have I ever done that?  When I had hair and went to a salon, the barber would do that for me.  But in my alone time, with no accountability to follicle maintenance, when did I do that complete process last.  Lather, Rinse, Repeat.  What a waste.  But today was a breakthrough moment.  I mean I wanted to linger in the shower for wet hot therapy anyway… Go for it.  Grab your roots and follicles by the roots and follicles.

So I did what I always have done.  I lathered and rinsed.  And then as if possessed I repeated.  Breaking new ground.  I lathered again.  And oh my.  The suds exploded on my scalp.  There was a new tingle on my balding dome.  No exaggeration, it was a moment of invigoration.  It was so wonderful I had to Google “lather, rinse, repeat”.

And what do I learn.  I am not just involved in a hair cleansing process anymore.  “The idea of the first step is not to wash your hair, but rather to clean your scalp and remove the sebum (oil) and product that has accumulated since your last shampoo.”  I was, it appears a sebum factory.

I did NOT know this until I rinsed and repeated.  And during the second step my head felt so good.  And frankly, I am writing this on Sunday evening, and I think my scalp still tingles in a very good way.

I am now inspired to investigate the sides of boxes.  Well maybe not.  Because how hard can the recipe for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the blue box be?