It Doesn’t Feel Like August

It is not the normal August second outside this morning. The humidity is low and the temps are cool for this time of year. My body is accustomed to soaring temps only cooling down to what some would call hot during the night.

I walked out the door and felt as if fall was going to start next week.

When I was watching the baseball game last night, the commentators seemed unable to believe that it was such a nice evening at the beginning of August.

It feels kind of wrong in a great kind of way.

I know that even though I am aware of the potential for a really nice day, I will walk out the doors from work and wonder if I am in the right place. I’ll be expecting worse even though I know it isn’t going to be the case.

I think my life gets tainted by my expectations. Even though I know that God is with me and walking beside me and taking care of me, I expect him not to be.

I don’t know. It is as if my spirit is sure it is blistering August and God is trying to give me a beautiful day in October.

I dread walking out into life and sometimes I can’t enjoy the surprise of a great blessing for dreading what is coming afterward.

I’m fairly certain that I’ve missed the real experience of blessings because I was focused on what might be.

I can tell you right now that I didn’t get the mileage out of the beautiful day I was given yesterday because of the stuff that might or might not happen today.

But all that worrying did not alter the course of this day at all. It only robbed me of precious moments of peace yesterday.

A few moments of peace yesterday may have made that first walk out into the rare air of this young August a lot more enjoyable. Instead, I woke up shaking off the load of a night of tossing and turning beneath a blanket of worry.

Don’t get me wrong. I sleep. I am grateful for that. It wasn’t all that long ago that in the middle of the night I would get out of bed and sit in the living room for hours, just me and my migraine and all the imaginings of an overly worried mind.

I can still, however, stand to let some things go, things that only God can really handle, things that are entirely out of my hands. I do not have some sort of ability to alter the course of the future by working it over inside my brain.

Nope. Not even a little.

So, even though it feels like peace shouldn’t really exist for me in this day considering everything that is going on, I need to embrace it anyway. Even though it seems like I should be working hard to worry the future into a better place, I need to allow God to work it all out and give him room inside my mind to give me the peace he has promised me.

John 14:27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

Advertisements

High Anxiety

Anxiety isn’t always about one thing consuming me along with every way that one thing can go wrong. Although, with me, that is sometimes the case, usually, if I can find a way to let go of that one thing, lots of my anxiety goes with it.

Sometimes, the worst anxiety I face is the kind that isn’t well-defined.

Life seems tipsy, like one wrong move and it all comes crashing down. I can’t tell what exactly is making things so precarious or there are just so many variables I don’t know which one to address.

That’s kind of how I have been feeling lately. I think that if I solve one problem, it will just create two more and the balance I am struggling so hard to maintain will be irreversibly compromised.

Things seem ready, at any moment, to come crashing down.

Most of this is completely irrational. It is the unknown things that lurk at the edges of everything that I can’t quite put my finger on taunting me from their hiding place.

There have been a lot of times I have been distracted by the thoughts around the periphery of life that have little to no chance of actually being a problem and I find myself chasing invisible rabbits when I should be slaying giants.

I don’t write much about anxiety. It makes me anxious.

But today, I have this tension that leaks from my brain down into my chest right out of the gate this morning. It has come to visit me a lot over the last few weeks.

I don’t write this blog to make everyone think I have all the answers. I don’t. I do write it to let everyone know that today isn’t the day we stop trying to find them.

Beating anxiety isn’t really about making all my fears and worries go away. It is about finding the most imminent danger, or perceived danger, and looking it square in the eye, spending some time in prayer, hearing from God through his word and walking right where God says to walk.

Maybe it is a time to “man up” and admit I am not enough man and round up a posse of people to walk with me. They are out there. I tend to withdraw, though, and hope they rally around me without me telling anyone I need them.

I guess I expect God to send angels to announce I need help or for someone’s latent ESP to kick in so they come to my rescue by divine revelation.

Sometimes, I just need to stop and ask myself, “What do I have to do in the next five minutes to make the next hour better?”

Nothing gets my mind off of controlling what I can’t change like doing what I ought to be doing right now.

Nothing is the cure for anxiety. Anxiety is beaten by an arsenal of things. Gratitude, faith, cracking the shell of isolation, stepping out of the paralysis of fear in smaller steps than I think I need to take (I often feel I should be doing something amazing and huge when in reality I only need to get started doing something that seems minuscule compared to my problem)…there are a lot of small things that break anxiety’s spell when they are all put together.

Well, today, with the balancing act of life seeming so tipsy and for reasons I can’t quite put my finger on, ready to come crashing down on top of me, I’ll do my best to deal with what is right in front of me, trust that God is with me and allow him to do the real work of making it all work out.

It seems that it is when I try to be the star of the show that I bite off more than I can chew and I really should be worried.

Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

My Bonus Years

I’m not really feeling any creative juices flowing this week. I’ve switched to a new medication for my depression and I’m in the adjustment phase. However, I feel a lot more back to normal than I did over the weekend.

I’ve heard people say we don’t need anti-depressants because God is all we need.

I don’t really hear people say that about their blood pressure meds.

If I had been born fifty years earlier, about the time my grandpa was born, I probably wouldn’t have lived long enough to get to know my grandkids.

I went to the doctor for severe headaches about twenty-five years ago. I thought I had a sinus infection.

My blood pressure was 190/140.

I was like, “So, I should stop at the pharmacy on the way home and get a prescription filled?”

They gave me a nitro glycerine tablet and made me lay down, said something about me having a stroke on my way to my car.

Who knew?

Yeah, that nearly went really bad. Thankfully, God let me have a bad headache to get me to say “uncle” and go see a doctor. It took three different medications at one time to get the blood pressure to behave.

For decades, I wandered through life with a different kind of headache, one that invaded my thoughts and emotions.

I had un-diagnosed depression. People didn’t realize it because I was always acting the fool and trying to make people laugh.

When I found out I had this, I thought it came and went kind of like a cold or something. I figured that once I felt better the meds go in the trash and I am free as a bird.

I really didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I figured my mental illness was really just sinfulness and God was taking care of all that.

I can’t really speak to you about your exact situation. You may have been depressed, got treatment for a while and now you are fine.

But, my mental illness is here to infect my brain until the very last breath I take. That used to terrify me.

I felt like it ruled me and I was never going to live another happy day ever.

But my medication, along with my recovery and my relationship with God has helped me make depression the road I travel and not the load I carry.

So, occasionally I have to change my meds and suffer a few side-effects while I get used to it. I know it is a huge help to me. I’m not going to risk what I have gained for the pride of being med-free any more than I would risk quitting my recovery support group or God.

There are things I cannot do without, my blood pressure medication and my anti-depressants are a couple of them.

These years I am living now are bonus years, years I would not have lived if God had given me some help through the help of medical breakthroughs.

I’m obligated to use them the way God intended when he granted them to me.

I guess I’ll end this right here with one final thought. Do NOT be ashamed or too proud to get all the help you need to take depression off your shoulders and move it under your feet. You may not be able to be free from it but it can be far less of a burden.

Enjoy some bonus years.

Churchy Churcherson

What would Jesus do?

Remember that? There were WWJD bracelets and all sorts of other things with those letters on there to remind us to stop and think about what Jesus would do in our situation.

I don’t know how much it actually helped people to change their behavior but there seems to be a lot less regard for what Jesus would do.

These days it sounds more like, “What would (insert political party) do?”

Church people are falling into this abyss of hate just like the rest of the world.

Just the other day, I read Churchy Churcherson’s (name changed to protect the innocent) post on Facebook proudly pronouncing everyone that didn’t believe that the trinity was a lie was going to hell.

According to him, you have to be in the enlightened club to understand the bible and apparently I am not.

He felt sorry that I was going to hell but not really. He was full of pride that he knew something the rest of the world didn’t.

I’m sorry, dude, but even if I have some of this a little wrong, God didn’t put puzzles and riddles in his word to keep a bunch of us out of heaven.

I meet the criteria of the words spoken by Jesus Christ and that doesn’t seem to have a lot left for the exclusive interpretation of the specially enlightened.

That guy may be in heaven someday but he isn’t likely to like his neighbors.

All of that is a side note…lol. The main point here is that people sin against us.

It isn’t like I should go on Facebook and write a big rant dragging them through the mud, all the while stepping on their neck, shouting about how terrible they are.

I may feel pretty good about a revenge rant but is feeling good what the Christ died to give me?

What would Jesus do?

Matthew 18:15 “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. 16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17 If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.”

Jesus would sit down face to face with the offending party and talk about it.

I’d recommend talking about it soon.

I’ve learned that sitting down and talking things over often gives me a better picture of what is really going on instead of the version I have in my head where I am the center of everyone’s universe.

There are things there where I can go get friends and go back and do an intervention or something but, honestly, I’ve never had a problem that required more than an open mind and a forgiving heart.

If all else fails, Jesus gives us a free pass to treat them like pagans or tax collectors. Yippee! This is where they get their comeuppance.

Wrong.

How did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors?

He ate with them, sat and talked to them and eventually laid down his life for them.

He didn’t have a bunch of expectations for them to meet or else he’d insert a couple of chapters about them in the Sermon on the Mount explaining how they were going to hell because they didn’t believe in him exactly the same as others did.

Not even a little.

Churchy Churcherson is probably sitting at his computer this morning writing, just like I am, spreading his venomous, exclusive gospel.

But, I am going to continue to write hope through Christ Jesus for all who believe on him.

Thirst

It is a little rainy outside this morning. It seems funny to say after all the months of flooding that we really need some rain.

But, flooding is not an effective way to hydrate the ground. Most of the water that could have been good for the area simply sits on top of the ground making it unusable and then retreats into the river to run on down to the Gulf of Mexico without doing anything but damage before it becomes a part of the big, salty ocean.

So, the rain has begun and the farmers are talking about how much they need it and I’m sitting here enjoying the way a rainy morning feels with the sounds of the falling drops and the morning sky hesitating to shed light on the subject.

The thunder growls and the lightning peeks from behind the clouds.

I mowed the grass Saturday and noticed the grass and grass substitutes (weeds) growing in my yard were not so soft and green.

Yep. I think things were getting thirsty.

Yesterday, my grandson came hurrying into the house from the backyard and went to the kitchen and grabbed a glass of water. He took it and tipped it up and began drinking.

It seemed like he drank for a long time.

He finally stopped and started to put the glass down but he looked inside and saw a little bit more water.

He tipped the glass up and finished it off. Then he put the glass on the counter and rushed out into the backyard.

Sometimes I get thirsty and I want to get a drink and sit down and stop. He gets a drink so he can keep going.

I’m not going anywhere deep (or shallow) with all of this.

I’m just thinking about stopping for a drink now and then.

Sometimes we need a drink so we can rest and sometimes so we can keep going but if we are thirsty and don’t get some water inside of us, we get dry and things start to go sideways.

I think that is the problem with a lot of churches these days. People are going to church and getting entertained or being busy or just putting in seat (or pew) time to meet their minimum requirement for God’s approval.

But they pass up the fountain of life and go home parched.

Then they wonder why they are so anxious and angry all the time. Spiritual dehydration really fuels my anxious and angry emotions.

John 7:37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

Sometimes all I have to do to get a drink is to stop and look at all the reasons I have to be grateful. It seems that when I pour out gratitude, living water comes flooding in.

I guess I’ll call this my stopping point. But I will sit here for a few more minutes and drink before I allow work to take over the day.

Be hydrated!

Big Prizes!

New Hope for Dry Bones

I can remember reading comic books back when I was a kid. I would read them again and again and then, read them again. There would be ads in the back pages. There were amazing things out there to buy.

X-Ray glasses were available but I never got to actually try any. Mom didn’t think it was a good idea for me to spend any of my allowance on a pair. There were buzzers that make your friends jump around and scream when you shook their hands. A guy I knew had one and tried it on me. My reaction was somewhat less than the guy in the picture in the back of the comic. There was gum that was supposed to be too hot to chew, gum that turned a person’s mouth and teeth black and fake dog poop.

All of the stuff you couldn’t get at the local…

View original post 763 more words

Time

New Hope for Dry Bones

One of the influences on me that got me interested in writing was the band ‘Pink Floyd’. I found the lyrics in the songs on the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ album intriguing and they sparked something in me to begin to write poetry. I don’t write a lot of poetry currently but from time to time I will decide to write in tempo and rhyme. My favorite lyrics by this band are in the song ‘Time’.

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten…

View original post 661 more words

Words Ending in “essed”

New Hope for Dry Bones

Sometimes I am stressed, depressed, oppressed, obsessed or some other kind of thing that does or doesn’t end in “essed”. But I think those things are usually more of a state of mind rather than the reality of being blessed. In my case I fail to see the blessed part of my life when those other things are taking over my brain.

In reality, I am always blessed.  I just choose not to believe it.

To allow those things in my life, I have to literally push some of God and his blessings aside. Being stressed and worried, I have to take back some of the faith I place in God. To wallow in depression, I have to toss out some of the joy God gives me.

Sometimes it isn’t a conscious decision to push aside God and enjoy some of the everyday troubles that once ruled my life…

View original post 338 more words

Peppers, Tomatoes and Salsa

Today, I sit down to start typing and I’ve got nothing. There’s no thoughts in my head that have anything to do with anything you might be interested in.

I picked peppers last night. I didn’t get a peck of them and they weren’t pickled and they won’t be pickled, unless making salsa from them counts as pickling.

I’m no Peter Piper, I suppose.

I planted two kinds of peppers, regular old Jalapenos and Ghost peppers.

I never thought about how Jalapenos got their name. I figured it was something that made sense if I knew how to speak Spanish. (So, at this point, I AM wondering and had to google that it means “from Xalapa (also spelled Jalapa), where the pepper was originally cultivated).

After growing my own ghost peppers, I can see that they look like pale green ghosts hanging on the plants. At least, that’s what I think. I was hoping they got their name from the souls of the people they scorched to death that tried eating them whole in the YouTube videos.

I didn’t taste any of the peppers last night when I picked them. I did, however, eat a Jalapeno a couple of weeks ago fresh out of the garden.

It was tasty but it wasn’t hot, not even a little.

I’m a little worried that none of my peppers will have any heat to them. I did a little research and found out what happened.

We planted the peppers too close to the tomato plants. Those tomato plants were scrawny little things when we planted them and there was plenty of room between all the plants in the garden.

But those tomato plants grew like weeds and are now several feet tall and spread out all over the place. We also watered those plants a lot because tomoatoes love water.

Well, the pepper plants were shaded by the tomatoes and got plenty of water just because the tomatoes got watered so much.

Pepper plants can really crank out a lot of peppers in those conditions. The problem is that they are bland and lack spice.

Peppers get to their true potential when stressed by the hot sun and sparse watering.

Next year, they are getting planted far from the shade of the tomatoes and only getting enough water to keep them alive and growing. I like my peppers with heat!

I’ve often wondered why I am so different from some of the biblical leaders. They did some pretty amazing things. Peter and Paul brought Christianity from a group of Jesus’ followers to a gigantic movement.

Today, churches seem to be coming to a gigantic crawl.

At times, I come to a massive crawl.

There’s no heat, no spice, nothing that challenges the soul’s taste buds!

I need to just stop trying to avoid all this stress, I suppose. Peter and Paul didn’t avoid the stress. They plunged into it headfirst and didn’t look back!

Living life in the shade of the big tomatoes in my church and my community isn’t my thing. I’m a pepper. I’m not happy unless I am bringing something hot to the party.

But I retreat into the shadows and suck up the cool water and I become bland and tasteless.

All of this stress that I face each day, the uncertainty, the struggle, the thirst, it is what makes me what I need to be. I’m not and never will be a tomato.

Honestly, when things are easy for me, I do something stupid that complicates it beyond all recognition. I am a stress machine!

God made me this way, not to struggle to become a tomato for the rest of my life but to become the hottest pepper in the garden!

Sometimes I am set apart and deprived of what I think I really need so that I can become something more than the eye can see. It only takes a little pepper to really wake up the flavor of bland batch of salsa.

Well, I started off this morning with nothing and turned nothing into a huge amount of unplanned rambling about peppers.

I guess that there are times when we have nothing, we need to start anyway and find something along the way.

To all you peppers out there, have a hot one!

Sour Grapes

I think the first time I heard the term “sour grapes” was when I was watching the Banana Splits Club on a Saturday morning a few (dozen) years back.

Image result for banana splits club sour grapes

They were a rival band to the Banana Splits and they were all named “Charlie”.

I was a charter member of the Banana Splits Club. They meant nothing except, for a long time, I carried my membership card in my wallet. That card was in there long after the show was cancelled and the world forgot about that groovy, far out TV show.

Then I learned that “sour grapes” had something to do with Cubs’ fans. I didn’t understand that either. I just figured vineyards in Chicago were not so great.

I finally learned that “sour grapes” was what you got from someone that complained about one thing to distract attention from the real problem which was usually the person spitting out sour grapes.

Today, I read this verse in Jeremiah and it just struck me as kind of funny.

Jeremiah 31:29 “The people will no longer quote this proverb:‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,but their children’s mouths pucker at the taste.”

Jeremiah is referring to all that punishment that Israel endured for turning its back on God and breaking their promises to him over and over and over again.

They brought a lot of sour to the mouths of their children.

Isn’t it odd that parents say they would do anything for their kids but seem to not be willing to live a godly life for them? Yesterday, today and tomorrow, people will try to give their kids everything except the one thing God desires for them to have.

Even today, my kids are grown and on their own and I seem them pucker because of the life they have to live in this world they have to live in and I realize that they are tasting my sour grapes.

I am a grandpa now. Last night I saw the lips on my four year old grandson pucker.

I can’t explain how deeply that hurt me. I felt guilt reach deep down into me and squeeze my heart tightly till I felt as if I could not breathe.

I don’t know what to do when things get that way. All these years living here on this planet and I still don’t feel like I can make the guilt bearable at times, even though guilt should not be there if I believe what God tells me is true.

I guess there is some unbelief in there, deep down and when the holes in my belief line up just right, the pain shoots clean through me.

The only real choice I have is to leave the sour grapes off the menu. When I am tempted to take a big bite out of the things that are bad for me and everyone around me, I need to find something else to eat.

I need to remember that today’s sin is tomorrow’s pucker and I may not be the one to suffer it.

The good news is that when I turn all of those sour grapes over to my Heavenly Father, he can make the sweetest of wine. I’ve seen it. I see it every day. I’ll see it tomorrow.