I love clouds and sunlight photos. That's how God's love makes my heart feel.
I love clouds and sunlight photos. That’s how God’s love makes my heart feel.

My Trifecta writing challenge post on Friday, about a demon led to a church sanctuary by the poor mapmaking skills of an intern demon, was meant to be a funny tale about a beast outside the “comfort zone.”

I think some read more into it than what I intended, which is fine.  Great, in fact.  I want others to relate to my words.  Even more so, I want my words to promote thinking.  What I don’t want is for my words to be made into something they aren’t and then attributed as my thoughts.  So, more fully than I could explain in a comment reply, I’m going to clarify (I hope) my views on religion.

I believe that Jesus died for our sins.  I go to church, but I’m reserved and stay on the outer fringes of the mass.  I enjoy going there to learn with others who are supposed to be of like beliefs.  I grew up in Baptist churches, but in adulthood, I’ve chosen non-denominational churches.  I don’t want my belief in God to be firmly attached to a sect of Christianity; I want it attached to the Bible.

I don’t like the clique feeling of some congregations.  I don’t like when worthiness is based on whether or not you wear a fancy church dress.  I don’t like the looking down perfectly powdered noses to cast judgment on strangers.  I don’t like the insulation from community, whether from non-believers or those in need of a helping hand.  Not every church is like this, but I’ve seen enough to know they are out there.

God’s intent of believers congregating:  “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”—Hebrews 10:24-25

I heard a quote on the radio that expressed what I felt more eloquently than I could.  I found the following on Lysa TerKeurst’s blog:

God doesn’t want us to have a religion. A religion is where we follow rules hoping to do life right, and we serve God out of duty because we think we have to.

God wants us to have a relationship. A relationship where we follow Him. And we serve God not out of duty but out of delight because of the realization of who we are in Him.

Biblical reference:  The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”—Isaiah 29:13

When we live with the purpose of strengthening our relationship with God, love just happens.  We have compassion for those ignored by society.  We follow Jesus’ lead and embrace those who have been scarred by sin. (That’s all of us, by the way.  No matter what Christians want others to believe, none of us are free from sin.)

I stumble.  A lot.  Perfection isn’t even on my horizon.  But I find comfort in knowing that God doesn’t expect it.  He expects me to follow not by sight, but by faith.

That, I’m learning to do, every day.

I want to be amazed by the ordinary.
I want to be amazed by the ordinary.

Thank you for stopping by and taking time to read this.  If you have any thoughts/opinions, please share by leaving a comment.  Have a beautiful Sunday!


Hills and Valleys

My questions confirmed that this indeed is a drawing of a hill with a gravestone on top!
My questions confirmed that this indeed is a drawing of a hill with a gravestone on top!

It is official:  there was a hill and I’m over it.  Funny…I don’t even remember climbing it. Oh well, I’ve heard that memory lapses with age.  And I’m forty now, so I’d better get used to it.

Now what was I writing about?

Oh, yes.

Each year, when I tack another year onto my age, I tend to glance over my shoulder to see where I’ve been and if I’m heading where I think I should be.  My heart is a fairly accurate compass, but my brain wants to see for itself.

I feel content in our new environment (four months ago, we moved from the desert of Phoenix to the cooler climate of pines, further north in Arizona.) From this horizon, I realize that the last two years had been an emotional valley.  Acknowledging the peace I feel now, I guess my son was right:  I have summited a hill.

But there is no gravestone at the top.

Despite what I imagined forty to be half a lifetime ago, I feel energetic and ready to discover what the next year (or twenty) has in store.  Age may be staking claim on aspects of my appearance, but it doesn’t fool me into thinking the best is behind me.

I may be getting rough in my old age, but I still have blooms in me :)
I may be getting rough in my old age, but I still have blooms in me 🙂

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7)

Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next. (1 Timothy 4:8)


When faced with choices and decisions, I often pray and ask for some kind of “sign” to guide my actions.  A bolt of lightning or a burning bush would be obvious, but often I don’t see the signs…or I look in my rear-view mirror only to find that I missed them and there’s no U-turn opportunity in sight.

Sometimes, signs are just plain confusing.  If I don’t know where I’ve been or where I’m going, how do I know where I’m at right now?  That’s how I felt when I spotted this sign at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta:

Um...I think I'll just stand right here.
Um…I think I’ll just stand right here.

Other times, the context of the sign can provide unexpected humor.  This bait car sign tickled my funny bone because of where it was located:  the parking lot of a Cabela’s store.  Cabela’s sells all things outdoor:  camping and hunting gear – and of course, fishing bait 🙂

Who said law enforcement didn't have a sense of humor?
Who said law enforcement didn’t have a sense of humor?

And then there are the signs that I don’t know quite how to process.  Well, I won’t explain this one…I’d like to see what YOU make of it:

Sorry...I can't come up with an appropriate caption...
Sorry…I can’t come up with an appropriate caption…

When all the sign hunting gets to be too much, I close my eyes and find peace within.  I wait for a source of inspiration to nudge my soul in the direction I need to head.

01-27 Yield

Sometimes, signs are just something to read, not to live by.  It’s comforting to know that since the beginning of time, people have looked for ‘signs’.  It’s also reassuring to know that I’m not any blinder than they were 😀

Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemies may see it and be put to shame, for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me. (Psalm 86:17)

“Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?” (Mark 13:4)

Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” (John 2:18)

Have a beautiful Sunday!

Grand Illusions

My younger son wanted me to take pictures of his toy Camaro so it “looked real.”  Okay.  I had no idea how to take pictures of a toy so it looked like a real car, so I ignored the request, thinking it would go away. Hahaha.  Funny.  The request not only didn’t go away, it became more frequent and urgent.  Finally, after about a week, I took some pictures of it in front of their toy firehouse.  The bright primary colors of the firehouse didn’t scream “real” and the carpet under the tires, though dirty, wasn’t real enough.  So, we took it outside.

Yes, we took this prized toy Camaro outdoors.  I set it in the street, stretched out on my belly and began my photo shoot.  We took pictures from many angles…doors closed, doors open, back view, side view…you name it, we did it.  Cars drove by.  I’m sure people thought I looked strange, but I don’t care.  My son was beyond excited.

He wanted his car to look like something it wasn’t.  I can think of periods in my youth where I was the car.  I thought the right clothes would make me popular.  A different hairstyle (or a hairstyle at all) would make me likeable.  I wanted my outward appearance to cover up who I really was:  a shy, insecure girl who felt her personality wasn’t enough of a draw.

I’d like to say that image creating stopped with adulthood.  That’d be a lie, though.  I clean the house when I know someone is coming over.  Yes, I work, parent the kids, and my house is clean, too.  One of the kids experiences behavior issues (they tag-team this one).  Everything is going well.  Yes, the kids are good.  When someone asks how I am, I say fine even when I’m not.  Do you really want to know that I feel like crying right now?

I find it interesting that we all struggle, but we guard our troubles like a poker hand.  We don’t want to admit that we can’t do it all.  We refuse to acknowledge we could use a hand.  We don’t discuss the weak links in our lives.  Instead, we perpetuate the myth of control by projecting a false image.  Imagine how much more at ease we’d be if we allowed our flaws to see the light of day.  If we saw others struggled just as we do, wouldn’t we be freed from the pressure of living up to their image?

At least God knows where we are broken – we can’t hide that from Him.

From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.  For you have been by refuge, a strong tower against the foe.  (Psalms 62:2-3)

 Have a beautiful Sunday!

Kind Hearts and Friendships

As we walked home from school, my younger son talked non-stop.  He said something about getting $20 at school.  I thought he was talking nonsense, until he produced a $20 bill from his backpack.  With the help of my older son, I got the story about how he came to be in possession of this kind of money.

My younger son and his friend, “G”, were talking about a book my son recently ordered from the Scholastic magazine.  His friend asked if he could have the book, and my younger son told him he could – as soon as he had an iPod Touch. “G” told him, “those are expensive, you’re gonna need this,” and gave him the money.

Sweet gesture, but I knew my son couldn’t keep it.  I called “G’s mom.  As soon as I mentioned $20, she told me that she had the money on the counter and wondered where it went.  The money was for an animal rescue, specifically to help with vet care for an injured dog, which was “G’s” charity of choice.

Once the money was returned to its rightful owner, we talked about the situation.  I reassured my son he wasn’t in trouble, but explained that he shouldn’t accept money from friends.  He stood by his argument of, “But I didn’t ask for it, he just gave it to me.” 

My younger son doesn’t see the problem, but one day, I think he’ll understand.  His friend, “G” has a caring heart and I hope it’s not stolen away by kids who’ll take advantage of his kindness.

Speaking of friendships, I’ve been looking forward to what is becoming an annual sleepover at my best friend’s house.  Yes, I know, I’m a little (okay, a lot) too old for that, but it makes sense, really.

This weekend, she lost her husband to Fantasy Football (don’t worry, it’s only temporary, although it does relapse every year around this time :))  Since we live over an hour apart from each other, we don’t get to visit in person very often.  So, when we do see each other, we have lots of catching up to do.  This is why we do the overnight stay.

I hope you have a safe Labor Day weekend.  I’ll catch up on blog reading on the Monday holiday, but for now, I’m offline, sharing the necessities with my friend:

Life’s been stressful lately…we’ll medicate with chocolate and laugh ourselves back to normal

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)