Friday, November 26, 2010

Let's Party!

After 40 years of reading the Bible cover to cover, I discovered something I never knew yesterday while perusing the book of Exodus. But then again, maybe I'm the only one in the world who wasn't clued in.

Did you know that Moses wasn't the only one (besides Adam and Eve) to actually see God face to face and live to tell about it? In fact, did you realize that God threw a party for a hand-picked bunch in His mountain hide-away and hung out with them while they chowed down?

No? Well I'm glad I'm not alone in my duh-ment. I fear that many of the times I've waded through some of the heavier Old Testament books like Exodus , Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, I was either half asleep or brain-fried enough that what I was reading didn't register. Happily, this time it did and I feel oh, so enlightened.

In Exodus 24:9-11, it's recorded that while the Children of Israel had recently left Egypt and were just getting started in their wilderness adventure, 74 Hebrew leaders were invited up to Mt. Sinai where "they saw the God of Israel" and "they shared a meal together in God's presence!" (New Living Translation)

Is that not cool? Can you imagine being invited up to God's place and being served manna appetizers while the Master of all Creation and God of the Universe hangs out with you?

I must admit it makes my imagination run wild just considering what the party chatter must have been like:

"So, Lord, what does your agenda look like for the next 40 years?"

"Hey Moses, did you try the quail wings? The secret's in the sauce!"

"Do want us to stay and wash dishes, Yahweh? Good help is so hard to find these days."

No disrespect is intended, of course - I just like to insert myself in these amazing biblical scenarios to see what it could have actually felt like. Guess that's the actress in me.

Nevertheless, I think that's really something that God loves His children so very much that He intentionally seeks our company - He wants to spend time with us. Do we, on the other hand, give Him the same consideration?

How many times have I closed my Bible after 4 verses because I'm tired and would rather go to sleep? Or left a prayer unfinished because I got sidetracked by other important claims on my time? Or had a whole list of good intentions to perform in His name that just somehow never made it to fruition?

Hmm. Maybe it's time to rethink my priorities. Maybe I can still make the invitation list to the Almighty's next shindig.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Oy! Coty Meets Coyote

I had heard rumors of missing cats in our semi-rural neighborhood, and even a blood and guts description of, well, the blood and gut remains one neighbor found of her cat one foggy morning. There were several accounts of coyote sightings caught in headlights during the wee hours of the night.

And then this morning, I had my very own close encounter.

I was walking my dog down our quiet neighbohood street just after sun-up when we were both startled by a large critter emerging from between two houses about 20 yards in front of us. My ferocious miniature poodle went ballistic but the beast only nonchalantly glanced our way, never even breaking stride. He wasn't exactly loping, but walked at a right smart clip as he crossed the street and disappeared between two houses on the other side of the road as if on a mission.

He ignored us like we weren't even there.

I understand urban coyotes are more common in Florida than most people realize. And by the time you see one, you're probably infestated. They're cunningly adaptable and surprisingly agile. This one had the coloring and height of a German Shepherd but was more gangly, thin and scruffy. He definitely had a wild look about  him.

I actually enjoy observing wildlife, which is why I moved to this 200-home subdivision on the cusp of town and country. It brings joy to my heart to see the array of sandhill cranes, iris', red-tailed hawks, owls, silver foxes, racoons, bunnies, possums, and even the occasional alligator traipsing down the middle of the road on a trek between the ponds flanking the neighborhood.

But I must say this encounter didn't bring me the least bit of joy. I'd say heart palpitations is more like it. I've read that coyotes consume just about anything - garbage, dog food, berries, roadkill, eggs, small pets and any kind or varment they can run down. And they've been known to breed with female dogs when one is handy, producing a "coy-dog," which can never be fully domesticated.

So what's an urban animal lover to do? Take the good with the bad and just get over it? Or buy a pellet gun and start packing? What's your opinion?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Trapping the Weasel

Fear is a covert weasel that can sneak in under the wire and wreak havoc in our feelings and decisions without us even being aware of the wily little beast.

I've never been more aware of this fact than last week when my daughter asked me to accompany her and her husband to their 12-week sonogram. To my surprise, my first impulse was to shout "NO!" and run the other way. But I didn't. Carefully keeping my expression neutral, I saw the excitement and joy radiating from her eyes about this momentous occasion, her first baby, and knew it was a precious honor she was offering me and I should accept graciously.

But my gut reaction puzzled me. What was so frightening to me?

As I considered this perplexing question, a decade faded away like early morning fog and I was transported back to a tiny sterile cubical at a long-forgotten OB office. It was my own 12-week sonogram visit and I was thrilled, despite my daily bouts of nausea, to be expecting our third child at age 42 after five devastating miscarriages. Our two teenagers had been supportive and everything seemed to be going fine. I was already in maternity clothes. I'd asked my mother to come with me, since she had never seen this new technology - sonography - and we giggled like school girls in anticipation as we entered the little office.

Then, the technician began searching with the probe, and I watched her friendly smile disappear as she kept moving the wand around and around. She suddenly turned off the screen and abruptly left the room, stating, "The doctor will be in to see you momentarily."

My mother's face melted. It was only then that I suspected something was wrong. Dark, hollow dread began in the pit of my stomach and snaked outward to fill my chest cavity and my head as the doctor came in to explain my lifeless womb.

I had grieved over the years, sure, but some losses are bured so deep they never really go away. They just get planted over.

And so, as history seemed to be repeating itself, I nervously crowded with my daughter and her husband into another tiny examining room, and found my heart in my throat as the technician pulled out the ultrasound probe.

I had prayed incessantly about this moment, and given my fear repeatedly to Papa God, but tentacles of that wretched, weaselly creature wrapped around the soft vulnerability of my mother-love and squeeze the very life away.

Please, Father. Please let this baby be okay. Please.  

Suddenly, a tiny beating heart filled the screen and little arms flailed around a safe, warm womb housing a living, thriving, miraculous baby.

Tears filled my eyes - as they do even now - in grateful relief and joy for God's amazing grace that conquers fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJ).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Meet my future daughter-in-law!

 My son is engaged! Matthew popped the question to his beautiful Rebecca at our Smoky Mt. cabin last week. No date yet but we'll keep you posted!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Party's Over

Just got back from a wonderful, relaxing week in the Smokies where Spouse and I saw no less than 7 deer, 2 foxes, a gazillion chipmonks (a rare treat for us Floridians) and a few elderly squirrels. Not exactly like this one - most used canes instead of walkers.

As an extra treat, we had about 2 inches of snow the last few days, which was a mixed blessing. It was great fun to romp in winter wonderland until it came time to pack up and go home Sunday morning.

We arose at 5:30 am to 20 degrees and frozen everything: pipes, screws, spigets (is that how you spell that?), even the hose we needed to drain the hot water heater was frozen stiff and filled with ice. Poor Spouse had to soak it in a bathtub of hot water to get it to loosen up enough to to run water through. What a mess!

But we were finally on the road by 7:30 am, just in time to hit a huge traffic back-up just south of Atlanta. Grrr. Three lanes funneled down to one for 12 miles for construction, which consisted of ten guys standing around watching one guy break up pavement with a jack hammer.

The hour delay was tolerable but barely. At least we had plenty of apples I'd picked from a tree up our mountain, and of course chocolate covered you-name-it (oreos, Nutter Butters, pretzels, etc ad nauseum) from our favorite chocolate shoppe in Highlands.

So now we're home and back to work with nothing but memories of frosty mornings, snowball fights.and geriatric rodents.  

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A little spiritual refreshment

Enjoying a girls day at the beach for fun, food and Bible Study with my spiritual sisters a few weeks ago.

Okay, back to my series of Scripture meditations from my personal spiritual retreat. This one is from Zephaniah 3:17, CEV: The Lord your God wins victory after victory and is always with you. He clebrates and sings because of you, and he will refresh your life with his love.  

1. He celebrates and sings because of me; with deep love, joy and appreciation especially and singularly because of ... me! Wow! How incredible!

2. He wins all the victories of my life that I'll allow him to fight. So why don't I give ALL of them over to Him?

3. He's always with us. Always. I think there are three levels of His presence:
   Level 1: He surrounds us with evidence of His presence/love through nature and blessings.
   Level 2: We have a personal audience with Him, His undivided attentioin.
   Level 3: We're in Him and he in us, melded together, the vine and the branches. We're extensions of His    heart, spirit, and thoughts. He resides in us.

I aspire to the third level, but in reality, I think I spend most of my everyday awareness moments on the first level with occasional toe-dips into the second level.

4. He will refresh my life with His love. Refresh: renew, reinvigorate, animate, exhilerate, rouse, stimulate, revive, new start, renovate, reawaken, rebuild, re-do, restore, replenish. Do I need this? YES!!!

5. I am special to  Him - His beloved little girl. He loves me unconditionally, the way I love my beloved little girl.