Thursday, January 30, 2014

Papa God's Waiting Room

While driving through a pastoral area last week in rural Florida, I was enjoying the peaceful scenery of cows, horses, and the occasional pygmy goat herd (aren't they cute?), when something caught me by surprise.

There, standing beside the fence bordering the highway, all alone, was a blindfolded horse.

Knowing absolutely nothing about the care of our equine friends, I was puzzled as to why this fellow had been singled out. None of the other half-dozen or so horses in the field wore blindfolds. They moved around freely, navigating their own paths.

Was he being punished for something he'd done? Was it to keep him calm? Could it be that he had a longtime dream to run free and had tried to escape one too many times? Or maybe he had a tendency to harm himself and the blindfold was deemed necessary by the powers that be for his own good.  

He struck me as a forlorn figure, standing there rather droopy and spiritless, sporting this annoying blue plaid eye cover that he was completely powerless to remove. He seemed to be waiting for ... what?

He appeared lost. In broad daylight. What's next? the caption begged to read. Where do I go from here? 

As I drove on my way, Papa God, as He so often does, spoke to me through the scene I'd just witnessed. I can so identify with that blindfolded horse. I've walked a mile in his horseshoes. And so have you.

We all go through periods of blindfoldedness, when our vision is occluded for any number of reasons, and we become lost in broad daylight. Our internal GPS (God-Powered Satellite) shorts out and we don't have a good feel for where we are now or a clue about which direction we should head next.

So we wait. We sit in Papa God's waiting room and wait for the medical test results; for the new job to come through; for the illness to finally end; for forgiveness from that friend we offended; to be smitten with true love; for the gratitude we feel we deserve but have never received. So many things to wait for.

Sometimes it's a very l-o-n-g wait.

The blindfold starts to chafe and itch. Sometimes it even creates a miserable pressure sore. It itches, oozes, and bleeds, but we're helpless to rip the blindfold off. We're not the ones who put it there. We only have hooves when it requires hands.

So what do we do while we're hangin' (in several senses of the word) in Papa's waiting room? A good example from the Bible is found in Acts 1:14 when the lost-in-broad-daylight disciples were anxiously waiting for their next direction after Jesus had ascended into heaven: "They all joined together constantly in prayer..." (NIV).

Based on this scripture, what should we do while we're waiting on Papa God's next move?
1. Reach out to connect to other believers; do not alienate yourself - you need their support.
2. Keep busy; no standing around swatting flies with your tail. 
3. Pray, pray, and pray some more.  Join hands with Papa God - you'll be better able to feel the gentle tug on your bit when He begins to lead you to your next destination.
4. Wait for Papa, not His answer. Focus on His nature, His marvelous attributes, His person. Learn to experience and appreciate Papa's presence, not what He can do for you.

That blindfolded horse needed nothing less that his Master's presence to remove his blindfold.

So, my friend, do we.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Dream On

When I was a young high school tennis player, I dreamed of greatness ... Wimbledon, The French Open, Arthur Ashe Stadium.

My grandmother used to tell all her little old friends that I was as good as that there Chrissy Evert.

The only caveat was that Granny had never seen me play.

But her vote of confidence went a long way in stoking my daydreams and keeping me out there sweating it out at practice.

Those were the days when coaches didn't believe in water breaks - they thought it made athletes soft. The result was that I looked a lot like this feline sweetie on the right after every sweltering two-hour after-school practice.

Actually, I still look like that today whenever we go three sets in the two tennis leagues in which I participate. The ole gray tabby, she ain't what she used to be.

I never did become a great tennis player, but I did become a memorable one, or so I'm told by my opponents, although I think they may be referring to my socks, which vary from wild red and pink hearts to psychedelic neon. To borrow a term from my writer friend Rick, if you can't be revered, you can still be you-nique.

Some dreams just aren't meant to be fulfilled. But other are. Those are the dreams that should never be forgotten.

This thought occurred to me the other day as I was studying the life of Joseph in the 37th chapter of Genesis. Joseph had a dream. As the youngest of eleven sons, he dreamed that his father and brothers would one day bow down to him. Then problems arose. Major obstacles. He was stripped, ridiculed, and sold into slavery far, far away. It was a no brainer that he would never see his family again.

That dream must have sure seemed stupid while he toiled away as a slave in a foreign country. While he endured imprisonment year after year for something he didn't do. While he kept getting older, kept hoping, kept trusting for God to exonerate him.

And then, as irony would have it (don't you LOVE Papa God's surprise ironic twists in our road?) it was a dream that bailed him out of jail and kick-started his new life as ruler of a nation of which he wasn't even a citizen.

I can't help but wonder if Joseph thought about that first improbable - no, impossible - dream between the time he was inaugurated as Egyptian second in command and when his brothers finally arrived to beg and grovel before him. Just as God had predicted. Just as Joseph had imagined. You can bet he thought about it the moment his the faces of his brothers swept the floor in a low, humble bow.

He was so ripped with emotion, he couldn't speak. His dream had become reality.

I'm so very glad that Papa God still makes dreams come true today, aren't you? Maybe not flimsy unrealistic dreams like whooping Serena Williams on a sunny day in Melbourne, but dreams like being cherished by people who love you. Or becoming Papa's hands and feet on earth. Or finding and embracing true joy in this life.

Or like Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of equality and freedom for all mankind. 

These are the dreams that should never be forgotten.

What, dear friend, are your dreams?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hats Off to Ya!

England's Prince William
I'm a hat girl.

You already know this if you've read any of my books or know me at all. Hats are one of my favorite hobbies, my passions. My closet looks like the Cat in the Hat exploded.

People I pass in stores often comment on my headwear and I never cease to be amazed at the smiles from perfect strangers solicited by my creative toppers. I'm an oddity in American culture, but at least a humorous one. I often feel as if I were born in the wrong country. Perhaps even the wrong century.

I felt quite at home during Spouse's and my anniversary UK tour several years ago - every other British Tom, Dick, and Harriet sported classy head coverings, many more ornate or clever than my own. Hats are an important and integral part of everyday life for them. One glance at the flashy haberdashery worn by British elite at the Royal Wedding a few years back substantiates my claim.

Hey, I lusted after a few of those flowered monstrosities.

So you can imagine my amusement when I came across this little ditty about the scandalous introduction of the top hat into proper society back in 1797.

In bold, brassy bravado, English haberdasher John Hetherington donned his newly created fashion statement and strolled about the streets of London, leaving chaos in his wake. According to the daily post (newspaper, not FaceBook), "pasersby panicked at the sight. Several women fainted, children screamed, dogs yelped, and an errand boy's arm was broken when he was trampled by the mob."

Over a top hat???

Can you imagine the poor traumatized citizens of the day reacting to today's toenail-to-hairline tattoos and circus-hued spiked hair? It would most certainly be a riot, in more than one way.

Genius-ahead-of-his-time John Hetherington was dragged into court for wearing "a tall structure having a shining luster calculated to frighten timid people." Can't say whether he was imprisoned or not, but let's hope he was acquitted on grounds of non-sensible sensibilities.

So when we start to fuss over the newest fad our children - or even grandchildren - adopt, let's remember that like hoola hoops, platform shoes, bellbottoms, pet rocks, shoulder pads, and micro minis, today's horror is tomorrow's hilarity.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year to All and to All a Good Diet

In honor of the exciting new year opening up before us, I'd like to print the audaciously appropriate poem below.

It's been around a while in various forms and unfortunately, the author is unknown - I sure with she would step forward and receive accolades for her genius.

And genius it is.

The gold standard of an exceptional poem is that it has the reader nodding or weeping or laughing in reaction. This poem does all those things for me. The author truly understands my 10-extra-pounds angst all too well after our 10-day anniversary cruise in Sept. followed by the holidays. Blech. I feel like the Michelin Man looks.

Kudos to "Author Unknown" wherever you are!

T'was the month after Christmas,
and all through the house,
nothing would fit me,
not even a blouse.

The cookies I'd nibbled,
the chocolate I'd taste
at the holiday parties
had gone to my waist.

When I got on the scales
there arose such a number!
When I walked to the store
less a walk than a lumber,

I'd remember the marvelous meals I'd prepared;
the gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared;
the dips and the meatballs, the bread and the cheese
and the way I'd never said, "No thank you, please."

As I dressed myself and struggled to zip
the skirt that was gaping askew on my hip,
I said to myself, as only I can,
"You can't spend a winter as wide as a van!"

So away wih the last of the sour cream dip.
Get rid of the fruitcake, each cracker and chip.
Every last food that I like must be banished
till all the additional ounces have vanished.

I won't have a cookie, not even a lick.
I'll chew only on this here green celery stick.
I won't have hot biscuits or cornbread or pie.
I'll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.

I'm hungry, I'm lonesome, and life is a bore ...
but isn't that what January is for?
Unable to giggle, no longer a riot;
Happy New Year to all, and to all a good diet.