LETTING GO: an exercise in faith, a gift of grace


Nobody, and I mean nobody, likes change, that is, the change that interrupts our lives and makes the world we know uncomfortably different. I’m tired of the old cliché that states change is good, necessary, and a catalyst for growth. *foot stomping* I don’t like change!

But I don’t want to be stagnant either. And because I am a believer, I live by the assertion that I must change to live up to the potential assigned to me by God. What? Am I so full of myself that I actually think the almighty God of heaven and earth knows me personally and even takes the time to direct my path if I ask Him to? Yes. Period. Therefore, I must accept change as it comes and then discern how I choose to react to it. I must exercise my faith to allow whatever change is at hand to make me a better person, one more worthy to live up to God’s expectations of me. In the meantime, I don’t want to miss any of the graces He wishes to bestow upon me as a direct result of my decision to accept the direction of His hand over the changes of my life. And in the bigger picture, the change that effects me will have an affect on those around me. It’s a domino effect, you see. The changes in other’s lives influence me, the change in my life influences others.

Simple truths, right? Yeah, it’s easy as long as it is happening to someone else. “Therein lies the rub.” In case you didn’t hear me the first time, I don’t like change. But change is a lesson we all have to learn and grow from, hopefully. It’s a lesson that creeps up on us every day and demands we pay attention. It is stubbornly present and won’t let go, much like a dog and his favorite bone.

We liken change to either good or bad and, face it, the bad changes are the ones that really get our attention. Unfortunately, the good changes are the ones we accept, perhaps joyfully, but more often than not, without a second thought that they may, in fact, be blessings and graces sent from you-know-Who. Both good and bad are golden depending on our reaction to them. Uh huh. It’s true. Let me illustrate why I feel this way.

I haven’t blogged much since I had a brain tumor removed in August 2015. Even though it was a simple (! Did I just say that??), nearly painless surgery, it has not been without it’s effects and that has taken some adjustment to get used to. For example, I have written the previous sentence three times. Moving on… My memory is affected. I don’t remember a lot of the more recent past, things I have done, places I’ve gone, most notably, people I’ve met. Not too many weeks ago I was in a grocery store and a couple passed by me. They greeted me by name as if they knew me well. I had no idea who they were. I nodded to them, smiled, and proceeded on out the door. But it bothered me a so much that I didn’t recognize them that I had to go back into the store and find them. That lovely couple was gracious enough to understand my explanation that I had no idea who they were. I apologized to them and told them about the effects of my surgery. I felt like a fool. But they were kind and actually seemed happy to fill in the missing blanks. What a relief!

All of that just to say this: I’ve been through a lot of changes lately. Trust me. And I suppose there will be more to come. God, please grant me the grace to go through them the way You would have me to.

So, some of these changes I’ve been through recently have been pretty hard. They get the most attention, of course. The biggest and hardest change has been the death of our former daughter-in-law. Erica was not without her issues. If you are a human being, you too have issues. But Erica’s issues were a bit out of the ordinary. The first time I met her (she answered the door at my son’s house and promptly closed it in my face) I thought she was incredibly rude. Little did I know she was afraid of what my reaction to her being in my son’s house would be. Poor thing. I often wonder what on earth my son told her about me to cause that fear! No matter. I learned to love her. In fact, the day she married my son I fell in love with the brilliant loving smile she gave my son after they were pronounced husband and wife. Aside from that, she bore my first grandchild. When he was born I felt a love like I had never felt before in my life. She was responsible for that. Had it not been for her, who knows if I ever would have discovered what unconditional love was all about? Erica and my son divorced after their difficult marriage refused to survive. They were forced to continue their contact with each other in order to raise their son. And by the way, that boy is awesome which speaks to the success of their efforts. Even so, they went their separate ways. Not too many years passed before Erica became seriously ill. The choices she made hindered any healing that we all prayed for. Over time she lost function of her kidneys and liver and had to go on dialysis. Eventually, her circumstances dictated she live in a nursing home until she could get on her feet. The rehab was good, she was successful and was ready to be discharged to home. The last time I saw her at the nursing home she was so happy and full of life and ready for a new beginning! We rejoiced and she ascertained that her healing was certainly due to Divine Intervention. Then she had an accident and smacked her head on the concrete. It was the last assault her body could tolerate. Within two weeks she was gone. She died at the age of thirty seven just when she was getting her life in order. Now, I’ll be the first to tell you that our God has a purpose and a plan for everyone. But I had a hard time accepting it, even now, a hard time believing it. My head says no way. My heart says it has to be. That, my friend, is the definition of faith; believing in what you cannot see, like it or not.

As it would happen, on the day before Erica’s wake, my grandson and I went out to lunch. He is very nearly fourteen years old now and such a man already. I had heard from one of my former neighbors that my old house, the one I poured blood, sweat, and tears into, was being demolished. This I had to see for myself. So on the way back from lunch, the boy and I drove past my old address. The neighbor was telling the truth. There wasn’t a house standing, there was instead rubble strewn about, piles of bricks, pipes reaching out of the ground as if looking to connect to something, anything. Lumber, solid, hard heart-pine and oak, was stacked along the perimeter of the old house’s stead. Ghost-like, lonely. There was a man sitting on a pillar of bricks and one standing close by, obviously the workers employed to take the house apart. He approached me as I pulled up and greeted me like a long lost friend. He didn’t know me but somehow he recognized the attachment I had to this place, this ground on which a lifetime was lived and children were raised. He let me tell him how I loved this place when I lived there, how I raised two boys there, how I remodeled the kitchen and built that deck laying in pieces over in the far corner. He smiled knowingly as I told him that was MY home, the one I bought and paid for myself. As if to comfort me, that darling man proudly assured me that he had already removed the kitchen cabinets and, in fact, had recycled them into another project he was working on. And the doors. And the beautiful parquet floor that I put down piece by piece on the floor. (My knees have not been the same since!) His eyes lit up and he told me he figured I was the one who stained the glass on the back door and bathroom windows. Yes! It was me! He proudly led me around the back of the property to show me he saved them somehow knowing a person would come around asking about them. Yes, me again.

For the next few days after Erica’s funeral, I mulled over these big changes set before me. Big big changes. You know, I came to understand something. I spent more time living and loving, and trying to live life in that old house than I have anywhere since, at least so far. I learned about myself and others. Life lessons. Heartache. Joy. Self-discovery. I had hard lessons about growing up. Sacrifice. Selfishness. Forgiveness. From 1987 to 2001 I lived there. I sold it in I think 2002 or 2003. I poured heart and soul into that old house. I gardened to my heart’s content, coaxing flowers from the earth, fashioning sidewalks and secret flowerbeds. I labored and was constantly surprised at the results. Working on that old house gave me the confidence I lacked previously to accomplish many things, personally and professionally. I think there was not one inch of that house and the ground beneath it that I didn’t touch. My identity was tied up in that house for a time but I wasn’t sorry to let it go. It was, after all, just a building. I was grateful to have had it. It sheltered us and gave us a sense of security. It had a foundation when I didn’t. Then the boys left home and I got married and moved away. Change happened.

I can in no way compare loosing Erica to the tearing down of my old house. That would be ridiculous. I can share my reaction to the changes. Loosing Erica hurts. Her presence leaves a hole in the life of her precious son and all who love her. The demolition of the old house merely evokes sentimental musings. Both soul and building are now memories, albeit one more poignant than the other. One leaves behind a legacy, a life, and now love eternal. The other, just memories.

I am a better person for having loved both. They represent different planes in the plan of life. I have learned lessons from each; patience, perseverance, love, frustration, epic failure, joy, happiness, satisfaction, hope, forgiveness. Yes, big changes indeed.

Eternal Father, You Who loves us in ways we can’t imagine, thank you for the gifts You have given. Thank You that Your daughter Erica touched my life, gave me my first grandchild, and taught me lessons no other could. Thank You for that old house and the lessons I learned there; the strength and stamina I needed. Please let me keep these blessings in my heart always and never be afraid to think of them and grow from them. Father, I’m asking that my faith be strengthened to accept Your will and not question it. Thank You again, my Lord, that You love us.

Amen

 

Please don’t forget to pray for peace.

Big Deal, I missed #7


And isn’t 7 a lucky number? Oh well, such is life.

This post is NaBloPoMo #8

Have ya’ll seen that Aleve commercial that highlights good-deed-doers(said with respect NOT sarcasm)? I saw it several times today. After about the 6th time, it occurred to me that the message was in line with something I read in the Bible. And so help me, I can’t remember where the scripture was. I thought it was in Luke but I just scoured that book and couldn’t find it. Oh well, God knows what I mean.

Anyway, back to the commercial… Several women were featured for the work they did for the poor. One of them was a single mother for many years. She said that as she was raising her son, sometimes they didn’t have enough. I am assuming she meant enough food. It was for that reason that she organized a food pantry for other people who don’t have enough.

Now, about what I read in the Bible… The passage was about worshiping idols. I had a prayer partner tell me one time, or maybe more, that when we make something more important than our time with God, that is the definition of idolatry. If you work harder on something and put more effort into it, think about it constantly, go out of your way to do/see/eat, etc. than you are worshiping an idol, making the thing you love more important than God is in your life.

So the Aleve commercial jogged my brain and suddenly I saw that these good-deed-doers were actively doing the opposite of worshiping idols. They were taking care of business. They were sharing God’s love. They were a visible sign of what it means to love one another. I mean they went out of their way to do good deeds. It was their love, what they spent the most time doing. Clearly, not worshiping the things of the world, material things. At least that’s the way the commercial presented them if I’m not wrong.

What I’m trying to say in my tongue-tied way is think about what you love, what you spend the most time doing and arranging your life around. If it’s not the Divine Creator, than be careful, you may be worshiping idols. It is a useless, pointless way of life. How smart you are, what you have accomplished, how many books you’ve written, awards won, kudos showered upon you, how well you apply your talents – none of that means a thing if they become your idol. As a modern people, we have forgotten that. Information bombards us from every direction (no wonder our kids are ADD) and our thoughts are removed from what should be first and foremost.

Trust me, I am the last person who should be holier-than-thou. I can be judgmental, bad tempered, self-righteous, etc., etc., etc. I enjoy the pleasures of this world too. I love to write, create art, cater to the grandchildren every time I get a chance. Sometimes the things of this world consume me. Not one of us is perfect. I need to face up to what I am spending most of my time doing and weigh that in with how much time I spend doing His will. Damn little, I suspect.

Today I learned this: It’s not what I do that disappoints God. It’s what I dont do. If I don’t make time for Him and spend all my time doing worldly things, what good am I? It seemed to me that the do-gooders on the Aleve commercial had a peace about them. I’ve met people like that before and it seems they all do. In fact, I have a brother who is a do-gooder and he has that same peace about him. All of those people don’t seem like they would worry about a bad book review in the big pile of good ones, or waiting in line to purchase the latest technological toy, or the must-have new boots, dress, career. What matters is doing what does put a smile on God’s face. That is putting the worship and praise where it belongs. It can be as simple as loving one another.

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And don’t forget to pray for peace.

On the Bead Board – NaBloPoMo #5


I’ve been inspired to make a few new rosaries and a bracelet or two. Normally I would put them in my etsy shop but this time I am going to save them to display in a friend’s new boutique. I will blog about her after her grand opening. If you see something you would like feel free to contact me. If you have a suggestion, don’t hesitate to leave a comment. I’m always open to feedback.

These are a few of my infant rosaries. I made them with t-tiny 4mm beads. Perfect for a baby shower gift or baptism gift.

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These are a couple of full size rosaries. The first one is made out of blue dyed fresh water pearls, each one hand wire-wrapped using non-tarnish silver plated wire. The following is a Divine Mercy rosary. The Ave beads are clear, multi-faceted glass beads with red Pater beads. Together, they symbolize the blood and water flowing from Jesus’ side. The center connector and crucifix have the Divine Mercy emblems on them.

Blue dyed Fresh Water Pearl

Blue dyed Fresh Water Pearl

Drop of His Blood

Drop of His Blood

Divine Mercy Rosary

Divine Mercy Rosary

This single decade rosary bracelet is strung on strong jeweler’s wire. The beads are a cream color with gold crackle detail. The findings are bronze color.

Rosary Bracelet

Rosary Bracelet

Let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you!

#2 Baptist Childrens Home, Monroe, Louisiana


The 'gang' that braved the cool weather to make a fun run to Baptist Childrens Home

The ‘gang’ that braved the cool weather to make a fun run to Baptist Childrens Home

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The weather was a bit crisp but clear, cool and beautiful. We couldn’t have picked a better day to ride motorcycles for 291 miles. Our goal was to bring a donation to Love Cottage, home to 7 young girls at the Baptist Childrens Home in Monroe, Louisiana. This is a yearly run by these faithful Christian motorcycle riders. Donations are taken, essentials are supplied, and a love offering is put together for the cottage residents who have been adopted by this ‘motorcycle gang’. DSCF7180

My husband and I were first-timers on this particular run. We have done others, but this one was the longest ride. Members of today’s group rode in from different communities and towns to meet up at St. Landry Baptist Church in a tiny community of the same name. Most of them belong to Faith Riders, a group of Christians who love to ride and proclaim their faith by example. Although this wasn’t a Faith Riders run, the concept was the same. My heart could do nothing but melt when I witnessed the generosity and love freely given by people from one end of the state to recipients on the other end of the state.

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LOVE COTTAGE, an appropriately named dwelling, is cozy, colorful, homey, clean, orderly…and an atmosphere of love envelopes every room. It is a brick building, one of many on the campus, which adds to the sturdy, stable character of the home. Seven girls, ages ranging from 17 to 8 years old, live there with a most delightful house-parent by the name of Ms. Yvette. Her kind face is bright and it is obvious she is easily in control. She is one of those people you hope your children could grow up to be like. And the girls we met are delightful. They were happy, talkative, brave, strong, excited, and grateful for our visit. We were all blessed.

Ms. Yvette, house parent for Love Cottage

Ms. Yvette, house parent for Love Cottage

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all the girls wanted to sit on the bikes.  Who wouldn't??

all the girls wanted to sit on the bikes. Who wouldn’t??

Many Thanks to Janet and Kerry, who did all the hard work getting this run together. Much appreciation to everyone who took part. And incredible gratitude to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Jesus only commandment was this: Love One Another. Love is the one thing you can give that only costs one thing – your heart, and believe me, a heart can hold and give a LOT of love. My husband and I are humbled by the love we saw today, and the kindness and generosity. And we are thankful for the opportunity for spiritual growth afforded us by this experience. Ain’t God Good?!

When you talk to God tonight, please don’t forget to pray for peace. We all need peace. And the whole world needs our prayers.

Please consider ‘liking’ this post. That would give me a real shot in the arm. I would really, really love it if you would add a comment. Maybe you could follow my blog? It’s easy. Just do it.

Got My Sunday Preachin’ On!


I was inspired by a blogger by the name of Andrew Hines. I’ve included the link here: http://www.andrew-hines.com/2013/10/06/more-than-average/ This young man is a fresh new voice with a beautifully developing spirituality and I think he will definitely go far. I hope you take a look at his blog to see what I mean. I’m pretty sure you’re going to like his point of view. ANYWAY… his post for today is great food for thought, but if you know me, you know that I can’t leave well enough alone, especially when the subject is anything Divine. I had to offer my opinion, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just how I roll.

I LOVE that Andrew’s point of view today is to be more than average, and change your circumstances to fit your dream, and God wants you to be happy. Wise, wise words, don’t you think? This is the comment I left on his page:

“Andrew, I like your post but please allow me to add my two cents. John 10:10 “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” Jesus said that. He also said “It’s easier for a camel to get through an eye of a needle than a rich man to get into heaven.” Seems to be a contradiction here, right? No. first of all, if you do your research, you will find that Jesus wasn’t saying that all rich people are not welcome in heaven. If you note, he was referring to those rich Pharisees (and others) that give a lot of lip service to doing good things and focus on material things as valuable, serving their pride and status before anything else at all.
That’s not what Jesus meant. He really does want us to have ‘life more abundantly’ but not to the extent that all we are is a materialistic people making our worth nothing more than the amount of electronics we have, how many awards we have, how big our bank account is. An abundant life is much more than that. To love one another, to serve one another, to be His hands and feet on earth are far more rewarding than anything material.
At the same time, He blesses us with the desires of our hearts. There is not one thing wrong with being rich. There is a lot wrong with using wealth only in a self serving way.
I love what you said about bettering ourselves and changing our circumstances to fit our dreams, not the other way around. Self-improvement, working hard to succeed, being grateful for your blessings, becoming a better person – If that brings out the joy in you, imagine how proud our Heavenly Father is of you! Love is a mighty thing.”

I felt pretty good about what I said and that I had taken the chance on that platform to say it. Then I thought I might sound a little bit holier-than-thou and that’s not the impression I wanted to give. I hope you forgive me if that is what you thought. But God has a way of working things out and I shouldn’t be surprised when he does. I received a lovely email from a priest I know with this quote from Pope Francis’ Angelus address given today:
Pope Francis and Doves

“Do not be ashamed to bear witness to our Lord, nor to me, in prison for him; but with the power of God, suffer with me for the Gospel” (2 Timothy 1:8). But this is meant for everyone: each one of us, in his everyday life, can bear witness to Christ, with the power of God, the power of faith, the small faith that we have, which, nevertheless, is strong! With this strength bear witness to Jesus Christ, be Christians with your life, with our witness!”

Wow. Of course, I can not add anything to the wise words of our Pope, except for this observation that may relate to the subject of Andrew Hines’ post and my reply to it. In the scripture from 2 Timothy, Paul says he is in prison for Him. He willingly faces the consequences of the decision he made in life to declare the good news of our Lord. He becomes a prisoner for what he believes in (notice I didn’t say by what he believes in).

In the same way, we too make a decision to face consequences for what we believe in – materialistically and spiritually. To become a slave to a materialistic life cannot bring joy, not everlasting joy, not joy that counts. But to use the gift of our free will to become the best we can be in all areas of our lives is a testament to the love and generosity of our Father. He is a good God and we are His beloved.

I’m probably going to get some flack from non-believers and haters who ask “where is God during wars, starvation of children, birth defects, etc?” That’s ok. Exercising free will is still a gift whether you believe it or not. And I am not so learned or knowledgeable to spar with them. Simply put, I don’t know the answer to that except to say that maybe, just maybe, He wants US to act, to prove our integrity, to be His hands and feet on this earth. Maybe He expects us to feed the hungry, give to the poor, ease despair, do what we can in His name. 2 Timothy 1:9 makes more sense of it: “He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to His own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began,”

Can I get an AMEN?

Can I get a comment?

And don’t forget to pray for peace, ya’ll. Believe me, the whole world needs your prayers.

What have I been doing, you ask?


There is more to me than meets the eye… not saying that’s always a good thing…but it has it’s advantages. I’ve shared some of my work outside of writing at the end of this post. I love my life.

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Bwahahahah!

I have renewed enthusiasm concerning my novel, Secrets of the Old Ladies’ Club. One lesson I learned early on about self-publishing is that it’s hard to get the book out there, especially if you cannot afford a marketing package. So you can imagine how excited I was to get a phone call from a group of ladies at the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism in Ville Platte bidding me to come for a cup of coffee. If you are not from Louisiana, let me tell you that when you are invited for coffee by anyone, it’s a sign – a good one. I was so excited about the coffee klatch, even having the tire on my brand new car go flat on the way didn’t discourage me, although I do admit to being nervous for arriving late. Nervous? Not much! I was a basket case. But come to find out, the people I met were awesome and equally as excited as I was. It appeared that my 15 minutes of fame was extended to an entire 16 minutes. They thought they had a celebrity in the house. Who, me? The one who stuttered and had sweaty palms? The one who worried for many an hour about choosing a suitable outfit from my vast array of jeans and tee shirts for this coffee/meeting? Yes, me.

Worrying is pointless and I must re-learn over and over that it accomplishes nothing. The coffee klatch was a success. It started out with me saying a few words about the characters in my book, then, to my relief, the room exploded into hilarity as, one by one, the ladies reported ways in which they identified with my characters. One story shared led to another, and another and before long, all of us were laughing, slapping our knees, and gasping for air until someone passed a box of tissues to mop up the dripping Niagra of tears while we caught our breath. We couldn’t help it. Old ladies are fun.

So to cap it off, I was asked to give a little talk during the Chamber of Tourism dinner, which I did last Wednesday. And to the October Chamber of Commerce dinner coming up. And someone asked me to speak to the Rotary Club. Add to that, the person in charge of ordering books for Evangeline parish (not county, c’mon, we live in Louisiana) informed me that she had ordered copies of my book for every library in the parish. I. am. surprised. And can’t believe how blessed I am. The author of this blog does not ‘do’ social activity well. I break out in hives, blank-outs, and nausea when I meet people I don’t know. Usually. The good news is when I talk about my book, I rarely have to finish a sentence before someone else in the group takes over and within moments everyone is talking and laughing at the same time. That’s what makes it easy. I start, someone else finishes. I just sit back with a smile on my face, nod my head, and have a good time.

Truthfully, I don’t know how it happened that I have gone from 15 minutes of fame to at least 19 minutes now. I just started with some crazy old lady busting out of my head to get her story on paper. Or something like that anyway. If you have ever written a story, you know that the characters come to life in a unique and delightful way. Once you write about them, they move in. They don’t leave. It’s wonderful.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch….

In an earlier post I’ve mentioned that I have a habit of going through what my husband and step-son call ‘phases’, meaning I go off on a tangent with one of my many hobbies until I have come completely undone. It’s fun. To my husband’s surprise, or perhaps disdain, I rather like it.

My latest burst of energy produced some pretty positive results. Here are a few pictures:

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A bold statement-of-faith necklace and a St. Theresa Chaplet prayer beads.

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A one-decade rosary with a locket crucifix, a one decade world peace rosary with a “drop of His blood”

These are listed in my etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ToLoveAlways

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And some five decade tee-tiny little rosaries made for baby’s baptism, or keep one close beside you in your pocket, or give it as the perfect original shower gift.

And these little darlings are not yet listed, but soon…

Oh, and don’t forget to pray for peace, ya’ll. God answers prayers. We wait for His time, but continue our vigil of prayer.