GIVE ME THE RIGHT WORDS TO PRAY

Text:  Romans Chapter 8 verses 26 and 27

The New Oxford Annotated Bible (NRSV)

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.  And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

When I pray I no longer worry about the specific words I say because I know that the Holy Spirit does my praying with me.

The Holy Spirit “helps us in our weakness.”  That tells me I only have to be present and willing.  I can say the words to God from my heart and the Spirit will speak on my behalf.  Sometimes I have so much running through my head that I can’t stop the noise and focus on what I want to say.  I find comfort knowing that the Spirit understands this and the actual words don’t matter.

The Spirit knows what to say when I don’t.  He “intercedes with sighs too deep for words.”  SIGH.  I don’t know what to say God, I need You, I need help, I need love.  SIGH.  The Spirit reconciles the differences.  I also can be selfish and focus only on my desires, knowingly or not.  I usually don’t see the big picture, only my wants and rarely my needs.

God searches our heart and knows the mind of the Spirit.  I can say the words that seem right to me and the Spirit will reconcile my words to God’s will for me. And I know that the Sprit also speaks to me to help me find the right path.

When our home was going through the foreclosure process, I clearly heard the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Some of you already know this story but for those who do know, it bears repeating.

As I was going to work one morning I saw a couple peeking through windows of a vacant house for sale in our neighborhood.  I clearly heard “stop and talk to those people” and I, of course, ignored it.  As I drove by I heard the voice again say “go back and talk to those people” and this time I was obedient and turned around.  I got out of the car and asked the couple if they were looking to buy a house and they said yes.   They were Vietnamese and didn’t understand most my questions so I called my Vietnamese girlfriend and asked her to tell them I was not crazy and I had a house for sale.  When she was finished talking with them I loaded the couple into my car and took them to our home.  They fell in love with the house; we contacted the mortgage company to see if they would agree to a short sale.  When they agreed, we contacted a realtor to handle the details and they bought our house!  This saved our credit from tremendous damage and made both families very happy.

It was a long journey to the closing however if I had not listened to the voice of the Spirit, the outcome would have been very different.

I have heard that still small voice inside talk to me all my life but I never knew what it was.  I also never knew it was a gift, I thought everyone heard it.  It took me many years to learn to trust that voice.  God’s voice cannot go against God’s word so as my sister says, “if it isn’t biblical, it isn’t the Spirit speaking.”

The Holy Spirit that lives inside of us mediates our hopes and dreams, our fears and concerns.  He helps us to accept God’s will when we don’t understand the answers.

Speak from your heart and know that the Holy Spirit that lives inside of you will make your prayers clearly known to God.

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SCHOOL DAZE

I have to say that going back to school has been the most amazing experience; I love it and highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in further education! 

 As most of you know I started going to the International Seminary in September.  I am learning more than I ever could have imagined and I have only been attending for a month.  I can’t wait to see how much I absorb by the end of this Freshman year.

 I realize that my schooling is not going to be of interest to everyone but it is a part of my life so it will become a part of my blog.  Right now I am learning how to write a message, sermon or bible study.  I need to practice to see if I have any calling for this or not.  So, I thought maybe I could combine the two, writing a message and writing my blog.

 I am actually not intending to “preach” but in the spirit of the classes I am taking and my desire to not say no to anything, I wish to learn.  If I am going to let God lead me, I cannot limit myself.

 So, I need everyone’s help.  And by everyone, I mean YOU!  I do not care if you are a church person or not, Christian or not, a believer or not.  None of that matters.  What I need to know is what topic you would like to hear if you went to a service or bible study.  Please bear in mind that I am a novice but this is the best way I know to learn.  I love to write and in this way, I can learn the lessons and stay true to myself in the process. 

 Please send me your ideas.  From now on, I will not post comments on my blog so that anything you say will be private.  It may take months before I actually have a post because it is a lot of work for a novice; and a lot of responsibility to be true to myself and the school I am attending.

 What better way for me to learn that with the people who care about me and the instructors that are teaching me?

 Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for me and my journey!

 

 

SOMETHING JUST FOR ME?

Did you ever want to do something just for you?  It is not easy for me to commit to something that is just for me when it involves money and sacrifice for those around me.

I am a very logical thinker and that is how I normally make decisions.  I weigh all the positive things I can think of and then I ask myself what is the worst thing that could happen.  The time involved in this process depends on how big the decision actually might be.  I also have John and several friends that I ask for guidance.  I try to cover all my bases so I am able to make a good choice.

This is what I have been doing for several months now.  I want to go back to school.  Most of you are probably thinking either I must be nuts or what’s the problem with that?  And you would all be right!

I have never had much of an interest in a higher education.  I have a fantastic job with people I love.  I am treated like a queen.  I really never thought of doing anything else.  So, what changed?  Many things!

John and I downsized and moved to a retirement community.  I never in a million years dreamed I would ever be able to retire but now it might actually be a possibility.

I love the job I have but I really do not want to be working at this stress level when I am 70!  I am ever so grateful for all that I have been given but please let there be less stress SOME day.

And above all, there is God.  I have been feeling a gentle tug for quite some time and trying to figure out what to do with it.

Many years ago I volunteered for Hospice and I loved my time there.  It is a fantastic organization and I completely embrace their philosophy.  My volunteering experience was with nursing home patients and I know I would be comfortable working with patients or their families.  I seem to possess whatever is necessary to listen to people say what they need to say.  (I KNOW I am a talker but I CAN be a listener too!)

Sorting through all this information I have finally come to the decision to go to International Seminary.  It is a non-denominational Seminary and a school that offers much.  It is close to my home and affordable.  I am not exactly sure where this journey is going but I am going to trust God to take me where I need to go.

The first year of classes is the same for all their degree programs.  This will allow me the time necessary for further guidance before I make a final decision on a specific degree.  I am keeping my mind open to any and all options so that God can work with me and lead me.  John is supportive of this decision and his opinions will be important to me as well.

We are always told by church leaders that we should have a child-like faith and that is what I believe I have.  I trust that if I walk through the door God will guide my path to the place He needs me most.  What is the worst that will happen?  I will deepen my understanding of the bible and there is nothing wrong with that at all.

If I can take this journey, I am sure that there is something in your life that you want to do that will be special for you.  It may be a big thing like mine or something very simple like going to see a movie that only you want to see.  Whatever it is, I challenge you to do something that you want to do for yourself.  Be sure to share it with me because I’d love to pray for your success as I ask you to pray for mine!

 

 

 

 

TIME TO DO YOUR PAPERWORK!

I have been having a hard time writing lately.  I want my writing to be something that is positive, entertaining and honest.  I want it to be who I am, who I aspire to be.

Sometimes life gets BIG and we have to deal with it whether we want to or not.  That is what has been happening in my world.  And it is important for me to remember that what is happening around me is not happening TO me.  I can be affected by it all but that doesn’t mean it is happening to me.

Someone that I care about has been hospitalized and the complications of dealing with this are huge and exhausting.  I was initially involved because I was named as the emergency contact.  After that was sorted out and his family was notified and became involved, I am mostly a support to the family as needed.

I have learned much about the frustrating system that we have to work within.  There are so many legal issues that get in the way of what is right it is mind-boggling.  There are forms that employers need signed for extended leaves of absence, and other forms that are for employees to donate their paid leave to those in need.  (Without paid leave, benefits can be cancelled).  Because of the complications of this hospital stay my friend is not able to sign anything at this time.

His family is trying to find out what personal bills are due so that power isn’t disconnected and mortgages are paid.  Add to that dealing with the family pets.  Without a Power of Attorney most companies will not discuss any information with you; even if you ARE trying to do the right thing.

Because he is not legally separated or divorced, but is absolutely estranged from his legal wife, the next-of-kin issue is foggy.  It is difficult to receive information from the hospital because of patient privacy laws, which is understandable.  But when decisions need to be made and there is no designated authority it is frustrating.

We cannot change what has happened but I believe in learning from the experience of others.  John and I went to get our legal paperwork in order.  The importance of this cannot be ignored any longer.  We needed to do our wills, power of attorney, living wills and something called a medical surrogate…someone who makes medical decisions for us if we are not capable of doing this.  If all this paperwork was in order for my friend we would not have nearly the problems we are experiencing.  I don’t want anyone to have to go through this for me so our paperwork is now in order.

My challenge to you is to get your legal paperwork in order; otherwise your wishes may not be able to be honored.  The people taking care of your immediate needs may not be able to do much and the person making your decisions might be the “legal” person and not the “right” person. John and I went to a Paralegal and she handled all our issues for around $300.00.  It was well worth the money.  We both have peace of mind that if anything happens we have made our wishes known, in writing.  It feels great.   We can’t plan our emergencies but we can plan for them.

One more thing, please tell the people in your life that you love them.  Forgive and forget.  We all need to be told that we matter.

Thanks for listening.

 

BLESSING OUR NEW HOME

Some traditions are hard to let go of and that can be a good thing.  Sometimes bringing your past into your present can bring you joy.  That is what happened Sunday when we had our house blessed.

We moved into our house in February and it has been an amazing journey to get here.  I am so grateful  and I feel a huge responsibility to be a good steward of our new home.

House Blessings are a Catholic thing as far as I know.  John understood my desire to do it and was supportive even though he had no idea what it really entailed.  Because I am not a “‘Catholic in good standing” I am no longer part of the church.  (THAT is another story for another time.  I  have no issues with the Catholic Church.)  John’s church is a small Brethren Church and has, I believe, 7 pastors, most retired.  They are a wonderful group of people who I love very  much.  I am not a part of that church but John is very active and has been for a long time.

This wonderful group of people agreed to do our  house blessing.  Four of the Pastors attended and each did a blessing of their own.  Nancy said a beautiful prayer for John and I, for health, peace and happiness in our home.  Karen brought salt, bread and a broom (to sweep away our troubles!), Berwyn is known for his musical talents and he had a song for all of us to sing.  Merle and his wife Jean were missionaries and they did a ceremony from South America called the Huasipichai; which means sweeping out the house; it is to get the bad spirits out, to clean the house for the family to live in peace, health and joy.  It was lovely.

Steve, the head Pastor had a Blessing of the House ceremony more like the traditional Catholic ceremony which blessed each room.  He had everything written out so that people could take turns reading the blessing and then sprinkle holy water in the room.  It was amazing.

This wonderful group of people shared their love and spirit with John and I to  truly fill our home with blessings.  It didn’t matter what their tradition was, they gave of themselves to bring joy to us.

That is my challenge for you, take a moment and give of yourself, unselfishly.  Or, allow yourself to be on the receiving end of unselfish giving.  I have to say that I felt so much love from these people it was amazing.  I am very grateful and I now have memories that I will cherish forever.

 

Trying Somthing New

As most of you know I have issues with perfectionism.  I don’t really THINK I have these issues but my behavior tells me different; actions speak louder than words so to speak. The problem with wanting everything to be perfect is that it keeps me from trying new things.  I make up my mind I cannot do something because I don’t know how and if I try it won’t be right so, why bother.   The problem with that attitude is that it stunts personal growth.  It is a convenient excuse to not bother; it allows me to be lazy and that is not acceptable to me.  Once I decided that being lazy was worse than not doing things perfect I have been able to let go.

I have huge food issues.  I am a really picky eater and trying new foods is really difficult for me.  Trying new foods is hard enough but cooking them is even worse.  With all the lifestyle changes I have made in the past year, not eating starches has been one of the biggest challenges of all.  Every once in a while I have a huge craving and I like to figure out how to satisfy the craving without eating the starch.  This time, I have been craving lasagna.  I decided to ask  my mom to teach me how to make zucchini lasagna.  Whenever I made traditional lasagna I always ended up with soup so the transition from traditional to zucchini wasn’t a no brainer for me.  I quit trying to make it years ago.  (if you can’t do it right don’t do it at all…)  Asking mom for help was smart because she has always been a good cook but she doesn’t necessarily use recipes and I cannot “wing it”!

I was amazed at how little the amounts of ingredients used.  No wonder I had soup; my measurements were way off, a result of my winging it by the way!  When we were done, I was sure this was going to be horrible.  I do not like zucchini at all and I knew if I could taste it I wouldn’t eat it.   Mom showed me how to slice the zucchini very thin and then she blanched it, something I would have never known to do.  Apparently that takes the bitterness away?  When the sauce was put on I thought mom had lost her mind.  There was hardly any sauce at all, she used a spoon, I used a ladle!   I didn’t think there was enough sauce or cheese to cover up that horrible taste.

I brought home the casserole and cooked it for dinner.  I decided to have it as a side dish so that if it was awful we didn’t have to go out to dinner.  John wouldn’t touch it at first.  I was surprised that it wasn’t horrible.  I might say it was even good.  John finally took a taste and we both agreed that it would not kill us.  I can eat this, on occasion, to satisfy the cravings of the higher calorie and carb original.  A smaller serving is actually much better for me.

Learning to live a new lifestyle isn’t easy.  It is full of compromises.  Letting go of perfect is one of those compromises.  Learning to try new things is another.  It doesn’t matter whether it is with food or other things, opening my mind and allowing that gray area of life in is a very good thing.  It makes me grow and sometimes I even learn to like it.

Your challenge for the week is easy, try something new.  It doesn’t have to be food related, just do something different, open your mind and give it a go.  Let me know what you did and how you liked it.  I promise it won’t be as bad as you think!

SUNSET AT ZELLWOOD STATION

I have written before about the gathering of golf carts at sunset in our community.  Today was our day to go up and meet  this group of people.  I have been watching them for months now and I have to tell you that sometimes the stories are much better in my  head; sometimes my imagination is  better than my reality and SOMETIMES I have to hear John say “I told you so!”  I hate it when that happens.

Today was a beautiful cloudless day in Zellwood.  There was a nice cool breeze all day and the temperature in the mid 80’s.  I had taken Rosie for her evening walk and it dawned on me that we were getting close to sunset so I flew in the house and asked John to take me up to the gazebo so we could watch it set.  John really sees no reason to do this, he says that he has seen a sunset and doesn’t need to see another.  Sigh.  But I push on because I don’t want to go up there alone, in my mind these golf carts are filled with couples, holding hands and sitting quietly together watching the sun slowly drop into the small little lake.

I am impatient because John doesn’t move fast enough for me and that doesn’t start our romantic little escapade out very well.  I am sure we will miss everything by the time John gets us up to the gazebo.  John, Rosie and I get in the golf cart and up we go, John being the good guy that he is, ignoring my immature rants and of course, we arrive with time to spare.  LOTS of time to spare.

At first none of the people even spoke, so my first bubble pops.  There are other dogs with their families and they are the ones that get things moving. Slowly we start chatting and getting to know each other.  There are couples and singles.  And it really isn’t about the sunset as much as about gathering.  I said should have brought my glass of wine but didn’t because I wasn’t sure of what was proper. They made sure I knew that anything goes.  One man was telling us that we could bring our dinner up to the gazebo and eat it as the sun set.  Wouldn’t that be romantic?  As my eyes lit up John made it clear he was not participating in that!  Another bubble pops!

I decide to take a picture because I actually remembered the camera and I snap picture number one and my camera is dead, out of juice.  I don’t know if the picture took or not but I do know that there will be no other pictures taken.  And pop pop pop!

(And the picture turned out pretty good!)

As people come and go the reality becomes more and more apparent.  This is a meeting place.  It is relaxing and carefree.  And all of a sudden everyone says goodnight and leaves.  I was confused, the sun hadn’t even set yet!  But they were done and off they all went!  John was thrilled because he didn’t want to be there at all.  And off we went as well.  POP!

We ended up going for a drive around the community in our little golf cart, our family; John, Rosie and me.  It wasn’t perfect, it certainly wasn’t romantic, but it was fun.  We adapted to the moment and made our moment; not the twisted one I had in my head but our own little family moment.  John driving the golf cart, Rosie learning to enjoy riding in it and me still getting my story!

So your challenge for the week is not to watch a sunset, unless you really want to!  But this week it is to adapt to what is.  Don’t try to make it what you want, allow it to be what it really is and tell me about it.

MY PHOTO WALK

I was reading an article on how to stress-proof your life  in the May 2012 issue of Health Magazine.  One of the suggestions was to take a photo walk.  It said to head outside and photograph the things you find interesting, fun or beautiful.  It says that it helps us to look for positive images.  I thought that was worth a try so yesterday I went on a photo walk.

It wasn’t easy at first because I was busy looking for the perfect picture instead of things that were interesting.  And what did I find interesting anyway?  I decided to walk to a part of our community that I hadn’t been to before.  When I go for a run I am focused o the run itself and not really my surroundings but I pretty much take the same route.  This time I went into the side streets and tried to pay attention to the individuality of the homes.

I wished that my niece Monique was with me.  She is a photographer and her eye for the unique is amazing.  I thought if we lived closer she could teach me a thing about taking pictures; right back to looking for that perfect picture. Sigh.

But then I started to let go.   I ran across this driveway.

 

It is a bit hard to see but there are small cans filled with dirt and an American Flag.  I don’t know if they are there to block the driveway from being used or if this is a patriotic statement or both.  It was interesting and hopefully accomplished what the owner intended.

 

We live in a golf course community and it was Saturday morning; where were all the golfers?  I find golf interesting because I have not become a golfer yet.  I have taken lessons but have not done anything with them.  I’m not sure we can afford for John and I to both love golf yet.  It is fascinating that people can hit that silly ball so far and I can only make it move 10 feet.

Good things do come to those who wait.  I finally came across a foursome on the 18th green.  I hid behind a large tree so I could take pictures without disturbing them. While I am taking pictures I wonder if this is legal?! 

My picture-taking skills are not good enough to worry about that!  I’m lucky I got all four people in the shot.

As I walked on, I started paying attention to the silence.  That is one of the greatest benefits of living in a 55+ community.  It is so quiet.  I focused in on the sounds I was hearing.  The wind was whistling and there were several birds chirping away.  I’m not good at identifying what songs belong to which bird but there were several different ones.  Then I heard laughter and that made me smile.

Every so often there would be the hum of a golf cart buzzing past.  Many people have their own golf carts and that is the standard mode of transportation within the community.

Since we moved here in February we have been under drought conditions and as I walked along I noticed this area that shows how bad the drought is.

 

I am not sure if this area ever was full of water but it looks as though it should be.  I took pictures from several angles and found it sad that we need water so bad.  Please God send us rain.  We really do need it.

 

 

(another angle of the same area).

Even with the drought the area is very pretty.  There is a bench too for sitting to enjoy the view. I wonder how many people actually use it?

Those of us with dogs walk here and I notice that people really do follow the guidelines and clean up after their animals.  The area is free of litter too.  I love living in this community.  It is everything we wanted and more.

I am back to my street.  I talk about the hill going up to our home and people laugh at me because Florida really doesn’t have hills but it is true, we do.  You feel it right in your calf muscles when you are walking!  This is the view I see from my patio, isn’t it beautiful?

 

By the way, my neighbor’s house is for sale if anyone is interested!

I like this little duck!  It always makes me smile.  They took something simple and kicked it up a notch.   I wonder if she changes the flowers seasonally?  I would until I became bored with it or just too lazy to bother.

I have not met this lady yet but when I do I will have to mention to her how much I enjoy her duck.

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t this a great picture of the flag?  There are American Flags all over the community.  I shouldn’t be surprised really since there are many military retired.

We have a smaller flag on a pole that mounts to the side of the house.  I put it out shortly after we moved in but John won’t let me keep it out.  He says that I have to take it down at sunset each night or I cannot fly it.  I personally think that is silly but I will honor his wishes.  Needless to say, it doesn’t fly much.  It is more important to honor John that fly the flag.  If I manage to hit the Patriotic holidays I will be ok.

These next two pictures I had to take later in the day because of what they are.

Every evening down by the gazebo golf carts gather to watch the sunset.  It is a pretty area with a small lake, probably smaller due to the drought.

 

 

You never know how many carts are going to be there, sometimes one and sometimes a dozen.  If we ever get our golf cart operational (we need 6 batteries at $100 each so it may be awhile) I am going to go watch the sunset with them.  Somehow driving a car just ruins the moment for me.  John is not exactly thrilled with the notion of watching the sunset but I am sure if he goes once he will enjoy it.  And, I am not above going by myself.

I have to admit taking my photo walk turned into a really nice peaceful morning.  I probably was out for less than an hour but it was an hour full of relaxation.  I was lost in time and free from phones and televisions.  Thank you Health Magazine for the suggestion!  It set a nice tone for the rest of the day.

So now it is up to you.  Go take your own photo walk and tell me how you enjoyed it.  I would really love to hear!

SLOW DOWN

I am one of  those people who leap out of bed each morning and hit the floor running.  Normally I don’t stop until I hit the bed at night.  It is hard for me to relax, I just don’t think to do it.  I really believe it is a learned behavior and I haven’t learned it yet.  On the weekends I sleep in, usually getting up around 7 or 7:30; anything later than that is not normal for me.  I fill my days trying to accomplish everything  John and I didn’t accomplish during the week.  Grocery shopping, laundry, house cleaning, plus all the fun things that we want to do.  Sometimes by Sunday night I am more exhausted than if I would have just gone to work.

This Saturday I didn’t do that.  I got up at 7:00 as usual but I started my morning slow.  I had a cup of tea and I ate my breakfast on the patio.  John and I went to the grocery store and picked up a few things we needed for our dinner that night.  After the shopping was done, I went over to mom’s and had a nice relaxing visit with her.

When I got home from mom’s house John and I went over to the Community pool.  I slowly swam laps.  I didn’t try to race or break any records, I just swam.  We took reading material and stayed at the pool for a of couple hours.  There were very few people there so it was quiet and enjoyable.

After we got home I snuggled up in the chair in my office and started reading a book that I have been wanting to read for months.  My friend Pete is a writer and this is his 4th book published.  He writes a murder mystery series that is very entertaining.  (http://www.pjgrondin.com)  I not only enjoy them because I know Pete, but also because they are a good read.  I bought this latest book when it first came out and have not taken time to sit and read.  I decided this was the day I was going to start reading this book.  I got to chapter 19 before I called it a night.

The day really was perfect.  I told John that it felt good to relax, to take the day slow and not plan every minute of every hour.  I need to do this more often.  None of the things that I fill my weekends with really matter.  I just put myself on automatic and I don’t stop.  This was step one in learning to slow down and enjoy my weekend.  I hope to have many more just like this!

So, that is your challenge this week.  Take one day and slow down.  You pick the day and define what slow down means to you.  Tell me what you did and how it worked for you!   It doesn’t have to be fancy, just honest!

Have fun!

 

 

CHANGES

My life has changed so much in the past year it is amazing.  I am healthier than I have been in years and happier too!

May 1st is when I started my initial diet, June 1st I found Dr. Meyer and really changed my life.  This week I officially started the maintenance program.  I have lost 80 pounds and pray I do not ever have to go through this journey again!  I wish to stay put and live the lessons I have learned.  I cannot find my pleasure in food anymore.  I am most grateful for the love and support I have been given on this journey.

We moved in February and I LOVE our new home.  It is a wonderful peaceful 55+ community in Zellwood (www.zellwoodstation.com) and hands down the best thing John and I have done.  When I drive through the gate after work I leave everything behind and just sigh the most pleasant sigh ever!

Now I am working on beginning a new chapter in my life.  I have no idea how this chapter will end but I am willing to go where I am led and see what new roads I get to travel.  More will come on this as it develops.

My blog is going to change now too and I am asking for your help.  Each week I will post a topic and share my experience with the topic and ask you all to participate.  PLEASE feel free to pass this along to your friends, the more the merrier!  All the topics should be easy and I will have already done what I am asking you to do.  It is an experiment I am pursuing and I hope it will be fun and interesting for all of us.

Let me begin!

Today I went blueberry picking with my sister and her friend Mary.  It was a wonderful sunny day and the berries were perfect.  I came home and made a pie for John and another one for a friend of ours;  I always make Ron a pie for his birthday.

Then I made blueberry crisp in those small individual pie tins and shared them with some of my neighbors.  They were all surprised and hopefully will enjoy their treat.  It made me feel good to do something kind for someone else.  No strings attached.  Since we are new in the neighborhood I don’t know people well and this was a good way for me to just say hello.

SO – here goes.  ONE day this week simply be neighborly.  You get to define what that means to you. The sky is the limit.

Please respond back to me on the blog and tell me your experience (good, bad or indifferent) I would really appreciate it.  I hope this will bring something fun and positive into all of our lives.  If you do not want me to post your response just tell me to keep it private and I will.

I hope you have a terrific week!