The Great Comedian in the Sky

One of my favorite things about God is His sense of humor- it’s a beaut!  All you have to do is take a look around your life and see all the funny creatures, people and situations with which we are surrounded.  I imagine my favorite pastime in heaven will be hanging out with Jesus and some of my most beloved ones having a good chuckle, some hearty giggles- all of us laughing till we cry, pee our pants, and ache from the sheer pleasure of laughing together.  I am in full agreement with Jane Austen’s fictional character Elizabeth Bennet when she said. “I do so love to laugh.”

I’ve been doing some wistful thinking lately- you know the kind were reality is light years away but somewhere inside is a little part of yourself that wants the wistful thought to be a reality, if not an absolute.  Just the other day, shortly after having a paragraph of these thoughts,  God used a phone call to make it abundantly, tragically apparent how silly these thoughts were and for a moment reality left me bereft, but then I saw the comedy of error.  I laughed and thanked God that He chose a gentle loving way to show me how comically out of touch my thinking was.  I love that God made me laugh instead of cry.  God is good all the time…all the time God is good.

Claustrophobia 101

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Boxwork (thin blades of calcite that project from cave walls and ceilings, forming a honeycomb pattern) is abundant in the Wind Cave.

I’ve been thinking again about things I learned on my recent Black Hills vacation.  I do believe I’ve found a small little lesson tucked away in the Wind Cave.  Get ready for some sage advise from one very wise woman…

Do it afraid.  (Stop rationalizing and just do it already!)

Here’s what I mean…

We were visiting Wind Cave National Park in Hot Springs, So. Dak.  I was in the lodge sitting outside the restrooms waiting for my sister when across the room I spotted my mom at the ticket counter purchasing, what I suspected were cave tour tickets.  I had just spent a few minutes perusing the information board about the various cave tours and there was only one tour I could recall any information about…the four hour crawling tour.  Oh no!  As  I rushed to find out what she purchased all I could think was she didn’t, tell me she didn’t!  (I have to point out the ridiculousness of my thoughts here, a four hour crawling tour?  Really?)  The tour tickets she purchased were for the walking tour.  3oo steps down approximately 20 stories with about a half a mile of walking.  Still I felt immediate trepidation.  How tight is the cave?  Would I fit?  300 steps?  Up or down?  Dark?  How dark?  I had 30 minutes of thinking and wondering to do before the tour started.  After a while I decided I needed to distract myself or maybe I’d chicken out, so, I decided to tease Charlie and I told him Mom bought us all tickets for the crawling tour and I was worried about how I was going to crawl around in a cave for four hours.  He provided no distraction as his only response was “Really though, I don’t want to go in there.”  I just had to stop perseverating on this- the tickets had been purchased and I was going.

God timed this perfectly!  If I would have had the chance to discuss this tour with everyone I probably would have begged my way out of it.  And it was the coolest part of the trip (figuratively and literally as it was 58 degrees in the cave!) It was scary, awesome, incredible, amazing, dark, deep, exhausting and exhilarating!  What a blessing I would have missed!  Who cares if I was dripping in sweat by the end of 300 stairs and half a mile walk?  Who cares if I thought I was going to die from exhaustion for an hour after emerging?  Who cares if my body ached for three days?  I went 20 stories down into a cave!  I went into a cavern where I experienced the deepest dark my eyes have never seen!  And, I discovered I am not claustrophobic!

God is so good that sometimes He doesn’t allow us the freedom to wiggle away from challenges that step us out of our comfort zone.  I’m grateful that He knows me so well, so thoroughly, so completely, that He provided me this opportunity that I would have denied myself.

Simple Lesson

My mom, Linda; sister, Sunshine; and Shiney’s boyfriend, Charlie spent 6 days driving to, wandering around and returning from the Black Hills of South Dakota and Wyoming.  We hit all the local sights:  the Bandlands State Park, Mount Rushmore National Monument, Needles Highway, Custer State Park, Wind Cave State Park, The Crazy Horse Monument, Deadwood and Devil’s Tower National Monument.

I’ve been wracking my brain to find a life lesson from this vacation but I have been coming up empty.  Really, it shouldn’t be this difficult.  Don’t we have lessons to learn every day? I haven’t found any deep lessons yet but maybe the lesson isn’t such a profound one, instead, a simple one that I find recurring in my life of late: don’t give up on your dreams.

Charlie is 44 years old. It has been his dream since childhood to see Mount Rushmore. Well, he did it, he finally got there! His pure, absolute joy at seeing those stone faces was a delight to witness. It was genuine and heartfelt. He was excited so deep in his spirit it shone out of his face and tinged his voice with amazement.

If Charlie can achieve his dream, why can’t I? (Or for that matter, why can’t we all?) Why have I decided that none of my childhood dreams are worth having much less pursuing? Why have I let cynicism and hopelessness rule me? My brain knows this comes straight from the pit of hell, so why can’t I deny these thoughts? I suppose my experience tells me otherwise…but, wait, didn’t I create my experience?  I believe I had a fair amount of control over my life experiences through choices, attitudes, activities, friends, feelings.  So it would seem then that my experiences have been skewed by my faulty perception of reality.  Ephesians 3:20 says “now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams.]”  This is an accurate reality.  God has a plan for me that exceeds even my own dreams!  I need to prayerfully alter my skewed experience and get it realigned with the word of the most loving God.  Only then can I achieve my childhood dreams and beyond.


Charlie at Mount Rushmore National Monument.  As soon as Mount Rushmore came into view we stopped along the highway at the first available pull out.  This was Charlie just minutes after getting his first glimpse of the faces.

Puhleeze, Quit Already!

Mark 15:4-5

So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”  But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Navigating the waters of office politics and be enervating and frustrating.  With ignorant speech and haughty demeanor a lone individual can, in the blink of an eye, destroy the esprit de corps within a workplace thus providing a perfect opportunity to exercise your spiritual muscles.  Over the summer my department had several unpleasant encounters with a nasty individual who is firmly emplanted within the company.  He attackes liberally with intent to demean,  he is sarcastic and unprofessional and he has been allowed to maintain this attitude for more than thirty years!  So, how can we tolerate this individual who accuses and points out errors in companywide harrangues?  Well, if we want to be like Jesus, we say nothing.  We choose not to defend our reputation.  Ugh, how hard is that?  How much do we want to get angry and respond in kind?  Is it really possible for me to say I love you, which I don’t want to say, instead of shove it where the sun doesn’t shine, buddy, which is what I really want to say?  Do I really think I can respond like Jesus did and choose to remain silent when my reputation is being publicly battered? Well, yes, I can, but I surmise it will take a bit of smashing down of the old flesh nature.  Even so, I am determined that the next time I have the opportunity I am going to choose to respond as Jesus did and say nothing, maybe even extend myself and offer kindness or even, blech (sorry, excuse me, I’m choking over the word,) offer love.

No Cardamom?

Luke 12:57
“Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?

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So, I was having a leisurely lunch at an Eastern Indian restaurant.  Cell phone on the table enabling a conversation, I sat alone sampling a variety of comforting and odd Indian foods-   basmati rice, naan, daal, paneer and curry.  During one of our cryptic, hurried conversations I questioned the host about the deserts and which ones had cardamom or coconut.   He was young, mid twenties with caramel colored skin and long black hair that shagged above deep, smiling eyes.   He liked that I tried all the offerings on the buffet line and if his gesturing was any indication, he liked that I asked questions, too.  He said there was no coconut or cardamom in any of the six pudding-ish deserts or in the entrees he showed me.

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Pshawing what he had told me I took a spoonful of each dessert; 6 little mounds of color on a stark white plate.  Four of these desserts were pudding and fruit mixes- nothing all that interesting.  But one was a warm carrot pudding;  nuts, cinnamon, raisins, carrots, and cardamom!  In fact they all had cardamom.  I soon discovered that my conversation with the Indian man was not as I thought it had been…there was cardamom in every dessert he had shown to me!  But my failed listening skills bought me on a culinary adventure so how upset could I get with myself?  The final dessert looked like pieces of baked squash, liberally peppered with black pepper.

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I hesitated for a moment when I thought to sample this one, but it was just for a moment and I tasted it… oh my!  It exploded over my tongue with golden warm cardamomy flavor!  And here I was thinking it was plain old acorn squash!  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  And so it goes, another case of judging a book by its cover, will I ever learn?

How can YOU bless ME? Let me count the ways!

James 2:17
So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).

Today was a fabulous day.  One of the best of the summer.  Why was it so fabulous?  Because it was filled with so many emotions that have been missing from my life: excitement, abandonment,  joy, anticipation, thrill-ation, angst, fear and  pleasure.  Excitement at what I had gone and done; abandonment because I set aside me and focused on Him ( I obeyed!  I obeyed!);  joy at the planning, picking, and choosing of the gift and its message; the sheer deliciousness of the anticipation of waiting for it to be discovered; thrill-ation at the thought of the “Hildy…” I would hear in a serious tone that would then be cast aside, replaced by, if not understanding, then acceptance; angst at a snafoo that ruined the grandeur of the surprise; fear that the gift would be misunderstood, even refused; and (finally!) pleasure that the snafoo didn’t matter and the gift was received as intended and accepted as offered.  But best of all was the fact that I set aside my wishes and obeyed the leading of my Father.  If I had not obeyed, if I would have rationalized away this gift, I would not have experienced any of these emotions today, and honestly, they were worth every penny.  Every penny.