Friday, November 24, 2017

I Once was Blind, but Now I Finally SEE

I listen to other music besides Christian pop
This is Max Richter's Departure Suite
Nice, but sometimes mind numbing, a place I visit.





I Once was Blind, but Now I Finally SEE
By Nina B.

My status changed over the summer. I went from being a driver to a commuter/walker.

One busy, late afternoon I was driving to pick up a former student for dinner. I had one former student in the passenger seat.  We were celebrating one of them entering college. However, a white van rear-ended me as I sat, stopped in line waiting for the light to change; and was pushed into the car in front of me… Sadly, the one doing the pushing drove off, not even checking to see if we were okay. I became the “meat” in the middle of two vehicles. My trunk was nearly accessible from the back seat!

Hence, I became a commuter and walker, (although, I always went for walks - but now I walk with a purpose -  to get places - not just for exercise).

At first it was hard. Actually, it still is… Being around people…

I never knew how much of a loner I was. The world I created for myself was very controlled. I only interacted with people that I chose, let alone look at people to see them. As a commuter and walker, you must be aware of who is around you at all times! It’s a safety precaution. 

(Aside: It hit me that I rarely look at myself! I don’t like what I see most times, and when I presume to see some strangers, I don’t like what I see in them either. Hence, Father’s work is never done within me.)

When I don’t want to bother with God’s image improvement plan for me, I avoid looking at myself. Once upon a time when I didn’t want to bother with people, I’d either drive a little earlier in the morning and go home later in the evening - less crazy people out on the roads! I’d sit in the back of church and disappear just at the last Amen. And during the sharing of the peace - I’d bury my head in drawing a picture on the back of the offering envelope - folks don’t usually bother you if you messing with your offering envelopes. I did my shopping usually on the same day at the same time so that the same people who’d I have to interact with, were in their usual same place. When I ate grilled salmon from Mariano’s; there would be the big fish butcher guy, (he’d see me coming and knew what I wanted every time - I was predictable - until the accident happened and I stopped eating salmon. (I stopped eating fish because the radiation problems with the Pacific Ocean - not because of the accident). I’d see the same farm stand lady, (she didn’t seem to like her job), the same cashier, … the same cart guy with the wild hair… I’d kinda see other shoppers, but I’d avoid making eye contact as much as they did. I’d move around them like a synchronized swimmer moving through water. I’d see a cart, the contents therein, a hand pushing the cart and I’d move… I’d rather look at the rows of pastas and bags of beans… The people would exist, but not to interact with - like Tennessee Williams, “Glass Menagerie” - the people around me were of specific collections… to be handle with care and at a distance - always…

I’d see my same students, the same colleagues the same staff... I’d interact with those I choose and the others, …  I am of the mind that what I do and what I think matters very little to most people - and that’s okay. It’s like the people at the store that I chat with - to be polite - they are numb, (like most people I see at work). They deal with people all day, everyday and have become de-sensitized to the constant droning of the noise that “people” make…

HOWEVER…

NOW, as a commuter and walker I see people like I’ve never have before - maybe it’s a novelty and will wear off - and become like constant droning… but I kinda hope not…

I see a young woman of about 25, with her little girl of about four. It’s some time after the dinner hour and to keep the pangs of hunger at bay the mom has purchased two bags of bargain hot and spicy cheese curls. A bag for each of them. They sit quietly, looking ahead at nothing as the scenes of our ride flash in seconds in the window. They lick their now red fingers as they eat and stare, silently.

I see a middle aged, who is wearing a hoody. He is trying so hard to hide. He has the shakes - not from the cold. He’s clean, ...has an expensive cell phone that he checks for some message… good shoes… From time to time he looks up and out from his hiding place. His face is pallid. Empty. Searching.

I see a very large, overweight man wearing army fatigues. He’s in a wheelchair. He’s partially slumped over as he sleeps… He snores semi-loudly. His lips are thick and cracked. He wears a knitted non distinct sports hat. It’s pulled down over his ears, but held in place with those headphones that look like the tops of mason jars, but of course, more stylish.

I see an old woman who comes up to me when she sees me. She sometimes wears dark sunglasses when it’s already dark - she must be on medication that causes her eyes to hurt at the glare of any light. She always is dressed modestly, (and encourages me to wear a hat on my head). Her shoes are orthopedic and look heavy, but what shows of her legs are thick and strong. She is shorter than I am and she speaks in a thick Caribbean accent. She says, “Good Morning and God bless you”... She also blew my bubble totally away and hugged me.

I see so much now, however, still feel that I miss a lot,... like the man who was saying Happy Thanksgiving to me. I was in my bubble world and was hiding from the outside, by wearing my sunglasses and headphones, listening to Max Richter’s Departure Suite, but not too loudly in the event of danger, (I want to hear it coming if I miss seeing it first…). So, I heard a mumble of something as I passed and realized too late that he was speaking a kindness…

There’s so  much more that I can share of what I see - good, bad, ugly, rude, questionable…, but this already 4 pages and like Youtube videos that are longer than 20 minutes - who wants to read all this rambling...

So, what’s the point of seeing folks at this stage of the game… Seeing gives the point of entry into the game. The eye is the open window into the soul, (someone said once upon a time - I think it’s the heart - which is heavily guarded). Seeing provides the point of connection - when we do finally see. You connect with God when you see. It’s like He’s showing you His creation and gives you opportunity to work with Him to fix those that are broken or to share in the walk along the way... It’s like when a mom allows her child to stir the batter and then completes the work and serves a beautiful creation and the child is like, “Wow! I helped do that?!” The delight the mom has because the child is so happy... and the child wants to do more - so it is with the Father with us.

When we finally see, we have to do something. I can’t pretend there aren’t people there anymore. I can’t pick and choose whom I share Jesus with - He says I’m gonna break your bubble and push you out into the world so that you can be light and salt, to anyone I send your way.

For every disadvantage there is an advantage. My car was totaled, (I don’t feel that it’s God’s timing that I replace it just yet), so, I must get to work - not the busy work that I can do with my eyes closed, (that thing I do for 10-12 hours a day), but the labor of the Father where I must have my eyes wide open - allowing Father to open my eyes and see the work that is needed to be done.

Soli Deo Gloria

A photo I took some time ago and added a magazine pic 

















Sunday, September 10, 2017

Waiting


Waiting
By Nina B.


My mother and father were not married, however, my father did give me his name and took responsibility for my welfare. Not only providing for me financially; there was an agreement between he and my mother that he would come every other Sunday and pick me up for a visit - usually just he and I, so that I would know him as my father and I would be his “Cookie”, (his pet name for me).

The earliest times that I remember was when I was about two or three and we’d walk to the park near where I lived and he pushed me on the swings, or encourage me to climb the monkey bars, or go down the slide or simply walk across the benches… And he’d take pictures of me - lots of pictures. These were indeed sweet times.

As I grew older our time together grew longer and we would venture to his neighborhood, and I remember feeling odd because the kids in his neighborhood, over by Garfield Park Conservatory, would stare at me. I’d complain and dad would calm my fears and simply explain - “They just don’t know you Cookie”.... We’d go to the park and have a “photo shoot”. He really did take a ton of pictures of me. He wanted to capture our times together…. I think he knew something I didn’t - that he wasn’t going to live to see me grow up.

God knows I miss those times of feeling that I was “The Princess”. I was indeed the apple of my father’s eye.

After our times in the park, with pose after pose by the geraniums, (they made my hands smell), we’d go to Woolworth and get ice cream. I always ate mine too slow and dad would have to clean me up with his handkerchief. A handkerchief was something that men used to have tucked away in their breast pocket of their suit jacket, that they usually wore when stepping out. Sometimes we would go back to his place with a pint or two ice cream from Walgreen's and my favorite soda at the time “orange or grape” and he’d make floats to go along with our pepper steaks and biscuits and peas. I think our meals were t.v. dinners because I remember the tin serving tray. T.V. meals or homemade, I still remember the taste - I loved it.

And I could do no wrong.

My father never raised his voice to me. Of course, I was an obedient child because after all, I was my mother’s child as well. One never did anything wrong. Looking cross-eyed got you “the look”. However, I do remember getting lost in a department store once. I didn’t even know I was lost. Dad didn’t notice that I let go of his hand and had walked away. I remembered my older sister was with me on this visit. I went to look at a Victorian style doll that was taller than the usual Barbie dolls, (they were still a novelty when I was a kid). The Victorian doll had a cloth like face that was painted. She had those over-sized eyes and her hair was done up in black ringlet curls. She wore a classic Victorian style, navy blue velvet dress with white lace accents. I was mesmerized as she turned under a glass cylinder with under lighting.  Dad didn’t know where I was. I don’t know how long I was simply standing, looking at the doll, but when he saw me and took up my hand again - it was as if I had been gone for days, (I’m sure it was no longer than five minutes, if that). But I could sense the panic in his grasp and in his eyes. The pain of that momentary separation scared the …. out of him. Me too - when I saw his eyes. I hadn’t meant to cause that pain. I was sorry - He knew I was. He didn’t scold me. He didn’t say anything. All was well with my hand back in his.

I remember waiting one Sunday after church for him to come. Looking down from our third floor window searching the street below for his humongous old Black car as each car passed. Mom said that it wasn’t the Sunday for our visit, but I waited anyway… and waited… One time I thought I saw him in a car. It was a big fancy convertible car… I ran after him calling, but it wasn’t him…

Even though I waited - in vain - for a long time, I still loved my father. He was still my dad… He still loved me… while we were apart… And he would come again, for me, another Sunday.

So, with the recent happenings of concentrated destruction and world powers gone totally out of control… Not to mention people seemingly not being in their right minds at all...  
Likewise, with the impending celestial event that has never happened before, but building, for some good folk - great expectation that our Heavenly Father - God, is returning for His children - soon - like in a couple of weeks.

Let us not lose hope...
…if He doesn’t come, when folks are expecting Him too - He's got the date already set.

He is still God. 

He is still our loving Father and will one day grab up our hands and we will look into His eyes and know that He loves us so much and that He wants us Home with Him.

Even though, it's not yet come… Have no fear...

And… Make a difference for those the Lord places within your circle.

Who do you see everyday? Have you shared your testimony? Do they know you’re a believer? Have you offered to ever pray for them? Have you offered to welcome them into the family? Have you offered hope? Do they know how to receive God's forgiveness? 

Tell them people... That's why they're in your circle of influence... Father - God planned it that way. 

Do not delay! Another Sunday is coming...

Always… Soli Deo Gloria

This is a video done by Pastor Robert Breaker of thecloudchurch.org., (who shares a close resemblance to Pastor Thomas Johnson who is a few pounds lighter - okay, a lot of pounds lighter), that I found particularly interesting and thought some of you may as well.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Thoughts....

Thoughts that I’ve Pondered in My Heart
By Nina B.

Thought
Mankind is like a tired stubborn child, who refuses to sleep or be comforted by its mother.
We strive after so many vain things that are inconsequential - that in the end, it’s total nonsense. We miss the beauty of the bigger picture? The grand scheme - to see ONE minute pixel, WE miss the glory of God, to only see our sinful selves and call it “great” when we are nothing - not even good - no, not one.
...And we’ve been doing this from the beginning. Why can’t we simply surrender and allow God to comfort the weary child - us?


Thought
Based upon that which is temporal - mankind
Is love always compromise?
Is there a love, where both parties “win”? Why is it that one person often gets more than the other? Why is there always a sacrifice - usually just from one?

Thought
Based upon that which is Eternal - God
We,  may never fully grasp the atonement for our sin, (I know, I don’t and therefore take it for granted). The total wrath of God was emptied onto Christ when He hung on the cross.
Jesus paid it all!
God only has love for us - no punishment - because of Jesus’ atonement - payment for our sins.
And there are folks who rather pay for themselves - Why? WE can’t pay the price - only Jesus can and did!



Thought
The Bible is one theme but directed at many different people. It’s like when I say something to my adult children, but say the same thing, but differently to my students, or to my friends or colleagues. It’s the same theme/topic, but different perspectives and different points to give specific understanding to various groups. For me - this is God’s Word - it’s to everyone and we’re all in different head spaces.

Thought
It’s been my observation that men on some pretty significant occasions have placed, however, seemingly gently; women under the proverbial bus, because they lack the legs to stand.

They have used these weak, shaky legs and stood back and watched women do the work or whatever is necessary while they sometimes, most times, benefited of sorts, from the efforts of their women. However the benefits surely weren’t long lasting, nor as sweet as they thought…

However first and foremost… Let me clarify: I AM NOT A FEMINIST, nor do I enjoy emasculating or undermining men. My point with this thought is to merely state an observational epiphany of sorts, that I had back in Jan. of 2016 and wrote a note about it.
My frame of mind was in the throes of some pretty ugly life changing events… But let me start at the beginning…

Let’s take Adam and Eve
You know what happened...

Adam stood back and watched the exchange between the serpent and Eve, (which I find just crazy - she was “conversing with a serpent” - maybe this was normal, back then), and did nothing. He heard every word. He watched Eve take the forbidden fruit and didn’t once stop her, didn’t once say, “Uh sweetie,...maybe we should ask God about this one…”. He didn’t even intervene with his opinion. He just watched to see what would happen and when the expected didn’t happen - That she would drop like a lead ball through wet tissue paper…. “Oh!?! Well, maybe it is ok and God meant something different…”

Sigh!

Then she gave it to him and he didn’t question, he just thought, (or didn’t…), and said “Oh...Ok!”

This is not being a man!

Then there was Abraham, who rather than stand up and be a man for his wife, said, Sarah was his sister… which lead to very bad international affairs… What were you thinking Abraham?…And Sarah, were you going along with your husband’s idea out of obedience or what? Bottom line: Abraham, you were trusting in your own ideas rather than God’s!

Truly, these are ideas that swim in the depths of my mind when I’m idle too long...

Everyone’s favorite - poor David - he gives so much fuel for the fodder. He’d rather commit adultery and then murder than to be the man of integrity that he was supposed to be… that he could have been… A man dies, and a child… for that weakness.

I’ve got others but those make my point. There are others where men allowed women just to be the boss, (kinda like these days). And stuff got really messed up, but there are other Old and New Testament men who fall short… We live in a fallen world, so there’s much to choose from, however, we’re all broken and pretend we’re not, (which makes us crazy - it’s like trying to drink from a broken glass and saying all the time, “it’s not broken”, even with the water pouring out from the broken places…”It’s not broken...really!” -  Insanity!). Men and women - boys and girls are broken! Past, present and future - BROKEN!

But in these dark days I see men abdicating their responsibilities left and right and it’s to the point now-a-”daze” where men are expected, encouraged and are supposed to roll over and simply play dead! I recently read a tweet from a person named “Zinna” that men are supposed to get over that thing between their legs, (this is a paraphrase) - still, this is insanity!

Despite the disappointment from the men in my own family, and broken marriage, I can only pray that the legacy, the cycle - just stops. That men, my own sons, stand and be counted as men… that they look to God the Father to be their example.

Thought
The struggle with the unknown. I sometimes have a hard time seeing how the proverbial “it” all fits together. I struggle to do the right thing and walk the righteous path - and more stuff just happens - I’ll be honest sometimes I just want to stay inside and never go out. I have my art stuff. I eat simply - hard boiled egg in the morning, salmon and spinach for lunch, maybe homemade soup for dinner. I drink only water - If I want a treat I put lemon and ice in my water. I can go without sweets.

See sufficient!

I know - methinks not too. :-/

I need Jesus and He tells me to get out into the mix...

Still, God is Good. All else that this world has to offer pales greatly - even on the BEST of days, to the Goodness and Love of my Father God.

Soli Deo Gloria

Sorry that this got a bit lengthy - I should post my thoughts more regularly - or simply keep them to myself! Of course, you don’t have to read this stuff either - it would be nice if you commented. I’ll email back - I’d be honored. In the stats for the blog I can see where folks are reading - You folks in Germany, Portugal, Russia, France! I mean - who are you? Singapore? Poland? The Netherlands?! I am honored and wouldn’t mind having a dialogue.
Jesus is my favorite subject. :-)









Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Prayer: Thy Will Be Done


Prayer: Thy Will Be Done

by Nina B.

I once heard it said, from a popular evangelist, that the average Christian spends about 3-4 minutes in prayer. I don't know if this is even daily, however, the mind wanders off like a rabbit down its hole... A prayer-life gets lost.

While I don't spend time on my knees as often as I like... Let alone prostrate in awe, humbleness, fear... I do spend time in conversation with God - which seems like an endless flow of childish chatter,... Lord,... God... Father... Daddy... Please... Now... I want...
I WANT IT! NOW DADDY!
(spoken in the full rage of Veruca Salt, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
I have had my moments with my Father, in fact nearly every morning... 
One, two, three,... fifteen, sixteen,... "Lord why is my metabolism dead? ... Twenty, twenty-one, ... THIRTY! - You know you can make it work again - if You wanted to." Why isn't this working - ever! ? Am I to be stuck looking like a pear with legs" (Such a first world problem - I'm ashamed to admit it)
Lord, how long before my children come back... I invested so many nights of prayer - beseeching Your throne... Don't You see them journeying into a far country... MAKE THEM STOP! 

MAKE THEM COME BACK!

DO SOMETHING!!!  

You did? Didn't You... The cross... I will cling to the cross, Your cross... What else is there? But still my prayers, my cries, my pleading seem to fall
                       so
                               far
                                                                                                away
                      from

       their  intended mark -                                      You,
                 Lord...

God, why don't Your people talk with You more?... Perhaps, that's why the children of Israel made their idols. They needed to see You and they hadn't an idea of how to create that which has never been seen before - like describing something to someone whose blind. Think about it... How would you describe colors, shapes can be done via touch, but so much would be lost in the translation because much of what we really see is ethereal - like a sunset... But I digress.

We don't talk with one another much, because sometimes people care very little for what people have to say. People nod their heads in agreement for stuff they know nothing about... We say "Yeah, ah-huh..." It's really crazy. We presume to know what God is thinking when we speak with Him, because we help Him out. We have all the answers and expect Him to catch up with our program... So, we really don't pray we talk at God, because a lot of times we just like to hear ourselves talk. Like baby chatter and sadly, we care little for what God has to say - His response.

Sometimes, people don't talk with God because they simply don't like His responses or lack thereof; so they avoid Him like the plague and don't pray. They have the attitude, "He doesn't say much anyway! and what He says, doesn't agree with what I'm thinking ... so...."

Sometimes they don't have the time for His responses... "Yo! God! What's Your thoughts... like, I needed Your response like weeks ago...". Hey little people - He's God - you're dust! I just sayin' in case you forgot

People are fearful of His response - they simply can not believe He just said what He said... remember Gilead and the fleece... I can just imagine that discourse, "No, You didn't!... Now wait just a minute there God, did You really mean what You said or were You goshin ?... Okay...just one more time.... No, no, no, really this is the last time...." 

ASIDE: I don't think God goshes/jokes. Of course, I do believe He has quite the sense of humor - Some dog owners look like their dogs. Why? Have you watched squirrels play? When you're over a certain age why does hair grow in your ears? God's humor.

Do you think God just lowers His head and shakes it sometimes - when we do pray

Sometimes it is scary praying, "Thy will be done" - especially when you want someone to get better, or... 
"Thy will be done" - you're hoping for that new next thing... 
"Thy will be done" - When you want answers to the unanswerable - stuff that has to do with other folks... 
"Thy will be done" - When you want change...

 But think about it, He's either God or not. He either has our back or He does not. He either loves us or we are too be pitied...

We either trust and believe which equals faith - Faith in God to have His own way for our good. He loves us so dearly and knows every second of our lives and knows what is best. 

It's easy to write about this stuff - Totally another thing to put it into practice. My life reads like one of those A and B novels. She took path A folks so this is how God stepped into fix that....Oh this time folks... she took path C but in the last moments changed to path B, but pulled some crazy stuff in... And God fixed that too, (she didn't even notice that He did...). He heard her cries for help and sent a response in a surprising way - she didn't understand, so she missed it. She asked.... She didn't go with His leading/God's plan... ...Sigh!

God fixes.

Prayer - Thy will be done.

If/when you pray, just trust and believe. 
Be still and wait.








Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Regrets


Regrets
By Nina B

Regrets are crippling.

They stop us dead in our tracks - from moving in any direction.
Think for a moment. It’s the time you should have said something… and in looking back you know the impact would have been life changing for you… for her… for him… and you didn’t say what was needed at just the right time… Instead there was silence
 
I have such regrets.
When I was a child - no longer. I was old enough to know right from wrong; but I was a brat and I said hurt-filled words that had no merit at all and I tried to justify them.
I remember it like it was yesterday.

I asked questions of the wrong person… I trusted…
Can we regret trusting a person with something valuable - surely. When in hindsight you see that they did not hold the thing with the same value as you… There’s a Proverb about misguided - misplaced trust… I didn’t know it then… I was just a kid… for such a short time...

When my mother died; at her funeral I regret not playing a song for those who attended. It was a song that I always played for her when I stayed with her… It would have been comforting. I could have shared my Jesus and I didn’t.

I regret not standing to my feet in a show of encouragement at my son’s graduation - when he tried to give his graduation speech through anguished sobs. I thought I should go to his side, but that was not needed - but something was - standing to my feet and offering my applause… was it... but I didn’t think of it until days later - I wish I shoulda done…

There are tons of  things I shoulda done, but I don’t have those deep regrets that when something sparks a memory, there is that shooting hot pang of pain, you get it when you've bent over too long over something and your back aches when you straighten... or that pain that hits my heart and makes my knees go weak, (I know, heart attack!). 

I relive the experiences all over again… You do too.

My children remind me of times gone by, that I didn’t do… I can remember too - sometimes,... ...of the times that I forgot, or I never showed up at the… or I showed up late… or I worked too late and … And let’s not even mention the words that were spoken or not…. While these too are regrettable - they are NOT regrets that make you stop and sigh, ‘cause some things just can’t be undone, forgotten... dropped to the floor of our minds because there’s just too many.

Perhaps, these special regrets are so regrettable because we don’t forgive ourselves.

We can look pass some regrets for whatever reason, that are minor incidentals/minor regrets. These are our background noises - murmurings that we compartmentalize/classify as kinda - unimportant. Then there are the things that make you want to crawl away… because you do remember.

The enemy wants you to remember all the time. he is whispering justifications for your pain and twist the knife in just a little bit deeper, you feel it don't you?

…. but remember

You are forgiven, (beautiful words)

...and that weight that buried you - you are resurrected! We don’t have to live in bondage to our own unforgiven-ness. God knows we keep others in captivity when we don’t forgive and we do the same to ourselves, because we feel we deserve the sentence of unforgiven-ness.

Unforgiven-ness is a death sentence.

Think about it. If God did not offer forgiveness we are condemned.

Let me spell it out clearly - damned to hell - a real place for those who do not want the forgiveness of God, (the choice is yours).

Are we bigger than God?

I’m not saying, all the things we consider deeply regrettable are sinful - I’m saying we classify them as  unforgivable. Some may be sinful acts - in which case we should seek God’s forgiveness, but some are simply misguided thoughts or the lack thereof and not sinful in nature,... Bottom line, forgive yourself and move on to a glorious life in Christ, where you are human and full of mistakes and poor memories… and lack initiative and more… stuff that is funny and crazy and silly...and yet more...

Hey, if you wake tomorrow it’s your refresh - your reset button. You get another fresh new day to try again - so do something different.

Christ forgives, you should too.

Soli Deo Gloria