What’s Your Pleasure?

Webster defines pleasure as, “a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment.” I think for most persons while doing and giving to others they experience pleasure. They realize by “doing” and not merely “giving”, they give a gift which money can’t procure. There are many ways to give intangible gifts, yet they may be felt tangibly.

Yesterday as I arrived at one of my favorite volunteer positions, I arrived with an extremely heavy heart possessing my personal despair, yet also realizing that when giving to others, my burdens subside.  Each week before I arrive, I ask God to send me persons He desires me to reach with His words and love.

I believed I was there to give, yet it was I that received. One of the clients I met with was experiencing exceptionally difficult trials. When I queried if I could hug her, not only did she accept, but she returned the hug with more fervor than I’ve ever sensed. Her sobs were returned with my own warm tears. My heart was breaking for her.  We conversed for as long as her heart desired. I also gave her resources for additional emotional support and understanding.

She was one of several “gifts” God granted me yesterday. There was yet another lady whom also sought not only the monetary assistance of our faith-based organization, but  the gift of understanding. When she sat down to converse with me, as with the other client, I was saddened for her.  She noted she has become weary of those not discerning her anguish. As a young mother she recently lost a teen daughter. I “heard” her words of sorrow about others giving her patronizing chatter. No, I can’t understand losing a teen child, but I sincerely empathize with her grief.

Acknowledging another’s mourning whether similar to ours or different is one of the greatest gifts we can give. Acts 20:35 NKJ “…And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Please Give Me Your Back Pack

Do you ever have those days that you are so stooped over with your load that you would like for someone to grab your pack back and carry it for even a few minutes? You have prayed. You have spent time alone with the Lord, but your load is heavy and you just want a “human ear” to hear; to lift it for even a few minutes, while you stop and drink a cool bottle of water from God’s pristine well.

Yes, I do believe that each one of us have those times and as I’ve shared previously, if we live alone without friends or family to reach out to and say “hey, I need some additional prayer today, then where do we go?” I have often reached out to those in my church whom lead the prayer ministry, or I know are a sincere prayer warrior. Today was one of those days. I was literally awake all night, tossing and turning, but also praying.

I opted to reach out to our church prayer ministry leader. As I opened her reply e-mail I had to read it several times for I wondered if she had even read my short, but sincere prayer need. She had a list longer that our annual tax returns with her mandates. What? Her harsh and condescending words had nothing to do with what I had queried. She was commanding things which I have done countless times.  She was abrasive and abusive rather than supportive and loving.

Chuck Swindoll shares in one of his devotions that going to those in church is the right thing to do. He said “where can that fella…go to unload…to get help to bear the burden….a place where there is person-to-person caring and the opportunity for authentic sharing. Where he will feel free…to state his struggle; where some will listen, help him unload and give him fresh strength?”  I thought that was what I was doing with the director of the prayer ministry. The burns I received were so severe, I won’t be doing that again. I am and will continue to be that “someone” for others and will continue to pray and seek that God will bring me that person to help bear my burden when they are too heavy to carry alone. Gal. 6:2-3 NKJ, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

The Gift To Our Community

As I concluded three days of intensive training to volunteer at Palomar; the center for domestic violence (DV) and child abuse, I not only relived my own personal experiences, but also was reminded of the vastness of DV. What an extraordinary group of leaders in our community to have possessed the insight and desire to establish a center where victims could receive such breadth of assistance; emotional support, counseling, legal assistance, childcare, police protection, financial assistance and more.  This is a gift to not only our community, but to the countless women whom endure such trauma.

If only such resources had been available to me in 1969, I would not have endured the long-term abuse, but also would have realized I was then and am now, a person of value and worth. As with the majority of DV survivors, I remained because I loved my husband for over 50 years. Yet no amount of love could alter reality. As one of the speakers during the training noted, “we protect what we fall in love with.” Abusers don’t protect. They abuse to control.

We need only listen to or read the current news and realize there are countless validations that men in high places are indeed abusers (most often they are men, rarely are the abusers women). Career success, physical image or zip codes don’t negate such behavior. The more the victim attempts to seek help, the greater the abuse from the perpetrator. They realize they are losing their control.

Had my husband never left to begin his life with another, I would have remained, for my love for him was extraordinary.  As one of our speakers noted, anyone whom endures the trauma of DV has not only unfathomable strength, but love which is inexpressible. My gift will now be to give of my time to help those currently walking this sorrowful path. They have resources I never had, but what an asset in Palomar to heal and move forward with their lives.

I have always believed, there is truly a purpose for our heartache. Though our lives may be painful, it is all for God’s glory and honor, Jer. 29:11, NIV, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Smokin’ Hot

It was going to be a good day. I had awakened early and had pulled from my drive before 7:30 a.m. to begin three days of intensive training for the local domestic violence center. Entering the highway, I had driven only a few miles when there was a blaring, unfamiliar noise and a simultaneous thumping.  Yes, it must have been a flat tire. If so, I was exasperated as I had been a customer at the tire shop only weeks prior for two new tires and informed by the tire shop experts, the other two had “miles to go” before they needed to be replaced.

As I was realizing I needed to pull off the highway, a kind gentleman was honking and waving at me, pointing to the rear of my car. As I peered over my right shoulder, black smoke was clouding my view of the otherwise brilliant blue sky. Yes, I must get off the highway immediately. Fortunately, the next exit would be a “safe haven” until I could seek help from my roadside assistance program.

When I drove my car into the parking lot of a convenience store, my tire was not merely flat; it appeared to have been processed for a “flat tire burger”. There is an excellent restaurant in my community with the same name. How delighted I am their burgers are comprised of meat and not “flattened tires.”

I was reminded once again of my former husband’s betrayal and abandonment. As a single, senior, I had no one to telephone, informing them of my predicament; no friends or family to assure me they would come to my aid if the roadside assistance was delayed.  My stress level was high, but I was also most appreciative my “blowout” didn’t cause a critical accident. That would be validated approximately an hour later when the roadside assistance arrived.

I’m grateful I was taking the situation in stride for the man’s emotions and vociferous verbiage would have caused greater anxiety. After he queried me, as to why I hadn’t removed the tire from my trunk and was awaiting him, he was further bewildered as to why the tire was annihilated and not merely flat. He reiterated what I understood when viewing the “blown out” tire. God was with me. I could have been in a serious accident.  I desired only that the emergency be amended so I could continue on my journey to arrive at the training session.

I arrived at the training over an hour late, but remained grateful for days to come that God was with me. I know the incident was inconvenient but was also very blessed God had His loving arms around me. Psalm 46:1 KJV, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

An Any Way Day

As our pastor noted recently, we are a “I want” society. We order our coffee the way we desire it.  We request sandwiches with organic veggies on gluten free bread, using free range meat or poultry, hold the mayo, add organic mustard. For the majority of persons, such orders are not reality, but merely spoken in jest. However,  the list goes on and on for our food to be prepared exactly as we ordered it.  As he shared, if we don’t receive what we desire, we are prompt in voicing our concern. Aside from severe food allergies what happens if something we ordered isn’t exactly correct?

I imagine all of us can say at one time or the other we feel we deserve things “our way.” Why do we believe our way is the “only way?” Over the years, as my life has been filled with more challenges, I’ve realized that when we don’t always have things “our way” it can be a blessing. It may be a food order, or perhaps a service you ordered was not provided as promised. What about the appliance or furniture item you purchased and scheduled to be delivered? Upon arrival, it was broken or not the correct item.  Those miscalculations might give us the opportunity to try something new, save money or maybe even receive an unexpected benefaction.

Do you honestly believe the person making the error did that to upset you? Do we view such situations as an error or assault against us?  Why would the average person knowingly choose to offend a customer? Not only would they have the customer’s wrath, but most probably that of their superior.

Have you ever considered stepping back in time 60, 70 or perhaps even 100 years ago? There was one kind of coffee; black. You could add milk or sugar, but there were no fancy coffee shops. If you dined in a restaurant, you ordered what was on the menu; no ordering it “your way.”  You ate what was ordered “their way” or went hungry.  When you shopped for appliances or furniture, there were few basic choices; unless you were among the wealthy whom could have it “their way.”

What if each of us had an “any way” day; a day that we focused more on others and less on ourselves; the day we said, “anything goes ”.  What If you had to dine on cuisine which was not your favorite or visit someplace which was not among your top ten or even do something that day that you had no desire to do? Do you think you would have gained a gift? If you removed “me”, replacing it with “you”, you may receive gifts far greater than money can ever purchase.  Isaiah 55:8 NIV, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.”

What Glorious Applause

What a beautiful day; dark skies, loud applause of thunder and expeditious rain fall. All were thanks from prayers for endless days of heat without rain.  There is genuinely beauty in all things.  Pilates togs and” tennies” would just have to wait another day. My hectic schedule precluded me from going to the gym this week for my classes and today was no exception.  I was going to savor my coffee in God’s presence.

As I watched the creek behind my house flowing rapidly and freely with His abundant gift of downpour, I was blessed. I reflected on how quickly things change in our lives. Less than eight years ago, I entertained on another patio in a different home for countless friends accompanied by a mate.    Today, I stood alone on the edge of my patio observing the swift waters. The past seven years of my life had been filled with dark and cloudy days, but often void of cool, needed and refreshing rain.

Less than 24 hours previously, the bright sun thrashed my lovely flowers with its’ brilliant rays. Even the daily routine of running my sprinklers and hand watering those fragile beauties, the heat was superior to my assistance. Now I could step back; God was in charge. I watched my struggling flowers lift their heads toward the sky, as they felt the soft drops on their petals. Oh what beauty and what gratefulness!

Like my floral acknowledging their creator for His nourishment today, so too have I been able to lift my eyes and heart to the Lord in gratitude for His gift of trials in my life. For when the rain falls, the drought dissipates, and I am renewed in His splendor. For today I will bask in God’s “sonlight”, be still and enjoy His love for me. Psalm 96: 11-13 NKJ, “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; Let the sea roar, and all its fullness; Let the field be joyful, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the woods will rejoice before the Lord.”

Miles To Go

As I’m reading a book on the different stages of our lives and the prayers during these times, it is seldom that our lives begin and end as a fairy tale. Were our hopes and dreams shattered by circumstances beyond our control?

Three of my six grandchildren are now entering new chapters of their lives; two beginning their undergraduate college studies and one pursuing his advanced degree.  I sent them letters; reminding them of this exciting time, but also a contemplation when they stand on the other side of their life; reflecting to their yesteryears, there will be some exuberant exultations and accomplishments, but also some disappointments. However, when they gave their all, their best, they were victorious.

We hear often, we do the very best we can at the time a situation arises. What was best yesterday or years ago, may seem erroneous as we are standing in the shadows of that time. Nonetheless, it is how we turn the positive and the negative times into opportunities to experience and learn. I never expected to be a single, senior gal, facing life alone. However, this choice was not made by me, but for me. It is now my obligation as God’s child to make it a constructive and optimistic chapter.

I now can give gifts of my time and talents to serve others in my church and community. When married, my focus was on my husband and home. I could spend each day tearfully lamenting my loss, but I choose to find the beauty of those moments.

Marion Stroud cites, “so re-fire me, Lord. Give me a fresh vision of where I am going, and why. Enable me to see what your plan is for this stage of my life and help me to give all I’ve got in the doing of it. If you will lead me on, then surely I will strive with things impossible and get the better of them. “  We can recall also, Robert Frost,” The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”  Matt. 6:34 NKJ, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things…”