Auld Lang Syne

Here we are again! On the precipice of the new year looking behind us at what was, looking forward to what we hope will be. Wasn’t it just yesterday we were here? The years rolling ever faster like a bolder from a mountaintop.

As I bid farewell to 2021 I do so with joy and sorrow as I do with most years. When I entered 2021 I was fighting what I thought to be the hardest battle of my life. I’ll admit, it was hard. And humbling. But I learned so much. And I hope those lessons never leave me.

I learned that I can endure a lot more pain than I thought I could. I also learned that people care very much, and want to help in many different ways, big and small. I learned that one of the most important things we can do is to treat people as if you will never see them again. There are some that I won’t. And I’m glad I had the chance to be kind and give them my attention. I’ll miss them with no regrets.

As I look out at the horizon of the unknown of 2022, I can say for sure, I will try harder to do that with everyone in my life. There may be things I want to accomplish, projects to finish, trips to take and sights to see…but above all, I want to love the ones I love. In whatever way I can, big or small. Come what may.

Bring it 2022!

Just Calm the F*ck Down

I know, sorry, Christians don’t use that kind of language. But sometimes I have to make someone understand just how serious I am! In this case, that someone is me. And let’s be honest for a minute, more of us use that kind of language than don’t. I’m not talking about all the time, but I’m gonna be real, I use it more than I should. Just sharing my truth…but that’s NOT what this post is about! It’s about me trusting God.

I trust him, right? I mean, what’s not to trust. I have everything I need. I live in the USA for crying out loud. I have freedom. I have a home, food, clothing. I have an amazing family, both by birth and by marriage. My kids are all grown healthy (fairly) well adjusted adults (just kidding kids), in spite of me.

Didn’t God do that?

Then a tornado knocked my house down. Then I lost a really good friend over a bad business deal. Then I lost a really good friend to cancer. Then Covid came and a lot of people got really sick and died. Then I got cancer. Then I had a really close cousin die unexpectedly. Then my stepmom died of cancer. Things got really dark and hard.

Did God do that?

Well, yes and no. Let me explain, at least as far as I can tell.

  1. God made the world and he is in control of it…I’m not saying it happened in 144 hours. I won’t pretend to understand the making of the universe or world. “For you, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours.” Psalm 90:4
  2. God gives good gifts. “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” James 1:17
  3. God allows bad things to happen. “But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence.” Job 1:11-12

    ‭Wait. Stop there. He allows bad things to happen? He gives his permission? Yes. But he uses it for our good. And his glory. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans‬ ‭8:28‬

    So wait, God uses it for his glory? Is he conceited or something? No. That’s the thing. He’s not. He is good. He loves us and wants us, and wants what’s best for us, so he DESERVES praise and recognition for all the good things he has done and will do. And all that he is and all that he’s promised. There’s a through line here and it’s LOVE. Everything he’s done, does or will ever do is because he is love and loves us. His glory will fill the earth.

    So when really bad sh*t is happening to you, you can trust that it’s all for a reason. And that reason is because he loves you and wants you and something good will come from it. Sometimes you’ll see it but sometimes you won’t, but that’s where faith comes in. It wouldn’t be faith if you already saw the end result now would it. So yeah, sometimes when I get worked up over things I have to just look in the mirror and say “Hey! Calm the f*ck down! It’s all gonna be okay! Glory to God in the highest!”

    I’m sorry if this post is offensive to some. But I’ll bet a lot of you get it. I love God, and I’m incredibly thankful for all his blessings. I’d venture to say, even cancer, because God will work it for my good (I have seen it over and over) and even more for His Glory.
    ♥️✝️🩸

2020: Not the Year of Vision We Expected

Not too long ago many of us were reflecting on 2019 and hoping for a more prosperous New Year. With the Year being 2020, we were claiming it to be a year of vision. A year, perhaps of clearing the cobwebs and planning our next moves with a clear vision and purpose. Nine months and now so many are asking how it could’ve gone so wrong. Ready once again to blame 2020 for sucking out our joy.

I may be inclined to go along with that myself, but when I reflect on past years that have included tornados and hurricanes, I also find the gold of new grandchildren, new marriages, the pride of an adult child graduating from college, and the like. So please, I beg you…find some joy. And yes, I know it can be bitter and hard, especially in the time of Covid and natural disasters. So many have lost so much. But we MUST persevere.

This year has been an immense personal struggle for me, starting in January with a shoulder injury and leading up to today with a not so favorable diagnosis of an illness that has plagued me for weeks. But I have prayed, and I have NOT prayed because I couldn’t and didn’t know how, and I have leaned on others to pull me through with their prayers, and I’ve not quit. The thing I want the most is to be here with my family, and play and have joy. Most times that’s easy, and sometimes, I’m so weak it’s hard work. But that song reverberates in my head from when I was a child in Sunday school…do you know the one? Yes, Jesus loves me? There’s a line that says, “I am weak but he is strong.” His Spirit that lives inside of me is strong. So I will come out okay. Better than okay. It’s okay to be weak. He gives us strength for one day at a time, IF we can surrender. Again, not always easy, but this is where peace is found, where strength is found, where hope is found.

If we can just keep loving each other, helping each other, being kind to one another…That’s Jesus, that’s love, that’s where we find Him. None of us gets out alive by the way. So let’s love while we still can. Broken people can still love and be loved…I’m living proof. If you can surrender your brokenness you can find strength and peace now…even in the time of Covid or some other sickness, cancer, or disaster. Maybe our vision is even better than we thought. I for one am finding my brokenness to be a chance to draw near to Jesus heart and learn from his brokenness and find strength in his character and sacrifice. That sacrifice was and still is the greatest gift, his greatest vision. I’ll take it.💙2020

Just my 2cents, Peace ✌️

What Would Happen If…?

…We listened with our not only our ears but also with our hearts?

…We asked questions instead of demanded answers?

…We treated people like they were someone important, holy even, instead of an annoyance?

…We did the work of making ourselves a living sacrifice instead of only giving a portion?

…We forgave instead of holding on to our grudges?

…We strived to be more like Jesus everyday.

We might be ridiculed or persecuted. But we might also be a light that shines in the darkness. I fall, I get up. Repeat.

Lord, help me be kinder, more loving, more joyful, more generous, more forgiving, more grateful, like Jesus for Jesus. ~ Amen

 

Keep Looking for the Rainbow

Since my last post in March so much has happened. It’s been almost four months since Covid-19 started spreading its ugly sickness and confusion in this part of the world. We thought we would have flattened the curve by now, but people got bored with it and started coming out of their houses to save the economy, forgetting that superheroes should wear a mask. I ventured out, with my mask, but didn’t like what I saw. So, back in the house I go, probably until there’s a vaccine. I may venture out again, but only if the superheroes put back on their masks!!

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Also since March we’ve seen marches. Most certainly justified. And again, not just domestically, but worldwide. Huge protests all over the world demanding justice for black men and women who were killed by police and to rid police forces of racist officers. Videos of several arrests of unarmed black men and women were made public, but ultimately it was George Floyd’s death and his pleas for his mother and “I can’t breath” that was the final tipping point. The flood gates have opened and it is my hope and prayer that the changes necessary will happen. #Blacklivesmatter. They do. And as a middle-aged white woman of privilege, I still have a lot to learn.

“The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭9:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

And what about the locusts, murder hornets, fires in Siberia, green snow in Antarctica (I realize this is an incomplete list). 2020 was going to be our year of vision. I think we got the wrong prescription for our glasses. Even though things seem dark and dreary, there is hope. Keep looking for the rainbow. Like the blessing of a pregnant daughter…now that’s SGN (some good news). And I know this will upset some people that I love, but at least Trump’s approval rating is down.

“I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’”
‭‭Hosea‬ ‭10:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I’ve had my own personal and family sadness, injury and distress in 2020 that I haven’t mentioned here. God willing, this year will turn around. I am choosing hope. I am choosing faith. Better yet, I am choosing love. God is good all the time. If you’re reading this, I hope you choose Him.

Stay healthy my friends (in the voice of the most interesting man in the world). Oh, and wash your hands and WEAR A MASK!! 😷

Is this a Twighlight Zone Episode?

Let me start off by saying that I don’t think the novel Corona virus, COVID-19, is a laughing matter.  That being said, I do appreciate a good meme…and this virus has produced some really good ones and I think it’s good to keep a sense of humor in such serious times.  Well people…this one is serious.  Another surreal life moment.  We’re seeing newscasts that feel like scenes from a psychological thriller movie.

The speed at which this virus is spreading seems absolutely ridiculous.  The way it’s taking the lives of vulnerable loved ones is devastating.  The drastic measures we as a global community are trying to take to stop is ravages, the economic effects of which will do more damage than this world has probably ever seen, are unprecedented.

All by a virus so tiny we can’t even see it with the naked eye.

We are in very strange, history making, unpredictable territory here.  As a Jesus follower, I believe this is no surprise to God.  I also believe that He is in control, even though it may feel like He’s nowhere to be found, I mean how could He allow this to happen?  It’s a valid question, and I’m no theological expert, but there are a lot of questions, just like this one, that we don’t have the answers for.  Disease, pain, and death have been a part of the human condition since we were kicked out of The Garden.  As we face a new world crisis, let’s not forget, there are still people suffering for many other reasons, and this will only add salt to the wounds for many of those.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:7

Here’s what I know.  As a community, we must be patient.  There are many, many vulnerable people in danger of death if they contract this virus.  What seem to be ridiculous measures of prevention to some people are not thinking past the inconvenience it is to themselves.  We must be patient, even with them.  As humans, we want to have someone to blame (we’ve been doing that since the Garden, too), blaming politicians won’t help.  As a community we must be compassionate.  There will be a lot of people who have serious economic losses due to this tiny virus.  Help your neighbors in any way you can.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 

As an individual, take stock in what’s important.  Be reasonable, the grocery isles will be restocked.  Be grateful for family and friends.  Be kind to strangers.  Be generous.  Pray for the medical community.  They will need much strength and support.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 NLT 

There’s another facet to this thing that many of us are thinking about, and that’s what the heck are we gonna do for the next few weeks while we’re stuck at home?  Cooking might become common place again!  No live sports?  What the what?  And there’s only so much TV one can watch without losing your mind.  Maybe you could read a book or play some games, work on a puzzle.  Play your guitar, or plant a garden.  We’ve all gotten pretty far away from good old fashioned creative pursuits.  I know, I know…the interwebs and tv’s still work, but just in case you want a change of pace from the media overload.

I can’t step off my soapbox until I say this.  Cover your mouth (and NOT with your hand) when you cough or sneeze and wash your your hands…often.  XOXO (virtual of course).

Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. 1 John 3:18

This is my command:  Love each other.  John 15:17

I wish good health to you all.  Love and prayers. ~Jamie

Welcome to the Fair

Bad things happen to good people.  I hear ya, “your point Captain Obvious?  (Just stick with me a minute).  Bad things happen to bad people, too; but, so do good things.  We’re navigating an unjust world.  But, when I stop and think about that phrase, “Bad things happen to good people,” more often than not the word “Why” stands in front of it, and to tell you the truth, the question is most often directed toward myself…or those I love.

So here’s the rub, and it’s the harsh reality of this fallen world, that’s just the way it is!  As my lovely husband said to me just the other day after a rant about my friends’ passing, “This world isn’t fair, it’s never been fair (or something very similar).  But, now here’s where things get interesting (at least to me), the Word of God says things need to be different with us.  We Jesus followers aren’t supposed to keep the status quo.  We may not be able to control what happens to us, but we do have an obligation as Jesus followers to live a better way.

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?  Micah 6:8

That’s right.  It’s up to us to make this world a fairer place.  Each one of us.  We can’t leave this work to someone else, it can’t be delegated, even if it’s hard.  Especially if it’s hard.  Because that’s when it makes the most difference.

If good things didn’t happen to bad people, we’d never see what mercy looks like.

If bad things didn’t happen to good people, we’d never see what grace looked like.

‘Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.’ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 

‘We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.’ Romans 5:3-5

Again…it’s not always easy to be just (do right), or to love kindness and mercy (don’t give people what they deserve, but instead be kind), or to walk humbly with God (give the credit to him, and not take it for me–“look insta, I did a thing!”) . But it can change the world, or at least the world around me.

I fall, I get up.  But I’ll keep trying.

~peace

leg·​a·​cy | \ ˈle-gə-sē

There are are some people in this world who are so dynamic, so outstanding, so magnetic, they cannot be dismissed. THAT was Cathy Marchel. She wasn’t an island, no man or woman is. But she is somewhat of a legend.

One of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met, she reminded me very much of my sister, Judy, who I also lost to cancer. Dark hair, dark eyes, and a smile that completely lit up a room, I was transfixed by her the moment I met her. She seemed liked she was famous. She eventually would be, if at least to the town of Cleburne.

Cathy and I became fast friends so many years ago, I almost can’t remember, but I do remember meeting her for the first time. Our children were very small; our youngest boys born within a week of each other and our youngest girls within a month, we had a lot in common to build a great friendship. And that we did.

Memories spanning almost three decades swirl around my mind on this day of her funeral. It’s surreal. A woman so vibrant, so incredibly important to a community, can be taken away piece by piece by such a horrific disease as cancer. The injustice of it.

But as my thoughts circle back to the light that she emulated, I realize that there are also few people who can make an impact the way she has even in her death. Another such person that comes to mind is Brody Nelson. These two warriors, who became friends through their sufferings were not just warriors against cancer, but were, and still are, warriors for the Lord, living their lives in such a way to bring light and love into every day. Showing others the love Jesus taught them.

When at Cathy’s funeral, where she made sure Jesus was put on display, the Pastor preached Jesus and personal prayers of forgiveness and reconciliation to God were prayed, Jesus was glorified once again. That’s where the rubber meets the road in terms of legacy. She was instrumental in bringing people to Christ even in her death, as I believe was Brody. And I believe their lives and stories will continue to do so. Now that’s a legacy.

There’s a song by Casting Crowns called Only Jesus that says this:

All the kingdoms built, all the trophies won
Will crumble into dust when it’s said and done
‘Cause all that really mattered
Did I live the truth to the ones I love?
Was my life the proof that there is only One
Whose name will last forever?
And I, I don’t want to leave a legacy
I don’t care if they remember me
Only Jesus
And I, I’ve only got one life to live
I’ll let every second point to Him
Only Jesus

That’s Cathy’s legacy. That’s Brody’s legacy. I pray that’s the legacy I will leave. And I know thanks to them, there are others who will leave that legacy as well.

“For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭7:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As I reflect on Cathy’s life, her tireless good work for the people of this community I have feelings of guilt and inadequacy for my own life, but 2 Corinthians 7:10 reminds me that everyday, I do have a chance to do better. This sorrow is not in vain. It has and will lead to something better. Not only for me, but for many who were at her service and were changed by the invitation to pray and ask God into, or back into first place in their lives.

I thank God that He gave me such a friend. I pray her her light will continue to shine the love of Jesus upon all those who hear her name, her stories and receive blessings from the *foundation formed in her name.

Godspeed my friend.

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job‬ ‭1:21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

*Together the Marchel Family have given our family many years of friendship and light.  They will continue to do so for many others through The Cathy Marchel Community Heart Scholarship.  Donations can be made in person or by mail to Pinnacle Bank Cleburne.

 

Connected I am.

Connectedness.  I think (and I know you all love to know what think) has really taken a big hit in this world of wifi.  What a dichotomy!  The thing that has made us more easily connected than any other generation previous to ours, has at the same time made so many of us less connected, more envious, and more lonely.  We see it everyday in our Facebook and Instafeeds.  Family, friends, and people we follow but don’t even know, doing  and sharing their thing, getting thumbed up and hearted left and right…but how many of these people does it prompt you to call and have a conversation with or get together and share a coffee or a meal with?  Are we all to busy being cool on the interwebs to actually connect with one another?  And what does it mean to connect with someone else?  And why do I think it’s so important?

Well, here’s my two cents, not that it’ll be worth that to a lot of people who read this, but it might be worth it to someone.  And if it is, then it’s worth me spending some time looking at, even if that someone is just me.

I have a lot of voices is my head and a few of them are actually my own.  There’s this one in particular that whispers to me, quite covertly, saying, “open instagram and see what’s up!”  Seems innocent enough.  But ten or twenty or forty-five minutes later, after I’m thouroughly bored and dissapointed, I’m usually ticked off that I wasted the time for very little reward…and now I’m behind on the things to do list, because it’s later than it should be and I still have to run errands and get work done before the bank closes, but I have no clean underwear because I forgot to put the clothes in the dryer!  Sorry, I digress.  But here’s the thing, part of me feels like I “connected” because I see what’s going on with my “friends”, but I didn’t really connect at all!  It’s a sham!  And the same is true when it’s me doing the “sharing”.  Am I adding value or just showing off for likes, like a cute little hastag instadog doing tricks for a bone, or in my case a dopamine hit?  That’s not real connectedness!

Now before you shut me down and say what a bore I am, I’m not saying I hate social media for everything it is.  I enjoy it…sometimes, and it DOES have it’s merits.  I get to see my friends and their families pictures of their beautiful children and babies and kitties and recipies and lots of other cool things.  And lets not forget ads…lots. and. lots. of. ads.

But, here’s the thing.  It’s the thing I started with.  Humans need connection.  Real connection.  And I think social media feeds (pun intended) those of us who, for whatever reason are somewhat afraid of real connection.  And that’s probably a lot more of us than are willing to admit it.  It allows us to hide from true connection because if we can hide behind a screen we don’t have to be vulnerable…with ourselves or others.  But if we can get past our fear of vulnerability, let down our guard and not worry about our mistakes or our percieved dumbness or whatever, let it show and encourage it to show, then we can have real connection.  Not only with others, but with ourselves, and the deeper we can connect with ourselves the deeper and better our connection can be to others.  And yes, this can open us up for rejection, but if we can connect to that part of ourselves that we are trying to hide from with social media or other addictions, we can find the real strength to heal from those things and the rejection we might encounter.

Let’s be real.  Be vulnerable.  Spend some time connecting to yourself.  Find those things in yourself that caused you to not like yourself.  Forgive those people who hurt you, whether intentional or not, even if that person is yourself.  Then you’ll have a chance at real connection with others.  There is nothing more sacred than knowing and being known.  We’re all the same at our core.  Broken and in need of forgiveness.  Start with you, and work outward.  Let’s connect.

Gen. 2:18  God said, “it’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Proverbs 27:9  Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreses the soul.

 

Life and Times of a Ham Sandwich

I have arrived.  I always imagined saying that phrase in a different context.  Perhaps, maybe after writing a hit movie or becoming famous for starring in a pop culture movie, but not for arriving at the sandwich generation.  I guess it’s a destination most of us are headed for eventually, I just never really thought about it all that much.  Well, I’m thinking about it now.  It’s my ever present reality, and it’s surprisingly both a little depressing and fufilling…but not for the reasons you might think.

I’ve always fancied myself someone who would do anything for my family, but in all honesty, I never really made any great sacrifices.  I’m not a single mother.  I’ve never had to hold down more than one job at a time, shoot, there’s many a time I didn’t work at all.  I’m sure I’m not making any friends by admitting that, but I’ve lived a pretty charmed life.  No doubt, I’m very grateful for that.  I’ve had the great opportunity to have the best of both worlds, being a stay at home mom and a working mom, but I now find myself in a very different place.

I’m now in my 50’s and since my children have all grown up and are having children of their own, I’ve been persuing some things that didn’t occur to me when I had kids at home.  Like acting, writing, playing an instrument.  I guess devoting so much time and energy into the upbringing and education of my children, I sort let my own learning and development go by the way.  It’s been fun and fufilling discovering a part of myself that I didn’t really know was there.  It’s kind of like waking up from a late nap and realizing you have things to do and places to go, I’ve kinda felt like I’m all of sudden in a hurry!  But sometimes life imitates art, and in life as in acting, there’s a lot of hurry up and wait.

As I said before, I have lived a very charmed life and I am lucky enough to have both my mother and my father still with me on my life’s journey, although happily (now) divorced.  Now, my mom lost her husband/soul mate about 15 years ago, which was a very difficult time for her, and my children were still pretty young at the time, so when Mac was ill, my mom was still able to care for him without a lot of outside help, God bless her.  But that was then, and time as they say, is no respector of persons.  Recently, my stepmom had to undergo a major surgery and she’s not of an age that recovery has been easy, much the opposite I’m afraid, and Dad has needed us kids to help, as he has had a lot of issues with his health as well.  Vi (Mom2), is improving, thankfully, but it’s going to be a long road, and I have to accept that driving to Houston whenever I’m needed just might be the new normal for a while, but it sure does beat the alternative.

This new journey has brought me closer to my Dad and Mom2 than I have ever been before.  It’s not how I wish it would have been, but we’re all adjusting.  I have a very large family and everyone is willing to share the load.  God has blessed us very much.

Next week, I’m off to sunny Florida to help care for my grandkids while my son goes to training for a new job away from his family.  It will take me away from my husband, it will put me behind at work, I won’t be able to go back to acting classes like I wanted to and I probably won’t finish some projects I’ve been trying to tie up, so yes, this is a time of sacrifice…but I won’t complain.  God is giving me opportunities to love and serve my amazing family just like ham between two slices of delicious, warm bread, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Romans 12:1  Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.