Finishing Well . . .

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As I sit for one of the last times on my California deck and look out on my husband’s production legacy, my emotions go from anger to relief and back; with all levels experienced in a plethora of degrees. What is interesting to me is the connection between those emotional extremes to individuals and expectations. I have spent years in recovery from my own emotional garbage and its shrapnel. I have prompted and been prompted to let go of my expectations of others. My admonition has not changed, however the spiritual methodologies become much less standardized when it is my crap that needs to be extinguished. After almost 12 years here in the central valley of California, God certainly has done a transformative work in our lives. We are not the same people who moved here in February 2006 and for that I am grateful. In both the early years of recovery and those prior to it, the unkindness and disrespect that is being portioned to my husband would have been me with a full-on frontal (verbal) assault (without reserve). Now I am conflicted, which is good. Now I know what is right and honorable and I care about that. Now I know what it means to honor God in my response; which is really no response at all. Now I understand that forgiveness is a process and that when I fully surrender and am honest about my own stuff, God shows up and gently moves me through His process. Still, like Paul the good that I want to do I struggle with and the flesh and spirit battle for supremacy. O this wretched body of sin!

So, in this final blog from my California deck, I write and pray for those who have spitefully abused my gentle sweet amazing husband. Though now through gritted teeth, I know God will do His work in me and one day I will look back and see He has helped me lay it all down and fully forgive. God is on His throne. We have moved on and grown spiritually and what remains here is what He will us or work out in those who remain.

His work . . . His way . . . His timing.

Wyoming here we come . . . Thanks be to God for His great mercy and grace towards us!

Sticks and Stones . . .

imageSticks and stones may break my bones but words . . .

Have you ever thought about the effect your words have on people? I was entering an event venue at the invitation of an acquaintance. When entering, I saw this person and was greeted warmly but with the look that says ‘I know I should know you but’, you know the one, right?  It did not bother me in the slightest. Reflecting, however, on our original meeting and invitation, I expected a different response. Though some time has passed and life gets busy, what was clear is that her words had impacted me more than our original meeting had impacted her. Again, I was not hurt or disappointed, it just struck me how causally we use words. We speak and communicate but we are never certain how those words impact or influence the receiver. There is a children’s song that has as a verse,

 ‘O be careful little mouth what you say . . . for the Father up above is looking down with love, O be careful little mouth what you say.’

What we say even in a small group setting impacts and influences others, either negatively or positively. We judge something simple like appearances and comment even jokingly, and these seemingly benign words are received and have consequences. We talk about others, even in Christian circles and even if the person is not present, the hearers of those words forms opinions and thoughts. These thoughts inform behavior and attitudes toward others. Interestingly, when judging another, we typically attribute their deficiencies to character flaws, but when we judge ourselves we attribute those flaws to circumstances. We judge with incomplete information. We do not know everything, or why choices were made. We assume, but we do not know what we do not know. What would happen, especially in Christian circles, where the world is certainly listening and observing, if we guarded our words with as much care as we guard our money or our children.

 John 13:35 says that all people will know we are followers of Jesus Christ when they observe how we love one another.

 Not by how much we give, or stand in opposition to issues and not even how we love the world. The world will know that we follow Christ by how we demonstrate love within our Christian community towards one another. Jesus says in John 12:32 ‘If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to myself.’ The process seems to be we love in community, lifting up Christ by word and deeds and Jesus will draw men to him. People will come to know him.   Words matter whether the person being talked about is present or not. Words impact and influence. I have done my share of damage in this area, but by the grace of God through this insignificant reunion with an acquaintance, I will be careful what I say.

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words have lasting consequences that can destroy.

Does Jesus really get me?

IMG_0225I’ve been reading through Matthew, observing the movement of Jesus through a social context; placing myself, as much as possible within the cultural mindset of his time. I may be  lacking in a comprehensive cultural perspective but trust in the instructional leading of the Holy Spirit, crossing the bridge of interpretation to life application.

Matthew 4 begins with what we know about the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. My favorite words are in the beginning verses where Jesus comes out of a 40 day/40 night fast and scripture records these words ‘he was hungry’. Seriously, I have always thought these were a  wasted of words; a redundant statement. Who would not be hungry after fasting for that long, right? But believing that all scripture is inspired and profitable for reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness, I began to look more closely at these words.

This event in the life of Jesus is often connected to the words in Hebrew 4:14 that say ‘he, speaking of Jesus,  was tempted in all manner as we are, yet without sin.’ Certainly Jesus faced other temptations in his ministry/life but these three were head-on full frontal conflict with the devil and have significance for not only our behaviors but perceptions and thoughts as well.

Jesus was hungry. This was a felt, real need. Few of us know real hunger especially if we live in the United States. But this was 40 days without food. I can barely go a meal before I whine about being hungry let alone 40 day and nights.  The devil’s solution for his hunger was turn objects into substance to meet a need. When I sat with that for a bit, I realized the devil tempts me with the same thing. Turn things into something that meets a felt need. For example, my felt need for security I feed with food or spending or controlling behaviors. A ‘no-thing’to satisfy a felt need. Note too, the devil suggested he make more than he needed. ‘Stones to loaves of bread’, where one loaf would have met his felt need of hunger. How many times do we over-indulge and stockpile rather than simply meet the need? In a world of over-stimulation, we hardly know where need ends and indulgence begins. Everything in this world primes us to over-indulge, to satisfy ourselves after all we are entitled.

Next, look what happens after Jesus counters the devil with the word of God in Matthew 4:11.  After the devil left him, God met his need through his angels, his messengers; a method out of Jesus’s control. Jesus has to wait. I think this speak to delayed gratification which is an element of spiritual discipline.

Finally, Jesus’ antidote for the devil in this temptation back in Matthew 4:4 is ‘man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’. My take on this defense is first, when the choice is trust your feelings, real, as in Jesus hunger or imagined, as in my insecurity, trust what God says in his word. If you don’t know what that is, go search for it, find a mentor, coach or spiritual director but seek out God’s truth. Feelings are based in situations and environments and are not very trustworthy.  What we know about feelings is that often they drive behaviors and for many of us those may be self-destructive or at a minimum self-defeating. Your perception may not be reality but like Jesus, the devil wants you to believe it is reality and wants you to fix it for yourself.  Second, wait on God. Trust his word. While you wait and pray for wisdom and examine your feelings. Is the devil tempting you to substitute objects or activities or relationships to meet a need only God can fill completely? A need God longs to fill if you’ll just wait on him?

Does Jesus really get me? I think he understand what it means to be tempted to meet my own needs with anything other than God. He had the chance to do the same but  he chose to wait and trust; to press through the tension of his felt need and believe his Father had a plan and purpose. He was tempted with the same things we’re tempted with, yet without sin. Like the ultimate coach who has been there and succeeded, we can follow his example and trust him.

Be blessed.


The Right to Become . . .

John 1:12-13 But to all IMG_0225who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

  I am sitting in a hotel room, having evacuated our home for California agriculture fumigation laws, but because our life right now is very stressful, I am grateful for the break in our routine. Daily I am reminded that God is at work often where I cannot see and in spite of my actions or attitudes.  Away from ‘normal’ we have laughed, mostly at ourselves and confirmed new limitations for our age. All in all it has been good emotionally, spiritually and relationally for both of us. Coupled with the completion of a Health Psychology class, this break has given me time to reevaluate my lifestyle and some maladaptive behaviors. Change is hard but it is a necessary process, most often a slow one, for becoming anything different.

In John 1:12-13 the words ‘the right to become’ stuck out today.  This passage speaks both of position and process. When an individual receives and believes in the light, Jesus Christ, they are given the right to become children of God.  A process. .. to become. There is a starting point, receiving and believing leading to salvation, adoption, the entry into the positional kingdom of God as a child. Then the process of becoming, growing into that position and relationship, like a child adopted into a new home, gaining familiarity, growing in a new trusting relationship. I often struggle with feeling like I am enough, yet this scripture encourages me in my inheritance and heritage. I am enough by virtue of being a child of God, born of God, born into His full acceptance. In that relationship I can grow and become all that God wants me to be. He gives grace and mercy in that growing process and like a child learning to walk with his parent close by, He is close enough to catch and protect  when I fall, as I  certainly will. Perfection is not the goal this side of heaven. The process of becoming, the journey of growth with God the Father through Jesus Christ is the goal this side of heaven, filled with grace, truth, love and mercy.  What an awesome, gentle, loving God!

Do not Fear ANYTHING that is frightening you!

It’s been a while since I posted a blog. Not because I have nothing to share. Those who know me well know I have an opinion on most everything, right or wrong. But I sense a movement in my spirit; a transitioning if you will from something to something. If that is vague, it is because it is still unclear to me. I accept that, though not with great enthusiasm. Transition is hard especially when there is no clarity. I seem to want to know where I am going far into the future but God gives me today and no promise of tomorrow for a reason. I might be alone here, but I suspect not, but this often causes me anxiety and I get overwhelmed in the possibilities; paralyzed in the direction, or lack thereof. (Side note: anxiety manifest itself in behaviors such as over-eating, over-spending, anger, conflict to name a few.)

In an interesting passage in I Peter, the Apostle is speaking to a group that has been dispersed into place unfamiliar to them. They are in somewhat foreign cultures without the support of their spiritual community and without leadership. Peter is writing to give encouragement and refocus their discouragement to proper external relationships and internal resilience. He reminds them whose they are and to what they were called. God made a way through them to bring us the gospel. It was purposeful transitioning, but it was causing them anxiety and fear. In I Peter 3:6 there is an interesting phrase that has been the centerpiece of my quite time for several days. Speaking to wives, in a passage often offensive to independent women of today, Peter says this, using the example of Sarah for them/us to follow  “…if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” That’s a transitioning piece of advice. What keeps me paralyzed in what I know to do is fear; fear of failure, fear of judgement and scrutiny, fear of rejection. What raises my anxiety where I do not know the future is also fear; fear of missing God’s direction, fear of being too old, fear of having messed up or messing up.

Let’s remember Sarah, Abraham’s wife who he told to pretend she was his sister to save his own life. Anyone have a spouse like that? This had to be raise her anxiety a bit. The possible outcomes from that situation were endless and harmful to her welfare. Yet she trusted God and obeyed. Sarah is often remember for getting ahead of God with the whole maidservant thing. She is often the poster child for not trusting God for your future. Both extremes provide a full picture of encouragement and example from Peter. It raised the question for me; of what am I afraid and how can I overcome that fear? That list is long for me right now. Choosing a grad school, birth of new grandchildren, developing ABBA Life Coaching, retirement, dying. How can I overcome those fears?

  • Act on what I know in a manner that glorifies God.
  • Live in this moment with a focus toward others rather than myself alone.
  • Trust the God of Sarah, my God and rest in His future grace and guidance.

The God of Sarah and Abraham and Peter has never let me down, ever. He will complete what he began and will give wisdom to those who ask. He will restore the broken hearted. He will restore what the ravens had eaten. His promises are true for those who believe.

Truly an Ebenezer of Grace

From Lander, Wyoming

My 6th grandchild, 4th grandson is five days old today. What a joy this experience has been in so many ways . The list  is too long to fully elaborate but focusing on the high points……

Brayden Victory Hulme is precious, no more precious than my other grandchildren, but different for me in a couple of ways. First I got witness his first breath; watch the expressions  of excitement and unconditional love form on his parent’s faces, and ‘labor’ with my daughter as she worked to bring him into the world. Second, though all my children have been faithful to honor their heritage in name choices, He is my only name sake. Victory is so appropriate because his parents thought he was only a dream, would never be their reality, thought he was in the mind of God, and created with purpose long before Nicky and Jason met. He is truly an answer to prayer upon prayer for me on my daughters behalf, a praiseworthy victory. Perhaps too, for me is the idea of having a name sake. That comes hopefully from some redeeming qualities that his parents would like to replicate in him and those the victories God has won in my  life.  For Brayden Victory, his name will  hopefully serve as a reminder that even when life gets hard, as we know it will, he too can experience the victory modeled by his heritage of faith;  trusting in a loving faithful God, following the example of Christ even when his hope wains and pressing on to his own overcoming victories.

Certainly, I am honored by this loving gesture but I pray God is honored in the life Brayden Victory Hulme has yet to live and honored in the life his parents live out in front of him.  It is the heritage my mother left to me, the one her mother left her and the one for which I have prayed to leave as well. Thank you Lord for Godly parents, broken but victorious in you. Truly an Ebenezer of Grace

Emmanuel, God with us . . .

I recently enjoyed a trip to Oregon to play with my Grandson’s Noah and Liam.  Typically northbound trips include other agendas, but this trip was specifically to enjoy these two treasured gifts from God. If raising my children was a cupcake from God, then having influence in the lives of my grandchildren is the icing and the cherry on top. I suppose in my mind, it gives me opportunities for a do-over, in the places of my greatest deficit with my children. Though I raised them to have faith in God, my life choices often reflected a god other than the living God. Perhaps that is God’s grand design for grand parenting; the opportunity to slow down and enjoy the very things I rushed over when I was younger.

Sharing my heart for grandchildren, a dear friend gave me a wonderful book of devotional readings for children by Susan Lloyd-Jones & Jago entitled Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing. It is atypical and void of the list of dos and don’ts, rather it focuses on the relationship God desires to enjoy with His children. It is profoundly simple and beautifully illustrated and will speak into the heart of any truth seeker, regardless of age.

I had prayed for opportunity with the boys that was unforced and conversation that was meaningfully and God provided. I chose a devotional that reinforced the truth that is profoundly difficult to accept in our culture and read about the three word God was us to always remember, ‘I love you’. Satan’s crafty temptation of Eve in the garden was in the form of a lie; one he continues to use today, ‘God does NOT love you’. His example was the exclusion of a desired fruit on the tree in the center of their God-given paradise. The truth that became crystal clear to me as I read to my grandsons was I often still believe that lie. ‘God does not love me if he does not . . .’ you can fill in the blank with anything from denial of something most desired to loss of what is most highly treasured.  In our consumer mentality where enough is never enough and satisfaction seems elusive, Satan’s lie reduces God to a genie in a magic bottle rather than the lover and salvation of our very souls and the purpose for our existence.  As I pondered this for the remainder of my time with the boys, God began to move me towards a deeper understanding of Emmanuel, God with us. Satan wants us to believe God is against us because God does not respond as we desire. Rather God’s truth is He is with us, not just in the sense of His presence, but in a synergistic way. The picture that comes to mind is of team rowing or sculling. There is a beauty in the synchronized motion of this sport. Imagine if you will, what it would look like if a rowing team were facing in the same direction and rowing in opposite ones.  I think you can grasp the idea. Emmanuel, God with us, is not only attendance, it is movement, originated by him in which we join and follow, like rowing.  God is with us! God is for us! God loves us!

Are there places you, as a follower of Christ, are living like God is against you, believing Satan’s lie? God wants to rewrite that for you and me.  Three simple words God wants us to believe to counteract the lie of Satan, ‘I love you.’ What we believe informs our behaviors, not what we say we believe.

Treasure these words of mine in your heart and in your soul. Deuteronomy 11:18

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21


Be Blessed

Emmanuel, God with us.

Emmanuel, God with us.

Movements . . .

Yesterday was an interesting day. What began with great enthusiasm and focus, ended with a full range of emotions. Yes I did watch the National championship football game and watch my beloved Oregon Duck, get their tail feathers handed to them, but in the midst of that event, I received a text message from my cousin informing me my Dad’s younger brother had died peacefully in his sleep. Instant perspective shift! From investing time in a child’s game (at my age, 21 something is a child,  no offense), to remembering my precious Uncle. From being frustrated, to being grateful for his contribution to my life. I was overwhelmed by loneliness and empathy for my cousin, an only child like myself. Remembering the day both my parents were gone and my feelings that day. Feeling sad for the last Morrison brother as well, who might feel abandoned and alone as I did.
As I sit and write this, I am grateful that our loss is heaven’s gain. I remember the day Uncle Bob turned his life over to Christ. I remember the conversations at the house on Ellsworth, where he lived in a small apartment in my maternal grandmother’s house. We lived there as well so I had daily interactions with Uncle Bob. I remember him sharing in family events, meals, trips and business. I remember when He married his wife, Marilyn, when Robert was born, just weeks before my oldest daughter. I remember their joy at his arrival. For so much of my life, Uncle Bob was a significant part. Then I moved away.
Movement …
It seems life stands still much of the time, but moments of great emotion, either loss or gain punctuate movement.
Yesterday in Matthew 5:1, I was struck by the transitions, the movements in that first verse.
He saw the crowd –He went up into the mountain – When he sat down – The disciple came to him – He opened his mouth – He taught them.
Not only was Jesus’ movement intentional it was observable, even his stillness, and his wait for his disciples to respond. There is no verbal instruction or signaling mentioned here but I suppose it could have happened. However, I think not. I think he waited for them to realign themselves with him. They had observed his movements because Matthew records each of them. Now it was their turn to move towards him. And when they did, when they re-positioned themselves, when they aligned themselves with him, he taught them. The teaching that follows is and was counter intuitive. It would require them to do the exact opposite of what they would do naturally. So they needed to be taught, in order to understand, how he wanted them to live their lives. What their choice to follow was going to require and how it would transform everything, particularly how they thought, behaved and measured.
Two parts, His and theirs.
What do you find yourself watching? Whose movements take up your thought processes? Who will you follow?
My precious Uncle, Robert Lee Morrison, choose to follow Christ. He followed his movement and responded accordingly. Today He’s celebrating in heaven with the object of his focus, Jesus Christ.
You will be missed. Still deeply loved.

Consistency . . .


I have been thinking a great deal about the meaning of this word and how I live it out in my life.  A couple of things my current course in Psychology has taught me is 1) Behavior is purposeful and connected  to my thoughts and 2) I often believe my own faulty story. Being an all-or-nothing thinker, consistency is defined as perfection. Whatever I try to accomplish must be perfect and for me, almost instantaneous. This makes it difficult to observe or celebrate any forward movement as positive progress. First, because it is not finished….perfected and it takes too long.  OK, It does not surprise me if about now you are thinking I’m slightly warped. Or you could be nodding your head in agreement because this sounds very familiar. There are a great deal of people who struggle with this idea of progress versus perfection thought process.
My heart’s desire  is to be consistent because I believe it to be the engine that drives behavioral change. Even small movements practiced consistently over time  will produce change. I have a coach with Precision  Nutrition that has been gently living that process out with me since April, 2014. My measuring system is flawed and I recognize that now.
I was reading in Matthew 4:18-25 today and imagining what kind of thought processes Andrew, Peter, James and John were engaged in when they meet Jesus by the sea of Galilee. He extends a simple, but we now know, profound invitation to these sets of brothers. “Come follow me and I will . . .”. When I imagine myself in this situation as one of these men, fishing, doing life as usual, and  then this mysterious newcomer extends an intriguing invitation, I would be thinking, ‘sure I’ll leave my fishing for a day. No big deal.’ But days turn into weeks, months and years. The word used in all  the gospel accounts of this event was ‘immediately’ they left what they were doing a followed Jesus. They observe him, listen to him, perhaps attend to him and this simple invitation and their consistent, in-the -moment attention changed the world.
An AH HA moment for me. Yes I realize I’m a slow learner….Consistently was measured in small movements, small steps of obedience and over time it was their life pattern; one for which they were willing to die. They had prophetic words that informed them ow what was to come, but initially they followed the man, Jesus, trusting he was who he claimed to be. First intrigued, then they believed his words  and  were transformed one small step of belief at a time, over time.
Consistency is accomplished daily, measured with teaspoons not gallons and each day provides new opportunities to  be proactive, to choose, even to fail and  then regroup and re-engage.  Consistency is bathed in grace and only fully understood in a backwards look marking the place of beginning and movement toward the defined goal. For the brothers it was learning to fish for men by first getting out of their boats, leaving the known for the unknown, being willing to trust the one who invited them.
The invitation is the same today, “Come follow me and I will…..”
Will your response be immediate?
To what is Jesus inviting you?
How will you measure consistency?
Be Blessed . . .