A Place for All Women

Archive for March, 2011

A Gentle Spirit

          He leaned over and with a trembling hand, brought on by the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, he took a paper napkin and wiped the crumbs from the corners of her mouth.  Then, ever so slowly, he picked up a small glass of cold milk, pressed it against her lips, and tipped it just enough so she could take a tiny sip.  She picked up a Pop-tart, always strawberry, and he helped guide her hands so she could take a bite.  Each gesture was repeated over and over until she had enough and motioned for him to stop.

            She was barely able to sit long enough to finish the morning meal.  But he could sense when the pain from her deteriorating spine was beginning to intensify.

          He reached for a hand full of pills, and while her tears were breaking his heart, he took all the time necessary to help her swallow each one.

            By mid-morning, she didn’t know who he was.  The advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease put her in a state of mind where all she wanted to do was leave.  She wanted to go home.  But she was home.  So he would take her by the hand and walk through the house, pointing out the pictures of her three children, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren in an effort to restore her memory.  Yet in her mind, she was a young girl again and  wanted to go home to her mother.  He would continue to calm her as best he could.  She would eventually let him lead her to the couch where he sat next to her, gently placing his arm around her shoulders until she drifted off to sleep.

            He lost track of time as hours turned into days and weeks ran into months. Even after a couple of years, he still kept her at home, caring for her as he had always promised.  

            When she could no longer sit up, even long enough for a small morning meal, he would pull a chair up next to her bed and offer little bites of her favorite strawberry Pop-tarts and tiny sips of cold milk. 

            Then, on a sunny February afternoon, she sat up one last time, smiled at her sweet husband, and gently passed away from him.

            He bent down, hands shaking, and gently kissed her goodbye.


“Be completely humble and gentle;

be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

Ephesians 4:2 

Gentleness is not always a quality I exhibit.  While my heart is often tender toward those who need my help, my actions sometimes speak a different language.  I find myself being impatient, slightly irritated and having higher expectations than the person’s ability to perform the smallest of tasks.  Yet, I see gentleness modeled for me, in the lives of those who follow the Lord.  I thank God he gives us examples, and he gives us many chances to become more like Him. 

          Who models gentleness in your life?  Or, are you the model for someone else? 

“The fruit of God’s Spirit can only be realized in the life of someone who is consistently yielding to the Spirit’s work in his or her life.”

– Priscilla Shirer
  from Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted


“… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5:22-23 NASB 

It’s Time to Leave

            There is a place I like to travel.  The first leg of the journey is sort of  fun.  It seems exciting.  And it gets my blood pumping.  It makes me feel better in the beginning because I never travel alone.   In order to take this trip, I must convince someone to come along with me.  Often times, I will have two or three travelers and we will take turns discussing all that we see.    

           It begins by packing the necessary supplies.  A little injustice goes in the luggage first.  Someone who has mistreated, taken advantage of, or manipulated me in some way becomes the primary target of the trip.  We “rake them over the coals,” then “sift them like wheat,” and if there is anything left we may “preach their funeral.”  It all seems somewhat safe at the time, because, as one of my friends jokes, “It’s okay to judge other people if you are right!”

            It happened again this week.  I wasn’t planning to travel, but I also wasn’t planning to be interrupted, inconvenienced and then imposed upon.  So, I set my sights on another trip…around The Mountain.

            You can read in the Old Testament Book of Exodus about Moses leading the Israelites around a mountain as they trekked through the desert on their way to the Promised Land.  When I hear that story, I always seem to paint myself into that picture with Moses and his wandering tribe as the one who would surely have known better than to turn an eleven day trip into a 40 year fiasco. 

            But here I am loaded down with luggage my fellow travelers and I will inevitably unpack all along the way.  And we’ve done it over and over and over again.                                                                                    

        We start with what the person did, what they said and how they were wrong.  Then we move on to how we feel, what they should have done or what they should have said.  And the further we travel, the angrier we become, the more justified we feel with our multitude of words. 

            But eventually, what some might call a conscience and others might recognize as the Holy Spirit starts to make me feel a little sick inside.  I forge forward more determined than ever to “beat this dead horse” before I have to accept it and move on.  I try to let go of the part of this trip that “no longer serves me”, but I keep on track until bedtime. 

            I get up the next day still burdened by the weight of leftover luggage.  And then I convince another person to help me unpack a little more.  But by mid-morning, there seems to be a transformation underway as my heart starts to soften, and I realize with a familiarity of sadness what I have done, AGAIN!  It brings tears to my eyes as I finally admit I have been down around this judgmental, critical, condemning, gossiping, slandering mountain one too many times.

            I want to take the next exit ramp.  I want to find the road less travelled.  I ask God to help lead me off this WILDERNESS TRAIL!  I ask for forgiveness, again, for enticing others to come along with me on this miserable journey.           

            I can’t change what happened, what was said or what was done.  But I feel certain this is no longer a place I want to travel.

Psalm 19:14 NASB

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock, and my Redeemer.”  

“You can tell you’ve created God in your own image

when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

               -Anne Lamott


We are escaping for a little Spring Break renewal.

A much-needed time of refreshing.

If you need a getaway but can’t seem to find the time,

I highly recommend Even God Rested by author Kim Thomas

I try to read it a couple of times a year as a reminder,

and a permission slip,

for the people pleasing person that I am, to take time for rest.

  It’s available on Amazon.    

It’s Just Girl Talk

                 A few times a week, as my feet slide down over the cool crisp silky sheets on our bed, my husband and son will hear me exclaim: “I LOVE CLEAN SHEETS!”  They will either laugh and agree or roll their eyes and say, “We know! We know you do!”             

          Maybe it’s because we have two small dogs in our home that believe anywhere they can jump, squeeze into, or find large enough to lay down on, is their own personal domain.  Or, maybe it’s because of mornings when work, school, soccer or basketball games override the necessity to make the bed. 

          Whatever the reason, clean sheets provide one of my greatest delights.  I just love clean sheets!  If you’ve never tried to find the fun in that, sleep on some tonight, and you’ll see what I mean.  What better way to end a long hard day than with something fresh and clean and, oh, so comfortable?

            Then there is the smell of my son’s hair…preferably after a shower…not immediately following a soccer or basketball game.  But you know that deep inhale you take that is a part of some sort of primal parenting.   A  friend explains it a bit better when she says:  “You could just sop him up with a biscuit.” Yes, it’s the hint of a scent only a parent could truly appreciate.  Of course, those of you who aren’t parents might try grabbing up a baby (preferably one you know) and just breathing in the smell of Johnson and Johnson baby shampoo.  Ah, the sweet, sweet smell of innocence.

            I love the first bite of a pizza, the last bite of an ice cream cone and the satisfying experience that comes with pulling a succulent crab leg all the way out of its shell without breaking it.  Our family will fight over that last one.  I love to hear my husband’s voice on the other end of the phone when he calls for my opinion, my advice or just to tell me about his latest adventure.   I love watching the daughter, we adopted at age 15, now playing with her own child.   I see what can only be described as mother love.   

            I love the excitement that explodes inside the car when my son jumps in after school with his bulging backpack, busting a gut to tell me all about his day.   I love to stand on the top of snow-covered mountains, squish sand between my toes at the beach, I love an outdoor cafe in the spring and fall, the wind, the rain and the surf.  I love, about as much as anything, to bury my face in the neck of a horse and just savor every second.   I love campfires, kayaking, and puppy breath.  And, I love the sound of crickets chirping late at night as I sit on the front porch swing and take it all in.

            Don’t get me wrong.  I like beautiful clothes, big houses, fast cars, large paychecks and all the other trappings of our material world.  But it’s just girl talk.  I’d love to know… what are the things that you really truly love?  

          Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.  

James 1:17 NIV

I like the way Author Max Lucado sums it up in the line of a poem from his book He Chose the Nails

“Why give a flower fragrance?  Why give food its taste?

Could it be

He loves to see

That look upon your face?”  

Our “To-Do” List

          There is just something so sweetly satisfying about checking items off of a “to-do” list.  It feels like tangible accomplishment and visible success.  Sometimes I start my day with a “to-do” list that includes everything from Bible study to washing the breakfast dishes to taking out the trash.  Each check mark says to me “You did it!  You have achieved something today!”  But as I go through the motions, stimulating my own self importance with tiny little check marks, I still know this is not really what it’s all about.  No matter how many times I applaud myself for putting clean sheets on the beds, dusting the den furniture or vacuuming the entire house, it’s all just a meaningless chasing after the wind.  The dust will return, usually before the day is done, the dog hair will once again accumulate in the carpet and the sink will soon fill with dirty dinner dishes.

            So, I try to set my eyes on God’s “to-do” list.  And, while I don’t always get to mark off each milestone on a piece of notebook paper, I do try to take note of how he is using me.  Sometimes, it’s an email to a friend who is having a hard day at work.  Occasionally, a call comes in from another mother who needs me to pick her children up at school.  More often than not, my husband and I will confer on a work project, trying to decide if we believe it is what God wants, or if we’ve put too much ego in it and Edged God Out.

            All throughout our days, God is using us, partnering with us, and calling on us to help accomplish his purposes, his “to-do” list.  It might not always seem like we are doing something significant.  Some of the things we are asked to do may even be irritating and test our ability to spontaneously serve where we are needed.  But if we are yielded to God’s purposes for our lives, he will give us a “to-do” list, and he will equip us to accomplish it.  

          In a world where our lives can change in an instant,  what we do for God is what will last.        

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus

to do good works, which God prepared in advance

for us to do.” 

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)


Can you pin point anything in your life lately that might have been on God’s “to-do” list instead of your own?

Do you find more satisfaction in accomplishing things for him than for yourself?

Sometimes it’s not whether or not God is working in our lives…but whether or not we recognize him.

The Word According to our Dogs

          Eight hours locked in a house without a bathroom break, ten to 12 hours in the big outdoor kennel, an hour waiting in the car, or five minutes out of sight.  Each and every time we are away from our dogs, they go crazy when we return. 

            If you ever feel unloved, just go get a dog.  They will love you with complete abandon.  It doesn’t matter what you have done to them, where you have left them, how you yelled at them or the last time you fed them, each encounter is met with unconditional, anxious, excited love.

            Jesus said in Matthew 22:37 that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all  your mind.”  We are in essence, gods to our dogs.  We are their masters.  They totally exhibit the kind of love I believe Jesus is describing.

            If we really admit to ourselves that all good things come from him, that everything we are and everything we hope to be is from his hand, how could we not just lavish our love on Him?  Sure, he sometimes pulls his presence back a bit, he leads us into the wilderness on occasion, he disciplines us and refines us, but he never fails to provide for us or love us right where we are. 

            Everything he does for us is for our good to draw us closer to him, to seek his hand of favor.  And isn’t that what our dogs want from us…our hand of favor?

            Of course, after a romp in the woods, returning home covered in “stick-tights”… much like us, and our own messes, they are mostly just looking for a little mercy!

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