Monday, April 29, 2024

...where the wind comes sweeping down the plains!

 March 4th, I excitedly posted my Week 1 Pantone Color Challenge complete with some beautiful sunsets as my inspiration.  I quickly obtained the perfect peach fuzz tone fabric and put it on the back project shelf.  That shelf is kind of like a doomsday sentence because I got caught up in some other projects because the end of April was practically two months away.  Ha!  Suddenly I was caught up in the "I've got to get this done" panic because I knew I was headed out of town for the weekend.  Here is my official entry for the 2024 Challenge!

Let me share a little about my inspiration.  It's much deeper than just a picture, it's a core memory.  I grew up in western Oklahoma where it felt like you could see forever.  As an adult, my favorite view we referred to as Minco Hill (just south of Minco but before Pocassett), it takes my breath away every single time! My Dad taught me to drive that road when we'd head to visit my grandparents in Verden.  Later, my parents came to own the farm where my great-grandparents had lived and it included the old windmill. The view, the sunsets, the windmill-I knew these had to be represented. When I saw this picture on Facebook, shared by Gina Menzi Blakemore on the "Keep the Lights On-Save the Family Dairy" page, I knew I had found the perfect sky for my jacket! 

While I was in Oklahoma this weekend, I took a few minutes to stop by and visit with my Dad at his memorial bench at Theta Pond on the Oklahoma State University Campus.  I'm pretty sure he really would have liked this jacket!  My jacket back measures 24 X 16 and I'm calling it "Where the Wind Comes Sweeping Down the Plains".  I used a method I learned in a Shannon Brinkley Workshop.  I quilted using an Edge to Edge wheat design from Prostitcher.  I used a windmill embroidery from Grand Slam Designs. Thank you Sarah and Elizabeth for hosting this challenge and encouraging me create a special memory to wear!!

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Paradigm Shift

My favorite color has always been RED. Red is a bold color. To me, it's the color of bravery, honor, love and even strength.  Red had it all.  When planning our wedding it was easy to decide on the color red.

My least favorite color has always been yellow.  Yellow is a weak color.  To me, it's the color of sickness, mild and meek,  just blah. It seems to wash out and pale in comparison to my beloved red.

I remember my first brush with the color yellow.  My hero, my older brother, had been dating his high school sweetheart and proposed; they were planning their wedding.  She picked yellow.  Oh no!  I was only ten but I was sure this was a sign of disaster.  Yellow bridesmaids dresses and the cake lovingly baked and decorated by my mother was white and covered with daisies. Yuck and double yuck!  Somehow I made it through. (40+ years later they're still happily married with three kids and NINE grandkids!!)

Several years ago, my daughters were a part of the youth group at a local church. Of course they needed adult volunteers and I begrudgingly said yes to helping.  Somehow I found myself with a group of seventh and eighth grade girls.  One of the things I did was strive to really get to know these girls and of course I asked their favorite colors.  As we went around the room I heard many colors that were pleasing to my own personal preferances then one young lady replied with the dread "yellow." >>blech<< She was such a sweet girl with an incredible life story but she loved the color yellow.  For the life of me I just couldn't understand loving the color yellow. 

Then I found myself in 2018 & 2019. Adulting had gotten really hard. My parents were in the midst of their descent into #damndementia, Handsome was needing/having back surgery, I was traveling to DC with 27 teenagers then returning home to hernia surgery, my friend Tamara was diagnosed with and fighting a stage IV glioblastoma. One of the happiest, most perky, sassy fun loving friends was handed this dreadful diagnosis and guess what her favorite color was...that's right yucky yellow. (Imagine if you will my eyes are actually leaking as I type...) 

Visiting T in the hospital, we stopped at Walmart on the way and got shirts.
We used Duct tape to create "Team T" shirts!

Tamara was part of our group of moms lovingly known as the "Mom Squad." (This group was "legend" when I met them, they welcomed me with open hearts!) We became family because we all had kids who were members of the Ozark Youth Shooting Team.  This group is a little different than your other sports because from October through the end of July we spent our Tuesday evenings together.  In February (through the end of July) we added in spending all day together every Saturday.  We traveled together to competitions all over Arkansas and also traveled to New Mexico and Pennsylvania together.  We came to consider one another family.  When one of us hurt, we all hurt so when Tamara got sick, we all felt the sting.

The year Tamara spent fighting flew by quickly. I texted her most mornings with a "T-sky" you know those beautiful billowy white clouds on a canvas of first we would text a bit but it got to where she'd simply respond with a smile emoji, then a "y", then no response because her body wouldn't listen to her brain. I would visit with her and she would smile. I could see the love, faith and fight in her eyes. I would greet her with a gentle hand squeeze and before I would leave her another gentle hand squeeze and a kiss on her forehead. The last time I saw her, she didn't open her eyes...perhaps it was my imagination but when I told her I was going to give her a forehead kiss I believe I could see her slightly tilt her forehead toward me. A few days later, she was gone.

You know what wasn't gone?  That's right...the color yellow. I began to look at it differently. 

Yellow isn't the color of weakness, it's the color of quiet strength.

Yellow isn't the color of sickness, it's the color of fighting for health.

Yellow isn't mild, it's fierce, strong and healthy.

Yellow isn't meek, it's bold and unyielding; brave.

Yellow isn't blah, it's spirited and full of life.

I see yellow differently these days.  I've experienced a paradigm shift. When someone asks my favorite color I proudly tell them it's yellow. Not a day goes by without my thinking of our Sweet T.  When I see the beautiful clouds on that beautiful blue canvas in the sky, I know she is there.  The yellow cannas in my flowerbed and my yellow coffee mug remind me to be strong, fierce, brave and most of all full of life.  



Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Jesus thou art all compassion....

What's your favorite song??? There are so many to choose from but I'd have to say mine is...well if I had to narrow it down to my favorite, favorite I'd have to say "The Sound of Silence" by Disturbed.  But if you want to see some of my select favorites (including Banana Pancakes) you can visit my "Dead List" at Spotify- DanaAlexa Hope. Think back to being a teenager, heck still as an adult-we hear a song and we try to figure out the meaning behind it.  Sometimes we can find out exactly what the artist was meaning other times it's simply left up to what it makes us feel liks it means.

How about your favorite book???  Wow, I've read so many in my life but I think I'd have to select either "Option B" or "The Gift of Pain." I love reading books with friends and then discussing them.  It's incredible that when a group reads a book, there will be as many interpretations as there are people in the group.

My favorite movie happens to be "Shawshank Redemption." If you must ask why I don't know if we can even be friends!  Is it Tim Robbins, is it Morgan Freeman, is it the great line-"...get busy livin' or get busy dyin'," or perhaps it's the way Andy took punishment for what he didn't do then-well you'll have to watch the movie if you haven't!

My favorite color used to be red but it's drifted more to yellow.  My favorite shoes used to be Chacos but now it's my Birkenstocks. My favorite food changes depending on what I'm hungry for and my favorite drink is sometimes water but others I love a margarita with no salt.

All these things have a common thread-they are all open to interpretation.  My interpretation.  No one has the right to force me to like a song, book or movie or to get the same message from them.  Three major faiths share a belief in one God-Judism, Christianity and Islam all found their beginning in the Old Testament of the Bible.  They have many common threads but they've been woven by different interpretations (human interpretations of a book inspired by a diving God).

This week, my heart has really been with Texas and their ruling on abortion.  $10,000 reward for reporting an about $10K for every rapist you turn in?  I don't really want to debate whether abortion is right or wrong.  It's not an option I could imagine choosing but I don't feel it's right to take the safe option away from women who may want to choose abortion.  Compassion. That's all I have to say about that.

Church today spoke to me.  Keep in mind I don't know if how it spoke to me is what Heath had in mind. The things I share are the interpretations of me-not anyone else.

The highlights I quickly jotted down were:

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

All the Tea

Several months ago one of my Wednesday night girls came in and exclaimed "I've got so much tea!!!"  I had no idea what she was talking about but each week we start our small group with "happies & crappies," "glads & sads," "highs & lows" whatever you want to call it, we share about our week. The weeks went on and I kept hearing references about the "tea" or one of them saying, "spill the tea!" I finally asked and they giggled and groaned as they explained that "tea" was information and when one "spills" the tea they're telling it.  I've been sitting on some "tea" of my own, trying to decide the right time to "spill" or even if I should spill it at all. Time is slow right now so I thought perhaps spilling all the tea would be okay.

First thing every morning I put the kettle on to boil water for a hot cuppa tea.  I used to enjoy London Fog-Earl Grey tea with vanilla, stevia and cream-the perfect delight. I transitioned to plain Earl Grey then finally to English Breakfast, there is something soothing about wrapping my hand around the hot mug and breathing in the steam as I take that first sip in the mornings. It is a constant steady (hot tea in my live*laugh*love mug) in my otherwise chaotic life (a whirlwind of busy just like everyone else).  I changed my tea November 14, 2019 little did I know that day would prove to be a game changer in my life.

I've had a dysfunctional relationship with food my entire life. I remember in elementary school at picture time, not only was I tall and in the back with the boys but I was the "big" girl. I could never wear the cute clothes because they didn't make them in my size, I was wearing hand-me-downs from my sister (who was 8 years older)!  I was in junior high when my scale first showed the number 200, I cried but I didn't know how to make it stop.  Everyone made excuses--you're just big boned, you are really tall, you have such a pretty face, look at your beautiful hands.  Really?  My beautiful hands???  The summer before I turned 16, my mom took me to a "fat" doctor.  I don't remember his specialty, his name or anything else about him except a girl from my town was going also; it was a miserable failure that only made me feel worse about myself.

College turned into a real time of self loathing.  I went to a college 12 hours from home, there I learned to chug a beer, mix everclear with strawberry soda and totaled my car.  I returned to my parents home and was miserable.  Alcohol does not make you skinny and happy as a matter of fact, it makes you fat and miserable.  It makes you so miserable that you do dumb things for example, I rented an apartment, made arrangements to transfer with my job and didn't tell my parents until the day before I moved.  Needless to say I wasn't a very good daughter for a few years.  My college boss lives here in Bentonville, I bumped in to him and his wife a few weeks ago, we were reminiscing about our time in Weatherford.  I told him how much I appreciated him, Virginia, Carol, Rusty and the other managers who could have fired me (and several other college kids) more than once but they believed in what the future held for us...thank goodness!!  There is no telling how many young lives they impacted by them being good role models and encouraging us to be better persons. I "wanted" to lose weight but somehow the twice monthly, payday keg party seemed to only add to my scales number.

Then I met Handsome.  The guy who held my head out of the toilet when I was vomiting because I drank to much beer as he exclaimed, "you have to stop doing this or you're going to kill yourself."  A few weeks later he said the words that would change my life, "I want you to be the mother of my children..." he wanted to marry me.  Damaged, broken, fat, drinks too much, hates to wash dishes, dropped out of college, me.  Just like that, we were married the next year and my days of drinking too much and self loathing were gone.  Okay, the drinking was gone but the self loathing lurked, hiding in the shadows for many more years.  My weight stayed way too high but I was in love. I became a mom (gaining only 16 pounds while pregnant due to the urging of my doctor). I avoided the camera like the plague.  I still can't look at pictures from that time without cringing.  It didn't get any better with child number 2 or 3.

When Jess was a few years old I started seeing commercials for Metabolic Research Center, I signed on the dotted line.  I followed their very restrictive eating plan and drank my 5 >FIVE< high protein drinks every day.  I was the model client who consistently lost pounds and inches at every weigh in, I had my pictures in their lobby and I was interviewed with them by a local radio station for advertising.  I lost 100 pounds, I was still miserable. I was happy with how my body looked but they weren't happy with the number on the scale because it didn't meet their standard for my height, they wanted me to lose more, I wanted maintenance.  I quit.  I vowed I wouldn't gain it back.  I gained every ounce back and the weight brought friends.  It was awful!!!

Fast forward a few years-I became really good as pretending like everything is great but inside I was miserable.  I hated being around people because in my mind, where that self loathing is lurking, I was confident that EVERYONE looked at me as the fat lady, always the largest in the room.  But I've got a great personality and beautiful hands.....I'm miserable inside. I jumped onto another WOE (for those who aren't professional dieters that's Way of Eating), Paleo.  How lovely it was eating like a caveman-lots of bacon, butter, whole milk-no flour, no sugar, no processed foods.  I lost, people were noticing-I began to give into my cravings every now and thing I knew I was back in my fat clothes.

November 2019, I finally looked up Intermittant Fasting.  I had seen the word a few times but didn't really know what it meant.  My initial thought was those people must be crazy, some of them fast 72 hours at a time!  Who goes without eating that long???  Crazy people had to be the answer.  I finally reached out to a friend, a friend from those college days, you remember the keg party days...she led me to a group called Delay Don't Deny.  I bought the book and thanks to Amazon Prime it arrived in my mailbox two days later, I read it cover to cover.  It made sense.  It made more sense than all the diets I've tried.  It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle.  It puts ME in control not food.

On November 14, I fasted for the very first time, sixteen whole hours.  It was easy.  I TOLD NO ONE. I didn't want my family to think, "great, Mom's on another wacky diet again....I wonder how long this will last."  Within a week I was fasting 18-20 hours a day. My family was noticing my eating behaviors had changed so I told them what I was doing.  I think Handsome was a little skeptical at first but I promised him it was safe and read him passages from Gin's book.  I became excited about food.  I tasted things I haven't tasted in years, I crave fruit, veggies and granola in yogurt.  I understand that food is a fuel to provide energy and nutrition because I can feel it working in my body.  I can feel it working in my body!!!

I have learned the difference between actual hunger and mental hunger.  I have picked up new phrases like, "my window isn't open but I'd love to take one of your cookies home to have with my dinner this evening."  My favorite is going out to eat with friends and ordering whatever suits my tastebuds from the menu then not being able to finish it because I now know what full feels like (it happens WAY before miserable).  I'm sleeping better at night.  I'm waking up more refreshed in the morning.  My inflammation has decreased.  My cholesterol has gone down and I've been able to reduce my medicine. I've become aware of the unhealthy relationship I had with food. The biggest benefit, my self loathing lurker is almost completely gone.  Am I still overweight?  Absolutely.  Will I ever weigh the government standard for my height, not likely. I'm morbidly obese.  I will be morbidly obese for a while, I didn't get here overnight.  My clothes have gotten a bit looser, my face and neck have more definition.

Here we are in this quarantine and I'm not stress eating which is something I have done my entire life!!  As a matter of fact I feel releived because food is something I can control right now. The occasional rumbles in my tummy aren't hunger they are my body using the fuel I gave it for dinner last night.  I have hesitated spilling the tea about my new relationship with food but when I woke up with "Loathing" from Wicked in my head this morning it felt like a sign.  It's time to kick the self loathing to the curb!!

A friend used the phrase, navigating the new (thanks Dana @ Dr. Deckers office) back before Christmas.  I wrote it down because I liked it so much.  Here I am at 50 living the crazy blessed life as I navigate the new ME!

(I now fast 20-23 hours a day.  I eat whatever I want!! If I'm going out with friends or family I simply adjust my time.  No guilt,  no shame,  no calories,  no macros just enjoying.  My body does the rest!)

Sunday, February 2, 2020


I was thirteen
when she died.
I know I knew her but I'm sad,
 because I didn't know her enough.

Grandma, top left in the dark. 
That's me in the middle.
I couldn't find another picture of
us together. 
There is not a single day that goes by without me thinking about her.  About the hot rolls she made and how she'd pinch the dough off in balls between her thumb and forefinger.  About the toaster she had that sat on a little red wooden stool in her kitchen and could toast SIX pieces of bread at the same time!  About the polyster blouses that buttoned up the front, well worn, with bold patterns. About the twinkle in her eye as she would throw her head back and laugh, a deep, whole body laugh that came from the depths of her soul.  About the meringue on her coconut cream pie that was at least a foot tall every time!  About her toes that were permanently crossed so she had to wear open toe sandles and the huge corns on her hard working feet. But most of all I think about the person she was, the magic that made her well, her.

Grandma was the "driver" in the family.  When I was a kid they would drive from Pocasset all the way to Weatherford to watch my brother play football, Grandma always behind the wheel of what I remember as a big yellow car!  She always had a headscarf and a pocket full of tissues; she was usually bringing something delicious to eat along with her.  I don't remember how old I was when she gave me a quilt she had made. It wasn't fancy and pieced but it was made with love.  The underside fabric was simply an off white cotton muslin and the top was printed-it looked like square pinwheels.  Rather than being quilted, it was tied with a heavy yarn.  My brother had one, my sister had one, my mom had one but mine was all mine.  Being the youngest in a penny pinching family during the early 70's having something that belonged just to me felt important!  (Kind of like the time I got to go by myself and spend the night with them, Grandma and Grandpa took me to Dairy Queen  in Chickasha.  I had french fries, a footloong chili cheese dog, a soda and of course a dipped ice cream cone!! I still remember the bright red slanted roof, the windows all around and how special it was to eat out at a restaurant!!)

My mom was born in 1937, a few years ago I took her on a "cemetery" tour.  We drove through the areas she had lived as a child and visited the graves of relatives long gone.  She told me about my Grandpa tending fields where straw was being grown for brooms, other fields where she had picked bowls of cotten until her fingers bled as a kid, the area by the river where they lived when she was born.  She wove stories together that day, so many stories!  One chord that rang through all her stories was one I had heard my entire life Grandma knew how she to make something from nothing.  She was one of the farm wives who turned feed sacks into clothing for her children, she knew how to stretch the food when times were hard so no ones belly went hungry.  She worked hard on the farm right alongside Grandpa and their kids.

Flash forward to 2012, my parents moved to our neighborhood.  Mom was spending more and more time with her sewing and embroidery machines.  A dear friend gave her a small quilt, when she showed it to Handsome, his response was "when are you making me one?"  She made him one all right, she made him a California King!!!  It was incredible.  After that, she was on fire and made quilts for all of her grandkids, great grandkids and six P.E.O. quilts!! In 2018, a dear friend was diagnosed with a stage IV glioblastoma-I collected fabric from our mutual friends because Mom said she'd make a quilt for "T."  What I didn't realize was that I would get to do all the cutting!!!  Like a strike from lightening bolt, I felt a connection.  I needed to quilt.

I've been in love with Cathedral window quilts for years!  Feeling the need to quilt but not really having a space to quilt or the time to spend cutting, piecing and sewing at a machine. I began to research how to make Cathedral windows, by handsewing.  In June, I finally made the decision to use black Moda grunge fabric for the window panes and scraps from Mom's quilts for the stained glass.  I currently have 60+ squares completed BY HAND.  I've begun machine sewing four squares together.  I'm currently "holding" on it until I get scraps.  But I've got it in writing that my goal is to have a throw size quilt completed from them by December!!

As fate would have it, my friend Shirley had a flat tire on the day of her quilt guild meeting.  The store was out of her size tire so she asked if I'd drive her.  Susan R Michael was the speaker that evening and she brought with her some of her work.  It was incredible (click on her name, go look, specifically "Circular Infinity").  The ladies in the guild were so nice, they have a "show & tell" time and their work was simply inspiring.  I knew that was where I was supposed to be!

Handsome got me a great sewing machine for my 50th birthday.  The ladies at Rogers Sewing Center were ah-mazing, Queen Ellen is happy in our home! (EverSewn Sparrow QE) On January 21st, I went to quilt guild without Shirley (she'd had surgery the week before) and I made a new friend.  I shared my goals with her.  As we said goodnight at the end of the meetings she looked at her watch and remarked, "It's early, you could go home and get your machine out of the box!"  Even with the desire, I hadn't taken the time to get it out of the box and set up to sew.  I went home and got "Queen Ellen" all ready to go!  On Thursday during Daisy's puppy school, I went to JoAnn's and got fat quarters so I could get started on The Ultimate Beginner Quilt!! I'm working on block six today!

Grandma's name on her birth certificate was Roxie Anna Hamit.  Everyone called her Jackie but I can remember some even calling her Jack. I have no idea why.  It's one of the questions I would ask her if I knew her...enough. With every cut, every piece, every stitch I feel her nearby and that is somehow enough.  This afternoon, I pulled out my quilt she made me as a kid.  It was a little more tattered around the edges but the sight of it made me smile throw my head back and laugh with Grandma's gleem in my eye.  You see while she didn't piece my quilt on the outside, there is a treasure hidden underneath and I can see it was a loved old quilt that had been done by hand.  Something from nothing. Well played, Grandma!

Monday, November 11, 2019


A couple of times a year our preacher gets a Sunday off and occasionally he asks me to fill in for him!  I consider these opportunities to be "gifts."  Speaking at church stretches me outside my norm but it gives me a captive audience for a few minutes while I share with them a little about my Jesus!  Yesterday was no different. Writing the kind of message that takes 10-15 minutes to deliver requires significant thought, listening, waiting, thinking, waiting some more, wondering if I'm going the right direction, waiting and finally transferring it from my brain to the written form so I can get the thoughts out of my mouth on Sunday morning.  I have gained a new respect for Heath-the mental and emotional energy that it requires is almost draining but then you have that high, that rush if you will, when you finally share what has been "tormenting" you.  I've never shared my written message but with this one, I had so many signs pointing me toward this message I feel it's only right that I share it here.  Please keep in mind the following is not perfection-gaps were filled in by the his spirit and the words that actually came from my mouth yesterday.  I hope though that when you read it, you'll get it. { YH-WH } As I am sitting here in the quiet before the rush this morning, I can not only feel his presence as I breathe, I can hear my breath whisper his sacred name.

This week on Facebook, a friend posed the question: what do you do for self care? I gave an answer as did several of her friends.  What do you do when you need a little self TLC? The answers varied from a shower to the beach, walking outside to some Ben & Jerry’s.  I bet if Heath were here he’d probably think a really tough workout of the day at crossfit-that definitely wouldn’t be self care for me! But one of her friends hit the nail on the head…”self care is whatever makes you feel good, feel happy, brings you joy and fills your cup.”  Could there really be a one size fits all self care solution? We’ll come back to this in a bit….
Hebrew Tattoos
Many of you know I love the Hebrew language.  I was working on this message and kept coming across the Hebrew word “ruach” which can mean wind, breath or spirit and appears 389 times in the Old Testament. Scrolling through Instagram last night and Gabriel Wolff who is the artist who designed my Hebrew tattoo just posted his latest-ruach.  When we listen, even with our eyes, there are signs when we’re on the right path.
Humans are designed by God to breathe.  Really! In Genesis 2:7 we’re told that “God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living soul.” Throughout the rest of the Bible, breath is often equated with life itself with many allusions to God as the giver of breath.  Let’s try a little experiment to see how important breath is. I’ll count to 3, we’ll all take a deep breath and hold it….one, two, huuuuuuuh, three! Didn’t work too well, did it? We are vulnerable and completely dependent on God-without BREATH we would die in just a few minutes. Breathing is a vital system, necessary to sustain us.
There is a prophesy found in Ezekiel, chapter 37: (I used the Message because I loved the way it sounded in my head. When you read this silently to yourself, don't read the numbers. Imagine Ezekiel receiving this prophesy from God, feel what he felt when God grabbed him and was set down among the bones. Use separate voices for God and Exekiel...when I read aloud, it was a "dramatic" reading with hand gestures, loud voices, quivering voices and excitement!)
1-2 God grabbed me. God’s Spirit took me up and set me down in the middle of an open plain strewn with bones. He led me around and among them—a lot of bones! There were bones all over the plain—dry bones, bleached by the sun.
3 He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
I said, “Master God, only you know that.”
4 He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones: ‘Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!’”
5-6 God, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach tendons to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am God!”
7-8 I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Tendons formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them.
9 He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy, son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master, says, Come from the four winds. Come, breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’”
10 So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army.
11 Then God said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Listen to what they’re saying: ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there’s nothing left of us.’
12-14 “Therefore, prophesy. Tell them, ‘God, the Master, says: I’ll dig up your graves and bring you out alive—O my people! Then I’ll take you straight to the land of Israel. When I dig up graves and bring you out as my people, you’ll realize that I am God. I’ll breathe my life into you and you’ll live. Then I’ll lead you straight back to your land and you’ll realize that I am God. I’ve said it and I’ll do it. God’s Decree.’”

Dry bones were shown to Ezekiel but in reality they still had flesh They were weary, they had been sent into exile and left there.  They felt that God had abandoned them. Even though his judgements on Israel were stern, in this instance 70 years in exile-he is equally gracious.  Through Ezekiel he reminds his covenant people that he will bring them out of exile and back to Israel with renewed life that will be seen clearly as a gift from the Lord of the universe. 
How many times do find ourselves in a self imposed exile? We forget the very breath of life that was graciously given to us? We stay “busy” running ourselves to the point of exhaustion.  Our days fly by in a blur as one month fades into another year…we begin to have physical signs of our deprivation-our head hurts, our feet hurt, we aren’t eating like we should. Anxiety, depression are both on the rise and we look to our doctor for the magic pill to help us center ourselves, lower our blood pressure, erase the bad cholesterol when what we really need is to do is hear his voice… ”I AM GOD, I’ll do it. I’ll breathe my life into you and you will live.”
People of the Jewish faith are forbidden to pronounce the sacred name of God.  His real name is BEYOND pronunciation, unless you consider breathing a pronunciation.  So, it makes profound sense for at least one of the names of the real God to be not a Hebrew word, nor a word in Egyptian, or Latin, or Greek, or Arabic, or Sanskrit, or English - not in any single language but in all of them, or in some form of expression that both underlies and transcends language: just breathing, which all humans  do.  
Scott Erickson
Occasionally things you see on social media can have a positive lasting impact on your life.  Earlier this year an event showed up as something I might be interested in on Facebook. It was called “Say YES”  a liturgy of not giving up on yourself. My initial reaction was to ignore it but it appeared again…again I dismissed it.  When it showed up a third time, I googled this Scott Erickson guy and I found that I really needed to say YES. Earlier this week I had no idea what I would be speaking to you about today but I knew the right words would come.  When I saw this artwork from Scott on Thursday I exclaimed “I found it!” So please, close your eyes while I read his words continue to breathe deeply in and out and see if you can “hear” the sacred name of God---
You cannot be separate from God.

Our word God is rooted in ancient definitions of the Divine. All of humanity has wrestled his Holy Mystery. The Hebrews themselves, who struggled even mentioning any Name for this Mystery, used the sound YHWH to describe the I Am Who I Am. .

“YAH”. “WEH”. The very Name is our breathing. The very name of the Holy creator is the ongoing breath of every living thingYour life is sustained by elements you are not in control of. You do not make your heart pump. You do not make your lungs breathe. Your great mistake is to believe that your connection to life is up to you. All you must do is rest in the providence of unconscious sustainability.

You can not be separate from God. Your very breath is evidence of this.... whether you believe in God or not.

Receive the Holy Presence found in your own breathing. 
When you can hear his name as you breathe, you have given yourself the ultimate gift of self care.  It’s definitely one size fits all, it’s free, it’s plentiful, you can do it anywhere and when you concentrate on it you deepen your connection with God.  
I heard last time I filled in for Heath some of you gave him a hard time because I usually give a message with a small token.  I am a very tactile person-so when I have a token to remember a message by I hear the message again and again when I see or touch the item.  A few years ago I was coming home from one of my many trips to Oklahoma and found a “thumbprint” prayer token. Yesterday afternoon, Ted, Melissa and I took some time to play with clay, roll it in to balls and pray over it as we squished it into these tokens on the kneeling rails.  While our wonderful music team shares their talents with us, please come forward like we do for communion and select a thumbprint prayer token to help you remember that when Jesus appeared to his disciples, John recorded the event by writing, “He breathed on them and said, ‘receive the holy spirit.’”  Come, breathe….

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

"Alvin" my friend

I can't remember a time in my life when I didn't love rainbows.  Even though I'll be 50 in a few months the childlike excitement comes right back every time I see one in the sky! Magic, wonder, awe, hope, trust, promises and smiles simply because of a little light refraction; the reminder of a promise made long ago by a faithful God. 

As a teen, I was a member of the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls-an organization for the daughters and granddaughters of Master Masons and their friends.  I loved being part of this group of young ladies who served the community, had memory work that centered around scripture and made friendships to last a lifetime.  We wore dresses to our meetings with legs never crossed above the ankle and wore formal dresses for things like officer installation, initiation and dances with the Demolay!  I loved all things rainbow.

I've shared with you all before how my first memory of having a "gay" friend was in high school when a friend turned around in class and quickly told me she was gay.  I still consider her one of my dearest friends, I value her and the memories we share more and more the older I get.  Little did I know that day in the mid-1980's that the symbol of the rainbow I hold so close to my heart would become the widely known symbol for gay pride.  The first flag was dyed by hand and stitched together in 1978 for the Gay Freedom Day Parade in San Francisco.  A fun fact of irony-a San Francisco flag company began selling surplus Rainbow Girl flags that day...

From the King James Version of the Holy Bible:
Genesis 9:14-16 King James Version (KJV)14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
 Every living creature of all flesh

Take a moment and let that sink in.

The other day I heard someone mention how sad it made them that the meaning of the rainbow had been changed from the bible, going on to imply almost a disgust for the LBGT community.  I happened to be sporting my 2019 Pride Converse (black Converse, rainbow sole and shoe strings).  I literally had no response, I love this person-we're friends; but still my heart hurt.  All I could do was whisper to myself, "I do set my bow in the clouds for every living creature...I do set my bow in the cloud for every living creature..." over and over again.  It really began to sink in no one "took" the rainbow from the bible.  No one changed the meaning.  The rainbow is for every living creature-man/woman, gay/straight, black/white-all the shades in between!  Each and every creature of all flesh has the promise from God that we are loved and will never be destroyed by flood because of our wrong doing or sin.

Another fun fact-my friend from high school married her sweeheart, Julie and together they adopted three incredible kids; their daughter is a Rainbow Girl and I love that she is learning the same love and promises that I learned many years ago!