Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Mana = What is it?

Living in the mystery of God's daily Graces

If I had to pick a "word" that I want to aspire to for 2017, I think it would be "INTENTIONAL."

After starting off my new year sticking my foot in my loose, neglectful mouth... I want to be INTENTIONAL with my words!

Sounds easy enough, but I'm realizing it's not easy. It's actually pretty difficult... at least if you're ME! 

I'm discovering there's a progression that must take place in order for me to be more intentional with my words. Just as Hansel and Gretel followed a path of breadcrumbs to lead them safely home, I need to pick up the crumbs of mana the Lord leaves for me and see them as my compass for each day!

To be intentional with my words, I must first be INTENTIONAL with my thoughts. 
To be intentional with my thoughts, I must first be INTENTIONAL with what I put in my mind.
To be intentnional with what I put in my mind, I must first be INTENTIONAL with how I spend my time.
To be intentional with how I spend my time, I must first be INTENTIONAL with whom I spend my time with.
To be intentional with whom I spend my time with, I must realize I have a choice... 
... a choice to spend time with those who bring out the best in me.
... and even more transformative, the choice to spend time with the One who molds my character, humbles me, gives me grace, mercy and forgiveness, and the One who convicts me when I stick both feet in my mouth; who whispers relentlessly to my spirit to do the right thing even when it's painful and difficult - like admitting my failures, my imperfections, my inadequacies... my sin.

That's a LOT of intent... but, I choose to be INTENTIONAL this year, not only with my words, but in everything.  

What about you? Do you have a WORD? 

Picking up one crumb at a time,

Monday, August 29, 2016

Manna - "What is this?"
Being called to Live in the Mystery of God's daily Graces...

Living in God's mystery is SO hard... until it simply reveals itself. Easy-Peasy!

In a blink of an eye, my life over the next 3 months has changed dramatically! Let's just cut-to-the-chase, shall we? On September 8th, I will be TEMPORARILY  moving to Sonoma to help manage "Sonoma's Best"! Be sure to Google it... There are (4) quaint cottages for rent and a chi-chi wine/gift/cheese shop with a deli and wine bar. I'll be living in the apartment above the shop, and Coco will be my MaĆ®tre Fromager (not really, but a dog can dream, can't she?).

In the meantime, I will be subletting my sweet little Mount Hermon cottage in the woods and plan to return by mid-December where I will be looking for FULL-TIME employment back in the Scotts Valley/Santa Cruz area. So please, please, please... Let me know if you hear of any employment opportunities over the next few months. I will be available to drive back home for interviews and hope to land a job soon after the New Year!

As a dear friend said to me, "Maybe this is a season of adventure for you!" 

I like that! And even though I feel the excitement of a beautiful flower coming to full bloom, the petals are definitely tinged with shades of hesitation and a splash of nervousness. So I would appreciate any prayers and would love to have visitors! Harvest time is the BEST time to come to wine country! Hint, hint! :o)

Enjoying His Manna (and wine, and cheese, and...)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Manna - "What is this?"
Being called to live in the mystery of God's daily Graces

Lord, I feel like it's feast or famine. I'm either searching for a "crumb" of manna like a bad game of hide-n-seek, or in a blink of an eye, things change and there are way too many crumbs to pick up. 
In some ways, it's almost harder for me to have multiple possibilities (crumbs) present themselves because I start thinking how will they all "compliment eachother" (taste)... But then you remind me, that's not my job; that's Yours! You are the Master Chef and You are providing the gourmet meal (and that's a relief since I don't cook!)

I only need to sit down, push my chair to the table, place my napkin in my lap, and enjoy one crumb at a time. I mean really, who enjoys scarfing down all their food at once anyway? You are teaching me to savor each morsel. 

I have to constantly remind myself that You will reveal information to me as I need to know. I just need to look at my plate like a posh seven-course meal rather than a family-style dinner where everything eventually touches or gets mixed together. I don't need to see everything that's on my plat du jour or eat all my courses at once. Part of living in mystery is enjoying each course for it's uniqueness, it's presentation and of course... the taste. Lord, help me to slow down and anticipate each course with bated breath, not knowing what delectable delights await. 

Today is one of those days. Lord, help me to savor each crumb as You present it, and allow me to salivate for the one following, knowing that You know exactly how to create a feast for the senses.

Ready with my fork,

Thursday, August 11, 2016

MANNA("What is it?") 
Being called to live in the mystery of God's daily Grace 
Why is it so hard to live a life of mystery; of trust; of utter dependence? I enjoy making plans. Knowing what's next gives me a sense of control. Routine feels familiar and safe. Doesn't ticking off a long list of tasks equate being productive and reaching goals mean I'm successful? 
Consequently, having no plan; approaching the dreaded "unknown"; dealing with last-minute changes; having potential opportunities without any confirmations; being flexible, spontaneous and adaptable... these things have their place, but certainly not on a MOMENT-BY-MOMENT basis, RIGHT?!
I'm learning (sluggishly, I might add) that living day-by-day with Your mysterious manna is how you call me to live. Your DAILY grace is sufficient. Your loving-kindness is NEW every morning. Great is Your FAITHFULNESS! (Lamentations 3: 22-23) 
Lord, please give me an attitude of excitement and anticipation to see how Your daily graces unfold. Each morning, I want to luxuriate on the multitude of blessings in my life, seek out the graces You will bestow upon me every day, and praise You for every mystery-grace-miracle. Your Manna; Your Provision; Your Grace...IS enough.
Lord, You are GOOD.
Lord, You claim me as Your beloved
Lord, I put my extreme trust in You.

Savoring your manna today,

Friday, May 9, 2014

Journeys are never a straight path...

Hello & Woof! (thoughts from Lynne and Coco)

How I got here - Lynne
Just about a year ago, I started a new full time job in Scotts Valley. The year was full of learning new things, meeting new friends, and getting used to a demanding work environment. In my spare time, I continued working my part time jobs - participating and helping my dear friend with her art business...

Working at Matisse ART SPA - Look at their creations!

...and property managing my home in Mount Hermon. Just a week into starting my new job, I found myself interviewing and finding a new tenant, getting the apartment ready to rent, and eventually overseeing the entire house being painted.

Checking out color combinations

Life has been very full these past 11 months, and it's been a blessing to work so close to home. But just when I thought I had found my "new normal," the winds of change were just around the corner.... 

A fork in the Road - Coco
Mom's back! Apparently her job has been consolidated with two other job descriptions which includes a financial component. My mom & numbers don't "play very well" together, so she's home but looking for a new job. Something tells me this time at home isn't going to last long, so I'm getting all the cuddles and ball-playing in I can!

Adventures ahead - Lynne
So... what does the future hold? The best upcoming adventure is a trip to Paris. This trip has been postponed for 2 years and has been in the planning stages for the last 6 months. With great recommendations, a resume writing expert, benefits through May, and a small severance package, my company has encouraged me to GO!! And so... I am... with my dear friend, Julie and my wonderful cousin, Kathy! 

Paris will be a time to celebrate all of God's blessings in my life, His faithfulness and His perfect provision for what the future holds upon my return. So I choose to focus on God's Sovereignty and not my circumstances. 

Thank you for walking this journey with me... forks and all!

“For last year's words belong to last year's language...
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning." ~ T.S. Eliot

Saturday, June 8, 2013

MOVE OVER COCO... It's my turn to share! (thoughts from Lynne)

Do you remember who your 1st hero or heroine was?

I've always loved stories.  I love telling them, and I love reading them.  As a child, I loved fairy tales. Cinderella was my favorite.  Every Saturday was chore day around our house. I couldn't do anything until ALL my chores were done.  I had a tendency to lolly-gag, so my mom would nag and nag me to get my chores done. I began to fantasize that I was Cinderella and must have been adopted!  Certainly someday my prince would come and rescue me from the drudge of housework.  (Unfortunately that still HASN'T happened!)

Cinderella was a great heroine... I mean, who doesn't love a girl who is sweet in spite of bullies, who loves to daydream by the hearth, and who ultimately hopes in the best in people?  She's a girl after my own heart! A kindred spirit!

Books were my way to escape to faraway lands, meet dangerous and exciting people, go on adventures and live the quintessential romantic life!  I could live in Paris, meet a tall, dark and handsome man, paint like Monet, go to Egypt to see the pyramids, ski the Matterhorn, have a 2nd house in Italy, take a course at the Cordon Bleu like Sabrina... and the list of fantasies goes on and on.  

Daydreaming is all fine and good, but I remember the 1st time that I read a book that really changed my life.  In fact... it's the 1st memory I have of reading a novel. I was in Junior High. I don't even remember how I got the book, whether someone gave to me, or if someone told me to read it.  All I remember is that I would never be the same.  The book was...

Corrie Ten Boom was my very 1st REAL heroine.  For those of you who have never read The Hiding Place, it's the true story of Corrie's family hiding Jews in a secret, cramped crawl-space in the attic in their upper apartment in Holland during WWII.  Corrie, her sister, and her father were arrested and eventually transported to Ravensbrueck Concentration Camp.  Her father died in prison before the transport , and her sister died just weeks before liberation. 

Corrie spent the rest of her life helping both captives AND captors heal through the love and forgiveness of Jesus. Years later, while speaking about forgiveness at a huge assembly, Corrie was approached afterwards by one of her former SS officers who had been unusually ruthless.  She remembered how horrified she was when she recognized him.  She knew in that instant she couldn't forgive him for what he had done to her, but more inexcusably, to her sister. Yet how could she NOT forgive him if Christ had forgiven her? So out of obedience to God, she forced the words "I forgive you" from her lips. She recalls she immediately felt her entire body tingle with warmth and love for this man, and knew she had experienced the unexplainable, incomprehensible, supernatural love that could only be of God.

Since that moment... the moment I turned that very last page of this precious book, I knew I wanted my life to mean something more than just my fantasies. 

Fast forward to my life now...

As most of you know, I've been unemployed the past 2 1/2 years.  After 14 years of service, I was laid off from Granite in November 2010.  Believe it or not, I was actually excited about taking some time off, being still before the Lord, and exploring where and what He might want for me in this next chapter in my life.  It was a true gift!  I prayed, read, journaled, explored my creative side... and realized that I wanted more balance in my life.  I wanted to REALLY experience beauty, deepened relationships, gratitude, and more intimacy with my Heavenly Father.  Money... titles.... working long, stressful hours just wasn't worth it anymore.  In the end, everyone is expendable, so where does it get you and who does it hurt in the process.

Maybe I was getting philosophical because I was turning 50!  Maybe I just realized life is short and fragile and the only thing eternal is relationships.  Maybe I realized I had an amazing opportunity to do something with this next "chapter", and I didn't want to miss out on "life"  because I was working and commuting and exhausted! Maybe I remembered that Corrie Ten Boom was in her 50s when she saved dozens of Jews.

So I celebrated my 50th with a bang!  I was pampered for days (really weeks) with special friends. I was whisked away to San Francisco for my birthday weekend by two dear girlfriends!  I was determined upon my return, to find a job where I could have work/life balance, where I could enjoy and deepen my relationships, where I could rest in Jesus and not be exhausted day in and day out!  I'd find a job so I'd have enough severance left to take that amazing, planned trip to Paris with a few girlfriends to really "ring in" turning 50!!  

But alas... this too was to be a fantasy... because landing employment proved to be harder than I anticipated, and sometimes life deals us things we have no control over...  Just two months after turning 50 (and ironically when the economy started picking up again in 2012), cancer reared it's ugly head.  And so with multiple surgeries pending and a somewhat lengthy recovery ahead of me, getting back to work was on hold... and so was Paris.  

In fact, the honest truth is... my severance was gone last November, multiple job opportunities just kept shutting their doors, jobs on this side of the hill weren't offering a salary I could live on, my unemployment benefits stopped two just weeks ago, and the little money I have left would only last for a couple more months.

The world says, "take whatever job you can find"; "work at Starbucks"; "You know, you may have to commute over the hill to find work"; "what will you do if you have to move"; "where will you live"; "perhaps you should get a roommate"; "beggars can't be choosers"!   Fear, anxiety, worry, unknowns.... DISTRUST!

After all the soul-searching I had done with the Lord, I was determined not to fall into the trap of DISTRUST (except when I slipped a few times!).  I was determined to remind myself that the God I serve is bigger than that (except of course, when I forgot). And I was determined to hold onto God's promises... that He would give me the desires of my heart (except when I stared to doubt Him and listen to the world).  

Well, guess what?  Before the clock struck MIDNIGHT (remember Cinderella?!), God came and rescued me! He is TRUSTWORTHY!  He isn't big; He's ENORMOUS! ...And He opened his treasure trove to shower me with His promises and blessings!!

In his miraculous provision, He gave me three wonderful job possibilities!  THREE!  And in the end, I was sought after, valued, fought for, and celebrated!  

On Monday I will start a temp-to-perm job as Executive Assistant to the CEO of a small consulting firm called, ROI Communication.  The office is only a few miles away from my house (a 10-minute commute), and from the many stories I've heard, they are a kind, caring, flexible, dynamic team.  They strongly believe in work/life balance and work from 9am-5pm!  Yippee!  Their values are aligned with my personal values, and I can really stand behind what this organization does both with the business and their non-profit!  

But wait... it gets even better...

Normally when "temping," the employer uses the temp office to communicate directly with the employee, but not only did I receive an email directly from the CEO letting me know how "thrilled" she was that I was joining the team, but look what she sent to my house today!

My heart is bursting at the seams with gratitude... for God's tremendous grace in my life, for the constant love and support of those who have walked this journey with me, for the army of faithful prayer warriors (with scarred knees!) - and all for me, for God's peace that surpasses ALL understanding, and unbelievably for this most wonderful gift of 2 1/2 years of pure joy!  Who gets a 2 1/2 year hiatus exploring creativity, spending time with loved-ones, soaking in the beauty of "being", and having the time to heal and recover without fear of losing one's job? 

Corrie may have been my 1st Heroine, but Jesus (sweet Jesus) is my one and only HERO!

"Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible."  

Corrie Ten Boom

P.S.  Coco couldn't let a post go by without at least making an appearance...

"I don't like new jobs! Umph!" #sadness

Thursday, May 23, 2013

CONTENTMENT - Coco style

Bow wow... it's been quite a while since my last post. But I've been thoroughly busy living the life of contentment!

Have you ever asked yourself what makes you content? Well, I've been thinking about that a lot.

Naps are certainly nice...

Having toys is great...

Walks are the best...

I like being silly...

Making mom laugh with my funny expressions is fun...

Waiting for treats is exciting...

I DO love kisses...

I have kitties for friends...  (hey, where are they going?!)

Lounging around is nice...

But contentment for me is my mom.  I've always had her with me.  I'm 3 1/2 and she's never had to be gone 5 days a week, every week!  When she's not here with me, none of those other things matter.  I'm sad, anxious and just plain lonely.


These past 2 1/2 years have been an unbelievable, unexpected, incredible gift. Time to rest, time to explore, time to heal and time to recover. If I had my druthers, I'd never go back to work. BUT alas, I haven't won the lottery, nor have I found a sugar-daddy! 

So, as I watch my financial independence quickly dwindle, I'm learning what it means to find contentment no matter what my circumstances.

The truth of the matter is... my life WILL change in the next couple of months.  Change could look like a new job; busy schedule; social calendar limitations; new learning curve; less Coco/more work; new financial freedoms.  Or... change could look like dependency; no money; no job; no home; no certainty.

But contentment for me is Jesus, and the good news is that no matter if I am in abundance or need, Jesus is with me.  Paul, the apostle, learned this lesson in his life, and according to his writings, he didn't give credence to one way of living being better over the other.  Think about that.  No, REALLY. 

T-h-i-n-k   a-b-o-u-t    t-h-a-t!  

How many of us would prefer abundance and security over need and uncertainty?  I'll be honest... I would.

However, what I'm learning is... with Jesus I have everything. His courage replaces my fear; His grace meets my every need; His strength is displayed through my weakness; His peace is fully accessible 24/7 to replace my anxiety; and maybe most importantly... He is good and worthy of my trust.

He has gone before me, He has a plan for me, and He always wants what's best for me. So no matter what my circumstances, whether I am living in abundance or need, Jesus is with me, in me, and guiding me.  

So, Coco asked you a question?  What makes you content? Think about it. Circumstances can change in a blink of an eye.

Sadly poor, un-contented Coco has to live with my absences.  I, on the other hand, don't EVER have to live in the absence of Christ... his everlasting presence IS my contentment!