Spring Spark

Texture by Lisa Gordon, Soft Summer 1; 60% soft light

Begin today. Declare out loud to the universe
that you are willing to let go of struggle
and eager to learn through joy. 

~Sarah Ban Breathnach

A sweet friend gave me these purple daisies. Little rays of lavender sunshine to help brighten up the dreariness of winter, which seems to be over-staying its welcome. We all need friends who are wiling to be rays of sunshine when our world becomes cloudy and overcast.

Blog hopping today with Annie’s Sparks and Sandee’s Awww…..Mondays. Won’t you join us and be lights in this world helping to spread positive energy?

  

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An unlikely hero

Last week, while in Branson, we took in a theatre production at Sight and Sound Theatre. The shows are impeccably produced with special effects and talent that is off the charts. This show was about Samson….you know….the Samson of Samson and Delilah…the Samson with the long locks that gave him superhero strength. But, the story of Samson is so much more than that little biblical snippet.

The story of Samson doesn’t get much press in Sunday School. And when it does, his Herculean strength is what is highlighted. He’s not one the bible’s greatest hits like Abraham, Moses or David. Even though David’s life was full of screw ups, he is revered as a Jewish and Christian patriarch. Samson…..well, he could be the poster child for under achievement and a total lack of self-discipline. But his story is filled with redemption and grace even though there’s no happily-ever-after ending.

Born into slavery, Samson is a Hebrew living under Philistines control. The cultures were at odds with the Israelites trying to live to honor God and the Philistines living to worship pagan idols and indulge in anything that strikes their fancy. And, on top of that, God tells Samson’s mom before he’s born that he must follow the Nazarite Vow, which further separates him because he is not allowed to cut his hair, eat grapes, drink wine or touch a dead body. This makes him the object of much ridicule among the Philistines. Oh, and one more thing, God tells mom Samson is going to free the Hebrews from slavery from the Philistines. In return, God blesses him with strength beyond measure.

Samson doesn’t handle any of this very well. He’s called a girl because of his long hair. That is, until a display of super-human strength causes their jaws to drop to the floor. And, from that point on, the Philistine rulers plot everything from murder to turning him into their greatest weapon of mass destruction.

Samson never seems to embrace his calling…only wanting to live under the radar and do the bare minimum to get by. And he has quite the eye for the ladies….specifically beautiful ladies outside of his faith. Despite superhuman, physical strength, Samson battles temptations and enemies both inside and outside his body. By the time he is middle age, even though he is honored as an Israelite judge and rules for 20 years, he is considered uncontrollable and possibly beyond redemption. Hardly the ideal role model.

Enter Delilah, from the valley of Sorek, which in Hebrew means vineyard valley. Perfect. As a woman without a husband or tribe, she is on her own…making her receptive to opportunities for economic freedom. When approached by the Philistine rulers, she agrees to find out the source of Samson’s superpower strength….in return for monetary compensation, of course.

As every good Sunday Schooler knows, Delilah succeeds and Samson’s hair is cut, his his strength leaves, and he is finally captured by the Philistines. His head is shaved and, just for good measure, his captors gouge out his eyes, compounding his vulnerability by making him blind. He’s chained and forced to push a grain grinder in a circle all day, every until……

The Philistine rulers organize a huge celebration to honor their god of fertility, Dagon. And, as with any good party, the adult beverages flow freely. Three thousand Philistines party and praise their gods for delivering their enemy, Samson, to them. And soon Samson is summoned into the temple for their amusement.

Enter Samson. He’s placed between two main pillars of the temple. He’s blind…but no longer bald. As he takes his place between the pillars, he cries out for God’s mercy to restore his strength one last time. Knowing he will die when he brings down the house, he accepts his destiny and embraces his sacrifice with humility. God complies. Prophesy fulfilled.

Points to ponder with this story:
• God is using each of us in ways that may not be obvious to ourselves or others. Samson’s destiny was to free the Israelites from the Philistines. While I’m sure everyone  thought this would be accomplished differently, God’s plan served more than one purpose. The consequences of Samson’s bad decisions placed him in the temple at the perfect time. If he had not been vanquished and captured, the Philistine rulers would not have been destroyed.
• Like with the Nazarite Vow, those who follow God are called to live within their culture, but to live lives separate from things at odds with what God deems as good. Samson didn’t do this well…and, if we’re being honest, neither do we. Our lives are contradictions between how we’re suppose to live and how we actually live.
• Samson’s disobedience resulted in him trudging in circles, pushing a heavy burden. Much like how giving in to temptations can take over, and our lives become a vicious circle of bad decisions.
• Similarly, we can become blind to our sin in today’s anything-goes culture. Many decisions in Samson’s life were made by what his eyes saw at that moment, overpowering better judgement. In the end, although Samson was blind, he could clearly see what he needed to do.
• Samson’s story explains the phenomena of God’s decisions to use tragically flawed people in powerful ways. Despite his anger issues, selfishness, carnal weakness for women, and out-and-out defiance to observe his Nazarite Vow, God did not abandon him. Instead, God came to him when he was the weakest and, in grace, strengthened him to accomplish what God had intended all along.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
~2 Corinthians 12:9

Sparks: Light Bright

The darkness around us might somewhat light up
if we would first practice using the light we have
on the place we are.
~Henry S. Haskins

Last week, Entrepreneur and I took the grand girls to Branson, Missouri. While we were there, we visited……now don’t laugh….Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. Definitely an Odditorium. In one of the rooms was a giant Light Bright, and the girls loved it!

When they started playing with the pegs, I thought it would be perfect for Annie’s Sparks. When I saw this quote, I knew they both needed to be paired with each other to reinforce Annie’s Sparks philosophy…which is very simple.

     The negative energy of the world has become thick and oppressive. Social media has become a part of this dare, negative storm. There is an obvious, universal need for more positive energy and peace. And, we can be a part of this affirmative change.

I believe we are meant to be lights in this world. If we allow our light to shine, we can see where we are going. It is then that we can begin to truly see each other clearly. There is hope. Together, we can light up the entire world!

Blog hopping with Annie at McGuffy’s Reader’s Sparks and Sandee’s Awww Mondays over at Comedy Plus.

Sparks: New Life


it won’t be long now! I did a maternity session for my neighbor last weekend. They have about 7 more days until the adventure begins. New life…always a reason to smile. 🙂

Annie at McGuffy’s Reader hosts a blog hop every Monday called Sparks. I’m finding that reading everyone’s “Sparks” is one of the highlights of my week. Her philosophy its simple:

The negative energy of the world has become thick and oppressive. Social media has become a part of this dare, negative storm. There is an obvious, universal need for more positive energy and peace. And, we can be a part of this affirmative change.

Also blog hopping with Sandee’s Awww Mondays over at Comedy Plus.

 

Photo Blogging Challenge: Simple

Simple is such a complicated term. It seems to take great effort to simplify life, live simply or even enjoy simple pleasures. So, when PJ threw out the prompt of Simple, I had my suspicions this would not be as simple as it sounded.

I should have gone in so many different directions with this prompt. Directions that could have been wildly creative. But that would have involved simplifying my overly crowded schedule to actually take time to put creative thought into this month’s challenge. And, that didn’t happen. So, when I opened up my February 2018 photo folder, I simply had to shift gears to adapt what I had to the theme! So, here goes…..

Simple 1
A simple, single valentine’s rose. Simple beauty to bring a smile.

Simple 2
The simple joy of spending time with Twix is one of the highlights of Entrepreneur’s life right now. To be able to do something “normal” like teach a golfing lesson to a grand girl is something he values.

Simple 3
Who needs complicated technology for entertainment when simply playing with a dog offers so much enjoyment?

Simple 4
This showed up in my last post, but I think it personifies how simple things can bring great joy. The simple art of swinging can be so much fun…especially when one is only four years old! And, her expression brought a smile to my face as well. And reminded me to enjoy these simple moments before they are gone.

Simple 5
Seeing new life pushing through the mulch is a simple pleasure for me every year. I so delight in seeing my daffs make their appearance just when winter starts to get the best of my attitude.

Bonus!
Cabo is a lot of things….and simple may not be one of them. But, his insistence in sitting in my lap reminds me to stop and enjoy the simple things in life. Because, 50 pounds of puppy in my lap keeps me from getting up to do a bunch of other stuff when I should be chillaxing!

All in all, this prompt was a good reminder to try and stop making life so complicated. It is truly the simple things in our lives that should be the most valued. For more simplicity, head over to PJ’s to see how others interpreted the prompt. 

I encourage everyone reading this to consider joining PJ’s monthly photo blogging challenge. The themes are fun and offer lots of creative opportunities with a 30-day deadline! No one needs to be a professional photographer, and we all get excited when someone new joins in the fun. The only requirement is five photos…that’s it! How simple is that? The next theme will be posted at a ‘lil Hoohaa on March 1st. Why not join us next month? It’ll be fun.

Happy Childhood Sparks and Awww Monday

It’s never to late to have a happy childhood.
~Berkeley Breathed

Well, I misplaced an entire two weeks out of my life with the flu and some type of lingering upper respiratory crap. I’m happy to feel a bit more human this Monday….but very far behind on lots of work. Oh well……

February has been a mixed bag of weather here in middle Missouri. This shot was taken just a few weeks ago when the temps warmed enough to play outside. Twix didn’t waste any time and covered a lot of ground……swinging, playing soccer in the yard, hitting a ball off a tee, and riding bikes, trikes and scooters! Her energy level is astounding.

Aside from a few, occasional temper tantrums, she might be one of the happiest four-year-old preschoolers I’ve ever met.

We, adults, can learn a lot from watching preschoolers. Play is their work. Wonder and discovery are their preferred method of learning. Laughing and being everyone’s friend is their measure of success.

Quite different from the “adulting” we do every day, isn’t it? Over-committment and responsibilities are our work. Worry and anxiety seem to overshadow wonder and discovery. We stop being everyone’s friend and laughter becomes elusive. The cruelty and injustice of the world can crowd out the wide-eyed amazement of what surrounds us on a daily basis.

What wonderful lessons we can learn from those precocious preschoolers. It’s never too late to recreate that happy childhood of play, amazement, laughter and friendship. It’s never to late to trust. Never too late to show kindness towards others. Never too late to discover something new.

Never too late to let out a belly laugh while swinging!

Annie at McGuffy’s Reader hosts a blog hop every Monday called Sparks. I’m finding that reading everyone’s “Sparks” is one of the highlights of my week. Her philosophy its simple:

The negative energy of the world has become thick and oppressive. Social media has become a part of this dare, negative storm. There is an obvious, universal need for more positive energy and peace. And, we can be a part of this affirmative change.

Also blog hopping with Sandee’s Awww Mondays over at Comedy Plus.

An unconventional Valentine’s Day

Today is our one-year anniversary. Most people speak of this in terms of relationship status. But today marks a very different anniversary for Entrepreneur and me. It was one year ago today, Valentine’s Day, when he went into surgery to remove a cancer mass in his brain.  Not exactly what you would put in a Hallmark card.

One year ago today, we were waiting for him to get out of post-op recovery. With my support system at my side, the minutes drug into hours until I could lay eyes on him.

And then next 10 days in the hospital were spent getting him stable enough to begin the long, hard road to recovery. I can say, without a doubt, these were the scariest days of my life. The cognitive deficit due to post surgery swelling was disturbingly real. And there were very few reassurances those first crucial days.

Looking back, 2017 sucked. This event forever changed our lives and derailed many of the the plans we’d been formulating for our retirement years. The surgery was difficult enough, but the aftermath has presented challenges that have left me with a loss as to how to overcome.

Targeted radiation to the area of his brain affected by the tumor gave way to 6 months of Bell’s Palsy. Oral chemotherapy is taking its toll with the challenge of providing nutrition to combat the fatigue. He left the hospital with high expectations to rehab and regain his strength and abilities. And he was on track for a remarkable recovery. One year later, he most definitely has impressed his physicians and surgeons, but when the oral chemo is actively destroying any gains, being optimistic and proactive becomes harder and harder. It grates on us mentally, psychologically, physically and spiritually.

Our support group is awesome. These people are the shining light in the middle of this dark journey.

I admit, I took for granted this would simply be a bump in the road. I expected him to rally and overcome obstacles like he’s always done in the past. But, nothing is a given anymore.

One year out…..he’s still part of our lives. He’s trying hard to push through the destructive effects of chemo so he can spend as much time as possible with his daughters and granddaughters. There is so much to live for.

But, there’s been a shift in perspectives. Gone are the aspirations of us having an active, retirement lifestyle. Every day is a struggle. Every day is a gift. Many cancers can be put into remission or destroyed completely. Not renal cell cancer. There is treatment, but no cure or remission. His scans have been clear over the past year, which is a blessing and cause for hope.

Entrepreneur would like to engage and live whatever is left of his life to the fullest. I’d like to say we’re not letting this get in the way, but that would be a lie. No matter how much we say this condition is not going to get in the way of living life to the fullest, the reality is….it’s in the way. If fact, it’s set up a roadblock that seems awfully difficult to get around. As long as he’s on oral chemo, his stamina is reduced and the usual effects of the drug are ever present.

The new normal.

Entrepreneur does not like his “new normal.” This type of chronic cancer steals joy and steals hope. And I’m not sure how to deal with these feelings or help him to overcome the feelings of loss of a meaningful life. I would love nothing more than to focus on enjoying whatever life is left….it’s just so much harder to live it to rather than to say it. I pray for an advancement in the treatment of renal cell cancer…..an immunotherapy treatment that would help combat the relentless destruction of the body from oral chemo. Clinical trials are underway for new ways to manage this cancer…but….and this is the cynic in me….when the chemo pills cost the insurance company upwards of $5K per month, where exactly is the incentive to find a cure?

So, today, Valentine’s Day, is especially poignant this year. It not only marks the one-year anniversary of brain surgery (two thoughts that should never, ever be combined), but also serves as a reminder that nothing in life is a given. Stop letting trivial arguments get in the way of spending time with those you love. Put aside those family disagreements and ask yourself….if you were in my shoes…just how important those petty irritations and grudges really are.

Happy Heart Day and may those your love know how much you care about them today and always.