For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Friday, September 28, 2007

The Blessing of Clouds

This morning the Lord woke me up early enough to see the sunrise. As the light began to creep into the sky, the shadow of clouds could be seen. Sometimes that does not bode well for a sunrise. However, today, as the sun hit the clouds, the light diffused, and the sky was covered with rich purples and pinks.

As I watched the magnificent display, I was reminded that white light that is invisible to us is made evident when the clouds diffuse the light into its elements. The clouds actually make it so we can see the light.

Often we use clouds as a metaphor to describe hard, sad, or troubled times. We consider them the things that hide the fun or joy of life. As Christians, we refer to them as the trials in life that “try to hide the sun (Son)”. If anything tries to distract us from Jesus or keep Him from being obvious as a huge mass of warm fuzzies, we declare that thing to be a cloud, and it is met with our contempt.

The clouds serve purposes, though. Clouds, for all the metaphorical misery, are blessings. Clouds have the ability to take invisible white light and show off its colors. In the same way, the trials and dark spots of life have the ability to show the various facets of God. In the hard places, the painful moments, and the crushing attacks, we find God to be a strong tower, loving Father, and mighty warrior. At various times circumstances accentuate His mercy, His love, His discipline, and His passion. Without them, He would become the sun in the desert--an aloof object so far away that it is primarily irrelevant and taken for granted, often times seen as cruel and overbearing in what it takes in relation to how little it appears to give. Isn’t that really what law without expression of love is? Overbearing? Cruel? Demanding? Destructive?

Presently, my backyard is starting to see the beginning rays of the day. The sun has risen above the clouds, and its rays are spilling into the neighborhood. The light is glorious. It always is. Sometimes the clouds remind me just how much.

All text and artwork Copyright © 2007 Jerri Phillips

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm Smiling

I have three sick folk in my house. The coughing, sneezing, wheezing, and motion of the lovely folks manifesting the presently mentioned symptoms keep me up at night. And there is other stuff, both physical demands, emotional letdowns, and mental battles. It has made for a tiring week. I didn't realize how much so until someone asked me to do something for her that "would only take a few hours and won't be hard" and I started to cry.

All of us have days like that. Some folks aren't cry-ers, but they have days like that.

Today, my friend Michael, the one who is happy with growing older, sent me some thoughts on friendship. Today, I needed a friend, and his thoughts were exactly what I needed. Maybe they are what you need to, so I share...


Are you tired of those sissy "friendship" poems? Well, here is a series of promises that actually speak of true friendship. You will see the stone cold truth of our friendship.

When you are sad -- I will help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry son of a gun who made you that way.
When you are blue -- I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.
When you smile -- I will know you finally got what you needed.
When you are scared -- I will be in shock, because I have never seen you scared. But, I will be there anyway, and I will probably be terrified.
When you are worried -- I will tell you stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining.
When you are confused -- I will use little words.
When you are sick -- Stay the heck away from me until you are well again. I don't want to catch whatever you have.
When you fall -- I will point and laugh at your clumsy behind. Then I will bend over and pick you up.

This is my oath..... I pledge it to the end. "Why?" you may ask?, "Because you are my friend".

Friendship is like peeing your pants: everyone can see it, but only you can feel the true warmth.

And remember....when life hands you lemons, get some tequila, beer, and salt and call me!
We all deserve a laugh with a friend!

Taking a Jaunt

All you moms have got to venture over to Jessica's site. She has a video up there that had me laughing so hard I had to listen to it more than once just to hear the whole thing. Then I had Rob listen to it, and he laughed, too. I think I've seen it before, but it is worth the 3 minutes to watch it again.

Monday, September 24, 2007

All About Me

My friend Jessica Dromgoole tagged me. The gig is to tell 8 things others don't know about you. I'm thinking if no one knows, there may be a reason...And I'm writer. I can't figure out what in the world there is to tell that hasn't been told, BUT I like these games, so I'm going to venture into the world of the unknown and see what I can rummage up that you might find interesting or at least oddly curious.

1. I like my name. I wasn't really named after my dad although he was Jerry first. My great aunt named me. Dad said, "She just had a knowing about her." I have since realized this "knowing" was a prophetic gift. When I was born, she asked if Dad had a name yet. He said no and asked if she did. She said my name is Jerri. Jerri means different things, but the one I found most often in my life is "mighty warrior". My middle name means "skilled archer". What cool names, huh?

2. When I was little, the way things worked fascinated me, so I would take things apart to figure out how they worked. If I couldn't get them to work after I put them back together, I buried them around the farm, mostly in an unvisited area of our 1+ acre yard. If anyone wandered around out there with a metal detector, my "efforts" would drive them crazy.

3. One of my favorite pets I ever had was a raccoon named Freddy. My dad found it, and there was no mom. We raised him on the bottle and had him for years. One night he got out and the wild instincts kicked back in. He attacked our chicken coop. Instead of killing him, my dad trapped him in a live trap, drove over two hours away and let him go in a wooded area.

4. I would rather walk in the rain without an umbrella than with one. Rob says that everyone knows that, but maybe he's wrong.

5. My mom and I made my wedding dress. I did all the beadwork by hand. my mom did the sewing. My wedding dress had 55 YARDS of ruffles on the skirt. My mom and I cut them with the satin laying from end to end in the altar area of our church, and she zigzagged heavy fishing wire into the bottom to make them wavey, and then sewed everyone one of those wonderful ruffles onto my skirt. Did I mention my mom rocks?

6. My favorite musical instrument is a cello.

7. Some things I want to do someday include Latin dance classes, coaching basketball, playing the cello, and acting on live stage.

8. I have performed twice in Times Square in New York with Project Dance. Each April they host a concert at the corner of 44th and Broadway, and from 9 am to 7 pm (with a break from 1-3 for the matinees in the area), they present the gospel of Christ through the performing arts. Last year it was a slew of magnificent dancers, a mime, and me. I interpret music using worship sign.

Now I get to tag...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

No Weapon Formed Against Me Shall Prosper

Do you know we are in a war? Seriously. I’m not asking if you know there is a good and evil. I’m not asking if you believe in Heaven and Hell. I’m asking if you know there is an enemy whose desire is nothing less than your destruction and eternal damnation.

The Bible says the enemy goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. It also says his character, the very thing that drives him, is the desire to kill, steal, and destroy. I think most of us do not realize the ravenous appetite of destruction that drives the enemy. I think we underestimate his hatred. I think we underestimate his cunning. I think we underestimate his willingness to use anything as a weapon against us, including those we love and who love us most.

This is not the stuff of childhood nightmares. This is real, and you better believe you are a target for the enemy’s rage.

Now, let me ask you this: Do you know there is a God who has power over this enemy? Do you know that the greatest weapon the enemy has is death, and it was defeated 2000 years ago when a stone moved and Jesus walked out of a tomb after laying there dead three days? Do you know the same power that caused that heart to pump and that blood to flow after laying there cold and stiff for three days lives in you? Are you aware that the authority that allowed Christ to speak to the sick in body and mind and give healing has been given to you as His ambassador in this world? Do you know as a child of God reigning with Christ you have the same authorities over demons that Christ did? And do you know that the very God who released the power to raise Christ from the dead and was the Father Christ looked to as an example of everything He said and did has declared that no weapon formed against you shall prosper?

Do you understand that whatever the enemy throws at you God has already prepared victory for you? Let me put it this way:


That is a promise from the book of Isaiah. If you believe Christ truly died to forgive your sins, you can have just as much faith that no weapon formed against you shall prosper.

Let me rephrase that. I, Jerri, know that my God sent His Son to die on a cross for me because He is the Giver of Life, and when I accepted Jesus into my heart, the Lord poured Life into it, and there is nothing the enemy can throw at me that will prosper or succeed against that Life. Jesus is my Way, my Truth, and my Life, and the enemy cannot destroy, steal, or kill that. My Jesus is rock solid, and Life reigns in me.

I bring this up because I’ve been seeing new weapons, and they caught me off guard. Praise the Lord for the Holy Spirit who leads me into all truth, reveals the plans of the enemy, and reminds me of my True identity. If it weren’t for Him, I’d be hiding in a hole right now, and I don’t know when I would come out. However, because God is faithful to reveal the Truth and set us free from any condemnation or shame that the enemy tries to heap on us, I can write you about the weapons used, why they can be effective, and why they won’t prosper.

The first new weapon hit me broadside yesterday morning. We had spent a few days at the beach and were enjoying our last morning in the sun when the enemy whispered, “You only make this trip once a year. You only have three to five more years when the children are going to want to do this. In fact, you probably have less because once they get close to their teens they won’t want to build castles, dig holes, and boogey board like they do now. All these sweet things you love to do will just be memories. Just think about it. Maybe a total of 24-30 more hours of this kind of joy with your children. That’s hardly more than a day. You have less than two days total of this kind of fun left before your children don’t care anymore, and it’s all in the past.”

Now, you are probably thinking, “Jer, that’s crazy. That is just gloom and doom and misery…Jer, it takes effort to be that dark.” If you are, YOU’RE RIGHT!!! It does, and that should be the first sign these are not my thoughts!

When those thoughts came to me, I was standing hip deep in some chilly water letting waves splash by me so my children could laugh and crash (if you have a boy, you know) on their boogey boards. I was laughing and loving the time with my family. My thoughts were, “Wow, God, you’ve done an incredible job of healing me so that I can stand out here and do nothing but watch them play while I fight shifting sand under my feet and absolutely love it. I love being with my children, and I love how much I enjoy them. You are amazing, and I thank you for giving my life to me. This is beyond anything I thought would ever happen.” I'm glorying in the healing and restoration of my heart and family when suddenly, it’s gloom, despair, and agony on me.

My thoughts were joy, gratitude, and life. Those thoughts that suddenly assailed me were death. Those were not my thoughts. Those thoughts were a weapon the enemy was using to destroy my joy and the life the Lord had given me in my spirit and heart.

At first, sadness washed over me. Then I thought, “I’ve wasted so much time. I’ve been so broken for so long, and I wasted so much time. I’ll never get it back, and now time is so short, and I don’t know if I can make a difference, and what if I have done so much damage I can’t fix it? What if the children really don’t want to be around me when they are older? I’ve squandered the time, and it’s gone.”

Again, those are NOT MY THOUGHTS. My thoughts were all about what God had done and is doing. My thoughts focused on God’s restoration and healing. My thoughts were focused on hope and a future. My thoughts were looking forward with excitement. How can thoughts change so quickly? BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT MINE!

Those thoughts were well targeted emotional missiles that were sent to bring me down mentally and spiritually. Those thoughts were sent to destroy my hope, steal my joy, and kill my faith. Those thoughts were death-based. Know how I know? Look at the focus. My past actions. My past brokenness. What was missing. My inability to fix things. Hopelessness. Damage and wounding in me and by me. Fear. Shame. Condemnation.

What might have looked like simple “negative thoughts” were actually weapons designed to exploit areas where the enemy had been successful at pulling me down in the past.

I admit when they first hit I was sent reeling for a moment. Then the Spirit said something simple, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.” FREEDOM! I did not have to stay in that emotional mire any longer, and instead of expending a bunch of energy to “overcome”, I simply said, “Yeah, your right. The Lord already handled that.” When my emotions didn’t line up, I prayed, “Lord, the enemy threw death at me. I know it is a lie. I want to enjoy the Life you gave me. Please restore to me the joy I had before.” And He did.

Now, as you know, the enemy does not get rebuffed once and go home with his tail between his legs. He has to see if he can wear us down, and I had to declare several times that no weapon formed against me would prosper. I even said aloud, “I will not choose death. I choose Life, and I choose the joy the Lord has provided. I am bound to God and His heart for me, and I will walk in nothing less.” Sometimes I had to confess mentally wandering down the “someday” road, which is another weapon. God says to pray for today’s bread because anything beyond that is His domain, and we don’t need to be worrying about His domain. "Someday" only makes us anxious wondering if we are doing enough today. I had to confess entertaining the thoughts (i.e. playing with the enemy's missiles as though they were harmless toys) and ask forgiveness and get back in agreement with the Lord. He is faithful to forgive and restore, and we were back on track.

I have to confess that I was feeling pretty good about my victory when I went to bed last night. I had heard the Spirit. I had walked in the Spirit. I had taken thoughts captive. I had stood in my identity in the Lord. I won, and really, it wasn’t that hard, and I was sort of excited that the old weapons weren’t working so the enemy had to try something new. To me that meant I was growing, and that was exciting.

Then came this morning.

The enemy didn’t come with a weapon. He came with an entire platoon. I’ve been overcoming an impacted sinus infection for a week. The medicines I’m on are attacking the infection and allowing the gunk to drain but have the effects of legalized Speed. I have been sleeping 3-5 hours each night, and that has been in increments. Today the stuff in my head is really breaking up and draining, so my ears ache. My throat is sore. I am nauseated and dizzy, and the room spins a lot. Between the fatigue and the meds, to say my thinking is fuzzy would be an understatement. To say my temperament was lagging also would be an understatement.

Unfortunately, I thought too highly of my spiritual victories, and after overreacting to a few things, I decided the family was better off with my trying to get less done, so I tried to find a place where I was accessible but not obstructive.

At one point, I was just sitting trying to read and keep the information in my brain long enough to remember the last statement my eyes had followed when Anna asked, “So, Mom, how is your day going?”

“I’m having a great day.”

Anna sighed and said, “I’m sorry, Mom. I just had an ugly thought, and I’m sorry. I just thought, ‘Please don’t say you’re stressed like you always do.’”

This is what happened in the next few seconds:

I looked at my beautiful daughter who was clearly second guessing the wisdom in her confession.

The Holy Spirit said, “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”

The enemy said, “See, you are such a crappy mom. Your daughter is afraid for you to talk to her. She is afraid to even ask how your day is. Do you see what you’ve done? You’ve taught your children to dread asking how you are. Their hearts are hard against you, and you know all the ways they’ll try to find love and acceptance and someone who won’t be stressed. You’ve condemned them to a life of seeking what you failed to give them, and they’ll look in all the wrong places. They are wounded, and it’s all your fault. You are just like your dad, and they’ll be just like you.”

My spirit rose up and raised my sword and shield and looked the enemy in the eye and said, “I have a new name, and I won’t walk in your shame and condemnation any more. I will glory in the healing and deliverance of my God.”

I said calmly to Anna, “Anna, have I answered that way lately? Have I been stressed lately?” She shook her head. I continued, “Anna, I used to be that way, but just like God is doing a work in you, He is doing a work in me, too, and I am not the high strung person I used to be, and I’m not stressed. I need to go to bed and get well, but I’m not stressed. I’m blessed, and I am thankful to be your mom.”

Now, I could go on for a few pages and tell you the truths of my past. I was high strung. I was so busy trying to be the perfect mom and perfect wife and perfect person that I didn’t enjoy any of it, but the Lord has set me free from that. I enjoy being a mom. I enjoy being a wife. I’m excited about who I am and what my life has in it. I’m excited about where I am going. Yes, time passed while I was broken, but God holds time in His hand, and He can do what He needs to with it. The enemy tries to steal the Life the Lord has planned for us and placed in us, but no weapon—not past brokenness, not today’s illness—will prosper against the purposes of the Lord in my life or the lives of my children.

I love how the Amplified puts it:
17 But no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against you in judgment you shall show to be in the wrong. This [peace, righteousness, security, triumph over opposition] is the heritage of the servants of the Lord [those in whom the ideal Servant of the Lord is reproduced]; this is the righteousness or the vindication which they obtain from Me [this is that which I impart to them as their justification], says the Lord. – Isaiah 54

Every tongue that rises against me in judgment. The tongue of the Accuser. The tongues spewing half-truths or misinterpreted information. Any tongue that wants to steal, kill, or destroy the Truth about me or in me.

This peace, security, and triumph over opposition is my heritage because I responded to God’s love by acknowledging Christ as my Savior, and Christ is being replicated in me. Everything He had and was is being replicated in me.

And all of this is a gift from my Heavenly Father. It is His work and His impartation. He has declared it to be so, and therefore it is.

And so, I am going to bed having battled through the day, knowing the enemy will be ready to attack again tomorrow. The weapons will look different, and I might take some hits, but despite knowing that, I am so peaceful because I know my God. I know His character. I know His promises, and I know no weapon formed against me will prosper.

copyright Jerri Phillips @ 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Any Soldier

At Jan's suggestion, I am going to share with you about my family's choice to "adopt" and support a soldier and her unit in Iraq. I've hesitated to talk about this much because of several reasons, but Jan suggested that talking about it might demonstrate how truly easy and so greatly appreciated it is, so here is our story.

Last April, we adopted a unit of soldiers that are actively serving in Iraq. Let me explain what I mean by that. We made the choice to pick a unit that we committed to supporting for as long as they were deployed. I went on the Any Soldier site and looked through their huge database of soldiers to find one we felt we could support.

How I Picked
First, I prayed. I’m not trying to sound religious. I’m telling you the truth. I wanted a unit we could make a difference with, one that would be blessed by our family and would appreciate our style of support. I knew the children were going to draw pictures, and we would send souvenirs from trips, and I wanted the Lord to bless someone with those and not give them to someone who would think they were goofy.

Second, I knew I would be the primary contact on behalf of our family, so I decided to find a female soldier in a troop with other females. I thought I could figure out what they might like more than I might could a male. So I looked up troops based on number of females. Next, I narrowed my search by determining the size of troop we could support. We cannot support 50 or 100 people, but we could support 10-15.

The next round of requirements was quirky. “Lord, show me something that means something to me.” I found PFC Kathryn Muller. Kathryn means grace. It was going to be the name of our second daughter if we had one. Muller is the last name of a friend of mine from high school who was a highlight of the last years of my dad’s life. My friend had indeed graced us in his love for and friendship with my dad, and the name connected to me emotionally. As it turned out, her unit had 10 women and 10 men. I decided we could do that, and I requested her address.

Our Commitment
I had to consider what we were willing to commit to in this endeavor. I decided we would send a letter each week and a package once a month. The package would include something for all of them. Some weeks I write more, and some months we send more, but that was the minimum I wanted to do. Let me reiterate, this is our chosen level of commitment. If you choose to support a soldier, it can be a one time letter, card, or package. ALL support means so much to them. Don’t let what a person or group does determine what you do. You do what God leads you to do.

The Letters
As I said, I committed to writing weekly. I often get asked what I write about. Anything. Everything.

I’ve written about:
My dad
The children’s diving classes
My photos being published in Studio G
The zit under my nose that hurts every time I blow my nose (okay, I haven’t written about that, but I might if it isn’t gone before I write again)
The spider web at Lake Tawakoni
Playing in the sprinkler on the trampoline
The rain (that gave me LOTS to write about this year)
Mowing the yard
That I like to iron
The Water Gardens in Fort Worth
Ways God blesses me daily
A Day in the Life of a Domestic Diva (and, yes, I did mean me)—that was fun. I told them about scrubbing toilets, the fact that I prefer green cleaning things, the fact that my bathmat stuck to the floor and I had to hand scrub the tile to get the sticky off
Being up with Robert when he had respiratory problems
Pink Impact
The peach tree collapse
Making peach preserves and the 3 hours it took to peel the peaches, and when we thought we were done, my mom and stepdad gave us more.

I’m not trying to be obnoxiously long here. I just want you to realize that my letters are as basic as our life is. I share the ups and downs. Things that seem horribly mundane to us are connections to home for them. To give you an idea of how much these simple letters mean, I got an email from PFC Muller, and she said:

“Jerri, we appreciate the packages, but it’s your letters. We love them. We put them on the board so people can read them when they come by and have time. It’s our connection to home, and I cannot tell you what they mean to us. Even the mundane to you is precious to us. Even if you can’t send packages, please keep sending the letters. And we love the papers the children send. Tell them to send all they want. You are our family, and we love you.”

Being the photographer that I am, I splatter the pages with pictures. Tonight I finished a 12 page letter (I’m like the marathon letter writer. 12 pages, and I haven’t even hit my 2nd wind. If you just drop a card in the mail that says, “I’m praying for you,” it’ll be just as good. The key is getting something in the mail). I put in a huge amount of pictures. The text was maybe half of the letter. The rest was the pictures that go with our stories. Pictures of home are precious to our soldiers. It keeps them in contact and grounded emotionally. That brings up another thought….

The pictures I put in my letters vary as much as the content. I have put in pictures of:
a snake
Robert’s feet splashing in a water puddle
Webs of webworms
The rain

Whatever was on my camera at the moment. I have even found pictures from last winter about the ice storm we had and told the story about it just because I know it is special to them. (Plus, when you are in 110-120 degree heat, pictures of snow and ice might be a mental boost.) During the spring the children and I walked around the neighborhood with all of our cameras snapping pictures of any kind of flower that had the boldness to show its petals, and we sent the pictures over so the unit could have Spring in Iraq.

Pictures are not required, but if you want to stick them in, they are really appreciated.

Care Packages
There are some legal rules on care packages, and some common sense ones, too, but mostly, if you want to send it, they would like to get it. Things we’ve sent:
Beach balls
Beef jerky
Flip flops (you can imagine what the cashier thought when we bought 12 pair of large women’s flips flops and 12 pair of large men’s flips flops, but it probably wasn’t nearly as interesting as those folks walking by us while we had them all laid out on the floor trying to make sure no two pair of flips flops were exactly alike)
Fingernail polish
Cliff Bars
Body washes
Loofa puffs
Baby powder (sweating can cause chaffing. Baby powder helps)
Odor absorbers (the men’s barracks evidently smells similar to a junior high boys’ locker room. Well, it did before the odor absorbers)
Soap ( scented for the ladies, plain for the gentlemen)
Body Wash
One soldier got water guns from someone, and he raved about them.
Another soldier told how he loved envelopes from one particular family because they always had packets of Kool Aid in them.

When we send something over, we always try to include hard candy and gum. Chocolate melts in the heat right now, but the sugar boost from hard candy and gum can be really good on hot missions.

We also send lots of magazines. One day I was at our dentist’s office, and I asked what they were going to do with their magazines. Toss them. I explained about our soldiers and asked if I could have the magazines to send to Iraq. The first month or two, we had 8-10 magazines. Now all the employees save their magazines, and we have two full boxes each month, so we send the candy and gum in another box.

Another big question is how do we send the packages. The post office has free “one rate” boxes. They are perfect. In one shipment of 3 boxes, we saved over $30 in shipping by using the one rate boxes. Plus, the sizes are perfect. You need to fill out a customs form, but that takes only a few minutes. It is suggested that you not send homemade food because the soldiers are told not to eat it because no one really knows who you are. That is a small limitation though.

We added a little humor to our boxes. We took 23 Texas postcards, and we put a different joke or riddle on each one. Each person got to pick a post card. That gave everyone 23 new jokes to tell and laugh about.

Jan sent a birthday card, and as it turned out, there were 4 people with a birthday, and they all shared the card.

And several of our ideas came from reading other soldiers’ posts and seeing what they needed, so if you want ideas, just peruse the postings.

What It Isn’t
This isn’t a penpal deal. I’ve written PFC Muller every week since April. Due to her unit’s geographic position, I only receive emails every 6-10 weeks, and they are only a paragraph long to let me know they are safe and comment on a few things from the letters. The reality is you may never have a response from the soldier you support, but you can either accept that and continue support OR choose a different soldier.

What It All Comes Down To
There are no “rules” for supporting a soldier through Any Soldier. Even if you don’t want to send letters or packages, reading the profiles give you an idea of how to pray, and you’ll see that many of them will tell you prayer is the greatest thing we can give them.

I will gladly answer any questions I can if you email me or leave a comment, but I have to go right now, though, because I finished a letter to PFC Muller before starting this. There were so many pictures that my computer and printer nearly wigged out while transferring the data. It’s done printing now, though, and I need to get it ready for the mail tomorrow.

The only other thing I can tell you is our family has been so blessed by the chance to support these people who are fighting this war. I thank God we have the chance to do that, and for whatever we give, we believe we've gotten it all back and then some.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Getting Older

This week I received an email from my very precious friend Michael, and while it was special to me because I know him, I believed the words he wrote were more than just nice thoughts to friends. I felt like they were words of freedom, self-acceptance, and revelation that people needed to hear, so I asked if I could post them here. He generously agreed. May the Lord speak what He will to your hearts through the words Michael penned.

Getting Older

When asked how I felt about being old, I was taken aback. I do not think of myself as old. Upon seeing my reaction, my student was immediately embarrassed, but I explained that it was an interesting question. I would ponder it, and let her know.

Old Age, I decided, is a gift.

I am now, probably for the first time in my life, the person I have always wanted to be. Oh, not my body! I sometime despair over my body, the places that sag. And often I am taken aback by that old person that lives in my mirror (who looks like my father!), but I don't agonize over those things for long.

I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly. As I've aged, I've become more kind to myself, and less critical of myself. I've become my own friend. I don't chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly plaster wolf that I didn't need, but looks so great on my sheep skin in the livingroom . I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant. I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging. Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon?

I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60&70's, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love ... I will. I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things. Sure, over the years my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody's beloved pet gets hit by a car? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect and better yet, being loved.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray and falling out. Even to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into my face. So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver. Even shaving my head this summer was a surprise. I decided I like the look for now!

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I've even earned the right to be wrong. And I realize that God forgives even the big mistakes, if you ask Him.

So, to answer my student's question, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day if I choose, but I won't, really. I prefer cheese! ha ha



Getting Older copyright Michael Hodges @ 2007

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

You Know You are a Bonafide Writer When...

I've been tagged by Jan, and I like these games so...

You know you are a bonafide writer when...

--You don't choose purses on how cute they are but on whether it is big enough to hold your journal.
--You often have to decipher writing done in your sleep because you were just awake enough to realize something was a good idea, but not awake enough to get up, turn the light on, and write it down in "awake English".
--You are in a conversation and finish a thought, but are distracted by trying to figure out how to finish that better in a book or article.
--Consider "roughing it" to mean you write by hand in a journal rather than on a computer.
--You know which pen you used when writing something down based on the characteristics of the ink.
--While others may believe a pen is just a pen, you know better.
--When you write in a journal, you leave the opposite page clear for future notes and thoughts because eventually they will come.
--Others escape from their computers, and you escape to yours.
--Your "desk" consists of a recliner and a table beside it for your coffee.
--When planning a trip to the beach, you wonder how you'll keep sand out of the keyboard.
--At then beach, you sit under the umbrella so you can still see the computer screen.
--You think proper work attire is pajamas.

And, yes, I'm a bonafide writer. Are you? Is so, tell us how you know.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Twice is Really Nice

I was picked a second time for the Nice Award. Granted, it was a week ago, but it was after Paula picked me, and I've been planning to post it, but life has intervened. Today, however, I am going to take out my award and put it where I can see it.

Today is a day when I need a nice award. It is the kind of day when I need to be reminded of who I truly am, not who this flesh acts like. And really, I am nice. In fact, let me tell you some other things I am.

  1. I am patient.
  2. I am loving.
  3. I am kind.
  4. I am gentle.
  5. I am self-controlled.
  6. I am joyful.
  7. I am good. Got that, self. I am good. Got that, Liar. I am good.
  8. I am faithful.
  9. I am peaceful.

Sometimes I don't act those things, but those are nasty flashbacks to before I died. You didn't know I died? Sometimes I don't act like I did, but I did. I chose to die in Christ. I have been buried with Him and raised to life. I am alive in the Spirit. Everything else is dead.

Today the Liar wanted to tell me I am inadequate, which is true. I am. But he tacked on "and hopeless". That is a lie. I am not hopeless. Psalm 25:3 says, "No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame."

Let's not forget Psalm 33 that says,

"18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you

Psalm 42 says, "5 Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and 6 my God. "

Somedays situations disturb me. Some days I disturb me because I'm far more dead and sticky than I am Jesus in real life. On days like that the enemy likes to come at me with the lie that I will always be this way. He likes to tell me that there is no change and never will be. He likes to remind me that some of these nasty behaviors or attitudes have been around for the last 30 years and wants to know what makes me think they'll change. Some of what he says is true, but when he starts asking why I think there could ever be change or why I think it'll get better, I get to the bottom of it. He isn't just accusing me. He's accusing my God. He's saying the One Who bought my life and gave me life can't do anything better with that life. He's saying I've been abandoned and left for dead.

Nothing could be farther from the truth or the Truth. And I like things that remind me of the Truth. The Truth is God is in me. The Jerri I was is dead, and the Jerri God created me to be is alive and well and learning to shine more each day. The Truth is I'm really everything I want to be. I just have to have the faith to act like it, and it's really nice to be reminded.

Those wonderful folks who remind me include....

Well, I'm sticking with Tonya, Jenny, Iona, and Jan (since she says tag-backs are okay).

I am also including Paula, who deserves it so much. I look forward to having coffee with you some day, too. Then you can give me my own autographed copy of your book. :-) And you can tell me the adventure you and God had while you wrote it. I would love to hear it.

One I did not remember before because I couldn't find her link is Claire Barton, who is an amazing prophetic artist. You just need to check out her work. She is also an amazing person, and I thank the Lord He brought her into my life as my friend.

You ladies remind me of who I am because you remind me of Who is in me, and, friends, there is nothing nicer.