Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My Windows

This is the view from my desk in the morning when the sun is just coming up.  (I really have to chop off that dead palm branch stretching across the view.....)





These are double windows.  The lighter blue glass is on the left and the darker blue glass with greens and reds is on the right.  Sometimes I see birds and squirrels in the palm tree.




Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Lesson

I am finally returning to the right road after wandering off on a side road of my own understanding.

And all of a sudden the Lord is showing me where I have really been.  Everyone who grips this life and its' problems with their own two fists and refuses to allow God to either lead or comfort them takes off on this path.  This is a mental battle, a battle of thought.  Will I accept the Lord's will and submit to Him, gritting my teeth even, or will I refuse and clutch my independence to myself.

This diversion has a long and time worn history.  One of the classic examples of it is the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt.  If ever there was a people who were fighting God, it was them.  As it says in 1 Corinthians 10:6  concerning the Jews in the wilderness, "Now these things became examples for us, so that we will not desire evil things as they did."

And so they are examples to me.  I understand their arrogance and frustration as they were led into the desert and kept there by God, provided and cared for.  They didn't like it and didn't want to be there.  They blamed Moses, they blamed God, they were cantankerous and crabby.  They wanted something the Lord would have given to them in His timing, but they wanted it in their own.  I also understand that they believed in the Lord and had eternal salvation.  They were afraid of Him and had bitterness toward Him at the same time. I understand only too well how they shook their fists at God (when they thought He wasn't looking) and said things like, "You have brought us out into the wilderness to kill us here."  That statement was self fulfilled.  No He didn't bring them into the wilderness to kill them.  But by their disobedience and lack of faith, they brought about their own death there.

And so they paid a terrible price.  God became angry with them and their generation died in the wilderness.  They were not allowed to come into His rest in the land.   

I was lying in bed last night saying my prayers and suddenly it came together in my mind.  They were not allowed to enter His rest.  The thing they wanted most desperately and about which they were so bitter was the very thing they prevented themselves from achieving.  Rest.  Blessing.  Peace.  My eyes flew open and I just sat there realizing that the Holy Spirit has been trying to talk to me for a while and I just could/would not hear.  

I am listening now by the grace of God.  I will not die in the wilderness or be forbidden to enter His rest.  I see where a short time ago I was blind by my own volition.






Sunday, March 8, 2015

Living



I have often looked at the words "A Nest Amid Thorns" on my home links page and then looked away full of guilt.  It's not like I don't have anything to say, but it is often not the type of thing I want to put on a blog, or know how to put on a blog in a creative way, and so I turn away.

Then I thought of making a whole new blog, but I love the look of the one I have.  After all, I tweaked and tweaked the basic Blogger format until I had the right background and colors.   With me, once something is the way I like it, it rarely needs change. 

And so, today, instead of turning away I clicked.  And then I wrote. 

What's new?  I'd like to say that everything is coming up roses, but then I'd be making things up.  Things are just......life. 

I'm getting older as is everyone who has their present residence as planet Earth.  So nothing surprising there.   However, as one reaches their 60's, body parts, as I like to say, begin to fall off.  What really happens is that our bodies, a temporary dwelling place, begin to break down.  If you are particularly attached to your body - and most of us are - you are nonplussed when the process begins in earnest.

I'll just list a few things without description and then we'll be done with this subject.  Overweight by about 50 pounds at least, sedentary at home and at work, suffering from depression, diverticulosis causing diverticulitis, various joint and muscle aches and pains, numbness and tingling.

Now that we've cleared that up you know enough.  The worst part of above?  Depression.  It takes motivation and covers it in gray, which exacerbates all the other issues.

Next?  Poor financial decisions over a lifetime leading to having to pay the piper now.  Enough said about that.  No one beats themselves over this worse than I do myself.

What to do?  Only one thing. 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

That's Proverbs 3:5,6    One morning last week I had to repeat this over and over to myself as I drove to work.  I thought of each phrase, especially "your own understanding."

This part of the verse means a lot to me.  I was raised to almost worship intelligence, being "smart".  If my mother wanted to make me blush with pleasure, she would tell me how intelligent I was because I knew she held that virtue most highly.  She could give me no better praise.  

Unfortunately, the Bible tells us not to lean on that.  It might mislead us;  what we think we know is often disproved later.  To make matters even more ludicrous, our minds are like a tiny ants' when compared with the mind of the Creator of the Universe.  If we place what we think we know above what He has said in His Word, then at the very least, we have problems.   

I have always found my experience to be much more real than......faith.  And therein lies my difficulty:

"Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him."  (Holman Christian Standard Bible)

And so, I am choosing faith over experience, immersing myself in His Word more than I have in the past, but not as faithfully as I should.  After all, I am a work in progress.

Don't you think the details above - the problems of life, aging, self-brought difficulties - make the perfect situation for God's touch?



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Eternity Will Be



Stroking the fur of one cat, while
Restraining the paw of the kitten.
My cat’s eyes look into my own
Mirrors of his soul.  I am to him, The One.
The kitten, new as dawn, soft and unafraid, unlearned of the thorns of this life.
He is a bit arrogant, trusting in the air beneath him, the seeming solidity of Things.

My heart breaks, knowing the future of life is death, slow-coming.
We are all so brilliant in our beginnings, so sure in the strength of each decided step.
Before we are warned weakness comes, what we once traversed with joy, we now tread in sorrow, slow and stumbling.
It is the curse of Adam, of sin, of mistake, of error pursued before thought.
Growing old outside but not in.  Inside we are new, pink and blinking.
Inside we are alive and vibrant, waiting for a kinder existence in which to be.
But outside, oh outside, we groan as once-suppleness becomes stupid stumbling, clumsy.
My silk string of hope is in the Lord.  Lord of eternity where there is no weakness, no sadness, no failure.
The invisible string of His promise to me.  He will allow me to walk, no – stride in that new home.
That new place, so like all the places our souls have ever loved, have ever yearned for.  For me it is mountains, verdant with hazy summer growth.  For me it is youth, feet running over green earth, ever up to the heights, where my eyes gaze upon all the blessings…..wild strawberries amongst the grass, the view of Catskill heights in the distance, sitting atop a deserted fire station.

All that I have loved, bird and beast, have shared in this newness of flesh, the renewal of life in Him. 
And I will see glory, but quiet and soft. 
And I will be there amongst the free, amongst the golden, so glad to serve, to observe, to silently soar aloft and feel the warm air beneath my wings.

He has promised.  He has loved and paid it all so I can be free.


A Poem For The Times



Our Time

My heart is torn
Between the deep rutted tracks in the soil of my father’s time
And the yearning reaching ahead of my time becoming the present, becoming my daughter’s time, and then leaving her, too, behind.
Time, time and a half a time
It all winds around together, swirling like a color wheel with the lines removed;
Blue sliding into green into yellow cum orange then red, ethereal purple, ultraviolet, end of the spectrum.
So much difference between 1919 and 1956.  The aftertaste of unthinkable death, the horizon blighted with a sharp black edge into the 40’s.  The days of my father’s wide eyed youth, his acclimation to the bucking earth he rode on and thought he ruled.
1939 was the end.  No, really, 1914 was the end.  Of certainties, attitudes that were Right, the Codes of Life.  1918 was feeling one’s hand reach into the blackness of the empty room ahead, while the other hand held onto memories of light from before the deluge.
That other hand held tight right up to 1960, give or take, and then let go, forever set adrift.
Echoes of old centuries, ancient certainties, straight gazes between eyes, let your yes be yes and your no be no.
Now free floating in a blank undefined universe, unframed pictures oozing out edges. 
No anchor, no anchor.  Circling the drain of time.
Yet-In spite of-Instead of-Below our vision….the Truth is….the Truth Is.
Anchor.  Light.  Bond of strength.  Blood knowledge between us.  He has….
Everything Under Control
In the midst of madness, gray chaos, unfathomable sadness, wild boar madness, clawed and bloody violence.
Inside the tiny bird fluttering to the ground, flying a thousand miles and more for God’s reasons alone, alight upon a ship in the vast night of the ocean, panting for breath, taking a break from eternal flight.
Tiny on the rail, wet with the writhing sea, arising aflight again to the south, to warmth and sun.
Among us who strive, weary and winding, stumbling on the faint hint of path amongst the debris. 
He Is.  He  Has.  Us.  All. 
To The End.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Back Yard Lizard

Yesterday I was in the back yard looking at all the butterflies and flowers, searching for signs of any subtle South Florida harbingers of a changing season, when I brushed against a bush with my arm and set off a commotion of movement.

I knew it had to be a lizard, and I hoped it was an unusual one.  It was - a Knight Anole.  Not a native species, but oh so beautiful anyway.  Here is his picture as he sat staring at me, trying to decide if he should run for it, look invisible or try to kill me:














Why he had his tongue out I don't know - maybe he was sticking it out at me.  I love his eyes.  They are inside little cones that protrude from his face - and the cones move up or down or side to side, taking the eyeball with them.  With our eyes, just the eyeball moves, not the skin around it. 



























In the picture above the camera focused on the head so if you click on the picture to get a larger view, you will see his eyes much better.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Neko Can NOT Be Replaced

I just want to say that no pet of mine has ever been "replaced".  They have been and are all originals, just like people - no two are alike.  They all have unique personalities.  That said, after Neko passed, our remaining three cats, especially Buster, who was Neko's bud, were depressed.  They knew something had happened to Neko, and that he was gone.  Buster especially, who was trailed and harassed every night, in a brotherly way, by Neko, was lonely and sad.

So we hied ourselves to the local Humane Society, which, in Broward County, FL is a beautiful brand new facility, complete with gift shop. 

My husband and I went the rounds of the kittens to see who was available for adoption.  Of course, I can't go there without shedding tears for the older cats who are there.  My heart was comforted when, while waiting to see some kittens, a teenage girl fell in love with an older cat.  We watched as she cajoled her mother into letting her take that cat home.  Thank You, Lord, for one more creature in a loving home.  I was impressed with the girl, long hair to her waist, as she worked on her mother.  They appeared to almost be sisters and the young one looked to me like a girl who owns horses.  She just had that coltish, loves-the-outdoors, natural  look.  Perhaps I just have a good imagination - she got her cat.

Meanwhile, we looked at two sets of black and white kittens.  Why black and white?  In Neko's honor, perhaps - Mr. Tuxedo himself, as Neko always was.  The first set was skittish and too scared.  The second set was it.  They were playful and full of energy.  When the girl asked us which one we wanted, we couldn't decide because they were litter brothers and identical.  After I worked on my poor husband a bit ("we'll have FIVE cats - that's way over the official allowed number"), we decided to take them both.  

It was the right decision.  They are inseparable and they have conquered our grown cats.  Buster was adapted immediately, almost glad for the young energy.  Squeebles was the tough one.  He hissed and growled for over a week.  Now he plays with them, running all over the house making funny Maine Coon barking noises and butting heads with them.  He lets them steal his food.  Junior Beans is tolerating them as a necessary nuisance, and, as long as he has his favorite spots available, he is happy.  Albeit, sometimes he has to "reserve" those spaces early, by sitting in them way before the kittens think of it, and by this method, making sure he has his favorite resting places when he wants them.

Here are some pictures of the little darlings.  They are nothing like Neko in personality.  No angst, no Goth, no playing dice or trips for cigarettes.  They are wholesome family kitties, brothers, and very angst free.










One of them appears to have more white on their front paws and the other less white, so, for a while, that was their names.  We called them LW and MW, for short.  We have decided the Less White one is the less dominant one, and so I have christened him "Little Crow".  The dominant one is, "Jet", perhaps.  We are still figuring out the more dominant one's name.  

Are they not adorable?  They brought light into our lives after the darkness left by Neko's suffering.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Tribute For Neko

We've lost one of our family members.  We've had four cats for over 10 years - Neko and Buster who were natural companions, and Squeebles and Junior Beans who are best buds.  

Friday started the nightmare of Neko having what appeared to be mild local seizures.  He would meow loudly a couple of times, drool and stand in place.  This happened once Friday night and then again Saturday morning.

From that point on it was a roller coaster of stronger and more frequent seizures, trips to emergency vets who could find nothing wrong other than the seizures and Neko getting sicker.

Saturday he spent some time in my room lying on my chair as he usually did, looking like himself, when suddenly he would make funny gasping noises, fall off the chair to the floor and twitch uncontrollably, his body moving across the floor with his jerking movements.  One of our other cats, Squeebles, looked on in shock and backed away while Buster tried to approach him slowly and then spooked and ran away.  

By the end, Neko was seizing almost constantly and my husband took him to be put to sleep - we had looked online for information and nothing was promising.  I couldn't stand to watch him flailing around, sleeping peacefully one moment and the next flung to the floor, his legs, neck and face jerking and throwing him around.  

Unfortunately, the vet thought phenobarbitol would help and instead of euthanizing Neko,  gave hubby those pills to give Neko.  Neko ate some tuna with the phenobarbitol as prescribed, but it did not improve things.  The whole night Neko stayed under our bed, meowing loudly every 20 minutes or so and drooling, his eyes dilated.  

Finally, by the morning, hubby took him back to the vet to put him to sleep.  He had suffered enough.  He didn't know who we were, where he was.  It seemed he was hallucinating.  When he would get spooked, his skinny black tail would always puff up to about 3 times it's size, and that is how it looked now constantly.  

At the vet's they gave him some gas to calm him down, and then the final needle.  And peace returned both to Neko and to our hearts, although we will never forget him.

About 13 years ago, when my daughter was in college, she wanted to sneak a kitten into her dorm.  She felt lonely and we knew if she was discovered we would take the cat.  So we went to the local Humane Society and we were put in a separate room.  They brought a tiny black and white kitten in with huge eyes who wouldn't stop meowing and rubbing on us.  That was Neko, needy from the start.  We brought him home because he seemed so desperate to be loved.  He had kennel cough and we gave him his medicine and loved his needy little self.  

My daughter took him to college with her, driving him in her car.  He became used to traveling with her.  He was a hyper kitty and kept her entertained, in addition to being a great hunter who kept the local roach population down for her.   Of course, the kitten was discovered and had to come live with us.  We had an aging beagle and a cockatoo, so what was a cat added to the mix?  We became attached to Neko until my daughter moved to an apartment  and could take him back.  My husband drove Neko back to Jacksonville, where my daughter was living, Neko riding on his shoulders the whole way, meowing and digging his claws in nervously every now and then.  Missing Neko, we went to the Humane Society and brought home another kitten who became Buster, our king kitty.  At some point, I forget the reason why, Neko returned to live with us.  We now had 2 kitties and they became companions to each other.

I always called Neko our "Goth" kitty because he was never satisfied.  He was jealous of the other cats we subsequently acquired.  If we called one of them by name, Neko would come anyway hoping for rubbies or food or both.  He made eye contact and meowed demandingly a lot.  If my hubby came to give me a hug, Neko would demand to be petted, too, meowing loudly until he got what he wanted.  

Neko also resented the other cats.  Although he and Buster were friends, Neko remembered the halcyon days of being the only cat in the house, and never got over having to concede rubbies and attention to any other cat.  

As we acquired Squeebles and Junior Beans, both of whom Neko despised and snuck up on to smack as the opportunity presented itself, Neko became more and more the plotter of revenge.  

Hubby liked to make up stories about the cats, giving them human characteristics.  He said Neko smoked too much and paced at night nervously, chain smoking and planning the demise of his competition, the other cats (except Buster).   At other times he said Neko would take a bus to Hialeah to get Cuban coffee and play dominoes.  Neko was decidedly angsty, bemoaning loudly the existence of the other cats in the household that took away from what should have been his attention and love.

If you spoke to him, he always spoke back, making eye contact.  He was also a real steak and beef lover.  When hubby would make steaks, the smell of the meat cooking would make Neko run to either of us and demand our attention, meowing loudly as if to say, "I want some!!"  One time I made pork chops and while we were eating, Neko ran to the kitchen, jumped up on the counter and grabbed one for himself.  All of a sudden we saw him run past us to the bedroom, his skinny light body dragging a pork chop half his size awkwardly.  My husband had to run to catch him before he took his booty under our bed and we couldn't get to him.  Somehow the smell of spoiling pork chop bone isn't what I want under my bed.  

Neko could be mellow, too.  His favorite thing was to jump up on my desk when I'm working on my computer.  He would then carefully pick his way over to my lap where he would lay his head down on my chest, curl up and purr.  My job was to pet him and breath on his head and give him little kisses.  

Another thing he loved to do was to race ahead of me no matter where I was going in the house, practically cut me off, run in front of me and skid on the floor mats.  Then he would stop and crouch and stare at me as if we were playing and I should chase him, which I sometimes did.  He literally bounced off the side of a wall if he had to make a tight turn.  

Neko was a black and white tuxedo kitty - always dressed up and ready for a party.  I like to believe that he is with his Maker now, as someday I'll be - and we'll be together again.  Perhaps he's bounding around somewhere or laying with the warm sun on his fur.  I'm sure that instead of being stuck to just one word, "meow", he will now have a whole vocabulary and can express himself as he always tried to do.

Below is a picture of Neko from just before this weekend.  I am so glad I took that picture, not knowing at the time it would be his last.














 Such a sweet face.  He loved to roll on the floor on his back, purring and waiting for a belly rub.

















A closeup showing his little black dot.

 














Something we saw a lot - Neko talking, in mid-Meow.  He was very vocal.