Wildcat Hunt Dream – September 24, 2016


I love it when I have technicolor dreams of breathtaking beauty.

wildcat Last night I dreamed that I was mountain man Jim Bridger walking along beautiful wilderness trails in Canada hunting a mysterious wildcat. It had gorgeous spotted fur. I thought it would make a nice warm fur coat. The problem was that I had no idea what I would do if I caught up to it. I didn’t have a gun, camera or even a knife! 

I was walking along the trail when it turned into wetlands. I hopped from one dry spot to another. I came out of the woods and saw the wetlands spreading out in front of me in all directions.

I was stunned by the beauty of it all. I heard a Wild Kingdom type voiceover say, “A lot of Greek Orthodox families settled in this area.” I looked around but couldn’t see any sign of people, houses or civilization. I wondered where they were hiding.

I woke up wondering why Jim Bridger was on my mind.  several months ago I read The Revenant, in which Jim Bridger plays a supporting role.  When I was a kid I was a avid reader (still am).  I read the biographies of all the great explorers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, like Daniel Boone, Davy Crocket, Jim Bowie (of the famous Bowie knife), and many others.  It’s possible that I am redefining my life now that I have retired from my Mittyesque life.

 

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Random Thoughts on Training


Rev. Moon says, “There is no substitute for training. Don’t depend on miracles to bring about restoration. We also need training–not random training, but well planned and practical training.” He goes on to say that, “It is training that makes an army efficient and feared by its enemies.” From: Single Mindedness at the Risk of Your Life.

A co-worker gave me American Sniper for Christmas. This quote is what came to mind as I was reading the chapters on Navy SEAL training. Efficient and feared indeed. It was those stories of SEAL training that motivated me to get my sorry butt in gear and get in shape this year.

My usual routine would have been to take a rest day, but these thoughts motivated me to get out and walk anyway.

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My intention was just to walk, but longer thatimage usual. The these stairs started calling my name. I went up and down three flights of stairs to get my heart rate up.

I walked a total of 3.25 miles in just over an hour. (My pedometer app says I set a record with a total of 12,414 steps today.)

I concentrated on gratitude and appreciating nature, the ocean, the sky the birds. I always enjoy watching pelicans skimming the leading edge of the waves. I always hope to see the diving for fish.

Amazingly, a bunch of them started diving just opposite my position. Out of a two-mile stretch of beach, they started diving just near me.  Synchronicity. Just as I got to the pier, a guy on a bike started hollering and pointing,”Wales! See the spouts?” He must have had sharp eyes, because they were pretty far offshore, but sure enough, there were several whale spouts out in the offing.

I’m glad I made the effort to go out this morning. I felt really blessed all day.

 

 

Gratitude for the Merit of the Age – My Dream on April 26, 14


This dream came to me as a result of my internal (spiritual) goal to choose gratitude over complaint.  I see this effort bearing fruit in my life.
In my dream, I’m visiting Chapman University. I meet the University President, who gives me a tour. I’m telling him about how my Dad worked at the college when I was in 2nd grade. We used to play on campus while waiting for him to get off work. The President shows me around, pointing out all of the improvements made over the years.

It strikes me that countless people were involved in working together to build something wonderful. I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for each person who contributed over the years toward making Chapman University what it is today. As the parent of a college student, I realize the magnitude of the blessings conferred on every student by the investments of these predecessors.

I feel that the value of each person’s efforts should be appreciated, from the anonymous groundskeepers and janitors, to the construction workers, and all of the alumni who contributed, from the smallest donation to the largest.

A profound sense of gratitude settles over me. As I wake up I feel the implications of gratitude for all of our predecessors who invested their love and effort, not just in Chapman, but for all institutions, such as my own company, UC Berkeley, Dartmouth, etc., and for all the saints who trod this path before us.

Curious Effect of a Grateful Heart


Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
~Thessalonians 5:13-18 (ESV)

Usually I would be commenting on Thessalonians 5:17, “pray without ceasing.”  I love The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way, and strive to live in constant prayer.  I said “strive” because I usually fall far short of the pilgrim’s standard. It’s hard to mix accounting with constant prayer.

But today I want to reflect on a different section of Thessalonians 5, verse 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 

I have recently been blessed by having a grateful heart in the midst of a really difficult time.  How many have a gratitude journal, or a habit of counting blessings?  It’s hard to be grateful when chaos is swilling around and stress is maxing out unless you are standing on the foundation of a solid gratitude habit.

My gratitude habit blessed my deeply during a recent challenge.  On a Saturday In late February my Dad suddenly had a heart attack and ended up in the Cardiac intensive Care Unit. Monday morning I was on a flight to be with him.  There was plenty of emotional chaos and stress swirling around with undertones of unspoken and unresolved conflict.

As an introvert (INFP) I don’t do well around conflict, and prefer to retreat into my inner space for prayer and reflection.  Our time with Dad was limited, so there was lots of time for prayer & reflection.  I spent a lot of time reflecting on things about my Dad that I’m grateful for.

When we were growing up, Dad seemed to be a strict disciplinarian.  He was always on us about saving money.  From a kid’s limited perspective, I thought he was mean.  I daydreamed a lot about running away from home to find loving parents.

I remember that when I turned twelve he got me signed up to deliver papers with the Denver Post.  I thought that was really harsh at the time, but it turned out to be a great experience.  Looking back on that and many other experiences I see that he valued self-reliance, and wanted us to live up to that ideal.

When Dad was growing up, he was a Boy Scout in Phoenix, Arizona.  He eventually became a troop leader. He would tell us about camping in the Superstition Mountains and regale us with tales of how many people died in the search for the Lost Dutchman’s mine.  Us three kids became his personal boy scout troop, never mind that one of us was a girl.  We went camping and fishing in the Rocky Mountains.

Dad even went to the Army surplus store and got a bargain on a 12 man army tent.  When folded up, it weighed a ton and almost filled up the entire trunk of the car. He had us practice setting up the tent in the back yard so we would know what to do in case we had to set it up in a dark and stormy night.  That actually did happen on one camping trip.

What I hated the most was “policing the campsite” at the end of every camping trip. We had to go all over picking up the trash.  The worst injustice was having to go back and pick up a piece of trash that wasn’t even ours to begin with.  He was such a meanie! Boy Scout rules say, “Always leave the place better than when you found it.”    That is totally ingrained in me now.  (I was brainwashed by a retired Boy Scout Troop Leader.)  When I see trash on the ground on my daily walk I have the urge to pick it up, even if it’s not mine!

Dad led us on ghost town tours in the Rockies. We even rode the Narrow Gage Railroad from Durango on my birthday.

I’m really grateful for those many experiences: learning to bait a hook and gut a trout, summers spent reading science fiction in that huge 12 man army tent, and so many others. Through it all, Dad was always trying to teach us a lesson.  He was passing his values on to us, self-reliance, a lifetime love of learning, while pouring out his love for us in the process.  Those values were engraved in Dad’s DNA.

Maybe we would get tired of his lectures at the dinner table on Greek and Latin roots, but we learned in spite of ourselves.  I even have Latin on my license plate!

Maybe I got bored spending hours and hours in the basement workshop learning about capacitors, resistors, and vacuum tubes, but I feel proud that we built our own TV.  Forget that it was only black & white with no case around it.  It worked!  We had a blast as a family watching F-Troop and the Wild, Wild West on that ridiculous naked TV.  I learned about electricity, morse code and electromagnetism in spite of myself.

Choose Gratitude.  Yes, I am mourning Dad, but also celebrating his pure, enthusiastic, and loving heart.  The older I get, the more I am grateful for the love that he invested in me.  When he was grumpy after work, or scolded me for a bad grade on my report card, I would swear to myself that I would never treat my kids that way.

DNA.  Everything that I treasure in my own character came from my Dad (Well Mom, half of it anyway.)  I had a lot of time to reflect during those long hours in the CICU waiting room.  Most of it was on gratitude for the many things that I inherited from Dad.  None of it was cash, but it was all priceless.

Saint Paul gave us good advice.  Give thanks in all circumstances, even in the CICU waiting room.

And don’t forget,  “Be at peace among yourselves.” Thessalonians 5:13

 (Dad passed away on March 10th, 2014.)

Two Old Favorites


My public library is just plain awesome.  I love it.  Nothing beats the library.
logo  Every year, give or take a couple of months, I get a craving to read an old favorite.  I’m getting ready to take a road trip to visit the Munchkin at her graduation.  I wanted to get something to read on the plane up and the drive back.

An all time favorite is Robin McKinley’s Hero and the Crown.  This is one book that I have read and enjoyed every year since I discovered it at the Munchkin’s seventh grade book fair.  I especially wanted an e-book for my iPad or audio version for my iPhone.

My library has a couple of different options for ebooks and audio books.  You can check out the Kindle or audio version of a book using the OverDrive Media Player app. Audio books are available from Recorded Books on their OneClickDigital app.

The e-book version of Hero and the Crown isn’t available on Overdrive, so I checked the library’s OneClickDigital page.  Lo and behold! A Recorded Books audio version was right there, available to check out.  The Library is closed today, but that is not a problem.  I downloaded the book and started listening on my commute home.  Wow!

I mentioned two favorites.  This other was a very copacetic find.  While browsing the catalog for The Hero and the Crown, another Newberry Medal winner came up in the search results: The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite de Angeli. This book won the Newberry Medal in 1950.  The title jingled a bell in my distant memory, so I checked out the Kindle version.  I was reading it on my lunch hour and it became more and more familiar.

I read The Door in the Wall when I was in seventh grade.  I was volunteering in my middle school library at the time.  I became lost in the monastic life portrayed in the early chapters of the book.  This book further fueled my love of reading and kindled a longing for the monastic life.  I only recently ‘fessed up to this secret desire while sharing in our local small group discussion.  I thought it was buried beneath thirty-three dusty years of accounting, but the spark still burns.

Thus ends the story of my two latest finds among the stacks of the digital library system.

What are your favorite reads, and how did you find them?

Have you ever noticed?


Complainers are blamers. Complainers don’t take responsibility. It’s always someone else’s fault.

People who step up and take responsibility never complain. They don’t have time to blame anyone. They are too busy fixing things or making things happen.

Playing the blame game is a waste of time. By the time you figure out who to blame a responsible person could have fixed the problem already.

The Paradox of Blessings
Everyone wants to receive blessings. Blessings are the same as wishes on a star, but they come from God. To receive a blessing you have to ask Him first.

God usually says, “OK, take responsibility for . . . this.”
You say, “What? Where’s my blessing?”
Like He didn’t hear you, He repeats, “Take responsibility for . . . this.”

Eventually you say, “Yes,” because He’s God, and your conscience agrees with Him. It’s only after taking responsibility for God’s assignment that you realize, “Hey! I’ve been really blessed by this responsibility.”  (He’s tricky that way.)

Then you feel this awesome gratitude.

So way back in the beginning (Genesis) God gave the first man and woman three awesome blessings.  To be fruitful (mature, responsible and loving sons & daughters). multiply (create wonderful families full of amazing and awesome love), and have dominion over all things on Earth (loving, caring peaceful dominion).

The God does something weird, He asks them to be responsible, not to eat that fruit (before it’s ripe).  But something goes wrong, and they eat that forbidden fruit (before it is ripe).  Suddenly everyone is pointing fingers and blaming each other.  The man, the woman and the serpent.  Instead of the three wonderful blessings, they received three curses.  And humanity has been pointing fingers and blaming each other ever since.

It’s not a failure to communicate, it’s a failure to take responsibility.

Something failed? Someone didn’t take responsibility.

Remember what I said about blaming others being a big waste of time? We have wasted 6,000 years or more on the blame game, and we are still no closer to God’s world of blessings and love than when we started.

God still has those three awesome blessings wrapped up and ready to give to us.  We just have to ask for His blessings, and take responsibility for our lives and for each other.

Stop wasting time on blame.  Ask for your blessings.  Take responsibility.  I dare you.  

God will bless you.

Answered Prayers


Prayer works.

I was getting bored and frustrated with random reading.  There’s too much dystopia in the bookstores these days, don’tcha think. What happens when the lights go out?  Or an asteroid hits the moon? Or the rapture comes and I’m Left Behind?  I get enough dystopia just reading the newspaper every day.

It’s depressing.  Vampires, shmampires. It seems like everyone is trying to write the next The Twilight Series. Yawn.  “What does this have to do with prayer,” you ask? Hold your horses.  I’m getting to that.

I did enjoy Justin Cronin’s The Passage and The Twelve (Book Two of The Passage Trilogy).  It’s quite different from the usual smarmy vampire romance. The characters are interesting and engaging.  Enough interesting things happen and with cliffhangers at the end of every chapter the story keeps rolling along. What will happen in book three I wonder.  (Hurry up Mr. Cronin!)

Now that’s done and I need a new fictional fix.   I’m craving something without vampires for a change.  There’s a certain kind of story that just makes you feel good. Hmmmm.

Here’s my list of feel-good favorites that I turn to when I’m burned out.  Like Mom’s baked macaroni and cheese, they’re comfort food for the brain.
The Hero and the Crown & The Blue Swordby Robin Mckinley.  I can never get enough of these two stories.
Dances With Wolves 
Watership Down
Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
Random Harvest, by James Hilton

I found myself standing in front of my bookshelf, looking at this collection.  I wasn’t really in the mood to re-read any of them, but wanted something like them. I prayed a little prayer and it trickled up to heaven. I prayed quietly, so silently that I almost didn’t hear it myself, feeling guilty that I wasn’t praying for something more providential, like ending world hunger, or for an end to human trafficking. (That’s whole ‘nother post.)

Somebody upstairs must have been listening. (Maybe Saint Catherine of Alexandria, patron saint of libraries?)  While browsing the online audio book collection of my local I found an available copy of The Hollow Hills (Book 2 of The Arthurian Saga by Mary Stewart).

After a quick download on the Overdrive Media Player app, I started listening to it on my commute.  I could tell right away that this would be another of those feel-good favorites. But I really hate to start a series in the middle (pesky spoilers).  Book 1, The Crystal Cave, was not on audio.  Eager to start at the beginning, I checked out a really beat up first edition (1970) hardback from the library.

Yep, it’s an answer to prayer. It’s not even Christmas yet, and God has given me a personalized gift of love, a new book by a new author, custom made for me.

In my devotional this morning I read,
“Without God’s love, there is no way to establish [a foundation for a true family]. Without God’s love, there is no way for us to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. Love is truly the source and wellspring of our life and happiness.”Exposition of the Divine Principle

I have received many answers to prayer over the years. They are usually related to work or mission.  More like a, “Let’s get this job done,” kind of answer (James 2:18); a soldier’s marching orders.  But this answer was special, because it was purely unconditional, from God’s heart of love to my heart.

I want to abide in Your heart of love always,
To be inundated, overcome,
Swept away by that sweet love.
No agenda,
Just Your loving presence.
With every beat of my heart,
Every breath I take.
Every day fresh and new.
Every morning amidst the sparkling dew.
Soak my feet with Your love as I walk barefoot in the grass.
Freshen me and breathe me in,
as I breathe You in
to dwell in the altar of my heart.

The Gratitude Game


Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, wrote a blog post on Ecclesiastes Chapter 8. Here’s her original post.>>—-> How to Enjoy Tranquility Through All of Life’s Trials

Here’s my comment on her post. Rejoicing makes sense to me even if there’s nothing in particular to rejoice about. I recently read in a review of, Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, that the secret to happiness is gratitude. It rings true for me.

I make it a spiritual practice to challenge myself to look for unusual things to be grateful for–like dirt . . . and worms. Yep. As a gardener, those are two essentials for a successful garden.

Another favorite thing to be grateful for is books; books full of words, and libraries full of books, free for the borrowing. I’m grateful for parents who read stories to me, teachers who taught me to read and even one special children’s librarian who got me totally hooked on books in the third grade.

How about color vision? I’m grateful to have color vision. God made the world such a vibrantly colorful place, but without color vision we wouldn’t be able to appreciate its natural beauty.

What would you do if you were color-blind? I was surprised to hear that Monte Roberts, The Man Who Listens To Horses, is color-blind. Not only that, he is grateful that he is color-blind and looks on it as a gift. He says that his color-blindness enabled him to see what others couldn’t see in horse’s communication dynamics. He attributes his amazing ability to communicate with horses to his color-blindness.

I’m grateful for my introverted character. I encounter many obstacles misunderstanding and even prejudice in the workplace. Like Monte’s color-blindness, I see introversion as a gift. It gives me a unique perspective on the world and allows me to see what many extroverts miss. They may think I’m missing out on the vibrant colors of an extroverted life, but I wouldn’t trade my introversion in for anything. (Even a Lexus.)

(Dear @Lexus, you owe introverts an apology)