How May I Pray for You?

If you’re stuck thinking everyone else has such a great life and your life is super crummy, then ask someone, “How may I pray for you?”

My ex and I prayed together almost every night. We laid in bed, held hands and prayed before going to sleep. Obviously, we weren’t the perfect couple, he’s my ex. So, prayer doesn’t necessarily fix everything the way we’d like it too, but it definitely puts things back into perspective. For instance, it was hard for the ex and I to stay mad at one another, if we’d just had a fight, when we were finishing the night with prayer. Why? Prayer is spoken to God. Things get real when God steps in or when we step toward him.

Ask someone, how may I pray for you, and instantly, things will get real with them. You’ll watch their perfect life fade before your eyes as they begin to tell you how despondent they’ve been lately, or how they’re marriage is suffering, or their boss is a tyrant, or they’re waiting on health results, or well, a billion things. You’ll see their million dollar home turn into a fortress of suffering right before your eyes. You’ll see those picture perfect photos of summer vacations become facades of joy, posted on social media to prove some point.

So, that takes care of one thing. You thinking you have a crummy life while everyone else is living the grand life. Ask someone if you can pray for them, and the walls come down, and the vulnerabilities come out. But really, you knew that, you just needed to hear it.

Now you have. You’ve heard that their life isn’t so great. That their suffering is real behind the facade. Maybe you just never took the time to get to know them. Whatever the case, now you do. They let down their walls and let you in.

What do you do?

You actually pray for them.

I wish I could tell you why. I wish I could tell you why it is a good idea for you to lift that person up in prayer, or to offer your own requests to God, but I don’t have a big theological reason why. I only know that when I do, I somehow feel as though my walls came down a bit, too, and I stop pretending. I stop pretending that I am in control, or that I know what to do in every circumstance. I stop pretending, even to myself, that I am a font of wisdom.

Oh, I may know my way a tad better now than at 20, but I am still baffled by the all of it. This world is crazy. And crazy is so much better with others than alone.

 

Christians, Gays, Transgenders and Lord Help Us

Everybody is a Donald Trump anymore. Everybody has turned so mean.

And since I am a Christian, it is even more upsetting that Christians are mean, too.

I am referring to mean conservative Christians who shout ugly things about gays, transgenders, and whoever else to the rooftops. And, I am referring to mean liberal Christians who name call and hurl insults at their conservative counterparts.

Somehow, both the liberals and the conservatives ended up with God on their side. Amazingly.

The liberals like to make everyone look stupid, and the conservatives like to make everyone look immoral. One group shouts stupid, one group shouts sinful. Both groups like to toss around the phrase “What would Jesus do?” insinuating that the other group was not behaving as Jesus would, since both groups seem pretty convinced that they know what Jesus would actually do.

Poor Jesus. What a tug of war he’s in.

And, how forgotten he is in this battle to be heard.

My mom ran into the issue of transgender at her women’s golf group. She loved golf and she was competitive. She wanted to win, or at least have a chance. Miss Anne, a male-turned-female, joined Mom’s group and that ended the competition. Miss Anne drove the ball like a man, though she was in a women’s league, and my mom was a 70-something-year-old woman who only taken up the game a few years before.

Mom was stressed over this, and not sure what to do.

I suggested that Miss Anne play from the men’s box. Seemed legit to me. If I were Miss Anne I wouldn’t mind that request, and would be able to see the fairness in it. Mom decided to pray about it.

A few months later, I asked what she decided. Mom said she wasn’t going to bring it up. She didn’t want to hurt Miss Anne’s feelings. She was going to try and be less competitive. Having played my mother in Scrabble for most of my life, I can attest to the tremendous sacrifice this was for a woman who revealed in competition.

It bothered me because it felt unfair to my mom. I kept thinking, if I were Miss Anne, I would get it. I wouldn’t be offended by that. I said as much to Mom, but the matter had been settled for her with prayer. The person, not the game, was now more important.

Here’s the thing. Morally, Mom did not consider Miss Anne’s lifestyle choice as “right,” but morally, she chose to treat her kindly and with respect.

Here’s the moral of this story: It is possible for people to work out their issues without the liberals or the conservatives getting involved or even having an opinion. I had an opinion, but my opinion wasn’t relevant to the situation. This was Mom’s to decide. The legislators didn’t even have to vote on it.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as asking Jesus what he would actually have you do, as opposed to asking what he would have others do.

 

 

 

What God Did

Sometimes it’s important to tell others what God has done in our lives. You never know, maybe that person is in a similar situation, or any old situation, where someone like God would be darn useful.

So, here’s a story–really the pared down version–of what God did in my life when I had no money, no job, no home and no plan.

I was divorcing and for all the convoluted stories divorces can be, I won’t go into how this next thing happened, but it did. The ex got the house, and most of the money. I hadn’t worked in 15 years (stay-at-home mom), and was unemployed when this happened.

Here’s what I needed: a home, money to move, a job that would pay for myself and my son, and a plan. A really good plan.

The plan was the thing that bugged me the most. I believed if I could come up with a good plan, I could begin whittling away at this God-sized dilemma.

I did pray about it. A lot. But, I prayed without expecting anything. My prayers were really just my worries directed at God, which I think is how most of us pray most of the time.

One afternoon, while my son was at school, I was curled up in the bed. I was going through these mental gymnastics that were crazy. I was repeating over and over, “Think, Cinthia, think. You can come up with a plan.” After hours of this, I finally said, “Lord, I don’t have a plan. I hope you do.” It was more rhetoric than faith. Sort of like saying, “I don’t have a clue. Anybody else got one?”

Turns out he did have a plan.

I got a job at a local garden center in a town an hour and 15 minutes away. The two men that own the garden center are very godly men with a heart to help those who need it, and they helped me. They got involved personally, not just professionally, and loaned me some furniture and a box truck for moving.

Simultaneously, my son got a soccer scholarship to the university in that same small town. It was a perfect fit for him, academically and athletically.

Obviously, the town was turning out to be our new home. One day, I took a deep breath and asked customers as they shopped if they knew of any rentals. They did not. It’s a small town, mostly retirees, not a lot of rental property. Until I was locking up, and a woman asked if she could come in and browse while I closed. Turns out she was a realtor who knew of a house. She could take me there as soon as I was finished for the day. It was the perfect house for someone who had deposit money (first and last month) and a credit score that proved you would pay the rent. I had neither.

The house was one block from the university, and had a washer and dryer, my only criteria.

But, the realty agency was owned by a godly man, and he chose to help me by trusting that God would provide a way for me to pay the rent, and he waived the fees. The banker that processed a personal loan for my moving expenses was also a godly man who echoed the realtor. He smiled (he is still a friend and has a very boyish smile), and said, “God will provide a way for you to pay this back.”

In March of 2012 I had no home, no money, no job and no plan. In August of 2012, I had a home, a job and a plan.

Here’s the thing: It’s easy to say that none of this was God because I did what people do in that situation. I found a job. I found a home. I moved. I didn’t stay on that bed and wait for God to make all those things happen, (though he could have). I went looking for a job and a home. So, was it God or was it me? Shrug your shoulders to that question and move on.

It was God. Here’s why:

  • The small town was never even a thought to me. It is so small and so out of the way, I wouldn’t have considered it.
  • I wasn’t looking for a garden center job. I was looking for a professional job that paid professional money, but at 53 I discovered that wasn’t going to happen. I am both a City Planner and a horticulturist, and while I prefer working as a horticulturist, I just figured I’d have to sit through the endless meetings of a City Planner to pay the bills. To date, I am paying the bills on garden center money.
  • My son getting accepted and receiving a scholarship to the small university in the town I was offered a job.
  • The first and only house I looked at is still my home three years later, and is a block away from the university.
  • The godly people God put in my path who blessed me with their generosity.

God had a plan. I had no plan. I was a desperate girl in desperate times, and God showed me the way.

If you’re still not convinced, here’s one more thing: I left behind a 20-year-old garden. It was a cottage garden, full of beautiful perennials. One of my favorites was a spring blooming bulb called Spanish bluebells. As Spring of 2013 came I noticed my new yard had a million of “something” coming up in it. Friends asked what that plant was. I didn’t know, but truly, I hadn’t looked at them. I was busy working and frankly, it still hadn’t completely occurred to me that God was orchestrating this life I was now leading.

One morning I woke up remembering the Spanish bluebells at South Turkey Creek. This would be the first spring in 20+ years that I would miss them. I said, “Lord, the bluebells. I won’t see them this year.” Disappointed and missing my garden, I got ready for work and walked out my front door. Over night that plant had bloomed. Turns out the former owner of my little house loved Spanish bluebells, too. There were millions of them, literally everywhere–every bed, every corner, along the street, along the fence, against the house, among the shrubs–everywhere, erect, blue and showing off.

God not only had a plan, he remembered that I loved Spanish bluebells and placed me in a home that had an abundance of them. He’s like that. When he makes a plan, he attends to every detail.

 

 

 

Morning Bible Study

A Morning Bible Study

I’ve learned, over the years, to reach for my Bible first thing each morning. Nothing else can come first. Well, a pot of coffee can, and the dog gets to go outside to pee, but that’s it. I won’t even switch last night’s load of laundry because we all know what would happen if I did. And, my phone is turned off.

It goes like this. I read the chapter, pick the first 5-6 verses, and begin. Here’s my page header.

Galatians 1: 1-5       January 11, 2016  

I divide each verse into a, b, and c.

1a) From Paul, an apostle (not appointed by men, or a human agency, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him [Jesus] from the dead).
1b) God raises the dead and God gives us our appointments.
1c) What appointment has God given me?

A: I write the Scripture out, without modifying it, although I do typically shorten it. I don’t use my critical thinking skills here. I use the Holy Spirit, who teaches me. I start by praying to be taught and the wisdom to understand. I remember being startled that I wasn’t learning what I thought about Scripture. I was learning Scripture. That was 24 years ago.

2) and all the brothers with me, to the churches of Galatia.
2b) Don’t journey alone.
2c) Who are ‘the brothers’ with me?

B is my lesson, my take-away. It can be a command, a warning, encouragement, a lesson, comfort, lots of things.
C is the question I ask myself in response.

3a) Grace and Peace to you from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
3b) Grace and peace come from God and Jesus.
3c) How do I try to create my own internal and external peace?

I take time after each question and prayerfully ask God the question. I want to listen for the answer.

4a) who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age according the will of God the Father
4b) Christ is our rescuer.
4c) Do I live in fear of myself though I have been rescued?

5a) To whom be the glory forever and ever (Christ).
5b) Glory belongs to Christ, who obeyed and performed the will of the Father.
5c) Do I seek my glory or Christ’s?

The next part is a short application of what I’ve learned and how I plan to respond to it.

Application:
Being rescued from this world of evil does not mean I am taken out of it. It means Christ, through the forgiveness of my sins, rescued me from being a part of it. I would be/and am as evil and terrible as the world around me had it not been for Christ’s grace to me. I live in fear of myself and my ability to mess things up, but I don’t need too. Christ has rescued me from that.

Obedience:
To walk in the authority and grace God has given me.

Side notes:
Who knew there was “churches” in Galatia? I presumed there was just one.

Side notes is just me. Odd things I notice that I hadn’t before. I also keep a prayer list going while studying, as people or things come to mind.

 

Rest, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

Get Some Rest (And some Takeout)

Lately, when I wake up, before I even open my eyes, my mind forms the words, “Lord, send back-up. I’m pooped.”

He hasn’t.

I’m still waiting.

Today, I got a little aggravated. It isn’t every day that I openly acknowledge running out of steam. It isn’t every day that I cop to being too exhausted to run the world, or my itty-bitty portion of it. I rarely admit to being overwhelmed or unable. I know, silly me. But, since I did cop to it, I figured God would send in the troops. I imagined him proud and waving off his angels to aid me, saying, “Yes, go. She’s finally learned a new word: Help.”

Well, I did learn a new word. So where the heck is the help? Are the angels delayed as they were with Daniel? (Daniel 10:12) Fighting off the kings of Persia? Is Persia still a country?

I started looking around. Maybe I was missing something. You know, one of those cryptic things right in front of you that you never see or saw. There was nothing, and here I need someone to write garden notes, clean out the grill, dig out the old boards around the now-gone cherry tree so the stump grinder can get in there, detail my car, and go buy some groceries–or better yet–cook. It’s been weeks since I had an actual meal. Cereal and microwave popcorn only get you so far. And, I’m way past the 3 weeks Daniel had to wait.

Come on. One angel that can clean or garden or cook? It can be a runty angel. It doesn’t need to be the warrior angels, Gabriel or Michael. Although, let’s face it, they’re probably getting up there in years by now.

I needed insight into why no extra hands were being provided, so I did my daily Bible Study with the intention of getting to the bottom of it. I was in Mark, chapter 6, when I read verse 31.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he [Jesus] said to them [his disciples], “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Jesus’ disciples were overworked, overwhelmed and likely way over all the people that came seeking Jesus. People who didn’t need a specimen tree in their new landscape, but a miracle for a sick and dying child. Loved ones pleading for loved ones, calling to Jesus for a healing touch. In the midst of that enormous need, Jesus pulled his disciples away to eat and rest.

It explained the missing troops. God wasn’t sending troops. He wanted me to pull away, rest and eat. So okay, but, I literally don’t know how to stop working.

There’s a reason for that. I’m not a workaholic. I have trust issues.

I work hourly. That translates to: If I don’t work, I don’t get paid. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a girl that used to have a benefits package, and a vacation didn’t equal less income. Makes for a sweeter vacay. But, I’m not generally a griper. I’m more of a pragmatist. My reasoning is simple. Since I don’t get paid to take time off, I don’t take time off.  Not even Sundays. My friend, Julia, said, “Sounds like a trust issue to me.”

What does does that even mean? Trust issue about what?

Okay, breaking down Mark 6:31 is easy. We can translate this one literally.

  • First, find a quiet place. My bedroom fits the bill.
  • Second, get away from the hoards needing something from you NOW. Turn the phone/IPad/computer off.
  • Third, maybe get some food, an actual meal. Take out!
  • Fourth, hang out with Jesus. He really can restore a weary soul.
  • Fifth, no work. Just rest. Seriously, do something creative or get some sleep.

But, what about the missing paycheck and the to-do list? What about those people who needed Jesus to give life to the dying, cure the lame, restore sight, and stop bleeding?  What about, what about, what about? Also, in Matthew 6:

Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

These are Jesus’ words. He wants me to know that my heavenly father knows my needs, and he has the benefits package. And, there’s the trust thing. I want to trust him with my plan (extra troops and back-up or unlimited sick and vacation days (SAS anyone?)), not his plan (go to a quiet place, eat and rest in the midst of the chaos of life). But, since no troops have arrived, and Persia is now Iran, which could really hold up some angels, my options are to have a nervous breakdown, or get some rest, and trust God to provide.

I’m going for the rest.

Phones are off. Computer is going off. Chinese take-out boxes are on the nightstand. And, hopefully, clients needing it all done now are resting, too.

 

 

Preparing for Death and Climbing Mt. Everest

 

Call me morbid, but I have realized recently that death is imminent. One of my sisters made the comment that, if statistics are correct, then one of the four of us will die within the next ten years. While I hope stats are wrong, the possibility is a very real one. I don’t relish it.

And yet, I call myself a Christian.

Why bring that up? I guess I thought being a Christian meant I’d be completely prepared for death, maybe even looking forward to it since I’m a big fan of Jesus. But, if being honest is a virtue, then me being virtuous is me saying, I am so not ready for that. I’m not ready for one of my sisters to die. I’m not ready to die.

When the kids were little, I’d often pray, “Just until they’re both 18, then I can die, Lord.” Now, I want to see my granddaughters get married. My deadline for death shifts bit-by-bit each year as new loved ones come along (the grand-girls) and new memories are made. How does one let go of life when there is so much of it?

That’s the question, isn’t it? How does one let go of life?

By having faith that more life is beyond this one than is imaginable.

After Jesus is resurrected, he is talking with Peter while walking on the beach. He tells Peter that when Peter is old he will go where he does not want to go. Jesus says it to Peter as follows in John 21:18-19:

18 I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.”19 He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”

Many believe Jesus was referring to the fact that Peter would die a death of crucifixion. (He and his wife, upside down no less.) That makes sense and I cannot fathom such a horrific death, but verse 18 is one that runs through my head lately. As I witness parents of friends experience this very thing–once young and independent, now old and dependent. They rely on children to be understanding and helpful–to dress them, feed them, drive them, and yes, even take them where they may not want to go.

Growing old gracefully is a new thought indeed. Am I up for the challenge?

Some refuse to accept growing old and so they’re out climbing Mt. Everest. Forgive me for this, but boring. Once you get to the top, you have the chore of coming down. And, while it would seem that would be easy part, it actually isn’t. Climbing down a mountain can be as challenging as climbing up one.

And, climbing down feels like the challenge now.

Yes, I still have mountains ahead with plenty of adventures and excitement left, but I also have the responsibility of preparing for death. Read that sentence again.

I have the responsibility of preparing for death.

How will I do that? By remembering, and believing in the most clear and definitive way that more life awaits me there than ever could here. And by there, I do mean heaven.

Yes, this preparation feels like climbing down a mountain to me. Like I’m being led to where I do not want to go.

But, if Scripture is correct, (and I believe it is), then I am not climbing down but going up. Stephen, the first Christian martyr looked up and saw Jesus sitting at the right hand of God, as they were stoning him.  Jesus ascended when he left this earth. Elijah went up in a fiery chariot to heaven. The tower of Babel was built up to reach the heavens. On the last day we will rise up to meet Jesus as he descends down. All of this feels so surreal and unreal as I prepare myself mentally for the death I will most certainly have.

In this journey ahead, I may feel like I am climbing down the mountain as the years click by, but I am actually climbing up, bit-by-bit, not to Mt. Everest, but to heaven. And, once I am there, I thankfully do not have the chore of coming back down.

Christians are No Longer Cool

I left my sheltered world of a stay-at-home mom on the farm, went back to work, and quickly found out that being a Christian is so not cool. I don’t know if it ever was cool, but I’d never gotten flack for being one, until now.

It seems, I’m suspected of judging every single soul on the planet. Like Santa, I’m thought to be sitting at home making a list of who’s naughty and nice, and checking it twice. (I’m not. I’m actually watching NCIS:LA. LL Cool J is my celebrity crush.) I’m told by people, who do not know me or my faith, that I should never judge another person. It just isn’t right.

I looked up the word judge. It means to form an opinion or conclusion about.

Ok, yeah, I’ve done that. From like, preschool on.

But mostly over stupid stuff. Not the big stuff like race, lifestyle, financial status or who I thought should go directly to hell. It was mostly hair, or body (she’s way too skinny), or the way they raised their kids, or their big house, or just whatever. Dumb things. I don’t do that now because, well, I’ve lived long enough to consider my own parenting, hair, weight and weightier subjects.

And, I don’t get riled up over the morals of others because I don’t have a moral leg to stand on, and frankly, I don’t care.

I’ve done little judging, but definitely my fair share of critiquing.

Weirdly, there are people who are judging me for the possibility that I might be judging others. And, yes, I do realize that plenty of Christians are judgmental, but seriously? It’s not like we hold all the cards on that one. Non-Christians are just as quick to judge others, too. It’s a lesson for all of us, not just the Jesus followers.

It’s also assumed that I hate gays, hate Muslims, hate Obama, hate Hilary (well, she is annoying), and anything else left of right. Geez. I’m given too much credit. I rarely consider any of these issues or people. I’m too busy with Cinthia-world, which is not an easy world to run, just FYI.

If not all Muslims are radical extremists, then why are all Christians non-tolerant, judgmental, fundamentalists? Just asking.

Look, there’s a judge, and it’s not me. His name is Jesus, He instructs me to leave the judging up to him because it is too big and burdensome for my shoulders, and besides, I can’t see inside a person’s heart and he can. So, I do. Judging is too hard, too complicated. I haven’t walked where you walk. I haven’t traveled your journey. I don’t live in your skin. Nor you in mine. But, I am a big proponent of being traveling buddies, even the Navy Seals do that. I’d rather skip the judging (me of you or you of me), and see if we can help each other along the way because the way can be hard. And, while we’re traveling, let’s skip the critiquing, too. My dad called it gossip, and I know for a fact, Christian or not, we’re all guilty of that.

 

 

 

Working 9 to 5, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

Working 9 to 5

Let’s all start by saying we wish we worked 9-5. I’m more like 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. How about you? But hey, it pays the bills, and that does seem important. I make more money working more hours, not more money by the hour. Welcome to the blue collar world. Still, I love my job and am very passionate about what I do. So, I keep doing it.

But, this week was a bad week at work. It just was. Even a job you love and are passionate about can be a pretty crap job some weeks. It’s life. Work is a good thing that sometimes isn’t so good. Here’s how I handled that. I chose to be a little underhanded. Because someone picked on me, I picked on someone else. The pecking order and all that. How old am I?

Bottom line: I was mean.

I was passive aggressive about it so it’s possible the person missed it entirely. That generally flies right over a guy’s head. Women never miss a passive aggressive move. So, here’s hoping the guy I picked on didn’t notice my passive-aggressive little self. If he did, here’s  hoping he noticed my bending-over-backward-to-be-nice self the following day. Because I regretted the silly behavior the second I did it. I felt childish and ridiculous. And, let’s face it, no one deserves to be picked on just because I was.

Skip to my sister’s work week and well, my passive aggressive move looks like buttered toast with a warm glass of milk. Her boss, a supposed genius, decided to take her into a closet, and use every “gd” word he could think of while reminding her who signed her check.And, this because she did something his wife instructed her to do. Obviously, trouble in paradise.

That reminder, the check, was enough to keep her silent. Oh, how I wish I had been there because he does not sign my check. I understand though. Fear of losing one’s job, the very thing that puts food on the table is nerve-racking, and causes us to devalue ourselves enough to allow some crazed idiot to scream in our faces, and call us names. So long as that tirade doesn’t end with you’re fired, we’ll stand there and take it because we need the work. I will. I wouldn’t have opened my mouth with the bi-polar boss calling me every name in the book because I’ve got no back-up. It’s me and me alone that pays my bills. If I don’t come up with the cash, nobody does. So, while I lectured my sister on speaking up for herself, I acknowledged that I, too, would have stayed quiet. What we’ll do to provide for ourselves is a bit scary. Not to mention passive-aggressive, sometimes.

It can all be very traumatizing. I mean that quite seriously. Which is a shame because if fear didn’t dictate the work force, or bullies didn’t call themselves bosses, or he bottom line didn’t mean you’re fired, or lack of experience didn’t mean you’re too young, or aged-out didn’t mean, well, that you’ve aged out of the work force, I’m betting we would all do some pretty amazing things.

Remove all the insanity and fear, and you have people who are free to do what they’re designed to do. From engineers to ballet dancers, everyone could flourish.

But, there’s also this. Bettering ourselves. Climbing up the ladder of classes. Every person wants to make it to the next rung on the ladder with the thought that it might make life a bit easier. And money does make life easier, so the temptation becomes giving up what we’re passionate about so we can better ourselves. Having been on both sides of the money equation, having money is so much better than not. Having been on both sides of the work equation (love it & hated it), hating your job is so much worse than not.

We either work to live or live to work, the saying goes.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if we lived to work, and that work paid for us to live? I believe that’s what’s called “having it all,” the job we love with the paycheck that stretches.

I don’t have the answer to this, and frankly my frustration with what my sister had to endure is the nemesis for this blog post, so perhaps this is more rambling than enlightening. I’ll conclude by saying that I have chosen to do what I love though I scramble to pay the bills. If I stop to evaluate it, I come back to the same conclusion over and over: I am a gardener. It’s what I do, albeit with less money than I’d like, but with other plant geeks who make less money than what they’d like, but who aren’t cursing people out in closets.  My bosses are busy watering plants. So, am I.  Which seems a good thing to do on a scorching hot day when we all could use a drink.

 

 

 

 

 

Lord Send Help, The Boxwoods Still Need Trimming, Transplanted and Still Blooming, Cinthia Milner

Lord, Send Help. The Boxwoods Still Need Trimming.

Exhaustion: a weary body, a weary soul, a weary heart.

I just woke up from a nap. A much needed, exhaustion-curbing (almost) nap.

Exhaustion is the catch word these days. We’ve passed tired, gone beyond needing a day off, and landed in the middle of exhaustion.

When you reach exhaustion, you’re all out of resources. Unless you’re a Navy Seal, but really, even they seem a bit tired lately what with all the book writing.

Lord, send help.

After waking from my nap and devouring the only food in the house–chips and salsa–and finishing my Chick-fil-A tea. I put my head back and uttered, “Lord send help.”  Like you’d let out a big sigh when you finally sat down after a 16 hour day. Only this was surprisingly accurate words. Lord, send help indeed. When did I start thinking I could do it all? All by myself?

Lord Send Help, The Boxwoods Still Need Trimming, SOS, Transplanted and Still Blooming

I have no idea. But, I remembered the numerous times Israel was up against yet another enemy and the Lord said, stand still and watch what I do, delivering them from their enemy and kicking some butt in the process. I have no butts that need kicking (except perhaps my own), but the supernatural army would come in handy about now, especially if they know how to prune the azaleas, and plant Daub’s Frosted Juniper in the front. Or figure out how to use the new mop I bought six months ago that is so complicated I can’t get the dang kitchen floor clean. If Gabriel can power wash decks and weed the hemlocks, then yes, Lord, send him.

And may I be like Elisha’s servant? Eyes opened to see the armies surrounding me? To see the help that has arrived? I have a to-do list, Lord. I can keep them busy. Though keeping the troops of the Lord busy with domestic chores seems a tad, well, like giving a Navy Seal a weed eater when he should be fighting terrorists. We all have our skill sets.

Then I wondered what I’d actually want help for if he were to send the troops in.

  • Make it rain so I don’t have to water, please.
  • Is it okay to spend money on a vacation this year or not?  (A little fortune telling goes a long way.)
  • Could you bring my mom back? It is Mother’s Day, you know.
  • Send friends. You can only do life alone for so long and then it just gets old.
  • Am I really going to have to work this hard for the rest of my life? I’m so beat.
  • Would you move my grandchildren next door. I’d adore their hugs everyday.
  • And yes, someone to mow grass would be awesome.
  • Cleaning the house wouldn’t hurt.
  • Would you heal my best friend?
  • Would you stop terrorists from terrorizing?
  • Would you make my neighbors nice? By that I mean, would you make them let me use their weed eater?
  • Would you make me nice? By that I mean, make me not bitter about the weed eater.
  • Would you fix my weary soul?

Lord, send help.

Turns out my exhaustion covers more topics than housework, yard work, and work-work.

Exhaustion is like being stranded at sea in one of those small rafts, the water completely still, no wind stirring and no land in sight, but you have to keep rowing someplace–God knows where. It’s just water for miles and blazing hot sun. There’s no end in sight, and jumping overboard looks good because the view is the same in every direction. You’re wondering, what is the point?

I don’t know the point, but I know the Lord, and while I may not need an army to fight a battle for me, I do remember Jesus turning the water into wine at a wedding to save the celebratory day, and this at this mother’s request. She was a tad bossy about it, so I’m guessing Jesus knew the stresses of domestic life. So while I hope he sends armies to where armies are needed, I’m also hoping he’ll at least send a small platoon my way. I still have the boxwoods to trim.

ocean pier transplanted and still blooming cinthia milner

What’s Important. What’s Not Important.

I met my college roommate, Donna, in September of 1977, freshman year, fall term, first day of school. We were assigned a room together. I got the better roommate. She, not so much. She was a brunette with a sense of purpose. I was a clueless blonde. She was a Christian. I was not. We’ve been friends 38 years and counting. This month she was diagnosed with brain cancer. I’ve spent the better part of the month wondering, why this month? This is her birthday month.

She has several brain tumors that the doctors give a grade 4.

Tumors are graded on a scale of 1-4. 1 is good. 4 is not. Though they admit to a possibility of being wrong, they’re treating it like a 4. (It’s possible the grade is 2-3. Her’s is an unusual case.) Her doctor said when people get a diagnosis like this, life becomes about 2 things: What is important and what is not.

I’ve noticed that aging is moving me to the same conclusion, but with Donna, the thought process is accelerated. Her beautiful family, her faith, her most treasured friends, and the lost are now what’s important to her.

I did not become a Christian until age 32, and the word lost infuriated me. I wasn’t lost. I was an intelligent, capable woman with a college degree, a job, several boyfriends (yeah, let’s not go there), and lots of friends who thought and acted just like me. So, what was I lost from? That’s what I wanted to know. I didn’t feel lost. There are multiple ways to explain that, but for now, I’m only going to say that after I became a Christian, I was stunned at my lost self. I am still dumb-founded by that girl in her 20’s, and how she perceived and understood the world.

What strikes me, looking back, was my refusal of all Christian thought on the basis of how ridiculously stupid and intolerant I thought it was, but how quickly I accepted and made my own (without stopping to question), the world’s view on almost any subject–political to personal–especially if it leaned left and liberal. Please don’t read that, now, I blindly accept one thing while refusing everything else. I don’t. If anything, I question everything more. This includes my Christian beliefs and friends, and worldly wisdom. I may still be blonde, but clueless has left the building.

Our college, Furman University, would tell Donna and I that they taught us critical thinking skills, but they didn’t. They taught us worldly wisdom and worldly conclusions. I’m not talking solid-based research on, say, polio vaccinations type-worldly conclusions. There is much the world has discovered and applied in amazingly positive ways.

I’m talking life here. I’m talking what you do when you find out you have brain cancer with grade 4 tumors, and you’re facing radiation and chemotherapy.

If you’re my most beloved and treasured friend, you get on your knees and begin to pray with urgency for the lost.

Sure, she prays for herself. We have a list of healing verses that we’re praying for her. She wants to be healed. She’s my age, 56. She has an 18-month-old grandchild, an adoring husband of 30+ years, a house I am seriously jealous of (with the most charming garden), a beautiful daughter-in-law (in spirit and in person), 2 accomplished and loving children, a sister (they are so close), brothers, father, and friends. She has so much life ahead of her and we’re focused on that. We’re focused on taking our granddaughters (we currently have four!) to the beach when they’re old enough and their moms will part with them for a week. That’s been on our list for years; just the girls and the grandmas.

But, that doctor was right. For Donna, life is now about what’s important and what’s not. So, she prays fervently for the lost while she prays for her family and healing. I have prayed with her. Beside her couch, using her pretty, pillow shams to buffer the old knees.

If I made my what’s important and what’s not list right now, I’d have to admit that the lost don’t get top billing, though I “once was lost but now am found.” (Note to self: To whom much is given, much is expected.) But, as Donna has always known, we’ll spend way more time in eternity than this blip of life on earth, and how deeply the Father wants us all together. How deeply my dear Donna wants us all together.

I don’t for a second believe that Furman put that purposeful brunette and that clueless blonde together. I trust that the Lord made that roommate assignment. Someone had to pray for me. I was lost. That someone is still praying, and it doesn’t get anymore important than that.

donna and cinthia transplanted and still blooming cinthia milner