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Ready for a slow down…reflections from Psalm 90.

I’m learning to thin my plate. Trust me, this irony is not lost on me as I’ve been changing to a healthier eating lifestyle over the last 2yrs., but in eating & in my personal life…my plate is getting thinner.

I’ve always said that when I have too much time on my hands I tend to make foolish, destructive decisions. That fear has caused me to go 900miles a minute and since I’ve never been really good at relaxing I have a bad habit of taking on too much. A habit I’m trying to break.

During this past summer I could feel myself getting burned out. Between working 3 jobs (sometimes 4), worrying about family health problems, staying active in my church & community, plus the pressure (self-inflicted) that I put on myself to spend so many hours reading, working in the garden & house, writing, hiking, blah blah; my candle was burning up quickly & activities that used to bring me joy began to feel more like a chore. I started to have horrible stomach pains & my suspicions were proven true when, for the second time in less than 10yrs., I was diagnosed with a stomach ulcer. The threat of a possible surgery caused me to examine my lifestyle & how I can de-compress, de-stress, & handle my behavior in a less-destructive way.


I took a 30-day hiatus from all social media, quit one of my jobs, cut back on a busy social calendar, took a vacation (days of drinking, nature & laughs) and got back into reading the Bible regularly. At moments I’ve loved having a thinner plate; I’m reading & writing more, I’ve finished “one day” projects around the house, & I’ve met up with friends for lunch instead of saying, “we should totally get together” via text. At other moments I’ve hated it; extra time = my mind over-thinking & worrying about things that don’t matter, having to re-budget after a loss of income, & guilt over sitting down to watch a movie (I know some of ya’ll can relate). It’s been a roller-coaster of highs & lows.


I’m studying the book of Psalms this year. Even though I’ve read countless verses here & there, I’ve never studied it as a whole. Very fitting that Psalm 90 happens to be the chapter I’ve been studying during this season of my life (isn’t it amazing how God does that?). Psalm 90 is written by Moses; a man chosen by God to lead His people out of slavery & the wilderness to the promised land of milk & honey. After freedom from Egyptian slavery, the Israelites spent the next 40yrs. wandering the desert wondering when the promise of their “promised land” was to happen. Boy, can I relate to that! Psalm 90 is Moses’ prayer for strength, that the anxiety he feels during the “waiting” will be a character builder. That the Lord will teach him to “slow down” & value his days, trusting that the Lord keeps His promises & is re-focusing him to be better equipped for the day that promise comes to pass.

Something that I struggle with, and I have throughout my whole walk with Christ, is I don’t feel like I “hear” from God. Like my prayers fall on deaf ears. I’ve got many journal entries asking God why He’s ignoring me, however, many scriptures throughout the Bible refer to God speaking in a “still small voice”. If you know me personally, then you know that the concept of a “still small voice” is foreign considering I’ve never been quiet about anything! In the past, when God has needed to get my attention, he does it brick-wall style, by something so dramatic that I have no choice but to pay attention. I feel this slow-down phase He’s bringing into my life is so I can become better attuned to his direction & voice (and I just now realized that this very moment while typing out this paragraph).

At some point maybe I will learn that I can cause myself so much less-stress if I just trust in the Lord in the first place.

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Random Questions: If you could have dinner with 7 famous people, dead or alive, who would they be & where would they sit?

It’s Wednesday, which means its my blog day. After my near-death-almost-met-Jesus-last night experience; thanks to my car brakes bombing out on me while driving home, I needed a “fun” blog to occupy my mind.

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For starters, I’d choose the location to be somewhere chill & relax. For me, the most relaxing place in the world would be a cabin, in the woods, up in the mountains. So, I’m thinking the mountains of the great-West; Montana, Washington State, Utah, Idaho. Outside under the stars (no bugs to bother us, of course), a fire going & a table full of fresh homemade bread, wine, bowls of my Grandma Cooper’s potato soup, lots of fresh vegetables & different kinds of cheesecake for dessert, along with my Grandma Martinez’s pistachio muffins & copious amounts of organic green tea when the discussion goes on until the early morning hours (and it’s a given that everyone is to bring their dogs to lounge around at our feet).  Can you really have a more perfect evening than that? Not to me!

Some of my 7 dinner guests were relatively easy to pick. Others I bounced around on. What I did notice was all my picks were (mostly) scientists or religious figures. Makes sense because those are the two things that I seem to be in battle about. I love the Lord & am a proud follower of Christ, but at times I find the Bible & its teachings so far-fetched that its hard for me to wrap my mind around (God talking thru burning bushes-that don’t burn up, floods that destroy the whole earth, armies that go into battle with just music…c’mon that’s almost like drug-induced, hippy-dreams, right there!).

Regardless, I’m pretty satisfied with my final-7. Although, she’s not “famous” by world-standards, I’d love to add my Great-Grandma Henderson to this list. I’ve never met her, but from the stories that I’ve heard I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t have fallen in love with this lovely lady (country lady to the core!). A few years ago I had a dream about her (my dreams are always vivid, very real, & incredibly wacky) & that dream brought a conversation with her that I still cherish. She loved the Lord, so I know I’ll get to continue that conversation with her again one day. That’s the most comforting thing about God’s promises, its knowing you’ll be reunited with those you lost during your time on Earth & those that you never met, but still have shaped & prayed for you.

If you could have dinner with 7 famous people (dead or alive), who would you pick & where would they sit?

steve-irwin1.- Steve Irwin: I have been a Steve Irwin fan for as long as he’s been on television. I actually remember the very first episode of his show that I saw on Animal Planet (truth!) & my “Kennedy” moment (you know, everyone always remembers exactly what they were doing when Kennedy was shot) was his death. Aside from the fact that he was entertaining, I thought he was a brilliant TEACHER with the way he explained & broke things down, simplified. Such an advocate for wildlife conservation & what you saw was what you got. I’ve read all of his biographies/auto & still watch his show(s) on re-run whenever I can catch them. *Side-note, no matter how much his popularity & net worth grew, him & his wife lived in the same split-level, $30k fixer-upper they bought when they first married. His personal salary was averaged out to that of a zookeepers & anything made above that he put into his wildlife conservation organizations & various other organizations he supported*.

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2. Pastor Joel Osteen: Pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. My Grandma & Papa Cooper actually got me interested in watching him on television. I was hooked! This led to reading most of his books (haven’t read his latest) & several of his devotionals have made it into my library. Regardless if you’re a believer or not, watch him for his positivity & joy, its contagious. The enthusiasm he radiates is what the world needs more of. You can tell he’s on FIRE for Christ & has a true passion for leading people to Him. One of the items on my “Life List” is to attend one of his Sunday morning church services at Lakewood (a trip to Texas is always needed!).

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3. John Lennon: I don’t really think I need much of an explanation why I’d have John Lennon at my table, he’s John Lennon. Period. End of Discussion.

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4. Charles Darwin: He grew up very Christian, in a Christian home, but he had a deep love for nature & that caused him to question a lot of his beliefs. He came up with Natural Selection & the Theory of Evolution…to be able to have a discussion with him would blow my mind. And to have him on a panel with spiritual leaders would be an amazing discussion to watch (because I certainly wouldn’t be able to follow his thinking, way beyond what my mind can comprehend). *Side-note, Steve Irwin’s turtle, Harriet, was one of Charles Darwin’s famous Galapagos turtles that he studied while coming up with his Theory of Evolution… Mind-blown!*

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5. Sarah: from the Bible. King David was originally on my list, but I kept coming back to Sarah (Abraham’s wife). She has been a key-figure for me over the last few years as someone I can relate to, biblically. God put a desire in her heart-she doubted & took matters into her own hands, it (obviously) was a train-wreck, but eventually that promise still came true-in God’s timing, despite her trying to control it herself. What a lesson! I’d love to be able to thank her, hear her advice, & listen to her testament on faith. Be like talking to your Grandma, one who has weathered all the hard parts of life.

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6. Anna Sewell: author of Black Beauty. When I was in 4th or 5th grade, my Aunt Pennye, gave me Island of the Blue Dolphin, Where the Red Fern Grows, & Black Beauty to read as I was recovering from a surgery. Where the Red Fern Grows & Black Beauty remain as my top favorite books of all time & have had huge impacts in shaping the course of my beliefs & life. I’d love to have a discussion with the author of a book that introduced this young child to the horrors of animal-abuse & how everything can heal with patience, compassion, & love. I still remember bawling my eyes out & hiding this book in my closet because I didn’t even want to look at it, I was so heart-broken by the way Beauty was treated. This novel was the first (and only) novel written by an invalid & very sick Anna who died days after it was first published. One of my most treasured possessions is an early edition of this novel, from 1895 that I picked up at a friends antique store for $4.

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7. Snoop Dogg: okay, quit laughing Smile I’m not a fan of rap music, at all. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever really listened to Snoop Dogg’s music (although, I did watch his show Fatherhood…hi-larious!), but I am a fan of him! He is one smart cookie & every time I read anything he’s done or see him on television it makes me laugh & then go, “brilliant!”. He’d be sitting right next to me at dinner, for the sheer fact that I’d want to catch every little sarcastic gem he says. I love that he’s so “REAL” & his attitude is, “F**k it! This is me, take it or leave it”. He’s so chill & cool (possibly because of the mad amounts of weed he smokes), but hey, I dig it!

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God & Country

On July 4th, 2011 the Elyria Chronicle newspaper ran an article about a man named John Hall. A pretty common name all in itself, but to the people who know him a very uncommon gentleman.

Every morning-after he’s done feeding his dog, taking care of his birds, laying out food for all the wildlife that inhabit his back yard, John dresses in his Marine Corps dress blues, walks out to the flagpole in his front yard & raises the American flag. After he raises the flag, he salutes, turns sharply towards his house & marches back inside. Every evening he does the same routine to take the flag down, where he then folds it in exact military technique, stores it with precision, only to repeat the process all over again the next morning. He does this every day.

Today, July 23rd, 2011 the Elyria Amvets post honored John with an “honorary Marine” award. They made speeches about his loyaltyand his love for his country. American flags were passed out  to an audience full of John’s relatives, friends, & passerby’s who knew only of him through a newspaper article. They awarded him a plaque, a Marine Corps baseball cap, & a beret. Cleveland’s Fox news channel 8 taped the ceremony for their 10pm broadcast as John posed for pictures with retired Amvets veterans. Not even the rainy weather could dampen the spirits of those there to support John on his special day.

John loves the Lord & recites the “Lord’s prayer” every night before he goes to bed. John loves his family, especially his mother whom he helps take care of with tender love. John loves his friends and offers them a smile and a hug whenever he sees them. When John says he’ll prayer for you, he prays for you. When John says he loves you, he loves you. When John asks for your name, he remembers it. When John calls you his friend, he calls you that without ever wanting something from you & without expectations. You’re his friend simply because you’re kind to him & he enjoys being around you-exactly what a friend should be!

John loves God & he loves his country. He has more love for both in one finger than some do in their whole being. John is my friend, as he is to everyone who was at his award ceremony today & to countless others who were unable to attend.

John has Downs Syndrome & is a walking example of the heart that God wants all of us to have.

God & Country.    

                                                                                                

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