Friday, July 21, 2017

FIVE THINGS FOR FRIDAY: the gratitude edition



A wise man gave me a blessing and at the end of it he said:
Ramona, you need to get in touch with your family
and you should practice gratitude
Write it down, speak if forth, make a journal, keep a record.
Touch someone and start the healing process

I made a new friend, cause sometimes in our circles, friends have their time. We fade in at the right moment and then we fade out, but never leave
As new friends, we ask a thousand questions, because we have to build "intimacy" so that we can talk without speaking
My friend asked a series of questions  about me, about my family. Now I am used to being an object of curiosity, with rude questions. But she asked me questions that formed the story of my life and I have never told anyone my "whole" story. I am the story keeper these days. But I started to listen to to the words coming out of my mouth , and it was sad. But not in a bad way, because I have already lived that life, but I guess I needed to hear it one more time.

thankful for family


Speaking of rude questions, another friend literally "called me out", right in the middle of Book Club. I suppose she was trying to make a point about the book we read. Can't remember the title, but she said: Ramona, tell us what its like to be Single. ( now I am an exhibit at the Zoo). Shocking, my mind immediately started to go into a frenzy, Why did she ask that, what does she know? I thought silly old pooh bear, you're not Single are you ? Because I swear I was a part of something, until recently or maybe lately. So I said "You tell me", because I have always been apart of something.

Thankful for friends who "get" me and love me. Thank you


I have been reading a lot of books lately, so I will put the list at the bottom of the post. I have always loved a DIY project. You can gather your tools, and paints and whatever and remodel, or fix or change something all together. Lately I have become a DIY project, new clothes, different hair, makeup. Building up my confidence, its working. I really just want to be me the familiar but I am moving toward Ramona the Brave. But don't clap for me yet, don't encourage me with pats on my back. Not ready for that, just a hand up though.

I have a friend who has the ability to cut through bravado, she tells me to be careful, but be brave anyway. She asks me "What do you want to do?" And helps me find the answers. I am thankful for her too.

Thankful, for this life

Life is fluidLove is everlasting…and I want to be a witness to the supernatural process of how God heals a broken heart.How does he do it? With band aids? With balms rubbed into sore spots.I want to see the blessings happening in my life, so I won’t be caught by surpriseBut I don’t believe that Heavenly Father does anything by surprise, unless you haven’t been paying attention.So I am a “Girl on Fire”, I am “Superwoman”. I am a part of the process of a woman’s work in this life, and I am not finished yet. God has plans for me.The errand of angels was given to women.I had a thought, a moment where I was impressed to know, that Jesus will meet with me one day, and we can share scars and stories and he will show me all the tears he has collected from me, my entire life, and then pour them out. Wipe them away and blow my nosea
Lately I have been listening to music that speaks to me in context, it stirs my soul and helps to motivate me to action
I am a girl on fire. 
I am reading this book "One Drop" by Bliss Broyard.
It is a book about discovering who you really are, Embracing the family you have and coming to terms with it.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Hard Knock......sometimes




All things work together for the good of those who love and trust the Lord. Thought I would be on vacation, but instead stay-ca. Sometimes I feel like I am a character in that book: A Series of Unfortunate Events". But I suppose it could be worse

It's The Hard Knock Life from ANNIE - Jenny Oaks Baker feat. "One Voice ...



Monday, June 5, 2017

their eyes were watching God


So today is Praise Monday. I feel like giving much thanks and praise for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Yesterday's Sunday School lesson was 2 of maybe 3 lessons this year that will focus on the preparation for and the return of Jesus Christ. It is not the most popular lesson, most people have very strong reactions to it. They say it is negative, depressing, "makes me feel like their is no hope". I  even had a class member yesterday, scold me because she felt that I was only focusing on the "bad" and not talking about the good. I apologized if she was offended by that but promised to report some good. But you know I have since thought about what is good and bad in what the Lord has required that we know, how we need to prepare for the coming of the Lord. Here is a verse that most people cringe at:  D&C 29:7-8
7 And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect: for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts;
8 Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked. 
The rest of this chapter continues in this really "in your face" language, and because we(as God's people) are afraid of this language, our hearts melt with anxiety and then are hardened and we don't appreciate it, neither do we truly believe it. In D&C 29, in verse 7 the Lord is addressing his "Elect", presumably us, if we stand in "holy places" and if you really dig deep, it feels like when one is in the military, and we are all standing in formation for inspection and we are getting our literal "marching orders" from our Commander. This is war language.  We are gearing up, receiving our last orders. But wait, most people are missing this because they are only reading what the Lord has prepared for the "wicked". Who are the wicked anyway? 
The wicked is "them".  Here is a definition of sorts:
The two uses for the word wickedness in both the Old and the New Testament are very similar and they both have the same effects: the person committing the wickedness stands guilty as a convicted criminal of harming others and themselves because it is done intentionally (with malice) and indicates the depravity of the individual.  As far as humanity is concerned, we know that “None is righteous, no, not one;  no one understands” and “All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” (Rom 3:10-12).
But it could be us too...  We really are having an identity crisis. I suggested that in order to fully appreciate who we are in Christ we really should dig deep, and ask the Father for MORE. But most of the class did not feel comfortable with that. The Father says that "No good thing will be refused to those who love me". We love Father, because we are striving daily to be covenant people. We have been admonished to "cleave" unto them, just like marriage. I also suggested that maybe we could cast out some of our many distractions, such a specific movies and TV shows that although entertaining, they go against the truth, and set it up for nought. Just like Satan harassing the Savior, "If you are, are you sure you are the Son of God?" Really. Like, Jesus are you hungry, could you eat? You aren't really the Son of God, you don't look like him. I suggested that we simply are not satisfied with the life God has given us, and surprisingly most of the class agreed. I suggested that we "push back", against all of the darkness. Life is happening, and when you watch TV, whether real or reality, it is the same, dark, no hope and lies. But I push back on all of it. 

So in answer to the sister who complained that we only talked about the bad, I shared some thoughts that are "good", and gentle on the ears, hope promoting.

Their Eyes were Watching God….
Acts 1:10-11
10 They were looking intently into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 
11“Men of Galilee, they said, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.

John 14:1-3
·         1Do not let your hearts be troubled. (Trouble (a Hebrew preposition) meaning to damage; to disrupt) To literally allow ones heart to be broken again by the world. “Let not your heart be broken again by the evils of the world.” Hang on,you believe in God; believe in Me as well. 
3And, if I go and prepare a place for you, (Do you believe that) I will come back and welcome you into my presence? So, that you also may be where I am.

I really love the translation of let not your heart be "troubled", which in Hebrew refers to not allowing the world to "break your heart again". 
The victory belongs to Jesus


Todd Dulaney - Victory Belongs To Jesus (LIVE)

Friday, May 26, 2017

KINDNESS: i will not be made useless....i will gather myself around my faith


I have heard prayers where a person will thank the Lord for his “loving kindness” and mercy toward us. What is that? What is kindness anyway? I was talking to a friend of mine recently, and I told her about a “meeting” (for want of better words) that I had attended, where the featured speaker proceeded to “ball us out” concerning being kind to each other and also to the people we find ourselves in service to. Now in this particular context, I thought “Wow, she really had to go there, isn’t it a given, under these circumstances, that one would be kind, would summon all of the love and caring that we typically reserved for God, and shower it upon his people? 

It was telling, and I realized that King Benjamin spoke a wise prophecy, that when we are in the service of our fellow man, we are only in the service of our God. Service is love, and kindness comes along because of the “sacrifice” that was made to manifest this love/service. But here is a catch-22, sometimes the very brother or sister we are intent on serving/loving simply refuses our kindness. They take the stand of “self sufficiency, or worse, you are not the person they want serving them. (Pride) Or maybe there is one who has a need, but has a personality so off putting, that you find yourself literally wading through thistles and thorns just to get to them. Now here is a principle, kindness begets kindness. It is a pay it forward kind of thing. So I thought about Elder Russell M Nelson’s talk concerning how in “these days” men’s (and women’s’) hearts will fail them. And he should know a thing or two about heart failure because he is a heart surgeon

What happens when our heart fail? But I would like to say, how does a heart fail? It literally stops beating!! To be the true servant of God that we want to be, our heart is for the Lord. We are men and women after God’s own heart. So I guess that if a man’s heart fails, then he probably never knew the Father anyway. Or worse, he has transgressed or turned away from God, and is still pretending to be a part of the “group”.  
So today I had my first “test” of kindness, which by the way involves several principals of humility, submission and obedience. We don’t pick those we serve, they pick us. I was heading in to my office today, late; more often than not these days. What excuse could I use today? A car flipped on the local lanes of the beltway and just as I was meandering by, a fireman walked out in front of my car and proceeded to close the lane, What?! True story. So as I was walking into the building, (I work at a hospital). I saw a lady who is a member of my ward, getting out of her car at the valet parking booth. She is frequent flyer here; she is a transplant patient, waiting for an organ. In the meantime she has to come often for procedures that help to sustain her life. She has grown so frail these days, but still mean as a pistol. I saw her and immediately I thought “Oh no, there is Sister….. Maybe if I walk slowly behind her she will not see me. I felt a “nudge”, reminding me of why I should help her. But you know I felt for a moment like Ananias, a disciple of Jesus, who had been terrorized by Paul/formerly known as Saul. You see, Saul was public enemy #1 to the fledgling church of Jesus Christ. He literally killed Christians, dragged them out of their homes and stoned them. The Lord commanded Ananias to go where Saul was holed up, desperate and blind after being thrown from his horse, after having a “come to Jesus moment”. The Lord told Ananias to go to a street called “Strait”, and he would find Paul there and he was to pray over him, and heal him of his blindness, and then baptizes him!!! No pressure.  
 Now this Sister wasn’t that bad, but depending on what end you were facing, she could be quite formidable and just plain mean. So I had a tiny argument with that little voice that was defending her case to me. We don’t choose who we serve, they choose us. So I repented and walked up to her and said “Hello in a voice that even the deafest person could not hear. She was so glad to see me, and I asked her if I could walk with her, she said “I really need an arm to hold on too”. So we walked like that to where she had to go.  She really appreciated it and so did I.

Her life, my life, your life, we are all intertwined; like some sad country western song:
 I lost my mamma, my dog, my husband. I just got a run in my last pair of panty hose, dang it.
Sometimes we look for superheroes to save us, maybe Wonder Woman or King Arthur to pull that magic sword out of the stony parts of our hearts and souls. But at the end of the day, it is just you and me, each of us just as broken as the other one. This is the way to heaven.

Today is sing along Friday, we are in the throes of a 3fer, Monday is Memorial Day, maybe we can call it : Kindness to others Day, as if we need a day. Sing along......  




Jewel - Hands - Lyrics

If I could tell the world just one thing
it would be that we're all ok
and not to worry because worry is wasteful
and useless in times like these
I will not be made useless
I won't be idled with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
for light does the darkness most fear

My hands are small, I know,
But they're not yours they are my own
But they're not yours they are my own
And I am never broken

Poverty stole your golden shoes
but it didn't steal your laughter
and heartache came to visit me
but I knew it wasn't ever after

We will fight, not out of spite
For someone must stand up for what's right
Cause where there's a man who has no voice
There ours shall go singing

In the end only kindness matters
in the end only kindness matters

I will get down on my knees and I will pray
I will get down on my knees and I will pray
I will get down on my knees and I will pray


We are God's eyes God's hands God's mind
We are God's eyes God's hands God's heart
We are God's eyes God's hands God's eyes God's hands
We are God's hands God's hands We are God's hands



Monday, May 15, 2017

I AM ENOUGH..........i am worthy of love and belonging


When I was a kid, I was deathly afraid of dogs, big dogs, little dogs, all dogs; it didn't matter. I was the kid you heard screaming from a mile away, running a 3 minute mile while being chased by the neighborhood dogs. I know, you are probably asking, "Wasn't there a leash law or something? I grew up in the South, and everyone had a dog, a porch and shotgun. Dogs were cheap security, and they not only kept their front yard clear of interlopers, scared kids and cats, but also the street that ran in front of their house was their territory too. Woe to any scary kid, like me who found themselves walking along it.
My dad told me that if I would just stop and calm down, the dog would stop and play with me. Seriously Dad? I tried that and the dog definitely did not want to play. So my mom got me and my brother a series of puppies, but they grew up, lost respect for us too and soon started to terrorize us. One dog, aptly named Snoopy, literally chased me and my brother onto the family car. My mom chased him away with her broom. So I know, you are are probably thinking, "What's with the dog stories", actually it's not so much about dogs as it is about how our patterns of behavior, determine how we react to the everydayness of life. Brene Brown coined a term, "Hustling for Worthiness", and being a Mormon, I never thought that "worthiness" was something you had to hustle for. But then, I know there are two types of worthiness that we as humans tend to manifest, one is inward which encompasses our spiritual life, even our emotional and mental. The other side we manifest in a myriad of aspects in our physical selves, which tends to draw in the inward, causing anxiety, body phobia,etc and competition with ourselves to be the best...whatever. And it doesn't help when we are measured against the circus mirror of human opinion. Wow where did that come from?

My brother sent me that little "affirmation" "My past has not defined, destroyed, deterred, or defeated me, it has only strengthened me".

I remember having a conversation with a "friend", who had decided that because of the present circumstances I had found myself in, "widowhood", the neighborhood crazy, newly single, not quite single, pretty but not beautiful, fun but not enough. I was not enough to be considered a friend or what ever. And again I was sucker punched, because I felt like I did as a kid, sticking my hand out to pet this really cute dog, that I did not run away from.( I should have)  I even had a treat, but you know, that little son of a gun bit me. Just a flesh wound, but I remember feeling really betrayed by my friend who told me it was ok. 
I thought to my self, Wow this is harsh, when did people start judging  each other like this? Am I like the woman taken in adultery? Remember that poor woman? Literally dragged out of her bed and thrown at the Jesus feet, off with her head her accusers cried. Nah. I am not her, but I live an a "space" that is entirely new to me, widowhood, and surprisingly there is no "Surviving Widowhood" for Dummies" book, because it is all about survival. But like Blanche Dubois we all depend on the kindness of friends and strangers.  
For a moment, I lost all confidence in myself as a person. All of my entire past life started to pass before me like "bad TV". I picked myself apart, critically assessed every aspect of my person, my behavior and I passed judgement, "I guess I wasn't ready, or maybe I wasn't the best "type", maybe I need to lose a few pounds". I was sentenced, to "you are not worthy of moving on, of surviving, of being a whole person, of even just trying.Get thee to therapy.....right now. Nothing wrong with therapy, but I would like to say, as I managed to zing back at my would be friend " My past does not define me, it enhances the me that I am, it adds more flavor, more nuance. The fact that I am a widow does not define me, but it helps me to be more open to love and and to manifest kindness to strangers." Maybe even pet a few dogs. I am worthy of all that my Father in heaven has for me, I am loved, I am special (in a good way), we all are.  

  BrenĂ© Brown - Worthiness

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A THOUGHTFUL PLACE

TESTIMONY THURSDAY


A sweet friend asked me to speak of my 'testimony of the Book of Mormon". True to the  title of my blog "The Journal of Lost Things", I realized that I had not verbally bore this testimony in quite a long time, even though I read it often and teach it much. I was surprised at what literally "poured out of ". I am so happy that deep inside of me, the Lord is fighting for me, and helping me to remember what is most important, at least in my life.

I feel like, that my testimony of the Book of Mormon really stood out to me was when I found myself at times,  quoting many of the verses in context, while speaking with some of my “church going” neighbors, friends and family members who were not of our faith .And I wasn’t ashamed to do it. Now this may not sound like much, but I do and have frequently quoted scripture from the Bible to various people, in the context of either teaching or bearing my testimony.  But there have been many times when my neighbors would dispute the validity and truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and also the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I had to represent!!
When I was investigating the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS; Jenny Provance was my “super” Missionary. Her mission was to literally prepare me for baptism. She proceeded (with firmness) to review the Book of Mormon with me, and helped me understand what I struggled to know, even though my testimony was fledgling .She helped me to focus on knowing that the Book of Mormon is the true testament of Jesus Christ, and in turn I came to know also that Joseph Smith is the Prophet of the Restoration of the gospel of Christ. Needless to say it was overwhelming.
My testimony was further strengthened when I was called as a teacher, first in Primary, in which I learned so much from the children, who really taught me the book of Mormon. And now for the past 3 years I have been teaching Gospel Doctrine. Last year, I had the opportunity to “teach” the book of Mormon for the first time, and I prayed to know how approach the book, and then how to apply it in the best way for the class to learn. It was so intimidating, because I still felt like a “newbie” and I worried that I could not possibly teach this book to those who had been in the Church their entire lives. I thought that they would surely call me out as a phony. This scripture in Doctrine & Covenants 45:13-14 helped me to know what the will of the Lord is toward those who earnestly seek to “know” how to apply the truth’s of the Book of Mormon in their lives. 13 To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world. 14 To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful
 I realized that I needed to continue to build up my testimony of the book of Mormon, lesson by lesson. And I was impressed to know that if I would just read the chapters for the lesson, literally the Holy Spirit would “open my mind” and soften my heart so that I could become teachable. In response, my class would feel the Spirit as we were all being taught.  I am continuing to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon; I can honestly say that I love this book; it is so much more a powerful testament than we give it credit for. I am slowly realizing what a gift it is to us from a Loving Savior, who provided it as an integral means to our salvation. Think about the enormity of that statement. The book of Mormon is the light that we literally shine to the world. It kind of puts every little aspect of our humanness into perspective 

And I say these things, in the wonderful name of Jesus Christ!!!!!!!!!


TobyMac - Move (Keep Walkin') (Live)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

My Portion (Ps 73)


If Raven has come visiting you it can mean any number of things. Most powerful of all is the synchronicity that Raven assures you is pending. He is a master of bending and folding time and space so that you are exactly in the right moment at the right time. As a messenger you are reminded that those around you are reflecting back at you the things you most have to learn about yourself.Know that when Raven appears that magic is imminent. Raven is about rebirth, recovery, renewal recycling and certainly reflection and healing. He signifies moving through transitions smoothly by casting light into the darkness.
1 Kings 17:1-16
 Elijah the Tishbite, the word of the Lord came unto him saying: Get thee hence, and turn eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith that is before Jordan. And it shall be that thou shall drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. And he went and did according unto the word of the Lord; for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith that is before Jordan.
And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening and he drank of the brook.   

And the rest of the story goes that the brook dried up, and the Lord directed Elijah to Zarephath, to a suicidal widow who was considering the dire state of her existence, but was moved to compassion to help Elijah She not only fed him but befriended him, and in effect nursed him back to health. There are two stories here; the first is the ravens bringing Elijah food and drink, which is totally out of character for that species. A raven is known for being a voracious scavenger, eater and selfish at that. A raven would not make a good “carrier pigeon, because it would not typically return to the one who sent it, case in point Noah.
Noah sent out a swallow, a dove and a raven. The first two came back, but the raven did not. So I imagine that the Lord had to “re-teach” the ravens, and change their hearts so that they would have compassion on Elijah, and they would share of their hard earned scavenge, maybe even giving him the choicest morsels. So the brook dried up; and notice that the definition of the name of the brook Cherith means “a cutting, a separation”. Sometimes the word “cutting” refers to “cutting a new covenant”.

After my husband died, I went around my house, looking through his things, to see if he may have left a note, or scribble or something that would lead me to him. But my husband was not a writer; he was though a prolific story teller, a BS spreader and the like. He was a Welshman, moody and sentimental, given to weepy expressions of love and caring. He would leave messages on my phone, by singing songs he made up. (I still have 2 on my office answering machine.) The only thing I found was a couple of dollars in two new wallets that I gave him. (Which he never used), I looked in his Scriptures, and where most people scribbled, he did not, so even though he read his scripture, most of the pages are pristine. No love letters, no messages on scraps of paper. But what he did do was to always make a point, when talking to our friends and neighbors, to tell these people how much he loved me, how much I meant to him, what a wonderful wife I was. (Unknown to me), so I have found that at my lowest points, that when I really need to hear someone “say something to me”, in kind words, a neighbor will come and tell me these things. We have a neighbor who is a “curmudgeon”. He is this weird, little old guy (lol) who was a gear head like my husband. And they would compete with each other to wee who had the most tools, special tools and tools hard to find. He didn’t talk much and to this day I don’t know his name, but on Christmas he knocked on my door, and gave me a beautiful flower arrangement. He told me how much he missed my husband. So a “raven” brought a crust of bread to my door.

Last year, I prayed to be able to “put things into perspective”, that my grief would not overwhelm me, that I could just not remember the hard parts. There are a lot of hard parts, and just like any “random request” like that, with no stipulations, everything is relative, and so the “the place of forgetting” is forged. My days go fast, like hours, my weeks run like days. I hold on tight to every moment that is important to me so that I can at least be “present”. I have misplaced a lot of stuff, and I have re-bought things at least twice.  The absence of love leaves a void; the absence of touch leaves a soul to become stunted in its growth.

In this story, I am “the widow” of Germantown. Not suicidal, but blessed with an abundant spirit of love and compassion. The one thing that really sustained me after the funeral was my friends and neighbors really looking out for me. People would bring me meals, groceries, money, etc. I would come home from work and find care packages, and luckily for me the squirrels did not run off with them. (There is a special kind of squirrel/rodent that lives in my “hood”. They are trained even to open packages from the mail man). People would come and take care of me and I have made some really loyal friends now. I suppose that any friend who can manage you when you are a blithering idiot (which I was at times) is a keeper. Let's give the Lord a praise.

The Lord is my portion:
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