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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Picker, Flicker, Clicker!

Often I sit down in front of my computer to type something up for my blog because I want to express important stuff, and sometimes, I just want to “talk.” One of the things I love about having this little blog spot is that I can put things on here that are vastly meaningful to me or just ramble a bit. This thought reflects the title of my blog because here I am, somewhere in time, reflecting and recording bits of me. Today’s “bit of me” is one of those “just talk” times.

I think I am getting ready to do a study on the quality of mercy. I say “think” because I am not 100% sure. Well, that is not 100% true. I am 100% sure the Lord is gently nudging me to begin this study, but I’m not 100% sure I want to begin it. I smile even as I type this because one of the BIG things the Lord and I have been talking about together is my obedience…so…yes, ok; I am 100% for sure going to start a study on the quality of mercy.

If you have any devotional books, sermon copies or particularly favorite scriptures or songs around the topic of mercy, please post where I can find them, and I’ll check them out as I begin. Lift me up in prayer when you think of me and ask the Lord to help me learn whatever he wants me to learn about mercy. Ok-now I’m getting excited about it! As the song says, “It’s Gonna be Good!” (Yolanda Adams in case you want to check out that awesome, raise your hands and praise song.)

I was smiling at myself this morning as I thought about mercy and all the places where people need to be able to USE it with me! The title for a blog post popped into my head, and I just laughed right out loud! So here it is—Picker, Flicker, Clicker! That’s me.

I will not totally bore you with a list of all the ways that this title fits me, but trust me, it fits. And trust me, it’s annoying. I see lint or a little thread on you-I pick it off. I find something in my eye’s view that causes imbalance in the beauty of the view, I flick it away. Watch out if your hair is out of place! I have something in my hand that makes noise, I click it!

So-here is the must recent example of my “Picker, Flicker, Clicker” tendencies in action.

I have had the habit (ok-bad habit if you must put that word with it) of biting my nails. I have had this habit for as long as I can remember. Lots of people have had lots of ideas about how I could break this habit. PLEASE do not send me any ideas (have mercy)!

Recently, without any plan to do so, I stopped biting my nails. They were all growing long at once, and amazingly, none of them chipped, split or broke. These lovely, long nails at the end of my fingers were very unique for me. No more fingers in my mouth!

However, people who bite their nails are like people who smoke or twist their hair. We are used to messing with something without even thinking about it. I’m sure there is deep psychology behind this, but that is not the point. The point is – long, lovely nails make the most wonderful CLICKING sound. Just DE-LIGHT-FUL! You click but you don’t bite!

Very cool, right -- SO NOT! Apparently, clicking your nails around people is just as annoying as someone who constantly clicks a pen, taps their foot, or talks under their breath. Who knew! If ever a person needed a little mercy, it has been long-nail Pam!

If the Lord is calling you to develop your mercy muscle, then you can come spend time with me. I’ll help you.

I know this is an extremely “light” example for thinking about the need for the quality of mercy in our lives, but I did think to myself that sometimes it is the accumulation of all those "little things" that can make or break relationships. It can actually be easier to show mercy or be aware that you are receiving mercy, when the issue is HUGE and IMPORTANT, but when it is all the little, annoying things about each other that start to require the quality of mercy to be put into action, well now that is different.

I guess that is why the Lord is asking me to start this study. Care to join me over your way?

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Ever notice how things seems worse in about every way possible when you are really tired.

There is that old song that says:
When you're smiling
When you're smiling
The whole world smiles with you

When you're laughing
When you're laughing
The sun comes shining through

But when you're crying
You bring on the rain
So stop your sighing
Be happy again

Keep on smiling
Cause when you're smiling
The whole world smiles with you

I think they should add another verse to that song:
When you're tired
When you're tired
The whole world should be wary

When you're tired
When you're tired
You should just take a nap

So, stop your fussing
Stop your fussing
Stay away from others now

And then when you smile again, the whole world will smile toooooooo!

I'm just saying--I need a really, really long nap!

Friday, July 16, 2010

I keep learning...

I have a tendency to belabor a point. If not outwardly then inwardly. I mean, sometimes I mull over an issue or concern, well--if you’ll pardon the expression, ad nauseam. I have learned this about myself over time and with the previous help of my dear, departed husband who was the usual recipient of my repetitious musings. What I have not really accepted is why I do this or what to do about it. But I want to learn and keep learning.

I know I have vacillated over the years between seeing this "mulling over" as a positive character quality instilled by the Lord and as a negative trait used by the enemy of my soul to distract and defeat me. Truth is, like most things, it can be both. A wise woman (Ava Morris) once taught in our “Ladies Only” morning Bible study group, “balance is a key concept in our Christian walk.” She was speaking truth!

When I was growing up, my mother was especially good about imparting lessons to me based on the Bible. I do not carry with me any lingering feelings of being banged over the head with the Word, so I think she did an amazingly good job of gently putting out there in the most natural way the question, “What would Jesus Do” long before WWJD bracelets and bumper stickers were popular.

Those childhood teachings included Bible stories about persistence in prayer and free access to the throne of God to place before Jesus my every concern. They also included all the comforting words about the peace that passes all understanding as well as the harder words about loving your enemies and forgiveness 70 times 7.

As a young adult with small children, I listened to preaching on being an “Eagle” before the Lord, allowing myself to seek Him with upturned face and hands, soaring high in spirit to embrace His love for me fully rather than approaching the Lord as a mostly earth-bound “Turkey” always looking downward. I also heard sermons that told me repetitious prayers uttered over the same concerns and issues indicated lack of faith and trust in my Lord’s desire and ability to provide what was best for me or to meet my true needs. I remember the example used during that sermon was one of a little boy asking his mother over and over if she would make a lemon pie for him even after his mother had promised that she would indeed make the pie at a later time.

I have arrived at this point in my life with two lines of thought running through my mind. One line of thought is that I AM kind of a “turkey” because I am after all still earthbound. I await the glory of my heavenly body and all that will mean. I have to keep coming to Jesus, sharing my concerns and needs over and over even if I’ve already shared them before because that is what is on my mind and in my heart. The other line of thought is that I do have the Holy Spirit in me and I know I can soar like that eagle, mounting up with vigor and energy. I can trust Him to care for me. I do not want to exhibit lack of faith by lamenting before the Lord over the same concerns I’ve already given to Him.

I think I have been confused and perhaps even constrained as these two lines of thought have during the years crossed over, under and around one another in my mind. I sort of developed a mental dilemma as my focus subtly shifted from Jesus to me. From that dilemma, I have developed the tendency to mentally ponder, consider and deliberate.

What I am beginning to see is that a lot of my pondering, considering, deliberating and mulling is nothing more than worry. I’ve just never admitted that before. I worry. Perhaps I should stand like those in an AA meeting and admit this fact. “Hi. I’m Pam. I’m a big-time worrier.” How is it that someone who loves the Lord as much as I do, someone who believes and has seen His gracious love and care so evident in and around me can so easily step onto the worry path so often? I do not have all the answers to that question, but one thing I am starting to realize is that how I understand prayer will make a difference in how I recognize worry.

Prayer is not about doing something a certain way to prove a certain "correct" attitude. Prayer is not about how I look to anyone not even Jesus. Prayer is not about getting it right, having everything in proper order, or following any formula. Prayer is not about pulling out one part of the Bible and calling it “the best way to pray” or "the wrong way to pray."

Prayer is as distinctive as every single person’s own finger print. Yet, I think, prayer is also as universal as the concept of love. Prayer is my relationship to God through Jesus. Prayer is always there. Prayer is the way to keep my relationship to God as fresh and as full as He offers it to be. How I pray, when I pray and maybe even why I pray will be ever changing. It will be filled with nuances of love, need and no doubt, many other things that again, I do not even understand.

I am small in comparison to the Almighty God who created me. I AM indeed earth bound in body and that holds a myriad of joys and woes which Jesus totally understands. He is more than able to bear my infirmities and embrace my ecstasies with total understanding of the deepest issues and needs, many of which I may know nothing even though they are about me. I want to be with Him in everything. I do not want to hold back. But even when I slip into worry rather than prayer, He is on that path walking with me, offering the immediate, most accurate “map quest” directions to get from worry to prayer.

I choose to reaffirm in my mind and heart today at the deepest level of my being that even when my words to Him are not expressions of total trust, my feelings are not faith-filled, and my concerns replay in my mind causing me to need His reassurance, He is ever-present to listen and talk with me. I choose to believe that He is well-pleased about the most important thing—that I am His, and I am continuing to learn to seek Him above anything else.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Quiet Time

There are probably as many different ways to have what I was taught to call a “quiet time” with the Lord as there are people on the planet. I know for me, my quiet time routine has varied over the years as life circumstances varied. It took me a while to learn that the exact when, where and how of quiet time did not matter to Jesus as much as it seemed to matter to me. Realizing that what was important was me actually engaging in time with Him was so freeing. However, that realization has also been at times very fleeting. The key to consistency continues to be the attitude of my heart. Morning works best for my quiet time with the Lord, and I am seldom called upon to be flexible about this. Perhaps next year, next month or even next week, I will have to make a change. Right now, morning works.

When I had little babies, that time after the first morning feeding was the perfect opportunity to meet with Jesus from my rocking chair. As the babies became toddlers, I found I was frustrated by morning quiet times. I had one toddler that was always awake early. She never wanted to miss anything. Whatever was going on with me was supposed to include her. The minute she heard me stirring, she was up. I soon switched to evening quiet time.

When my second baby grew into a toddler, she loved staying up late. She always needed another drink or to sing and play a while in bed before she could settle down to a long sleep. I did not know to add those sounds to my quiet time and consider them a special layer of blessing. I just wanted her to go to sleep! In my quiet time, I wanted QUIET! I can remember inwardly claiming that it was supposed to be MY TIME. I think my “inward fist” might have been extended heavenward more than once about this issue! My demanding spirit got in the way of a meaningful time of communion with Jesus, and routine quiet times diminished just when I needed them most.

A wise family friend suggested I switch my quiet time to just after lunch rather than using the children’s nap time for completion of chores or watching my soap opera. She knew from experience there would grow a difference in my attitude about everything if I spent more time with the Lord. So it started that, during much anticipated nap time, I would gather my Bible, current study book, notebook and something special to drink. In the warm months I often had sweet iced tea with fresh lemon slices, and in the cooler months of the year, I savored a hot cup of Constant Comment tea. I would meet with Jesus while the little ones rested. Some days though, I was just plain tired. I was the one that needed the nap! I learned that it was ok to fall asleep praying as I lay curled up beside my youngest in her bed while Sesame Street curtains blew in the breeze from the open windows. The Lord was right there with us in that kind of quiet time too.

I remember reading once that Susanna Wesley’s children, of whom there were at least seven living at home, learned that when their mother pulled her long apron over her face and head, she was talking to Jesus. She might do this without a moment’s notice standing in the middle of their kitchen! I slowly, slowly learned that the house did not have to be totally quiet for me to have time with the Lord. Really, when is a home with little ones totally quiet for any length of time anyway! The Lord used this true story to teach me that I could have a “quiet time” with Him in the middle of the kitchen when I needed it! My mother often told me she would met with Jesus while she ironed!

When school-age years arrived for both girls, quiet time was much easier. I had the privilege of being an at-home mom so my quiet time moved back to mornings just after the little munchkins left the house. By then I was enjoying General Food's International Coffees as my special treat! In later years, starting my own home cleaning business required quiet time had to change yet again. I was able to have prayer and listen to sermons on the radio as I worked. I learned a lot listening to great preaching while scrubbing other people’s toilets and mopping their kitchen floors! Bible reading time was right before bed back then. I often drifted to sleep looking at the words on the page. Rather than allowing me to feel guilty about this, the Lord used my husband’s wise comment to help me understand this was an excellent method for entering into peaceful slumber after a long day, and God was not offended.

Another change in my quiet time came about because of summers. I imagine that for many years children have thought they were much too old for naps long before parents thought naptime should end! A dear, “older woman”— probably younger than I am now, who mentored many of us young moms, suggested I teach my children how to partake in quiet time. My friend told me I should agree with the children that they were now too old for naps, but continue insisting on a restful period where everyone was quietly reading.

At about the same time I remember seeing in a magazine (I think it was Christianity Today) about F.O.B. time! F.O.B. stands for “Flat on Back.” If you asked my girls, they would tell you that F.O.B. lasted in the Runyon household almost until they had jobs outside the home. Along with the wonderful summer sound of box fans running, the girls had Bibles, study books, and other reading material to enjoy. The oldest became a voracious reader, and the youngest usually read a little and ended the time doing what her uniquely created little body had always seemed to need-a bit of extra sleep. Later, as the girls were older, head phones and music like DC Talk, instrumental tapes, Michael W. Smith (he was brand new back then), and soundtracks from musicals (Amanda can still sing every song to OKLAHOMA) were added to their F.O.B. time.

Because we had a swimming pool in the backyard (a beautiful answer to prayer given to me from the Lord after a faith study I did), the girls spent most summer mornings in the pool until lunch. By this time, I had absorbed the concept that quiet time did not have to be conducted in total silence, all at once, with me hidden away all alone. Some of my sweetest memories are when I had my quiet time under the big umbrella at the picnic table on the deck with the fan blowing over me and my books while the girls enjoyed swimming. I’d jump in the pool to play and cool off and then go back to the devotional or Bible study book I was reading. When 12:30 or 1:00 came, it was time to get out of the sun for a few hours. It was lunchtime with a little television down in the cool of the family room, and then they were off to their bedrooms for F.O.B. I could be alone with Jesus for a while if needed.

The funny thing is, as I became more flexible about “my” quiet time, the Lord’s graciousness became more evident to me. I started seeing opportunities and ways in which to meet with Him that I’d missed when demanding my rights to a private quiet time. There were days when F.O.B. even took place on the living room floor with all three of us together on soft pallets, the box fan blowing cool air over us as we read. Jesus was there. Sometimes, I was so aware of that as I looked at my daughters that it would take my breath away. Other times, I was too tired to remember or really care, but He was still there. No matter where, no matter when, no matter how, I believe Jesus was pleased when I turned my face to Him. I think perhaps He was even more pleased during those times when I brought my children along with me into my quiet time.

My prayer now is that as I continue to age, I will continue to turn my face to Him for quiet time. No doubt, I will need to learn new ways to be flexible. Soon I may need to “bring along” one of my parents as I have my quiet time because they will have become dependent on me much as my children were in the past. Someday, I may not be able to see the words on the pages of the Bible, hold a pen to write notes in the margins of a devotional book, or hear the sweet sounds of gospel music. One day I may even need to pull my nursing home sheet up over my head in a shared room while I spend time with my Jesus.

Lord, please help me to remember that you are with me no matter where I am and no matter how I reach out to you. No matter the time of day or the day of the week, you are with me. Even if I become unable to reach out in any way at all, you are with me. Help me now; while I am still so physically and mentally free, to spend time with you. More importantly, dear Jesus, please help me to be willing to bring along anyone else that may be around who might need to spend time with you too. Help me, Lord, to be unselfish even with “my” quiet time. I know you will bless me for it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Stuff pops into my brain all the time that I think would be fun to explore via a post on this blog. In fact, when I first created my blog, I thought I would post some of those thoughts with regularity. That has not been the case. I suppose I could say that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” get in the way.

I think things that seem interesting or fun, imagine them as a post, and then---well, life overtakes me, and poof, my thoughts have moved on to other arenas and seldom make it onto paper. If writing was my “life’s blood” I do not think that would happen so often. I would at least have a little notebook of ideas I could refer back to when I was finally sitting in front of my computer and of a mind and mood to write. I think true writers almost HAVE to write no matter what mood they may find themselves in on any given day. This confirms I was not created with the title “writer” in mind! Nevertheless, when I do find myself in front of paper, I enjoy putting down whatever seems “right” in the moment.

Here is what popped into my head today. I was cleaning the bathroom, and I realized I missed putting away a Christmas decoration. It is a little thing that other people might not notice. As I looked at the decoration and pulled it from its spot, I thought how much I loved it. I realized this little item was one of my all-time favorite gifts. That got me wondering what other people would say is one of their all time favorite gifts.

I am not talking about those big things we all think we are supposed to say and may really mean—like the new car for graduation, the diamond engagement ring, or the baby or whatever. I am talking about those things, often little and seemingly insignificant, which people have given us over the years. We find we have kept, used, looked at, and gone on loving that item. I am not really talking about the memories associated with gifts either. Sometimes, we love something just because it has this great or tender memory associated with it. Today, I am really talking about the actual gift itself, about something that really pleases you when you see it or use it.

Here is a little more about my gift. I keep a nightlight plugged into the socket in my downstairs bathroom. It is there all year and stays on all the time. I like being able to open my bedroom door to the warm glow of the nightlight shinning out into the dark downstairs hallway. It comforts me. In years gone by, it was there for the children to be comforted.

Since this nightlight is always there and always on, I wanted some way to make it pretty. You see, I like pretty, so I am always looking for ways to “pretty up” even functional things in my home. I also really, really like seasonal pretty. If I had the time, I would still do what I did when I was an at-home mom, and I would decorate my whole house for each holiday. But that is another blog post. Back to the nightlight.

A few years ago, when the adults still exchanged Christmas gifts in our family, I asked for a pretty nightlight and mentioned that seasonal ones would be even better. My niece, April, had my name and made me some spring and summer nightlights by hot-gluing little flowers on the plastic nightlight covers because finding fancy, affordable nightlights back then was no easy task. The colors she used for the flowers matched my bathroom wallpaper, and I used these for a couple of years with pleasure. However, these certainly could NOT remain during the fall and winter because they did not fit the seasons! So my nightlight went back to plain, not pretty, in the fall and winter, and eventually the little flowers starting falling off the spring and summer covers.

A couple of years later, April had my name again, and amazingly, she remembered my request about seasonal nightlights. I opened my gift that Christmas to find an Avon box containing a nightlight and four different, very pretty ceramic nightlight covers—one for each season! I was truly thrilled with this little gift, and I have used it since always saying a little prayer for April each time I change the cover for a new season. I love this gift. It has remained one of my all-time favorites. It is such a little thing yet brings me a lot of simple pleasure.

So—how about you? I would love to hear about one of your favorite gifts.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Its just trash...

Is there anyone else out there that gets confused about their feelings regarding the whole “life is stressful” thing? There are volumes of books about time and stress and managing it all. What bothers me most about my feelings around these issues are that they seem in total opposition to the way I want to live my life. I have felt the Lord encouraging me to be as fully present as possible in each moment ever since Brad died. Days full of stuff and nights of exhaustion (physical/mental) seem so counter-productive to “fully present” living. I really struggle with this.

There are times when we have to face a situation and plow through. Plow through? How do I interpret that? Well--put the old motor in gear and keep moving. Push on. Focus on the day. Energy directed into the required tasks of the moment. Nose to the grindstone and all that. As a current TV funny man says, “Getter done!” That is my way. Oh, I pray for guidance sometimes. I read the Word nearly every day. I even ask for help from others, but I am often unsettled. What is going on inside my heart?

These periods of “push” are not my favorite. I resent them. I DO feel a sense of accomplishment once I have moved past the crunch, but I do not thrive on prolonged levels of high activity. I feel somehow robbed when I arrive on the other side of a period of time that has had me whirling like Tazz from the old cartoon. It is then, on the other side, I realize that with my head down, nose to the grindstone and plowing through, I have forgotten to live in the moment of it all. It is as if I hold my breath waiting for “it” to be over so I can actually start to live again. How foolish of me. I am going to miss half my life if I keep this up, and that is the whole point of learning from Brad’s death. “Live in the moments of life, Pam, whatever those moments may hold,” the Lord has told me.

A friend of mine once shared a thought with me-sort of a little story, and the Lord continues to use this to help me with my struggle to live EACH moment and day and event as PART of my whole life. He brought this little story to my mind again this morning, and it begins with trash.

Everyone has trash. I am not speaking in metaphors. I am talking about actual trash that has to be taken to the curb, dumpster, pit or burning barrel. Everyone has to get rid of the trash at some point during the week or there will be problems. This is true worldwide for every tribe, nation, and people.

Now here is the little story. A wife has to listen every week to a husband who has a little mini-fit every time he has to take the trash to the curb at their house. More energy is expended in his fit about taking the trash to the curb than the energy required to actually carry the trash out. Sometimes the husband convinces himself that he should not have to take the trash to the curb. The trash piles up or someone else (the wife) has to handle it. The wife wants very much to say to the husband what she actually said to me. Its classic: “It’s just trash, man. Get over it! Trash is not the worlds, the kids, or my attempt to mess up your life. It’s trash. Take it to the curb and get on with your day!”

Everyone has the stuff of life with which to deal. I am not unique in this. This world is not my home, but while I am here, I do not want to spend my days resenting life but rather living it. I want to live as Paul said in Philippinas 4:11! “Father, help me to adjust my hearts attitude and to ‘Just take the trash out and get on with the day’ you have given me!” I need help for this.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Conversation in the Breakroom

Since I am new at blogging, a novice in looking at pics on shutterfly let alone posting any there yet,still trying to get going with facebook and haven't even considered tweeting on twitter, I find conversations about these things of interest. Seems like everyone has an opinion on why they do or don't partake and what they think is useful or stupid about our modern communication tools.

A recent conversation in the break room at work struck a particular note of interest with me. A group of us got to talking about how we came to be on facebook or myspace and what we thought about the whole craze. It was lively girl chat that included thoughts about blogging and tweets too. The consensus seemed to be that sharing pictures and catching up with long-lost high school or college chums was pretty cool.

However, there was a definite round of scoffing when the conversation turned to "those people" who talk about what they had for lunch or where they were seated while they blogged. Equally disdained by most at the table were the posts and mentions about how the day was spent or the mundane happenings of the week. Vacation news, marriage plans, job changes or new baby updates--in other words those things non-routine were understandably good blog, facebook and tweeter topics.

One co-worker in particular mentioned that she thought it was kind of crazy what people posted and said, "I just don't care for heavens sake, what you got at Starbucks before you came to work or what you are cooking for dinner tonight. I mean really, who cares!" I laughed along with nearly everyone else at the table. Then suddenly, I felt like a guilty fake!

I sat there remembering letters--real letters written on paper, folded around a snapshot or two and tucked in an envelope that had a stamp perhaps picked just special for the intended recipient. Those letters, some of which I still have, were seldom just about the high or low times but rather held all the little, mundane makings of life all the inbetween moments.

After my grandmother died, I was helping to sort through her things. I found letters mixed in with her recipes because she'd used the back to write a tasty little something to try as she listened to the Kitchen Klatter program on the radio. Or she kept the letter because it contained a recipe someone had sent to her thus preserving the letter along with the recipe.

One such letter for my grandmother was from her daughter, Anna Ruth who wrote about the weather in Kansas along with what she fixed for supper the night before. She wrote about my cousin, Linda. It was a letter filled with the every day goings on of my Aunt's life. And without a doubt, her mother, who was miles and miles away cherished every line of that letter when she opened it. Perhaps she waited to read it until she had finished a chore--like working in the garden. Maybe she got a glass of iced tea, her lawn chair and sat under one of those big shade trees on the farm and simply savored every word of that letter about the most basic of basics in life--dinner, weather, errands, children.

Maybe that is what we need to remember as we look at what other people send out into cyber-space. People are sending out little bits of their own life moments. Hopefully, at least some of what they are sending is going to people who do care. To people who know that person and love them. To people who are interested in the mundane little things in their life like the fact that they love Starbucks and get a real kick out of a Mocha Frappacino once in a while! Or that it was just wonderful to have a Red Bull and Snickers for breakfast on the way to work rather than the oatmeal bar and water!

So, to those who love me may I say that I've had a great day. I got my hair done. I had Taco Bell for lunch and on my way home I got a Sheridan's Custard (Peanut Butter and Brownie). I eat half and have saved the other half for later tonight. Yummy! I came home and rented a movie off the TV, TWILIGHT, which is a book my daughter just finished and has given me to read. The windows are all open because it is so amazingly cool and nice outside. I'm getting ready to take my evening walk and I WISH YOU WERE HERE WITH ME!

Among my friends and family we have lately been talking about how life is really about the moments. If we live the moments, we've lived our life. May we care about the little things that go on with each other. May we listen with a heart that is open to those moments and not just the big stuff.