Flying Solo ~ so, what’s that about?

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Party of One.

Flying Solo doesn’t mean there are no other people around. It means you alone are in the cockpit flying the craft. The fighter pilot has a ground crew, yet, when he’s at the controls, it must often feel as if he is alone. As believers, we are in the army of God, and for some of us who have lost a mate, who have prayed for a mate and are still single, whose mate has repeatedly and consistently been unfaithful or alcoholic or drug addicted or addicted to pornography, those who have outlived all their relatives and friends, or for some other reason are living alone…the reality might be we are flying solo. And we really are. It’s not just a cute statement. We go home and we’re cooking for one, watching TV alone, sleeping alone in the bed. An individual can be in assisted living or in a nursing home surrounded by people and still be solo.

Flying Solo also doesn’t mean that there is no radar system. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit and we must develop a closer relationship with God. That’s an absolute if you are flying solo. You need the best guidance system you can possibly have and that starts with making Jesus the Lord of your life, and getting into the manufacturer’s manual…the Bible.

I’ve been a widow for nearly four years, yet it was only about six months ago that it hit me, as if I’d slammed into a wall, that I was flying solo and what that really meant. I wish I could say I handled it in a delightfully pretty and delectably appropriate manner. I didn’t. Still, I’m pretty stoic. I kept functioning. My house was clean, I fed my strays every morning and my inside cats, walked Sophie the Wonder Dog twice a day and fed her. Published my latest murder mystery release by the deadline. But, but…emotionally, I was messy, messy, messy.

Of course, I went to ‘my’ default. Whining. I whined to friends and associates. And mostly, I whined to God. And I heard very clearly in my spirit that I should pay attention to my feelings and actions because God had given me the gift of writing and my assignment was to write about flying solo for the purpose of helping other people. So, I whined about THAT to God. I’m pretty sure the Bible says, “Whining endureth for a season.” It’s probably in the Taylor Swift translation.

So, what have I learned about flying solo in the last six months? To go back to the basics.

PRAY. Pray for yourself, bless your house, your pets, put a prayerful hedge or protection around yourself and what’s yours. Talk to God. It’s okay to have an out-loud, running convo with God. Talk to Him as if He’s an older, wiser friend, a father, a brother. He’s all that. Pray for others. Pray for their healing, prosperity, the health and protection of their children. Pray for the nation. Keep it up and soon you’ll become a prayer warrior without even trying.

KEEP AFTER THE DETAILS. Get up, get dressed, eat nutritious meals. Keep your home/surroundings in good order. God loves you. Take care of yourself. And, as much as you can, surround yourself with the things you love.

KEEP IN TOUCH. You have a phone, so use it. Phone, text, and/or email friends and associates. Get involved on social media. Facebook has groups you can join. So do other social media platforms.

GO OUT. Don’t stay trapped in your home. Go to church…and also to the mid-week service. Don’t have a church? Go church shopping for a few weeks or months until you find one that’s warm, comfy, and welcoming for this stage of your life. Get your hair cut and/or styled regularly and start a convo with your stylist. Go to the library, sit, read some magazines, recipe books, holiday decorating books, health and beauty books. Ask the librarian to guide you. Start a dialog, but a quiet one…it’s the library.

I hope this is helpful. I’ll be praying for everyone who subscribes and /or reads this blog.

Celebrating Thanksgiving ~ and purposing to enjoy it solo

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The fun of adding pumpkins, Pilgrim figurines, and a harvest angel to my baker’s rack. Oh, yeah, and a pesky cat got into the shot.

When Joseph was alive I prepared a huge Thanksgiving feast for family and a friend or two. I was known for my super moist turkey, and it was so simple. I’ll let you in on the secret. I got it years ago from Cooking Light magazine. You mix equal parts of maple syrup and unsweetened jarred apple sauce and smother the bird in it. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it. But the whole mess, and it is a mess, cooks away and you have an apple/maple glaze and a really moist and tender bird. I always cooked my bird at 325 degrees and it’s really good to use a meat thermometer to know when it’s done. Nothing is worse than eating raw poultry. I made the a traditional giblet stuffing recipe from the back of the stuffing package and added chopped dates and chopped, peeled apples and stuffed the bird. Of course, you also have to bake a pan of it, and the trick there is to pour broth over it so it’s not dry. I can’t give a recipe because I don’t cook with recipes, as a rule. I’ve spent years enjoying myself pouring over cookbooks, especially holiday cookbooks, trying different “tricks of the trade” my mother, grandmother, or a friend passed along. It got to where I cooked by eye and by taste. Yes, you have to keep a teaspoon or two or three at the stove to taste or you can get in real trouble. Add a little spice, butter, whatever, then taste. You can always add more but you can’t take out.

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My mantle and another pesky cat. She’s annoyed because I disturbed her nap.

So, now it’s just me, Sophie the Wonder Dog, and as as Sophie refers to them, “those pesky cats.” About six months ago, a series of circumstances occurred and it hit me like a tidal wave that I was basically alone on this planet. And yes, I stewed and whined about it. If you know me at all, if I didn’t admit to whining, you’d know I wasn’t telling the truth.

Of course, it goes without saying, so I almost didn’t say it.,,I have God. I have Jesus. And of course, I have friends and associates. However, as I get up in years, I find that my friends have issues they are dealing with, some excruciatingly serious. So, I really do have to exercise my “spiritual chops” and lean in to God, follow Him, rely on Him, and seek His face.

One thing I keep hearing Him say in a variety of ways is, “Live life. You are fearfully and wondrously made. Don’t stop celebrating life.” I recently heard Joyce Meyer say on a broadcast that we humans are the closest things to God. We have been made in His image and likeness. And we should act like it. We have to choose to do that. It’s a decision we have to make and sometimes re-make.

So, I’ve been invited to a huge southern family Thanksgiving Day dinner in central Florida. I’ve been informed (forewarned maybe) that it will be an experience. Looks like God has a new delight in store for me.

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My mantle at night. Now I’m anticipating decorating for Christmas!!!

 

Olde Faux Trees the Best? ~ transitions

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I ‘drug’ my old and once quite expensive fake Christmas tree from Brooklyn to northeastern coastal Florida. Nearly twenty years ago, my husband and I went to one of those upscale Christmas stores AFTER the season and bought one of their larger and fuller display trees. At that time and with the end of season sale it was still over $200.

Joseph is gone, and though I’m still 39 (yeah, right), I’m no spring chicken. Last year, when I hauled the tree out of my shed and put it up in my tiny two-bedroom house in Florida, I swore I’d never do that again! It was too heavy for me to drag in and then at the end of the season drage out. Putting it up and taking it down was too much work. It’s one of those that must be assemebled branch-by-branch. Yet, this year I got it out again and managed to get it up with a ton of whining and murmuring. As some of you might know, I’ve had a rep for having perfected whining to an art form. However, totally through the grace of God, I’ve been able to knock a lot of that nonsense off.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing ~ Philippians 2:14 [NSB]

 

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A good start.

When I say it’s work to put the tree up, that’s what I mean. The trunk has to be assembled. long the trunk letters Have been printed (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) and they are color coded. The branches also have those letters printed on them in the corresponding color. Twenty years ago, those letters were easy to read, not so much now.

 

In Brooklyn, we’d assembled a layer of boughs, then layer lights in a cirsle around the tree at that level. We’d continue…a layer of boughs topped by a layer of lights until we reached the top. By the time we were done, we might have three hundred lights on the tree. Of course, there were two or more of us decorating. Now there’s just me. I love decorating. I love everything about Christmas. Decorations are a symbolic tribute to the babe who was born in a manger over 2000 years ago. The many lights abounding in every home, business, and thoroughfare mere representation of the Light that entered the world.

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Coming along. A long way to go yet.

 

I hope to make another transition in 2018 and enter a new season in my life. I plan to move to an apartment where yard work will be handled by management. I’d like to have a swimming pool for exercise and to keep limber. And so I have caught myself muttering, I’m not going to take that tree. It’s going to Goodwill. Sounds a lot like what I was saying last year. Will the tree go with me? Only time will tell.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. ~ Isaiah 9: 6-7 [KJV]

 

Nativity

 

 

 

I Came To NE Florida For A Simpler Life ~ reflecting as humongous storm Irma approaches

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One and a half years ago, I moved lock stock and pets to Florida from Brooklyn (NYC). I’d lived in the rush, rush, rush of Gotham for over 33 years and was more than tired of it.

I love the Atlantic Ocean and crave being near it. I’d lived in Miami for 2 years, but that was before my marriage to a guy from Brooklyn. Even in Brooklyn, we lived in the Marine Park neighborhood which is only a few miles from the ocean. On days when the wind blew from east-to-west, we could smell the briny, salt air. Loved that. But didn’t love the rush, the mania, the grit in the air that comes along with living in the Big Apple.

Moi, Jax Beach

NE Florida immediately brought serenity, and I craved that after 33 years of a city in constant animation, always busy. Slowly I got rid of my all-black wardrobe (the NYC uniform) and relaxed into what I call a pulled-together beach-bum style.

Hurricane Irma is now 2 – 3 days from its approach to northeast Florida and I went to with my doctor’s referral to get blood drawn this morning. I guess, that qualifies me as a true Floridian. Afterward, on the way home, I so looked forward to a cup of hot coffee. As I drove, I prayed for the houses on my right and left, that angels would protect them from the storm. I prayed for the broader community. Prayer is definitely part of ‘the simple life’ I lead here in Fla.

Yes, I’m preparing. All Floridians are. In my house, preparations are intentionally simple. Simplicity doesn’t mean complacency. Today I’m making sure my freezer is full of ice so that if the power goes out, whatever is in there will keep. I shopped yesterday and didn’t buy anything frozen. Today and tomorrow I’m eating what needs to be cooked. Following a phoned-in tip I heard on the radio from a survivalist, I filled up small plastic containers with water nearly to the top and froze them. This will help keep my entire refrigerator cold (milk, veggies, cold cuts, etc.) if there’s no power long-term. As the water defrosts it can be used to brush teeth, etc.

There is order to simplicity and calm. Am I always calm? No! In the past, I made whining and complaining into an art form. God’s worked a lot on me in that area. I’m also a ‘Plan A, Plan B, Plan C’ type person. I do keep my plans simple. However, I like to know not only what the plan is,  but what the alternate plans are. I’ve learned, however, the Ultimate Plan is God’s plan.

I continue to pray for all those in the path of Hurricane Irma, now considered the biggest and most ferocious storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean.

Isaiah 4:6 [NASB] ~  There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and [a]protection from the storm and the rain.

Forgiveness ~ active, compelling, dynamic; not a passive feeling

sunriseToday, on purpose, I will forgive all the people (who are no more perfect than I am, and that’s all of them) in my life who are causing me angst, consternation, confusion, and in real time presenting real problems. Today, on purpose, I will forgive all the people in my life (as imperfect as I am) who carry childhood baggage, college and first job hurts, adult disappointments, setbacks, and loss, just as I do…and all that stuff is coloring their behavior.

Forgiveness is not some passive feeling that wafts up on us once in a while. Well, not the God kind of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a dynamic action of the heart that believers often must will to do. We do it on purpose even when our flesh cries out, “they don’t deserve it.” And maybe they don’t. If I want to be free of the pain, hurt, and the weight of it, I’ll forgive and let it go. Then I can walk with a lighter step, feel real happiness and joy.

Purposeful forgiveness doesn’t mean we allow toxic people to continue to injure us. No! We’re not doormats. We must be wise as serpents and take actions using wisdom to protect ourselves. However, we do not allow ourselves to become as toxic in the situation as the the other injurious individual(s).

And, I’m not going to whine or complain to anyone about these situations either. Those who know me, can attest that at times I’ve taken whining and complaining to an art form. I’m not going to phone anyone complaining about all this forgiveness stuff and how hard it is. If I want to whine and complain about it, I’ll go to God. He’ll shut that down. He’ll remind me, I’m not forgiving on myown inner strength and fortitude, but on Christ’s strength and fortitude that’s within me.

Colossians 1:27 [NASB] ~ to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Philippians 4:13 [NASB] ~ I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

I Went To The Jacksonville Trump Rally ~ and had a blast

 

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Terrible at taking selfies, I gritted my teeth.

Disclaimer: I’m a yuge Trump supporter, so everything written here has to be viewed through that lens. The rally was held tonight at 7pm in the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. I was supposed to meet author Linda Wood Rondeau and her husband Steve. In fact I never would’ve printed out a ticket if Linda hadn’t said she was going. They were scheduled to leave  at 4pm. I’m new to Jacksonville and unsure of driving downtown, so I left at 3:25 and arrived just after 4pm. There was already a line and people were being admitted into the arena. Street vendors sold a variety of Trump paraphernalia. A bottle of water cost $3.00. I decided I didn’t need hydration right then.

The line moved quickly and folks were admitted right away. What totally amazed me were the number of supporters who chose to stand for the entire event just so they would be under the podium. My friends Linda and Steve hadn’t yet arrived. I suspected it would not be easy to meet up with them in that crowd, so I looked for a seat. The very best ones were already taken, but I did manager to get one with an excellent view of the podium half way up in the bleachers.

There were plenty of red “Make America Great Again” hats in evidence around the arena. The crowd was much more diverse than is reported in the media. To be sure, white working class males were in evidence. However there were also quite a number of blacks, Latinos, women, as well as teenagers and college kids. Two twenty-something guys ran around in homemade ‘Trump-capes’ like super-heroes.  I found the people around me to be friendly. Active cross-conversations were taking place. Supporters not only spoke to the persons on either side of them, but leaned forward to talk to those in front of them and turned around to address those behind.After all, there would be at least two hours to fill before the opening speeches. The arena holds 16,000 and it was packed solid. My earlier suspicion was correct. I never did find Linda and Steve, though we texted each other for a while.

The opening speeches were rousing, though the crowd didn’t need much pumping up. Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry didn’t run away like John Kasich did at the RNC Convention. Mayor Curry warmly welcomed and addressed the crowd. The local chair of the RNC and Sharon Day, co-chair of the national RNC spoke, the dynamic Florida senator Ted Yoho, as did Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. The bottom line seemed to be jobs, national security and personal safety, and the Supreme Court. There was an obvious law enforcement presence and all of the speaker lauded them, as well as giving accolades to first responders, and the military. This was always accompanied by loud cheering from the crowd…and I clapped and cheered along with everyone else.

I was a bit surprised by the pounding music which seemed to favor songs by the Rolling Stones, although there were a few arias by The Three Tenors tossed in. And odd combination to say the least, but also emotionally moving.

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Finally Donald J. Trump arrived with Secret Service agents preceding and following him.

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Naturally Trump spoke about building the wall and having Mexico pay for it. He decried how heroin and crime were coming across the border, saying a nation without borders is not a nation. He said jobs that had been outsourced to foreign countries would come back to the United States. That the American people would win-win-win so much, they’d get sick of winning. He instructed each supporter to not only vote on November 8th, but to bring five people to the polls with them.

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When the crowd left it was dark outside and the atmosphere had changed. Protestors shouted at us, but the police had the situation under control. What shocked me was the number of vendors had astronomically increased and they were hawking tee shirts bordering on the obscene. They yelled at supporters to get our attention focused upon what was printed on the shirts. I won’t repeat any of it here, but many of the blurbs on the shirts involved Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton and were graphic. I hurried to my car without incident. There were few police in the parking lot and few were needed. I got out of the lot relatively quickly…then got stuck in the traffic jam rally goers were creating.

And I kept having the sense that I’d become part of American political history. That sitting there waving my ‘Trump sign’, standing and cheering over and over, I’d become part of a phenomena that had never before occurred in American political history. A phenomena that didn’t’ pay attention to the political rules, and it felt good. Of course this phenomena occurred because the average (and that cuts across all categories of those voters, not just HS educated white males) had been lied to by their politicians for decades. Trump couldn’t do this with out us, and we couldn’t do it without his leadership. It felt real good. And I have to admit, yelling “Lock her up,” is fun.

When the ‘Strong Ones’ Come to the End of Self ~ and let Jesus take over

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I think often its Christians who see themselves as the ‘strong ones’ who have the biggest problem surrendering totally to Jesus, and I include myself in that group. It’s not that we don’t believe, we do. It’s not that we don’t honor Him, we do. It’s not that we don’t see Him as Savior and Lord, we do. It’s that we have a human history of taking care of everyone’s mess that gets in the way of us giving it all to Him.

Here we are saved, in some cases saved for years, and the mess around us is getting worse and worse. Family members not only are not saved, they’ve had numerous sexual partners, are having abortions, getting arrested, drinking excessively or taking drugs. Our spouse just asked for a divorce. We have aging parents with encroaching dementia and since we’ve always been the ‘strong one’, the siblings have abdicated all responsibility…and we’re now at the point where our knees are bending under the weight. Or, we support not only ourselves, but also an out-of-work sibling and now we’ve had a job loss and the fear the bank will soon foreclose.

The so-called ‘strong ones’ have been running from pillar-to-post picking up the pieces, holding it all together, but now, after years of this, are literally shaking apart. We might even be developing mental health symptoms. We think, how can that be? I’ve been saved for years. As we sink to our knees in utter defeat, I kinda think God says, “Finally, you’re handing it to Me. I couldn’t do anything with what you were holding on to.”

I think sometimes we have a secret sin (missing the mark), which involves shame…shame for things we could not control. We could not control our mother’s or sister’s or daughter’s promiscuity. We could not handle, heal, or successfully hide our father’s, brother’s, son’s alcoholism or drug abuse. We could not have prevented our own sexual abuse as a child. Yet we are dying inside from shame. Literally dying. We developed agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some of us have cleaned and recleaned our homes until they sparkle. We’ve literally been on the verge of losing our minds. But how could that be when we are saved? And not only saved, we’ve always been the ‘strong ones’.

And Jesus says, “I’ve been waiting for you to hand it all to Me. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When we come to the end of our own strength and admit we do not in fact have the stamina or the wherewithal to fix everything, we can finally surrender to Him and begin to heal.