Snakebite to the Soul ~ and the anti-venom

God’s Word has an answer for every problem you have…

The Apostle Paul knew about snakebite. First, the primitive tribal people of Malta thought he was a murderer and worthy of death by snakebite. Then when he shook the offending snake off and lived, they wanted to worship him. That’s the fickle nature of humanity. Paul had to explain to them that he was not a god, but that the God he served saved him from death by snakebite.

As Paul gathered an armful of sticks and was laying them on the fire, a poisonous snake, driven out by the heat, bit him on the hand. The people of the island saw it hanging from his hand and said to each other, “A murderer, no doubt! Though he escaped the sea, justice will not permit him to live.” But Paul shook off the snake into the fire and was unharmed. The people waited for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw that he wasn’t harmed, they changed their minds and decided he was a god. ~ Acts 28: 2-6, New Living Translation [NLT]

Today, although it is possible that believers could be bitten by a reptilian snake and that God could save their lives, it’s much more likely that they will become the victims of poisoning of their soul. The enemy (the deceiver, Satan) can do things to poison our soul, but it’s just as likely that we are the ones poisoning our own souls with strife, unforgiveness, bitterness, malice, etc.

 Is it possible we’re choked with bitterness, we’re continually caught up in anger, persistent resentfulness, or we’re planning revenge? The godly antidote for this is forgiveness. Forgiveness is not an emotional issue. It’s a spiritual decision. We decide to be obedient to the Word of God and we forgive. Yes, we even forgive our enemies! We commit ourselves to the Lord and His Word no matter how we feel. We feed on Scripture as our prescribed medicine. We read and say the corresponding Scriptures aloud. Such as…

25 And whenever you stand praying, if you find that you carry something in your heart against another person, release him and forgive him so that your Father in heaven will also release you and forgive you of your faults. ~ The Passion Translation [TPT]

21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” 22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! ~ New Living Translation [NLT]

It’s so interesting that the decision to forgive and the act of forgiveness is releasing to the forgiver. We are releasing the offending party from our consciousness. They have been taking up far too much space. We may have to do this act of releasing (i.e. forgiving) seventy times seven times. First, we have to realize that as long as we are consumed (bound) with hatred, anger, resentment, thoughts of revenge…the offending party is dominating our mind, will, and emotions…which spiritually in the Bible is our soul. We need to get free of the offending party. We need to perform an act of our will and forgive them. However, God didn’t make us stupid. We don’t have let them into our lives again. If we can’t avoid them because they are a member of our extended family, or we work with them…we don’t have to trust them, we can beware of them (be aware of their actions and schemes, having spiritual discernment with prayer. Pray for wisdom and protection). And avoid them as much as possible.

Are we murmurers and complainers? I have to confess that I had whining down to an art form. I’m sure my friends got tired of listening to me and thought, there she goes again. Over time, God dealt with me about this. I began to see that thankfulness (a posture and attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude) was the antidote to murmuring and complaining. If you come from a dysfunctional family like I do, you’ll understand how whining over the doling out of love and the short supply of positive reinforcement, continual disappointment, disillusionment, the embarrassment and shame due to ruined situations we thought should’ve been good, and much more has led to our whining. Through intimacy with God, and also with some good and sound teaching on the dangers of murmuring and the benefit of thanksgiving, I have largely walked out of habitual whining. First of all, whining, murmuring, and complaining are useless. They do no good and put other people off. That’s not a good return, not profitable. The Lord began to lead me back (and this was painful and still can be painful) to look at the people and early situations that disappointed, embarrassed, and shamed me. These were the ‘seeds’ of a habitual attitude on my part of whining and complaining. He showed me how (not just that) many of the people early in my life who hurt me were themselves broken people I should have compassion for. He began to show me little gems of joy, happiness, laughter in my early life that I could savor as memories..and give thanks for. Yes, give thanks. Many of the people in my early life were not saved. Even if they were, they didn’t have teaching on how to live a joyous and prosperous life. They were average Americans, from immigrant roots, trying to make a life and often blundering along the way. I now choose to remember the good while not denying the broken. When a painful, shaming memory comes to mind, I can chose to ‘quickly’ replace it with one of those nuggets of early happiness, fun, peace. When the enemy says, “Your family didn’t have it together much, did they?” I can now ‘quickly’ push him aside with memories of my grandmother’s good cooking and her love of feeding people. I can recall my dad, the high school teacher, reading bedtime stories to me and my brother. I can recall my mom baking her ‘Alaska Logs’ Christmas cookies on Christmas Eve. I can’t tell you how much this has freed me and made my present life a happier place. I’m not longer enshrining the pain.

Do we have deep sadness and are we in a state of mourning? Did we lose a spouse, a child, a parent, sibling, or friend far too young. As a widow, I know what sadness and mourning are. I’ve also lost two dear friends far too young. And, I’m also old enough to have lost both of my parents. Did you lose a house, a job, a business? As a maturing Christian, I know mourning is a process we have to go through to be healthy. Still, there is a time we must leave that deep state of mourning behind and get on with life. While, there is no cure for mourning, the very real feelings will surface from time to time,  they should not kill our joy. Our joy comes from the Lord.

Here are two Scriptures from the Word of the Lord to help us when we seem lost in grieving…

This one from Proverbs is one of my Scriptures. I claim it. It’s good to laugh, to have some fun, some lightness of spirit, even during mourning…maybe especially during mourning.

22 A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones. ~ Proverbs 17:22, New King James Version [NJKV]

This one from Isaiah is so deep on so many levels, it’s good to study and meditate on when in the grip of mourning that seems consuming.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to grant to those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified. 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins; they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations. ~ Isaiah 61: 1-4, English Standard Version [ESV]

So many times in her life, Detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko experienced sorrow, abandonment, and betrayal. She’s just starting to trust the city’s handsome forensic profiler, but she can’t shake that he could be a murder suspect.  COURTING DANGER

Flying Solo ~ so, what’s that about?

Fighter Piolot

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