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Things. It seems I have spent a lifetime researching, and then buying – things. It begins innocently enough – you are young. You don’t have much money. You want to get the most for your money. So you are wise, and shop for the best buys, on the best things – things that will not break soon, things that will bring you pleasure (you hope! – because you are certainly spending your time working hard for these things!). Cheap. Good stuff, cheap. That became the motto. Then one day you realize, you are happiest when you are with people, sharing experiences…wisdom…laughing at your shared foibles, or the foibles of others, though you are not making fun of them, or looking down. It is just that the shared foibles of humanity can be – funny! And laughter is certainly enjoyable! Maybe when you are with some people, or all people some of the time, you are helping them up from their unhappiness in some way. Not just by laughing, but by other means. There are so many hurting people. People in physical pain, people in spiritual pain – some wondering why the “things” they worked so hard for, and believed in for so long, did not bring them happiness. They look at you, and see you have many fine things, and perhaps still have your health. And they think – if I could just have what he/she has – good, fine things, health – I would be happy. But you know better – just being healthy in body and having plenty of things does NOT make you happy – at least not at the level you had hoped for. Look at the Biblical Solomon. He had all the things and blessings he could want (yes, God deliberately blessed him!), and still it did not bring him happiness – “vanity, all vanity,” he proclaimed. “Vanity[b] of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” Ecclesiastes 1:2 He says it right up front in his treatise, but not until the back end of his life. And then, at the “back end” of your life, there is another generation coming up, arising. And they look to you for wisdom. How to live life. How to be happy. And perhaps they can see no purpose to life. What’s it all for? Why are we here? And you try to explain. But somehow, the big dreams and hopes for life that you had when you were young, that it seems we all have or had when we were young, just didn’t come to pass. Sure, we helped some people here and there – but not the great spiritual harvest we’d hoped for. A plum here, a grape there, sprouting out of the Great Vine some of us know we are attached to and which can bring so much life and joy, peace and happiness. But even that Great Vine knows, and tells us, we could have had so much more. More joy, more peace, more fruit – great large harvests in abundance. But we just – didn’t. Why not? I’m thinking lately, when the “stuff” of life we’d hoped for didn’t come to pass, and our minds were still active, and looking for something to do – and there were immediate needs in front of us – always – fires to put out, “things” to buy or attend to, etc. – we may have just opted to keep searching out the things we were familiar with. Good stuff, cheap. Just different stuff. New stuff. Stuff to keep us occupied, but not necessarily happy. There was the primary stuff to research first as young adults – what to major in at college, what to do for work. What house to buy (usually after who to marry – not so much a “thing” as a “who”). What things would furnish our house or apartment best for our own happiness. And, of course, to impress others or even just express ourselves – we are, after all, creative beings designed for expression and companionship with others, and so we envision sharing our “stuff” and enjoying it with others, and showing off who we are, via our “stuff.“ Then as we bore children, the next generation grew up, and we had to keep on top of all the “kid” things – the stuff of health matters to keep them growing well, the best toys to keep them entertained and educated, the best Summer camps, the best clothing buys, the best schools, the best religious instruction, the “best things”….on and on. Why? Because THESE precious beings we definitely loved, and cared deeply about, and to do our part raising them, we had to stay on top of…”things.” And they learned that “things,” and staying on top of them, were very important. Or…maybe some of them simply learned that things DIDN’T bring satisfaction. Rich in some things, they searched for others. Leave the “keeping on top of – things” to someone else. Someone who is used to doing that, and who is skilled at doing that sort of “thing.” Someone who seems to value those “things.” Now, some of us find ourselves looking back, and thinking – where did the time go? I seem to have spent so much of my life “researching,” shopping for, and buying the best “things” – that is not what I intended! I had much higher intents and purposes for my life. Now, there is the smaller slice of our life’s pie graph left to be lived, and for most of us, we want to live it right – what’s left of it. We want to really taste and enjoy our “piece of the pie.” So….I (we?) find myself asking (I’ll just speak for myself here) – what’s “the next best thing”?

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As I was traveling over the last two days, I did a whole lot of listening. To God, to my latest CD which I played over and over again on a loop (this time, Ross King’s EP, “We Know How This Thing Ends.”) I was mesmerised by it, so I set myself out to memorize it. This is just what I do :-). But also, there is a channel that we have in our spirit, open to hear God. But at one point, I felt He was telling me there was yet another channel in my heart that I was listening to…myself. (Yes, I feel we have multiple channels that we listen to at the same time on some level – we are multitudinally blessed that way!) And that I would compare what I believed to what He would tell me, and if there was a discrepancy I would go with what I believed! :-0 ! Gasp. This is why the Bible tells us that our “heart[s] [are] deceitful, beyond measure” (Jer 17:9]! We can think that we are following God, and believing Him, while at the same time we are actually following ourselves! Thank you, Jesus, for working on me until I come into alignment with Your will. Because change is hard! And sometimes, so is my heart 😦 .

Years ago I was listening to a young female Pastor on the staff of a mega church I used to go to. She had just gotten married, and she was speaking up to us women about married life. Specifically hers. And what made me laugh so much was that she said sometimes she had to say to her new husband, “Remember, you love me :-).” Yes, during those difficult times and during arguments, we do have to remind ourselves that we love this person. Sometimes when God is correcting me, although He is never harsh like humans can be, I find myself saying back to Him, as if He doesn’t already know…”Remember…You love me :-).” “Jesus loves me this I know…”

You know those things called rest stops that you see when you’re out on the road? Oh, I actually did both today. I stopped, AND I rested :-). And this one was just too cute. Don’t ask me why I found the turquoise tile on the bathroom floor so interesting, but the combination of turquoise color and a little bit of brown to make it look vintage did cause me to be just a little bit enamored of it :-). And the things they find so notable about their town, or maybe it was just a county…well, you know you’re starting to enter the phase of life called by some, “old fart,” when you start taking more of an interest in history – ANY kind of history, even if you didn’t before. Maybe it is because we are becoming a part of it?!

When I get on Instagram and see posts from people who have already been up for hours enjoying the day while I have slept, I am reminded that God is nocturnal. Not that it is ever night where He is. Or where you are, when you are about your lives somewhere in your corner of the world where it is daytime. But I am not (nocturnal, nor awake at that time, nor in all places at all times, like God is.) However… It makes me sleep better knowing He is up, He is “nocturnal,” and that it is never night, but always day with Him! He is ever-present, and His vision is ever-clear. Hence, the title, “Everclear” ;-). According to Wikipedia, “Everclear is a brand name of rectified spirit…” :-0 !

There is a song (actually many songs ran through my head in the combined 15 hours on the road that I spent the last couple days)…but the song I was about to quote is called “Miles and Miles of Texas,” by the pretty well-known band from around these parts, “Asleep at the Wheel.” Luckily, I was not! I learned something about quiet time with God (while on the road with God for extended periods of time, because you are never alone if you have Him in your heart!). One thing I learned…you can’t blog it all! And I’m not sure anyone would it want to hear it all ;-). Cuz that’s a lot of “Deep Thoughts”… which sometimes turned to “Weird Thoughts!” But to record your thoughts and even just speak them out loud…this is helpful for me, as a word processor – oh wait, much as I feel like a machine sometimes, that would be a “verbal processor” ;-). It helps me sort out my thoughts, organize them, sometimes coming up with new beliefs and thoughts in the process! I have never driven myself anywhere for this long of a trip. Once long ago, I took a trip to Houston all on my lonesome (4 1/2 to 5 hours each way), and the unexpected did happen on that trip, which gave me a bit of a start :-o. I had a flat tire on the way home, but I managed to find somebody that was still open (can’t remember, but it might have been a Sunday even). And I got them to help me out 5 minutes before they closed! I think all I had done at that point was have them put on a “donut” spare tire for me and I “limped” back into my hometown on it. But as God was kind to show me on the road this trip, no matter what reservations I have about traveling alone as a woman, or about this or that, God is great enough to help me out even if I were to break down in the middle of a desert. To reference a popular saying, “If God calls you to it, He will bring you through it.” And I’m pretty sure He called me to this at this point in life. So, I had peace for this trip at least. And long conversations with my Maker :-).

The Optimist in me: “Oh, that apple juice that I was pouring out of the container into my mug? Which, actually, spilled more AROUND my cup than in it…and then, of course down the cabinets and onto the floor….Oh well, I already said I needed to clean up the floor around my coffee/drink “station” :-). Plus, I have the time, for once I’m not running late for something.” Which is good, because it took a while to attach the new “pet-specific” “dry” cleaning pad to the wrong kind of Swiffer that I use (a WET Jet Swiffer to be used with wet apparently). But good news, then I also figured out that, voila, the Wet Jet Swiffer that I thought for so long was broken or clogged? It was just out of Swiffer juice! Who knew? I don’t remember using it that much :-o.

Avocados are made for two. I made a beautiful avocado toast this morning. Not beautiful in the visual sense, like the $8 versions you get in the trendy coffee shops/restaurants, but beautiful as in pretty decent tasting and at least it had a little bit of vitamins A & C along with my probably more than twice the daily fat allowance. But really, this was made for two pieces of toast. Which is why I offered it to my spouse, already supposing that he would refuse, because after all…fat and carbs are not really on anyone’s diet, right? Okay, well some, but not his. But the avocados he bought me were growing ripe and I didn’t want to waste more food. Unfortunately a lot of produce bought with the best of intentions goes to waste at my house :-(. So I took a free taco chain packet of hot sauce, and a free pack of salt – probably came with pizza or something, who knows – and that was all it took to spruce up my little avocado and make it delicious. But really…avocados are made for two!

Thinking about the people I love most… I don’t necessarily love them for their wisdom, or their advice, or their knowledge, or even their accomplishments although I do admire some of those things. I love them because of the love they give me. Something to think about! – “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13, ESV)

My friend, Chris Freeland, is brilliant. I’m just going to say it. He has more wisdom in his literary “word turns” than I could ever hope to. I haven’t posted any of his quotes for the longest time, because I’ve been working on my own ;-). But here is one from the other day I just could not resist, it is so full of hope for us all. “Your family doesn’t have to be picture perfect to paint the perfect picture.” [Think about Mary and Joseph. In fact,] most families in scriptures are messy…not the stereotypical families. …. And God used them. …. Some of your greatest heroes in the Bible [however,] were single! Daniel, Paul, Jesus… [All of this is good news].” And now I will say it another way – that is very good news for families – and singles! And I’m pretty sure that includes all of us! 🙂 God uses messes! And it seems to me, He goes around me (before, during and after) cleaning up a lot of MY messes. Which is extra good news, as if the rest of the Gospel weren’t enough. That He cleaned up the mess of sin with his God life (in Jesus Christ) and came to live within our messy lives to rescue and redeem us. And something tells me He will continue to clean up my messes until I die… And then He will clean up the mess I left after I am gone! It seems like this should not be God’s job, but He does it so graciously anyway. Thank you, Jesus, for taking on the mess of humanity and cleaning us up, so that we can live happily with you in Heaven forever and ever (and that starts right here, right now, on Planet Earth). Amen.

So – maybe my eye doctor had cataracts when he told me I didn’t have cataracts years ago?! Like, he couldn’t see them? Or did the one who said I had cataracts years before that lie? He was a reputable ophthalmologist, I can’t believe he “saw something that wasn’t there.” But nonetheless, my ophthalmic assistant recently told me that there is no way a cataract can ever go away and/or come back. How does she know? She believed her teachers, quite obviously. Why do so many (medical & other) doctors & specialists believe their teachers have/had ultimate truth? New studies seem to constantly be contradicting older “truths”…doesn’t experience count for anything? Like my experience…what I believe to be a “fact” that I once had cataracts, they went away & now they’re back? Interestingly, they “disappeared” when I was adhering to the healthiest diet I have ever been on & they are back (still small) at the same time I have NOT been adhering to a healthy diet. Also interesting, I read that there are studies out there that show a correlation between a meatless diet in the subjects surveyed & a later onset of cataracts. Is it so hard to believe that diet affects our health…in EVERY way? The earth is NOT flat (I personally believe, along with most modern-day scientists). But once people were taught (probably by some very reputable teachers & thinkers of their day) that it was…flat. So – call me a “contrarian” if you like (someone did once, but in a very loving & non-insulting way ;-), but I will have to rely on a higher wisdom to make some of my decisions…cuz (apologies to those in the medical field – love you…well, some of you, anyway ;-), but the doctor isn’t always right! And that can go both ways, I know. And it also applies to every field of knowledge imaginable. So let us humans discover a really novel truth…humility! For…”I was blind but now I see”… sometimes!

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