Monday, December 5, 2016

In Good we Trust

     I've debated writing on this topic because it's personal to me...More intimate than anything I dare say I've revealed to date about the inner workings of my day to day life. This topic has been more or less an anonymous journey until now~ As the causes we have given to in the past have for the most part, been done anonymously or with a giving trust to hide behind.
   
     History:

     In 2002, a successful business man received the news that his cancer (once in remission) had returned with a vengeance... While he had some say in controlling his wealth, his toys, his investments, cancer he could not control, which as you might imagine, was a wake up call like none other.

     With no children of his own and a wife he would leave well taken care of, he took a soulful inventory, re-assessing just what had been missing in  his life and came to the conclusion he had missed the point. In his drive to succeed, this man missed the experience of joy...specifically, the joy of giving...and sharing ... The joy of touching others by way of your deeds...the joy of creating miracles for others both known and unknown.

     In the weeks that remained, this man came to mourn the fact that he had not enjoyed his riches as fully as  he could've...He'd stored treasures on earth, but if there was to be a heavenly payout, well, he had not been storing up there.

     His family rejoiced when he found Christ...They were moved when their somewhat Scroogey uncle had a drastic change of heart as he came to realize (without 3 Christmas ghosts in a bad dream) that there was still time to make a difference...With this, he and his compassionate wife, set out to create a trust (the likes of which I have personally never seen...The likes of which still evolves today  as there was no pattern for us to follow).

     I pause here to interject, I did not know this man. I was introduce through someone I was dating at the time. We met twice (this trust creator and I)...Our second meeting was (unbeknownst to me) to ask if I would serve on this trust, and help his wife in what was anybody's guess on a trust with one mission: to give away money where we saw a need--no questions asked.

     With that he slapped $1 million dollars into an account to be managed by people who knew how to manage things...(Having great financial advisors was but one of many miracles to witness.) Within 2 weeks of his asking me to serve (with a woman I had only met twice as well, but one whose heart for giving was one I admired greatly and someone I gladly wanted to help) I sent a letter saying I'd soon be given direction by way of a meeting. (No clue what we're doing here, but I'm in.)

     The first meeting of the Richard T. Sadler and Dawn K. Sadler Trust committee was held Sunday, August 17, 2003. The mission of the meeting: "to provide financial assistance to deserving individuals and families...in order to meet emergency needs or to provide assistance ... or to respond to a crisis...to improve their quality of life or to promote Christian values or family values or to carry out other good works which the Committee deems appropriate. "(He also added that he did not require us to use "necessity" as a strict prerequisite in any particular case, though most of our cases DO have "need" at their core.

     Seated around the dining room table of a man no longer living and one I barely knew even when he was, was this woman I had promised to help, and 13 other people -- total strangers, who, like me, had no idea what this trust would become.

     For starters, we were each handed $1000 apiece with the directive to "give it in whatever increments, to someone YOU deem worthy". In some cases this was an overworked waitress. In others it was a student about to miss a flight for having misplaced his credit card. In most cases, it was anonymous. In some, it couldn't be helped. Where we could we tried to stretch out our funds to help as many people as possible.

     Another unique trait of the trust, was that we were not to worry about the tax ramifications, (which is to say, the trust covers this; we were not always going to have a receipt showing what we'd done, after all, this was in large part about anonymity). It was not mandated we give to non-profits or to causes or cases whereby a tax exemption required a receipt. No. Our funds were to go to people, places, causes that WE individually, spotted--usually short notice (i.e. in the moment)-- something WE deemed "needed" or "deserved" ...Each quarter we would report back the wildest "opportunities" presented to us. In time, we had to draft additions to our bi-laws as certain patterns in gift receiving surfaced almost immediately (i.e. repeat requests; requests by family members or close friends who, upon knowing of our trust might say "Hey...YOU with that old guy's money...Remember me?")

     I know what you're thinking, because I've had person after person say it too..."YOU-- have the TASK of giving away another person's money?" (like "Is this a trick question?") But to be gut level honest...It's not as easy as you think, for with each decision to give comes a deluge of internal scrutiny of "Did I discern this need properly?" or "Will I regret it if they don't show gratitude." Thank you notes became a hot topic for me in those cases wherein we DID make it known to the recipient after all, "I" wasn't the one to thank, but if you want to truly show your gratitude, I'm MORE than happy to take your note to my next meeting. (Sadly thank you's don't always happen...That was something "I" had to get over.... Even in this were our spiritual lessons evolving.)

     So now... nearly 14 years later...we've lost 3 members to the overwhelm of the assignment...(Again, you wouldn't think it, but there is a certain emotional burden here if done properly. You might not think this logically, but it IS a BIG commitment to be responsible for giving away another's money...fulfilling another's intention, being lived out by folks here for those no longer living.) Two of our original members have passed, one of which was the man's wife and our leader (which adds another whole layer of "What's it all about Alfie" as now those of us remaining REALLY scrutinize if this is what He AND She would have us do in their stead.)

     Some of the trust's chairs were filled with family~ 3 sisters remain on the trust today, the energies from which I can only describe as heart-warningly gut-wrenching (so intent are THEY on sticking to their Uncle's dying wish).

     Some of the chairs are held by fellow co-workers or employs who worked with the trust's founder the early years of growing his business...

     Some, like my own seat at the table, are warmed by someone the man barely new...but who he somehow felt might bring something to the table.

     We were given permission to bring larger requests to the group...such as for crises like those we're watching unfold in the Smoky Mountains. Larger needs called for larger contributions. (Last night's meeting spent much time and energy discussing just this.)

     In short, we're a team with our original captain no longer at the helm...A team who regularly keeps to the meetings, but today, watches for signs and direction from on high as to how best we continue accomplishing the mission given to us as we give away money to strangers we (often alone) deem worthy.

     One season we were given a creative exercise to give our money ($100 at a pop) to 10 people each to see what THEY would do with funds. Give Other times,we voted on who  had the most hilarious story. (Trust me. You walk up to a stranger and offer to buy their groceries, their NES bill or their airplane ticket, you'll encounter some awkward moments and moments that can, quite often, make you want to tuck tail and hide. (Anonymous is our favorite way to go BY far, but you can't always pull that off logistically without SOMEone being in the know as to what's up and WHY?)

     While we can give to other non-profits and often have, it's not our favorite thing to do...The goal of the trust (as I feel it to be anyway) is to LIVE the giving experience...to LEARN from the opportunity, both the good and the not-so-comfortable moments (like looking back when you called one wrong and found yourself gulping hard as you apologized to your fellow trust members for maybe not doing as much soul searching as you should've...Suffice it to say, we've had some tearful meetings along with some joyful ones~).

     We've given to dog causes, homeless causes...We've put families in hotels when their houses burned down. We've bought appliances after jobs or livelihoods were lost. We've paid funeral expenses. We've sent in repair people who were told to simply say "An angel sent me." We've paid last minute electric bills and water bills just before the shut off. We've sent pizzas, crayons, flowers...We've bought hearing aids and dentures...You name it. We've seen it and in many cases, we've funded it.

     But we've also given to folks you might NOT imagine...WE've left tips where others would've gotten a news story out of it. We've slipped cash into the hands of cashiers and said "2 people behind me...Tell them it's covered...Just let me get out of the store first.")

     In short, we've done our best to do what was asked of us and today still ask "What next God?" when we gather around (now my own dining room table) every third month to say "How long we gonna keep this thing going?"

     I write all this....confess all this, NOT for praise or glory. (I think scripture is pretty clear on those wanting credit while on earth...This is NOT what this trust is about.) I share this to say the lessons I have lived/learned/continue to grow from are other-worldly...They are lessons in material giving, yes, but more, they are lessons in spiritual growth. They are lessons in petty egos feeling the need to have someone say thank you to this team...Lessons in guilt for sleep lost wondering if perhaps I wasn't the greatest steward this go-round....Lessons in "never take for granted that giving is easy" ...Don't get me wrong -- There is no joy like it, but giving done right (which is to say, done unconditionally...done PURELY for the sake of giving...of helping...NOT for glory or reward) ....this is an ever-evolving proposition and one we will continue to work on I suspect until the day we die.

     I share this because this trust is now a part of who I am. I'm not asking for folks to start hitting me up for money, and I'm certainly not asking for credit or glory...But I did, just this morning, feel the need to acknowledge my fellow givers that serve on this trust after the pictures of them holding goats between taking notes served to remind just what a sacred bunch of family this is for me. In living this one alongside these who share the mission given us, that I count as the most valuable gift and lesson of all~

     I share likewise to say, giving is a funny thing. The rewards of giving are not logical...they are spiritual. And things like this trust in no way replace what we each ought be doing on our own with our own tithes and gifts... In truth, I believe there is no such thing as altruism...Those who are good at it (and I'm not listing myself amongst these, but the truly GREAT givers we have come to marvel at...the Mother Teresas...the Bill and Melinda Gates...the Rick Warrens of the world....) I am convinced, they do it for a reason....even a selfish one~  That reason is not a reasonable reason, It's an internal, spiritual high, the likes of which cannot be replicated by ANYthing other than the experience itself...The experience of GIVING...The FEELING of knowing lives have been touched by a decision YOU made to do something nice for someone else....Something that affects hearts changes outlooks at deep, CORE levels...that's one thing you cannot convey in words...It only conveys when you've experienced it (no matter how small the amount).

     For some things there are no words...Describing in logical, linear terms what giving feels like...What giving is all about...This is one of those things.

     To tap it...touch it... share in it... takes one simple gesture...One cup of coffee for a stranger...one toll paid for the person behind you~ One parking meter plugged when you'll never see the stranger for whom your act was a miracle~

     If you don't believe me...Try it.

     I double dog dare you~
    (I double goat dare you~ )

     Here's to a season of giving...

     Like any skill, there's an art to it...To get better at it requires practice...Regular, disciplined, in the trenches PRACTICE.

     Here's to finding such opportunities in your own walk ...

     Trust me. They're out there...They're everywhere.

     (I share only because I want YOU to feel the joy too.)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Resume the Blog...Resume the Blog...Must Resume...

So the voice is no longer whispering...
It now yells.

I KNOW it is in my best interest (she says quite selfishly) to resume a project I recommitted to several months ago ...of tracking this journey from outer world to inner...from city to country (not that you can't live an inner life in the city, you can I'm told...I simply find shutting off certain noises  and removing myself from certain distractions to help.)

Since last I left you, a couple of things have transpired...

For starters, I haven't gotten much paying work completed this year...unless you count selling a few goats, which I pretty much suck at because I keep naming them.

My third cookbook, while laid out, did not get done, and while I planted in April, the garden didn't make it either. (Kinda requires someone to work it. That my goats and pups were loved and cared for while I was away with my brother was more than I could've asked for. There'll be another year for a garden. I simply had to learn to let things slide with this one..."Release Karlen. Learn to release.")

When life calls, you answer. The good news is, what I lack in revenues, I made up for in priceless life lessons. My year took on new depths of meaning and soul searching the likes of which I'll  probably be writing about for the rest of my days on the planet.

But I did complete one task...

I completed my ministerial studies, more convinced by the experiences of this past year that whatever happens, I was probably not going to change, my wiring being "Help first. Figure it out later." Not so great for business, but it's where life found me this year.

So with "resume the blog" now playing daily in my inner intercom,  I share this as my attempt to get back in the zone...(Sometimes it helps just saying it out loud --or writing it--even if to total strangers.) Something about committing openly has a way of kicking things into real go-gear...
(At least it does for me.)

I share with you an article I was asked to write shortly after my ordination.

The request?

Could you write a column about those in ministering professions who forget to minister to themselves? (Because obviously I am so darned good at it...That was a little joke.)  Question is: who heals the healers? Who supports the supporters? These types (and I am nowhere to compare to those who work in healing professions day in and day out) they can often lose themselves in their service roles, seldom stopping to think about the practicalities of what it means to keep giving at all costs...

It's a topic near and dear to my heart, having seen many a good-hearted care-giver, give to the point of exhaustion over this past year...

So rather than re-invent a wheel here...Here's the article I wrote for a ministerial newsletter, but it applies to many other professions and some not even in the business of tending to others, but wired that way. No matter your background or your training, if you are inclined to put others first no matter the cost (which must be DNA for Southern females) ...or even if you're just ramping up for yet another burnout holiday season, knowing before you start you'll be depleted before it ends, well...truth is truth, and this truth may apply to you, so if the shoe fits...

Tomorrow, I'll get back to farm topics....after all, we've got goat babies coming out our ears and if anything makes you want to reflect on the good stuff in life, goat babies will do it.

More important, I have missed writing. Period. Daily.  I need it. All writers must do this. It's writer's law. Even if others 'out there' don't have time or desire to read it, it's therapy, so I  continue...

Meanwhile one last request: #PrayforOurSmokyMountains

My heart breaks along with all the rest of you at the devastation that's happened to our beautiful Smoky Mountains...To those healers on the ground, in the trenches, in those hospital corridors and hectic fire halls up in East Tennessee, this article may be timely for you as well.

Here's praying for healing...
Here's wishing us all a tender Tennessee Christmas~


(Reprinted from DSMA Newsletter Fall 2016; Divine Science International)





    "Don't forget to take care of yourself ... "
     If I heard it once I heard it 1,000 times. But let these words come from your doctor and this notion of healing the healer takes on quite the literal challenge.
     Like many, I was taught that caring for others is Christ-like, thus caring to the point of exhaustion, must be more Christ-like, right? I personally prided myself on being good at this sport. (Some say it's bred into Southern females.) But sadly, somewhere along the way I had confused care-taking, for who I was as a person, as opposed to caretaking as one (of a limited number of things) this body can do.      
     And like so many living lives of ministry, I have yet to master doing for myself what I' ll intrinsically do for others without so much as thinking about it.
     When told to love our neighbors as ourselves, it's assumed there was a healthy dose of self love going in, but who in life teaches us self love? It is not self love (heck it's not even kind) to keep giving to the point of exhaustion. And
nowhere in scripture does it say love your neighbor at the expense of yourself
     While we know and acknowledge that we are creations made by a perfect Creator, how is it we so easily we forget that no one creation is more or less important than another, after all, we are all one.
     For me, it wasn't even that others were asking so much as it was ME on auto-pilot, making myself unrealistically available out of sheer habit.
     To begin breaking this pattern for the sake of my physical health if nothing else, I had to first remove myself mentally from the me I thought I was. By this I mean, I pictured my inner child outwardly, as a physical child, placed in my stead to protect and nurture
     With this image firmly planted, it
soon became clear the effects of my poor choices on an innocent life.
     I pictured myself holding her little hand, her trusting eyes looking to me for support, and I came to realize that not only was I an unworthy mother, I was downright abusive. As I recognized I was allocating NOT the best of me, but
whatever dregs might be left over once I had care-taken the world I shuttered as it dawned on me "It's a miracle child services hasn't hauled me away!"
     That we are each expressions of Divine and endless love is 101 in our teachings, so why is it so difficult to remember that even endless supplies of love channel through earthen vessels, and these clay earthen vessels command respect if they are to be used properly. They require proper maintenance
     Recognizing that self-care is not a suggestion, but rather a decision one must recommit to each and every day, is perhaps the most difficult discipline of all, and yet one we cannot afford to let slide. Self love, self care, and doing-for yourself (at the very least} what you might do for another is not an Healing the Healersoptional proposition. It is as vital a lesson to incorporate into the day to day life of a minister as any lesson our teachings have to offer. 

Authored by Rev. Karlen Evins.


This summer Rev. Karlen was ordained by the Samaritan Institute. She is a writer, journalist, farmer, and goat herder. You may find out more about Rev. Karlen at www.Karlenevins.com.







Thursday, November 10, 2016

Post Election Thoughts on An Uncivil War

     I cannot lie. The elections did a number on my head, and worse, my heart. No sooner do I mourn the loss of a friend do I find myself mourning all over again and at the risk of it turning into a full blown depression, I decided to process it out loud.
     I've been around politics long enough to know you really DO want to keep your political opinions to yourself if you don't want to lose half your friends. Sadly, we have no civil discourse anymore...Disagree with me means you no longer like me, and to me that's just sad. Social media has robbed us of our ability to separate the two, but that's only the beginning of the sad part. Intended or not, these campaigns divided us...They pitted whites against blacks, reds against blues, you against me and us against them. And sadly, you can't spew the kinda bile these folks have been spewing, then day after ask us all to forgive and forget and just play nice and "everybody get along now, ya hear?" I know it's what candidates (say they) do (and I thought she did it with great aplomb), but her thick skin is not MY thick skin. Things said, insults hurled and cutting remarks made, they wounded...They cut deep. You wanted them memorable, well you got it. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can and DO tear us apart...we're living proof. We're human shrapnel.  Too many of the crass comments I heard...They've stuck with me. They're under my skin. I admit it. Respect is earned and I am not in a respecting place right now...
     It won't be instant healing, but there must be healing. I just don't think we can heal in a day because the one who lost asked us to. I'm more human than that.
     More than me being pro or anti anybody, what makes me sadder yet is that most of us (nearly all of us) went to the polls to vote against somebody. Nobody's voting FOR anymore. Greatest voter turnout is not when you like somebody, it's when you hate. It bothers me greatly to hear "lesser of two evils" (meaning we've totally accepted it's gonna be an evil leader whoever wins). It hurts my heart to hear "I hate so-n-so" when describing a candidate...or to see children holding signs with vulgar comments or words like "Kill" slathered on them. Those messages, those off-handed political slams, those barbs get indelibly imprinted in the minds of our next generations...The same generation we're begging to quit their bullying, while looking up to us bullying adults wondering "What's the difference?"
     Like it or not, this entire election has brought out the worst in us...and the aftershocks scare me more than the main quake. We don't have a Lincoln today to lead us through this Uncivil War we're in. We can't tweet our way to understanding. We can't turn a blind eye, pretend it didn't happen and hope for the best. It's going to take more than that...It's going to take time, and it's gonna take (most important of all) a sincere and heartfelt desire in each of us as individuals, to truly WANT to heal.
     I do have hope, mind you. I HAVE to have hope...If as a nation we plan to endure, we MUST have hope ...
     The hope I have? The one silver lining? It has nothing to do with election turn outs at all, but with us....as individual, caring souls... As I sat there staring at my screen in shock and disbelief, one thought came to me, speaking to me not from a campaign loud speaker, but in the stirring of a still small whisper...
     "It was never out there in the first place, Evins...Why are you staring at your set...?" Our answers in life are never someone else's to devise for us. True answers for how I live my life come from within...I know this...What was I thinking?
     If there's a pony to be found anywhere in this pile of crap we called an election, I have found it to be in the reminder to shift my focus, and sooner the better. Get out of the hate game where they can control us...and back into the love zone where we need it most. True healing doesn't come from bureaucrats or oligarchs...True healing and things like compassion, and caring for our fellow man cannot be mandated. No...that comes from hearts --like yours, like mine. And in this, and this alone, I DO have hope.
     My resolve today is to remove the reminders that made me so vulnerable in the first place (namely the evening news and the petty squabbles they dubbed debates). If we are in any way, shape or form hopeful of healing this country, we must start first by healing ourselves. (Don't know about you, but I'm in need of a little self-nurturing about now...I feel like I've lived through a tsunami.)
     Once reseted, centered, back on balance, THEN we begin to lift the rubble...
     And once poised and ready to lift, we do not start with fear...We do not start by pointing fingers of blame. We start with an internal, genuine, passionate desire for healing. It ain't "out there" folks. Nothing "out there" is going to save us. Never has. Never will.
     But "in here" ...each with your own still, small voice...in your own loving home...I believe there's hope. Today I turn my thoughts inward. I refuse to give the lowest common denominator the benefit of my most prized possessions, that being my thoughts, my passion... my heart.
     I've got to be honest... Right now I'm not so proud to be an American. But I'm sure as heck humbled to be one...And maybe this country could use a bit more humble than pride right now...Cause if the Bible's right, and the meek are gonna inherit the earth, I can dang sure guarantee you that program won't start in Washington.

(Thanks for letting me vent. I now resume my little life on the farm...I have a choice at what my eyes take in today...I choose love!)
(I cannot look at this shot of Rosebud and not crack up!)
   

Monday, November 7, 2016

This Thing Called Prayer

“I’m praying for you…”
What exactly does that mean?

I’m praying you will (fill in the blank) _________ recover from this ordeal? I’m praying you walk again? I’m praying you flat out live... Isn’t that how we pray? Isn’t that what prayer’s about? A request to the big guy to grant our own personal, limited view of the bigger picture?

One of the toughest conversations of my life came when a friend of mine lost her teenage daughter in a car accident. Depressed and reclusive for the year that followed, two Christmases later I received  a card. She wanted to talk… “You believe in God. You do that metaphysical show… What did I do wrong ?” she asked (as if I held such answers).

When we got together she painfully relived the worst day of her life…detailing the call no parent ever wants to receive….The call that starts out, “There’s been an accident…” and is followed by a bunch of garbled-y-gook… then ends with words like “Lifeflight" and "Vanderbilt” ~

She described the frenzied race...the speeding down the interstate to get there, get there, GET THERE ...the entire drive one big long prayer to please, please, please, please, PLEASE Oh God...let my daughter live!!

But her daughter didn’t live. My friend was too late. By the time she arrived, her daughter had passed. The doctors did all they could do, but that wasn’t enough.

After a year of blinding depression, her question now was “What did I do wrong?” Followed by “What should I have done differently?”

Would it have mattered if, instead of racing to get there, I’d made 10 calls and asked each of them to make 10 calls…(Does quantity matter?)

Would it have changed things if I’d called my preacher first? (Does the quality of the one praying matter?)

In short, it’s what we as humans do, when we as humans can't alter the outcome, right? We beg God to do it for us. We call in the favors. Isn't that what prayer is all about?

My understanding of prayer is ever evolving … As a child, I prayed like a child, which at the time, involved a lot of rhymes (or attempts at) “God is great…God is good…"  got us through meals ….“Before I wake” and “Soul to take”  got us through the night.

Later, my prayers were basically selfish wish lists… “Dear God, let me make cheerleader…” or “Dear God, I pray I get in...this play...this program...this university.”

With time my prayers became more sophisticated, but they were still rather self serving… “Bless this relationship (usually after a bunch of prayers like “Dear God, let him call”) or “Dear God, please help me not hate this new program director so much...”

I'd like to think some made God laugh; no doubt, there was perhaps some psychological benefit as at least I acknowledged my imperfections, but end of day my prayers were still pretty much me asking someone out there—to fix or make better something, down here.

Granted, it’s habit, hardwired into me after years and years of doing it wrong, but for the most part, I don’t pray like that anymore. Today I approach prayer differently…Prayer is no longer my universal wish list for the world to do things my way, so much as it is a meditative approach to calm my monkey brain while aligning myself to THE Source of all things good in hopes of being better equipped for whatever does wind up happening.

Additionally, prayer is my own centering effort that (when done right) has been known to bring comfort in those times when I have absolutely no control in the matter (which is pretty much all the time if we get right down to it).

Case in point… Two nights ago, in a pocket of extreme “no control in the matter” I not only prayed for my friend who’d slipped into a coma… I reached out on Facebook and asked friends and total strangers to do the same…

For the next two days I watched the count tick upwards of 200, I opened emoticons, I fed off the energy that those short little phrases packed and I DID find comfort…I found great comfort in knowing others cared. That others were with me in thought packed a whale of a punch...That one simple request could net such an outpouring of love was the ultimate prayer benefit if you ask me, after all that outpouring was real…I felt it physically and I pray my friend and his wife did as well.

But last night, my friend passed away anyway…Removing the tubes that had kept lungs pumping, his exhausted body gave way and his spirit soared. (This I believe with all my heart.)

Had I prayed for this? Was this the prayer of my Facebook friends? (I sincerely doubt it.) No. My selfish prayer was for him to stick around…Suffer through if you must. Stay with us Rick. Stay with us! Though I had tossed one in requesting “Whatever happens God, give us the strength and wisdom to deal…” I had not held this as the ultimate picture I was hoping for. Nope. My prayer at its core, was still a selfish one...and I'm sad to say, it is again today.

Today I find myself praying for comfort…my own, yes, but all the others who are missing him too...for his wife, and for those who are sad for his wife...Everyone who'll miss his smiling face. Some might even be praying to understand why (after all, my friend was a young guy…his gifts to this planet, enormous. If you’re gonna take someone God, why not take a deadbeat who drains the system?)

But the fact that my friend is gone, and I awake to news of plenty of deadbeats that made it through the night tells me I clearly don’t grasp the ultimate meaning of what prayer is truly all about.

So today, I’ll practice praying some more…I’ll dig a little deeper…I’ll pray for wisdom to accept the things I cannot change…I’ll pray to be there for the others who, like me, are mourning the loss…

And we’ll pray that maybe, just maybe, we start living as if we really believe this stuff we claim to believe…that life beyond this one is so much greater and that the real prize is getting there and that any of our requests to the contrary come from our very narrow, very limited understanding of the bigger picture…And I’ll pray that maybe, just maybe my prayers will evolve…that instead of praying for petty things like a parking space or my team to win or the phone to ring or that job to come through or…or…or…Maybe I pray to get it right it right next time.

Dear God, today I pray that you help me understand more fully, this thing called prayer. Send a refresher course…Send a user’s manual. Give us all a better, more thorough understanding of what Jesus left us as the ultimate prayer example, as I’m still not convinced we’re getting it right.

And I pray a prayer of thanks…For having known this soul in the first place…For having questioned life and having lived life a little deeper because of these past few days…And I pray a prayer of thanks for what I’m told is a most exciting journey ever ... a journey my friend is experiencing this very minute!

I don't know much, but this I do know…

If praying for a friend (and recruiting others to do the same) nets me a friend who is today resting in peace, then I might want to backtrack and recall just what it is I was truly praying for in the first place.  Cause last I checked, God wasn’t out there for spite…taking sincere prayer requests and delivering a 180 opposite just for kicks.

No. If anyone doesn’t grasp the true meaning and purpose of prayer, it has to be me, so may my prayer going forward be one of asking to better understand (so as to better utilize) this gift we were given, that we perhaps  too often take for granted...This gift we know as prayer.




Thursday, August 18, 2016

Operation: YARD SALE (What WAS I Thinking?)

     I interrupt my otherwise peaceful blog about life in the country, to bring you these crass commercial messages~

     After reaching out to my FB friends and family (tremendously helpful advice...thank you very much), I then commenced to pulling, dusting, pricing, tagging, boxing, grouping and attempting in some way to (ha) organize said yard sale materials, and ...may I just say, at T-minus 36 and counting, "So much for orderly~"

     But in addition to stating the obvious (i.e. WHEN is this sale, and WHERE is this sale)
   
Answer:

(This) Saturday, August 20th from 7am - 7 pm  
     AND (because we're crazy this way)

     Sunday, August 21st from noon - 5 ~

Why? You ask, would you dare do a second day? Couple reasons actually...
 1) Since some of you will be heading Lebanon way to attend the Wilson County Fair, you might not want to tote some big ol piece of furniture with you (so you can come back)
 2) By Sunday, what didn't get sold on Saturday will be drastically reduce not to have to move it again and
 3) There are 5 families involved in this thing...My own contributions alone are taking up an acre of this sweet man's yard and then some...Having sold a condo to embrace this country life over here, having had tenants who ran restaurants in a property out of town (can we say "Restaurant Starter Kit"?), having run a dress shop in my past, a radio show for 20 years, I had more stuff than Carter's got little liver pills...(Believe it or not, in addition to radio station equipment, such as sound boards and mics, I actually have the original Round Table for you uber Nashville nostalgic...)

     Second most critical piece of information I'm told is:
                                     "ITEMIZE" ...(i.e. "Tell Us What You Got") 
-- a task easier said than done, given the list would be much better if pictures came with....To that end, we have pictures of some, but not all stuff, as I was stuffing into boxes before I realized "Oh a picture of that would've been nice")

     So with these apologies made in advance, I'm culling together a list of items...and between now and Saturday pre-dawn, will add pics as I go (in other words, check back if you care to...Otherwise, just come see us!)

     Location for said wonderful sale is:

                                           3145 Cairo Bend Road, Lebanon, TN 37087

(and no, this is not my house, so be mindful of my friends graciously offering up their spacious yard for this) ...We won't be open for business till 7 and we won't be sticking things in the yard the night before, so again, I just ask you be considerate...(cause my friends and neighbors are my number one asset in life and I'd like to keep it that way!)

    NOW, with that said, here's a partial list of things even I didn't know I had backing up in my closets and storage spaces after all these years...(Again, I'm going to update this blog along the way...Not as organized as I'd have liked to have done it, but given the time crunch, it is what it is...I will work to add more pictures along the way, especially of some of the larger items; again, check back~~ I'll update with more specific detail, those things I am still uncovering as I go...)

     But for now (cause you eventually just gotta dive in somewhere) here's the gist of it...Here are a few of the high points...(Having moved 2 truckloads over already, I missed photographing those things...Oh well.. Maybe we'll make this a running commentary...A FB play-by-play of items we failed to note first time out!



     Clothes, clothes and more clothes! (And by clothes, I mean designer clothes, evening gowns, leather jackets, one silver fox fur coat (yes, somebody actually got me that for a gift one year...:) To that end, I also have 1 "never-been-used" Oleg Casini wedding gown with pearl bodice and fairytale princess look :) It's stunning if I do say so myself....Purchased for a photo shoot, not my wedding folks, (so no, it's not jinxed :) I know. Girls are funny about this stuff. This one's all good. And stunning)

    I have cowboy boots, snow boots, fancy flops, high heels, we got purses galore, shawls, scarves, tanks, T's, bathers, shorts, office wear (we're not wearing anymore)...You name it...Mostly in smaller sizes but my compadres have clothing items as well...(And they have kids, so I'm betting there'll be some of that too!)



     Of all the things I have the most of, it's JEWELRY!!  ~ costume jewelry,  vintage pieces, necklaces, earrings, pins, bracelets, chokers, hair fobs, etc..etc......(Keep in mind I once owned a women's clothing store, so many things date back...Other things have just accumulated over the years. Sadly I had tagged and individually (clear) wrapped the bulk of these items before realizing "A display would've been nice Evins" ... Suffice it to say, we've marked things WAY down, and I've got WAY lots of it~ (Over 400 individual pieces...I know. I filled 4 train cases full to the brim for safe keeping!)

     Rivaling jewelry for the most items in a category, BOOKS are second (actually, may be first now that I think of it) ...Twenty years of the metaphysical radio show Beyond Reason, and I've got crates of books that'll be going for about 75cents each, so come ready to pour over them~ (Buy a bunch and we'll discount like you wouldn't believe). I likewise have audio books, series, DVDs, CDs, But more than anything else, we got BOOKS galore! (Come start your own store...Books live to be read and these need a home!)




     We got kitchenware galore! Commercial kitchen? We've got you covered...From heavy duty milkshake glasses and one of those silver malt-making device we all loved at the local drug store...Got griddles, microwaves, pots, pans, utensils...(On this I'm sticking a per price for the items in the bin, but would prefer to sell the whole lot at once ...if you're thinking of opening your own shop...please check us out!)

     Likewise, I have non-commercial kitchen items galore as well...(Nothing like writing cookbooks to have you investing in every cute cozy and bakeware set known to man...TV shoots and trade shows call for colorful and cute presentation pieces... May my showcasing days be your next fun picnic, housewarming party, bridal shower, kitchen-perker-upper days~ We got your Pottery Barn dish ware, your Hearthstone bakeware and everything in between...You got a kid setting up house, let me help! We've got you covered...(I'm good at this sort of thing1)

     Knick-Knacks ~ I am the QUEEN of knick-knacks! At some point they become cumbersome to dust, but we got novelties galore from vintage teapots to (lots and LOTS) of cup and saucer sets...(My dad was big on anything Franklin Mint series, so get ready to see everything from Williamsburg pewter figurines to porcelain dolls to replica patterns from the world's top 5-star restaurants, etc ...(Sorry Dad. We're trading china for goat bowls...kids gotta eat! ;)


     Did I mention VINYL? OMGosh! Fair warning, my music repertoire is rather eclectic; Got everything from Wilburn Brothers and Grandpa Jones picking banjos (not together; 2 separate albums...several actually) to Madona, to Reba's first... We got hits of the 50s to Dean Martin's Christmas album...Conway to Jim and Tammy Faye (talk about a collector's item :)




     As for larger home furnishings, we've got leather couches w/ matching chair and ottoman, framed artwork, full length mirrors (over mantel or upright wardrobe style) ...We've got sculptured figurines, end tables, dressers and night stands...One (full size) brass bed head and foot rails, bar stools, patio furniture...tablecloths, serving pieces, wall art, sconces, etc...etc..

     We got yer exercise equipment (where else would I be hanging my clothes?) such as a ski machine, a rowing mating...a mini tramp...you name it. Got leg weights, dumbbells, all sorts of things I used to use before hoeing, chasing dogs and farming became my new aerobic regime.

     My compadres in this yard sale insanity have yard equipment for you guys...mowers, trimmers, tools...We got One Massey Ferguson tractor (More on that in a separate entry...) We got tarps and wagons and all sorts of yard/farm helping tools...We got tool kits, outdoor lights, Christmas lights (I also have freshly cut lavender and irises in pots should you be up for the transplanting season~)

    All in all, too much to list, but we had to start somewhere...I'll be adding pictures as I go HERE on the blog (so as to not overload my FB page with endless pics, though I will post reminders when I add more, so you, my insider/blog-reading people, will have first stab at it :)

     So come one/come all! From Nashville, you'll take the Gallatin/Hwy109 exit (exit 232B) back toward Lebanon; turn right on Lebanon Road, and in a mile or so, you'll take a left between a big ol Wilson County Fair sign and a green sign pointing you to my alma mater, Friendship Christian School! (This is Cairo Bend Road~) Turn left on Cairo Bend, and go 3 miles (exactly) ...And you can't miss us! Just turn right by the big, red tractor and fluffy, white dog !

     Bring Cash! Bring a wagon for your haul! Bring your family...Bring your friends! While yes, yard sales serve to benefit the one clearing space (and catching up on bills)  I'm equally hopeful that 3 decades worth of personal belongings (complete with their stories and fun energy) can now add a little joy and pleasure to your world as well...Nothing would make me happier!

     Stick around...
     More pics to follow...

     Thanks for your patience as I try to find my floor again :)



   



Friday, July 8, 2016

You Have Not Lived (the full country experience) Until ...

     One of your dogs ...
     Gets sprayed by a skunk.

     While this is definitely not my first rodeo, it is (by far) my WORST ...
     (That it takes place at 2AM only exacerbates the wound.)

     For the record, Pyrenees, world renown for protecting goats, sheep and wounded creatures everywhere a la St. Francis, would normally think nothing of having a cat in their mix. And at least 4 of my 5 do consider our cats family.

     But isn't it so life?

     There's always that one ...

     Rosebud (my wild child Pryenees) hates cats.

     What this means for us around here is that Boo, never knowing for sure which big white dog might make the occasional indoor visit, keeps an eye out. No biggie.
     The outside (so called feral) cats, are on super high alert now that wiley coyote here has found (more likely "created") a hole in the fence ...a hole I thought I had found/fixed/resolved; clearly I was mistaken.
     To her credit, Rosebud's very smart, and has (all by herself) figured out:
                           "Inside=AC -- Outside=Barn floor...Is this a trick question?"
While placating me come meal time, she has for the past two nights, shown up at my door when she's had enough...(leaving Hix and TJ at the gate ...blank stares and some version of "Dang. How'd she do that?" popping like a cartoon bubble over their big ol doggie heads)

     Until fence dude makes it this weekend,  it was easier just let her in...my thinking being -- if a dog is this smart, she deserves a little A/C for a day or a night...
     That was my thinking ...
                                                until last night.

     Hunkered down for the night, we were bolted from our sleep when Rosebud, out of nowhere, commences to barking (inside the house--just to be clear). With outside dogs prompting (or following ... hard to say) this leads me to conclude: "Must be a coyote, otherwise, why would she risk her cushy comforts after all this effort?"
   
     I stumble downstairs to let her do what we have Pyrs here to do in the first place, which is to say "Go Rosebud go. Protect your charge. Run that critter off."

     Five minutes later, after hearing an ever so slight skirmish (nothing huge) ~ I conclude: mission accomplished...  I open the door to let her back in...

     Only to find .......

                           OH DEAR LORD ROSEBUD ....WHAT HAVE YOU DONE??

                                               ~~~~~~~~WHEEEEEEWWW~~~~~~~

     Looking up at me with eyes swollen (rims, totally pink) and a stench that could knock down Manhattan,  she left me no choice: I quickly shut the door. Heading downstairs water bucket in tow, I open the garage door to a dog of mixed emotional facial expressions~ (Good news: Hey Mom~ Ran it off! Bad news~ Didn't win.)

     Rosebud sashays into the garage and with head hung low, she circles twice and plops~thoroughly understanding why she won't be in the big house tonight.

     I wash up/wrap up and make my way back to bed (now 3 am) when, thump! I feel a pounce. I flip on the light to find Roz (Rosebud's daughter...now 80 pounds herself, thankyouverymuch)...with her nose squarely positioned under my pillow as if to say, "First floor --too close to basement! You mind?"

     While not our habit to let dogs sleep on beds, I was too tired (and quite frankly too tickled) to care. I flip off the light, pet my therapeutically-inclined canine and say, "We'll deal with it tomorrow Roz...But she is still your mama."


     For the record, today's no better. Not enough tomato juice on the planet...Gonna have to ride this one out~

     Here's praying your weekend brings a lovelier bouquet ~

Rosebud wakes to greet the day... Hope springs eternal...
(for her at least...for the rest of us, jury's still out~)

Thank you Mr. Fence Dude for showing up early.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Got 4 More Just Like Her Back Home!

   
   
     To say the least, Roz is a show stopper...
     Take a big white dog sporting a bright pink vest down any hallway and in no time she's holding court, working to both protect total strangers (who don't know they're being herded) while learning to allow them to mussy-up her face in her "Pet Me I'm A Therapy Dog" career move...

     But the funniest (and most consistent) response is when we pull out the phone to start bragging on the others...

     Number 1 question asked:
     "What kind of dog IS she?"
    (Answer: Great Pyrenees)
     Second question: "How much does she weigh?" (Answer: 75 pounds as of her last vet visit; she's gained at least 5 since we've been here...)

     But the eyes really pop open when I say "But she's just a puppy...Just 8 months old...she's FAR from full grown~"

     And in our never-ending efforts to educate the world on matters of Pyrenees dogs with goat-herding talents while introducing one that leapt off the farm to start her own career as a therapy dog, we can't help but laugh
                                                     ..........at Hix's big head!

(Seen here the day I left...Don't you KNOW these Shepherd people are grateful I didn't tote him in for training!)

     Nope. Some things are best left alone...
     Like Hix...back on the farm with the kids ...
     (After all, somebody's gotta watch out for those wiley coyotes!)