Sunday, December 14, 2008

PEACE



This morning I read John 14:27:

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."

That is appropriate in this day and time, as it has been in all generations when our ancestors felt as we do now--can things get worse?

Yes, and they will.

So what is this peace? And what kind of peace does the world give? How are these two kinds of peace different?

The world--kosmos--is concerned with the present. It measures quality of life by wealth and status, achievements and self-esteem. It is a world view of self-reliance, of Independence from God.

Knowing this, what kind of peace does the world give?
Well, some may think money. But as we read in the papers and hear in the news media stars and millionaires are checking into rehabs, going from on broken relationship to another, fall into depression, things that we think would never happen if only . . .. But, as we have recently seen in our economy, no money who you are, your can be gone in an instant.

How about success? Those that I know who are wildly successful have very little personal peace. To stay on top you have to defend your place and keep climbing.

Stuff! How about stuff? You know, cars, big houses, 100+ pairs of shoes, closets full of clothes, jewelry, electronic goodies. Yes, those are great to have, but they get old-someone gets something better. New and improved stuff always makes ours obsolete. Styles change.

There are drugs, and alcohol. Yes, those do give a temporary feeling of well-being, but it wears off. And if one stays in a drugged state, the feeling of well-being gets harder and harder to achieve.

Relationships! That's the ticket! Once again, temporary. We all have our issues.

Religion, ie. the kind that depends on us. Like those that teach we must abuse our sinful bodies by beating ourselves with sticks, crawling on gravel, or those with the view that because the body was made for pleasure, then indulge! Then there are the middle of the road religions that teach that we stay neutral, to blank out, to control ourselves. There are a plethora of religions that teach hate, fear, and superiority. All of them come from mankind's point of view on how things should be.
How about philosophy? It only raises questions and gives no answers.

Art? Knowledge? Subjective.

My conclusion? Peace as the world gives is like cotton candy. It is puffed up, pretty, and sweet, but it disappears in an instant and leaves us with a sticky mess.



PEACE AS JESUS CHRIST GIVES

Jesus gives life, not another religion to follow. However, I can understand why some would include Jesus' peace in the same light as those of fear, superiority, and hate. It isn't because of Jesus' teaching, but because of the stinking practices of those who profess to know him. Those who think that because they are white they are superior. Those who snub the tattooed, pierced, oddly dressed people. Those who think that if they touch, or even speak to a homosexual they are doomed to destruction. Those who want to "nuke" every Muslim on the planet. Those who think that only their denomination will make it to Heaven. Those "Thou shalt not . . . Christians. Don't drink, don't go to movies, don't watch television, don't cut your hair, wear make-up, dress in pants, don't play football, don't! don't! don't!!!!! Negative, negative, negative, doomed to Hell teaching.

How the heart of Christ must grieve.

What does Christ teach? Two simple commandments:

To love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and all our mind. This is the first and GREATEST commandment.
And to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Let me point out that LOVE IS NOT AN EMOTION. Rather it is an expression of faith. Love - agapao - is to "honor, cherish, devotion, respect, loyalty, compassion, generosity, and concern. LOVE IS A VERB!

If left to ourselves it would be impossible to be consistent in this commandment. Some circumstance would break our resolve. Thank goodness that Jesus understands. In fact, that is why he came to earth. He is mindful that we are "but dust" - Psalm 103.
He made covenant with God to provide the nature we must have to love unconditionally. Of course we will fail, but that is why he sent the Holy Spirit to point out where we failed, to counsel us, to teach us how to overcome, and to comfort us. He reminds us of what Jesus said.
There is no condemnation, beating ourselves with sticks, bowing 100 times, giving up chocolate (thank goodness!) rather, it is like a loving parent correcting a child. The consequences from our actions depends on our obedience or hard-headedness.

PEACE comes from God's divine promise of life with him, from his mercy, and freedom from all the shame and distress that is a result of a broken world. It is reconciliation with God, no longer being in dependant of him.

We can either choose our way or his way. We can either choose a religion that depends on our strength, with no final destination, or we can grow in God's strength, and when our pulse stops, life won't.

Peace. It isn't an emotion either. It is a state of being. Circumstance will make us cry and fret. We will get angry. But we know, oh yes, we know peace. And that is our anchor in the storm.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

SERVER PROBLEMS

I apologize for not posting in a while. I've had the worst time with Hughesnet satellite services. I DO NOT recommend them at all! We live in the middle of nowhere, and this was my only choice, or so I thought. I have found other outlets and so after my last disastrous altercation with Hughesnet, I fired them. Just to let you know how slow and frustrating this server is, I gladly paid the several hundred dollar penalty for breaking our contract, just to get rid of them.

Hughesnet is 1 step above dial-up. That's all. They do not have the bandwidth to support the customers they have and yet they still keep taking new ones on. Pure greed. If you should happen to view too many youtube videos, you are relegated to dial up speed for 36 hours for punishment. I found that out while trying to find a video to use in one of my presentations. After about 30 minutes of searching videos my computer stopped to a crawl. I'd crossed what they considered fair use. I felt like a child being sent to the corner for using my computer!

To make things worse, the only time you will speak to an English speaking person is in sales. After that you will speak to someone in India who has a poor command of the English language and you will spend your time saying, "repeat that please?" When they put you on hold you will listen to the most irritating song possible.

So, until I get hooked up with a local company, I am without service unless I come to town at the local coffee shop.

I will be leaving for Red River New Mexico on Friday. They will have Internet services there and I will catch up.

Thank you all for your patience!

Linda

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

AND THEY'RE OFF! ELECTIONS IN FULL SWING


And I dread every minute of it. I absolutely hate election years. Why? Because of what it does to people, including me. That is, until two years ago when God's simple question shot like an arrow into my heart.

Here is what happened.

I meet every Thursday with a fantastic group of writers and we critique each other's work. A few years ago, one fellow read a poem about a political figure that I supported and it was really critical and just wrong. I saw red. I wrote on his page, "beautifully written, terribly wrong."

On the way home I fumed. I had enough of the double-standard. But even worse, I was building walls against him. That was the problem with elections. I wasn't comfortable with anyone who was openly against the people I supported in the elections.

Instead of us being Americans, it was more like "them and us."

As my angry fever reached high pitch, I heard in my spirit, "Will there be Democrats or Republicans in Heaven?" What if the world ended tonight? Would political parties matter? What if he died tonight? Would he have known my love for him? Have you shown him my love?"

I hadn't.

I took my foot off the gas pedal, slowed down, and let those questions untangle my crowded thoughts of anger and hate.

Oh, God. I've fallen so short of your love. Please forgive me.

And He did.

From that night, I vowed to make sure this man knew he was loved. It didn't change his political colors, but that wasn't my goal. I made sure to be the Lords hand extended to him.

The next year he died of cancer.

This election year we must look at everyone through our Father's eyes. He loves us all. Let's not confuse issues with people. I will have to admit, the media makes it hard to love, since there is not story on peace and love, only hate and strife.

I heard an interview with William Young about his book, "The Shack." He said that he doesn't ask himself WWJD (what would Jesus do?) He said he asks himself, What Is Jesus Doing.

Well, what is He doing during this election season? He is loving. When we vote, as Christians, we should vote according to His teachings and that is where our focus should be. Not kill the messengers.

We must not rely on the media to spoon feed us their take on all issues, we must be responsible and do our own research.

Above all, we must pray. For all candidates, the elections, and the media. Pray the scriptures. Remember who our enemy really is. According to Ephesians 6, our enemy is not flesh and blood. Our enemies are the rulers and authorities and powers of this dark world, the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realms.

Therefore our enemies cannot be John McCain, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, or Joe Biden.

Our prayer should be: "Let God arise and His enemies (Eph. 6) be scattered!"
Our attitude should be: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, kindness, faithfulness and self-control.
Our actions should be responsible, civil, and well researched.

We are one people. We are Americans. United we stand. Divided we fall. And if we fall, we will all regret that we let petty differences and power grabs, steal from us the greatest freedoms this world has ever known.

Monday, July 28, 2008

INSPIRATIONAL VELDA BROTHERTON

On my list of truly beautiful people, Velda Brotherton is at the top. Even though she is an extremely busy, successful writer and popular speaker, she still has time for those of us who are just starting out. Her laugh is infectious, her insights could fill a reference book. I just cannot say enough good things about this lady. Her writing style? She does it all! And no matter in which genre' she writes the result is always hauntingly beautiful.



Fly With the Mourning Dove is an exceptional example of creative nonfiction. that reads like a novel. It is my honor to showcase it today on her "Blog Book Tour."

Fly With the Mourning Dove
by Velda Brotherton




Prologue

In this, my ninetieth year, I've returned once again to the New Mexico ranch I'll forever call home. To this day, I get a thrill out of topping the hill between the sagebrush flats and the Tusas River valley. In the early light of dawn, the adobe house waits in the shadows far below, and I hurry to reach it, the car's tires clattering over the wooden bridge that spans the Tusas river. I park, get out and move through the yard. Over the Sangre de Cristos, the sky is splashed with a brilliant glow that spreads crimson over the mountains. In my valley the darkness retreats, stirs a breeze that touches my cheek. If I turn from the rising sun, quickly and without warning, I see those who've left me behind--Mom and Pop, my one and only love Calvin and our precious Ann. The shimmering morning light offers them, real and alive, their laughter echoing across the San Juans far to the west. A high desert painting where shades of ochre contrast sharply with dense umbers. The mournful song of the doves and the chatter of swallows swooping in to deposit small dabs of mud beneath the eaves of the stucco house, speak of another time. A time when my world was young and filled with hope. Every spring I come home to cook my breakfast on the wood cookstove and eat on the porch and watch the elk drink from the snow melt of the river. Drawn back year after year by forever memories, leaving behind that little tin can of a trailer down in Espanola for sanctuary at the only place I've ever called home. Now a deserted ranch where no one but ghosts live. Where cattle graze the high pastures, raising their heads to glimpse spirit riders as they pass.
The sun climbs higher, the sloping porch roof casts a cool shadow that makes me hug myself and shiver. I breathe in the fragrance of desert air, spiced with pinon smoke from the cookstove and the spring blooming chamisa, the sage and blue-balled juniper. And remember the beginning.




Edna's Journal - 1990



The year is rapidly spinning away. Someday when I get big, I am going to buy a big rock on the coast of the Pacific. Or maybe Cabo San Lucas, where I can sit and listen to the surf hour after hour. Or maybe I'll settle for a fast moving stream and falls. Or maybe perfect stillness at a perfect sunset. Now where shall I put the sunset? Over Tusas peaks? A North Dakota prairie? Into the Pacific.? Over a snow-filled San Luis valley?
Sunset and the evening star. I like to think of stars as those who have gone before. They give me a warm feeling of those watching over me as I will watch when my time comes with that one clear call for me.
There's Calvin, that bright one yonder. He twinkles a lot. I know his pain is gone. And we had a good life. Two darling girls completed our family. His strength and wonderful sense of humor probably carried him through 22 years of pain that tied him to a wheelchair after the war took his legs. He fought long and hard, but I lost him in 1967. I never remarried, for no other man could ever suit me.
We had bought the Sewell place on the Tusas below Dad's. And that is where I go when I long to visit the past.
And that small star nearby Calvin's. That's our firstborn, our sweet Annie. She lost her own battle with death after becoming a wife and mother. I smile remembering the way Mom insisted on being in the labor room when she was born. Making sure everything went all right. And how she insisted on naming our little doll Catherine Ann, after her. Mom became as much a mother to her as I was. I always joked with Mom that if she didn't have someone to take care of she wasn't happy. I believe she was more of a mother than I ever was.
She's that star looking over Annie's shoulder, making sure she's all right even today. We lost Mom in 1973, Pop and I. As is often the case, Pop's care giver wore out before her patient. Pop was a gentle, soft spoken man who made friends slowly, but those he made he kept. Pop, who fought TB to a standstill back in the days when that wasn't easy . . . well, he's up there too, following Mom three years later and twinkling at her side in the night sky.
My God is really close to me, but not always found in church. I find him in the perfection of color and design of a flower, a blazing sunrise, a baby's smile, the rocks and colors of the Moab country. A starry, snowy night, a good friend's understanding, and in certain music, the ocean surf and on and on.
Churches, yes, I have felt him in a little church in Puerta Penasco, where the members had no benches, but knelt on the floor. In the little log school house where we used to go to sing the old songs and spend the day in good fellowship. In the little Catholic church in North Dakota, the incense, the Latin service, in the tabernacle in Salt Lake City, the music there.
I have searched many places to find a church I could belong to, but always something stops me. I must keep going for I admire deeply all those who can give themselves to one belief saying this is it. This is mine. I try only to live by the Golden Rule: do unto others, and the Indian motto: Don't judge others until you have walked in their moccasins. So my God dwells within me, not Catholic, Presbyterian or Buddhist, but in my soul.
It doesn't matter where I go or what I do or what is done to me, I can derive peace and happiness from the smell of sage, the quiet of a pinon forest, the beauty of the blue balled juniper. In the laughter of my grandchildren, both Annie's and Linda's. Ah, my Linda. Pop bought a ranch in Antonito, Colorado in 1945, where he could raise feed crops and graze the cattle during the winter. Linda and her husband Pat run that ranch, but I still keep my nose in things. So I have the ranches, and my lovely daughter and son-in-law and my grandchildren.
And so long as we have glorious sunsets and God gives us a new day make the best of it. Why look in the gutter when stars are overhead?
All my life has been packed away in little boxes.
My dad came home from the hospital. He gave me a wooden box he had made in therapy. I was twelve and my box went with me wherever I went. I lost the bracelet, my friends changed to lovers, my gloves wore and were discarded, as were the lovers, who were replaced by my husband.
His letters from war fields then filled that box. Other big boxes were acquired to hold all the things that make a home, wedding presents packed away for five years; on his return letters were replaced by the little box of keepsakes made by two precious little girls.
The big boxes served a busy in and out storage life for twenty years. Then a bigger box claimed life and all that was left were papers in safety deposit boxes. Memorial books and cards to be put in small boxes to be kept in the big storage boxes that contained all that was left of a home.
The little wooden box still goes with me - treasures may change, the box is solid like the ties of my family.
To read all that is in between the prologue and epilogue be sure and buy the book! Below is information on how to do that as well as her "back-in-print" novel, Images In Scarletbook.

To order Fly With the Mourning Dove: http://www.tinyurl.com/5j66c2
To read the first chapters: http://www.tinyurl.com/63ftxd

To Order Images in Scarlet: http://www.tinyurl.com/3eu5n5
To read the first chapters: http://www.tinyurl.com/63qwo7




Be sure and check out all the blogs that have featured Velda on her blog tour!
July 21 -- http://emilybryan.wordpress.com An Interview with the author
July 22 -- http://suzannewoodsfisher.blogspot.com History of photography
July 23 -- http://marshaward.blogspot.com Writing the Historical fiction/nonfiction
July 24 -- http://gwynramsey.blogspot.com History of Women in Photography
July 25 -- http://www.riehlife.com A photo array of New Mexico
July 26 -- http://vbrotherton.blogspot.com Where Do Ideas Come From?
July 27 -- Sunday Take the day off
July 28 -- http://marynidasmith.blogspot.com Dance at the Sagebrush Inn, Taos
July 29 -- http://lindacapple.blogspot.com Edna's story/Fly With The Mourning Dove
July 30 -- http://westernhistoricalhappenings.blogspot.com John Dunn Entrepreneur of New Mexico
July 31 -- http://communityoftheland.blogspot.com Interview with the author


Until next time, May God Bless You Bunches!









Friday, June 20, 2008

GET TO THE SOURCE

After our house burned in 1995 I took a course on how to use a fire extinguisher. I know, I know, it was a little late. But just in case lightening decided to strike twice, so to speak, I wanted to be ready.

The trainer started a small fire for me to put out and I aimed my extinguisher at the flames and let her go. The fire didn’t go out. Why? I was aiming at the result of the source instead of the source of the flame.

In the same way, when we struggle with sin we usually try to put out the flame instead of investigating the source. For instance, I’ve been fighting depression, discouragement, worry, and fear over a certain situation. Being the optimist that I am, I’ve just put on a happy face and trudged on, knowing that with a little self-control I could beat it.

Didn’t work.

I meditated on the scripture, quoted it out loud, and for a while I felt better. But then a phone call sent me back to the clutches of discouragement. No amount of self-control, meditation and focus, positive thoughts could put out the flames that consumed my soul.

What was happening to me? Why didn’t God hear me? Why wasn’t He doing what He said He would do in I John 5:14 & 15 for crying out loud???? I was immobilized by the constant barrage of circumstances that shouted, “Your prayer for this situation will never be answered.”

Then one morning on my front porch, out of nowhere, I heard, “Your circumstances do not change My truth.”

All of a sudden I recognized the source of my turmoil. I believed what I saw rather than the promise of God. The circumstances around me were more real than the power of the One who created this world with a word.

I had exchanged the one true God for one made in my image. I repented and extinguished the source of my turmoil.

Did the circumstances change? No, they are just as hateful as ever. Did God’s truth change? No, His truth still stands.

I changed.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/pfly/



Saturday, May 17, 2008

LET'S EAT ICE CREAM


This week my friend, Ruth, died. We were neighbors, our children grew up together, we shared life. Ruth taught me how to plant a vegetable garden and how to plant flowers. She had a mild manner and a beautiful voice.

Later when the children were older we moved apart, but kept in touch. Two months ago she was diagnosed with lukemia. "Treatable" the doctors said. And then, last Wednesday at 11:00 p.m. she slipped into eternity.

Another friend called to tell me the news about Ruth. We both exclaimed how floored we were that she had died. Then my friend made a profound statement. "I'm going to go eat ice cream."

"Huh?"

"All this worry about being a certain size, looking certain way . . . well, we never know, look at our friend. Less that three months ago she was fine. I'm going to eat ice cream."

I got it then. We must live in the day we are in. Yes, we should eat healthy, but we should also enjoy life one day at a time. We should enjoy family, friends, and not be self-consumed with temporal things.

Take time to "be." Be with the person talking to you instead of mentally making lists of things to do. Be where you are. Enjoy the days God has blessed you with.

I't is said that "if the devil can't make us bad, he will make us busy." I think that is true. He will consume our minds, leaving no room for thoughts of God or our fellow man.

So, grab a friend, a loved one, and go eat some ice cream together. Savor every moment together. Be where you are.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

SURPRISED BY LOVE


The other day I took a walk in our woods and came upon a delightful surprise. There among the leaves was a bright yellow crocus peeking through. It didn't belong there. That little flower was supposed to bloom in a flower garden or along a path to someone's front door.

I was reminded of our last house. I found the land by noticing daffodils growing in clumps along a foundation where a house once stood. The house had fallen down years ago, but these little flowers kept a vigil each spring reminding visitors that life was once spent there.

Isn't that how we should be? As Christians, shouldn't we show up at places no one expects? Sure, flowers in a hot house are pretty. The garden sections at our local discount and home stores are lovely to look at, but nothing thrilling. I expect them to be there for me to pick and choose from. We Christians plant our rears on church pews and are expected to do so. But what if we Christians showed up in a totally foreign place, somewhere totally unexpected? Like a a bar?

Jesus did.

What if we showed up as a light where people go to hide in darkness? Okay, I know I'm on shaky ground with you now, but I must push on.

I remember once when a church I attended was wrestling with if they should conduct Saturday night services. One person spoke up in the negative. His reasoning was, "What if my neighbors don't see me going to church on Sunday? That would be a bad witness." My heart fell. His neighbors probably didn't give a flying fig if he went to church.

We must get out of our hot-house where we are expected to be. We must stand vigil for life no matter where it is. Our witness is our love!!!! Our witness is the pie we bake and take next door for no reason. Our witness is cutting our neighbor's lawn when they are under the weather. Our witness is being available.

So, where is our love best spent? On the pew or on the bar stool? I'm not advocating going to the bar every Saturday night and tying one on. But if I'm invited by someone, I'll go. You might be surprised how open folks are to the love of Christ when they are with someone who isn't "holier-than-thou."

Recently, I offered a cup of coffee to a man who is working on our house. He declined because his "church" frowned on coffee. He was a recent convert and by his expression I could tell he would have loved that cup of coffee. How badly I wanted to tell him that it wasn't what went into his mouth that defiles, it is what comes out. Says so in Matthew 15:11.

God is more concerned with the gossip, the criticism, the hurtful words, the lies, that come from the heart and out of the mouth than the wine that goes in.

Let's consider being the bright yellow crocus among the dead brown leaves in our community by our availability, love, and non-judgemental friendship. Over time we will earn trust, the walls will come down, and love will flow into others unhindered.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

When God is Silent

Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?

We’ve all been there. Sometimes it seems that in our darkest hours God is silent. So silent that we think he is no longer there. We feel alone—deserted.

I’ve been reading a book written by Steven James titled, “Story, recapture the mystery” and one chapter is about God’s silence. He points out something that I’d never seen before and it helped me to connect with Jesus even deeper.

The passage is found in Matt.27:46 when Jesus cries from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In His greatest hour of need, his Father was silent. Steven pointed out that even Jesus didn’t know the answer to that question.

There are many promises in the Bible. Most are tied to our obedience. But there is one glaring promise given by Jesus that we’d rather not deal with. It is found in John 16:33, “In this world you WILL have trouble” (emphasis mine)

Why?

Because there is evil in this world system.

Even Jesus wasn’t spared from evil. He was poor, homeless, persecuted, rejected, mocked, beaten, deserted, and humiliated (stripped and hung naked on the cross in front of everyone including women). He was stalked, lied about, people used him in order to elevate their own position, and he was falsely accused, endured an unfair trial, was unjustly convicted, and suffered a brutal death.

But, as Steven James points out, Jesus didn’t give up on God. And God didn’t give up on him.
II Corinthians 5:7 says, “We live by faith, not by sight.” Steven writes that God’s silence offers us a choice to either abandon our faith or learn to trust God in the dark.

It is actually love that motivates God to teach us these hard lessons. Most of us in the civilized world have it good. We really do not know what it is like to go without eating for days at a time, or to not have clean cold water to bath in much less warm. But the day may come when we have to trust God for every meal.

Faith fed the multitudes with five loaves and two fish.
Faith healed the sick.
Faith found coins in a fish’s mouth.
Faith turned water into wine.
Faith filled empty jars with life giving oil.
Faith parted the red sea.

Faith is knowing God, the provider of all that we need. As we walk in the knowledge of that faith, we are free to think of others instead of ourselves. We are free to reach out in love.
Love never fails and love conquers evil.

Is God silent for you right now? There is a situation in my life where He is silent. I’m hanging on to I John 5:14, 15 “And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”

The other day I gave in to lamenting the situation to God and He broke His silence long enough to encourage me with this: “Your circumstances do not change My truth.”

Friends, I encourage you to learn to trust God in the dark. Don’t give up on Him. He hasn’t given up on you.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Pushing Through The Storms


Neal and I celebrated our thirtieth wedding anniversary on January 15. He is my best friend, my hero, my protector, my teacher, and my guide. But life hasn't been easy in the married state for either of us.

There are no two more different people than Neal and I. During our lives together we have taken advantage of marriage enhancement seminars and books. We've listened to a lot of temperaments studies and no matter what the similes are, we are off the charts in opposite temperaments. He is melancholy, choleric. I am sanguine, phlegmatic. He is fire and earth, I am wind and water. He is lion and beaver. I'm an otter, golden retriever.

The most helpful study was Lori Beth Jones' Elements. I realized that if Neal is fire and I am wind that I needed to be a gentle breeze in an argument. After all, what happens when you give fire oxygen? Neal learned that his fire needed to purify and give warmth in a situation and not burn everything into a crispy critter.

Another helpful tool in our 30 years together was a book called the 5 Love Languages by Dr. Chapman. The premise is that certain things mean love to us and we demonstrate love in the same way. However, we are all different. And when we do for others what says love to us, it may not speak love to them and they ignore our offerings, therefore making us feel unloved.

For instance: my love language is words of affirmation. Neal's is physical touch. So let's say I'm always encouraging him and he just grunts or counters with a negative response to my positive one. I feel rejected.

Neal doesn't pass by me without touching in some way, and if I don't respond, he feels rejected.

You see, I speak love by what says love to me, affirming words, and the same with Neal and physical touch. When we realized this, Neal began affirming me and I began to making physical contact, giving a quick hug, taking his hand.

Finally, listening to others who have been married longer than us has also given us a map to travel through life together. I'll never forget the words of my friend Loretta Dixon. Her husband, Red Dixon, is one of the pastor's of our church.

She said that marriage is like a boat going from one island to another. The trip out of the dock is in choppy waters going against the tide and then in the middle of the ocean there may be a storm. But if we press on through the storm we will see the land and the sailing is smooth because we will be going with the flow of the water instead of against it.

Neal and I are traveling with the flow. Oh, that doesn't mean there aren't little storms that pop up here and there. I mean, what do you expect with fire and wind that are not always controlled? But the trip has been a blessed one, and we look forward to cruising into old age together.