A New 23rd Psalm

We memorized this as kids, along with the Books of the Bible, and dozens of other verses. The 23rd Psalm is a multi-use scripture. It’s comforting in difficult times, encouraging in good times, and calming in fearful times. 

Recently I learned some facts about sheep that has brought new light to this old standard:

Sheep facts
  1. Sheep only lie down when they are satisfied and feel safe. Thus the concept of ‘laying down in green pastures’ looks different.
  2. Sheep can’t decipher between gentle streams and unsafe waters. So when the Shepherd leads them beside ‘still waters’ he does so to protect them. 
  3. Sheep have a tendency to get themselves in trouble either by getting stranded on ledges, entangled in shrubs, or jump into raging rapids…thus the hook of a Shepherds staff is designed for rescues – it is made to wrap around a sheep’s neck so the shepherd can gently guide them out of danger. 
With those in mind…The 23rd Psalm

You are my shepherd and provide everything I need.

I can rest in lush green pastures – because I know I am safe.

You know my limitations, inabilities, and tendencies, and You lead me to safe waters. 

You renew me every day and guide me in the right direction.

Even when I’m walking through dark valleys – I am NOT afraid because You are always near. 

When I find myself stranded on a ledge, or entangled in relationships, or have foolishly jump into unsafe waters, You are prepared to rescue me. 

When life is at its darkest and I feel as though I am being attached from all sides, You find ways to bless me, to shine light into my dark days. 

You’ve chosen me and have covered me in Your love…and it’s more than I can comprehend.

You allow Goodness and Mercy to follow me everywhere.

I will spend all my days living in Your presence. 

These words take on new meaning when they are read as a promise instead of a hope…

The Big Black Inner Tube

As a teen, my friends and I tubed down the Crystal River. It was a summertime favorite. We’d make the forty-five minute drive, park our cars in the gravel parking lot, pay our fee, get on a big green bus and be taken up the river. 

We excitedly exited the bus and made our way to the river bank where giant black inner tubes were tossed in the water.  Laughter and cheers would erupt as all who were watching ran into the rapids in hopes of catching a tube before it caught the current and floated on without us. Once a tube was captured, we’d jump on, wiggle our butts into the center, lay our heads back and float down the river. No paddles, no oars, we were swept away by the current. 

Imagine for a moment…

…while we were on the tubes, we began paddling against the current. Or, if we had been dropped off down stream and expected to make our way upstream. That would have taken great EFFORT. Such an effort most likely would have created anxiety because we weren’t getting anywhere. We would have been frustrated. By the end of the day, we would have felt as though we had failed. In contrast, allowing the current to guide us was relaxing, enjoyable and a peaceful journey.

I have come to understand that allowing God to guide us is just like allowing the current to carry us down the river. So the question is, in everyday life, how do we know when we’re paddling upstream or allowing the current to guide us?  

It’s easier than we think! We know this by our emotions. When we are striving to make something happen, when we are exerting our own effort, we feel frustrated, anxious and the fear of failure haunts us. Learning to trust that God will provide a current to guide us creates joy, excitement and peace.

EFFORT is different than action. Typically, when we are putting forth EFFORT, we are paddling up stream. We are working really hard and going nowhere. There’s a huge difference between floating down the river and paddling up it. 

ACTION is never an effort. Action comes out of motivation and inspiration, not out of obligation.

You have an idea, you think it through. You begin to develop a plan; you ponder and explore your options. When you feel this is something worth pursuing, you have a choice: Either you believe it’s all up to you to make it happen (effort); or, you wait and watch with great anticipation. When opportunity makes itself known, you spring into action, which will never feel like effort!

When we work out of EFFORT, rarely do the results equal the time and energy we’ve invested. There is usually a cost; this can be relationships, financial, stress or even our health. Effort equals work.

excerpt from Living Unstuck


I’ve had a ton of self-discovery these past few weeks. Thanks to a book titled Dream Big, I no longer feel like there’s something wrong with me cause I love being involved in a bunch of things at one time. 

Thanks to a small book study with five old friends, I feel more connected than I ever have. And in the past week, thanks to a thing called Tapping I’ve discovered (and let go of) a whole lot of anxieties, stressors, and fears. 

This has been the most amazing change of all. Why do I feel the need to time how long I am in a store? When did running errors become a sprint? When did talk about crazy, out-laddish ideas become an irresponsible way of thinking? When did new adventures become something to fear with the expectation of horrible things to follow? When did having a full day of activity and things to accomplish become a drain or a curse, and something to avoid? 

My personal thorn is feeling like I’ll mess up and someone-somewhere will feel the need to scold me. Holy crap – I’m 59 years old – why do I care if someone isn’t happy, or accepting, or in agreement. I don’t! BUT I have a lifetime of learned reactions and behaviors that know how to react on cue – as I’m discovering them…I’m letting them go. 

Last night when I got into bed I told Jeff, “I have to go to sleep cause I can wait to wake up in the morning!” I can’t wait!!

Thanks to my old buddy Robyn, I stumbled into a thing called Epicure. Cooking classes, planning events, selling products, and making videos…and I’m having a blast. Each step of the way opens me to new and deeper self-discovery and awareness. More insecurities, self-perceptions, and anxieties that I just don’t want to tolerate any longer.  

As those old learned behaviors rear their ugly faces, I quickly move into position and begin tapping them away. I breath more freely, laugh with a little more delight, dream a little bigger, love a whole lot deeper, and tell myself regularly that this weird feeling isn’t something to worry about…it’s just a thing called contentment and I’ll get used to it eventually. 


Forty years – how did we make it through 40 years?

When I look at the number ten – looks like a very nice number, twenty looks a bit fanciful, thirty is whimsical, but forty looks solid.

I googled the meaning of the number 40 – the number 40 generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial or probation – doesn’t that describe marriage perfectly? The number 40 represents transition or change; the concept of renewal; a new beginning. The number 40 has the power to lift a spiritual state – as one who has lived through 40 years of marriage, this is just a little exciting…renewal, new beginnings, power to lift. 

In the Bible, the number 40 is used over 100 times. It rained on Noah for 40 days. Jesus was in the wilderness having deep conversation with Satan for 40 days. He also went up into the clouds 40 days after coming out of the tomb. Really holy people fasted for 40 days without dying. 

It took 40 years for the Israelites to go from Egypt to the Promise Land. 40 years of wandering, complaining, miracles, forgetting, remembering, picking up food off the ground each morning, sickness, death, wars, golden calfs, broken tablets, 10 commandments, and an overwhelming fear of what’s next.

When I compare marriage to these stories, I can’t say that I’ve felt like it’s been raining the last 4 decades, a few big storms perhaps. I wouldn’t say that the last 40 years have been deep daily conversations with Satan…at least not the entire 40. I’ve never disappeared into the clouds, I may have wanted to – so ascending doesn’t describe it either. 

40 years of wandering around, being lead by a bright light, building alters, complaining, being grateful, filling up with fear, learning to be grateful again, moving our tent, fighting a few more battles, thinking we’re going to die, celebrating deliverance…yep that’s what it compares to. 

What came after all that wandering? Well, when the Israelites finally ended their journeying and arrived at the promised land, they were fearful it was too good. Surely life couldn’t be that good – there must be something wrong. 

This 40 year union we’ve survived could see another 40 years, I may have to prop Jeff up for the last 10, but it is possible. These next 40 are going to be good ol’ years. I hope it’s too good to be true! I want there to be giant grapes, endless cocktails, a new generation (or two) of grand kids, drives on the ocean, happy hours on the hill, sunset to put on instagram, and parties with no end.

Forty – the end and beginning all rolled into one. 

But I’m still not sure how we made it.

Pinballs in my Brain

pinball in my brain by author Jeannie Bruenning

Definition of Connectedness

People with the StrengthsFinder theme of Connectedness believe that everything happens for a reason. They have the unique ability to ‘connect the dots’ between what is happening in the here and now with deep personal meaning.

If you share the StrengthsFinder characters of Connectedness with me, you know how it can screw up your life. For those who don’t – here’s a practical description….everything that goes in your brain has to connect, has to have some sense of reasonability, the minds eye has to be able to see where it goes, how it gets there and what possible reactions it will cause. 

If information doesn’t connect or has loose ends it just bounces around in there like a pinball until it has something to connect to.

Us connectedness-ers are likely to spot a lie before anyone else because it doesn’t connect. Our brains never stop scanning for consistencies, irregularities, and gaps. When listening to crazy talk we grimace. Hearing someone selling their excuses makes us feel as if our heads are filling with goop and we’ve lost all sense of reality.

That is why in our recent social media climate, you’ll find me twitching, flinching, and gasping for brain air. There are just tooo many things that don’t connect.

For instance:

You can’t say we are a Christian Nation and then scream about the separation of Church and State. Christian Nation connects Church and Nation.

Claiming that every American is created equal but refusing to assist those who aren’t treated equal – makes the pinballs in my head shoot out of the starting gate.

I saw one post saying they missed the good old days were there weren’t abortions, everyone respected authority, and life was good. I can’t find such a time in history but my brain is working overtime to do so.

And then there are those who are crying for a time when they could say whatever they wanted without offending anyone. In the next post they are blasting someone they disagree with…this sets off all the alarms, bells, and lights on my brains pinball scoreboard.

But then come the posts that I can’t even let near my brain. Those are the ones who blame the Democrats, praise the Republicans (or vice versa), say the Pledge of Allegiance every day as if it was some kind of a prayer, only watch Fox News and want everyone to ban other networks, post that the hundreds of thousands of deaths due to the virus are made up, see evil in any opinion that they don’t agree with, spread fear, mistrust, and conspiracy, don’t believe prejudice exists, and everyone has equal rights…AND then claim God is in control…

…these posts just have to be filed away as crazy talk (by crazy people who may have never really met God).

…these make my head spin.

Absolute on the Rocks

Absolute on the rocks

I grew up in a world that was primarily black and white. It consisted of many lists of absolutes. There were wrong and rights, goods and bads, dos and don’ts. We lived by the absolutes and we judged other’s accordingly. 

As a young adult, the lines between what was once black and white began to blur and life become much more gray. What may be wrong in one situation, was the ‘right thing to do’ in another. I found myself living a lot in the gray. 

Blame it on age, or experiences, or the need to find a deeper meaning in life, but as the old absolutes began to fade – colors began to fill my world’s gray canvas. 

As my adult children began families of their own and a new generation began to sprout, the gray faded rapidly as new colors of ideas, realities, and life bled through.

I can now count my absolutes on one hand:
  • If we are born, we will die.
  • God is love and ALL love comes from Him.
  • We harvest what we’ve planted.
  • We must remember what is good, or it be washed away with the bad.
  • No one will ever truly know what you are tasting…it is unique to you!

Allowing the black and white canvases of life to fade away is scary simply because it means we must let go of ideals and accept what is real. Those black and white canvases gives us the right to judge others, to find the errors of their ways, to correct other’s colorful worlds with our black and white brushes. 

Living in a world outside of black and white can feel messy and uncontrollable – it is also freeing and offers infinite possibilities. It opens our imaginations and broadens our understanding; it makes us wiser, more accepting, and alive.

Absolutes are still part of my life…but usually I prefer them on the rocks…with a twist.