Trevor’s Bible

BibleWhen I first accepted Jesus as my Savior, I met two of the most remarkable people I have ever known. They were in their 60’s, and I was in my 20’s. They sort of adopted and took care of me in many ways, including spiritually. I saw them as my parents. They never judged me or tried to be responsible for my walk. They simply loved me and walked a life I wanted to emulate. Their names were Trevor and Dolores.

Several years after Trevor’s death, his daughter asked me if I would like to have his Bible. With unspeakable gratitude, I accepted the worn Bible in its leather cover with tabs placed at the beginning of each book. I remembered Trevor telling me that as he got older he had trouble remembering where the books were located in the Holy Scriptures. The tabs provided him a way to find the books quickly and without frustration experienced because of failing memory. Believe me, I understand that now as I stand at the latter part of my sixth decade.

I use this Bible on a daily basis. True, I think I have become dependent upon the little tabs that tell me where each book is, in order to find my way around. But I wouldn’t give up this treasure for anything in the world for many reasons.

Being dependent upon a guide to the Bible reminds me that I am totally dependent upon God’s word to live my daily life. I have been reading the Bible for over 40 years, and I have some idea where certain themes/lessons are. But this is a book I could read all day for the rest of my life and never be able say I know it all. The lessons are new each day, and I am grateful to find certain passages with ease.

Like me, Trevor wrote in the margins of his Bible. When I search the Scriptures for understanding, comfort, and more knowledge of God, I find Trevor’s little notes. These were his way of recording his own revelations and understandings during his searches through the years. It is like he is still teaching and loving me through his words, as I travel on my personal spiritual journey. I can clearly see his questions, his moments of epiphany and his sense of humor. What gifts these are – what blessings!!

Perhaps one of the most poignant things about this book is that as I use it, I gain more gratitude each day for God’s word and for the people He sent to grow me spiritually. Like all people in close relationship, Trevor and I had our disagreements. But this man truly loved the Lord with all his heart, soul and mind. And he truly loved me. I find myself humbled that even through separation by the curtain of death he continues to show me what that looks like.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Trevor.

Copyright February 2018
llpadgett
Lakewood, CO 80401

Connect with me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett  or my Facebook Author Page

Check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

Waiting

I’m sitting in the silence, and I’m waiting.

For what?

For an answer?

What’s the question?

I’m watching the darkness, and I’m waiting.

For what?

The lifting, the light? Will I embrace the fog?

I juggle fear with peace.

I desire one but cannot release the other, and I’m waiting.

For what?

My dreams? An outcome?

What dreams? What outcome?

I relax.

I fight to own sleep, and I’m waiting.

For what?

Do I know? Can I guess?

Will I know when the wait is over?

Will I recognize/accept the answer?

I grasp then release trust, and I am waiting.

For what?

I am accomplished in  many areas.

But I do not wait well.

Why? Do I know? Can I guess?

Do I stand in hell, heaven, in between?

Perhaps I’m in a classroom, and I’m waiting.

For what?

An insight? A lesson? A new season? The end of this one?

Is waiting in fact the insight, lesson, beginning of a new season, the end of this one?

I don’t know.

Is not knowing the same as knowing?

I breathe, pray, hold space, and I’m waiting.

I am waiting.

 

For JL

 

Copyright February 26, 2018
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Connect with me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett  or Facebook Author Page

Check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

 

 

Twenty-Five and Counting

Anniversary trip, Ft. Lauderdale, 2016

We’ve all heard that opposites attract. But in marriage is attraction enough? Can we sustain a relationship when there are polar opposite characteristics and life situations? Are there seas of differences that can not be bridged, regardless of love?

Those were questions Keith and I asked as we began dating almost twenty-seven years ago. Neither of us were into casual dating. We knew we were attracted to each other and were not surprised when we eventually fell in love. Still, we took two years to be sure we wanted to commit to a lifetime together. Our doubts and questions were shared by some friends/family members on both sides; and that compounded our uncertainty.

There was a ten-year age difference to consider. His children were raised, educated and on their own. I still had a young child at home. Keith was born and raised in farm country and his interests were mostly centered around agriculture. I was a city girl who loved crowds, noise, bright lights and fast-paced living. He liked country music. I liked jazz. He was methodical, logical and even-tempered. I was D: None of the above. Is it any wonder we took two years and bathed in buckets of caution before making the decision to make “the” decision?

We were not without common ground, however. We shared our love for the Lord Jesus Christ, His word and a conviction He brought us together. Still, we knew love may not be enough to keep a marriage from crumbling. Both of us learned that lesson from hard and painful experiences. We often prayed as a couple, and separately, for God to bless or block our union. The Lord never even hinted at a veto vote.

On February 14, 1993, we did what many considered reckless because the world’s decision-making criteria often displaces God’s truth, even in Christian lives. In front of family and friends we took each other for better or worse, in sickness and in health, forsaking all others. We promised to surrender our lives and marriage first and foremost to God.

Like most married couples, we have been called upon to live our commitment through all kinds of scenarios. It is, and has been, far from perfect. We’ve laughed, cried, fought, struggled through loss and rejoiced in gain. We’ve walked away in anger and come back together out of surrender of self for the sake of another and out of obedience to the God we worship. We’ve traveled the world and found/formed bonds around common interests, like all things produced by the BBC. We’ve embraced our similarity and honored our diversity. We’ve weathered life-threatening illnesses and rejoiced at miraculous curative intervention. We’ve come to understand it is commitment, and not attraction, that cements a marriage. We’ve seen growth as individuals, and as a couple, multiplied in opposition.

Today as we celebrate another anniversary, we have hearts full of gratitude to God and growing appreciation, affection and admiration for each other. We often say we’re glad we didn’t let fear of failure keep us from believing God’s plan for success. Of course we still find each other extremely  attractive. But long ago we were blessed to enter into deeper exploration of what truly loving and choosing another person means.

For the most part our traits and individual human make-up show us as very different people. Keith is down to earth, and I am out in space.

Every morning, in our daily devotionals, we give God thanks for each other. And in my personal devotional time I praise God that Keith keeps me centered, and I teach him to fly.

For Keith

 

Machrie Moor, Arran Island – Scotland 2006

 

Copyright February 14, 2018
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Connect with me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett  or Facebook Author Page

Check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

 

Some Gave All

“He was a hero, you know.” A stranger announced this while I sat at my father’s grave in Ft. Logan National Cemetery. It was Memorial Day Weekend. She was moving from grave to grave, placing small American flags in front of each headstone.

“Was he?” I asked.

She put a flag at the grave next to my dad’s, then turned to face me. “Why yes. All these men and women were heroes.” She swept an arm around the immediate vicinity to emphasize inclusion.

“They paid a high price to help us stay free. Some paid with their physical and mental health; and some with their lives. We must never forget or dishonor their sacrifices.” She resumed her journey, the full skirt of her red dress swaying with movement of her trim figure.

I stared at my father’s tombstone. I hadn’t made many visits to this site during the forty plus years since his passing. Even when I did make an outing to the cemetery, I did it out of some sort of obligation. I felt guilty sometimes because I didn’t make more of an effort to go to his burial place. Over the years, I practiced keeping thoughts and feelings about my dad far from my mind. That morning, however, during my devotional time I felt compelled to make an appearance at the cemetery.

“Here we go, water for the flowers and a screwdriver to dig out the metal vase.” My husband had dropped me at the grave side, parked the car and brought the necessary equipment to decorate the grave.

“What’s wrong?” Keith asked when I made no acknowledgement of his return. “What is it? I thought you wanted to come here today.”

“I thought I did too. But when I got here, all the old feelings of resentment and fear of this man I barely knew came flooding back. Then some woman in a red dress declared him a hero,” I snorted.

Keith went about adorning the grave with multi-colored irises and digging out grass that had grown near the vase. I watched him in silence until he finished.

“Do you want to go now?”

“No, I want to just sit here for a few minutes. I need to catch up with myself and try to figure out what just happened.”

It was a warm May day with a slight breeze moving shadows of leaves on the massive tree that grew a few feet from my dad’s grave. I watched the lady in red walking among graves and placing flags. I thought about what she said, wondered why she spoke to me and how she knew anything about my father. I didn’t even know very much about him.

“Maybe it was a mistake to come here, Keith. I didn’t know much about this man other than he had a bad temper that struck out at the slightest provocation. Why would God be so clear about directing me to sit at the grave of someone I have such strong negative feelings about?” I directed my remarks to my husband but kept my eyes on the ground.

“Maybe you just don’t remember the good things about him. Maybe it’s time you stopped hating your father and made peace with the past. What did she say?” He nodded in the direction of the red-clad stranger.

“She said these men and women sacrificed their health, even mental health…” I trailed off and grasped.

“Where did your dad serve, Laura?”

I whispered the answer as I let out my breath. “Northern Africa. He was a munitions expert on the front lines. He always said his hearing wasn’t right because of explosions and yells from his fellow shoulders who were injured or…” again words failed me.

“Keith, do you think my dad had PTSD and that was why he had such erratic and violent outbursts? I know he died from a service-connected disability in his fifties, after decades of suffering. But do you think what they once called ‘shell shock’ was the major factor in Papa’s mental instability?”

“I don’t know, Honey. I think it’s very likely. What else to you remember about him, besides his temper? Papa. Is that what you called him?” Keith asked. I nodded.

I sat for several minutes allowing the warm breeze and sunshine breaking through the tree’s shelter to form a safe place for unpacking memories. I shook my head to clear almost fifty years of mental cobwebs laced with resentment.

“Well, he had a great sense of humor and quick wit. He loved music and Ed Sullivan. He fancied himself quite the dancer. He and my mother went dancing a lot at the old Elitch’s Tracadero Ballroom. They won quite a few contests, you know. He was passionate about gardening too and particularly loved his trees.”

A memory of his funeral surfaced. I recalled my older sister saying he would be pleased if there was a tree next his resting place some day. That thought brought a smile to my heart.

“He loved baseball and even though he completed school only through the fifth grade, he had a photographic memory that allowed him to tell you who won most World Series contests and who was on the pitching mound at the time. One of his happiest days was when he could afford to take his family to see the New York Yankees play an exhibition game at Mile High Stadium. All his favorites were there – Mickey Mantle, Roger Marris, Joe Pepitone. Oh yeah, Yogi Berra was there too. I can’t be sure but I think Whitey Ford was on the mound. Papa smiled and stuck his chest out like those men were his personal friends.”

For the next two hours, we sat under the big tree as shadows shifted on and around us while I told Keith about my dad. I alternated laughter with tears and silence until I realized why God directed me to Papa’s grave that day.

Keith was right. It was time to begin the healing and understand that my father was not an angry, brutal monster. He had something no one diagnosed in those days – one of the effects of war – PTSD. He had no way of understanding or controlling it. As we strolled through my childhood there were as many, or more, good memories as bad. Those memories were buried under years of anger, resentment, lack of understanding and even unprocessed grief.

As evening approached, Keith reminded me we had a dinner commitment and needed to leave. I reluctantly agreed, but not before cleaning off my father’s headstone and rearranging the irises. I stood for a few minutes searching the massive cemetery for the lady in red, but I couldn’t spot her.

“Did I tell you Papa’s favorite flower was the iris? He grew them you know.”

“No I didn’t know that, Laura. “ Keith took my hand and with tenderness guided me toward the car. I turned to look back at the grave of Albert Carvallo, Tech 5, U.S Army, WWII.  Through tears of new-found recognition, I thanked him for the gift of my freedom that cost him his sanity, his family and ultimately his life. For the first time, I saw my father as a true war hero.

That night I offered a prayer of thanksgiving to God for encouraging me to accept His healing balm on the soul of a little girl in a grown woman’s body. I’ve since cried many tears of loss and released my resentment toward my dad. I’ve processed where our country would be without the brave men and women in uniform who selflessly sacrifice to protect and defend our freedom.

There are still many things I do not and probably will never know about my father. But one thing I am clear about. My future visits to Papa’s final resting place will no longer be done out of obligation.

For Papa

Copyright February 4, 2018
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Connect with me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett  or Facebook Author Page

Check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

I Want to Stay with You

“Have not I commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

What a great week in the Colorado mountain town of Silverthorne. Peaceful, peaceful, peaceful. My husband and I are blessed to have two to three weeks a year in this beautiful spot surrounded by mountains, rivers, lakes and hiking/biking trails. We enjoy every minute. And we don’t turn on our TV. We only have internet to watch movies and share pictures of the beauty God has created all around us.

We spend time together and apart. Keith likes to fish. I like to sit by the Blue River, pray, think and write. I love a certain stretch of that body of water where I can just be one with the river in my mind and soul (way too fast and cold to actually get in). When the week ends and it is time to go home, I always balk. I have the same conversation with God each year at this time.

“Father, I don’t want to go back to the traffic, the congestion, the crippling city atmosphere. I love my life. I love my family. I love my work. But can’t I just stay here, on this river with you?”

Like a parent talking to a small child, He assures me that He understands how I feel but I must return to where I’m assigned to do His work.

“I am more than grateful Father that Keith and I can spend time in this beautiful place. Thank you, thank you. Can I stay a little longer please?”

“A little longer daughter.”

I relax and lean against a large rock sitting on a wooden platform on the river bank. This is my secret place, off the path and hidden by tall grass. I watch the waves dancing and sparkling while using energy to jump heavenward. Then they collapse into trust in the outcome of a journey they didn’t define. I turn my face to the sun’s warmth and breathe in serenity. A cloud rolls over. It’s time to go.

“God, I just want to stay here with you, by this river, by this rock. I’m content here, Lord. Sometimes I’m terrified down there.”

“I am your rock child. I am the water of your soul. And I go with you where ever you go. Do not fear. I go with you.”

Streams of sunlight break through the gathering cloud wall and bathe the water on its way to the appointed destination. I smile, let go of my earthly rock and move on to my own appointed destination. I know the water I leave behind is only physical. The living water I take with me will accompany me always, without cease, to give me strength, courage and peace.

Copyright July 2017
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Connect with me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett  or Facebook Author Page

Check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

 

Just Not My Day

calendar

How often do you feel your day is not going as planned? I’ve felt that way lots of times. There are days when I feel overwhelmed at the altar of the “to-do” list, then beat myself up because I just cannot figure a way to do all I have assigned myself. I have actually gone to bed some nights frustrated and feeling like I wasted an entire day.

I had one of those over-ambitious days recently, and it proved to be invitation into the classroom of the Almighty. I don’t know if anyone else can relate to this but if so, here is the wisdom my Father God shared with me.

In the middle of a particularly stressful day when I just seemed to be hitting brick walls on everything I put my hand to (except of course addressing and diminishing my stash of Girl Scout cookies), I threw my hands in the air in an act of surrender. Convinced I was doomed to terminally fun-less living, I said, “I give up, nothing is working here. The universe is conspiring against me and I am spinning out of control into the failure abyss.”

I decided maybe I should take the problem to God. I wish I could say it was in the form of prayer but it was more in the form of complaint. I tried to read my Bible – no dice – fragmented brain syndrome. I attempted dialogue with God – nothing doing – guilt for what I “should be doing” crept on me like humidity in the Florida Everglades.

In exasperation, I looked up to the ceiling and said, “I am trying so hard Lord but this is just not my day.”

I fell silent long enough to hear Him respond, “No, it is not your day. It is my day, and I have given it to you. I love you and I want you to have the best day possible. So, daughter,  if it is not working for you perhaps it is because you are not allowing me to work through you.”

I sat there for a moment, waiting for this truth to dawn on me and then heard the song and Scripture in my head, “This is the day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (PS 118:24 NLT).

I ran to my computer to look in my music folder. I found the song on a children’s worship CD I use when teaching little ones to praise God in dance. I loaded it up and turned up the volume. Then I began to twirl and swirl in the dance I learned/teach to this catchy, uplifting little tune.

Yes, I admit it. In the middle of my living room, surrounded by the little pieces of paper encouraging me to believe I am a human doing and not a human being, I just danced with, to and for Him.

Boy, howdy, when God wants to teach us something in our heart, He uses our heart to teach. Dance, as you know beloveds, is my heart. So off we went, God leading and me following along to words on a CD recorded by little children singing out their praises to God.

When I sat down, I giggled and I thought, “This must be what you mean by us coming to you as little children. That was great Daddy. Can we do it again?”

And so we did. And while dancing, I figured it out. If I walk into each day asking God what He wants me to do, I will always go to bed feeling like I have accomplished what I was supposed to accomplish. If something does not get done, it was not meant to get done. Ah, what a relief.

Now I don’t mean to tell anyone else how to live. But just give this a try friends. Get out of bed and while you are brushing your teeth, starting the coffee or even just putting on your robe and slippers, look up and say, “This just isn’t my day God. It’s yours.”

Then ask, “What do You have in mind?” Maybe it will be to dance, or do your favorite form of play, and laugh with Him. And you know what?  That’s going to be more than enough. You just might find it is indeed your day after all.

Copyright February 2017
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Follow me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett
or check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

I would love to connect with you on my Author FB page: https://www.facebook.com/LauraLPadgettAuthorSpeakerDancer

Can’t Talk to a Numb Tongue

ouch

I was not sure what I found more oppressive, my fear of the dentist as I sat in the chair for my appointment, or my sense of guilt at the way a disagreement with a friend ended the previous evening. That conversation weighed heavily on my mind. We were talking politics. This friend and I have been on opposite sides of most issues, in most elections, for over thirty years. Still, we have always been open to different points of view and kept civility in our conversations, due in large part to our mutual love for the Lord Jesus Christ. This time we were anything but open and civil.

Our conversation began calmly enough. But before long we began talking over each other, insisting that only one person could be right and ended just this side of exchanging personal potshots. Anyone who has taken a debate class knows an argument is lost when we resort to injuring others because it screams, “My position is weak as water, and the only way I can win is by distracting you with insults.”

Still, passion is passion and it does not always provide an exit ramp when on the highway of self-righteousness. What is worse, the unshakable posture, “I’m right,” will push us full-speed past the line of protecting dignity – ours or another’s. I am sorry to say this is becoming increasingly true in Christian circles too, in my experience.

I was pulled off the guilt meter when my dentist, (a fellow I like very much by the way) came in to deliver that always pleasant shot in the jaw from a needle the size of a fire hose. During the injection I did my usual routine – remembered breathing techniques learned in childbirth classes, tried not to lose control of any bodily functions and prayed really, really hard.

After half my face and tongue felt dead, the hygienist began prep work. This was complicated by my inability to get my tongue out of the way.

I tried complying with her request to pull that pesky organ back. But it simply was not a manageable task. I tried to apologize with words. Again, it was not manageable. I looked up helplessly. The hygienist laughed and said, “I know you are trying, Hon. But it’s hard to talk to a numb tongue.”

I attempted a nod and smile. Instead I sort of just blinked and drooled at her. She patted my hand and together with the dentist we shared the space for two hours until the procedure was completed.

When I returned home, I sat down with my Bible, which I felt I did not have time to read earlier. As directed by my favorite devotional booklet, I turned to the Scripture passage of the day. “But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison,” (James 3:8 ESV).

I realized God was talking directly to me about the previous day’s conflict. It was not what I said but how I said it. I was so bent on being right, I did not realize my words were hurtful. My tongue was untamed because it had become unruly and fueled by ego.

I mused about this, pouted a little and did the familiar three-year-old mental shifting from one foot to the other while pleading, “She started it, God. And besides look how everyone is acting right now. We are just so uptight and steeped in unkindness. What do you expect when we live in this world you gave us?”

I knew in my heart this was not going to fly with the Almighty any more than Adam pointing a finger and saying, “Yeah, well it’s all her fault,” got him off the hook for the Eden eviction. God was very clear that it does not matter how others act, we are responsible for our own actions. His kids are called to act differently, period. If there was a problem with my friend, He would deal with that. It was not my business.

After some time on the pity pot, I climbed into my Father’s lap and asked Him to forgive me. I told him I would call the other party and ask her forgiveness too, when I could manage to get words out without slurring them.

As the injection meds wore off, I was in a considerable amount of pain. The discomfort was not from the dental work sites, but from a bite on my tongue I incurred when I could not feel it. Again the Holy One nudged me.

I sat back in my chair with an ice pack on my mouth and shared a giggle (sort of) with God. “Oh, I see now. When the tongue is numb it causes great pain, to me and to others. That is the poisonous part you talk about in James, right? Okay, I get it, Lord,” I confessed.

The next day I was able to call my friend and offer an apology for my insensitivity. She accepted my amends and offered one of her own. We agreed to be aware of not only what we say but how we say it. We discussed and recommitted ourselves to our belief that we are never called, as believers, to be silent on important issues. We also fall far short of our obligation to govern our democracy if we refuse to learn from others and engage in respectful dialogue because we are more interested in protecting our own rigid stances.

We prayed over the phone and came away reaffirmed that relationships are more important than who is right or wrong. After a great conversation, we agreed to meet for lunch the next week.

I hung up and returned to the same passage in James 3:8, asking God to help me remember this lesson. He assured me that Scripture, when taken to heart, proves to be the best practice for walking this world. God’s Word helps us speak our truth in love, lend our voice to important issues and respect/learn from other voices. But most of all, it provides a solid model for loving by leading our conversations without numb tongues.

Copyright February 2017
Laura L. Padgett
Lakewood, Colorado

Follow me on Twitter @lauraleepadgett
or check out my first book, “Dolores, Like the River,” available at Westbow Press, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and all major online retailers.

See my Publications tab on this website for other books I am featured in, including “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and Xulon Press, “Letters to America”.

I would love to connect with you on my Author FB page: https://www.facebook.com/LauraLPadgettAuthorSpeakerDancer