Monday, September 5, 2016

Butterflies & Balloons

My life has been bombarded by butterflies lately. Mostly yellow ones. A couple of black ones. And there was one monarch.

It pretty much started the day the Audi died. Driving the speed limit ... on the highway. First there was a surge, followed by a quiet pop and then nothing but neutral. Coasted to the side of the road and turned the car off. It was the death of the little red convertible.

She had been nothing but a hussy from the git-go. Pretty. Fun to drive.
But terribly high-maintenance ... and expensive!

As I was making the necessary calls to AAA ... and others ... I noticed a bright yellow butterfly dancing all around. Dipping & diving in the grass along the side of the shoulder ...
dipping & diving across the hood of my car.

It was so obvious ... significant ... that I commented about it during one of those calls.

For the most part, the next week or so was full of rain.

Soon I was back on the road again with my ghetto car. A nifty 2000 Toyota Celica that I christened "MaDime" because she is silver ... and for several other reasons that were obvious to me.

On the day of the first roadtrip with my new ride, there was a persistent whisper: 
"Keep your eyes on the ground. You will see something special."

So kept looking. Waiting. Found a few cans along the way... and 1 penny.

Then I came across the beautiful butterfly with the injured wing. I was able to catch it on my finger and move it off of the pavement. It made a tentative attempt to fly. Then settled on the grass.

It was special.
Afterwards, I found pennies everywhere! 16 pennies in one parking lot.

It was a blessed day!

Since then the butterfly sightings have been crazy!
Everywhere I turn, there are butterflies. Dipping. Diving. Dancing.
When I am driving. When I am walking. When I am looking out the window.

So many butterflies.

One friend with great discernment observed earlier this week, "The butterfly sightings can't be by chance, MaryJane. You have a specialness about you!"

Of course, I began looking into the meaning of butterfly sightings ... and butterfly colors.

Everyone knows all the analogies about the caterpillar turning into a butterfly. Transformation. Change. And the like.

My butterflies were not brand-new ones. Each one has been full-blown ... in its glory. And in the case of the one in the parking lot, maybe spreading their wings a little too wide and 
flying a little too fast.

Most butterflies only live 1 to 2 weeks after they are released from their cocoon. Monarchs, however, have been known to live for up to 6 months.

They are a reminder that life is fleeting and time moves quickly. Butterflies represent joy, freedom, creativity and change. They teach us to live in ... and fully enjoy ... the present moment.

It is believed in some cultures that angels often communicate through butterflies. And departed loved ones, too. Both beliefs give me comfort.

If that is the case, then there must be a lot of angels and loved ones surrounding me right now. Each time a butterfly crosses my path, I am trying to take heed and open my heart to the message of great importance that I am certain it has been sent to share ... with just me.

It has been suggested that if one is seeing a lot of butterflies, one might ask what changes in life need to be made ... today ... to live more authentically. That has caused me pause on more than one occasion.

The majority of the butterflies that have come my way have been yellow. Yellow butterflies are said to represent prosperity.

Black butterflies ... like the one in the parking lot ... represent a shift in power ... a positive change. I find that particularly interesting since it was the one with the damaged wing. I did my best to help it find its way. At another time, a black butterfly dive bombed my windshield while I was driving ... pulling up at just the last second and soaring over the top of my car. A Top Gun stunt of sorts that left me humbled ... and smiling.

A monarch butterfly is a visual reminder to live in the present. And is viewed by most as a symbol of hope. Yeah, one of those flew around me and my car, too. 

In my reading about the monarch butterfly, a scripture was referenced. It resonated with me so I made note of it:

1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.

You see, I have had a few cares lately ... concerning prosperity ... power ... and hope.

Maybe the butterflies' are simply reminders ... especially for me ... 
that everything is going to be ok.

Got to church yesterday ... you know, at a place called Grace ... and Drew spoke to us about 
"giving up." His message was an intro to a theme that he is going to be exploring over the next few weeks.

There was a big bouquet of white balloons at the front. Helium-filled latex birthday-party type balloons. As the service moved along, a few of the balloons began loosing their oomph ... and were starting to droop towards the ground.

The balloons were part of an interactive activity he had planned for the close of the service.

Wrapping up his message, Drew shared that one of the things we ... ahem, I ... you see, at that moment He was speaking directly to me ... should give up was .. all of my cares.

Then somewhere in the midst of the passionate words ... a scripture was put up on the screen ...

1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you.

Double-teamed. Again.

Everyone was asked to come forward and get a balloon with a marker. Then either as individuals or families, the cares were to be written onto the balloons. After a blessing of the balloons, everyone was going to go outside together and release the balloons ... 
to cast all of our cares upon the Lord.

Jessi retrieved a balloon. Together we wrote some of our cares on to it. It was interesting how Jessi and I shared some of the same concerns ... in our own way:
Prosperity & Finances ... Family Connections = Her Laptop ... Future without Mom ...
 Health & Well Being of Loved Ones ... and the list goes on.

By the time we were done writing, our balloon was limp and lying on the chair. I wandered back to the front for a second balloon.

On it I wrote: "My first balloon was too heavy. It needed a friend to help it fly." I tied the two together ... hoping the stamina of the second balloon would be enough to support them both ... before heading outside.

A blessing was said over the balloons. Then came the release. There was a slight breeze that lifted some quickly ... and others more slowly ... depending on the amount of helium left in each one.

Ours was the only tandem offering. It was a little slower to rise than the others.

It was interesting to watch as the majority of the balloons were caught up ... and then gently drifting as a group towards the road and over the old furniture store that is Grace.

Our offering, however, did not follow the group. It rose slowly at first ... then catching a breeze ... it soared more quickly in the opposite direction. Away from the road. 
Carrying my cares ... to the Lord ... in its own way ... along a different path.

As my balloons drifted into a cluster of trees ... a yellow butterfly dipped & darted by its side
... and the familiar whisper came ... "Everything's going to be ok, MaryJane."

The familiar laugh of my best friend, God - Creator of the Universe, surrounded me. As always, I am humbled and amazed every single time I experience the awe of His presence ... and His attention to the details of my life.

You're strong enough to hold it all

(c)lifelessons-mj 2016

Monday, February 29, 2016

Chimney Calls

A string of setbacks.  One lousy thing ... after another ... and another.  That's what the week had been like ... seriously ... that's what the month has been like. 

Somehow I thought the new year was going to change all of that.

So far ... it has not.

There has been car trouble.  And family situations. And a stupid speeding ticket. Things have been lost. Confidences have been broken.

It was the morning after the meeting that came as a blindside ... the one that opened with name-calling and ended with veiled threats to the happiness of one of the ones I love most.

What is one to do when standing up for what's right ... costs so much more
than simply backing down?!?

There was a brittleness in the air that morning as I drank my coffee ... and he drank his cocoa.


A loud bird call broke the silence.  Taboo craned his neck straight over his back so that his cat-eyes could stare at the fireplace upside down.  Startled  ... and drawn as if by a magnet to the call.

"Was that an owl?" he asked.

"I don't know," came my reply. "Maybe."


The call came again.  It sounded as if it was right in the room with us. 
I headed for the door as he strode to the fireplace.

"It's coming from here," he said. "It must be inside the chimney!"

Carefully I opened the door to the screened in porch and stepped out.  As I reached the outer patio the persistent call came again.


From inside he insisted, "It's in the chimney!  The bird must be stuck down in the chimney!"

I looked up to the rooftop. And there He sat.
Calm. Serene. Unruffled. Larger than life.

A humongous dove ... was perched on top of the chimney.

He met my gaze with a steady stare.  After what seemed like several minutes ... but was probably just a second or two ... He turned and gracefully flew away.

"It was a dove," I cried. "Sitting up on the chimney top.  The BIGGEST dove I have ever seen!"

Back inside we marveled at the experience.

Three times the dove called down the chimney ... so that His call would be heard by us ...
on the inside.

It was deliberate ... undeniable ... direct. In the blink of an eye, the hopelessness in the air had ... vanished.

"I had a visit from a dove a few years ago," I said excitedly.  "It was amazing. I blogged about it at the time."

Urgently, I began searching for it.  It took a little while to find ... Odds (August 4, 2012)

I was unprepared as I began reading outloud.  Sharing the first dove story with him that morning.

Over more coffee. More cocoa.

My voice broke. Tears wet my cheeks. Amazing how this string of setbacks resonated with those on that other day.

A quick Google search confirmed
... then and now ... an appearance of a dove is
an encounter with the Holy Spirit.

Broken. I was.  Humbled by this personal reminder that God is faithful. He never changes.  And His Word is the same ... from everlasting to everlasting.

"It was God calling to us," I told him. "Did you hear Him?"
~ photo by Bill Fagan 9.23.13

"Yes. I did."

Three times ... that morning ... God called down the chimney.

Once for Taboo. Once for Roland. Once for me.

Each message is different. Personal. Special.

God only knows what He said to Taboo.

Then He waited patiently for me to come out ... to see ... Him.

Odd.  Only the day before I had asked Him ... to show me His glory.

(c) lifelessons-mj 2016

Monday, November 30, 2015

Post Thanksgiving

It was the day after Thanksgiving when the rain began.
And since then it has rained ... and rained ... and rained.

The day before, I gave thanks for my family, new opportunities, plans ... and the unconditional love that seemed to be permeating the gathering.

Then all hell broke loose.

First the yard flooded.  Just like every time it has ever rained at this house.  Then somehow the bathrooms were overflowed.  Water was sloshing around under the floors.  In both downstairs bathrooms ... and the hall.

It made no sense where all of the water was pooling.

Give thanks ... with a grateful heart ... give thanks to the holy One ...

The song had been playing as an undercurrent in my heart for days. By Saturday, when the second backflow-flooding took place ... it was becoming harder and harder ... to sing along.

And the rain kept falling ... and falling.

Dry inside but there was no toilet flushing ... showering ... laundering ... going on this weekend as we waited for the water to recede once again.

Everyone decided to attend church.  A new song filled my heart ... Your glory is so beautiful!

Lost in the singing ... eyes closed ... I offered up my silent prayer.

Lord, I am weary and overwhelmed.  The rain's are falling and the darkness is beginning to surround me. Speak directly into my life. I need to hear You. Show me Your glory! 

The message was about being content no matter what the circumstances. Brother Del took a jab at "choosing happy".  He shared some archaic philosophical writings that had to do with eliminating desires and emotions ... likening it to the propensity of ... choosing happy.

Choosing happy ... saved my life.  I believe it's possible to choose happy ... without giving up my desires or my emotions ... by faith and acceptance of God's will for my life.

And still it rained.  And rained. And rained.

Maintain.  That was the best I could muster ... the rest of the day.

Progress was made with the floors drying. An ongoing battle with the antenna ensued.

Snow was falling in Denver as I struggled to catch a glimpse of a beautiful young friend at the stadium ... only a week or so into her newest adventure.

A random personal connection keeps me from ever pulling for the Patriots.  And the MJ in me always pulls for the underdog. So I was trying to get lost in the game ... with the second string quarterback ... the game that was declared "over" here on the home front within the first 3 minutes.

Faith. Persistence. Courage. That's what brought the Broncos into overtime ... to a truly miraculous win ... against the unbeaten Super Bowl champions.

Their victory helped to keep my feelings of defeat at bay ... a little.

Today. Still raining.
There was nothing that I had to do today ... so I decided to just lay low. Stay home.

Around 3 o'clock, I decided that I would slip out to the bank and grocery store.
Just a quick trip to nearby and neighborly places.

Stopped at the stoplight in the center of town.  There was big Ford truck in front of me.  A sedan-like car in front of him.

Light turns green.  Sedan moves forward. Truck moves forward.  I take my foot off the brake and ease forward. Sedan slams on brakes. Truck slams on brakes. I slam on brakes ... slip and slide into the trailer hitch of the truck.

Sedan drives off. Truck moves into a parking lot.  I pull in, too.  Nice young man jumps out apologizing for stopping so abruptly.

"We were barely moving, there's no damage to my truck" he says. "Is your car ok?"

I had to laugh.  Of course, there's damage to my car.  It's an Audi with plastic parts.

Limped over to see my friends at the body shop.  On the way the coolant light came on and by the time I stopped there steam was blowing out from under the hood.

So, yeah, there's body damage ... to the front ... again.  And possibly a radiator to be replaced.

As my body shop friend drove me home, he shared his Thanksgiving weekend story. It's not really my story to tell ... but it had to do with an out-of-town relative making a parking garage out of the recently completed addition to his home.

Somehow I felt a little better.  And I know that he shared his sad story with me ... for that very reason.

A conversation with my brother ... who is also one of my best friends ... brought perspective to the situation as well.  Bottomline is ... it's only money.

 Our conversations always bounce back and forth between what's going on in his life and what's going on in mine.  It was interesting to me that he asked me if I ever had any fears?

Funny, I thought I had always taken my fears to him.

Anyway, he helped me to stop and smile at all of the signs that God sends me ... to show me that He's always near ... and in control. 

When I gathered my things from my car this afternoon, I looked down on the driver side floorboard.  There was a penny.  Just laying there.  It wasn't there when I left home.  My purse was on the passenger seat so there's no way it fell out on impact.

The penny ... in-God-we-trust-side up ... caught me by surprise.  Just like so many other times.

I shared that with my brother.  I told him that it was a reminder of how God always shows up ... in small ways ... in big ways.

He said I should take a few minutes and make a list of things I was grateful for right now.  It sounded like something I would tell him to do.   I am the Gratitude Challenge promoter extraordinaire, after all.

Today I am thankful for a brother who is also a friend; a God who never leaves my side; the best friends in the universe; and a faith that allows me to accept the setbacks with confidence and grace.

The weatherman on the radio says there will be sunshine tomorrow before returning to the music.

Do you hear what I hear? A song. A song. Is ringing through the night.  It will bring us goodness and light.

November 2015