Today’s update – And my 10 second shower

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We are still waiting, believe it or not, for our vehicle to be repaired.  We thought it was fixed last night, but right out of the gate the problem returned! So we are back in the shop – again.  Here’s hoping the mystery gets solved.  Although we don’t HAVE to be anywhere, it would be nice to spend Thanksgiving with some friends.  We don’t know anyone here.

Meanwhile we’ve been staying at a campground in the area.  Now don’t get me wrong. We are very thankful for it, but just a little surprised that it has a push button shower!  I’ve never seen one of these before.  And after a 1-Mississippi, 2-Mississippi, etc. count, I discovered that it lasts only 10 seconds!  Now being one who loves long showers, I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I pressed that button!  Pitiful.

Love Without Measure

This reminds me. Lately we’ve been discussing some of the parables of Jesus in a new light. Instead of seeing some of them as we did under our old life in religion, we are seeing some of them as really intending to communicate the opposite!  For example Luke 18:1-8 about the judge who finally gave justice to a victimized woman, but only because she was aggravatingly persistent.  Now on the surface it might seem Jesus is telling us to pray like this widow, because God is like this judge. But it’s actually the opposite. God does not answer prayer because of our many words. He hears us because He loves us, and if we truly know this deep inside, we don’t have to hound Him! We can trust Him.

Dancing in the Shower

My point is this.  As I stood there pressing the button over and over (and over) again, I thought about how this kind of shower is not a picture of the grace of God!  It is the opposite.  I don’t have to keep asking, poking, or prodding Heaven for anything.  For as long as I believe it, and in proportion to how much I believe it, I can stand naked under the unlimited and refreshing shower of His forgiveness, warmth, acceptance, etc., and fully enjoy and feel clean in this reconciled relationship. Dance in it even!  Knowing He’s already poured Himself out without measure – for everyone – I can rest in the fact that I don’t have to ‘press buttons’ to move His heart. The shower is already on, and won’t ever turn off!

The nature of Love is so beautiful.

Until next time,
Pamela

 

While on the Subject of Transportation…

rv frontNot the most exciting subject there is, but to us, we can’t stop thanking God – and Mom – for a cute little motorhome that we are driving around on this trip! Introducing “Small Fat and Happy,” a long name I just made up (until a better one comes along) for our 21 foot traveling “horse”… which weighs in at about 8000 lbs and is running on 6 Volkswagon cyclinders. (Well, right now it is just 4 … but we’ll find out soon enough about that) :-)

Now Jesus said it well when He said we aren’t to worry about anything, or even feel like we have to pray about everything because God knows what we need well before we even know it.

How true that is!

71981979_thumbnailFor the latter half of the summer Vinny and I were planning and cramming literally every square inch of our small Toyota Highlander with camping gear like tents, sleeping bags, cooking gear, etc. A little like children who don’t know any better, we were excited about “getting back to nature” and roughing it. Really roughing it. For 6 months. Kids can be so funny sometimes.

Then it so happened that just days before having to shut the campground down and head south – into the great unknown – that my Mom decided she wanted to sell her mini motorhome. She had more sophisticated vision for how to travel, when that time comes, and didn’t want the hassle. So Vinny and I talked about it. It was a generous offer on my Mom’s part, and one that we realized that we couldn’t refuse.

Thank you Mom! Every day we express how we can’t believe how much better it is than our original plans. We don’t have to find campgrounds every night to pitch a tent. We can stay in Walmart parking lots or in friend’s driveway. We can easily cook something wherever we are, to save money. We always have a bathroom to use, and a comfortable bed to sleep in.

That’s all I want to say. Like I said, nothing exciting. Just want to express thankfulness! :-)

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Thoughts from being “stuck”

Yesterday we had our first serious engine trouble with our “trusty steed” (Thx Matt & Kalene – I stole this from you!) and we are camping out in Florence, Alabama until Monday when it can be looked at.  As far as our “plans,” we were on our way to Tuscaloosa to visit Vinny’s old stomping grounds, and some more great people.

Upon waking this morning I found myself inquiring of God as to why we have two extra days before anyone can even look at it. What should we do with the time? What does He want me to do? Silence. I pulled up the “list” in my head, as if doing so would refresh His memory as to all the things I hope to accomplish with any spare time we have on this trip. Again, Silence. So I grew silent, and that’s when I heard His beautiful voice finally say to me, “As I see it, these are just two more days tacked onto eternity for Me to love you.”

Ahhh..isn’t Love awesome?

 

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A dream come true, and a contemplative question

A few days ago a friend of Vinny invited us to stay at a place south of Knoxville, TN called “Sweetwater Sustainability Institute,” and so we headed off for another adventure. :-)  For some reason before going there I was under the impression that it was once operating and thriving, but now abandoned. On the way I even found a website showing it off in it’s ‘glory days,’ with pictures of lush gardens, a pool, tennis courts, etc., and links (albeit dead links) to things like events, classes, and community life. I wondered what could have possibly happened to a “Sustainability Institute” that it actually didn’t sustain itself! :)

When we got there however, or shortly before, I learned my information was a little messed up. The Institute is not a reality yet! Vinny’s friend is associated with someone who acquired the property and a group that has a dream for it. Someone did a website to communicate what they imagine it to be, not what it currently is.

imageBut interestingly, the property is the old Tennessee Military Training Institute! Originally built in 1902, there is now a compound of 13 brick buildings that look like a massive fortress housing hundreds of dormitories, classrooms, halls, gyms, an indoor pool, etc., all located on 155 acres with a baseball and track field, tennis courts, etc. Sadly everything is now abandoned and deteriorating. We found out, too, that it has been studied by paranormal groups for being haunted! :)

I have to admit that when we first pulled up to the locked and gated entrance and I saw what looked like a “Fort Knox” castle on the hill, I became giddy with excitement. Many times in life I’ve had a strange reoccurring dream of exploring spooky buildings (abandoned hospitals or schools) with lots of empty rooms and halls. But I’ve never actually done it. In fact just last week I first told Vinny about my fantasy when we stopped in Virginia near an abandoned insane asylum. I asked a caretaker about exploring it, but the door was shut on that one. :)

Anyway, to make a short story longer, my dream came true this weekend!  We were given permission by our gracious hosts to explore the buildings to our heart’s content, and even though Vinny was less enthused than I was (apparently breaking into abandoned buildings is not entirely new to him, LOL), he graciously agreed to be my escort. I had a blast…and we didn’t even have to break any laws to do it! :-)


imageSome thoughts from being here

Later as I walked the cracked and deteriotating blacktop of the track field I couldn’t help but think of the hundreds of young men who ran and walked this same circle. Most of them are now passed away.  Even this very school was once a dream of someone and now is no more.  What is it that actually endures about humans and all their causes, pursuits and dreams? Everything seems to pass away.  Or does it?

One thing I am convinced of, and the evidence is undeniable, is that there is a hope built into every heart that we are more than a passing thought or a random accident of nature.  We are intentional.  Every single person has intristic value to a loving Creator and is made to manifest and house His very spirit – which is Love. My spiritual papa used to emphasize that our greatest desire is relational intimacy.  Not power, influence, peace, safety, wealth, etc., but love. It is for this reason it seems that the things that we remember and hold the most dear with all those loved ones who have died are the memories and enjoyment of loving and being loved.  As the bible says so aptly, “Love endures forever.”

With that being said, we are camping with some sweet people who know something of this love, and who have a dream for this property and are moving forward on it despite the obstacles to it coming to pass.  Even Vinny and I have a dream that we are out traveling to explore, and still getting more pieces to. But every day we are finding that we don’t have to wait for a future day to see dreams come true, and to invest in those things that will last forever.  The time is now for heaven to break forth onto earth.

Love one another.  You’ll never be dissapointed.

 

Cancelled Council – and a New Direction

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So last Sunday we returned to that eco-village I mentioned last time, to sit in and observe an important bi-weekly meeting called “Council” where community issues are discussed and consensus decisions are made (see pic). We were the only 2 visitors.  Interestingly enough, only 2 members showed up (one of them being the facilitator) and their rules say they need something like 4.  For the first time in 22 years, it was cancelled! 

A little frustrated, the facilitator apologized to Vinny and I, saying she was sorry we had to see this side of the community.  We told her no problem, as it really didn’t surprise us. No matter what system in life there is, whether religious, political, or something in-between, there always seems to be minimal, passive involvement on one hand, and controlling, more dog-eat-dog involvement on the other.

Smaller is better?

I have to admit that while I do not presume to know what is best for this community, in the simplicity of my mind I almost think two or three people should be enough to “get on with it.”  Or at least have something positive happen instead of the negativity of a cancellation.  I later thought what Jesus on a different but similar note, “where two or three (not two or more) are gathered in My name, there I am in the midst.”  Also, “by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word is established.”   In many situations, thinking “the more the better” is to miss out on the powerful potential that just two people with the same heart and mind have together. Step by step, two by two…So much can be said about the small things of life.

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On the road again :-)

With that being said, after visiting some precious friends the last several days, we have felt strangely led to cut short our stay in the beautiful mountains of the Asheville area, which is feeling too saturated with too many people doing intentional communities already, and go a little further West for awhile. 

imageToday we are at a small state park north of Knoxville, TN.  Not sure why yet, or all that we’ll learn here in TN, but I thought it interesting when at a rest stop today to notice the state flag of Tennessee for the first time.  It has 3 stars!  :-)

Much love,

Pamela

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