Coffee Breaks

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Trishascoffeebreak began at a time when coffee breaks were at a premium. Over the years the blog has covered many subjects, but usually from a current vantage point in life, mostly in bits of nature where the author felt safe walking through blessings and scattering encouragement along the way. It seems a more fitting title for my blog now would be “Coffee With a View”, since the breaks are more leisurely taken, and I get to actually finish the coffee before it’s cold, perhaps staring out my window the whole time at whatever the seasons bring to view. Today my view took a backward look at the time when coffee breaks were few and cherished; the arena of life that has stayed off my keyboard because I always knew there would be readers with more experience, more knowledge, who were faster on their feet than I and left me feeling like I had no right to write.

Coffee breaks in my former life, were a time to catch your breath or catch up on the endless charting and restocking. Wash cloths, towels and emesis bags seemed to fly out the window if you took time for so much as a half cup of hot coffee. As sure as you decide to sit and enjoy a ten minute break, you’d end up in a delivery where Dr. Austin called for a 14-French suction catheter that wasn’t there and you’d be racing out to find one, wondering how you missed that when you checked to see if the room was ready. The 2-0 chromic suture box was full until a patient tore, or Dr. Cook cut an episiotomy when, sure enough, the box is empty. Coffee breaks were when you chose between restocking or refueling. By the time you empty the overfull bladder and grab a cookie from the box left two days ago by a grateful patient, to quiet the growling stomach during your next patient interview and assessment, there’s no time to stand in a cafeteria line for a fresh cup of coffee. I’m pretty sure God gave us “Preparation Time” that we mistakenly named “Coffee Break”.

On the days when you want to push your chair to the back wall and just breathe for a moment, you hear a co-worker coaching how to effectively push, then suddenly yell “don’t push – just breathe!” and you immediately know you must call their attending physician in for a precipitous delivery and breathlessly you arrive to help her escort a new life into the world. A world where you hope someone used their break too, to restock that room, and you’ll find warmed blankets and suction bulbs ready.

Some days a coffee break finds you sitting next to a co-worker who needs to spill tears for her latest breakup when you really just needed a moment to pray for your son’s failing marriage. But with cup in hand, you listen and sympathize, and make a mental note to drag an apology in with your weary feet tonight for some hasty word said when you left home this morning. You use the final moment of a much-needed break to remind the co-worker and yourself how we have to leave such things at home and give that space in our hearts to hold our patients’ woes, just for today.

Lastly, and less often, there are the days when you actually do have time to grab a cup of coffee and enjoy it, only to return to find a gurney rolling in with a patient who started bleeding and you find she only had a couple prenatal visits and those records are in the stack of prenatal records someone just left on the nurses’ station desk while you were gone. The next three hours are spent stabilizing the patient, speeding through paperwork and stuffing your guilty feeling into your scrubs for ever taking a break in the first place

I wouldn’t take a home in Georgia for my times and trials of nursing, but I am so grateful now for a break – to rest, relax and finish my coffee. Though those times certainly gave me gray hair and wrinkles and heart palpitations, they also gave me a world of appreciation and understanding I’d never have gained otherwise. As the reflection off those sharp edges begins to soften with the tarnishing of time, I know there are memories too big and mysterious for words. However, I have begun to try. As I sip my second cup of coffee from my Saturday mug, I allow those memories to begin falling one by one onto my keyboard in hopes of sharing my view. Prepare, pray and breathe, friends.

My Valentine

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Photo by Gabby K on Pexels.com

Twelve degrees, snow flurries covering a three-day-old layer of ice on the driveway, and it’s Sunday morning, February 14. Reluctant to disturb him from a warm quilt cocoon, I sipped my coffee and listened to the forecast of even lower temperatures, and placed my mass-produced Valentine card near my husband’s head. Oh I had taken time to select a card I thought was warm and sincere in expressing my affection, but compared to what lay ahead today, my signature and six bucks was not much after all.

Eventually he came to life, and with a long look out the window, asked if we intended to go to our place of worship today. I said that I’d really like to. “Okay then, I’ll need to go get old Rose” he said, indicating the four-wheel drive SUV that he had wisely parked out of the weather in a farm shed several hundred yards down the road. Eyeing his red envelope, he sheepishly noted he didn’t buy me anything, but sure appreciated my card. Without breakfast, he was out swapping vehicles while I showered and dressed in the warmth of gas heat and hot water. With time running short, he skipped the slow paced morning most men would have loved today and headed for the shower himself. Shower on; toilet flushed, water running; then water off – all by itself. No water. No shower. What in the world! If you’ve been outdoors in frigid temperatures you know it takes effort to bundle up. Add to that the fact our well and pump are in the field next to our lawn, so there’s that. He checked it out and said the this or that was something or other. I do not speak plumbese. While I stood asking what do we do, what do we do, he made the call to our local well and pump caretakers, on an emergency only day. Cha-ching!

As we waited, we worshipped via laptop with our home congregation. Just after services began, I received an important long distance phone call and had to leave the room. While I was taking the call, this Valentine cupid followed me with the services found on his cell phone, having prepared the fruit of the vine and unleavened bread I had stored, and served communion for us as he knew how important a thing that is for me.

Shortly after worship, a serviceman knocked at the door, stating he heated the pump switch, and that we should keep our water dripping now. Never mind how I was retorting “the water WAS running”; my husband held his tongue and thanked the guy most sincerely for getting out in the cold and I knew I was in the presence of a pretty wonderful Valentine.

Next, I had to report that my commode was now running non-stop. So my Valentine tinkered with the thing-a-ma-bob inside the tank and took care of it. Could he rest now? No, now it was time to go pick up the groceries I ordered yesterday. We left an hour early to drop off a birthday card and gift to a friend, so with time to spend, he drove me to a six-car-wait line for my favorite coffee. Groceries gathered and home again, he gathered supplies and braved the elements once more to insulate the well pump switch just for added assurance. And it’s only 1:30 PM.

Store bought valentines are fine, candy is a danger, and jewelry is for Christmas and anniversaries. What I received today, Valentines Day 2021, is the jewel of patience and kindness and a true sweetheart!! Little things mean so much!

As I was proof-reading to publish, my thoughtful brother-in-law and sister dropped off part of the cheesecake he bought for her Valentines’s Day treat. Seems she and I have much to fill and warm our hearts on this very cold February day.

His Mercy Endures Forever. For. Ever.

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Good Saturday morning to you! My choice in devotion this morning took me again to Mornings With the Holy Spirit where the suggested reading came from Psalm 136. Though I read this before, and even in class heard it discussed, never had the Psalmist’s intentional emphasis on mercy fallen on my heart quite like it did today. Perhaps the numerous changes in 2020 along with my season of life, have widened my vision and begun to open the window of understanding. Or maybe it was the morning’s glow over the red and burgundy Nandina outside my window and a matching purple finch. You choose.

We’re told the book of Psalms was written to sing praises in the temple of worship. Consider our modern hymnals; the stanzas and chorus. With no musical training, even I can see the emphasis of each song is carried in the chorus, where the theme of each hymn is worded. Psalm 136 was explained to be one in which one voice would read or sing a characteristic of God, followed by the congregation in unison singing out, “for His mercy endures forever”. For example, “To Him who divided the Red Seal in two” (give thanks); why, “for His mercy endures forever” (verse 13). The song of Psalm 136 is give thanks to God for His infinite goodness, wisdom, strength, creativity, and deliverance. The theme then is mercy, as each line of God’s work in our lives is followed by a reason for thanking Him – His mercy.

There is a painting in my kitchen I fell in love with a few years ago and it says, “In all of my life in every season you are still God”. It strikes me today with Psalm 136 in my hands, how God’s mercy is what allows me to witness and bask in the goodness of God. He would forever be good anyway, without us. If He had destroyed the earth including Noah and all human life, knowing we’d never get it together, He would still be the creative force, the wisdom beyond our comprehension, the eternal light because in Him is no darkness. Without taking away a single speck of credit to all God’s amazing infinite glory, can we not say it is His mercy which kept us here to witness it? Why? For His mercy endures forever.

Scripture tells us nothing can separate us from the love of God…”neither death nor life…shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) Gratitude streams down my face for the blessing of knowing my loved ones are still under the mercy of God, even in the grave. Never has it been so clear to me that death is not final, in the spiritual sense. Yes it is the final leg of our earthy journey; but we are so much more. “Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in affliction and irons – …Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses…and broke their chains in pieces.” (Psalm 107: 10-14) Helen’s absence of mind in the darkness of Alzheimers; Daddy’s darkness of depression; Mama’s loss of her body in Myasthenia Gravis; all are overcome by the strength and power in Christ. God broke their chains. Set them free. This life does not win. Even the glorious blessings of this life will not last forever, but His mercy endures FOREVER.

If you live long enough you will gather regrets, face challenges that make you wonder, and become someone who craves the gift of mercy. That’s life. Place it in Christ Jesus, where the immeasurable love of God is revealed day by day. For His mercy endures forever.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Oh give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever. To Him who alone does great wonders…who by wisdom made the heavens,…who laid out the earth above the waters…Who remembered us in our lowly state, For His mercy endures forever;” (Psalm 136:1-2, 4-6, 23)

Thank you Father for your goodness: your creation, your redemptive power in Christ, and for my life. Thank you for your merciful heart allowing me see it, receive it and be it. In Jesus’ name, Amen

Using What’s Available (I Just Hope it’s Not Black-eyed Peas)

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Hello blog world. I hope 2021 is starting out well for you. Notice I didn’t say ‘off and running’; where would it be running? (grimace) We are, no doubt, a bit gun-shy. As the cute Facebook message said of the new year, ‘tiptoe in, don’t touch anything…’ and we do know viruses and attitudes do not heed calendars. I did not attempt to thwart fate’s continuance of 2020 with black-eyed peas and pork belly. It’s fun and all, to see all those versions of New Year’s Day meals, but one, I am not superstitious and two, I hate black-eyed peas. I’m a pretty fair cook, so I like to eat my own cooking and as they say, if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy…so, we do not have the afore-mentioned peas. Bacon and sausage are the extent of our pork fare because I learned years ago that to go further would result in my husband’s pancreatic unrest. Which would lead to my unrest. Bless his heart.

Enough small talk. Truth is, I never plan a particular meal for New Year’s Day. There is always so much left over from Christmas meals, delicious not-so-healthy snacks and sandwich stuff we meant to use but kept replacing with fast food we caught on the run as we got last minute shopping done. I use what I have available. This year it was clean-out-the-fridge soup with grilled pimiento cheese sandwiches; no complaints from the residents.

Applying the ‘what’s available’ thought to our times, none of us planned on having a crappy year. But neither did anyone go without blessings; awaking each day to options is a blessing itself. We have something left over. Maybe not the fancy fare you’d have chosen, but there’s a menu to be had if you woke up able to breathe in the cold air, walk to the coffee maker, and find running water in your kitchen. And, yes, if all I had was black-eyed peas, I’d throw in enough bacon grease to make them tolerable, somehow.

My days begin with a precious pudgy pup taking me outside for his morning constitution. I take that opportunity to say good morning to God, or the birds, or the moon; usually all three unless Auggie let me sleep long enough for the sun to be up and I get to tell the sun good morning. If you can step to the door, listen for a moment to traffic or birds, and catch sight of something moving, you have the beginning already of a prayer of praise, and a pretty darn good day. Thank you God for the ability to walk out into a day of choices, to feel the air sting my face, to smell the neighboring chimney smoke, to watch a bluejay take his breakfast, and to hear quail ruffling up a fence row. I’m able to taste a cup of hot coffee and I know I have the makings of a feast – a feast of blessings with the left-overs alone, not to mention the fat of the calf with which my cup runs over day after day. Family, friends, and fortune much of the world would call excessive, are mine; yours too, I’m guessing. “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

No, Covid 19 didn’t go anywhere yet. Sadly, prejudice and hatred still thrive. Crime did not surrender to the authorities. I wish these things would change, but we know it will take a whole lot more than eating the right things on the first day of the year, don’t we? Let’s use what we have to make all the change we can. We have a sovereign God Who craves us to seek Him, be in communion with Him, and allow Him to work in our lives to prepare a forever relationship with Him. I believe He will use what we have left in us – He said so – and will make amazing outcomes of us. (Jeremiah 29:11, for one.) I hope making a better me, will enable me to make good changes in the world of needs. So, until the other shoe drops – no, even if it does, I wish for you a beautiful bold new year in which you can use the leftovers to build, or add on to, a wonderful relationship with the great I AM. (Exodus 3:14) It is the best place to start. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

“Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.” Psalm 143:8

A Present of Presence

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I brought my coffee to the sunroom to watch the sun change from a narrow apricot band over the tree tops, become the growing light, and make the sky match the frost covered ground. Sitting by my little “memory” Christmas tree here, I take off one ornament – a clothespin pony, painted red wth white polka dots and a white yarn mane and tail. I remember opening the box of clothespin ornaments back in the 80’s, all painted and decorated in detail; angels, soldiers, a lion, ponies; all still with me today because they were mailed to us from West Virginia. Big Sissy Helen always thought of us.

Reaching for the blessing jar sent only a couple weeks ago from Linda in New Jersey, I pull out today’s surprise message. This one simply said, “We never lose the people we love. They live wth us in our hearts for the rest of our lives.” And I gingerly touch the little red clothespin pony to my face, stirring the present of Helen’s presence in my heart.

A busy cardinal outside my window now reminds me of Helen’s early up-and-at ’em-life. I remember also the first time ever when she didn’t know who I was when I called her. It was Mother’s Day this year. I wrote about it; about the heartbreak of Alzheimer’s and the things it robs from us. I need to finish that for Helen’s girls and her husband’s sake. They need to know their mom and wife still lives on in the hearts of others, even though she has only fragments of herself living still in the shell of her body.

Yes, Linda, they do live on in our hearts. Thank you for the reminder coming from the little jar of love; that we have not truly lost those who are not physically in our midst. They are so much more than a body and a face.

I pray God will grant me the ability and time to be like those little slips of paper coming daily from the blessing jar; reminding someone, somewhere that real life – the real life that goes on living in our hearts – is not vanity at all. God gave us each other for a reason. May we each paint the dark skies with light; open gifts of pleasure for others, and speak words of blessing into their lives while we can. We will live in their hearts for the rest of their lives.

Don’t Go With The Flow

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With social distancing in place, our seats in worship are anywhere we find a vacant spot. Today it was the balcony. At the end of service, we exited with the crowd, moving along fluidly; again, minimizing contact due to Covid 19. My mind was on the people I saw and heard. Some I hadn’t spoken to in months – again due to the swiftness of exit, the masks and different seating – and some I’d love to get a hug from; and then the snippets of conversations and wondering about the rest of their stories.

A word of caution: reading the following may cause one to dread aging. Don’t judge until you’re there:)

As we entered the vestibule at the bottom of the stairs, we fell into the flow of those coming from the auditorium toward the exit or other classrooms. As my husband paused at the trash can to leave our communion packaging, he whispered “Is that it?” Assuming he meant was that all he needed to discard, I nodded affirmative and we were swept on through the commons area and out the door. Concern for a troubled stranger in our midst gave us added distraction from the norm. Not a bad thing; in fact, I realize we enter and exit worship far too often on auto-pilot and need a little extra stimulus to ponder our plot in life. But I digress.

As he started our car, my husband again questioned me, “So we aren’t having class again?” Class. Oh. Class! Suddenly I realized I’d gone with the flow of folks and completely forgotten about Sunday School! Had I been entertaining purposeful thinking, I’d have realized he was asking at the trash can if we were leaving. Duh. Feeling kinda foolish I opted for continuing on our way home instead of walking back inside, against the flow. Now, this isn’t about a virus, nor precautions, nor even about Sunday school attendance. It’s about the difference purposeful thinking makes in whether we go with the flow, take another route, or step aside and hold our place until we’re good to go. (Maybe it’s somewhat about absent mindedness too, which I’ve been accused of before.)

How might we have altered our outcome? Two ways; one, take another route. There’s a side hall to step into from the balcony stairs and through it, we would have many doors of opportunity to enter the auditorium for class without interrupting the smooth flow of traffic. The other option would be to wait; taking time to watch from a distance as our brothers and sisters moved in tandem toward the door. We could then make our way to our auditorium class minus the mass exit.

In life as well, it feels natural to go with the flow. But what is popular may not be best. The path of least resistance is easier, but it doesn’t build strength. The crowd’s concerns are not likely matched to your cares, nor can you see the signs ahead if lost in the crowd. Or, my leg of the journey may need further planning, mapping; perhaps I need to reenter the destination in my GPS. Purposeful thinking – looking ahead at desired outcomes – may cause us to divert our direction, or press the pause button.

Diversion may find us taking a side road less traveled where we can experience new opportunity to bless and be blessed. By the way, diversion can also force the enemy from the principle point of operation, where he expects us to be following mindlessly. It brings to mind the words from Matthew 7: 13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (NIV) Not a very popular thought, but those words are from the mouth of Jesus. I need to put that in my Garmin.

Pressing the pause button as well, just might be a gap of opportunity in which we see others instead of self; where we can refuel; time to regroup. This is a good time to recall God’s word. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 6:10 NKJV)

So, we missed Sunday class, but I learned a lesson. I’ll listen with purposeful thinking when my husband asks a question. (OK, I will try.) And if I don’t want to swim back upstream, I better divert my direction ahead of time, or wait patiently when purposeful thought says, “You do not want to go with the crowd”.

“You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.” Psalm 139:3 NKJV

I Didn’t See It Coming

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Before the storms….spidey in the summer shadows
After our first frost…we shall see.

This pretty Spider Plant may have “bit the dust” on my watch. As the photo comparisons over a couple months show, Spidey has grown in spite of being thrown to the ground during three summer storms. Finding a lower perch for her did help, but only after losing several of the ‘babies’ and leaves. After all that, last night’s frost may be her demise. She looks good enough this morning but only a day or two of sunshine will tell for sure. The same for the prettiest roses I’ve had all year. Roses do not appreciate too much rain so they have only lately had their richest color and fragrance. I’d have covered Mr. Lincoln had I seen it coming. I have hopes that the chrysanthemums were not hurt, but this was a 36 degree white frost so, what should I expect? Wasn’t this a bit early for frost in western Kentucky? Oh yes, this IS 2020!

Why didn’t I see it coming? First, I stopped watching. I stopped listening. My mind was not open to hearing the news so I even missed the weather forecast with its frost advisory. Secondly, complacency; I was enjoying the amazing weather so much that I couldn’t think of it having a possible down side. Thirdly, and hardest to admit, I kinda dreaded dealing with it. She is heavy, cumbersome, and where am I going to keep it all winter? She resided with all the other house plants in our sunroom last winter, but she has put on some bulk since then. Just picking her up after the storms was almost more than I could handle and now I need to figure a way to pack her into the house. That is, if she survived.

Mr. Lincoln long stemmed rose below the autumn berries of Washington Hawthorne

Does any of this sound familiar? Am I watching and listening to the cues of loved ones, friends, or scripture? We may become so engrossed in day to day pleasures or pain that we miss the hints that a friend needs encouragement or a loved one may be falling off the edge. Do we grow tired or discouraged when reaching out to someone hasn’t reached far enough? As much as we love God’s Word, do we subconsciously look past the heavy verse that might change a comfortable aspect of our lives? It is difficult to admit, but yes, I do. All of these, from time to time haunt me and last night’s frost serves as a reminder. However, the beauty of the day also reminds me of God’s grace, shielding me and providing new opportunities every day to be watchful, to provide care and compassion, while enjoying His blessings all the more! “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-24)

Hopefully shielded by the roof overhang.

The New Testament writers were inspired to warn us to be watchful for the wiles of the devil; for the return of Jesus; for our souls’ well being as well as the welfare of others. Here are just a few. “Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come.” (Mark 13:33 ESV) “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” (I Corinthians 16:13 NKJV) “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.” (I Peter 4:7). “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2 ESV) ” Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28 NIV)

Have a beautiful autumn. It is still my favorite even with it’s surprises.

The Good, The Bad, and The Horse-flies

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The vicious swarming back-biters returned just as we knew they would.  As I was writing a prior post about aggravating corn-flies, I predicted there would be worse, and the worse wasn’t long in arriving. If like some folks, you are not bothered by the presence of the Tabanidae family, I am more than willing to send a few horse-flies your way. I read that the larvae grow in semiaquatic habitats, and adults feed on nectar and plant exudates, so if more of you would please dig ponds, install pools and plant a nice variety of nectar dripping blossoms, we who have been inundated by these overgrown blood suckers would like to see the population spread more evenly. Thank you in advance:) Some presume dinosaurs may have been early hosts for the horse-flies, which in my book, accounts for their gigantic size.

With no known purpose other than to produce more horse-flies and food for wasps and birds, their presence is most unwelcome. From hammering the sunroom windows like hail, to darkening the 3 by 5 screen in the garage window, they remind me of the Hitchcock movie, The Birds. On the day I used a porch ceiling fan, we had to battle our way in and out of the house, flinging arms and waving hands, until we discovered they actually liked the fan. Fan off, horror film over. Some types of horse-fly aim low and nip at the ankles; others attack from above, zapping whelps on my back more than once. But like all evils, there will be an end. The life of an adult horse-fly is under two months, and usually only noticed for a couple weeks. At the opening of September, there are still plenty of these winged missiles, but the garage floor and window sill are covered in corpses to sweep away already. Soon peace will fall upon the farm in timely company with anticipation of cooler drier air.

Horse-flies seem to embody the difficult parts of summer like they have to run it by us one more time to ensure we know how to appreciate Autumn. They gather up the heat and humidity, and exit in a storm of activity as if our relief was their idea. I suppose all pain seeks gain; adversity cries for appeasement.  Sadly, on a spiritual plain, the evils thrown upon the Lord Jesus Christ were necessary for His pain and our gain. If no adversities, it would be difficult to appreciate peace. The body of Jesus personified the beauty and grace of a loving God Who wants to relieve us of the evils that ugly up our world; to apply balm to the bites and save us from a swarm of sin. You probably know this already; but perhaps if you do not, may I recommend the book of Romans, where in chapters 5 and 6 the inspired writer tells us that tribulations produce hope; hope because Christ reconciled our lives to God by His death. The stark contrast between the problem and the perfect answer flows throughout those verses. Without the bad, we don’t recognize the good. May the grace of God be our desire as we seek separation from the pestilence of this world’s ills.

But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,
so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 5: 20b-21)

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Don’t Go Searching In Empty Baskets To Find God

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Photo by Frank Cone on Pexels.com

Several of those who “like” a blog are actually inviting you to read their blog, and probably didn’t even read your post through. Occasionally as I check out their blog, a title catches my attention and I read it. One such article this week posed the idea that either there is no god or else the God of the universe must hate us very much to allow all the evil, referring to everything from intentional molestation of children to natural disasters like hurricanes. My first reaction was of gratitude that I have been introduced to a perfect God to walk with me through an imperfect world. Next was to see how others reacted. One comment from a reader touched me especially. She is searching, honestly and tenderly. As she worded her questions and thoughts I pictured a young child stepping gingerly through a waist-high meadow of wildflowers and grasses, wondering which to pick, sniffing some blossoms and smiling; backing away quickly from the prickly weeds; glancing around from time to time at unfamiliar sounds; wandering further, lost in her wonderment. So, how DO we know what to pick – what to hold onto in a world of battles and betrayals? I am not wise enough to adequately meet one so embittered and brash as the blog author. But for the searching one, I offered my source of hope, my peace, my joy found only in Jesus Christ. In Him, God embodied all – His all – the grace and the love we need for hope, peace and safety from the devil’s schemes.

A hummingbird was investigating two empty plant baskets this morning where in years past had been colorful blooms and sometimes ferns. She seemed puzzled that a hanging basket had nothing to offer. I don’t believe she blamed me, for she just moved on to the many blooms and feeders we do provide around the yard. My advice to the searchers is, don’t look in empty baskets. Look where the good is being done and see the image of the Provider Who was the beginning of all that is good; we can’t blame this amazing Creator. ” In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…And God saw that it was good….and indeed it was very good”. (Genesis 1:1-31) He has already given us everything. (John 3:16) Yet in all His provision, God gave us free moral choice, and desires that we seek Him. (Matthew 7:7) Who are we to demand answers from God? He should (and will) demand answers from us as to what we have done to make it a better world. I hope to do a better job of filling those baskets; with nectar from God’s word and sweet smelling prayers to God on behalf of the searchers. May the children fill their hands with bouquets of blessings and find their way home. The meadows are bursting with possibilities.

And God saw that it was good.

FROM THE PORCH: Much Has Changed, Much Has Not

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The other day I ran across a picture of my husband and me sitting on the front porch of a house we rented for a year in a subdivision off Hwy 94 West. I don’t know who took that picture, but I could hug them.

Who were those youngsters? Lean and strong, the summer of 1983, and that was our real hair color! It is no longer; and that’s just one of many changes. The two sweetest kids on earth, ages “almost 4” and 6 years old called us Mama and Daddy. Thankfully only the ages have changed – they’re still sweet, and we’re still Mama and Daddy. We were ten years into our marriage with no clue as to what would become of our dreams and aspirations, but we just got up and did what we did each day to make those come true. Some of that changed too. I cleaned a lady’s house for $10 once a week and stuffed envelopes for a neighbor. I have no idea what he paid me but it was rich for me just to stay home with my little ones and still earn enough gas money to get one to kindergarten, then first grade, and keep the other one and her sippy-cup safe. It let me pay a little each month on the Sears account that carried our important ‘must haves’.  My mother told me, “As long as you send ten dollars each month, they can’t say a thing about it.” (She knew from experience.) Boy, has that ever changed!

But now,  that man in the picture – oh my oh my, that right there was my giant. And that hasn’t changed! He kept two or more jobs going at once; farming for us and driving spreader trucks for Hutson’s Ag Co. from before daylight ‘til after dark. By night, we remodeled the farm house on the 50 acres we were finally able to buy that fall. There on our rented porch sat the desire for our own home and the gumption to get it done. If he spent five dollars on himself in a week, it was rare. As long as his little family was safe and sound, he kept his nose to the grindstone and then came home to love us just as hard. I did what I could to help in farming, which was mostly running him back and forth since we didn’t live on the land he tended. I think I helped in the tobacco fields that summer as I always did, to some extent, but without his leadership and determination my part would have amounted to nothing. The experience he brought to that porch was of doing everything the hard way, as his dad had also farmed alone, and seemed to make any task all the more tedious. Well, the truth is just the truth. 

As the year on that porch went by we encountered several other alterations; a scary diagnosis for our son, which was resolved, but grew our faith and proved the love of our family and friends. It was from that porch we saw our children make new friends, and learn to ride a bike. Carrying our belongings up those steps one January and back down the next, my husband shouldered more than furniture and boxes. He knew it was make or break time. Never a fan of paying rent, he wasn’t about to any longer than necessary. That year though, renting was exactly right for us. The span between getting back up on our feet, and easing back into the saddle of debt, was the breath of confidence we needed. It was both humbling and inspiring. I’ve always suspected that someone was paying a portion of our rent because it was so affordable, and because my mother was determined to get her grandchildren back in her school district. I smile as I write that. But we managed to pay what we were told, and still believe, was the monthly rate, and I do recall a portion of the rent was paid by my husband hauling in dirt and single-handedly shoveling it around the foundation of the house to take care of a water drainage problem. Seems he was always moving earth to make ends meet. We were too busy to know we were living at poverty level, as we were told later; but we never were hungry for anything and slept like babies.

I am not proud to say our focus was not on God those years. Oh we believed, and took the kids to church;  we listened to John Dale’s encouraging lessons on the radio on Sunday nights, but our focus was surviving and enjoying our children. God’s focus however, was on us, as His hands were all over us, preparing us, pruning us and proving us. Somebody was praying mightily for that young couple sitting there on that porch. The hardships we had faced for a decade were lain on the steps of the porch and we stood on them to look forward in spite of our imperfections. The fear and uncertainty that must have gripped my husband’s heart each morning were felt by our Lord Who anointed  his head for protection and filled our cup to overflowing. 

None of us know what the next day will hold, but I can tell you Who holds each day, and He sees your pain, your effort, your joy. He works wonders with the poorest of seasons. “Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders and the judgments of His mouth.” (I Chronicles 16:12 NKJV) One day, you see an old photo and think, oh my, who were those children? It doesn’t matter. It does not matter, if they didn’t know who they were, for God did. If you’ve never been through a drought, you can’t imagine how good the rain feels. 

“For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hand. He knows your trudging through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you; you have lacked nothing.” (Deuteronomy 2:30 NKJV)