Happy Monday – Every Day is a New Day

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Every day has its own bit of uniqueness, a surprise or two here and there. All we have to do is awaken with a willing heart to see, hear, and know. Even if you must follow a routine such as shower, dress the kids, grab a breakfast bar and fly out of the driveway waving  to the dog and realizing you didn’t tell your spouse goodbye, or good morning either for that matter, it can still be special. We’ve all done it; it’s called mundane. But as all that begins to grow old, you’ll realize there’s been a whole other world out there just watching you, waiting for a chance to please you, gifting you with an abundance of God’s grace. It’s called being still and knowing He is God. (smile)

I haven’t been posting my usual Monday snippets of life, partly because of the BUSY season and partly because I feel my enthusiasm over the daily grind of ordinary isn’t quite shared by all. Thank Goodness, it takes different strokes for different folks! If not, how bland that would be! But in a world of worry and weary, I just enjoy pointing out some of the fleeting moments that catch my eye. Those “oooh, something shiny” moments that take our attention away from the mundane, but not so breathtaking that we have to stop what we’re doing. Wait a minute – I just stopped what I was doing in order to share my little day of surprises – and it isn’t at all breathtaking. So, shiny, but not blinding. The Grand Canyon was one of those times that take my breath away; today is just normal stuff that makes life awesome, alive and blessed.

Opening the door this morning to find a gentle rain was my first surprise. It wasn’t storming, dark, nor falling loudly enough for me to know ahead that God had showered us with new blessings in the early morning hours. I now could hear all nature singing “hallelujah, hall-e-lu-u-jah!”  The Psalmist says of God, “You visit the earth and water it, You greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; You provide their grain, for so You have prepared it…You make it soft with showers, You bless its growth..” (Psalm 65:9,10b)

As I was doing the breakfast dishes I heard a little peck peck peck on the window that looks out onto the front porch, where my husband was sitting  with our Yorkie, watching the morning happen. This by the way, is a practice that has taken me 43 years to enroll him in but I think he is hooked. I stepped to the front door and saw the object of his attention. A sparrow hawk was sitting in our driveway no more than 20-25 yards from the porch steps. Now, being in a rural setting of Western Kentucky makes this no big deal; but actually having it to land and stay a while with people present is not our everyday occurrence. Perhaps I have falsely accused our cat with the deeds of “fowl” play! I ran to get the camera, snap, snap, snap – no, the batteries were too low to capture the picture; back in to get batteries, no AA’s to be found. Back to the porch where he was whispering loudly, “get my phone out of my back pocket” (well, why didn’t he tell me that in the first place?) and being a phone to which I am not accustomed to using for a camera, I fumbled, and alas, the hawk who seemed to know I was just about to succeed, flew.

Later, as I took outgoing mail to the box, I found Saturday’s mail was still there, including a large envelope from Christian Woman Magazine. I’d just about forgotten it was close to time for the September/October issue to be out! Inside is an article by yours truly, and even though I knew it was being published, there’s still that thrill of seeing it in actual print. The article is about the seasons of life, how change must occur, and we must let go of one to take on another. This can be so very difficult for so many reasons. If I can help any of my sisters-in-life on this planet to see the miracles of everyday life snippets, then perhaps that will give a hand up to their next rung on the ladder of life. We’re all on this journey together they say, so Happy Monday, or, ‘happy mundane’! By the way, if you’ve not seen an issue of Christian Woman in the last couple of years, I believe you would find it most enjoyable. Fun and/or serious articles, all interesting, by a variety of authors, sprinkled with recipes and tips for life and study make it hard to put down!

The more things change, the more they stay the same – a quote I heard a long time ago – meant to me that eventually you experience change so much it becomes ‘unchange’; and as the preacher of Ecclesiastes said, “there is no new thing under the sun”. But now, to me it means this: The more life happens, the more change we will endure, and the more change we endure, the more we will come to depend upon the One Who never changes, but provides a hope that is forever the same.  God’s plans are to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak; a time to love and a time to hate; a time of war and a time of peace.” Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

 

 

NESTING IN THE PRIVETS

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Do you know how a thing can keep standing for something else in your mind; though it’s perfectly fine in and of itself; but for some reason it beckons you to peek around its corner and see something else hiding. So it is with a shrub in our yard. (Yes, in the South, your house sits in the yard, and the houses up north and the White House have lawns.) So, I knew it was a Privet, but after googling photos, I found that ours is a Chinese Privet; pretty and fragrant, it has become one of our favorites. In my search for the name of what I’d planted years ago, I also found  the following descriptors concerning these shrubs.

Low maintenance hedge & privacy screen

        Adaptable to various types of soil

Drought tolerant!

Low maintenance, screen, adaptable and tolerant – yep, that’s my little bush; and not a bad set of personality traits to desire!

Nesting In The Privets – this title just walked into my head one day as I was mowing, and has been running around in there all spring and summer when I am near our bush. The notion that this is a great place to nest was reinforced as I considered those defining words.

This is the only plant around which I haven’t been able to mow closely, to trim near the truck, and I have really tried, only to have scraped and scratched myself and the mower. Other trees and shrubs however, bear the wounds of my attempts to trim while mowing. In our previous home place with large trees, I committed mower murder by running too close and encountering the tree roots. Here, where we have young trees, there are regrettably, my signature rings around the trunks near the ground made by the edge of my mower deck. The privet, however, is much too wise for me. Strong defenders, especially where I have attempted pruning, stand strong and sharp, unyielding to my intrusion. My legs and arms bear the proof. This is not to the Privet’s dishonor; it has gained my admiration in more ways than one.

Lovely spring fragrance, beautiful variegated foliage, small leaves spaced so that there is a feathery look – who wouldn’t want to live there? Whereas I can’t get a 40 something inch mower deck into the midst of the grass beneath, the birds can build a house and live in it! Good for them! These are not cat climbing limbs. With a thick growth habit of closely spaced narrow limbs, it discourages intruders. I haven’t noticed our cat even mildly interested in invading this space. If Mother Nature talks among her offspring, then I imagine she has encouraged Mrs. Mockingbird with whispers of “screen, privacy, and adaptable’. Sitting atop this Privet, the mockingbirds call out threats against our furry four-legged family members, from halfway across the yard. It seems they have found an ideal fort from which to launch their new families.

Are we as careful and concerned about the environment in which we bring our brand new little nestlings? As they become fledglings, are we watching them from the best vantage point, protecting them from predators with the ferocity of a mother bird and wielding strong stems against the intruders of our homes?

Does not Mother Nature herself, even if we didn’t have the Word of God to guide us, tell us to protect our young? The natural tendency of a mother and father is to provide for their children, including shelter. The physical shelter I see provided by the Privet is such a great example of the spiritual and emotional shelter we as parents and relatives need to be seeking for our precious children.

In line with the descriptors for this Privet, parents need to be tolerant and adaptable. Tolerant with the natural calamities of growing up, not in the sense of spoiling, or tolerating the misbehaving; that would only lead them downhill in the character department. Kids are going to have melt-downs over real stressors at times; they need us to be tolerant and tough for them as they strive to thrive through it all. If you thought life was about changes before, then you really discovered “life-changing” after you became parents! Adapt, adapt, adapt! All children are different, and so will the toleration levels be different, as well as the need to adapt to stages of child development. If we look at them with the eyes of Jesus, and pray REAL hard as we search HIs word for guidance, we’re going to find our little birds successfully ready for flight before we know it!

As parents, we hopefully have had our day in the limelight, and now would be a good time to seek low maintenance status. My husband and I have agreed on this one thing in child rearing – they did not ask to be born. We asked for them. We took on this responsibility and have gladly set aside some wants to fulfill their needs. It’s never been about sacrifice – rather, it’s been a privilege to seek less of self and enjoy the sweet charges with whom God entrusted us; making provisions as He enables us to do.

I’ll tell you something else about this Privet. When the strong southwest wind sweeps across our property, all the other trees bow in its presence. But this Privet bush stands its ground. I’ve hardly ever seen it bending with the wind. Ill winds will blow in our children’s lives; count on it. So be a Privet to hold your nest; screen the view until the young are mature enough to see all the ugly and still make wise decisions. Adapt and tolerate when those harsh winds blow and there’s an arid blight in their circle of the world, so that they will know your strong branches will catch them if they fall. And most importantly, point them to Jesus, so that they will know their creator, and will have a home to fly away to someday. Don’t forget low maintenance; if their support system is whiney and delicate, they learn to be needy and fearful. Low maintenance people are able to enjoy the real values in other.

I want to close this with a poem given to me by my great-aunt, Treva Jones Darnell, many years ago.

BE THE BEST

If you can’t be the pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley – but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a bush be a bit of the grass,
And some highway happier make.
If you can’t be a “muskie” then just be a bass,
But the liveliest bass in the lake.
We can’t all be captains, some have to be a crew,
There’s something for all of us here;
There’s work to be done, and we’ve all got to do
Our part in the way that’s sincere.
If you can’t be a highway, then just be a trail;
If you can’t be the sun, be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail,
Be the best of whatever you are.

                                                                                                               …..Unknown

 

 

In The Garden

You know, life’s just all about the garden! It did start there after all, in a place called Eden. (Genesis 1) Today, for example, started with a beautiful morning of worship (weeding out the week’s overgrowth of worldly cares from my heart). Then home to a lunch of mango-jicama salad (what’s more like a garden than a big bowl of crisp veggies and fruits?) Next I was off to a wedding shower for a young couple who will soon be starting their own home; so in love that one could easily imagine cupids lacing strands of pink roses over and around them. (Love blooms so sweetly in the dawn of life – much like my rose garden when the year is young). Home again, to canning another seven quarts of green beans (gardens’ bounty this year) for my daddy’s table. (Those in the winter of life lose the ability to do such things, same as winter’s ground will no longer be able to produce the bounty.) Just as the last steaming quart was placed on the pad of towels to cool, it was time for the quarterly revealing of our Secret Sunshine Sisters. The best thing about this fun activity is getting to know more about a sister in Christ than we previously had a chance to do in our busy lives. Friendships blossom and set seeds for many years to come. (Without the re-seeding of many of our flowers, landscape would grow bleak after a short season.) I have a patch of Four O’Clocks that are from the seed given me by my great aunt Treva Jones Darnell. That was around 30 years ago. These wonderful fragrant blooms drop seeds that just keep producing more and more abundantly. I gathered those and was able to move their happiness with me when we moved..MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

There’s some degree of effort to saving seed, planting, and caring for growing things, but the results are so very worth it. Just what about all this labor of love anyway? We know where that began too! Yes, back in Eden. The beast and the beauty, the burden and the bounty; if a thing is worth having, there’s a price to pay. From preparing the soil, to preserving the surplus, it can be delightful or burdensome, depending on one’s frame of mind. The beast of sin was driven out by the beauty of God’s amazing grace when He decided to let mankind continue to enjoy the marvelous creation of earth. Albeit, more work than they’d ever imagined would be the price to pay!  Not too unlike raising children; we can’t deny the blood, sweat, and tears involved in raising them, but having looked into those spellbinding eyes and watching them blossom into their own, makes it all worth while. I’ve always said my kids were my favorite flowers in my garden of life! Who hasn’t? We might also claim they can be the thorns too at times, right? Still worth it all!  “I love them a bushel and a peck, and a hug around the neck.” And I sure do miss my butterfly kisses:)

From our hour of laughter and gifting this evening, we were privileged to end our day with another hour of worship. Praising together our might God, the Healer of our souls; sowing seeds of fellowship; gathering grains of truth and wisdom; strolling hand in hand with Jesus through the garden of prayer.

I leave you with a quote from an English poet:

The kiss of the sun for pardon, The song of the birds for mirth, One is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.  (“God’s Garden” lines 13-16 by Dorothy Frances Gurney)

GREETERS

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“Greet you one another with a kiss of love. Peace to you all who are in Christ Jesus.” I Peter 5:14

Greeters.
Smiling faces saying hello, acknowledging you chose to spend your time there. At the Wal-Mart door, I look for Shelby. At the church house door, brotherly love shakes your hand; and it feels sort of empty when I get there too late to be greeted. A smiling host at the door of your favorite restaurant guides you to your seat. And the best – the warm embrace of a toddler so eager to enlist you to “play toys”.  A purring cat or a bouncing ball of furbaby, all saying, “yay! you’re home!” And God’s greeters at the driveway – swaying, waving or standing at attention – with color and fragrance all in a row. Letting me know God’s grace still permeates the weediness of the world. Bless the flowers, bless the greeters.

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly. (Psalm 84:11)

Hand In Hand

 

Yesterday I saw a child walking with his grown-up across a parking lot. He was just about mid-thigh high to the man, holding hands, and talking as they proceeded. As the child kept up the adult pace with his quick little steps, his head was darting back and forth from the path of where they were walking, to the direction of the man. He obviously wanted to see the object of his animated conversation, as well as watch where he was going. I wanted to keep watching them, but we were headed into an appointment and I had my own person to keep up with. However, I couldn’t get the little fellow out of my mind all day.

Lately I’ve been hearing what could be called a cliché in the Christendom. When I hear someone say, “God showed up” at a particular time for them, I feel concern that they may have missed out on walking with God. God is omnipresent, and omniscient – all-knowing and present everywhere at the same time – for all eternity. Highlights from Psalm 139 tell us this. “Oh Lord, You have searched me and known me, You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off….not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether…such knowledge is too wonderful for me;… where can I go from Your Spirit?…If I ascend into heaven…make my bed in hell…take the wings of the morning…dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there, Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” (verses 1-10 in part)  As for our access to Him, “in whom (Christ Jesus) we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him” (Ephesians 3:12). So, I can’t think of God in terms of simply ‘showing up’ at times of dire need. When we respond to God’s invitation to live an eternal life with Him, we are like the child walking hand in hand with his or her grown-up. God is there whether we are paying attention or not. He is there to lift us when we stumble, fall, and reach out for help. He is also there by our side protecting us, pulling us along when we need encouragement, and never unaware of our steps. We are led by the hand of God’s Word; we are comforted and heard by the Holy Spirit just as Jesus promised as He was leaving to sit at the right hand of God the Father.  I do get it though, when speakers are expressing their belief in God’s interventions – they mean to give God the credit for the good that came out of a situation, or the rescue they experienced. And that is good! I’ve been guilty of clichés like “it was a God thing” or “a God moment’ so I know what they meant. But hearing that lately, coupled with the walking twosome, I felt God showing me a similitude for His presence. But to phrase it as ‘God showed up’ just somehow cuts short the constant relationship God’s children have with Him.

After observing the child and his precious walk with his grown-up, I thought about our walk with our heavenly Father. Thankfully, we do not have to worry whether or not He is seeing and hearing us. We don’t have to settle for just glancing in His direction like the little tyke who found it impossible to get a good look up into the man’s face and watch his own step at the same time. No, we can stop, and look fully into His marvelous face, which is in fact His desire. (“Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10).  He is not bound, bent, nor burdened with the cares of this world as our earthly grown-ups are. Nor is He racing the clock. He made time itself, and  takes all of it He wants to accomplish anything He wants to. So as He holds our hand in traveling our time here, we have a constant defender, helper, and guide. Isn’t it grand to picture ourselves as that little boy I saw yesterday, carefree to talk our entire heart out to our Father, knowing that if we DO keep our eyes on Him, we will never lose our way and nothing can come between us.

Dear God, I ask You to bless us with the peace of knowing a closer walk with You. It is my prayer that my words bring encouragement to others and glory to Your name. Keep holding my hand Lord; thank You for this and all other blessings. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A Time to Suit Yourself

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Betty Ann put down her glass of iced tea and said “As I’ve grown older, I find I am arranging things in my house just to suit me”. Looking around my kitchen and dining areas in response to Paula’s comment about how I arrange things “just so”, I realized I do tend to group things by the way I like to see them. We three girls were enjoying an all too seldom visit early this spring, and I’d arranged the visit, not the house. On that day I didn’t feel worthy of it,  but I was happy for the compliment. The very old and the very new may sit side by side just because I like the colors together. Then again, the colors within a group may not be complimentary but the items remind me of an event or someone special; or I group items  just because I like the way they fill the space. (Kind of like the way we fill our lives with so many different kinds of people; all ages, and walks of life.) So yes, my house is full of stuff, just to suit me. At the same time, I know the arrangements will be seen by others, who may or may not share my decorating taste. Not to sound unkind, but, so what?  Problem is I’m a sentimental collector; a dangerous combination. Minimizing is attractive in theory, but to a collector who sees a memory or  a loved one in each cherished possession, letting it go is next to climbing Mt. Rushmore. So maybe my space is getting a bit cluttered. So is my mind, so I guess it’s a nice fit.

     I once looked at life as a buzzing busy bee,

     Or butterflies all aflutter.

     But as the days grow tired on me,

     I see it all as clutter.

 The down side of having a moment to look around the room, was that I saw so many things I didn’t do to prepare for guests, that I would have done a few years ago. There was a puppy pee pad on the floor across the room, and I didn’t get the floor mopped. I didn’t cut a bouquet of flowers, light a candle for fragrance, nor clean the windows. Yes, those are things I would have done a few years ago, along with moving and dusting under all those collector bric-a-brac just mentioned. Before you judge me, keep in mind that it was how I was raised. My mother may not have had the newest carpet, but it was clean; her windows were shining and the curtains were clean and ironed. God bless her sweet soul, she even cleaned the grooves in the linoleum flooring with a toothbrush when the floor wax built up there. My point is, we learn what we live. And I lived with a woman who loved her home, and her company. She wanted to present her very best. So do I. But like Betty Ann, my attitude has changed over the years. How I define my very best, now has more to do with conversation, time spent, food they’ll enjoy, and being rested  rather than frazzled. I settled for vacuumed without mopped; a good quiche and iced tea; gratitude for the people I was blessed to have in our home, laughter instead of being tired and sensitive (which is what I become when I lose sleep, and sleep is lost if I do all that other stuff). My nap the day before was a luxury I didn’t used to afford myself, but I was a better person afterwards.

There was a chigger weed in my iris beds, maybe more. But the irises were beautiful. There was laundry piled up because we’d been fighting our washer, but the laundry room door slid shut nicely. The hardwood floors didn’t shine like they once did, but there’s a bathed and pampered puppy to enjoy instead. Our once grassy lawn was a weedy bog, but on it stands a home that I hope and pray extends hospitality and love. Anyway, I’m working on it. Perhaps one day, I will look around and see all the beauty of a wonderful visit without seeing these undone things.  So, if you are tempted to give your house a “spit-polish shine” before I come to see you, don’t do it. Take a nap instead, have a cup of coffee ready, and let us enjoy a time “arranged just to suit ourselves”!

 

Memorial Day

Today was Memorial Day 2017, sunny and warm. Warm not only with sunshine, but with memories; and warmed with the family and friends who are not memories, but present blessings. Like my dad who called with a convincing offer to peel and cut up my peaches for me. Yes sir-ree I hauled that box of Georgia peaches into town and left them for him and his wife to work up. They already “had a system going” he said, as they were working up their own peaches too. Daddy always has had a system, an organized way of doing anything. I believe he would plan ahead exactly which shoe he would tie first and which direction the string would wind around the loop!

After a morning of caring for our visiting ‘granddog ‘, as well as our own puppy recovering from his first bout of stomach bug, and the usual Monday mundane chores, we joined our son for a good Zaxby’s meal. Following the required weekly trek through Wal-Mart, we drove to the edge of town to Murray Memorial Gardens where my mother and father-in- law, and my own mother are buried. We parked under a tree for shade, and walked back to the place where my husband’s parents had selected for their vault. Names on a wall are all there is to see of them. I chose to honor them by naming aloud something I remember about each one, and for the others we were about to visit.

For Maxine, my mother-in-law, I said, “the best turkey ever – nobody has ever cooked one better!” I can almost smell that aroma now. I added, “And a simple country dinner plate on a summer work day with a glass of iced tea so sweet I could have diluted it into 3 glasses”. I think she would be happy with my memory.  Pointing to my father-in-law’s name, I said “Hundred dollar bills” and smiled because of the way he had occasionally dropped one into our hands and was offended if I resisted, saying there was no reason for him to do that. He replied, “because I want to, and it’s mine to give”; kind of the way Carvis Sanders handed out gum at church when I was a kid. Except he was more consistent with a piece of Juicy Fruit every Sunday.

Walking past grave markers that had little American flags standing beside them, I said aloud, “thank you for your service”. I didn’t know any of those people to remember something about them, but I remember what I have read and heard about war, and I shudder. I remember what so many of them were fighting for and I am grateful.

As I approached my mother’s burial-place, I was pleased to see her Mother’s Day flowers were still intact, pretty purple blooms in the one provided urn that memorial gardens allow. The spot is atop a rise and overlooks a pretty pond, shade trees, and a white fence. It also overlooks the place we’ve selected for our remains, and most of the other burial sites. I like that it reminds me of how my mother stood at least a head taller than most, making her pretty white hair easy to spot in a crowd. Like the day I passed the cardiac rehab room on my way into work  in the winter of 2008-09, and there was my mama on a stationary bike dressed in a beautiful purple outfit with an Angora type sweater, not work out clothes, and her white hair shining. She was doing more panting than pedaling, but she was doing what she could. On her grave marker today lay a single white silk rose that had come off of a nearby arrangement and  I laughingly said, “Mama, have you been picking somebody else’s flowers?” She sure loved and successfully grew beautiful flowers. She also was known to pick a few  elsewhere. I took the bloom back to its intended recipient and nestled it into the bouquet. Next I said “Could I have just a little bitty bite of that?” and my husband and  I laughed because we teased her a lot for saying that  if you were eating something that she was not. Next I said, quoting her,  “Trisha, that hospital is gonna be there when you’re dead and gone!” followed by “I lived up to it Mama, I left it”, and then as I was turning to go, I said “I love you muchy muchy!” as that was the way she had started saying goodbye in the last few months of her life. So, my memories aloud to her were of sharing (both directions), concern for her children, and much love.

As we drove away, the radio was playing “Gentle On My Mind”. I love remembering good things about people no matter how many wheat fields and back roads pass between us. Those memories keep them gentle on our minds.

I got a call from a neighbor later this evening about an incident with her husband who is dealing with cancer and the gazillion treatments for that. As we were taping up some scrapes on his arm together, we small talked and laughed. He recalled that his mother grew zinnias in her garden and it helped to keep the bugs off the vegetables. Before I left, she gave me a pretty bird feeder that was a gift in memory of my husband’s dad. I felt like Memorial Day had come full circle.

I came home feeling so thankful for every day God has given me to enjoy family, friends, nature, and memories. As Garry Evans reminded us yesterday, we all have One in common to remember today and every Lord’s Day; the one who gave the ultimate gift, His life for us.

The Pressure’s On – A Challenge For You

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Our next celebrated day, I believe, would be Mother’s Day, coming up in about three weeks. With that in mind, I’m wondering how many of you have interesting memories to share about your mom and her cooking. Whether your actual mother, or the grandmother, aunt, or friend who stands in your memory at the stove concocting the dishes of your dreams, someone filled you up in more ways than one.  Tell about it!! Don’t say you can’t write – there is no wrong or right way to relate your favorite memories. Just start thinking about it, let your thoughts roll down your arm and into your pen (or keyboard). A line or a page, whatever it is, those cooks are worth the honor of your remembering.  I hope I get to see some of the resulting stories.

In our part of the country, food served up more than nutrition. From earliest childhood, it delivered delicious comfort, security, and just plain fun. It gave us ties to our heritage and opportunity to experience other cultures. Today, it still does much of the same, although I think the world is so full of distractions and convenience food, that cooking has lost a link to life that it once enjoyed.  As many great meals as my mother served up, one of the strongest memory provokers is a method rather than a particular dish. When the weather is cool and rainy, and there are ample indoor chores to be done, I have flashbacks of pressure cookers sputtering away in the kitchen, with steamed up windows, and loads of laundry coming through to be folded. Mama always had a pressure cooker and used it often, I’m sure because of her busy life and the need to have 3 squares on the table every day. I had one for a while, and after the rubber seal lost its stretch, it was overshadowed by the microwave. Fast, but certainly no substitute! Who can parboil a rabbit in a microwave?! I do however, have a pressure canner, and when I hear that pressure control jiggling and shimmying out the steam I think of hot meals that made my parents happy. Whether rabbits my dad brought home from a hunt at Granddaddy’s, or the pigs-in-a-blanket (aka stuffed cabbage rolls) that she learned to make while in Cleveland, Ohio, it always smelled like love. I’d just about welcome some homework to do at the kitchen table if I could just have one of my mama’s meals, cooked under pressure, of one sort or another! With 60’s music playing from the radio, I’m not sure how much homework I actually did, but what a great memory, being warmed, fed, and taught in my Mama’s kitchen!

Thank you God for our food, for the women and men who provided and taught us how to prepare it, and for your Word, our bread of life. Jesus said “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:58)

“Who can find a virtuous wife?…She also rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household…Her children rise up and call her blessed;” Proverbs 31: 10,15,28 (a)

An early “Happy Mother’s Day” to you all! Whether you are a mom or not, you have or have had a mother, and I am wishing you a day of happy memories in that!

Fishing Line and HE Washing Machines

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I must be one of the most hard-headed people I know! How many times have I instructed family members to empty out their pockets before adding clothes to the  hamper? And yet here I am – pulling out clothes, my clothes, with fishing line tied around each piece. Even in my 6th decade of life, I am so much in the learning phase. Can you identify? Please say I am not the only one who acts without thinking, or takes on a task without planning ahead. Whatever you want to call it, action without forethought usually has regret attached. The fishing line was a partial spool I tucked into my jacket pocket two days ago just incase I broke a line. But in my washer, it was as big a problem as all the tissue particles that covered my jackets, jeans, and my husband’s socks. Now, with the line wound back around the plastic piece, and the dryer taking care (I hope) of the remaining tissue, I am reminded of a few things. One, is how little fragments escape our internal library of ‘lesson learned’; also, how grace is bigger than regret; and third, we sure can haul in more than fish when we go fishing!

Saturday was a beautiful day and I had the privilege of spending it with an eleven and a half year old “Little Man” who calls me Aunt Pat. We met on the day of his birth, and that’s another story. How did he get to be so grown up so soon? I have two children of my own, adults who grew up at the speed of light even though I tried to hold onto every hour. We know they do that, right? Yet don’t we still put off things we meant to do with our loved ones, believing ‘some days’ will get here before the ‘too lates’? I’ve known for at least 6 fishing years that this little fellow would someday know whether or not I was really fishing, or just out there to enjoy the great outdoors and let him think he was fishing. My husband had bought two new poles, the modern metal version of a cane pole which came with hook, line and sinker. Really! All I had to do was tie the line onto the end of the pole after extending it the full 13 feet. Well, that just looked like too much line, so my young assistant Ryan and I cut it with the clippers in his nicely stocked tackle box, and the remainder went into my pocket. Had I thought to figure out ahead how to use this pole still wrapped in plastic after a year(!), or restock my son’s melted, stinky contents of his old tackle box? No, that would just be too easy, I say with a smirk. To keep this from being too long, let me just say that Ryan is now fully aware of Aunt Pat’s fishing deficits. I’d say he knew that when I had to call my dad to see what the bass would be biting, and then had to borrow that green lizard from Ryan. A good sport about sharing his bait, he also didn’t laugh when my self-cut line didn’t quite reach the center of our pond. We threw back my first little fish, and he caught a couple nice ones with his spinner bait on a rod and reel. Good job! Not to be completely humiliated, I patiently kept trying and did add the third catch to our supper plans.

Did I mention taking on a task without planning? Have you cleaned and prepared fresh fish lately, with a spoon and a dull paring knife? (Thank you Ryan’s parents for stocking his box with a fish scaler!) Next time, I may consider Ryan’s first idea of throwing them all back! But oh no, I was going to have fresh fish for supper – over a fire yet! The end result was grilled fish, bone in, over charcoal; delicious for all except Ryan who thought hotdogs looked more appetizing. The fire pit was fun for him to start but not in time to cook (who forgot to bring the firewood over?) except to roast marshmallows for dessert.

Several times throughout our day, I mentioned things like “what a beautiful day God made” or “I’m sure God knew when He created this or that….” We decided to bury the fish heads and entrails in my garden which I said would thank God for our catch by fertilizing the ground. I hope when Ryan remembers our time together, he recalls that Aunt Pat gave credit to God for all things good. I hope I remember what I really caught: good memories and good lessons. Those are, first, when I forgot to check my pockets, it ‘tied up’ some time so to speak, so I need to remember the lessons of the Lord’s Word, which saves many hardships over going it our own way. In Proverbs we read, “My son, do to forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.” (Proverbs 3:1) My second thought was that I wasn’t fully prepared but my friend Ryan had what I needed. Jesus knows our every weakness, and oh, what a friend we have in Jesus! Paul wrote to the church at Galatia “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” (Galatians 1:3-4) Last, my methods weren’t the best, but with patience I caught a fish. So, I’ll try to be patient, wait on the Lord, and be supplied. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)

I’m sure glad Ryan wasn’t watching today as I pulled the extra line out of my washer. I’m glad God was, and enables me to share some lesson reminders. Even without a great deal of planning, the day was packed with fun and blessings, some of which were sunshine, laughter, friends and family, a hawk soaring over the trees, geese honking, and the reward of delicious food shared with loved ones. With my lack of preparation, I didn’t deserve such a good day. With our human error, missing the mark, we sure do not deserve all that God has done for us, but we have opportunity to receive anyway. Because he loves us.

I felt almost guilty using my son’s tackle box, because I didn’t make the time, nor find the know-how to take him fishing when he was little; and he sure turned out great anyway. Those ‘somedays’ I mentioned slipped by me and were followed by regret. However, I am thankful for the grace of loving forgiving hearts, and second chances. So when I mess up and leave tissues and fishing line in my pockets, I need to extend that grace to a certain family member who does the same. Even if I let busy-ness crowd out time to call my loved ones and spend more time with them, God keeps giving me more. More time, more opportunities. I am eternally thankful for them all, and I want to seize that time before there is no more, to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. (Micah 6:8) I want to grab the opportunities to soar above the storms with wings growing stronger as I wait for the Lord to work in my life. (Isiah 40:31) More than anything else, I am thankful that He forgives when we forget to do life His way, and that He keeps putting more blessings on my hook than I could ever imagine hauling in.

It just occurred to me that if I’d had my old agitator washer instead of this high-efficiency washer that I’ve complained about so much, I’d have been in a much worse mess of tangled fishing line! Small favors!

Healing the Hurt

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Let’s sit and talk for a moment about your pain. I’ll pour a cup of coffee, and you can pour out your heart.

If you are among those who have experienced emotional hurt, harbored old wounds, or are in a painful place now, then this is for you. If you are in the number of people involved with helping a loved one with any such painful issues, then this is also for you. Because deep wounds cause scars and scars don’t go away; because seeing a loved one hurt, hurts too; and because those valid sources of pain are ever present, most if not all, at some point, need help.

Not a counselor, nor trained beyond the brief introduction we get from nursing psychology, I am addressing this subject only from the heart of someone who cares. Neither have I had enough life experience to feel like an expert. However, there is nothing new under the sun,  (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and if we are careful observers of life, we learn as we go. The Preacher of Ecclesiastes went on to say, “What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be numbered.” (1:15) Why then is it that people keep trying to go back and change the past? The past IS part of who I am, what I’ve become, for better or worse, built up or eroded. Whatever it was, it cannot be changed; but it can be used for  building blocks to a better self, and compassion for others. If I could change anything, it would be to plant that notion firmly in the minds of some who are futilely struggling to remake the past. Looking for comfort from the Spirit of God this morning, I was reading in Colossians, though I can’t recall why at the moment. Do you ever find some matter of your heart shows up in the scripture you go to next? I do, and  what I want to recall here is chapter 3, verses 12-14.”Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But ABOVE ALL THESE THINGS”(emphasis mine), “put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Holding on to the embedded notions of unworthiness, low self-esteem, or holding a grudge is caustic to the healing process. No good thing can grow in that environment. The continued desire to change the past by rehashing it and reopening old wounds will never change it. Rather, it allows it to breed toxins and fester into problems with our present relationships. Oh how I want to erase things from the minds of those in such anguish; until I remember that all we experience is who we are. And I wouldn’t want to change who they are;  just heal the pain. All we can do from here on, is let it go and allow fresh granulation tissue to fill the wounds. The scar will certainly be there, but it should become a healthy, healed body.

As I was  pondering the way people tend to use the past as a propellent for all future feelings, I thought about why some wounds heal and some do not. In nursing, I saw wounds that healed nicely, minimal scarring, and no residual stiffness. Then there were wounds that seemed destined for trouble. They developed infection, complete with all the different  microbes and resulting nastiness possible. From the small gaps where the edges just fought coming together, to the gaping holes of purulent evidence, there was resistance to heal. Those require treatments that can be very painful, and usually have extensive scarring that interferes with surrounding healthy tissue, possibly causing less mobility if not worse. Two main factors make the difference in how the healing goes. Those are first, the condition of the host – the tissue and  the supporting system; and  secondly, how the wound is being treated. Relating this to the psychological wounds is pretty easy. How was the victim developing as a person before the painful encounter? That would be like the condition of the tissue. Was there a support system to help his or her emotional healing? That would be like the immune system. Did they ask for and get help, or meet with refusal to acknowledge the source of injury? That would be the medical community and infection control. (Now don’t go calling the person who inflicted this emotional wound, an infectious microbe!😁) Most importantly, does the host, that is, the person cut by life’s sharp edges, know where to turn. That might be the follow-up, self-care or home health.

When a deep scar has developed in one’s heart, it is so important that they know how to unclench their grasp on that piece of the past; a piece that has been so much a part of who they are.  I believe we can get so wrapped up in some thorn in the flesh that we aren’t sure what kind of person we will be without it. I believe the Word of God has the best salve for the wounds, if we can just help those in pain to see it – really grasp and understand it. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians 3:15. Pointing to that peace as our loved ones struggle may involve a pain of its own. Our pain becomes real as the victims smother out all efforts with a toxic attitude. Attitudes toward life are formed early, and are the hardest thing to overcome if they are not healthy ones. We see them still struggling with self-image but we know they are wonderful people capable of great things. When we see the scabs knocked off before the healing is done, and we see the stoic set of their jaw, we cry their tears for them. And then there’s the ‘wound care’. Though it may seem calloused, we have to debride the unhealthy tissue, and that may be painful as they recognize the actual source of infection is their own refusal to let go. It will also be painful to experience again the original injury as they bring it to the surface, where it can be purged from its viable strength.  Once they are forced to own the pain and give it away to God, then they must be encouraged to leave it there. Leave. It. There. Don’t allow them to continue to bring back up what they have longed to put down. Similar to someone with a weight problem staying away from the cookie jar, these dear souls with bad memories must stop going back there to a bad place.  Encourage them to search the word of the only One Who truly knows what they’ve endured and having created us, knows best what works for us. What Paul the Apostle said of his goal to serve Christ, is good for us as we work toward our goals – “forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize…” (Philippians 3:13b-14a). Paul had caused trauma and suffering for others, as well as suffered many severe hardships himself. He was fully aware of how much we might need to forget.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 That is our house favorite.

So as I wait for all the pain in the world to be healed, and all creation whole once again, I will do what I can for whom I can.  It may be only a smile here, a pat on the back there; a hug for those accepting it, a willing ear and a word of encouragement. Let it go, like the movie Frozen taught us. Move on toward  taking what you are (…”that whatsoever state I am in, therewith to be content” Phil. 4:11) and  allowing God to transform and renew you into the best you that you have ever been. And as I watch I will keep my favorite prayers alive for you. Those are found in Isaiah 40:31 (teach me Lord to wait) and Micah 6:8, that you will know all that’s required of you is to “do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.” You don’t have to move the mountain; you may only need to hold God’s hand as he leads you through the pass.

Now, cream or sugar with that cup of coffee? as we put a bandaid on your booboo.