Inspiration From the Ocean

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I am not a beach bum, nor am I even a candidate, but here I am, taken in completely by all that the five senses are given to sample. In fact, my body and accessories clearly betray my landlubber’s life. More specifically, the life of a farm dweller, gardener, chief cook and bottle washer has borne the body of anything but a bathing beauty. Yet, there is something so inspiring about the ocean that standing there, I feel my body and soul being swayed and mesmerized. I am suddenly one with the sand, the waves, and the wind. I hear waves of the Spirit speaking, I taste the salty air of desire to never leave, I see a sample of the mighty expanse of creation I’ve only begun to experience. I smell a myriad of odors so unique to the ocean, and I wonder if the incense of world prayers go up in a similar mix. And I feel – oh do we ever feel – warm sand and sun, cool breezes, emotions inexplicable, tickled with the presence of everything out of our ordinary.

At first, I feel terribly heavy and unsteady as I walk in the moving sand. But then it begins to work its magic; the warmth, the designs left by all who’ve touched it, and as the waves roll over my feet I feel myself settling in, anchored by the sand that has shifted around to cradle my feet. Magic. And I wonder, how does it know where to stop, to keep from sweeping all the world right off its feet? In another couple of engulfing waves, my feet begin to feel trapped and I know that it was a false feeling of stability.

I like to sit in one of those short chairs, just barely clearing the sand, you know the ones that some of us find more difficult to get up our of than to drop down into – just in reach of the waves. Some waves reach your feet, cooling, refreshing, tantalizing you to stay and enjoy; to experience the thrill of what treasures may be washed up. Others surprise you and before you know it, you are up to your chest in a splash of salt, sand and shrieks of joy. But evening advances and brings with it higher waters until we gradually become engulfed by the ocean if we don’t move out of its way. A likeness of which we may see in the world as it will surely advance little by little, with pretentious promises of pleasure, shrieking our names, calling us out into it to be drowned in its pride and passions.

How often do we stand amid the world, allowing it to wash over and around us until we are near helpless to pull apart from its hold? Our God, Who created all this foreverness of ocean prevented the waves from joining hands and making one devastatingly powerful wash that would wipe out an entire landscape. He set limits to where the waves may wash. (“Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band; when I fixed My limit for it, and set bars and doors; when I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!’ “ Job 38: 8-11 NKJV) And, He has set boundaries for how much the prince and powers of this world may overtake His people today. (“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”. I Cor. 10:13) Aside from how absolutely beautiful these waves are, there is admittedly the potential for ugly brute force. As long as we remember to be “in the world”, (or in the ocean waves), and not be “of the world”, (or to be overcome by the waves), we are safe. People on coastlands are cautioned, though sometimes too late, or unheeded, to move to safer, higher grounds and be saved from the mighty rushing water. And so are we cautioned; our magnificent creator didn’t leave us alone to sink or swim. He handed us the ultimate guide in safety; because He knew we would necessarily as well as by choice, be in the world, just as I simply cannot stay out of the ocean.

In any case, from rising flood waters to the frolicking waves at beach’s edge, there is safety in holding onto something stable, of moving back up the beach, out of the reach of the waves. Likewise, the Saviour lugged the heavy cross of salvation to lift us up out of the world, that we may be in it, able to enjoy the awesome variety and wonders of the natural world, but remain unspotted by the wickedness of it.(Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27 ESV) We can be in it, exert influence, help and heal, and by the grace of God, be brought out. Out of satan’s reach, out of the sinking sand, raised to walk on higher ground, by the blood of Jesus, praise His name!

From the song “Sun of my Soul”, words by John Keble (w. 1820):  “…til in the ocean of thy love, we lose ourselves in heaven above.”Resized_20171014_180802

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Beauty at the Back Door

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I hate to bring you in through the back door, with the dried pea hulls, dead spiders, and bugs a billion, but here is where my Happy Monday moment came to me. Unexpected little pop ups throughout your day can be inconvenient, or perhaps pleasantly impossible to ignore. Either way, I encourage you to stop and – yes, literally – smell the flowers. Even if, and you know it happens, the flowers carry with them a host of hurdles to jump. Thorns, bees, a little pollen up your nose, or the vast array of weeds that do their best to hinder our floral pleasure, can take the shape of a flat tire, forgotten lunch, insufficient fund notices, or any of a  million things you can name right now that may have popped up from day-to-day.

As I hustled through my list (yes I do actually have to have a check-off list to get from point A to point B by the end of the day), I was making my way through the garage, which is a hurdle in and of itself, to take a basket of washed sheets to the clothes line. Please don’t fault me for not taking advantage of the dryer on a busy day, because the time it takes to line dry and bring back in a load of bed linens is small compared to the reward; the fragrance is WAY worth it! So, as I side-ways scooted my way past the car and opened the door to the back yard, an unexpected impasse to my path was met. Over a couple of days, the Rock and Roll rose bush had sprouted two branches that took off in their own direction – across the doorway of the garage. Well, I know they didn’t actually grow to that length in a couple of days, but I hadn’t noticed them yet. So, with a recent rain the new leaves and blooms took on enough weight to cause them to bend into my path. In my prior haste, I’d only made note to myself that I really need to cut that bush back, with the dropping leaves, and scarcely a bloom causing it to be more of a patio problem, than pretty. So what, you are wondering, is the problem with the two new stems? Getting past them with a loaded laundry basket in one arm, and avoiding the thorns with the other. Simply, I was slightly inconvenienced, because I was not turning around and making my way back across that car to go another route. Nor was I about to risk damaging the rose branches! So, I gently brushed them aside, made my way to the line and back, and then I noticed the intense color of the roses, unlike the faded ones at this late date of summer. I stopped and inhaled the beauty of what a tired old raggedy overgrown September rose bush had to offer. Indescribable. A perfume only God can make. And I just stopped, and said “wow, what can You do with me Lord, a tired old raggedy overgrown autumn soul?” He gave me this beauty at my back door, and He gives us a thousand a day. Be encouraged to know he can use us, all of us, in any season, to His glory.

While waiting for that flat tire to be fixed, if you are like me and never learned to do that for yourself, notice the strength in the hands and arms of the one changing the tire. Or, just enjoy a moment to catch a glimpse of the sky while you wait. Either way, there’s bound to be beauty in some of that. And while you’re at it, thank God you weren’t flying down the interstate when it went flat. If someone (yes that would be me) forgot their lunch, sneak in a smiley face and take it to them, or buy their lunch, and watch the glow of gratitude in their eyes. As for insufficient fund notices, I don’t have to tell you how beautiful pay-day is! Actually I have had those bad news bears to make their fiery way to my flaming face before I figured out I have to keep a hidden pad within the account that I do not show in my balance. That took care of that! But even in one of those hideous situations, there was the beauty of knowing I could depend on my good husband to pitch in some funds; also there was the beauty of our home town bank forgiving and waiving the fee on the first offense. Enough personal data!

There really is so much unexpected beauty that makes its way to the door of our hearts. Being invited to a group bible study, and finding an answer to a hidden weight in your heart; or taking the dog ‘out’ ONE MORE TIME, and finding the yard full of Eastern Bluebirds; reaching over to the roughened gnarled hand beside you and finding the security and love of the past 43 years; all these and so many more you could name, are examples of unexpected pleasures that came with a price. Or a leash.

Not long ago, I was going through the McDonald’s line to buy that one-dollar large Diet Coke I don’t need, and decided to buy a couple of large iced teas also, to take to a couple who were working at their newly purchased lake house. At the window, the employee said, “someone in a couple of cars ahead of you paid for two of these already”.  At times, there is so much beauty at the door, I can’t even do a good deed!

I made one of my very infrequent visits to a local nursing home lately. I was thinking, I just have to do this, how would I feel if I were there, this won’t take too long, etc. etc, like I know some of you have thought, too. Right? Just as I entered the room of a gentleman I’ve grown to love over the past few years, his sweet wife was leaving. She said, “Oh, good, he was feeling sort of blue because I’ve got to go before dark.” So, I sat down and just melted into the beauty of his blue eyes, as they brimmed with tears from time to time. Occasionally he would take a breath and let it out, but looking around, he couldn’t think of how to say what he might have wanted to say. He sobbed a bit when he told me it got pretty lonely there; but when I asked about his grandsons he smiled and his eyes sparkled. When I told him I was about to go visit someone else, he perked up some and said, “oh, they live here too?” So after I could no longer keep from commenting on his beautiful eyes, he chuckled and thanked me, and said, “you have pretty eyes, too.” Whether he meant it or not is insignificant; my heart was full! How could I ever again think of a nursing home visit as anything other than a blessing? Beauty at the door.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 a)

“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin: and yet I say to you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” ( Matthew 6:28-29 )

Happy Monday!

Happy Birthday Mama

September 16, 2017

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You’re a gentle giant in my heart; still a star in my mind.

Sixty four years since our start, and no-one better could I find!

I’d like to go out ‘bumming’, like we did on Saturdays before.

I’d love to hear you humming that one tune uniquely yours.

You lovingly built, and feathered, and tended my first nest,

and I know even more than ever, it was a start to stand all tests!

I miss your laughter and scolding, your cheeks so soft to touch,

I knew without even asking, that you loved me more than much.

Oh why can’t you read my pages, why can’t we grow old together?

You live in my garden of ages where we learn and love forever.

Love you ‘muchy’ , Trisha

 

 

 

PARTIAL ECLIPSE and POP ROCKS

PARTIAL ECLIPSE OF THE DAY, AND POP ROCKS

Here or there. Partly and/or totally obscuring the sun’s presence has put the moon in a prominent position of importance that it hasn’t enjoyed in many years, nor will it for years yet to come. As it turned out that old moon had a strong influence on many decisions of the day. Today, August 21, 2017, has been a day planned for, enjoyed, and discussed mutually by a nation known for its varied interests and opinions. Here in our little piece of the nation, our county was divided, north in the region of totality, with south being 99% totality. I live in the South. I had ample opportunity to travel a few miles north where I could have seen the total eclipse, but was invited to view the partial eclipse with a sweet group of girls I call sister, niece and great nieces. Now, with all the hype I read concerning travel caution and crowds, and my being a fairly unexcitable person (save that thought for later), the choice was easy to spend that time with family. I’ll admit I was thinking this is likely the only time my husband and I will get to experience such a thing together; but he refused to get enthused about it all, and I wasn’t even sure he would go outside to view the eclipse. The cute text I’d received three days earlier was too irresistible anyway to miss the ‘eclipse party’. I’ll partly eclipse the text to read you the cute part: “We are having Sundrop, Sunchips, Moonpies, Pop Rocks, and GF sun cupcakes and ham cheese sandwiches.” I took along an 8-pack of Sunny D, and chose Swiss cheese in honor of the lunar surface (smile). I believe my niece, Jessi and her girls planned that menu.

Safety first. Viewing the eclipse was the topic I heard most, with concern for everyone’s vision. There is something about my planning ahead skills that gets eclipsed by day-to-day routine rubble that never seems to produce anything extraordinary. I’d say the first blessing for my day was the planning ahead skills of my brother-in-law and my sister who knew me all too well and saved eclipse viewing eyewear for my husband and me. Thank you Bob and Kathy.

Nothing new! We awoke this morning with a little more energy than usual, something kin to the first day of summer vacation, or Christmas morning, depending on the kind of kid you were. I kept thinking this is like an unprecedented holiday that everyone shares. I also wondered who’d take the blame if they had missed the timing, or the date in predicting this event; so much for my knowledge of astronomy. I’ll admit a little thought crept into my head about international enemies and how much of our population would be crammed into a band of land across the country. But I eclipsed that thought way before it began to broil. The ‘moon’ that overshadowed it was thinking about how the planets, sun, moon and stars are just up there doing their thing with no regard to our scurrying around to get a peek at it all. God the Creator just spoke this beyond amazing process into action to keep us revolving from one day into another and one life into another and season into season and it almost takes my breath away! But for the words of Ecclesiastes and Amos I would be at a loss for what to think; lost in a world of opinions, superstitions and instability. But the Preacher of Ecclesiastes who gave his heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven (1:13) said, “And there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See this is new’? It has already been in ancient times before us” (1:9-10). Whew, this is no big deal, to the universe anyway. I know it’s all in good hands – the only hands big enough to hold it – as Amos a prophet for God said. “Seek Him that made Pleiades and Orion; He turns the shadow of death into morning and makes the day dark as night; …the Lord is His name. (Amos 5:8)

Modern technology. With the totality of truth and the Spirit to comfort me, I drove into town with more gratitude for modern technology than I’ve ever had. My son and daughter and I could experience a phenomena of our times together, apart. From Nashville, Tennessee to Golden Pond, Kentucky and myself between the two, we could text and talk our experiences as they developed. A last-minute scare with TV reports of fraudulent eyewear having been issued, caused my first series of fast-paced texting. I was perhaps somewhat excitable at that time. Between “be sure, be very sure…” texts and “what, how do we know…” questions, I experienced just a tad of panic. Thankfully that was eclipsed by a phone call from hubby stating he was indeed on our own patio watching what we were watching too; and using his eclipse glasses properly!

Generational gap. It seems what to one generation is big, changes almost as fast as the 1500 MPH land speed of the moon’s path. This also was brought out by the television news anchors as they mentioned songs with lyrics mentioning the sun. One of the songs they selected was “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” to which I began singing along. My ten-year old great-niece looked at me kind of oddly, and I said, “you’ve heard that, right?” Not even the mention of Bill Withers or Stevie Wonder gained a glimpse of recognition. Her mom later said, “She didn’t even like the DMX version of that song”. Uh, the what??

Thank Goodness for little girls. My misunderstanding of the exact purpose for having eclipse viewing ‘glasses’ became apparent (I mean, why can’t people keep themselves from looking up into the sun anyway) when at last Katja and Izzy persuaded me to step off the patio and look at what was the beginning of the solar eclipse. Oh MY! So, THAT’S what the glasses are for! There in my vision was a golden globe with a small bite out of its 2’oclock. I was hooked. Excited. Amazed. I tapped their mom, on her phone as all her age would be, and said, “You have to see this!” I lost my unexcitable characteristic for the day. We all did. Still we agreed that it would be more sensible to stay and see nearly a total eclipse than to load up and risk missing something just to drive to a location within the edge of totality. Kathy said by the time the girls argued over which glasses were whose, or lost, and so forth, it wouldn’t be worth it. We were happily enjoying our patio lunch, and actually seeing what had been shown us on TV that we would see, when IT happened. At 15 minutes before the peak of total eclipse, a big cloud came over the sun; our excitement was eclipsed in an instant. Like a band of storm chasers, we phoned (no answer at my house) to locate the nearest sunshiny spot, and took off, split into two cars. I laugh now at the sight of the youngest of our bunch grabbing her booster carseat and running across the yard to catch Mimi’s car just as it almost backed over her! But grace covered us in our giggling grasp to save the day.

And now it is history. Parked at the Murray Bank we stood leaning on her car, gazing through cardboard framed glasses at a disappearing sun. Our voices grew louder, and our comments more incredulous. I couldn’t decide what was more odd, the movement of the moon across the sun, or the appearance of deepening dusk, at 1:20 in the afternoon! And then it hit me. The truly incredible thing of it all was the way the sun and the moon pulled us out of our routine into a ring of childlike fun and games; that it put us into a festive frame of mind and brought us together to share a wonder of the universe. Of course, Aunt Trisha had to throw in a word for the Creator of it all, saying “and that’s just a part of how God keeps all the planets in their paths”. However, as we drove back I realized Izzy was way more interested in the way her Pop Rocks sizzled on her tongue than any path of the planets. What a neat day!

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”!