Monday, October 31, 2011

Can you spell STRESS?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.......James 1:2

Pretty amazing, this verse, when you consider that it was written by Jesus brother James, after he became a Disciple and head of the church in Jerusalem......after Jesus resurrection.

That didn't really sink in to me until I did alittle digging into which James actually wrote it, there were several in the Bible.

Last night was stressful and there were a few misshaps. There always are while traveling with an Alzheimer's person. But miraculously there were also moments of joy along with the stress.

We had a wonderful meal by candelight outside.

Elaine tearfully said that......"I can't let her change who I am, I have to stay myself."

She deals with so much guilt. I do my best to tell her that the guilt is false, but she thinks she has to be perfectly in control and perfectly patient at all times. And that is not humanly possible. But she still trys. I fear that the trying is what drives people over the edge.

Well, that is all for now. Pulling out of the KOA soon....that is, as soon as I get ready. They are all waiting for the blogger to finish.....Sigh.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Holding onto the good

Joy and Peace in Believing by William Cowper
Sometimes a light surprises
The Christian while he sings;
It is the Lord who rises
With healing on His wings;
When comforts are declining,
He grants the soul again
A season of clear shining,
To cheer it after rain.
In holy contemplation
We sweetly then pursue
The theme of God's salvation,
And find it ever new;
Set free from present sorrow,
We cheerfully can say,
E'en let the unknown to-morrow
Bring with it what it may!

It can bring with it nothing,
But He will bear us through;
Who gives the lilies clothing,
Will clothe His people too;
Beneath the spreading heavens
No creature but is fed;
And He who feeds the ravens
Will give His children bread.

Though vine nor fig tree neither
Their wonted fruit shall bear,
Though all the field should wither,
Nor flocks nor herds be there:
Yet God the same abiding,
His praise shall tune my voice;
For, while in Him confiding,
I cannot but rejoice.

I was looking for a poem about see, today we are packing up and driving 12 hours to see family in California. Home.......

We have no idea how it will go. Elaine desperately needs a break from her Mom but that was not possible so she is going with us.

We are going in the Motor home and she has a tendency to get carsick.

She refused to go the other day and then decided she would.

Packed and unpacked 5 times.

We have Dramamine and patches. There are no illusions here. It will not be a true vacation, but sometimes you have to "get outta dodge" anyway.

I am praying for peace for all involved, and for a caretaker who is dangerously close to being at her limit. Actually I think she passed that by awhile back.

I will be in touch. Have laptop and camera, will travel.

We continue with Paul admonition to "cling to what is good."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

God Whispers Things

And the LORD will continually guide you, And satisfy your desire in scorched places, And give strength to your bones; And you will be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail. Isaiah 58:11

Sometimes God whispers things in the dark and silent moments between breaths.....and prayers. I was feeling so dry this morning. As dry as toast. Hollowed out. Like someone took my dreams and hopes for the future and blew them away with a puff of air.
I know I have Heaven.......I know what awaits me is better than anything I can imagine. I have nothing but hope there. But I need hope now, and for the rest of my life. Hope that it will all work out. Hope to fill in the holes.
He whispered........"Those holes and empty places you feel? That fear of the future? Those holes are all the better for Me to fill."
Sometimes He does empty us out so He can fill us with Him.
The reason I know it was Him?
It was still
It was small
It was immediate
And it put my fears to only He can.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It Takes a Village (of Old Ladies)

I am the fire upon the hearth,
I am the light of the good sun,
I am the heat that warms the earth,
Which else were colder than a stone
Taken from the poem, "Any Woman" by Katherine Tynan

It was a rose of the Grandiflora variety......Love is the name of it. That was all it took to spark a memory of a special lady named Marie Day. And she day I mean. She gave our family one of these beautiful rose bushes....she had a passion for roses. It bloomed for years.....a creamy pinkie white in the inside with flaming red on the outside.

She did other things too. Special things for me and my Mom. She knew I loved lace, and that I loved to put clothes on my furniture. She made me the most wonderful embroidered dresser scarves. And pillowcases with colorful flowers. For me, the girl across the block. And she made the greatest zucchini bread. She was a sweetheart. She and her husband were fixtures in our neighborhood.

We have all grown up with them. These venerable and wise elderly ladies of our neighborhoods, our villages. Church ladies and non-church know the ones. They save pennies in a sock to give to the needy in the community. They hold down the fort, the neighborhood, the pew. They are pillars. Pillars of strength to their families whom they have given their lives, and not in joy. Their strength is knowing they have made others bloom.

They are tireless and work circles around everyone else. They fall into bed exhausted and sometimes they cry at night from carrying the weight of the world.......but only late at night when everyone else has been fed, comforted, fixed.

Then there was our neighbor Alma Nystrom. She also grew roses and the most wonderful pink Azaleas and Gladiolas, towers of color. She loved when I went over and picked some. She baked the best scratch cakes I have ever tasted. And every year.........Fluffy white pillows on a plate, the best Divinity I have ever tasted. I think of her every year I make it.

I will never forget the horror when our dog decided to lift his leg on her once when she was standing in the yard. I don't even remember her getting upset about it. Maybe she never noticed?

She had her grief.....lost her only son to diabetes too young, and that was after his wife left him. She was a part of our lives for a long time. Her sisters would come up the drive like a mini parade before they all went to church together, all looking like they just walked out of a style magazine. Then they would all come back and settle in Alma's kitchen for a small glass of beer and lunch.

My Aunt had Mrs.Swall next door. She always had a cat settled on her lap and what impressed me the most? Candy hidden in her dresser.

All of them dear.....all of them gone. I miss them. so much.

One day I hope to grow into one of those gracious and kind ladies. I have much to live up to.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Miracle of the Promise

A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. C. S. Lewis

I was thinking this it's all a miracle. No matter what we have to go through, we are here. Someone had to think of us to bring us into existence. And maybe even if they didn't God did. It is a miracle that I believe, that any of us believes. And not only believe, because even the demons believe, but put that belief into something that started with a decision.

If someone had never taken me to church or told me about God, I have never have known that there was even a decision to be made.

Or that there was a God......and that He wanted a relationship with me.

If someone in your life thought it was important that you go to church, you need to thank God for them today. That they took you.

Maybe it was a stumbling blinding path they were tripping on themselves, or maybe it was a rock solid firm foundation. Whatever it was, they got you ready and somewhere in their hearts they thought it was right.......when many others were doing other things you were swinging your feet on a bench where you heard "the old old story, about how Christ left His home in glory."

and it planted a seed you could never quite forget.

I am thanking God today that no matter what I go through in this life, God cracked my heart open with the light of His love......and in all these years He has never stopped. Because I heard and answered the knock of a God who wanted to know me and live with me forever. And you.

"For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself." Acts 2:39

picture from google images

Monday, October 24, 2011

Multitudes on Monday

I'm not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way I have stopped physically counting. I posted gratefulness and thanksgiving, to be sure. I have said loud and long how I have remained oh so very thankful for all that God has done and has continued to do and I have......been grateful, that is. But I know now that the counting matters because each one is so important. And if you stop counting, before you know it they all run together and something is diminished.....lost in the shuffle.

It is Ann who made me realize this, in her book of One Thousand Gifts. You see, I didn't buy it right away; even though I was captivated by her blog from the first time I happened upon it. And even though I don't know her, I love her. The part of her that comes through her writing anyway........

There was one copy left at the clearance sale at Borders, and I should have bought it then. When I went back it was gone. So I bought it at Barnes and Noble at full price. I can only say that by page 14, the tears were streaming. It touched some deep place in me that no book has ever done in quite the same way. By page 27 it had paid for itself.

and I will probably buy more for friends and family. This book is not one to read casually, it's one to take when you are settling down for the night, or when you are settled and still on a rainy day, or at a corner table for one. I would keep tissues handy.

So thank you dear Ann, "without the fanciful e" for getting me to realize how important it is to keep the count alive.........

"Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good......." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-20

This is what stood out to me in this verse. I had always misread it! I had always replaced one word with another. God doesn't expect me to be thankful for all circumstances, but to be thankful in all circumstances. That changes the entire meaning. All this time I had saddled myself with a burden He never meant me to carry.

The count continues again.......thankful that someone comes to collect my with good soles, shoes that fit........Never having to have my feet touch the bare ground, unless I want them to.......that I have the money to pay bills........not losing the joy of simple things, being able to pause even while frustrated or angry to say a prayer of thanks to God for His creation, fresh brewed coffee, even better, people to share it with......a brand new book......that I can let some things slide that I never would before......elderly people around me who have not lost their zest for life or their gratitude for this good earth and their part in its joys and sorrows and last but not least, recapturing my joy in numbering these blessings #700-#713

Sunday, October 23, 2011

God Goes Where He's Wanted

A modern day evangelist lamented, "Whenever the Apostle Paul visited a city, the residents started a riot; when I visit, they serve tea."

The church in Thessalonica, like many of Paul's churches, was born amid violent upheaval. An angry mob took offense at Paul's work and chased him out of town, accusing him of causing "trouble all over the world." (Acts 17:6) From my introduction to the book of Thessalonians, with notes by Tim Stafford and Philip Yancey.

The curious phenomenon of church growth during times of intense persecution is reflected in these quotes from Christians in different parts of the world.

From a believer in Malaysia:

"We are so blessed because in Indonesia they are killing Christians, but here we just have to put up with discrimination and restrictions on our activities."

and from an Indonesian Christian....

"We're very blessed because in Malaysia, they can't freely publish the Gospel. Here we still can."

Philip Yancey has an interesting observation from his travels and interviews around the world talking to believers in many different cultures and countries.......

As I travel and also read church history, I have observed a pattern, a strange phenomenon of God "moving" geographically from place to place: from the Middle East to Europe to North America to the developing world. My theory is this: God goes where He's wanted.

Quotes and selections from the book, Finding God in Unexpected Places, I heartily recommend this book, what a blessing it was to read it.

I tend to agree with him.

But Jesus said, "A prophet is taken for granted in his hometown and his family." He didn't do many miracles there because of their hostile indifference. Matthew 13:58

Quotes and selections from the book, Finding God in Unexpected Places

Friday, October 21, 2011

The LORD is my light and my salvation;Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 21:1


Sometimes when words are few.....

A few pictures say some things in a different way......

A stroll around back can give a different perspective.....

A look above can make the heart sigh......
when words are few.

Lately I have found words difficult. They are all swirling around inside me but none will come out the right way. Be still, says the Lord.....And wait on Him. So until He brings the words, waiting is what I am doing.

Maybe we can wait together?

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living.Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. Psalm 27:13,14

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Confessions of a Church Mutt, a repost......

I confess I have a speckled lineage when it comes to my church experience. Personally, I don't believe God cares what denomination, if any, we attach ourselves to as long as it remains true to Biblical teaching. I think we can gather richness from each one, I know I have. However we dress it up or perform the ceremony what remains is God and His word. He alone knows the heart of a church.

I started out Baptist, then dabbled in the Episcopalian denomination for a short time, been a member of Assembly of God congregations, enjoyed many Methodist services with through my Grandfather, and Aunt. For the past ten or so years I've been part of a Non-denominational Christian church. Each one has added something to my Spiritual growth.........From each one I carry memories that have enriched my faith. In each one I have experienced God's grace. I have seen prayers answered, God's love flowing through people. I have seen the Holy Spirit change lives and do things not humanly possible.

I remember....magical paper sacks that we received after every Christmas pageant. I remember quaking on stage, trying to remember my one line from the Bethlehem scene. I think one time I actually cried and ran off stage....but after, we received a paper sack that held the same things every year; peanuts in the shell, buried within a hershey bar, and a roll of five flavor lifesavers, and an orange. I was always scared they would run out before they got to me. A walk down the aisle to start my journey with Christ.....

I remember seeing my Pastor in rubber waders at my Baptism, warm water swirling around my white baptism clothes, giving the confession of faith; never to be the same again. Strong biblical teaching from a pastor who loved digging into meanings of Greek and Hebrew. So many joyful hours of choir practice, where my Aunt and I sang on the Alto end.

I remember ice-cream socials on summer evenings in the Methodist church yard, all cakes made from scratch, with a man dipping ice-cream at the end of the line. The beautiful marbled sanctuary...they knew how to make a church look like a church in those days.

I remember the beautiful liturgy at St. John's Episcopal, learning when to sit and stand, knees creaking. The flip of the kneeler in the silence. People there who helped each other out after hours. I remember a spirit of love in the social hall after service when I saw Father Ray dancing a jig with a child one day. The tradition of the flowering of the cross at Easter, the Sacrifice giving way to the fragance of beauty and conquered death once and for all.

I remember prayer times, tears, laughter, and meeting wonderful people who loved God. Meeting God at the altar, prayers answered, hands lifted high, tears of communion. Learning about the gifts of the Spirit....(still have my notes) All of these precious times, a bit of Heaven on earth. A foretaste of glory to come....

Church; it's not perfect because it is made up of people. But it's God's church and still a place where you can find grace, forgiveness, and love.

"One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in His temple." Psalm 27:4

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Okra 101

As a West Coast "Yankee" I was never exposed to fresh Okra growing up. We had all other kinds of vegetables, but I just don't think anyone in my family knew what to do with it. On my Mom's side were mostly German/Russian, and all great cooks and bakers. They cooked a lot of potatoes, squash, sauerkraut and bratwurst, as well as dough in many and wondrous forms.....

But they never cooked any Okra.......
However, when you have a roommate who still has many family members in Texas, and a sprinkling in discover the joys of Okra, preferably right out of the garden.

Now I know it has a reputation for being tough......slimy.......and it is a bit stickery when you pick it.

But oh so beautiful when tossed in a bit of cornmeal, salt and pepper and fried in the pan.....not deep fried mind you. Just enough oil to make it about a half inch deep.

And, very not turn it until it is browned on one side.

When it is done right, like this, it is oh so tender and wonderful........a perfect side for any occasion.
One of God most misunderstood and wonderful creations from the garden.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Life is Good Because He is.......

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to Sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves......

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,

to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory....

 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1: 3-14

There is nothing I can add to this!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lord of our Harvest

Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. John 4:35

I have always wondered when people say they can't pray. I think, Why can't they? Praying is just talking to God. I have always felt, if you can't pray, then you need to pray about the fact that you can't pray......

Lately though, I have found a mountain standing in the way of my prayers. The mountain has a name and it's name is resentment. It snuck in while I wasn't looking. Like those weeds that choke out the Word, resentment has crept in and made itself at home in the corner of my heart. It thought I wouldn't notice it there.

Then I noticed another thing, a very miraculous thing.......Those tares that grow side by side with the wheat? They have not been able to choke out the Thanksgiving. It has become a way of life and now it seems I can't stop counting the blessings.

It is something Supernatural, and God Himself did it.

And now? When I focus on everything that the Lord has already given, I have a harvest where I thought there was none. It is a different harvest that the one I expected, and it seems the more I gather, the more the resentment is beat back into a dark corner where it belongs.

And here's another thing I noticed. Now when someone says they just can't pray?

I understand.

He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. Psalms 126:6

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A repost from 2009......
Jeremiah 31:1-6
1 "At that time," declares the LORD,
"I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they will be my people."

2 This is what the LORD says:
"The people who survive the sword
will find favor in the desert;
I will come to give rest to Israel."

3 The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying:
"I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.

4 I will build you up again
and you will be rebuilt, O Virgin Israel.
Again you will take up your tambourines
and go out to dance with the joyful.

5 Again you will plant vineyards
on the hills of Samaria;
the farmers will plant them
and enjoy their fruit.

6 There will be a day when watchmen cry out
on the hills of Ephraim,
'Come, let us go up to Zion,
to the LORD our God.' "

When I read Jeremiah 30-33 the compassion of God seemed to leap from the page this morning as I was reading in my "prayer closet" I selected just a portion above....when I think of how many times Israel turned their backs on God and yet, He reached out to them with hope and healing, longing for their restoration.
What are you exiled from today? A child, a church, God, a marriage, a friendship? It seems in life there are many forms of exile we face, but God seeks to restore us; always there is hope. Cling to His word, there is promise there.
I close with this verse, again from Jeremiah, 33:3...."Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things,which you do not know."

Friday, October 14, 2011

The God Who Sees

"Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God who sees”; for she said, “Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?” Genesis 16:13

El Roi.....The God who sees. One of the names of God. Isn't it wonderful that we have a God who sees us? Who notices what we do?

We all want to be noticed. Even nature commands our attention........

It invites us to look.....deeper. And it always points toward its Maker.........the Grand Designer of us all.

Our God is the God who has searched us and known us......just as we want to be searched and known by others.....especially the ones we love.

Something in us wants to be remembered........and we want others to remember the ones we have loved......even little cats spelled with a "K"

Few words this week of those "treading water" weeks.

As timing would have it I came down with a killer cold the day before I got a new trainee at work. So I have been drugged up with Dayquil and fortified with Vitamin C during the day, and knocked out at night so I can sleep and get up by 4 am.

Two more days to go......God is good. He has kept me going. I can almost see the end of the week in sight.

Prayers please for my caregiving friend who just may head off to parts unknown really soon if she doesn't get some relief......

all pics taken in and around Payson, Arizona by me

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I see the moon,
The moon sees me
God bless the moon,
And God bless me.......old nursery rhyme
When Elaine first noticed the dome of this moon barely cresting the top of the Superstitions, she pointed and said, "See you later." I grabbed the camera and went to the back gate, which was malfunctioning (again). I did a very fast three point turn and by the time I got across the street to the golf course, it was already this high in the sky.........
I promptly forgot everything I learned in my photography seminar about ISO, Exposure modes and all the rest. In my haste to get the shot, I threw my camera back in auto mode. What can I say? It was just coming up too dang fast!
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. Psalm 8: 3-5

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Using our talents to give back.......

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." Mark 16:15

At the end of the first half of the photography seminar I had the pleasure of attending on Sunday, my brain had so many facts whirling around in it, it felt like the inside of a pin ball machine. It was so exciting to see the world renowned photography of David and Ally McKay right there in front of us on a big screen. After our halftime break the lights dimmed as everyone gathered back into our seats. I was sitting there in a worship kind of mode, it being Sunday morning.

How surprised was I to hear the music of Brandon Heath and Leeland singing these lyrics along with a breathtaking backdrop of unbelievable photography of children and people in need all over the world:

"You live among the least of these, the weary and the weak. And it would be a tragedy for me to turn away.........."

 When people first sat down there was much lively talking, but as the scenes and lyrics spilled across the screen, everyone started to quiet could they not?

"All my needs You have supplied, when I was dead, You gave me life. How could I not give it way so freely?"  

As the song went on, photos were shown of people and children picking through a garbage dump......and a breathtaking one of a tattered pair of worn shorts that a child was still inside....scene after scene. I wondered where all this was going because this was an overtly Christian message I was seeing to my complete joy and wonderment. I wasn't expecting it here.

"Use my hands, Use my feet, to make Your Kingdom come to the corners of the earth, until Your work is done.......Cause faith without works is dead, and on the cross, Your blood was shed
So how could we not give it away so freely?"

Then a scene of someone praying.....and a cross. Whoa. Am I in church? And here was a mixed group of around 400 people seeing this. The message couldn't be ignored. It was loud and clear. As the song ended, a very emotional David McKay, famous photographer, couldn't speak.

He said he gets emotional everytime at this part of the seminar. He went on to explain that as he and Ally went all over the world and saw such tremendous need, they realized they couldn't not do something. So they formed Vision Culture. A way of linking up individuals who love photography and want to help people at the same time.

I thought how great this was. They had all the acclaim and all the recognition, but they wanted something more. To help people in need.

I left that seminar with more than tools to be a better photographer, I left inspired that people were moved to do more, even with everything they had. They felt moved to give back........I would encourage anyone with an interest or love for photography go to their site. You won't be disappointed.

And I'll
Follow You into the homes of the broken
Follow You into the world
I'll meet the needs for the poor
And needy, God
I'll follow You into the world
If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? James 2:16

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Doctor will see you now....

I put this picture of my niece Lauryn on my screen saver at work because I knew it would make me smile all week......Each time I booted up there she was, all suited up and ready for her first patient. I smiled just as big this morning as last week when it was first forwarded from my brother last week. Now I ask you, would you worry about what she might do with a needle?

Other things of note......Saw my first 2012 Beetle last weekend. Wish I could say new cars didn't tempt me but this one did. I can still remember when I brought my current new "Buggy" home in 2005....I had wanted one for so long, well, since they first came out in 1998! I don't like to think of myself as fickle.....but I will not lie, I wish I would have been on Oprah's favorite things show this year to get one......

I would name it Ruby Sue.......Just FYI

Wishing I could see some brilliant orange and red leaves against the sky today, but I am very grateful that it is cooler here and the season for open windows again. That makes all the difference! Ate outside for the very first time this was a blessed event.

I am looking forward to my Photography seminar tomorrow. It will be very exciting to learn more of what I can actually do with my camera. Thank you Elaine for buying me such a generous gift.....

I will close with the Message version of Romans 12:1,2

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Impossibly Rich

The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost. ~G.K. Chesterton

I scooped them up and stacked them in a little pile, my Birthday cards from August. I had them all sitting on the top of my dresser, face out. It was like being smiled at each day. Finally I decided it was time to dust, so afterwards I went to store them away. Instead I read them again......

I couldn't do it. I couldn't put them away just yet. Not when I read the words and felt the love behind them all. I wasn't quite ready to let them go.....

I get cards every year and every year I treasure them. But his year, they meant more. Maybe because I needed them more. Maybe because when I stack myself up against the fruits of the Spirit, like I did this morning, I see where I am lacking.

I see how far I have to go......But when I read the words in these cards, the lives and the love behind them lurch at my heart. I read:

"You are the best sister a brother could ask for and I think of you everyday." My brother was sweet to me when I was small. He held my hand, walked me to school and didn't let me out of his sight....but then adolesence came and well, let's just say, he was in the cool crowd and I was not. Now as we get older we are recapturing time lost. He has remembered what we had. That he has a sister that loves him, has always loved him.

And from my Mom....."You are my special present in life, thank you for always being there for me." Yet, so many moments I worry that I am 12 hours away and not there nearly enough. I worry about all those times I am not there. But she makes me feel like I am.

And from my Aunt, I would recognize her perfectly slanted penmanship anywhere. Even though she is suffering right now the sadness of a husband in the latter stages of dementia and is now rattling around in a lonely house....she writes a hearlfelt paragraph.......she has kept her postive attitude and healthy sense of humor intact.

And from Diane.....she writes with love that God has placed me in her life, thanking me for being the friend and sister she never had.

And I know my Dad went to the store and hand picked this card out, it's a pink bicycle with a verse from Deuteronomy 14:2....."The Lord has chosen you to be His treasured possession." He chose the bike because one of the memories he treasures in his heart is when he taught me to ride a bike. All those hours running along behind me in case I fell....and me looking back to make sure he was still there. He says: "Now you have become the strong anchor or faith and stability for Mom and I."

........and I guess it means so much because too many times, all I see is how I am lacking and how I miss the mark.

But these people I love and who love me, see the fruit of the Spirit in me somehow. This amazes me. How could I feel anything other than impossibly wealthy?

I will tuck the cards away another day, probably soon, just not today.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22, 23

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Eight Words

Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because........  
      All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
But the word of the LORD endures forever.”
1 Peter 1:

I have felt out of words lately.....and that's okay because sometimes you just like drinking things in.

There is a time for contemplating....watching......listening......absorbing.
There is a season for that as well as writing. After all, before the writing comes the feeling. So, this morning I thought since I had none of my own words, I would go to God's word.

And somehow, that seemed to set things in motion.

The Word brings the life, and the life gives birth to words.

God stirred my heart up and I saw people around me differently. Sometimes I need my eyes opened. Well, most of the time I do.

I went to get gas and drive my car through the wash. For some reason when I got gas it didn't give me the option of getting a wash so I went inside. The nice gal I see in there all the time was busily working away. I always notice how helpful she is. I explained the situation......and as usual she was very accommodating. We talked and joked, and I went to get my wash.

While the soap suds were flowing down my window........God kept bringing her to my mind.

The Spirit said, you should let her know that you appreciate her....that she is doing a good job. I said, I will tell her next time.

He said, maybe she needs it today.

I went back in. I let her know that what she does is noticed......appreciated.

As I was drying my car I saw a man coming out of the store. He smiled sheepishly, as if he wanted to be friendly......once on the way in the store and once on the way out....I think he wanted to say something nice. But I got the feeling that maybe he didn't know if it would be appropriate. Men have to worry about that now. About how we might take it, I guess. I gave a smile back.

He was driving a cement truck. Just a hard working guy on his way to a job. Not an easy job either. He touched me. It touches me how he is part of me, part of our country. How we are all part of each other when it comes right down to it.

Maybe I am feeling a bit protective of our country lately. It seems almost popular to beat up on least it seems that way to me. We are all just doing the best we can here. Dealing with prices going up on just about everything we buy.

But we won't give up. We will keep going, keep trying. We will do the best we can........Because it's the right thing to do. Because giving up is not what America has ever been about.  

So tomorrow I may get impatient and suck in my breath at how others drive on the freeway, but right now I love everyone. And I think it all started when His word sparked a fire that leapt to life with these eight words:

Love one another fervently with a pure heart.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nature as prayer......

In an interview with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Dan Rather asked her, "What do you say to
God when you pray?" She thoughtfully said, "I listen." Flustered, he tried again. "Well, then what does God say?" Mother Teresa smiled......."He listens."

Yesterday I felt like the whole day was a prayer. God spoke through His creation once again......

..........and I listened. Nature speaks more clearly of God than anything else I can think of. If we only open our eyes and ears and let Him speak through it. So I give you some photos from yesterday's trip north to a place I used to live.

The Psalmist wisely says......
"The Heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the works of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech.....

And night to night reveals knowledge.

There is no speech, nor are there words; where their voice is not heard.

Indeed, God has touched every last corner of the earth with His nature, and only the coldest heart is untouched by it.....

Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world.....

In them He has placed a tent for the sun.

It's rising is from one end of the heavens, and its circuit to the other end of the world.

Down to the smallest detail........God has brushed our earth with His divine fingerprints. It is up to us to find His is everywhere!

My soul exults. I breathe a prayer of thanksgiving once again for His marvelous works.

All pictures taken in and around Payson, Arizona and Tonto Natural Bridges State Park

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Waking up in the Desert

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.
For I am about to do something new.
See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
Isaiah 43:18,19

The rest of the world is tucking in......preparing for the winter,
enjoying things like crisp mornings and the smell of woodsmoke.
And hot cider.

The bloom of color on tips of leaves,
and the anticipation watching them twirl down.......
orange frost crunch underfoot, and
Pumpkins peek out from green patch along the country road to town.

In the desert we are just waking up again.

The barbeques come back out.
We scalp summer lawn down to bare dirt.
and Home Depot sells manure by the ton
as our desert turns golf green. I hang my fall foliage indoors,
Set ceramic pumpkins here and there....
Hang my wreath of Autumn on the door
and get out the harvest flag.

The joy of fall wiggles glad in my heart.

I remember it.
Flannel shirts.....
cracking walnuts with my Mom in the garage
I cracked and we both sorted.

I mornings
bright maple leaves against brilliant sky.
Wind that bites.
And wood piled in the driveway.

As I plant my perennials out front in the warm sun
Fall is alive in my heart.
and for some reason I can't stop singing.

Today I celebrate desert fall
Because God called it all good......
and it is.
Very good.

photos from google images