Retirement is Beautiful

 Today it felt like I imagined retirement might feel!
 My husband golfed all morning.
I spent the time sorting through WAY TOO MUCH jewelry!
It felt good to untangle chains, pair up earrings, and bag up a bunch to give/throw away.
 It also felt good to pick up my computer from the shop
(the second time)
and find it working!
 Late this afternoon, we headed to Fort Wayne to stroll around the Extension Gardens.
 These are the sights we saw!
 Afterwards, on the way to Taco Bell, I realized it was Friday evening 
and I had not "worried" about selecting the songs for worship, what needed
to be included in the church bulletin, or many of the other details that used to occupy
my mind throughout the week as I worked alongside my pastor-husband.
 Overwhelmed with gratitude I am!
Retirement IS beautiful.

Whatever "Normal" Is

I've been gone.
A computer crash and my husband's final sermon & retirement celebration last week
were followed by a mini-vacation.
We crossed the Mississippi River
to gather with our three children and their families....
including our eleven grandchildren.
The time together was short,
but we packed in a visit to a great zoo (St. Louis) on a VERY hot day,
games (Bedtime Bingo, Bible Outburst, Racko),
and a lot of swimming.
 
My favorite photos?  These two....
Cousins' Connections
Zoo Wonders
I have my computer again, but everything needs to be reinstalled.
Few processes appear the same.
It might be awhile until I'm back to normal!
 (Whatever "normal" is.)

Hitting the Reset Button

One of several clocks around our house that need reset...
While visiting a blog that I frequently find interesting, I read the following:  In Japan, one’s lifetime is measured in 60-year cycles. When you reach the age of 60, you celebrate birth once more, returning to the world as a newborn baby.  Mikio Hasui says this year, when he turns 60, he will hit the reset button on life.

Somewhere along the line, I think I forgot to hit the reset button! (And where HAVE the last six-and-a-half years gone?!?)   So this morning when I read the following challenge from St. Alphonsus de Liguori, I decided to HIT it!


Let us make up for lost time.  Let us give to God the time that remains to us.


Perfect in Imperfection

While strolling through our yard, viewing the latest blooms (and weeds),
my husband took this photo.  
I couldn't get over the beauty in spite of the petals that had been broken off.
Perfect Imperfection is the title I gave it.
The next morning I traveled the familiar miles to visit my mother
in the Special Care Unit of a retirement community.
On the way, feeling a bit ordinary and wearing the "same old, same old",
I stopped at Dollar General to pick up some shaving gel for my husband. 
The young clerk complimented me on my outfit!
Later, while sitting at the dinner table with Mother, 
one of the residents at another table stared at me and said,
"What a beautiful color of green!"  (My shirt)
Not too much later, one of the nurses complimented me on my hair style.
Maybe the Lord knew I needed a "pick-me-up"!
Each comment made me feel special.
Three in a day added up to make me feel - well - "Perfect" in my Imperfections.
Lesson?  Never underestimate the power of a sincere compliment 
OR
the Perfection of Imperfection!
 "So then, encourage one another and build each other up, as you are doing." 
I Thessalonians 5:11

Back and Forth

"Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company." (Lord Byron)
"Then letters came in but three times a week: indeed in some places in Scotland where I have have stayed when I was a girl, the post came in but once a month,--but letters were letters then; and we made great prizes of them, and read them and studied them like books.  Not the post comes rattling in twice a day, bringing short jerky notes, some without beginning or end, but just a little sharp sentence, which well-bred folks would think too abrupt to be spoken."   (Elizabeth Gaskel, My Lady Ludlow)
"I consider it a good rule for letter-writing to leave unmentioned what the recipient already knows, 
and instead tell him something new." (Sigmund Freud)
Frankie lives but a few miles up the road from me,
but her health and age limit her social life.
When I discovered this, I became more intentional about letter writing.
Back and forth; back and forth.
I'm not sure which one of us enjoys it more...
"A little groundhog came up the ramp to my door last week--
Guess he just wanted to say 'hello'--"
"To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart." (Phyllis Theroux)
"Hoping you's will have a nice July 4th.  I'll spend my 4th at home--"

“Becoming an effective letter writer means analyzing each situation individually and choosing the form of correspondence accordingly.”  (Scribendi, How to Write a Letter)

Hovering Here


White, billowing clouds
Hovering lazily
Without clue of origin
Or destination
Calm and majestic mystery
(rlg, 7/1/2015)

This is yesterday's sky over Fairlawn Haven Retirement Community (a fine-sounding name for nursing home/independent living/special care unit/rehab facility, etc.).  My mother and I spent an hour or so sitting under its canopy.  I am so "lost" in this week--have NO idea what day it is. I feel like one of these huge clouds that hovered lazily in the incredibly blue sky seeming to have come from nowhere and going nowhere. (Of course, I DO know where I came from and where I'm going.....just not where I "am" at the moment).  

Bent but not Broken

Bent but not broken
Fields of corn
Bowing
Silently waiting the future
That only He knows. 
(rlg)

We looked out solemnly as our car passed miles and miles of fields on Sunday.
Saturday's storms (rain and wind) had clearly taken their toll.
The next morning, my pen met paper.  Once again words formed themselves.
When I laid down the pen, I reread what I'd written, 
I realized  these were more than words about fields of corn.
Meanwhile in our back yard, plants compete with weeds for space.
It's too wet to do anything about it. 
These are puzzling days.
Days for reflection.  Days for prayer.  Days for trusting.

This Morning

...outside our front door...
Rain falls.
Quietly.
Unrelentingly.
Like tears from a broken heart.
God's.
(rlg, following SCOTUS decision 6/26/2015)
...a field of tears/one of many here in NE Indiana...

Why Not?

Why not?  This lamp shade was collecting dust inside the house.
I may center it on the stump and place the bird on the stump in the background,
but I think I'm going to leave the shade outside to add interest to the shade garden we're developing.
(I know I "stole" this idea from SOMEone.  Just can't remember who.)

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said:  'It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to.'"  (Jim Jamusch)

In the end, "History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new."  (Ecclesiastes 1:9, New Living Translation, Bible)

Yes.  I like this better...

Three To-Dos

On what would have been travel-home day of my Gethsemani week (see previous post), 
my husband and I spent a couple of hours at Barnes and Noble. 
 I settled in with a stack of magazines, my journal and four-colored fine-tipped pen.  
I ended up taking a few photos which I've already posted on another blog
 and recorded three (yes, only three) "to-dos" in my journal.
Placing this bird on this stump was one of the three--
the only one accomplished so far.
In commenting on my prior post, Terra thanked me for my honesty about following
and not following my plan. To this I replied:
"Had I made no plans, I probably would have never lit a candle,
would have pigged out on sweets, prayed and journaled less than I did etc."
While I hope to get to the other two items I jotted down at Barnes and Noble,
I'm ahead of myself just by having accomplished ONE of the three!
At least that's the way I look at it.
Reminder to self:  Don't be discouraged by not accomplishing EVERYTHING on my lists.
***
Oh, and while I was out there placing the bird on the stump,
I pulled a bunch of weeds and called in the reinforcement (that would be my husband)
to cut off some branches that had been damaged by the storm the night before!
Commit your work to the Lord,
    and your plans will be established.
Proverbs 16:3

Season of Second Chances

For a second year in a row, circumstances prevented me from
retreating at the Abbey of Gethsemani.  Though disappointed, I decided to implement an alternative while remaining at home--
A Faux-Gethsemani experience.

The plan, recorded in my journal, included:

1.  No desserts - focus on fruit and veggies
2.  Read Bounds on prayer
3.  Pray
4.  Journal
5.  Serve others in love
6.  Candle daily
7.  Record blessings each day

Today - four days into my "experience"- I am lighting the candle for the first time.  I had desserts one evening, have fallen asleep almost every night a page or two into Bounds, have prayed little, journaled some, served feebly, and recorded blessings once.

In spite of my sporadic and interrupted efforts, I have a sense of being guided gently into a Season of Second Chances.  This, the title of a (secular) novel I finished prior to my Faux-Gethsemani week, has emerged as the theme of my week. 

Monday, on what would have been Travel Day, I received news of Elisabeth Elliot's death.  Many of her quotes have passed my computer screen throughout the week, contributing to and solidifying my passion to serve Jesus Christ faithfully.

"I have one desire now - to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord,
 putting all my energy and strength into it.” Elisabeth Elliot


Then I read this from the pen of  Ed Stetzer  "The comfortable do not create movements. Instead, they originate with those who are desperate, demanding something different. Movements come from those who become more committed than they are now...We all need a cause bigger than ourselves, which can drive us to action with a holy dissatisfaction. I'd say that when women and men allow their faith to be tamed by the world, they end up with a 'nice religion' uninterested in the big issues like global evangelization, world poverty, and injustice. That's why I love passionate people. We need more, not less of them.  Christianity needs unreasonable people who are uncomfortable with the status quo and unwilling to be content with the current mode of life and church. We all need a cause bigger than ourselves, which can drive us to action with a holy dissatisfaction."   





This morning as I lit a  candle for the first time this week, I did so with the awareness that today is the last full day of my Faux-Gethsemani experience.  I'm thankful for all the "second chances" I've had in my life.   At age 66-and-a-half, I borrow Elisabeth's words and say with enthusiasm and expectation "I have one desire now - to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord,  putting all my energy and strength into it."  So help me God!

 Unreasonable
Uncomfortable
Driven by a holy dissatisfaction
SO thankful for another Season of Second Chances

Revival in Room 403

 Nancy Leigh DeMoss just tweeted: "Safe in the Arms of Jesus. Elisabeth Elliot, 12/21/26 - 6/15/15" ~ Elisabeth Elliot, a woman whose example of constancy & faith has been of GREAT influence in my life, though I've never met her personally.....

It's kind of a surreal experience to read and digest this news as I sit beside the bedside of my mother while she sleeps. If I calculate correctly, Mother is the same age and also suffers from dementia. (I believe Elizabeth Elliot lived with dementia for over 10 years.)

An album of Fernando Ortega (YouTube) is playing in the background.   "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing."  I'm having a sort of personal revival in Room 403 of the Special Care Unit.   How graciously the Lord is ministering to me.


(And it's only the first day of my Faux-Gethsemani week.
Explanation of that to follow in another post.  Maybe.)

Pleasure-Packing

My sister - our mother
 Thanks to my sister who came to spend  a few days with my parents,
I have some extra days to "spend" leisurely.
Since my husband and I had not "properly" celebrated our June 5th wedding anniversary,
we've spread out our celebrating over these days.
 We began with an afternoon at Quiet Corner Tea and Coffee Room--
  a rather remote place, but not so far away.
 It was relaxing; the food was satisfying; the get-away enjoyable.
 Another morning, a group of ladies met  for coffee and "catch-up".
Following that, my husband and I enjoyed pizza at Pizza Hut.
By the time we finished, the rain had stopped and it had dried up enough
that we were able towalk the paths at the Extension Garden and enjoy its beauty.
 As usual, we took home some ideas to incorporate in our own flower beds.
 In between excursions, we did just that - worked in flower beds and mowed the yard.
Last night we watched an interesting episode of Around the World in 80 Gardens.
The Nek Chandigahr (India) was particularly fascinating!
 Oh, and I'm reading, too  This book is an interesting one.
This quote about one of its characters intrigued me:
"If she had but a moment, she filled it with value."
I want to be more like that...
***
I'm not sure what today will hold, but we're brainstorming.
We're trying to pack in as much pleasure as we can around the regular responsibilities
of our daily lives.  In another day or two I will return to spending time with Mother,
but I think I've learned (or AM learning or RE-learning)
something about intentionally packing pleasure
around the "regular responsibilities".

Profusely

Anthony Bradley recently tweeted:  "Among the best weapons to fight against depression include committing to a life of gratitude and experiencing real connection in community." I passed this wisdom along to a fellow traveler recently with my OWN exhortation that both of us endeavor to  enter the new day with humble and profuse gratitude.

Then I quickly googled profuse to be sure I'd used the word correctly.  It's NOT a word I use frequently in conversation or writing.  I found these two definitions:
  • 1. Plentiful; copious.
  • 2. Giving or given freely and abundantly; extravagant. 
Yes! I used it correctly! I am humbly and PROFUSELY grateful today.  Worthy?  No.  Grateful?  Profusely!  I can't begin to describe my awareness of the abundant, extravagant grace of God to me throughout my life--and today.  And my awareness falls so short of its actuality! 


Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Wonderful grace, all sufficient for me, for even me.
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame,
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus.
Praise His Name!
(Chorus of "Wonderful Grace of Jesus")

Yes and No

I pass this sign frequently these days.
Every time I read it, I think to myself, "Yes and no."
I know what it's saying.  I even want to LIKE what it says!
But then I remember, "You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."  
(Jesus in Matthew 5:48)
Maybe the sign should read, "Progress TOWARD Perfection"?
***
On a lighter note, note the Progress toward Perfection 
on this little stand we found while garage-saling last Saturday...
  
My husband works wonders!
See more "wonders" HERE.

Writing a Song a Week #3

Writing a Song a Week #3
♪ I wait for the Lord; my soul waits and in his word I hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning ♪ (Psalm 130:5-6)