Monday Morning

Chocolate zucchini cakes baked & frosted for tomorrow's funeral dinner; car into shop for repair; kitchen cleaned up; phone conversation with daughter; contemplating a Kierkegaard quote on a friend's facebook page; counting my blessings; praying for brothers and sisters suffering because of their faith in Jesus Christ, for our children and grandchildren, parents, and friends facing health and relationship challenges...

 "Perhaps just in this weakness God will meet you and come to your aid. This much is certain: the greatest thing each person can do is to give himself to God utterly and unconditionally - weaknesses, fears, and all. For God loves obedience more than good intentions or second-best offerings, which are all too often made under the guise of weakness.

Therefore, dare to renew your decision. It will lift you up again to trust in God. For God is a spirit of power and love and self-control, and it is before God and for him that every decision is to be made. Dare to act on the good that lies buried within your heart.

Confess your decision and do not go ashamed with downcast eyes as if you were treading on forbidden ground. If you are ashamed of your own imperfections, then cast your eyes down before God, not man. Better yet, in weakness decide and go forth!"
(the Kiekergaard quote)

For Such a Time as This

Elizabeth wrote the words I've been WANTING to write. 
The words I SHOULD have written.
Words I've been saying to myself.
Words I've WANTED to say out loud.
The words I've been waiting to hear.
Words that I've KNOWN.
They are hard but important words; necessary and true.
Words that by God's grace, I will implement in my own life. Today.
Please.  Take the time to read them.
You'll find them here.

 
For if you altogether hold your peace at this time, 
then shall relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; 
but you and your father's house shall be destroyed:
and who knows whether you are come to the kingdom for such a time as this?   Esther 4:14

Done

In my last post (Should/Could/Want To), I boldly stated that my next one
would be titled "Done"!
And then life happened.  A 650 mile garage sale - one part of it shown above....
 A canning experience with a friend (her house, her jars, her cucumbers, my grandmother's recipe),
  a leisurely evening at our local minor league baseball stadium 
with some of my husband's co-workers,
three drives and mornings spent with my mother and father - 
Saturday's in the wonderful company of my sister.  

 No, I DIDN'T get the table and piano cleared off,
but I DID have time to write out a doable arrangement of The Lord's Prayer
to use as the closing song in our Sunday morning service.
(I was surprised to know that the members of the music team
leading worship didn't know it.)
So "DONE" could be written over my week...
just not in the way I predicted or envisioned it.
***
You can make many plans,
    but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.
Proverbs 19:21 NLT

Could/Should/Want To

Yesterday I read Brenda's post, "Are you living life on purpose?"  Several of her "purposes" run parallel to my own.  I commented: 

I identify with most of your personal purposes....need to pay attention to #3. Blogging & some intense Bible study fill my day. I have neglected my song-writing and COULD/SHOULD/WANT TO get back to it. I also want to figure out how to spend more time serving others & connecting intentionally with friends. My responsibilities to my aging parents take a lot of my time and emotional energy, but I want to steward what I have left better in this area...There. I've said it.

 

This morning I reviewed my comment and see that I've made excuses.  I've even sabotaged myself by piling stuff on my piano and all over potential work surfaces.  This morning I WILL be spending time with my parents, but by day's end, this surface will be cleared (or at least organized)!  And tomorrow, I'll be spending time with a friend making pickles in her kitchen.  Friday morning will find friends gathered around my kitchen table enjoying coffee and coffee cake while we make plans for our fall Bible study. 


...song-writing, intentional relationships, serving others, better stewardship of my energies...
COULD/SHOULD/WANT TO
Next time you visit me here, I plan to be able to say "DONE"!

By the way, have YOU ever sabotaged your own best intentions?

Porching Days

I "porched" yesterday...
(see prior post)
I slept soundly on a daybed on the porch of my friend's cottage.
Waking before my two friends, I watched as the mist 
moved steadily across the water toward sunrise.
With the coming of enough light to read by, I gathered my Bible, journal, a book and a pen
 and spent some time in silent thought, meditation and prayer. 
The remaining hours of my two Lake Days were spent
doing two jigsaw puzzles, playing table games,
walking, eating casual meals, and chatting while sitting comfortably
on lawn chairs overlooking the lake.

Seeing a patch of coneflowers growing alongside my friend's garage,
I boldly asked if I might have a clump.  She said "yes".
I returned home rested and refreshed.
My husband helped me plant and water this lovely pink flower.
(I've wanted some of these for a l-o-n-g time...just never  followed through.)
It will be my reminder of my July 2014 Porching Days.

The Porch is Imperative!

 Our porch is very generic.  Nothing particularly beautiful - 
 and CERTAINLY not designed with the skill of gardeners or decorators.
 However, this morning in the storm's aftermath, I recalled the words
I'd read in the book I just completed, An Altar in the World.
"In the eyes of the world, there is no payoff for sitting on the porch...(but) 
In the eys of the true God, the porch is imperative--not every now and then
but on a regular basis."
My suitcase is packed this Monday morning.
I'll be overnighting at my friend's lake cottage.
It will be my "porch"--in fact, I'll probably SLEEP on its porch
as has been my pleasure annually.
"The Practice of Saying No" is the chapter title in which
Barbara Brown Taylor addresses the vital practice of Sabbath.
I look forward to its experience today!

Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.  Exodus 20:8

My Sane, Not-So-Simple and Sacred Week

Rare and wonderful days earlier this week were spent with
our daughter and five of our eleven grandchildren.
I took the older two shopping for school supplies and was slightly staggered
by how much they are required to bring along with them to school
and the cost of it all... 
The weather couldn't have been better for outside fun!
 Believe me, we packed it in!
 Wednesday, I had an appointment with the surgeon who inserted my new hip.
At the same appointment, I was given the date of September 23rd
for a knee replacement.
While I wait, I am doing some exercises to strengthen muscles
and returning to the Fast-5 lifestyle to drop some pounds 
I've accumulated since my fall & subsequent surgery in March.
So WHY did I bake this Zucchini Spice Cake tonight?!?
Answer:  Because I was gifted (again) with some wonderful garden vegetables,
including zucchini!  Along with the veggies were two pieces of cake like this and the recipe.
I couldn't resist and plan to pass it along to a few friends who might be encouraged
by receiving it.
This morning I led a hymn sing at a nursing home.  It's always a blessing,
and as usual I came home a bit hoarse and very happy.
 Now, I'll relax the rest of the evening and read this book.
I don't agree with everything in it, but it's very thought-provoking.
 A lot more happened this week including time spent with Mother in the nursing home
and dinner that night with Dad at Bob Evans and coffee with a friend.
This, my friends, is my sane, not-so-simple, and sacred week at a glance.

The Skies Have It

Yesterday while driving my hour's route to spend time with Mother,
the sky looked like this!  The entire sky--not just a part of it.
It took my breath away.
Later, back home, my husband and I drove to a neighboring town 
to pick up a library book and split a Heath bar flurry at the ice-cream shop.
This (below) was one of the sights we passed.  
While it was the industrious family in the field that caught my eye initially,
the sky was what I noticed when I uploaded the photo.
(By the way, if I could caption this picture, it would be
"The family that hays together......")
Psalm 19:1-4
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  
Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

Saturday

A single beauty admired at our local Extension Gardens earlier this week...
This morning, one of my favorite "tweeters" - Scotty Smith - tweeted: "Saturday is a great day for embracing our limitations, boasting in Christ, and extending God's grace."  His hashtag was "justlikeeveryday". 
I'm determined not to get stuck on the FIRST part, 
consciously practice the second part, 
and actively engage in the third.
Another single beauty from our own back yard!

Sunday's Sunrise

There are many perks to early mornings.
Living in town, we don't get to see the full sunrise.  
Our view is blocked by houses and trees.  
Sometimes I see the glow of it through our living room window and run out to get a very limited view down the street that runs in front of our home.
But driving out to our country church, my pastor-husband sees a much fuller horizon;
and this was it this Sunday morning.
Whether to spend time in his office for weekeday responsibilities 
or to prepare for Sunday services,
his early morning commute is frequently greeted by a scene like this!
Often my SPIRITUAL view is obstructed by circumstances.  Obstacles beyond my control.
Sometimes I don't have time for more than a limited time in the Word or prayer.
I catch sight of a beauty and perspective that make me long for a broader,
more complete view of God's heart and purposes; His majesty and beauty.
How thankful I am for "church" - a place and people gathered to celebrate
God's heart and purposes; His majesty and beauty.
It is big part of my present spiritual "horizon" until that day when
my sight will be unobstructd and complete... 

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. 
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as  have been fully known.
(I Corinthians 13:12)

Dot-to-Dot

 Lately life feels a little bit like a dot-to-dot activity in a child's coloring book to me!
 Some of the "dots" have included helping with a birthday party for a 9 year old friend,
sdriving the hour trip to spend time with my mother,
offering my advice and admiring the work of my husband as he continues
to fashion and finish projects which I market via a few facebook garage sale pages,
and a recent house and garden walk in a lovely, local neighborhood.
Sometimes I don't have a CLUE what the finished picture is supposed to be.
There doesn't seem to be a pattern to my activities.
They often seem random and unconnected.  
That being the case, I trust the One who holds the picture of the finished product in His mind
and resolve to trust Him as I move on to the NEXT "dot".

Jesus IS Beautiful

Beauty begets beauty because when we see it we must share it.  (Tim Keller) 

Beautiful Savior,
King of Creation,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Truly I'd love Thee,
Truly I'd serve Thee,
Light of my soul, my Joy, my Crown.

Fair are the meadows,
Fair are the woodlands,
Robed in flowers of blooming spring;
Jesus is fairer,
Jesus is purer;
He makes our sorrowing spirit sing.

Fair is the sunshine,
Fair is the moonlight,
Bright the sparkling stars on high;
Jesus shines brighter,
Jesus shines purer,
Than all the angels in the sky.

Beautiful Savior,
Lord of the nations,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor,
Praise, adoration,
Now and forevermore be Thine! 

"Beautiful Savior"
by Author Unknown, 1677
Translated by Joseph A. Seiss, 1823-1904



Grace - Oh For Eyes to See It!


I saw them within hours of each other...
The flower and this quote:

"Grace has zeal when you've lost yours. It keeps persevering when all you feel like doing is quitting. Grace never gets tired of your mess and turns and walks away. It never mocks your failure or threatens you when you’re down. Grace doesn't take advantage of your weakness, rather it enables you to be strong; never mocks your foolishness, but gives you wisdom."  (Paul David Tripp, Twitter)


The flower was hidden underneath larger ones--intentional plants and those aggravating sprawling weeds growing
 under and around the surface.
How like GRACE!
It's there!  Strikingly beautiful!
Oh, for eyes to see it.

God Help Me Git Er Done

A couple of weeks ago, we parked our car next to this pickup truck.
I couldn't help but take a picture of these words!
My hip is healing from hip replacement surgery,
 but the knee on my opposite leg is NOT happy about it!
X-rays earlier this week indicate a knee replacement is in my near future.
Meanwhile (thanks to a cortisone shot), I am doubling my efforts
to get the hip strong and ready to do ITS part when the knee needs it.
Walking.  Walking.  Walking.
God help me git er done!
And no matter what YOU'VE got ahead of you, He'll help YOU git er done, too.

 "God has the power to provide you (me) with more than enough of every kind of grace. 
That way, you (I) will have everything you (I) need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work." 2 Corinthians 9:8

Regrets? I've Had a Few

Last night I received a text message.
From my friend.  Possibly upon her arrival at the Abbey of Gethsemani.
I had reserved a spot, too--and looked forward to my third retreat
at this beautiful place.
But the closer the date came, 
the more I realized how unwise it was for me to go.
Circumstances made my decision clear.
But regrets?  You bet!
"Send me a photo or two", I texted her back.
And with its coming this morning, more regrets.
Then I remembered a prayer I'd read recently
written by Scotty Smith that included these lines:
"Jesus...help us sort through the issues.  Show us what is repent-able and what is repairable;
and bring quiet to our noisy hearts so we can hear you speak.
Convince us, yet again, that we need your presence much, much more than we need circumstances and people to change."
With my personal Amen to the prayer, I set about to "repair".  
To create a faux-Gethsemani experience HERE
independent of circumstances and people. 
And HERE--right HERE I anticipate hearing Him speak; experiencing His presence.
Some regrets ARE repent-able.  Others repairable.
Thankfully, THIS one is repairable.

Good Reads


After reading Brenda's review of this book, I found it available in our library.  I began reading it and quickly began reading passages out loud to my husband.  End result?  I ended up reading it while we shared the front seat of our car during the Memorial Day weekend and finished it (aloud) last night.

It is an inspiring book at many levels.  In some ways it reminded me of the classic, Pilgrim's Progress.   I found myself trying to make various parts of it allegorical.  Forcing that didn't work all the time though...

It was a story about love, marriage, sadness, humanity, courage, wild flowers, nature, and England.  All at the same time.

It was a good read.

Memorial Day took us to our sons' home.  I left with a thankful heart AND a couple of books .  I began to read this one but after reading only a couple of entries, I texted him to see if he woud mind if I mark in it.  Then I asked if I might possibly purchase it from him.

Miss O'Conner's prayer journal (written when she was only 21 or 22), expresses many of the spiritual passions and agonizing desires of my own 65-year-old heart.

I can only read it slowly.  Sentence by sentence.  Sometimes only one word before pausing.  Marveling.  Praying.  Crying.  Yearning.

A unique feature of this book is that there are pages of the journal in Flannery O'Connor's own handwriting at the end.

Though a short book, I haven't finished it yet.  I may NEVER finish it...

It's good to be reading again.  For awhile it had been difficult to pick up a book and read.  I seemed to have no stomach for it.  I hope to find more worthy books--good reads.  (That term is so subjective, I know.  Still, I am open to suggestions.)

 ...Just a few photos from our Memorial Day...

One Word


"Aggressive Acts of Kindness", I'd titled my last post--a term I'd recently stumbled upon.  From the time I encountered it, it seemed incongruous somehow--aggressive and kindness in the same phrase.  When I looked up the definition of aggressive, I understood why.  

 1. characterized by or tending toward unprovoked offensives, attacks, invasions, or the like; militantly forward or menacing: aggressive acts against a neighboring country.
2. making an all-out effort to win or succeed; competitive: an aggressive basketball player.
3. vigorously energetic, especially in the use of initiative and forcefulness: an aggressive salesperson.
4. boldly assertive and forward; pushy: an aggressive driver.
5. emphasizing maximum growth and capital gains over quality, security, and income: an aggressive mutual fund. 

Numbers 1 and 4 seemed to particularly clash with my concept of kindness.  ONE WORD colored my perception.

Then, while riding with my husband a couple of days ago, I read a billboard proclaiming, "This farmland to be confiscated by Mayor Brooks Fetters".  Once again I was reminded of the power of ONE WORD!  Confiscated cast a strong and clear negative reaction to a decision.

Words DO have power!  I'm reminded to be selective and careful in using them.
And GOD'S WORD  is powerful!  May it always be the ONE WORD that colors my perception!
For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword,
 penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. 
It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

Aggressive Acts of Kindness

 
These three unattractive, disposable, ordinary containers
bear witness to "the person(s)" described by this quote:

It's not just a call to action; 
it's a call to being...
being the person who helps a friend in need...
who helps a stranger in need...
who practices aggressive acts of kindness. 
 ~Joyce Meyer 

I have been the "friend in need".
Oh, to be "the person"--
OR even the container--unattractive, disposable, ordinary,
emptied, ready to be used and re-used!

I Lift Up My Eyes

A sea of green unfolded in front of me earlier this week
at our County Extension Gardens.
After a leisurely stroll, cane in hand, to see the gardens
for the first time this spring of 2014,
I sat on a bench while my husband set off at a brisker pace
for his cardiac exercise.
I practiced "looking up",
With a stump of an old tree behind me,
I absorbed the sight of the gloriously broad and flourishing one ahead of me...
...a silent witness to and example of the potential of health and wellness
lying ahead for me.
"I lift up my eyes...."  Psalm 121:1 
I find that I need to practice looking up with more intentionality lately.
It helps to sit with my back to the "stump" and my face toward the beauty.
I look forward to many days at the Extension Gardens
to watch the colors unfold.

Sweeter

 I used a photo of our old lilac bush as a facebook header this morning.
I added this description:  Every spring they seem lovelier than the previous one...
 It's true, you know.  They really DO seem lovelier! 
If I were to compare THIS year's photo with those from past seasons,
I may observe that other years there were more blooms
producing  a different, fuller effect.
But no matter!  This year's seem lovelier somehow.
It made me think of the goodness of God AND an old gospel song.
Sweeter as the years go by,
Sweeter as the years go by,
Richer, fuller, deeper, Jesus’ love is sweeter,
Sweeter as the years go by.
It's true.
♪  The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows.  ♪

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)