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.  ♪

A Change of Scenery

 A change of scenery -
 whether physical, mental, spiritual or emotional -
is usually refreshing, stimulating, encouraging.
 So it was for me.  For us.
Though our time was brief and limited by our mending bodies,
we are blessed by what was
and hopeful for what is to come.


Little Things

....folded bedsheets and a pillowcase...
What follows is a post I wrote Friday.  I wasn't sure I would EVER hit the "publish" button.  It was written primarily for my personal sanity.  Six weeks after breaking my hip and the subsequent hip replacement surgery, I find my activity level still quite diminished.  This afternoon, though, I read Brenda's post on "Littling".  Encouraged by it, I hit the button!  I "littled" my way through Friday by...
  • Putting coloring books back into the  drawer they belong in
  • Hand-washing a pair of elasticized stockings
  • Cutting up some fresh fruit to serve to my husband
  • Filling the water containers
  • Throwing away a bouquet of wilted tulips
  • Watering the houseplants
  • Signing, addressing and mailing a sympathy card
  • Putting away a couple of dice that were in the bottom of my purse
  • Sorting the change in my billfold
  • Throwing away a couple of candy wrappers 
  • Starting the dishwasher
  • Emptying the clothes dryer
  • Folding a couple of bedsheets and pillowcases
  • Creating powerpoints for Sunday's music
It seems like I don't/can't do ANYthing major these days.  
But little things DO add up. 
That's what I keep telling myself.
 Who dares despise the day of small things...(Zechariah 4:10)

Now More than Ever

Flowers my husband received.....
Monday morning, Myra commented on my post: I am glad to read that the two of you are on the mend. Lots of love your way. I always wonder how people who don't know the Lord cope with things like this. You are always noticing blessings and relying on Scripture - what joy.

Yes, Myra...The "blessings"--the connections between what's going on in my life and what I read and remember from Scripture are my stabilizers.  My hope.  My help.  I rely on the Author.  The God of my salvation.

That is NOT to say that I am 100% in this practice.  But the weaker I am, the more I recognize my need.  His strength really IS made perfect in my weakness!  What Paul wrote to Timothy is true of me:


"You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, 
and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus."  ~2 Timothy 3:15

I thank God for my heritage, and I continue to read, think on, and rely on holy Scriptures for wisdom for daily living.  (Who is it that said, "Aging is not for sissies"?)  Now, more than ever, I trust Christ Jesus!

You Do Not Have Because...

During most nights, I have a Christian radio station on--one that only broadcasts speakers/sermons (no music). Of course, I never listen to a whole sermon, but often during the night I awaken to hear a phrase or two...

A night or so ago, I heard SOMEone say, "If there are regrets in heaven, I think one BIG one will be that we didn't ask God for more."

While I'm pretty sure there won't be regrets in heaven (at least not like we think of them and experience them here in this life), I have thought about that statement quite a bit.

My husband had been sitting awkwardly in an more upright chair the past few days. Today while passing the day in the cardiac unit with my husband, I noticed a recliner sitting in the hallway.  I asked a nurse if it was possible that he could have that recliner moved into his room.  "No problem," she said cheerfully.  I DO regret that I hadn't seen that recliner yesterday or thought to ask for one.  He looks so comfortable in it, doesn't he?

The Bible DOES say, "You do not have because you do not ask God."  (James 4:2)  I am going to be less timid about asking God for mercies and graces, heart's desires and blessings.  I don't want to miss ANYthing He wants to give me!


Amazing Grace

At this point, I'm beginning to feel like WE'RE the people I used to feel sorry for!  After falling on the 15th of March, I had a hip replacement the following day. Now going into my 5th week of recovery, my husband had a treadmill test, subsequent heart cath, and is scheduled for heart bypass surgery this coming Wednesday.

The peaceful look on his face in the picture taken prior to the catheterization process is NOT a fake one!

Can I use this post to give a "shout out" to God's Amazing Grace?  I've known for most of my life that it is due to His grace that I have experienced forgiveness of sins and received the righteousness of Christ Jesus Himself.  Grace has covered my past and ensures my future.  This I know.  But I'm NOT sure if I've ever experienced the dimension of grace I'm experiencing RIGHT NOW. 

That's not to say I'm not emotional now and then.  It IS to say I am understanding in new ways some of what Paul might have meant when he wrote, "The life you see me living is not 'mine,' but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that."  (Galatians 2:20, The Message)  Or as the Holman Bible translates it, "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me."

Grace.  So much grace!
And if God's grace could begin to be compared to an ocean of grace, 
I've only a drop or two in my thimble so far!
Amazing!

Dementia

"Dementia is wicked," she wrote reflecting on a difficult week with her father.  
I understood what she was saying.
I responded: 
Dementia IS wicked.  
But (for me, at least) it is also endlessly and all-at-the-same-time
fascinating, challenging, tender, demanding, and sad.  
My mother's condition is drawing out the best in me, I believe.  
Qualities I never would have guessed myself to have...
Then again, maybe that's because they AREN'T "my qualities" 
but His remarkable grace.
A care-giver helps Mother with next week's meal choices...

The Holy...Drawing Near

My father and mother holding hands in a recent chapel service.

Pay attention to the things that bring a tear to your eye or a lump in your throat; 
they are signs that the holy is drawing near. ~ F.Buechner

So many tears in my eyes and lumps in my throat these days.
I don't mean to be a "Debbie Downer", but I am reassured by this quote.
I have sensed it; now I realize that indeed
the holy IS drawing near.

♪ Burdens Are Lifted at Calvary ♪

 Days are filled with sorrow and care,
Hearts are lonely and drear;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.

Refrain:
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Calvary, Calvary;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.

Cast your care on Jesus today,
Leave your worry and fear;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.

Troubled soul, the Saviour can see
Ev'ry heartache and tear;
Burdens are lifted at Calvary,
Jesus is very near.

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)