Making Beauty Where I Am


...and making beauty where I am
 These words from Elizabeth's "About Me"
seemed to jump off my laptop screen and fix themselves firmly in my mind.
This is SO my desire--to make beauty where I am...
So many appear to do it so well; so effortlessly.
I, on the other hand, struggle.
Never quite satisfied with my attempts.
Last Sunday, our class lesson was on Creation from Genesis 1.
Once again, I noticed the words describing God's satisfaction at the end of each creation day:
"And God saw that it was good."
 Today, with new resolve I commit to making beauty where I am
whether by music or meal,
gentle word or clean window,
arrangement or accessory,


Christmas at Brookside

 We were among the first to arrive when the doors opened
to freshly-decorated Brookside,
the lovely Bass Mansion located on the campus of St. Francis University
in Fort Wayne, IN.



Fascinated by many displays of nativity sets and multiple Christmas trees,
 I pretty much kept my camera ready!


Thirteen fireplaces (none alike) are decorated beautifully...




 From lavishness to simplicity,
 the tour never disappoints.
 This year, my father went along with us!
I caught his reflection in the mirror above.
The spotlights were turned on when we exited the building.
We turned to admire its stately beauty as we headed to our car.



Soul Hunger II

  
 Journal entry.  December 2:
My "attention" to soul hunger led to "intention" 
but so far no action or satisfaction 
(except I've lighted a candle yesterday and today).
In its own unique, simple way 
it signifies my awareness and openness to be filled.

Part of my awareness 
is that I don't WANT to fill this hunger myself. 
I could come up with all KINDS of ways 
to fill my days and hours.
This will not satisfy this particular hunger.
And my openness?
This is both an expressed and exclusive
invitation and expectation to experience
a fresh infilling of God's own precious
Holy Spirit.

Soul Hunger

Soul hunger....not so easily addressed.
"Pay attention when your soul pokes its head through the clouds of a half-lived life. 
 Pay attention to your longing to wake up, to feel more alive, 
to feel something spur you beyond your fear. 
Be okay with making mistakes, suffering loss, 
and confronting what needs to change within yourself 
in order to live a more genuine and radiant life. 
Some of us resist until the forces of fate deliver a crises. 
Some of us get sick and tired of filling emptiness with drugs or drink or food, 
and we turn and face our real hunger: our soul hunger."
--Elizabeth Lesser

OK.  I confess.  I have a sneaking suspicion I've heard of E.L. before.  
Maybe even READ her for myself. 
 Maybe just read ABOUT her.
Probably shouldn't be quoting her here without knowing where she's coming from... 
 However here it is.
 It caught my attention.
No, I'm not filling emptiness with drugs....or drink...or food.
Not yet anyway.
I AM, however, aware of a bit of soul hunger.
This is my record then...
of attention.
Of intention.

90

Happy 90th to my dad! 
Wesley's notes on Psalm 92:14:
"Their last days shall be their best days, wherein they shall grow in grace, 
and increase in blessedness."
My sister presenting him with a piece of birthday pie...
 He was celebrated last Friday at a large family gathering.
Today it will be quieter.
He'll open cards--a BUNCH of them.
We'll take him to enjoy a (free!) birthday dinner at our local cafe.
It is my joy to watch him up close and personal
as he demonstrates the truth of the verses from Psalm 92:

14 [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; 
they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love,
and contentment].
15 [They are living memorials] to show that the Lord is upright and faithful to His promises;
 He is my Rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.
(Amplified Bible)
Meeting his newest great-grandchild

Tradition-less

Going with the flow this year.....
Traditions don't seem to come as easy for us as they do for other people.
The Thanksgiving holidays officially kicked in last night
as we attended a Thanksgiving service at our church.
Today, one of my siblings will pass through on their way to Friday..
We'll have a relish tray, crackers and cheeses, etc.
as we visit around our kitchen table.
Tomorrow - Thanksgiving Day - one of our children, her husband and 6 children
will pass through (also on their way to Friday).
Together with us, they'll attend a lovely community meal for folks who don't have family plans.
(Our family "plans" came together rather spur-of-the-moment
without time to prepare turkey and trimmings,
so we're especially thankful for Holy Trinity Lutheran Church's hospitality.)
I'll take a sweet potato casserole made with apples and dried cranberries.
Then on Friday, we will get up early and together with my father,
drive over to Sauder Inn in Archbold OH to celebrate with extended family
(over 50 people).
Meanwhile, this rusty turkey joined autumn-colored everyday place mats
to remind us of this season while we're on the way to Friday.

Tradition-less, but SOOOOOO thankful. 

Weekend Reading

When a few of the book titles I'd jotted down to request from our inter-library loan system 
weren't available, I made a trip to our local branch and came home with these three.
I SHOULD have started with Karen Kingsbury's book since it is on 7-day loan.
However, I began with Lowcounty.
I'm looking forward to finishing it today - a slow and simple Saturday schedule-wise
and a cold, windy and wet one weather-wise.
I have no idea about the third book. 
It just looked interesting based on the blurb inside the cover.
I'll see.

Damaged

 Brand new phone.  Dropped.  Later realize the back is cracked.
Laminate floor.  Moved furniture onto it to accommodate carpet layers. 
Noticed long scratch when furniture was returned to newly-carpeted room.
Laptop.  Stepped on it.  (Long time ago.)  Cracked the screen.  Major inconvenience.  Still not fixed.
Damage.  
It feels like I'm surrounded by it. 
Perfectionist that I am (at least in my mind if not in practice),
it bugs me. 
I want a DO-OVER.  Not a repair.
Can anyone relate?
I'm not sure what the lesson is here.  Maybe something to do with brokenness?

 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  Psalm 147:3

I Had Help

Mother's recipe....
Dad's assistance...
Heavy duty stirring.
Cookie dough now "chilling".
We'll make balls of it, flatten them, and bake.
I'll store them on the back porch until our family gathering next week.
Hopefully they'll last till then.
 

Not as Easy as it Seems

Things are NOT as easy as they seem!
This man earns my respect and admiration daily.
He is resilient, courageous, wise, and faithful.

Minor and Easily Corrected

When the blue hue of the what-we-thought-was-grey paint
appeared incompatible with the new carpet
(purchased to replace old carpet damaged by the sticky-backed protective plastic),
we visited the nearest Sherman Williams paint store.
My 90-year-old father and husband dove right in repainting the room with a pale & true grey.
I wish all disappointments were so minor and easily corrected!
 Then I got to thinking about disappointments and pain that are NOT so minor...
and I remembered that one day
He (God) will wipe away every tear from their eyes. 
Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, 
because the previous things have passed away.
Revelation 21:4
~
I rest me in the thought!

And Read

Having seen this book mentioned on Sally Clarkson's blog 
(George MacDonald’s Diary of an Old Soul), 
I am officially on the hunt for it!
If you should have a copy or run across one at a reasonable price, I would love to purchase it.

And THIS one also:  Bandersnatch by Diana Glyer.  
No doubt I've come late to Lanier's blog.   
After reading this post, I'm adding one more book to my reading list as well 
as a determination to return to her blog and read more of her story/
Her writing captures my imagination.

I have entered a new season of life and have a new phone to accompany me.
I know how to use its camera - just can't figure out how to send the photos back to myself/
Sigh.  Soon I'll have photos again.  Until then, I shall read.  
Plan and prepare meals.
Continue to organize and enjoy our home.  
And "do life" with my father who has come to live with us.  

And read...

What a Difference a Week Makes

A week ago, friends helped pack and move my dad to our home.
By evening, he was somewhat settled in and woke the next day to attend church with us.
Monday, the professional estate sale personnel began pricing thousands of items left in his home.
Tuesday, we went to check out the progress.
The estate tag sale began on Thursday.
To keep cold symptoms from becoming more serious, Dad stayed here.
We put a jigsaw puzzle together to keep our minds off what was going on "back at the ranch".
 Friday afternoon we checked in and ended the afternoon with all my siblings and their spouses
at a local restaurant.
Returning home, it really FELT like home for him, I believe.
This afternoon I found him sitting at his desk paying bills and doing some paper work.  
Antibiotics have kicked in, and he is feeling more like himself.
 How I love sharing morning devotional times with Gary and Dad!
My zeal for cooking and serving good meals that had waned has been revived.
Table games now are three-way instead of two.
What a difference a week makes!

In Every Change...

This afternoon I thumbed through our hymn book to select songs 
for the ♪Singspiration♪ I'll be leading at church this evening.
I sang through the verses of Be Still, My Soul
and jotted down the page number for reference tonight.
These words stood out to me:
 Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
 There's no denying the changes that surround me--
at home, in my family, in our church, in our country.
How reassuring to know that "in every change, He faithful will remain".
Speaking of changes....
My husband is changing the old door that had been propped up in our shed.
He has removed the inside panel,
sanded down the exterior for a good painting,
and purchased a mirror to place in the opening.
I'm expecting a "joyful end" to this project and have a place in mind for it already!
Minutes after posting this, I changed my mind.
No paint.  Dark stain instead.
(It will match a few dark wood pieces housed in the same room.)

Up-Close-and-Personal

She came yesterday afternoon.  She looked kindly at my clutter and dust and agreed to come next Tuesday (and every two weeks) to clean our house.  Well, the downstairs anyway.  I can't bring myself to expose the upstairs situation to ANYone just yet.  I will ease into it.  I'm determined.

It's a new season of life for me.  One I didn't anticipate as a child, teen, young adult, busy parent or empty-nester.  One I choose with great pleasure and enthusiasm.  There is no way to actually  imagine all the implications of this choice, but my confidence and anticipation is strengthened by the complete support and involvement of my husband.

One week from today, my father will move into our home.  He will have his own room in which to retreat, but we are hopeful he will feel at home in our kitchen and living room as well.  Multiple details have been addressed to make his transition (and ours) as seamless as possible.  It will be interesting to see what we overlooked!

I am thankful that he accepted our invitation and will not be spending the long, dark and cold winter nights alone.  I'm thankful for the privilege of "doing" family up-close-and-personal.  I'm thankful for the growth and challenges that have ALREADY come and are STILL to come with this new adventure.

Oh, and I'm thankful to have a house-cleaner!

Ready and Waiting

 It started as an old blue shelf relegated to a place in the shed
where it housed garden tools and other miscellaneous items.
While looking for something the right size to hold my father's
small television in the dining area of our kitchen,
we remembered it.
My husband fashioned legs to make it stand a little taller.
 Then he painted it white to match the trim in the room.
And here it stands...
ready and waiting.
Completely "reborn" for a specific purpose and time--
to provide a place for the small television
so Dad can watch a favorite show in the morning as he eats his breakfast.
The other shelves will be used to house the games 
we frequently play at the table
and music books I use at the keyboard 
that fits snugly beside the shelf unit.
Sometimes I feel a bit like the shelf--
Reborn for a specific purpose and time.
Ready and waiting.

Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after thy will,
while I am waiting, yielded and still. ♪


Numbering My Days

 In years past, September has been the month in which I shop
for a replacement to the calendar that I carry with me most everywhere.
The ones I have been using include the last 3 months of the current year
along with the 12 of the coming year.
For some reason, I had difficulty finding one like them this year.
I settled for this one...a bit wider, minus some note pages
(which I seemed to not use anyway
 thinking I needed to save them for something "important").
My search turned into a comedy of sorts beginning in a Meijer store,
moving into Walmart, and ending in an Office Depot 
which sadly was closing its location nearest us.

In the end, it was THIS feature - two pockets - that sold me on this particular calendar.
I'll just finish out this year in the 2016 version
and wait to begin the new one in January--
which makes sense anyway!
I have been using the calendar on my cell phone more regularly
but can't quite divorce myself from a paper version just yet...

 Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.
Psalm 90:12

 All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. 
~J.R.R. Tolkien

Under Construction

Very MUCH under construction!
(Well, for us at least...)
I expect to emerge out from "under" soon.
Meanwhile, I'm so aware of construction zones
(along with messes, dust, and and a bit of chaos thrown in)
in  many areas of my life - outer AND inner.
I'm thankful for the General Contractor
who has the big picture in mind.
I trust Him.

♪  He's still working on me
To make me what I ought to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
'Cause He's still working on me ♪

(Words as I remember them....)

My Sane, Simple and Sacred Corner

Among the joys of our current remodeling project
is the creation of this corner--
an actual designated Music Corner--
just for me!
With the addition of the stool (a gift from my sister),
I don't need to stand at my keyboard for long periods of time.
By raising the keyboard to the height it is,
I can accommodate the stand beside itwhich stores my music.
If any one area of my house could be summarized
by the words "Sane, Simple and Sacred",
this is it!

In the Shadow of the Cross

I was away from home while my husband applied the first coat of paint
to our "new" old room.
"Send me a picture of it," I texted him.
This is one he sent me.
I saw it immediately--the cross.
The words to an old song came to my mind.
I remember Dick Anthony and Bill Pearce singing it.
(Well, at least I THINK I do!
And I KNOW I remember my mother and dad singing it,,,)
I looked in vain to find it, 
but in the process I found THESE lyrics--unfamiliar to me, but also old and precious.
  1. In the shadow of the cross let me hide,
    There the Savior for my sins bled and died;
    There the precious, cleansing fount
    Flows so free from Calv’ry’s mount,
    In the shadow of the cross let me hide.
  2. In the shadow of the cross, blessed place!
    Living only for the Lord, by His grace;
    What He says I’ll gladly do,
    Ever standing firm and true,
    In the shadow of the cross, blessed place!
  3. In the shadow of the cross, safe retreat,
    Ever sitting lowly at Jesus’ feet;
    While His presence is so near
    I shall never, never fear,
    In the shadow of the cross, safe retreat.
  4. In the shadow of the cross, here I meet,
    In communion with my Lord, oh, how sweet!
    And my soul is borne above,
    While I revel in His love,
    In the shadow of the cross, here I meet!
     Refrain:
       In the shadow of the cross I will rest,
        For with everlasting peace I am blest;
       Here I dwell in love unknown,
       Streaming down from heaven’s throne,
       In the shadow of the cross I will rest.
(William J. Henry) 

    I am praying that the occupant of our "new" old room
    WILL find much rest, peace and contentment in this room
as he does in the shadow of the cross.

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)