Begin. Again.

I recently read a quote (but failed to copy it exactly).  
The gist of it was "Don't look back; you're not going that direction."
So I'm not going to look back.
Besides, I'm not sure how far back I'd have to look!
January 2014?  Or January 2015?
Either way, my intention was to write a new song every week.
I have little to show for that intention.
The photo above shows that I may get my inspiration just about anytime.  
Anywhere.
The challenge for me is to DO it.
I have the equipment.
I have enough skills to compose and record simple songs.
So.....there's no time like the present to begin.  Again.

Lines Revisited

Book & coffee-stained bookmark
I finished reading The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy yesterday.  As I frequently do when reading books, I jotted down page numbers containing lines that I wanted to revisit and mull over a bit more.  Here are some of those lines - except for the last two spoken by the main character, Queenie...

 Perhaps I took my mother more literally than she intended, but I applied her rule to my life, after all, we are all searching for them, the rules.  We pick them up from the strangest places, and if they appear to work once we can live a whole lifetime by them, regardless of the unhappiness and difficulty they may later bring.

I am starting again, I thought.  Because that is what you do when you reach the last stop.  You make a new beginning.

A tardy person can become a punctual one, if she chooses.  You don't have to keep being the thing you have become.  It is never too late.

Sometimes you have to do something with your pain because otherwise it will swallow you.

I'm not saying it was an unhappy marriage, only that it had become a well-worn one, like an old coat you stop looking after.

Don't try to see ahead to the nice bits.  Don't try to see ahead to the end.  Stay with the present, even if it is not so good.  And consider how far you've already come. (Sister Mary Inconnu)

It takes a long time to learn that there are other ways of doing things.  It doesn't just happen overnight.  (Sister Mary Inconnu)

Each of these could be the basis of a blog post
but I'll just let them speak for themselves.
Do any of them resonate with you?


You Just Never Know

Oh, my!
You just never know...
To find my name listed on the same page with Jan Karon, Gladys Tabor,
Susan Branch and C.S. Lewis is quite startling!  
Dear Pamela of A Sheltering Tree passed on this photo of the 
"flyleaf of a small blue leather journal belonging to (her) mother".
Believe me, I'm going to check out the Outlander Series....
AND be more mindful about my words--written and spoken.
You just never know where they might be heard or read!

 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, 
but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, 
that it may give grace to those who hear.  (Ephesians 4:29)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, 
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.  (Psalm 19:14)

Presence

This morning while packing my bag for the hours I will spend with my mother, I realized there was little I could pack that would meet the reality of the present.  In the past months, I have packed puzzles, books, yarn, clay, crayons, photo albums, and all sorts of other activities that we have shared.  My laptop has provided entertainment, too--cute videos of children, songs of the DeZurik sisters straight from her past, and hymns to soothe the soul.

But lately, she has little interest or energy to spend on "activity".  And as I looked about my home wondering what I could take, words from the Lord to Moses crossed my mind.  I stopped to find them in Exodus 34:14.

The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

It is enough.  Presence!  How desperately I need His Presence--and with it, rest.
And today I will give her the gift of MY presence.  It will be enough.
A holding of hand.
A smile or a tear.
A cup of water.
A foot rub, perhaps.
I will share her space and be as present as I can be.


Book Day

I've had this on hold for many, many weeks. 
It arrived today, just in time for World Book Day
I'm on chapter 2 and have already shed a tear. 
 (It's the sequel to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, by Rachel Joyce....)
What are YOU reading?

I have a Pinterest Board titled Book Decor.
If you like books and enjoy looking at the way people incorporate them
into their personal spaces, you might enjoy checking it out.
After my Favorite Places & Spaces board, it is my next favorite
I ♥ books.

My Mother; My Self

My mother
 My mother....My self.
The older we get, the blurrier the line that separates us becomes.
In some ways, dementia takes her farther from me;
but in other ways we are closer than I remember ever being.
Sometimes I think SHE thinks she is me.
Often she is all I think about.
Her distress is mine.
Her smile makes my day.
I've never loved her like I love her today.
My mother...My self.
My self
 Ending well requires our presence. Ending well requires rest. 
Just as our piano teachers told us: at the end of the song 
do not let your fingers (let alone your body) leave their places prematurely.
It is a form of attentiveness.  And attentiveness is a form of respect.
Savor endings. Stay attentive until their last note dissipates.  
Rest in the silence that follows
for within it you just might find a milestone.

Help

...from a magazine I was browsing the other day.  (Actually, I don't expect to be "sleeping" in the grave...but I get the idea.)

Recently I was advised that someone who wanted to leave a comment on my blog 
had to jump through a bunch of hoops to do so -- and gave up. 
Sooooooooooooo, my husband did a test run and encountered the same problem.

Help!  What's going on?  Something to do with GooglePlus? 
Is there a way to make commenting simpler?
It's been a LONG time since I paid any attention to the mechanics of blogging.

If YOU can't leave a comment, would you Facebook me?  
I'd sure like to correct this.  Rebecca Zimmerman Gates is my Facebook name.

UPDATE!
I may have figured this out myself.
If you have trouble commenting, Facebook me and let me know!


Old

 A recent post on Facebook...

I have heard lots of stories on how young people of today have no clue how to count back change...well...it ain't just the young. I had a much older lady as my cashier this morning. My total came to $15.90. I handed her a $20 bill and before she could even place it in the drawer I said, "oh wait, here, this will help." And handed her a single dollor (her spelling) bill.

She just stared at me....so I said, "this way I'll just get a 5 back and 10 cents."....she still just continued to stare at me so I literally repeated word for word what I just said (in case she hadn't heard me or something.) 


She then starts shaking her head and rolled her eyes, put the $20 bill in the drawer and muttered, " so then what's the point, you'll just be getting this back then..." And proceeded to count out 4 one dollar bills from her drawer and handing them to me along with the one dollar bill I had given her. Kept shaking her head and rolling her eyes while handing me my 10 cents too. I smiled, said, "thank you" and moved on. Eh, money is money - at least I did get back the right amount anyway!


Suddenly, reading this, I felt VERY old.   
 Even MORE so when two of this person's friends commented:    
Old people sheesh!! LOL!! and  What a dork!
A few days ago, my post here was tittled "Ordinary"
Today, "Old". 
 I, too, am a "much older lady".

Kudos to the "much older lady" (not me) who commented THIS way: 
"...you know, if you are fortunate, before you know it you will be one of those!" 

...encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
I Thessalonians 5:14

Ordinary

Recently I read an interview with Tony Merida, author of Ordinary.  
I haven't read the book yet, but these lines from the interview stood out to me:

Many Christians feel as though they aren’t faithful if they don’t live in a mud-hut in India. 
While some need to move to India, I want the non-international missionary to see that they can make an extraordinary impact in a cul-de-sac or trailer park or apartment complex by doing things like practicing hospitality, showing neighbor love, caring for the vulnerable, speaking up for the voiceless, and praying.  


I joyfully recognize and embrace my current, ordinary and relatively small calling - "caring for the vulnerable, speaking up for the voiceless, and praying." 

♪ I take, O cross, thy shadow for my abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than the sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by to know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross. ♪
(from Beneath the Cross of Jesus)

 



Preparing

This past week, a bomb threat at a school in a neighboring small town interrupted the school day. Evacuation, communication, and investigation were all accomplished in an admirable manner.  The threat turned out to be a hoax; suspects have been identified.

One of the office personnel said she has a saying taped to her computer.  It reads, "Preparing for the day that we hope never comes".  Preparedness paid off!  Plans were set in motion and at the end of the day all staff and students were home.  Safe and sound.   The entire village seemed to sigh with relief.

Reading the message taped to the computer screen, I reflected on ANOTHER day--one that is SURE to come.  I wonder how many people have put as much thought and planning into THAT day as the school system did into "the day we hope never comes"?

This is the day I'm talking about...

Matthew 25:31-46
When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left...Then the King will say to those on his right, ''Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world...Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels..."  Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.  (Jesus)

A Day in the Life

 Out and about early....
ready and waiting for my husband's cardioversion.
Competent and cheerful nurses and personnel make it easier.
The time comes.
I leave the room and scarcely have time to open the magazine
before I'm summoned back to bedside.
He is groggy, but his heart is back in rhythm.
So thankful for medical knowledge, equipment, facilities, and personnel.
Thankful for another day to live, love and share life with my beloved.
He holds the future in the palm of His hand,
And He has never failed me yet,
I know He's reigning and still has control,
So why should I worry or fret?
(words as I recall them from an "old" Gaither song)

Promises

My parents celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary yesterday.
To watch their faithfulness to one another and to the Lord 
over the years has been a sweet privilege.
Yesterday was not without its challenges, but the afternoon turned out to be a gentle, peaceful one.
This morning, reflecting on the experience,
this old song kept running through my mind.
It is my prayer.

O Jesus, I Have Promised
John  E. Bode
  1. O Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end;
    Be Thou forever near me, my Master and my Friend;
    I shall not fear the battle if Thou art by my side,
    Nor wander from the pathway if Thou wilt be my Guide.
  2. Oh, let me hear Thee speaking in accents clear and still,
    I dare not trust my judgment: Thy way shall be my will;
    Oh, speak to reassure me, to hasten or control;
    Oh, speak, and help me listen, Thou Guardian of my soul.
  3. O Jesus, Thou hast promised to all who follow Thee
    That where Thou art in glory there shall Thy servant be;
    And Jesus, I have promised to serve Thee to the end—
    Oh, give me grace to follow, my Master and my Friend.
  4. Oh, let me see Thy footprints, and in them plant mine own;
    My hope to follow duly is in Thy strength alone;
    Oh, guide me, call me, draw me, uphold me to the end;
    And then in Heav’n receive me, my Savior and my Friend.

Anything is Possible

 “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”
Mark 9:23, New Living Translation

It has been an interesting day, not spectacular, but interesting.
My mind sifts possibilities,
interweaving them with improbabilities
,
contrasting with certainties.
For life is not static
and tomorrow will have another song to sing,
interspersed with silence.
But I will only be able to appreciate the melody of the day,
if I take time to sit and listen.
(Rose Humphrey, from this post on her blog)

♪ I am a promise
I am a possibility
I am a promise with a capital P
I am a great big bundle of potentiality ♪
(the Gaithers)

and THIS, from a children's musical I directed YEARS ago--
who knew these words would still be with me today?!?

 ♪ Only God can count the apples in a single seed
Only He knows just how many there will be
All my possibilities are the treasures that He sees
When He looks inside of me ♪
(I Am God's Project)

Possible is "my word" for 2015.  I want to/NEED TO revisit it frequently!




Bad Leg Down; Good Leg Up

  I stood at the top of these stairs this morning looking down.  
Since breaking my hip last March and the replacement of the knee on the opposite leg in September, 
I took a tumble a few weeks ago that makes climbing and descending stairs difficult.
"Bad leg DOWN; good leg UP," I mumble to myself as I tried to remember which leg to lead with.
(I remember my mother staying "Bad leg down to hell; good leg up to heaven"
following her own surgeries years ago....)
I find I have to talk myself into taking the first step up or down.  
Neither leg feels like the GOOD one, so I have to think which one was the most recently injured.
 THEN I take the appropriate first step
holding firmly to the railing.
Half-way down the stairs this morning, I saw a correlation between my current
physical challenge and the method of approaching many OTHER challenges!
The first step is often the most difficult.
Sometimes it takes a strong talking to oneself--a mental adjustment.  
A reassuring of self.
Finally, it boils down to ACTION--beginning with the first step
and holding firmly to the railing!  (That's IMPORTANT!)*
Besides increasing my speed and confidence in stair climbing and descending,
I have a few other goals.
As I identify the "steps" involved in meeting them,
I'll put the observations I made this morning into action.

 *Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, 
but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own,
 that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.
Philippians 3:12

Goodbye, Mitford

 I definitely had mixed emotions as I finished the last of 500+ pages
and said a temporary goodbye to Mitford.
Temporary because there are far too many loose ends to tie up.
Surely the next volume cannot be far behind!
Mixed emotions because I'm SO excited to have finished a book - and a long one at that -
after a dry spell in the reading department while at the same time
being sad to have closed the book on such a delightful story
full of fascinating characters, inspiring quotes, and intriguing descriptions of life in a small town.
Until the next Mitford saga, thanks to fellow bloggers' suggestions,
I have these two books with which to occupy my time the next few days.
Unlike Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good,
these are old books and (if I understand correctly), non-fiction.
A Walk Through the Year, Edwin Way Teale/The Shape of a Year, Jean Hersey
What are YOU reading?
Where do you get your "leads" - how do you decide what to read next?
What's your favorite reading genre?

More than "Possible"

This is my Bible....C.C.'s photo had verse 5 highlighted.....
I have a Twitter account.  I use it primarily as a file of inspiring and challenging quotes.  This morning, Christine Caine's tweet sent me to her Instagram account--by the way, I don't have an Instagram account--there IS a limit:  This, along with a photo showing Joshua 3:5 highlighted in yellow, is what I found:

"I don't know about you, but I go to sleep believing this EVERY night.  I find that the more I BELIEVE the Lord will do amazing things among us, the more I see him do amazing things.  Life is too short to waste in unbelief, fear, doubt & negativity. As for me & my house, we are BELIEVING GOD!!!

"My word" for 2015 is possible. I wrote how that came to be here.  C.C.'s tweet and the accompanying Scripture impress me to expect so much MORE than possible.  God DID, CAN, and WILL DO AMAZING things!

It appears to me that Joshua called for at least two things here.  First, that the people "consecrate" (some versions say "purify") themselves in anticipation/expectation for God's amazing activity on their behalf.  Secondly, that preparation for the next day begin the night before!  Tomorrow begins today!

With God's help, I will incorporate both of these insights more intentionally into my daily - well, nightly - practice.


First Read of 2015

"Above all, he and Cynthia had been two of her biggest supporters when, scared out of her wits and not knowing how she could possibly make it, she bought the bookstore and moved upstairs and hung curtains at the windows and came to believe in God."

One paragraph containing only one sentence.  It takes a good writer to pack an entire story into that small a space, and Jan Karon does it.  Repeatedly!  It's been a few years since I read one of her books, and now I'm wondering if I've read them all and simply forgotten some details about some of the characters or missed a book or two altogether!

At any rate, I'm happy to have THIS one in hand--lent to me and delivered in person by a kindred spirit.  Her visit itself was delightful and left my heart in a peaceful state, as conversations with good friends are wont to do...

"I loved that book, Rebecca! I even bought it...and now have it sitting up on a cabinet near me, as I LOVE the title!!!"  So wrote a less-familiar friend who read my facebook post chronicling my happiness of having been lent the book since I was far down the list of others who had placed a hold on it at our library. Like Marilyn, my less-familiar friend, I love the title, too.



Oh, the pleasure of reading a simple and fine story 
in a comfortable chair in a warm room 
on a cold, wintry day!

...So that NOTHING is Wasted



"Gather what is left so that nothing is wasted."  I woke from sleep upon hearing these words.  Looking back on the experience, I am unclear whether they came from the words of a preacher on the Bott Radio Network that I have turned on softly all night or from Someone else, for my ears only. 

I didn't fall back to sleep immediately.  Instead my mind raced to my "storehouse" of Bible knowledge.  I KNEW these were Jesus' words to His disciples following the Feeding of the 5,000.

I searched them out specifically the next morning. (By the way, except for the resurrection of Christ, the Feeding of the 5,000 is the only other miracle recorded in all four Gospels.)  Matthew, Mark and Luke all say something like this:  "They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over."
However, John wrote (6:12-13)  "After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, 'Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.'  So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves."

The immediate message was clear to me.  My own body had been broken several times in 2014.  A recent fall has left me in a some pretty serious pain and semi-dependent on the assistance of my husband.  There are times when I wonder if pain and stilted movements will be part of the rest-of-my-life.  "Broken" well describes my spirit at times...

But the instruction was clear (then AND now):  "Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted."

Imagine my sense of amazement and awe the next morning when a friend responded with these words to my facebook message thanking her for visiting us the previous night and bringing along a book I've been wanting to read:   
We enjoyed it as well. 
Seems like something that could have happened in the book you're reading. 
May your recovery be speedy and unwasted.

Unwasted!   Let NOTHING be wasted, Lord!
Not the pain. Not the brokenness.  Not even the recovery!
  NOTHING.

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)