Moments to Remember

 ♪ Though summer turns to winter
And the present disappears
The laughter we were glad to share
Will echo through the years
When other nights and other days
May find us gone our separate ways
We will have these moments to remember....♪










Thanksgiving found my husband and I going two different directions.
It was a most unusual holiday.  
The photos above come from two different locations,
but all reflect the reality that Thanksgiving is a state of the heart.
It doesn't depend on place, menu, or ANY circumstances, for that matter...
Seeing my husband walk in the door five hours earlier than I expected this morning
is my most recent reason to be thankful.
My heart is full.

Simple Self Care


For the past year, self care for me has consisted primarily of recovery.  
Rest, ice, medication, therapy.  
I did it all out of necessity, with little pleasure.  Robotically,  
Somewhere in the past week or two, I turned a corner.  
My thoughts have expanded to include haircuts, nutrition, exercise, and a good closet cleaning-out.  
I know. Many--if not most--people would consider these basic and normal.  
Which makes me realize that high on my Thanksgiving list of blessings 
is my slow but significant return to "basic" and "normal".  
Simple self care. 
 It's never felt so good!

Someday

Jesus replied, "You don't understand now what I am doing, 
but someday you will."  (John 13:7)
So much of what is happening TO me and AROUND me
is covered by this verse.  
(I'm certain that I'm not alone.)
Can I be honest and say that sometimes it's no easier for me to be reassured by this now
than when I was told it by a well-meaning and wise parent as a child?
Even as I type these words into my post,
I'm aware how selfish and immature they sound.
I'm embarrassed by my confession, until I remember how gently Jesus spoke
 to Simon Peter that day--
quietly addressing his anxieties;
taking into account his personality;
entering into dialogue with him--
all the while accomplishing HIS purpose.
Somedays, someday can't come soon enough for me!

Gratitude

"...all is an opportunity to give thanks to God"
BEING GRATEFUL
Giving thanks for everything

Every day we are given opportunities for acquiring a grateful heart. Whatever comes our way, whether it be good or bad, are occasions for being grateful. When we realize that even difficulties and hardships are allowed by God for our salvation, we are more likely to received whatever comes, with a grateful heart. Whatever life places before us, all is an opportunity to give thanks to God.

The difficulties we face are opportunities to embrace with a trusting heart, that which God has allowed. Our willingness to please God governs our response, and in turn nurtures a humble heart, and a humble heart opens the doors to a peace that passes all understanding, and the Gates of Paradise are opened wide to us.

Love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon


I receive Abbot Tryphon's "letters" on facebook.  
He writes from  All-Merciful Saviour Orthodox Christian Monastery.
Always thought-provoking and wise.   
Gratitude is a popular subject on blogs and in books...  
plenty written about it.  
Hints about how to practice it abound.
Folks post their "daily five" for the world to see.
Ann Voskamp is light years ahead of me.
...
The timing of this particular reminder 
couldn't have been better for me personally.
I have "miles to go before I sleep"
when it comes to this - and so many other - subjects.

Mother

 
 Among the sweet thing I'll remember of the past year
my mother has spent in the Special Care Unit
is how she notices when I arrive wearing lipstick...
Her eyes fasten on my lips and she points to her own.
She struggles to put words to her request,
but it is clear that she wants to wear some herself.
After I apply it, I hand her a Kleenex to blot.
Then I get out my phone and show her how good she looks
via my phone's camera.
She poses -- seeing herself as in a mirror.
She is pleased.
I touch the screen and capture the picture,
and I couldn't be happier....

Anne Lamott

My Ikea-less reality


Though I'm quite certain we're poles apart when it comes to life experiences, talent, theology, and appearance, I have a strong sense  that our hearts share space! These recent tweets of hers (Anne Lamott)  are examples of why I read her books and admire her from a distance:
  •  I think God loves what is real, esp in us. Not the stuff we've tricked out w/ cute rugs from Ikea. What's really in our hearts & minds. Wow\
  • We have a short, silent time of confession Sunday. I always say something like, “Look-I think we both know what we have on our hands here.”
I'm counting on the first - though I find it frightening and reassuring at the same time - and find her Sunday confession spot on.

Prayer

lately,
my prayers (what prayers?)
seem useless,
impossible to verbalize
and passionless.
it seems pointless
to expect answers from One
who seems so distant;
occupied with matters far larger than me...
yet in desperation,
alone and frightened 
by unfamiliar circumstances and intense pain,
i begged others, "pray for me."
and many did.
one day i will pray again, too.
i know i will.
10/28/2014

Simple Pleasures are the Best

On the way to my car after my physical therapy session,
I noticed the hospital's groundskeeper cutting back the hydrangeas.
The back of his pickup truck was loaded with them,
and he was still cutting.
 I asked if someone had already asked for them.
He seemed a little stunned by my question and told me to take all I wanted.
I wish I'd taken more than an armful.
Simple pleasures really ARE the best.

A Beautiful Mind

I don't know why, but this photo of a project my husband has been working on makes me think of the movie, ,"A Beautiful Mind".  It's been a long time since I saw it, but it was the first thing that came to my mind.

Some research has concluded that “Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insight".  And Albert Einstein once said, "If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” 

I am always amazed and thankful for what emerges from this particular disorderly environment.  Somehow, it makes my own clutter seem less formidable. 
In all fairness, I should add that it doesn't always look this way.
At least once a month (or maybe at the end of a project) it returns to its more organized state. 
***
Returning to this post the next morning, I see something else altogether!
I see how God's people stand out against the chaotic background of a world gone wild!


Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights
 in a world full of crooked and perverse people.  (Philippians 2:15)

Now THIS is the reminder I'll carry with me today.

our Ladies' Bible Study

 A few weeks ago, I was searching for Bible study material for a group of ladies from our church.
Since we would be meeting in a local coffee shop, it would not be convenient to use a 
video-based study.  That fact and the determination I had that the study be Bible-centered
limited my options.  I'm SO happy to have found this particular Precept Bible study material.
(All photos from The Agora on Waldo's Hill, Antwerp, OH - site of our Bible study)
At the first meeting, I asked how many women had been to an ocean shore.
I told them that their experience with this study would correspond to that experience.
Some put their toes in the ocean, others wade out waist-deep, some brave the waves.
Others snorkel and see details that many who only put their toes in miss.
Little did I know how accurate this analogy is!  
Though I don't follow ALL the suggestions for Bible marking (a very complex system),
I was amazed by the treasures contained in the first chapter of I Peter
as I studied per the instructions this second week of the study.
What a treasure is my salvation!
How brief and temporary any sufferings I experience while in my "exile" here on earth!
What a hope I have of one day seeing Jesus face-to-face!
How enduring and powerful the Word of God!
How encouraging the bond of love we share as we gather!

 “People are like grass;
    their beauty is like a flower in the field.
The grass withers and the flower fades.   
But the word of the Lord remains forever."
(I Peter 1)

the Wonder of Autumn

 Though the sky was grey and rain fell intermittently,
 nothing could interfere with my awe of and appreciation for
the beauty of nature....the enjoyment of God's creation!
I wish for a larger heart in which to store the memory of this day.
I am thankful my husband was with me.
Somehow, being able to share the wonder WITH someone increases the pleasure....

An Exquisite Fragrance

Personally, I'm not a shopper.
I probably would never have purchased this for myself
or even KNOWN such a thing existed!
However, I'm thankful that SOMEbody did.
It now sits beside my recliner where I currently spend a lot of hours 
icing my new knee in between exercises and physical therapy.
From time to time, I twist off the lid and enjoy the amazing scent.
It doesn't take long for it to permeate the entire room's atmosphere.
I highly recommend it (and wonder what other scents wickless soy candles come in).

2 Corinthians 2:14-15, The Message
“Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. 
Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, 
which is recognized by those on the way of salvation — an aroma redolent with life.”

Isn't this an amazing truth?!?

Empty Containers/Daily Bread

For several years, my husband and I have prayed the Lord's Prayer together
as part of our morning devotional time together.
This morning, reflecting on the words we had prayed, I remarked something to this effect:
"The words 'give us today our daily bread' have taken on a special meaning
for me over the past few days."

Before my knee replacement surgery, I made a large batch of our vegetable soup
and froze it in small quantities for us to eat during my recovery.
We've only eaten one meal of the vegetable soup!
As it is turning out, Daily Bread has been appearing in such a variety of forms.
One day - leftover rice and black beans from a church dinner.
I made at least two meals out of these, including some black bean chili.
Another day it was potato soup from a friend.
One day scalloped potatoes and ham delivered by my sister.
This morning - a few minutes after remarking about how the Father had indeed
provided our Daily Bread,
my husband returned from the post office with a card.  
Twenty-five dollars were enclosed with a note saying,  "Get some carry-out.  Our treat!"

Empty containers witness to the generosity of friends
and Daily Bread.
How blessed we are.

I Lift My Eyes Up....

I look to you, heaven-dwelling God, look up to you for help.  (Psalm 123:1, The Message)
 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?  
My help comes from the Lord,  the Maker of heaven and earth. (Psalm 121:1-2)
 Spent a little time on the back porch this afternoon
soaking up some sun and doing a few of my exercises holding on to the porch rail.
 I was thankful to be surrounded by early autumn beauty
and sad when the loose pages of directions for some knee rehab exercises
floated off the seat of my walker.
I haven't gotten to the "stairs phase" of rehab yet,
so I tossed a couple of weights on them and will ask my husband to retrieve them later.

I often "toss a couple of weights" on quotations that inspire/instruct/challenge me--
short, concise statements that I don't want to float out of my mind.
I do that by storing them in my hand-written journal*, in the quotes tab of this blog, 
or in my Twitter account.  
They are more easily retrieved than before 
when I wrote them on random pieces of paper that were difficult to re-source....

*Have you noticed how frequently Dr. David Jeremiah encourages 
his congregation and listeners to journal?

You've Got Mail!

Happiness = Friends + Snail Mail
(Don't you just ♥ Snail Mail?)

 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.  
I Thessalonians 5:11

Rehab and recovery going well.
I'm doing MY part to the best of my ability.
Surgeon did his.
My husband is incredibly patient and helpful.
God's goodness and mercy continue to follow me.

The Countdown

Floors vacuumed, furniture dusted.
Pot of soup made and frozen into smaller portions.
Bed carried downstairs.
Suitcase packed
After our outdoor worship service and picnic this morning,
my husband and I will drive to Ohio.
We'll stay overnight at my father's place - it is near the hospital
where I'll have knee replacement surgery on Tuesday.
Doctor appointments tomorrow along with some blood typing.
By Thursday night, I expect to be back home in this bed!
This print of a painting I "found" many months ago in a thrift store
is near and dear to my heart.
"Here in our weakness you find us,
falling before Your throne.....oh, we're falling before Your throne."
(From "Wonderful, Merciful Savior")

The Tenth

 It's a tiny book.  An old book.
It sits with two similarly-sized books in a convenient place for quick reading.
I reached for it and read the prayer for September Eleventh.
It was EXACTLY what I needed to pray in that moment.
Only later did I realize that I was reading it on the tenth.
Sometimes it happens that way.
On a lighter note
~also on the tenth~
I made a pot of creamed soup out of some leftover vegetables.
It was a soup-sort of day and it was DELICIOUS!
If you're interested, you can read more about it here.

The Tension

I've begun to suspect that facebook/twitter/social media in general
is in danger of becoming the current "street corner" of Matthew 6. 
Jesus said, "Beware."  And I'm trying to discern and adjust my behavior accordingly.
This is how I responded in declining to participate in yet ANOTHER facebook "challenge" recently. 
Sometimes I feel like such a grinch.

It's a hard issue for me.  I have Facebook and Twitter accounts; a Pinterest board, too.  I've blogged for many years now.  I find it to be a creative outlet as well as a pictorial journal of sorts.  I've been challenged, inspired, corrected and instructed by reading the posts and comments of other people. I've made some wonderful friends.

On the other hand, I'm increasingly aware of a certain tension--perhaps a healthy one.   For me, the tension consists of temptations to compare myself with others either negatively or positively, occasionally to present myself in an unrealistically favorable or unfavorable light, and at times to judge other people -- again either favorably or unfavorably.

(I don't know if that makes ANY sense to ANYone...)
There ARE times, Jesus said, to let our lights shine before others so they may see our good works and give glory to our Father (Matthew 5:16).  But I can't escape his words just a few paragraphs later:  "Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be see by them..." (Matthew 6:1ff).

Last night I hear a radio preacher say something to this effect (I was too groggy to get this transcribed word for word OR to know who was speaking):  When you most feel like hiding, that's the time to let your light shine.  When you feel most like shining, that's the time to hide.   

I'm going to GO with that.  
It seems to be consistent with Jesus' intent. 
I suspect I'll continue to experience the tension as long as I'm present on social media. 


The Parable of the Tithonia

Flowers in one of our flower beds
It was generally a great season for our amateurish gardening efforts this summer.
Flowers grew to unusual heights here at Gatescroft.
Apparently the growth phenomenon wasn't limited to our backyard.
One of the gardening blogs I enjoy, Garden in a City,  recorded a similar pattern. 
 In the case of the city gardener, it was the Mexican Sunflower that grew to massive proportions.
The blogger noted:  "...we cannot be blind to the flaws of those whom we love. 
This past week I learned about such a flaw."
His (or could be her) lovely Tithonia had grown to seven and eight foot heights!
Its normal height is four to six feet.
At its unusual height, it couldn't stand up to pounding rains.  
"The stems are thick but not flexible. 
They crack but do not bend if the weight and force of the water is great enough," 
the gardener noted.
Of the four plants originally planted along the driveway,
only one survived and was promptly staked to a ten-foot length of rebar.

As I read the account of the Tithonia,
I couldn't help but think of people. 
Leaders and celebrities in the world in general and in Christendom.
Those who "grow" in actual position and/or perception beyond their "normal" status.
Like the Mexican Sunflower, too many of such folk crack 
under adverse internal and external weights and forces.
Some don't "survive",
and those who do need to be promptly "staked" to strong support systems.
 Bottom line?
We "can't be blind to the flaws of those we love"
and must be diligent in tending to our own!

Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 
I Corinthians 10:12

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)