This Too is Life

  • Furnace malfunction
  • Purchase and installation of new furnace
  • Visit to the HUGE Farm Show with my dad
  • Dr. visit where the pain in my side (which got increasingly sharp) was diagnosed as broken rib from a cold/cough that I've had for weeks
  • Friends over last night for delightful evening of chili and games
  • Disassembled the small Christmas tree; removed all ornaments from the big one
  • Sorting of vintage Christmas tree bulbs; keeping only the blue and red ones.
  • Meals planned and prepared; laundry done; met friends for coffee; shopped for groceries
  • Welcomed phone conversations with a couple of our children
  • Suffering friends prayed for
  • Sad situations mourned

This too was life this week.....
the big
the small
of it.


Punch Line

Image result for Punch and Judy, image
While writing my post for one of my other blogs,
I fell back on a phrase I've used now and then--
"pleased as punch".
THIS time, I was curious and goggled it to find out where it came from.
I was surprised to find out,
and after reading the explanation,
I'm not sure I'll use it again!
Actually, I can't recall seeing or hearing any P&J episodes.
Have you?

Kindness: One Little Touch

Last spring, Karen Mains posted this on her Facebook page:
One of the things I try to do each spring is make a welcoming spot around the mailbox. 
I know this is a lot of work, but this is for the %10 of people who drive by who notice and think, 
"How nice!" Sometimes one little touch in a ragged day makes 
even a brief moment of difference. 
Kindness from strangers; oh how we all need it!

"Kindness"
My word for 2018.
This got me to thinking...
dreaming about spring...
What "one little touch" can I plan and implement
to make a public welcoming spot???
Meanwhile, why am I waiting for spring!
Stay tuned. 

Pieces of Torn Paper

"The best of life is written on pieces of torn paper."  (The Web of Life, Richard Louv)
Can anyone else identify with this line?
My dilema?
What to do with the pieces of torn paper!

First Outing of the New Year

 After supper Thursday evening,
 the three of us sallied forth (almost on a whim)
 to our local Botanical Conservatory.
 Unbeknown to us, the first Thursday of each month
is $1 night!
 Though the Christmas display has been up for several weeks now
 and will be dismantled this weekend,
 we enjoyed the outing immensely.

 I've marked the first Thursday of February
to remind me to return!

Try a Little Kindness

If you see your brother standing by the road
With a heavy load from the seeds he's sowed
And if you see your sister falling by the way
Just stop and say "You're going the wrong way"...

Don't walk around the down and out
Lend a helping hand instead of doubt
And the kindness that you show every day
Will help someone along their way

You got to try a little kindness, yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness, then you'll overlook the blindness
Of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets

I heard it today.  I'd forgotten about this song...
Glen Campbell made it famous, I believe.
Just another reminder that KINDNESS is "my word" for 2018.
***
Charles Spurgeon is credited with this quote: 
"Of all afflictions, an unkind heart is the worst."

Day 2 in The Book

"Resolved: I will fight the distractions that keep me from God’s word
 and I will make reading it and studying it a top priority."  
I copied this tweet from Mike Fabarez this morning and added "and put it into practice".  This morning I successfully fought the distractions .  Day 2 in the books!  (And in The Book!)

This is the date book I use.  It begins in August of previous year so already shows signs of use.  Each year I check out different formats but return to this one.  It is familiar, affordable, and small enough to tuck into a purse, etc.
The only item on my Christmas wish list was the Bic four-colored pen.  Usually I get the orange barreled ones which are fine point, but these medium points work just fine.  They are harder and harder to find in stock, but my husband hunted them down and gave me three for Christmas.  Couldn't have been happier with a Christmas gift! 

Kindness

KINDNESS - the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
Some of its synonyms are: 
warmheartedness, affection, warmth, gentleness,
concern, care, consideration, helpfulness, thoughtfulness,
unselfishness, selflessness, compassion,
sympathy, understanding, benevolence, friendliness,
hospitality, neighborliness, generosity, magnanimity, and charitableness.
This, I have decided, is my "word" for 2018.
God has been so kind to me.  
With His help, by His Spirit at work in me,
I want to be more intentionally kind to others--
beginning with those with whom I interact daily!










The Raven and I

After months in the ark,
I rather imagine the raven Noah summoned to fly over the receding waters
needed some nudging and encouragement to test its wings
 before going on its mission.
I felt a bit like that this morning.
Weakened and slowed by my malaise,
I gathered pins, fabric and scissors to test MY wings
by fabricating a simple replacement cover
for the cushion on which I sit every day.
This was the tangible result.
What is NOT visible is the very real spark (however small) of hope
that healing is progressing and health is just around the corner.
***
This small project intensifies my desire and determination
to be more creatively productive in 2018.

This Malaise



The days drag on
each ending with genuine expectations that their tomorrows will be better--
less coughing;
more energy.
Occasionally a morning seems to match the expectation
only to be contradicted
once the body gets in motion--
more coughing;
less energy.
Questions haunt the mind:
How does one measure improvement?
Are there medical solutions to this malaise?
Have I waited too long?
Meanwhile, genuine expectations and haunting questions
continue to battle it out.
12/26/2017 rlg

Solitude 101

Starting to practice solitude is like clearing out an attic. Each time we find a lonely spot, it's like removing a piece of the clutter. After repeated practice, we begin to notice the spaciousness of the attic, the vaulted ceilings and the sunlight cutting through the window. It becomes a place we want to return to again-and-again. A place we crave, a holy place. That's the pattern for all the Spiritual Disciplines, they start out as a kind of difficult and demanding task, and become, by God's grace, joyful and freeing. By practicing solitude, we clear out the old boxes and worn-out furniture of our heart and mind, we learn to build a sanctuary of the soul, a spacious place for God.  (Jonathan Bailey, here.)
Finding this such a descriptive and accurate explanation of this "place".  
A place I crave.
A holy place.
A sanctuary of the soul.
A spacious place for God.

A Christmas Like No Other

With nothing big on our Christmas Day agenda, family gatherings having taken place a few weeks ago, this turned out to be a Christmas like no other. Simple decorations have been enjoyed for several weeks now.  Evenings have concluded with the three of us listening to Dr. John Piper read Advent meditations. I led the carol sing at our Wednesday night gathering at church well aware I was under the influence of a cold.  (Or is it flu?)  Still under the influence, I got up the next morning and drove to Chicago to pick up my dad and brother who had taken the train for a short, special trip to Kansas.

And under the influence, I remain--wiped out and spending hours a day in my comfy recliner where I've slept and slept and slept.

With no planned events or responsibilities, my husband, a Visitation Pastor, has been free to minister to several folks from our church during unusual illnesses and family deaths.  (In the past  week, there have been four deaths.)

It was hard to sit in my comfy recliner yesterday evening when Gary left for the hospital after receiving news that a friend had fallen and spent an unknown time (perhaps as much as two days) on the floor of her condo where she lived alone.  Hers may be a difficult recovery.

Funerals are pending.  I'm hopeful of recovering enough to visit my friend in the hospital very soon.  Today is the first day I've felt chipper enough to pick up a book (Alexander McCall Smith's The Italian Bulldozer) and read.  I've smiled at his descriptions and marveled at his grasp of human nature.

Today, these words a friend shared on her Facebook page capture several thoughts running randomly through my mind.  (The past year has found her relocating from Florida to Indiana and caring for her husband whose Alzheimer's has advanced significantly.)
Grateful to our neighbor, shovel in hand, (who) came over saying, "It is better with two shovels!" He was so right! It is better with two shovels! It made the job a lot lighter! What a wonderful gift we received! What a wonderful feeling, having the assistance from one with such a joyful spirit!
 I agree!  It IS better with two shovels!  And OH to be one who assists with a joyful spirit! 
Merry Christmas
from this one who is experiencing A Christmas Like No Other.

Calm before the Storm

Today the calm...
Seated at one of the two tables in front of Cracker Barrel's fireplace.
The manager even threw on fresh logs just for us (or so I told myself)!
Tonight, carol sing at our regular Wednesday evening prayer service.
And tomorrow, the storm.
I head into downtown Chicago to pick up my father and brother
at Union Station.
My Chicago daughter has warned me that our trip out of the city
will be during the heart of rush hour.
A most memorable Christmas season this is turning out to be.

Cut and Fold

Rather than slipping the gift card into a greeting card,
I recycled a greeting card to make a box to fit the gift card.
(I've seen one before, but I'm not sure I've tried my hand at one until now.)
I googled to find a pattern and found it delightfully easy to construct!
***
I was doubly pleased when I turned the box top over
and found the Christ Child in its center--
as though I'd made an effort to place Him there...
I hadn't.
But I AM determined to keep Him as the focus
in my personal life and celebrations this season.
I am well aware that it doesn't just "happen"
as easily as it did with the box top!
 

Each With a Story

 All on our tree...

 ...each with a story.


Not about Christmas

I can't remember if it was free or cost only a dime or so...
but it came home with us amid a stack of books a few months ago.
I only recently picked it up and began to read.
Today I reluctantly finished it--
maybe the best book I've read in a l-o-n-g time!
In my opinion, the writing is superb.  
There is humor, suspense, information, and details
written so descriptively that they were simply delicious to my mind.
Whether your interest is whetted by the period in history (1930's), Africa,
horses, flying or remarkable women,
I believe you'd find this book totally intriguing.

The Christmas Squeeze

'Twas a near-perfect day weather-wise for touring the Williams-Woodland neighborhood
in nearby Fort Wayne yesterday.
Grand old homes in various stages from gutted to completed
provided us with much inspiration and pleasure.
In spite of many fancy furnishings and beautiful table settings,
scenes such as this simple porch were my favorite sights.
I posted a few photos on Facebook, and someone commented,
 Thanks for sharing some pics! I'd have loved to go, but couldn't squeeze it in. 
 If there's one lesson I think I've learned in my almost-69-years,
it is NOT to try to squeeze the Christmas out of Christmas!
For me, this means a counter-cultural approach to the entire season.
It means sifting through the all the tantalizing events  
and selecting only a few of them.
It means limiting obligations.  
It means being thoughtful and realistic in gift-giving.
It means slowing down while others rush around me.
It means guarding both the calendar AND my heart.
It means extra time spent reading God's Word and conversation with Him.
It means finding my primary Christmas inspiration and pleasure  
from these two sources.
It means being generous and joyful from the inside out--
WITHOUT the squeeze.
 

No Room

"It's a l-o-n-g way to Bethlehem!"  I thought to myself
as our car made its way slowly in the maze of traffic
waiting for a turn to view the live nativity at a local church.
Driving home, we three adult passengers 
ranging in age from sixty-seven to ninety-one
decided that once-in-a-lifetime for this particular experience
would be enough for us.
THIS scene, "No Room in the Inn", reminded me of a Tim Keller tweet
that challenged me recently:
“The manger at Christmas means that, if you live like Jesus, 
there won’t be room for you in a lot of inns.” 
 

Old Pillows

 These two pillows have at least twenty years of age on them.
A friend and I stuffed and sewed our pairs together.
I still remember the pleasure of that day.
As I took them out of storage to enjoy this Christmas season,
my heart was warmed by the memory.
***
I've heard God's promises referred to as "pillows" for the soul.
 Here, for example:
What an immense and unspeakable privilege we have each day as Christians to lay our weary heads down upon the pillow of God’s promises. We are given the privilege of sleep, rest, and a daily spring of new mercies  (Lamentations 3:22-23)...consider afresh the promises of God. Recount them to yourself. And let them be to you a comfort, “Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.” (Psalm 119:76).

When you first became a Christian these promises were fresh and new to you. Now, perhaps after some time they have become routine, even like furniture in your room. As believers laboring for faithful joy in God we mustn’t forget the glory of the promises. Unlike a pillow they never wear out and always meet us with appropriate comfort and refreshment. Like the Psalmist, then, recount these promises until you are comforted and properly provoked to rejoice.
 Daily, as I remember and rest on God's promises--old as the Book itself--
my heart is warmed.  I am comforted and "properly provoked to rejoice"!

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)