Sunday grace

This morning when I rise, the house is colder than it’s been in many month. I flip the switch to turn on gas logs and am thankful for the wonderful invention that warms us so easily.

As I grab the leash and head outdoors with Maisie, I reach for a coat and gloves. It’s chilly today.

We walk and I notice frost on the grass. I didn’t hear that prediction on the news. I reach to touch it, surprised, and wonder if my tender outdoor plants will survive this first indication of a coming winter.

I think back over this year as it heads towards its ending. In some ways my heart has been frosted and cold, even during spring and summer.

I am thankful for God’s unfailing love that melted away the frozen from my heart and gave it reason it beat warm again. He is determined to fulfill His purpose in me. He will not let me go. He will not!

I find joy in His presence again. The joy that was always there for me. I had forgotten, or chosen not to look for it.

His joy is my strength for uncertain days, challenging days. His love is the light I need when darkness falls. His peace is certain when storm clouds gather.

In His presence I am safe. I am complete. I find joy.

“Surely you have granted [her] unending blessings and made [her] glad with the joy of your presence.” Psalm 21:6

Sunday grace.


My list

A friend invited me to read James Herriot’s books, the ones he wrote in the mid 1900s about his experiences as a veterinarian in England early that century. I’ve always loved animals and considered becoming a vet when I was young, so his book was enticing.


I checked out All Things Bright and Beautiful at the library and understood my friend’s love for Herriot’s books and language.

Reading Herriot’s description of the people and animals he encounter was often funny, sometimes sad, but always entertaining. Herriot wrote frequently about his wife, them only newly married in this particular book.

Herriot said of her, “She was always kind.”

That description stayed on my mind for a while. “She was always kind.” I would like to be remembered that way.

In 2007, a movie called The Bucket List was shown in theaters across the country. It was a comedy-drama starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. Two terminally-ill men shared a hospital room, and because their lives were nearing the end, they decided to do and experience things before they “kicked the bucket.”

It became their Bucket List. As a result of the movie’s popularity, people began making their own lists of goals, dreams, experiences, places to visit, and people to meet, with nothing being too lofty or extravagant for the list.

There are websites that will help you understand, envision and make your own list.

I understand the idea. If we never set our sites on something, we will never try to reach the goal. I’ve been a list-maker and a goal-setter for a long time, so I get it, and I appreciate the focus required to strive for something.

I made a simple bucket list once, thinking outside my ordinary box to dream big. Through the years, I’ve crossed off some things as achieved, some as not-gonna-happen, and some that are no longer important to me.

As my years add up, what I think of more often is the legacy I will leave behind. I’m not talking about bank accounts, houses and land as an inheritance in monetary terms. Instead, I think about what people will say when I’m gone. How will I be remembered?

“She was always kind,” would be on my legacy bucket list.

There are some other ways I would like to be remembered.

  • She was a good listener and a safe place to express oneself.
  • She was real, not a fake.
  • She prayed for you when she said she would.
  • She was the kind of wife whose husband trusted in her, and she spoke well of him.
  • She loved her children and grandchildren unconditionally.
  • She was a loyal and true friend.
  • She gave of herself and her resources.
  • She had real joy in this life and hope for the next one.
  • She knew Jesus and her life reflected Him.

I’ve walked by many caskets in funeral homes. I’ve heard stories of the deceased and told some of my own memories. It is sometimes serious and sometimes joyful, and a combination of both, remembering the life lived.

When it’s my time to die, and all of us have that appointment, I want to have lived out my days with joy and gladness. I want to have loved with abandon. I want to have treated people right, with respect and honor. I want Jesus to shine brightly through me.

And I want to always be kind.



Sunday grace

The morning breaks into the night. Light shines and darkness cannot restrain it.

“Arise! Shine! For your light arrives! The splendor of the LORD shines on you.” Isaiah 61:1, NET Bible

The radiance reveals truth. What was once hidden in the shadows now shows itself. Nothing hides when the day appears.

We can run from the light, afraid of what it will reveal, try to cover ourselves.

Or we can bask in the glow of God’s splendor, allowing the brightness, the heat to burn away the dross.

The new day offers possibilities, a fresh start.

God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light, for when He speaks it is done. His radiance is not a thing to fear; it is His answer to our cry for relief of the gloom in our self-imposed blindness.

Step into the light, the blaze of His love, the brilliance of His glory.

“For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6, NET Bible




Sweet William

Today is Sweet William’s birthday.


It’s one of those milestone birthdays, the ones where someone throws a party and invites lots of guests to celebrate life.

He chose to spend it quietly with me. I determined to treat him special and with as much kindness as I could. Nothing was going to deter me from that goal.

I cooked homemade biscuits with breakfast, a rare treat these days when we try to watch our carbs. We ate on the deck in the cool morning and watched Maisie play in her fenced yard.

We relaxed with some pre-recorded TV shows. He got to choose. I didn’t even ask for a Hallmark movie. I brought him coffee more than once.

For lunch I fixed one of his favorites, broiled salmon with green beans and salad greens.

In the meantime, I changed sheets and did several loads of laundry, never once asking him to fold or put away. This was his day, and I tried to allow him to do what he wanted, relax at home.

The day is almost done. There is a coconut-pecan pie in the oven, our evening birthday treat. I’ll light a candle and sing to him as we finish another birthday.

Expensive gifts are unnecessary at this point in our lives. We have most everything we need. Time is our greatest gift, and I gave it to him this day, his birthday.

Tomorrow the calendar date will turn and the birthday will be over. But there will still be the opportunity to show kindness and love to this man, the one I’ve celebrated birthdays with for over 40 years.

Tomorrow is another day. And each and every one is a reason to celebrate life. This is our life, and we can choose joy as we live it.

So let the celebration continue. Happy Birthday Sweet William.



If these walls could talk

It was late summer or early fall when we moved into our house so long ago. And if the walls of this place could talk, oh the secrets they would tell.

My dad was the chief contractor when we build our first and only home in 1976. It was always his dream to build his only daughter a house. He built it strong and sturdy; it has stood the test of time and tempest for forty years.

My Sweet William and I lived in an apartments when we married, newly weds adjusting to life together as one. We were completely different personalities coming from totally different backgrounds. It was like cold and hot air moving toward each other until the swirl becomes a potential tornado.

We had no idea what we were in for.

Our son was three years old when we moved into our forever home. I recall tender, sweet memories of being his mom. High chairs, potty training, and bicycles. First grade, middle school and graduation. Drum lessons, soccer practice and boy scouts. Carefree childhood, homework, and his first real job. The accomplishments, the worry, and the prayers.

Every mother knows the joy and sorrow that accompanies raising a child. It happened within these walls.

I was with child twice more in this house, and I lost both babies.  We cried and could not understand. And how do you explain to the small son that there would not be a brother or sister coming?

We had parties, sleepovers, and play dates here. We celebrated birthdays and holidays, inviting family and friends. I fixed so many meals and cleaned up after them. I packed about a zillion lunches.

We had fun here. Games and jokes and silly antics brought relief when stress threatened to crush us. Laughter is always a good medicine.

The dating years were interesting as the one an only son brought girls here to meet us. The young woman he finally picked was his perfect match. We loved her from the start.

We held grand-babies here, one after the other, nestling them in our arms and watching them grow, loving on them every chance we had. Those were precious times when childish merriment echoed once again through the halls.

We cried a bucket of tears as well. We grieved our losses and comforted one another. We climbed hard, rocky mountains and we braved terrible storms. Sometimes we felt like we were drowning; sometimes the fires of tribulation scorched us. Sometimes we wondered if we would recover.

At times we needed spiritual surgery, our lives infected by disobedience and wayward hearts. We  were torn apart like a piece of cloth pulled in two, leaving ragged edges on our souls.

But God did not leave us there, all battered and wasted. His discipline is for our good. His purpose is to redeem the rubble, to rescue the perishing, to welcome home the prodigal.

In all these years, all these trials, all these experiences, God has been good. He was working in the darkest shadows when we were fearful. He was working in the long night seasons, and He always brought the dawn.

If these walls could talk, they would tell some tales. But the overarching story is one of redemption and triumph. God takes our feeble efforts and worthless failures and remakes them into something new and beautiful.

Even in an old house like this.

“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.” — Hosea 6:1 NIV




Sunday grace

God planned rest for the weary soul, the one whose energy is spent, whose mind is full to the brim with responsibilities, cares and burdens, and a to-do list that runneth over.

He gives us Sabbath.


For the Jewish people, preparations are made the day before; work will be laid aside. The candles will be lit at sundown and Sabbath declared as the prayer is recited:

Blessed are you, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the universe, who hallows us with mitzvot [commands of God], commanding us to kindle the light of Shabbat.

Sometimes the running to and fro, the busy schedules, the work that simply never gets finished become more than we can bear.

Sometimes the cares of life, the search for happiness, the seeking after something else, something more, pulls our minds into the darkness, and the road ahead looks fearful.

Sometimes the effort to be perfect or, at the very least acceptable, and the striving to be all things to all people weighs us down.

We realize we cannot finish the tasks. We are depleted.

We forget Adonai our God is Sovereign Lord of the universe. And Sovereign Lord over us.

And so Sabbath comes to offer rest.

This day, take off the backpack of overload. Rest in the completed grace of Jesus’s full salvation. Trust the Father with the ones you love. Believe He has a plan and is working all things for your good and His glory.

He is the Shepherd and we shall not want. He is our Peace and our Righteousness and offers Himself to us. He is the God who sees us right where we are. He is the One who loves us with a tender compassion and mercies inexhaustible.

Rest today, dear one. Rest in Him.

 Come to me and I will give you rest—all of you who work so hard beneath a heavy yoke. Wear my yoke—for it fits perfectly—and let me teach you; for I am gentle and humble, and you shall find rest for your souls; for I give you only light burdens. –Matthew 11:28-30, Living New Testament

Sunday grace.


September ending

This month breezed in with sweet temperatures that only teased me. A few days of coolness were temporary. Then the heat of summer grasped the heel of September for dear life and would not let go.

I was disappointed.

But as the month comes to an end, fall is in the air, and I am happy as a duck on the pond. Windows were flung open to bring in fresh, gentle breeze. I pulled on my fuzzy socks, my flannel shirt, and have even enjoyed chill bumps on my arms.

Ahh, Autumn. I’ve been waiting for you.


Maisie and I walk in the early, brisk morning air, and she is excited like I am. The bird sounds are different; some of them have already flown south. The sky has an autumn look about it, and there is just a hint of color beginning in some of the trees. The last of the summer roses bloom, and the goldenrod is tall.


I am enjoying more sunrises and sunsets since the days are getting shorter. Our walks converge easily with dawn and dusk.

I started leading a Bible study in September, actually two of them. Same study with one in the morning and one in the evening. I know. Call me crazy. Two precious sisters offered their homes for us to gather, and our time is sweet in both groups. When we do Bible study together we challenge and we encourage one another. We need each other. God made us that way.

I had never really studied the book of Hosea in depth until now. He speaks poetically and in contrasting themes. Harsh judgement and tender compassion nestle close in a matter of a few verses. God urges His people to return to Him, the One who has been their strength, their provider and their glory. But they were not satisfied.

Hosea’s wife, Gomer, was not satisfied with her new life either, though her husband rescued her from the pit. He gave her a home, children, safety and a new identity.

I see myself in the stories in Hosea. I have been given so much; yet sometimes I want more or I want something different. How easily we become discontent with our blessings and look for love and satisfaction in all the wrong places. Like sheep, we are led astray and wander from true Love.

Sweet William and I traveled to an adjoining county this month to visit a friend who recently moved to the country. She and her family have acres of ground now after moving from the suburbs. Her hospitality was like a deep cleansing breath to me. While our visit only lasted a few hours, it took my stress level down a few notches.

I’ve been reading The Walk series by Richard Paul Evans this month. I am into the second book, living in this fictional story of Alan Christoffersen, a man whose life suddenly turns upside down. He determines to walk from Washington state to Key West, Florida. Evans describes the experiences and the people Christoffersen meets along the way. The messages in the books are thought provoking.

“I do not know what lies beyond the horizon, only that the road I walk was meant for me. It is enough.” — Richard Paul Evans


I learned something about communication this month, or perhaps renewed my understanding. Though we quickly send words and messages – texting, facebook, email – there is no substitute for sitting across from another and talking face to face. I want to see the expression of the eyes, hear the inflection in the voice, observe the crinkle of a smile or the gathering of tears. I think we cheat ourselves today in our effort to be efficient and get a lot done. We are missing the deeper places of the soul by not giving attention and focus to those we hold dear and those we want to know better. We miss the connection.

I had the opportunity to give back this month, to help as I have been helped, to offer compassion as God has shown compassion to me. It gave me joy, proving that it is more blessed to give than to receive.

This week I invited a friend for brunch who is a fellow gardener. I was embarrassed for her to see the pathetic shape of my yard and what was supposed to be the gardens. But I knew she loved me and would not judge. What totally surprised me was how, after our meal, she went to her car and retrieved her garden gloves and tools and began to clear out weeds. I joined her and before she left, portions of the yard began to take shape and look more like a garden than a jungle.101_1094

Sometimes friends completely surprise me with their kindness. I see the goodness of God in people. While there are troubles everywhere, we need only look a little bit more to see how God’s love and compassion infiltrate the world.

This month I was reminded of Psalm 73:25-26: Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire beside You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

I had written in my Bible that I wanted this as my 2016 goal. Somehow I forgot and went my own merry – or perhaps more aptly, my unhappy, discontented – way. I focused too much on what I didn’t have than on the numberless blessings and gifts surrounding me at every turn. My heart failed a little and my strength weakened.

How gently God led me back to the place I left. Like Gomer left Hosea and like Israel left their Lord, I am also prone to wander. But God comes for me, always, and takes my hand and brings me back home.

And home is my comfort and the place I most want to be.