Welcome sweet springtime

The calendar recorded the first day of spring this week, but it seemed Mother Nature didn’t get the memo.


Sweet William and I bundled in coats and scarves to run errands on Tuesday. Then Wednesday it snowed for hours. Wet and heavy, it continued to pile higher on the deck railing and hung on branches of trees until I wondered if the cedar tree in the back yard would break under the load.


Daffodils huddled under a blanket of white, and the yellow forsythia blooms peeked through sadly. The shapely Bradford pear looked as if it had already bloomed, the tips of branches coated with white.

It was stunning to look at from the warmth of the house.

In the early dawn of a frigid morning, I heard the birds singing their spring song. They seemed undisturbed with this minor setback. They know what their tiny beating hearts know.

Spring is coming.

Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song by that title, months after his young daughter was tragically killed in his family’s own driveway. I cannot imagine the pain, the dark depression, the long winter of the soul he endured. He must have grasped for something bigger and stronger than himself during the heaviness of grief to have penned such hopeful words.

“And my heart’s heavy now
But I’m not letting go of this hope I have that tells me
Spring is coming, Spring is coming
And all we’ve been hoping and longing for soon will appear”

I played the song again and again when my own heart sat in the darkness of gloom and despair. Its message of hope sings to me even now and offers something more. Something more than sinking in sorrow, more than allowing fear to swallow me, more than feeling hopeless and alone. No matter the heartbreak, as winter lingers longer than we think we can bear, spring is coming.

It is God’s order and plan, the movement of seasons, the rotating of sun and moon, the earth setting in its perfect orbit for all of us to live and breathe and thrive.

Eventually we all will experience what feels like a long, cold winter, and we become desperate for change, for life to spring forth from hard ground, to see beauty come from ashes.

Hope itself is like a star  –  not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity.
  —  Charles H. Spurgeon

The season of Lent is a waiting and hoping for redemption. Moving toward Palm Sunday, the passion week, and Resurrection day, I am impressed how nearly half the content of the Gospels is dedicated to the last couple of weeks of Jesus life. It was that important to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. It is that important to me.

Without Jesus, hope is illusive, a meer wish for something better than now. No one else did what He did for me. No one loved me this much. No one paid the full penalty of my sin with His own life. No one else promises me His indwelling presence now and a place in Heaven with Him simply because I believe He is the way, the truth and the life.

My hope is built on nothing less 
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. 
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, 
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. 

He is the perfect Lamb of God sacrificed for me, the Mercy Seat of a holy God where I run for forgiveness, compassion, and consolation. He is my Redeemer and my present Helper. This is my living hope.

Snow is still piled on the deck though the sunshine is melting it with a warmth that hints of spring. The trees have shaken off the heaviness of their winter burden and bear buds ready to burst forth. Daffodils and forsythia are recovering beautifully.

Spring is coming and hope is alive in me.



Sunday grace

The alarm shouts at my sleepy head, and I press the snooze button too much.

Last night I grumbled as I set clocks forward, wondering why we keep doing this. The saving of time made me lose time this morning. My body feels it. And what wakes the birds in my little woods and the chickens in my neighbor’s yard? Is it not the sun, God’s rhythm-keeper, placed there in the sky for us day after day?

So why do we keep messing with the clocks?


Time. Less a friend, it often seems our enemy, fleeting, running out, rushing ahead, adding years to our lives and age to our bodies. Yet time is a gift, given first to Adam and Eve, the evening and the morning, twenty-four hours that precede and proceed, without ceasing.

Last week time seemed limited with projects looming heavy on my mind. Things transferred from February now wait on the March list of “to get done.” Next week appears much the same. I only hope for small blocks of an hour now and then to move forward, making steps toward completing what I think is important.

But is it? Maybe I am the only one who cares, giving this undertaking importance and weight, perhaps more than it deserves.

Instead of my projects, I chose people last week. Saying “yes” to a spur of the moment lunch invitation. Driving Sweet William to his appointment. Inviting young sisters for brunch and some crafting. Attending a gathering for friends who needed comfort.  Visiting a loved one dealing with uncertainty and fearful outcomes.

Recording days in my journal, I view ink on paper and clarity comes. Last week I chose what is better.

There were days when I did not make such good choices. I relived one this week as I listened to those old audio cassettes on the player in our living room, still trying to pick what to keep and what I can toss.

Randomly in the middle of one cassette, I heard my son’s little boy voice. It was high-pitched and small. I saw the scene in my head, forty years ago, him sitting on the floor in our apartment listening to a vinyl record of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He had a book in his hand that followed the story being told in word and song on the record player, and a bell sounded when it was time to turn the page. “Mommy is it time to turn the page?” I heard him say.

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The first side ended and the record needed to be flipped and restarted to finish the book. And I heard my boy, “Mommy, it’s time to turn it over.” Silence and waiting. “Mommy come,” he said with more urgency, though it was only a few seconds.

What I was doing in that small two-bedroom home that made me keep him waiting? Whatever it was could not have been more meaningful than the child who wanted my attention.

While the memory was sweet, the pang of regret hangs over me even this morning. I suppose all mothers wonder if we were good enough. What kind of mother was I to that precious boy of mine? Did I give him what he needed, was I attentive, did I listen to his little boy requests, or did I put projects first too many times?

I’m not sure. You’d have to ask him. I only know I want the rest of my life to be people oriented and not ruled by lists and tasks.

People over projects.  Making the right choice this time, every time. Because time is a gift from God, and how I spend it is of the utmost importance.

Sunday grace.

Sunday grace

On day two of this new month, the month of spring, I rise before dark as is my habit.  Coffee is first on my agenda. The coffee pot is the first thing to wake up so that its black  brew wakes me up.

I start a load of laundry, brush my teeth, then begin to turn out lights left on during the night to drive away the darkness. Maisie stirs but decides it’s too early; she curls up in her bed.

Sweet William dozes and I relish a little quiet before a new day begins, my list of to-dos weighing on my mind.

Then I spy the moon out my kitchen window. It’s full and beautiful in a clear, dark sky. After last week’s grey days, rain, and threat of floods, this sight takes my breath away. And I remember – it is a month from Passover.

The moon draws me this time of year. After today it will begin the waning cycle, ever so slightly becoming smaller and smaller until it disappears, only to re-emerge in the days following until it is full again. And then it will be Passover.

I read how there are two full moons in March this year (as there was in January with February missing out on a full moon altogether). The first one is on March 2 and the next one is March 30, the beginning of the Jewish Passover celebration.

Science books would explain its rotation and the shadows that block my view, but let me simply enjoy the beauty and mystery of it, the memories it conjures, the significance it has for me and for the whole world.

In the days that follow, I will watch the night sky, the moon cycle signaling the Passover season’s approach. Passover and the holiday of Easter are always connected, whether they are days or weeks apart. It is no accident that the remembrance of lambs slain for blood on the doorpost and the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world coincide. The events teach us if we will be willing learners.


passover moon

Passover was and is God’s object lesson. It was the shadow of the real and tangible Savior of the world, Jesus, the Lamb God, who alone would provide redemption for the sins of the world.

The anticipation of Passover carries me into the season of remembrance.  “Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus said. The perfect Lamb, without spot or blemish, will provide freedom. My freedom.

“For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.”

                — 1 Corinthians 5:7

Will you watch the moon with me, its orbit planned and set by our creator God in the beginning?

He is the One who promises, and He is faithful to do what He says.

Sunday grace.

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February ending 2018

While Valentine’s Day is what I think of in February, spring has been on the move.  There were record-breaking high temperatures and heavy rainfall that threatened flooding . We watched the news and watched the waters rise. We prayed for peace and prayed for neighbors who were severely affected. We renewed our trust in a God who controls wind and wave, heat and cold, rain and sunshine.

The birds started singing in the early mornings this month and my daffodils began to bloom today. I anticipate spring with joy. In the morning I open the window where I sit with coffee and Scripture, listening for the first chirp, and soon the sound of other birds echo in our little woods.

Rabbits are hoping in the yard again. Which means Maisie will want to chase them again.

The geese on the lake across our road are pairing up. There’s a lot of honking and posturing among the males. I spied a couple of blue birds flitting about the bird house in the back yard. It’s nesting time. I savour the sights and sounds of the coming season.

I heard the cranes flying overhead twice in February. It is always a surprise gift to be outdoors at just the right time. When I hear their call, I stop what I’m doing, and scan the sky for the flock overhead.

It’s one of those sounds that makes me smile and takes me back to a Sunday afternoon when the grandchildren were small and living in the house next door. The three of them were with Sweet William and me for a few hours that day, and it was warm enough to be outside. We heard an unfamiliar noise overhead and began to look for its source. On that day years ago, there were hundreds of crane flying so high we could barely see them. But we heard them. Flocks of them flew over and we watched and listened. It was one of those moments of discovery imprinted on my mind.

I am pursuing depth this year and a book by Cal Newport fell into my hands in February. I don’t always pick a word for a year but this time I chose “Deeper.” At times I’ve felt like I had mile-wide commitments with inch-deep results. I’ve lived busy for many years. Now I want to live deep in many areas of my life.

It was easy, then, for me to latch onto Newport’s book from the library called Deep Work. He offers an intriguing proposition that we are a distracted culture, multi-tasking, constantly online and connected via smart phones, attached to our social media accounts, and in many ways alway available to most everyone on our friend list.

I am evaluating how I spend my days, how often I check my laptop for posts and messages when it really is not time-sensitive. I’ve tried to make changes in the way I use technology in February so that technology does not control me. It should be a tool I use, not one that directs my day.

I also read a book of poetry, A Garden in Kentucky by Jane Gentry. Gentry’s poems were lovely and I enjoyed her way of writing about her home state and mine.

I’m not the biggest fan of poetry though I would like to be. I have often found it hard to understand. Perhaps I can blame it on my high school experience when we were forced to read an epic poem, Evangeline, which was long and made no sense to me at all.

My creative juices flowed freely this month. My cousin and I took an introductory weaving class at the library, making a simple loom from a piece of cardboard. I learned the basics, then took my project home to finish into something quite pleasing.


I visited the  Paint Spot for the very first time. Actually it was a Christmas gift from a friend who decided that giving me a shared experience was better than another scarf. And she was so right. I relaxed while I painted my coffee cup, and it was twice as nice with my friend.

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This month, I decided I feel better when I change into real clothes even on the days when I don’t have to go anywhere. One of the perks of being part-time retired is that I can stay in my pajamas all day if I want. And some days I have. But I feel better prepared for the day if I put on decent clothes, wash my face, add a little mascara, and comb the bed head out of my hair. I’m not sure if I am more productive or not. That remains to be seen.

I finally had time to get acquainted with the newest neighbor on our quiet lane. The couple moved in before Christmas and we briefly met, but cold weather and short days kept us all indoors. As the days warmed and lengthened in February, it was the right time for coffee and muffins. My neighbor who lives in the house next door joined us at the table, and the two young women found common ground as they chatted. It was lovely to behold.

Sweet William and I visited my friend at her farm in the next county. She has created a beautiful home, and we find the miles to get there worth the trip. She fixed us eggs from her own chickens, gave us carrots to feed the horses, and showed us her latest projects. We stayed so long that she brought out lunch meat for sandwiches. And we ate again.

I gathered with a group of beautiful women early in the month for Table Life, the first of four sessions, where we are learning to do life at the table with the awareness that Jesus wants to be there with us. It coordinates beautifully with my “Deeper” work of building relationships, of savoring the moments with dear friends and family, of investing in lives and eternity rather than in things that fade quickly.

Jesus left us an example of spending time with people over a meal, demonstrating to us that the table is important. I am finding that amazing things happen when I take time to sit awhile, pour another cup of coffee, eat a muffin or scrambled eggs, and enjoy the fellowship of one another. We are able to share our lives with one another and listen to what the heart is saying.

Love  happens at the table and Christ is in our midst.






Sunday grace

The rain falling outside does not offer comfort to me this time. The sound of the sump pump running under the house does.

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The Salt River rises and I can see it from my front window. Maisie and I walk our quiet lane and there is water, so much water. It is ominous, it is powerful, and we are helplessness to stop its ascent.

The geese and one pair of Mallards swim happily in the lake across the road, unconcerned of pending danger, as if their Heavenly Father takes care of them.

Sweet William and I went to the store to stock up, wondering if shelves would be vacant as fear mongers whisper in our ears. Our angst is palpable.

We’ve watched the river grow deep and wide before, it threatening to steal, kill and destroy. We have neighbors and friends who are already being affected, moving animals to higher ground, wondering when it will be the family who needs to find shelter.

We offer beds. We will share what we have until the threat comes to our own door.

After watching the morning news of reported flooding and more to come, I turn off the TV. I won’t live with the fear of it all day. Instead I put on music.

I’ve saved old cassette tapes in boxes that haven’t seen the light of day for years. In my effort to simplify and pare down, just this week I began going through five boxes of them. Discard seemed the reasonable option. Who listens to cassettes anymore?

But then I decided to put a couple of them in our radio/CD/cassette player before I disposed of them. I expected they would be scratchy and sounding old. Instead what came from the speakers were beauty and memories of days when this music was current and “hip.” I remember when our son was a teenager drummer who played his kit in his bedroom with headphones, beating out the rhythm to upbeat Christian music that was cutting edge then.

As Sweet William and I listened to those old cassettes, familiar songs lifted my spirit. I hummed along as I fixed lunch. My heart turned from the anxiety of rising rivers to a Savior who rises to save. He is the mighty One who calms storms and calms my heart. He parted waters with His breath and brought water from the rock for the thirsty.

He is not surprised by our crises. His eyes see His children and makes a way in the wilderness, whether it be soaked with rain or parched by the blazing heat.

He is with us when the sun shines and the rain falls. He walks with us in the light or in the dark. He knows what we have need of before we ask. He does not leave us when trouble threatens. He is near, always near.

What time I am afraid, I will trust in Him. And so we will sing His praises, trust His promises and look for the rainbow.

Sunday grace.


It’s all about love

Valentine’s Day 2018 may be a memory, but February makes me think about love like November reminds me to be thankful. If it could only last longer than a month, I’d be a better person.

Sweet William and I celebrated Valentine’s Day a couple days before the event. We knew the 14th would be filled with appointments and obligations. We’ve been together long enough to know a number on the calendar is not as important as what is in our hearts.

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On the morning of the 14th I woke with thoughts of love on my mind. I put Steven Curtis Chapman’s All About Love on the CD player and hummed familiar tunes as I prepared whole grain pancakes with bananas for our breakfast.


I sent messages to my precious ones who are miles away, the texts a meager substitute for the hugs I want to give them on Valentine’s Day.  But it was what I had to give. I received a quick loving response from our son that made me cry. His words were like sweet oil on my heart, soothing and tender.

In a minute or so “I Will Be Here” began to play, a song that means a lot to Sweet William and me, the musical message of commitment that weathers storms and holds fast, no matter what. And I cried some more.

As I stood at the back door looking out the window while tears fell freely, I thanked God for His love that makes our love possible. For love is from God. If we would see God, we should look for love where it flows freely from hearts who know love, who have been loved and have learned to give love in return.

I think how God’s love has covered a multitude of sins, the ones that would have drowned me and sucked the life from my lungs. Because of His love, grace has taught me to love and forgive others, those sins covered as well. I stagger at something so amazing and struggle to grasp its enormity.

It is easy for me to see God in the world that often denies His existence. I look for love where it is being acted out. It isn’t just the romantic kind that made my stomach flutter at a glimpse of my special someone, though that love has a place.

Love shines brightly when it is hard to walk out, when it is an act of will that requires all we have to give. I see it in the mother who prays and belives for a prodigal to return. In the father who takes care of and provides for his family by working a job he dislikes. In the adult child who gives patient and tender care to an aging and sometimes forgetful parent. In the spouse who lives the promise of for better or worse. In the couple who leave all that is familiar to show Jesus to the world. In the family who opens their home to a troubled teen.

As I ponder the kind of love that comes from the heart of a loving God, the last song of All About Love CD plays and Chapman sings:

“A song of living sacrifice
For every moment that I live and breathe,

This is a moment made for worshipping.

Love is from God. He gives it to us lavishly through Jesus Christ, holding nothing back, like a rushing river flowing out of its banks. As I stand in His presence and refresh myself with a deep drink of it, I know I am loved.  It’s only through Him I am able to love in return.

This love, this day is a moment made for worshipping.



Sunday grace

The grey days of February stretch long, endless. The temperature on my outdoor thermometer registers cold. Yet . . .

I hear the bird chirp as the sun’s brilliance begins to lighten the sky, ever so slightly. Others soon join the song, echoing from the little woods. And they know something. In their rapidly-beating hearts, there is a sense of season.

Whether the birds anticipate that spring is near, I know not. But their voices resonate my own longing.

For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come,
And the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
— Song of Solomon 2:11-12, NKJV

I acknowledge that winter is not yet past. There are weeks of uncertainty when rain may turn to ice and snow, when temperatures will chill my bones, when the gas logs will flicker to warm us in the house, and when we will bundle up to brave the outdoors.

But there is hope.

Hope. The confidence to look toward, to look beyond, to see with eyes of faith.

Though the winter is long and harsh and I am chilled to the bone;
Though the nights are dark too long and I wait for daybreak;

Though the winds blow branches from bare trees and I feel the breaking in me;
Though the grass is withered brown and I experience the strain of life;
Though the earth looks fruitless and I struggle to bring forth;

Yet I will hope in God my Savior.
I will take His offered courage, cling to His “fear not,”
And choose the joy in His salvation.

For God the Lord is my confidence, and He will lead me through the valleys and upward where the air is sweet and His strength becomes my own.

And spring will come.

Sunday grace.