Long hot days

I’m a morning person, but I’m having difficulty rising while it is still dark.

Yesterday was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Actually, it still had only 24 hours but daylight lingers more than any other day and it seems longer.

The sun has beaten down on us lately. Yard work must be done early. The heat melts me and weighs me down, sweat trickling into my eyes. Even walks with Maisie feel hard, the humidity of a Kentucky summer making the air thick.

Sweet William and I have a list of serious prayer concerns we remember daily. I consider those who must feel the heat of blazing trial, draining their strength and sapping their energy. When all one can do is sit and wait beside a loved one in a hospital bed, the day stretches long and tiresome. Medical professionals busy themselves tending the patient. But families often sit. And pray. And wonder how long.

Heavy hearts endure what feels like an endless season. We long for a break, a change, some news that it soon will be better. Sooner not later. Where is the cool breeze that relieves the burning frustration, the what-if questions, the whys of this situation?

We need a cool drink of water for the parched spirit.

The seasons sometimes seem endless, but they come and they go, changing in diminutive increments. We must believe that relief will come.

We must believe that God is near, that He has a plan, that He is working.

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   *     *     *     *     *     *     *

This morning the clouds moved in. Soothing winds started to blow in the tops of the trees. A gentle rain began to fall. Temperatures cooled. And the earth is watered.

Even so, may it be for those who long for their thirst to be quenched.

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Sunday grace

 

Dear Father and God of all, thank you for the men in my life who showed me Your love, who were strong and protective, who loved purely and acted faithfully.

Dear Father of all creation, give grace to the fathers you have put on the earth and in our lives. Give them tender hearts and strong faith. Help them see their need for You and not live as if they can do it all by themselves.

Dear Father of humanity, give endurance to the fathers who walk hard roads, who fight battles for their families, who bow low in prayer and intercede for loved ones.

Dear Father of light, shine your saving light into the hearts of fathers. May they know salvation through Jesus Christ and bear His fruit in their lives.

Dear Father of mercy, show the fathers how to live compassionately, how to forgive and ask for forgiveness. Help them to hold their tongues and tempers and let love be the language of their lives.

Dear Father and fount of all blessings, let your grace fall lavishly on the fathers. Their task is great and they need you.

Sunday grace.

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Words of God

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.}

I’ve got quite a collection of Bibles. Growing up, I was often on the receiving end of such gifts.  As an adult, I’ve wanted study Bibles and different translations so I could understand better.

While it is the trend to read any available version of Scripture online via laptops, tablets  or smart phones, I still prefer to hold the book in my hands, turn the thin pages, underline verses and make notes in the margins. Call me old-fashioned. 

So I was delighted to receive the Christian Standard Bible from B&H Publishing Company for review.

The dual shaded brown leathertouch book is thinline and light weight, a just-right size for purse or carry case.  The cover has a soft feel. Opening the book and turning its delicate, golden-edged pages is a pleasing sensory experience.

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Features of this Bible are:

  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Presentation page
  • Two-column text
  • Center-column cross references
  • Topical subheadings
  • Words of Christ in red
  • 8.25-point type
  • Concordance
  • Full-color maps

I’ve not had a Bible with cut-in tabs showing the books for quickly locating them, and I must say I am finding that very helpful, even though I learned the books of the Bible when I was a child. The Old Testament order can still be tricky, and I often sing a song that helps me with the New Testament order of books.

There is an “Introduction to the Christian Standard Bible” near the front explaining how this particular version came about. This is always important to me. I want to know that every effort was made to be as accurate as possible in translating the Scriptures to a readable format. And I am comfortable that the CSB is just that.

This is a lovely book to look at and hold. It will take its place among the varied translations and paraphrases I already have on shelves. I want to be a good student, to search out on my own and not just swallow what someone tells me. The more I am able to understand what God is trying to say, the more I get to know who He is.

And the more I know who God is, the more I love and trust Him.

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B&H blogger icon

NOTE:   I received a copy of the Holman Christan Standard Bible, provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own. 

Sunday grace

The deck on the back of the house is always shaded in the early morning, the sun rising at my right. As it shines, the shadows shift.

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The pole house my dad built when our one and only son was small receives the early morning sun. It leans precariously, the years taking a toll on it as the ground underneath gives in.  Each year I wonder if it will fall over.

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By evening the sun will have shifted and the deck will reflect the heat of a summer’s day. I will retreat to the shelter of a climate-controled house.

All day long the shadows change. The little woods stay dark in some places most of the time, the leaves of taller trees keeping the light from filtering in.

Life is like the shifting shadows. On any given day, the world seems bright and cheerful. Then one event can change everything. The shadow falls and we reel in confusion.

We wake to the new day and do not know what the afternoon will bring. And where do we go to find shelter?

The Psalmist asked such a question.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from? — Psalm 121:1

Our prosperity will not save us. Friends and family may gather but they cannot change anything.  In our own strength we falter, our resolve melting like wax.

Where do we go for help?

I lift up my eyes to the mountains — where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lordthe Maker of heaven and earth. — Psalm 121:1, 2

The Maker of heaven and earth is our Helper. He watches over us. His loving eyes see us in our tribulation. He gives strength to the feeble, courage to the fearful, grace to the weak.

He does not shift like the shadows of our lives. He is steadfast and sure, a faithful God who is true to His word. He shines in our darkness because He is light.

He will not leave us in despair and hopelessness. He is Immanuel, God with us.

He is the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. And flowers still grow in His brightness.

Sunday grace.

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Finding rabbits

A friend texted me after being away for a week. “Are you free Wednesday or Thursday.” I replied, “I can be.” Trying to be true to the promise I made to myself, I am living free as a breeze in June, going where the wind of the Spirit blows me.

My June calendar remains strangely empty, and I wonder what surprises the days hold for me.

So my friend and I went on an adventure, wandering trails, resting awhile on a bench, eating our lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, and we talked. I climbed a circular staircase inside a silo, huffing and puffing a little too much, but still making it to the top where the view was worth the climb.

Another day this week my neighbor came for a visit in the late morning. He’s three years old.

While his mother and I drank coffee and ate chocolate cookies, my little neighbor played with the old Matchbox cars he loves, the ones that have seen two generations of boys in this house. We went to the room that has the small table and chairs left from days when the grandchildren were small. I brought out the basket of tea party things, and he placed dolls in the chairs. Most of the play food was placed in front of the boy doll, his obvious favorite.

Later he and I went outside and wandered the garden in the back, looking for the rabbits. These rabbits are stone and plaster, weathered by the years, looking a little crumbly but intriguing to one who sees life through eyes of wonder and everything in it is something to be discovered. He picked a few flowers, filled a small bird bath with water, and gave the plants a drink.

Holding that small hand in mine as we walked down steps to the sidewalk, I remembered other years, other children. When my grands were small they came to our house often. There were a few years when the gardens went begging. Weeds grew with abandon as I gave my time to these precious little ones.

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I’ve never regretted that. Flowers and weeds still come and go each season, each year. But those sweet children have gotten tall and are doing grown-up things, leaving behind the dolls and tea parties.

As my little neighbor and I stopped for a moment, I reached down to pull up grass shoots from the flower beds saying to no one in particular, “I could spend all day every day pulling weeds.”

Yes, I could do that. Or I could take a small hand in mine and go look for rabbits.

 

 

Sunday grace

I awake to the alarm, think of people needing prayer, and pray for them. Always we are in need.

I long for God’s presence, to draw near Him as He draws near to me. It is a shared running to one another.

I want to hear His gentlest whisper, His most tender love song, feel the nudge of His Spirit urging me to move in His direction.

I want His glory – show me Your glory, Lord! Like You did for Moses, that it may be reflected in my own countenance.

I want to see with eyes of faith today and be filled with hope. I want to learn contentment a little more, living with little or much.

I want to see and be grateful for all the gifts I have received and that continually fall like showers of blessings.

I want to love like I am loved, without prejudice or judgment, giving grace out of the bounty I have received beyond measure.

I want to show kindness and be tender, to feel compassion and offer mercy as it has been dealt to me.

I am a needy soul, longing for much, the nearness of Jesus my Savior. To know His love and be filled with the fullness of God. To experience communion with Immanuel.

This is my prayer to the One who is able to do more than I can ask or imagine, according to His power at work in me.

To Him alone be glory, both now and forever. Amen.

Sunday grace.

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June begins

June, the month of summer. Children are out of school, and I hear them across the fields at their play.

I remember being a kid in summer, constantly outside in play and adventure. We swam until we got hungry. We played board games on the porch at my aunt and uncle’s house when the sun got too hot. I don’t remember ever getting bored. There were fields to roam, projects to construct, neighbors to call for ball games in empty lots, and dinner with the family each evening.

There was church on Sundays and mid-week when one of my friends could come stay with us a few days and then return at next service time. Our annual church convention brought an overnight stay in a motel, a sort of vacation for us. And there was a week at youth camp, up in the mountains where the days were sweltering and nights made us pull on the blankets. Open aired cabins with bunk beds were the places for making friends. The girls wore their hair in curlers all day long, our heads wrapped in scarves, so we could look pretty for church at night.

They were wonderful days.

Some call it the lazy days of summer. Having grown into an adult, I’ve not lived a lazy life. Circumstances beyond my control loaded me with responsibility. It has been my lot to move, to get things done. I stayed on task and accomplished as much as possible in a day, often falling into bed exhausted just to set the alarm to begin it all over again tomorrow.

This month of June seems like an invitation, like a Sabbath calling me.  There are no piano lessons this month. An upcoming procedure will keep us close to home. No travel plans ahead. My calendar is looking strangely blank.

Something calls to me to rest, to sit idle, to be still. My body feels it, the pull to nurture myself; to wander instead of power walk; to tread gently in the gardens and enjoy the summer beauty without focusing on the weeds; to spend time with books and to play the piano for the pure pleasure of it.

I am reading Wendell Berry’s New Collected Poems. He is a Kentucky native and a lover of the land, like I am. He writes:

“The aged voices of a few crickets thread the silence. It is a quiet I love, though my life too often drives me through it deaf. Busy with costs and losses, I waste the time I have to be here–a time blessed beyond my deserts, and I know, if only I would keep aware. The leaves rest in the air, perfectly still. I would like them to rest in my mind as still, as simply spaced.”     — The Sorrel Filly

This is what I am craving – the quiet I love. I’ve lived under pressure many days. I’ve rushed from one appointment to another, driving in the fast lane. I’ve made the long lists of things that needed to be done, and I’ve checked them off one by one.

It will be challenging for me to slow. I hesitate to even write it here, like I’m making a promise, a promise to myself. It is my nature to do things, and there is always, always something to do. But I am compelled to pursue what pursues me. Perhaps it is the Spirit calling me to come away, to listen for the hushed calm, to be still and know my God.

[Jesus] said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a little while”—for there were many people who were continually coming and going, and they could not even find time to eat.”  — Mark 6:31, AMP

I can linger on the deck in the early morning, before the thermostate rises high enough to send me indoors. I can sip my coffee slowly, because it never get too hot for coffee. I can listen carefully without distration. I can be observant, looking deeply at the flower or at the face in front of me. I can hear what my heart has to say.  I can ponder the questions that mystify me. I can be quiet.

I can choose to make June a month of rest, a Sabbath. And I shall see what joy awaits me that I might have missed in my hurrying.

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