Sheltering trees

The first tree to begin a color change is in my neighbor’s yard. I notice is as I walk.

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I love trees, and I’m still planting them. At my age, I know there is a chance they will not mature into their full height before I am gone, gone from this house or gone from this earth. Still I plant.

Just this week, I planted five little saplings, weeping willows and curly willows I started from cut branches. They have been happily growing in a pot by the walkway until this fall season when I hoped we might get steady rain. With the dry summer heat predicted for the next couple of weeks, I’ll be carrying water all over the yard.

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I have planted a number of the trees during the time we have lived here. I’ve watched them grow, and now I enjoy walking among them. One dear to my heart is a 22-year-old Bradford Pear. It has lived its lifespan. I read that it is not a favorite tree anymore because of the shortness of its life. Yet it grows bountifully here.

We planted it at the gravesite of our beloved poodle-mix dog who lived to be 18 years old. She was the pup our son grew up with. She died the year he married. The tree is as old as his wedding anniversary date.

It blooms beautifully in the spring, spreads its arms wide in the summer, and rewards us with golden-red leaves in fall.

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Two oaks on either side of the yard were grown from tiny seedlings. There are others the squirrels planted. They stand tall and straight, established and stable.

Some of my trees were nature planted. Thank you, sweet birds. Then there’s a crooked little apple tree close to the lane that bears small tart apples in a good season. Years ago my dad noticed it sprouting up in the lawn and protected it from the mower.  Perhaps it started from a tossed apple core. I trimmed it this week, its branches sprawling in a unique formation. I think of my dad and how he loved all things green.

As the seasons change and leaves fall, I discover bird nests in the forks of branches. Environmentalists say trees encourage wildlife on the property, offering food, shelter and a place to build a home. The trees are my offering to them.

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There is something comforting when I walk among the trees. I especially like to walk under them, in the shelter of their branches.

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When Maisie and I take our daily walks down our lane, we pass a group of tall oaks growing on the edge of the little woods. We’ve stopped there when it was raining and been protected from the downpour. In the heat of summer evenings, I’ve felt the coolness drift toward us in that particular spot, the green leaf covering changing the temperature ever so slightly. It catches me off guard, a curiosity I stop to enjoy.

My friend texted me this quote by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and I so identify:

“Friendship is a sheltering tree.”

My friends have come from varied places and in different ways, some in the form of family members and others randomly placed in life’s pathway. Relationships formed by what seemed like an accidental meeting. Other times the friendship developed as the result of being sought out and purposely planted. I’ve found friends at school, in neighborhoods, at church, in the community. These are people I treasure and are as varied as the shapes and fruit on my trees. And I love them for their unique qualities and how they enrich the soil of my soul.

They shelter me, these friends of mine. I find consolation from their presence and our conversations. They offer encouragement when I need it. Their words are honest. Their hearts are true. Their prayers strengthen me. Their love makes me a better person.

In the beginning, the Lord God planted a garden. He called it Eden.

While Eden is no longer, there is still a garden where friendship flourishes. A relational God created us for relationships. We desire it, crave it, need it. It is His gift to us.

Friendship takes effort. It takes time. It takes investment. It requires nurturing. If neglected, it can flounder and we will find ourselves lost without it.

Cherish the people God brings into your life. They are more important than jobs or possessions or bank accounts. God has planted eternity in the human heart. As we honor our people, we find them to be our wealth, the true and lasting riches we long for.

Friendship is a sheltering tree.  Hold dear your friends. And be a shelter to someone else.

 

 

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Monday grace

My devotional theme yesterday morning was about resting, and it took me to a familar passage, Psalm 23.

Sometimes things old and familiar can be common and ordinary if we are not careful.

I didn’t need to turn to the Psalm. I’ve known it by heart since a child, learned in Children’s Church when rewards were given for memorizing. Whatever works, and it worked for me.

As I quoted the verses by heart, I noticed afresh how they speak of resting.

The Lord is my Shepherd. I have all I need. I don’t have to concern myself with working for salvation or be consumed with the cares of life.

He makes me lie down. Why is it so hard to cease from our busy schedules and relax, be refreshed?

He leads me beside still waters. The rushing waters are beautiful and powerful, but the still waters invite me in to its gentle flowing.

He restores my soul. How I need this. Jesus tender touch on a weary brow, a heart that is broken, a soul that has drifted.

He leads me in paths of righteousness. This is His path, not one of my own making. His path is the right way.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Fear has torment and is the enemy’s tool. No matter the place I must go, my Shepherd is with me.  He is good and He is strong. He replaces anxiety with His very own peace.

Your rod and Your staff. Comforting tools of the shepherd are there to protect and guard, to guide and rescue.

You prepare a table for me. I love it when someone invites me over, prepares the food, and tells me to sit and enjoy. I am the pampered guest, and I feel loved.

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My cup runs over. Not “just enough” but more than enough. Christ’s love is everlasting, His mercies are ever new, His compassion fails not.

Goodness and mercy will follow me. I don’t have to chase them down and beg. They are pursuing me with the graciousness of my God.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord. Ah, here is the ultimate rest, to be absent from this body and present with my Lord. I am a member of the family and will make myself at home.

Because I will be Home. And nothing says rest to me like home.our house by Elyse

P.S. I took this Paslm to heart so much yesterday that I rested from from Sunday grace and technology.

 

 

 

All things pumpkin

I’m just in a pumpkin-y kind of mood!

It’s that time of year, isn’t it? The lovely weather here in my old Kentucky home is perfect for fall, and it puts me in the mood for harvest, flannel shirts, and walks in the cool of the evening.

I went to one of my favorite discount stores this week and walked over to the isle where the fall items are on display. I’m still resisting a purchase that I don’t really need. Then I saw the flavored candles. I don’t need a candle. I made a mistake when I lifted the lids of the jars and began to sniff.

The Cinnamon Pumpkin flavor went in my cart. Who can resist? And don’t I want my piano students to smell autumn when they come in the door each week? Of course I do.

On Facebook I saw a recipe for Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake from DinnerAtTheZoo.com. It sounded so delicious I had to try it. And oh my goodness, it is good! Hot from the oven, it was a taste of Fall Heaven. Here is this easy and wonderful recipe. You’re welcome.

101_1725.JPGThere’s only one piece left. It’s tragic.

As I pass McDonald’s on my way to the interstate,  the marquee shows Pumpkin Spice Latte is back on the menu. I’m really not a sweet-coffee drinker. A little too much froufrou detracts from the coffee taste for me. It’s just my preference to have it strong with half and half. Nothing more. But I do not judge those who are doing a happy dance about the seasonal offering.

Pumpkin spice

 

As I was driving my cousin home this afternoon, I saw a sign at a local farmer’s market that it’s pumpkin patch time. We can go to the field and pick our very own, the size and shape that fits our needs. I’ll take two pie pumpkins, please.

I found a new package of Scentsy Pumpkin Roll bar I purchased from a former piano student who is now married and mamma of two. Time flies and now she is my go-to Scentsy consultant.

I broke off three cubes for my warmer. A lovely aroma is wafting through the house as I type. The sweet goodness is making me hungry. And there is only one piece of the gooey cake left.

God created the seasons, and He gives us all good things to enjoy. I am finding pleasure in what He has made as fall begins. I honor Him when I pause to notice what He has done, and then give Him praise.

Thank you, Lord, for pumpkins.

 

Sunday grace

“Indeed, these are but the outer fringes of his ways! How faint is the whisper we hear of him! But who can understand the thunder of his power?”  Job 26:14 NET

The Clouds, Blue Sky, Nature, Storm

The news reports of winds and waves and power that unnerves us all, a power that is uncontrollable. Predictions are updated as the power directs its own course, and no one really knows where the wind will blow.

I understand that the God of creation made this world in beauty and perfection with all things in proper order for life and health and prosperity. But something went wrong, sin entered the heart of man, and all creation groans under the weight of it.

Yet, God provides grace upon grace, mercies unlimited, and a love that is everlasting. Even when the winds blow and the sea rages, He is God and His dominion has no end.

He is all-powerful and deserves our reverence, our awe of Him who holds all things in the energy of His hand.

Man was given a limited creative power that is wonder-filled when it is used for goodness. Beauty and ingenuity result. But his power unleashed with selfish intent leaves devastation in its path.

One day the Father of creation will make all things new again.

We must bow to the only wise God whose power is perfect, whose goodness is inherent, and who works all things according to His good plan.

Give Him the glory due His name. Trust His heart. Lean into His love. Believe in His salvation.

It is the only safe haven in the power of the storm.

Sunday grace.

 

As the storm gathers

Sweet William and I have the weather channel tuned throughout the day. We check the latest updates of Hurricane Irma.

We have friends and family who live in Florida, Alabama, and our concerns for them give way to breathing prayers during our daily activity. And not only for them but for others in the path of this storm. Some have left looking for higher ground and others choose to stick it out. We pray for mercy.

A little closer to home, a different kind of storm cloud gathers and swirls over lives. Our prayer list is long with those sick and with needs beyond the ability of medical professionals. Some things can’t be helped with a prescription.

While we rejoice with those who rejoice, we weep with those who weep. We feel their suffering to some degree. We identify with their pain. When we have felt the sting of adversity, we cannot turn away in deafness to the heart cries we hear.

There is a time for laughter, rejoicing, and celebrations. I love those seasons.

There is also a time for tears. We must give ourselves permission to participate in both. Hiding our tears is not a sign of strength, as we have been made to believe. The strong cry and they are the better for it.

May we bear with those who need our support and prayers, holding them up to the Father of all comfort.

May we rejoice with those who celebrate and be happy for them.

May our hearts be tender to our fellow man and do for them what we can.

The One who calms the storm is also the One who can calm His child in the midst of the storm. We trust Him no matter the weather.

Sunrise by MaRanda Green

 

 

 

All in all

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

Sophie Hudson is already one of my favorite authors. I was reading one of her books about a year ago in the doctor’s waiting room and broke out into unrestrained laughter while most of the other patients looked like they had lost their wallet. It was a great moment, for me at least.

This time I’m reading All in All Journaling Devotional, Loving God Wherever You Are by my good “friend” Sophie.

As I opened the book to Day 1, I felt like Sophie was across the table from me chatting. She is very real as she expresses herself. And her experience working with teens and young women gives her the perspective to write in a way that will appeal to them. She speaks their language.

The devotional in not dated, making it easy to begin anytime and to read at one’s own pace. Let’s be real, the young lead busy lives like the rest of us. Being able to pick up a book today and then a couple of days later takes away the perceived guilt of not keeping up. The young don’t need anymore guilt and unreal expectations placed on them. (In fact, neither do any of us.)

Each day is broken into segments:

  • Sophie’s encouraging and understanding devotional words on a particular theme
  • A passage of Scripture to read
  • Three or four questions related to the devotional
  • A place to write out a verse of Scripture that relates
  • A half page of space to write out “Today’s Prayer”

 

 

All in All Journaling Devotional is targeted for the young and young at heart. It is perfect for personal quiet time or could equally be satisfying if done with a group.

Life is busy. Let’s admit it. There are many things calling for our attention every day. We need a little help in keeping ourselves focused and setting aside time to spend with Jesus. All in All Journaling Devotional is a book that calls to us to come away for a while and rest.

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NOTE:   I received a copy of All in All, Journaling Devotional, provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own. 

Sunday grace

This week I have pondered a question. How do I live a beautiful life in a fallen world to the glory of God? Because it is always about the glory of God.

I hear news reports of devastation for residents in Texas, the aftermath of hurricane Harvey. At the same time, I see people stirred by an inner kindness and compassion to serve any way they can. They come from neighboring counties or other parts of the country to help with clean up. They purchase bottled water, shoes and supplies to fill a truck that will soon head in the direction of loss. They donate money to the Salvation Army. They pray.

So often our human response is to blame God for disaster and tragedy and wonder what kind of being He is to allow such things. Funny how we are quick to blame Him when we hardly notice Him or give Him credit when things are going well.

When I see humanity at its finest, giving, serving, loving, I see God. It is His goodness coming to the surface of each person reaching a hand to help.

If we want to see God, then look for mercy extended, marvel at compassion in action, be amazed when forgiveness is offered for the unthinkable. Everything that is good and decent and loving in this world originates with the Creator of all things good.

When Jesus lived on this earth, He showed the world who God was, what He was like, how He loved the world so much that He gave everything. Everything.

Scripture tells us He is love, His essence, His being. Anything that looks remotely like love is God moving through human hearts and lives.

How do I live a beautiful life in a fallen world? By being Christ’s hand extended to someone else.  By sharing my goods, my time, myself with a a longing soul. By forgiving when I have been hurt. By loving when it is hard. By serving faithfully with joy when I am bone weary. By bowing the knee in prayer for someone who is suffering. By random acts of kindness to the one God brings into my path.

God is moving in the world. He is connected and concerned with us here on planet earth. And we will see Him if we look.

Sunday grace.