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Summer work, soul work

While I call them the gardens, this year it seems more appropriate to say it’s a jungle out there.

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This spring and summer has not been my best time for accomplishing much outdoors. It has been the year of the dog for us, though Chinese lore designates that title in 2018. Our little girl Maisie requires walks twice a day and lots of play time in the middle. I have given that to her more often than I’ve been down on my knees in the dirt with garden gloves.

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As a rescue animal who fended for herself much of her young life, Maisie needed our attention, training, and affection. She is rewarding us with obedience and companionship. She is settling in as our dog.

Last week I was able to go to the yard a couple of days. After a downpour of rain, I pulled on my garden boots and pink work gloves, carrying the kneeling pad and a few tools. I soon filled box after box of weeds pulled from all sorts of places. The occasional cloudburst drove me to the deck to rest a bit. Then I would trudge back to the work area.

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Another day, I determinedly took the weed sprayer and began the long-overdue task of killing poison ivy and the extreme overgrowth of neglected flower beds.

Both days I finished soaking wet with perspiration because, once again, it is hot at my Kentucky home. I felt encouraged that something like a small beginning was produced in those hours of work.

However, there has been some friendly fire in the gardens. Plants that should have been left in the ground were uprooted as I pulled weeds feverishly. Some purposely planted flowers were sprayed with poison accidentally in my hurry to get more accomplished. Two out-of-control Rose of Sharon bushes in full bloom were trimmed to the point of having almost no flowers left.

It happens when I leave something neglected for too long.

It happens in my soul as well. The small roots of discontent, comparison, and unthankfulness can turn into something ugly rather quickly. While the Holy Spirit prompts me with the Scripture and His still small voice, I can ignore both and go my own way, neglecting the needed soul-work, intending to deal with it later.

It’s never a good idea to put it off too long.

Weeds grow too close to flowers and reproduce quickly. Roots entangle with each other. Dislodging the weed often results in the good plant being uprooted.

I need to learn the lesson. It’s better to address the issues that bear on my spirit promptly. It’s wise to forgive quickly. I would do well to turn loose of the cares of life and stop the comparisons that burden me down. I should be discerning the bounty of gifts that are evident every day.

I need to count my blessings.

I realize life can be hard. How well we know that. There are mountains to climb, rivers to pass through, bridges to build, and rocky roads to travel.

I am assured that God goes with me every step of my journey. I am encouraged that there will be grace enough. I am told to let patience do it’s work in me so I learn endurance and will be made complete.

Instead of pushing aside those gentle nudges of the Spirit, I want to be more conscious of His whispers and quick to respond to my need for Him in every season and at all times. He is always with me and willing to help me address the complications of my life sooner rather than later. What might seem like a more convenient time only delays the inevitable.

He is the Teacher, the Comforter, and the One who goes with me whether for a daily walk or into the jungle.

There is still beauty in the gardens despite my neglect. And God still works to produce beauty in me through His tireless love, with the goal of reflecting the beauty of Christ at the end of it all.

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Sunday grace

While there is little gardening or weeding going on these days because of one-handedness, there is beauty around me everywhere.

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Where there was winter, there is now summer.

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While we wait for death, we anticipate birth.

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Where there is brokeness, there can be healing.

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Joy and sorrow ride the same rail, side by side. During the dark seasons of our lives, we wait for the dawn, we look for the silver lining, we walk toward the ray of sunshine.

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Beauty is everywhere if we will but look for it. Let our eyes be wide open to the vision of God’s grace abounding to each of us.

Sunday grace.

Sunday grace

I walk into morning light, a light mist hovering over the lake and grassy lawn. Beauty awakens me.

I am greeted by sun’s warmth, bird’s song, flower’s bud, and the coffee in my cup that is creamy and hot.

I am looking for lovely, finding it at every turn.

Like the Psalmist, I long for this thing, to dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple.

He has given earth’s beauty to be enjoyed, to bring pleasure to the heart.  The mountains, the sea, the grandeur of forests and fields, my own back yard.

He is beautiful beyond description. And He has made all things beautiful in its time.

Every creature, great and strong, small and imperceptible, reveals the beautiful Creator who designed it, spoke it into existence, formed it in perfection.

Every life carries beauty within it, upon it. The world has rejected it, stamping its own standard of perceived perfection. And we have missed the artistry and grace of the creation.

Look for the lovely in each face today. See the exquisiteness and comeliness of every fair expression. Lift up the downcast heart and speak words of life.

You are beautiful.

Sunday grace.

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The lovely

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

I’ve seen Annie Downs via the simulcast of IF: Gatherings.  But I know her in a different way after having read her book, Looking For Lovely, Collecting the Moments that Matter.

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I really enjoyed this book for several reasons.  It’s an easy read with short chapters, and Annie is funny.  She often made me smile. It’s honest as Annie talks about her struggles and her victories.  It provides a glimpse of how Annie began to see beautiful in what once was dark and painful.

And isn’t that what life is about?  We grapple with the reason behind the bad things that happen to who we call the good people.  Yet it is common to mankind.  We will have tribulations in this world.  It is inevitable.  What we do with those experiences is vital to how we survive and live joyfully.

The book is divided into three sections.  The first is Annie’s “Absence of Lovely” and the transparent way she describes her clashes against the difficulties in her life.

Section 2 is her “Search of Lovely” where she describes events that point her toward the beauty of living out her purpose, how the dark threads are part of her canvas as much as bright and gold ones. It is in this section that she makes suggestions to the reader to take some kind of action to look for the lovely in life.

The book ends with a brief “When I Found Lovely” as a summary of the search and the found prize of living her days joyfully, knowing God is a redeemer of all things and will bring beauty from ashes every single time.

I enjoyed sitting on my deck where nature’s loveliness surrounded me and reading Annie’s stories.  They resonated with me.  Life is not an easy ride.  I don’t think it was meant to be.  But it is full of beauty and lovely and joy and glory if we will open our eyes and look for it.

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

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Christmas beauty

I read the following words from Rhonda Quaney and just had to share them with you.

“. . . everything is simplified by the beauty of a woman in love with Jesus.”

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That’s the kind of woman I want to be, the kind of beauty I want to have, the life I really want to live.

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Go with me to Deeper Waters, and let your soul breathe deeply.  You will be glad you took the time to read.

Simple beauty

There is a first frost on the pumpkins and a mist rising from the lake this morning.  It is quite lovely.

Yesterday afternoon I gathered the remaining annuals from the yard knowing the frost would soon wither them.  I put flowers in vases throughout the house.  Their brilliance startles me as I walk in the room.  Their seeds assure me of more next year.

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The flames flicker warm in the fireplace.  I catch sight of a golden glow on the large maple tree as the sun rises high to shine on it.

I look at pictures of funny faces sent to me by my eldest granddaughter, the one who flew in like a bird with me in July.  The silly show reminds me of the fun with had just being together, the shared experience.

In the afternoon we attend the celebration of a child’s birthday.  Grandparents, other relations, and friends gathered, taking pictures, telling stories, eating cake.  And there is an exquisiteness of the life of family.

There is beauty in the air and in our home and in our world.  It is sent from the Father for us to enjoy.  It is His great pleasure to shower us with blessings.

And I shall keep my umbrella down today and let the blessings fall like rain drops to soak into the heart that has felt dry and cracked this week.

The simple beauty of life, everyday life is what I crave.  And today I am filled.

Hello Beautiful!

She came up to me at a women’s retreat after I had given my testimony.  Her boldness jolted me when she asked, “Will you mentor me?”  I was taken aback and humbled.  I wasn’t even sure I knew how to mentor anyone. I gave her a quick and careful response, “Let’s pray about that.”

Her courageous request would not turn me loose.  I did pray about it and felt God leading me to say ‘yes’ to this young woman.  I had no formal mentoring training.  All I could think of were the older women in my own life, the ones who displayed a Christ-like character and were an example of what a godly woman looked like.  I made myself available to talk with her, to pray with her, to share a little of life with her.  And the mentoring came naturally.

We built relationship.  We got acquainted with each other’s families.  I learned about her struggles and victories.  She learned about mine.  We became faith-encouragers and prayer warriors to one anther.  We came to love each other.

Now, a half dozen years later, she has become a leader among women, one who is mentoring others.  I’m not sure what role I played in all of it.  I am simply gratified at what I see the Lord doing in and through her.

So when she sees me now, she greets me with, “Hello Beautiful!”  And I shake my head a little because I am fully aware of the reflection in my mirror.

I’ve never been the beautiful one in the family.  I was not a head turner growing up.  Not a Miss America candidate.  It seems I’ve always struggled with my weight.  I was not the girl all the guys wanted to date.  And besides, I’m a grandmother now with all the physical features to go with the title.

So why does she call me beautiful?

Here is what I have concluded.  She sees me beautiful because she loves me.  We developed a bond that drew us to love one another.  And the fruit of it was beauty.

Because what we place value on, what we set our affections upon becomes a thing of beauty to us.

Why else would the elderly man look at his aged wife and say, “You are still beautiful to me”?  Why does my Sweet William say such a thing to me when the wrinkles are beginning to meet each other and become a cross road in my face?

Why do my grandchildren think I am beautiful?  Yes, me with the thinning grey head, the paunch in the tummy, the effects of gravity on everything.  My teeth are not as white as they once were.  I wear trifocals for goodness sake.  I’m not really that stylish in my clothing choices.  But to my three grands, I am exquisite.

And the reason can only be that they see me through eyes of love.

I begin to understand a bit more the amazing love of God  The grace He extends and the longing to have fellowship with the likes of me shocks me to my core. Why does He place such value on me?  I am sinful by nature though I fight it hard.  I fail often.  I fall down a lot.

Why would He want to be with . . . me?

It can only be because the love He has poured out to me has made me become precious and worth something.

Worth dying for.

And I perceive that love changes it’s subject into something sublime.  God loved the world, us the created, so much that He was willing to die for the lot of us.

What kind of beautiful love is that?  It is love that sees beyond the faults and failures, the decay and the filth, the imperfection and the sinfulness and sees a beauty worth saving.  A beauty worth whatever it costs.

This love not only sees beauty but changes the object of love into something beautiful.  The beloved becomes beautiful because love made it so.

So if we happen to meet and you tell me I look beautiful, I know what is really behind that statement.  It’s simple.  It’s because you love me.

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