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A day at the fair

The Kentucky State Fair holds lots of memories for me. Yesterday morning Sweet William and I made our way there.

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Though we arrived in the morning hours, “Lot Full” signs appeared again and again as we kept driving to find parking. Lot 23 was on the back side of the ball field. But we were here and I was excited.

Sweet William, in his mobile scooter, and me, in my most comfortable shoes, headed for an open door and air conditioning. It was warm already. August, the state fair, hot temperatures. It’s a given.

We came upon the outside mule exhibit first and I love the mules. They were washed, brushed and looking beautiful, strong and muscular. Several leaned their heads for me to rub their faces and talk gently to them. And those ears – long and velvety. Who wouldn’t love the mules?

I recall my dad telling about working with mules on the farm when he was a boy. He had a different way of describing them, but then he had a completely different view of them from behind a plow.

I felt the cool air as we neared the livestock building. First in sight were the chickens in their colorful and exotic feathers. In my younger years, I would have owned chickens and gone for fresh eggs each morning for breakfast. These days I have friends who share their bounty, the colorful shells intriguing me. Blessed are those who share.

We looked at the variety of pigeons and rabbits, winding our way toward the goats. The goats are so sweet. I would have had goats too, milk goats that would give me delicious milk each day.

Next were the cows. Their big brown eyes win me over. I’m told my grandmother always had a jersey cow, a smaller breed that gives rich milk. The thick cream would rise to the top of the bottle. I can only imagine how that would taste in my coffee.

Yes, in my younger years, I think I could have been a gentle-woman farmer.

We came to the items entered for judging. I scanned the antiques, sure that I have things that old at home.

Sweet William and I searched the handmade quilts isles until we found my cousin’s entry, a beautiful gold and purple creation. Though she didn’t get a ribbon this year, her entry hung there for all to enjoy, and I am proud of her accomplishments.

I roamed through the artwork and admired the creativity and time it takes to bring forth a work of art, whether on canvas, with cloth or wood, cooked on the stove or in the oven, or planted in the earth. God, the master creator, has imprinted His image in us, giving people the opportunity to build, design, plant, craft and make something beautiful with our hands.

Food was next on our agenda, and we were looking for the Pork Producers. Bar-B-Que sandwiches and french fries only taste this good at the fair. We found a table near the end where another couple sat. We chatted and discovered they were from Bowling Green. Conversations wound around to children and grandchildren. Theirs live within two hours of driving time. I’m thankful when I hear families living near one another. I can’t help but wish my own were close enough for me to drive there for the day and come home.

God knows things I can’t figure out. I continually remind myself to trust Him with the unanswered questions.

I wanted to go through the exhibits hall where sellers of all sorts of goods are set up. It’s fun to see what items are popular and drawing the crowd. The food equipment displays always seem to attract attention as the demonstrator tells how we simply cannot live without having this vegetable peeler or that pot.

We stopped long enough to inquire at a couple of booths, and wouldn’t you know it, we walked away with some purchases (not the pot or the peeler). I just hope each one lives up to the hype that sold me on the product.

We saw some friends while we rested for a bit. It’s always fun to chat on the spur of the moment.

I people watched and that was entertaining. Some of the outfits folks wear these days are interesting. I had to wonder if we all need to look in the mirror just one more time before we leave the house.

While Sweet William’s wheels were still rolling strong, my feet were getting tired. We paused for ice cream cones, and I was refreshed enough to begin the walk to Lot 23 and the truck.

It seemed longer this time. I was well worn and my legs were tired. I’m pretty sure I got all my steps in today, though I might have canceled them with that cookies and cream waffle cone I devoured.

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Loaded into the truck with the air conditioner at full blast, I settled in and let me feet relax. I needed a nap.

At home, Maisie was so glad to see us. I washed my face to cool down, drank more water, and was ready to put my feet up and drink a cup of coffee.

Our day at the state fair was a simple, fun adventure for us. Sweet William and I have altered our bucket lists as the years have changed us. We aim for what is less complicated, what will not create undue stress on bodies and minds. We’ve learned to adjust to what we can do and let go of what we can’t. It’s still a challenge some days to be grateful for the good things in our lives and not focus on what we don’t have or can’t do.

Life is like that for all of us, I guess. God provides all we need, though sometimes I want more. I remember that the apostle Paul learned contentment and I can learn too.

My grateful list includes this day full of blessings at the state fair.

 

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Sunday grace

Re-viewing my blessings and they bless me again.

Remembering the beauty of a day and writing it down is beauty twice.

I count my gifts in a journal. It should be a daily exercise, a discipline I practice. Sometimes I don’t take the time. Some evenings I am tired and  don’t remember. And then there are days when I forget how blessed I am.

A day offers gifts galore, joy one right after another, blessing upon blessing. And shouldn’t those graces be acknowledged, remembered, re-viewed, and counted?

Yes. A thousand times yes.

The One who blesses and gives bountiful grace deserves my thanks. By counting, I remember the Giver who is easily taken for granted for all He lavishes on me.

I will give thanks with a grateful heart.  I will keep counting, to one thousand and more.

Sunday grace.

Sunset in Colorado, by travis

Sunset in Colorado. Photo by the one and only Son, Travis.

Winged gifts

One morning this week, I found Sweet William sitting on the edge of the bed looking out the window.  He had spotted a Pileated Woodpecker on the plumb tree in our side yard.

I eased over quietly to see it, not only because it’s a rare occurrence around here, but because I had been wishing-praying-asking God for this very thing.pileated-woodpecker

A bulletin board hangs in the kitchen where a monthly calendar counts off the days. There are a few other things posted there. Like is a card someone sent with a drawing of two little girls in dress-up cloths.  It reminds me of my grand girls when they were young. There’s also a cutout of a little dog with the caption, “Wag more. Bark less,” a reminder to consider the words and attitudes I freely share with Sweet William.

Up in the corner of that hanging board was a picture I had cut out awhile back, the very woodpecker with its brilliant red-head feathers. It was a wish, a desire, a dream to see this creature up close and personal again.

(Photo from myrustichouse.com/)

Years ago, when the grandchildren were very small, I spied a woodpecker on the utility poll that connects electricity and phone lines to our houses. Those were the days when our family-too-far-away lived in the house next door, and it was a joyful arrangement.

The woodpecker was pecking that pole as if it were alive and he was going to find some treat in its battered surface. That’s the last time I recall seeing a critter like him around our area.

We have lots of birds making their homes in our yard and surrounding little woods. They build nests in our bushes and houses on poles, and they generally help keep the insect population under control as they swoop and flutter about. They serenade the morning dawn and entertain me throughout the day with songs and antics.

We are blessed to live across the lane from a lake that is home to a number of Canadian geese. This spring there are two pairs with three little goslings each, and Little Girl Maisie and I often see them waddling along or swimming in line as we take our walks.

My little corner of the world is full of blessings, especially the winged ones.

But it was a woodpecker I longed to see.  When I cut out the picture, I just decided to ask for one from the God who gives good things to His children. Of course, it was not a necessity for me to survive, but it was something I really wanted. Why not ask Him?

The morning I sat on the side of the bed with Sweet William and watched the woodpecker, waiting for him to make his way around the tree so I could see all of his foot-long frame, I was thankful for this gift, a gift I had asked for and had been lovingly, graciously granted by a good, good Father.

Some might think it just coincident or happenstance or the way fate destined it.

I choose to believe it was from my Heavenly Father’s hand because He delights in seeing His children enjoy the life and world He made just for us. His Word says, “He has filled the hungry with good things,” not just food to keep me from starving to death, but rich and tasty, good and pleasurable.

I pulled the picture from the bulletin board and pasted it in my journal, a reminder of this day’s joy.  Is it significant that the woodpecker sighting came at the time I was in an emotional skirmish?  I think it is. That bird appearance was a gentle hug from above.

And I think I may have heard a voice deep within me say, “Now what else do you want?”

I’m not a name-it-claim-it kind of believer. I don’t think I can influence the universe or bring things into existence by some power within me. Truthfully, none of us are that strong.

There is a sovereign Lord of lords who will do whatever He pleases, and I’m far from being wise enough to know what is best. I find the most effective prayer I can pray is “Not my will but Thine be done.”

Yet, there is a God who has given all good things for us to enjoy, given us opportunity to know Him and to become His child. He invites me to come and somehow when I do it gives Him pleasure. That’s impossible for me to understand because I’m not always the best company.

Do we shortchange ourselves by not asking more, knocking consistently, seeking until we find? Do we expect that suffering is all there is, resign ourselves to this lot in life so that we never expect deliverance, victory or joy? Do we fail to pray for big things from the God who is more than able to do what we cannot even imagine?

Perhaps I limit God by my small requests and thus minimize Him in my own eyes.

He fills the universe and beyond. He counts the hairs on my head. He stores my tears in a bottle. He keeps a journal on me. He loves me more than I can comprehend. He asks for my friendship, my time, and my attention because He desires me.

Oh magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name forever!

He longs to be gracious to me and rises to show me compassion.

I will ask for my daily bread. I will pray for those who are sick and suffering. I will seek His presence and wait for Him, wait on His timing, wait for His “Yes” to my requests. I will trust Him when the answer is “no” and believe that He has something significantly better in mind.

And I will look for the next surprise gift He has planned just for me.

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A clear vision

Several years ago, a friend told me about unclaimed money and how to look for it.  And guess what?  I found some that had my name on it!

It wasn’t a lot of money, not like a windfall inheritance from a long lost relative who remembered me in his will.  But it was a nice surprise.  It was like getting a check for free.  Quite exciting.

As I look at the first day’s study of Armor of God, I am reminded of so many spiritual blessings I have already been given through Christ Jesus.  Ephesians 1 lists many of them:

redemption, forgiveness, riches of God’s grace, included in Christ, marked by the seal of the Holy Spirit, God’s incomparable great power for me, and on and on.

But if I forget about them or don’t make the effort to access them or simply don’t believe they are for me, then I am likely to walk in defeat rather than victory.  I’ll be the poorer for it.

I need a clear vision of God’s spiritual blessings, the bounty of His goodness lavished on me as a follower of Jesus.  He has given me so much and I need to open my eyes.  I need to believe what He says.  I need to receive it all.  All!

Open my eyes so I can truly see the marvelous things in your law!   — Psalm 119:18, NET Bible

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I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people . . .    –Ephesians 1:18 NIV

Remember that free money I was talking about?  It took some effort on my part to get it.  I had to fill out forms and mail some things in before the check came to me.

It is the same in our relationship with our Savior.  He takes us just as we are but does not plan on leaving us in that place.

He has given us everything we need, grace abundant, gifts galore, and He wants us to grow in Christ.  He wants us to become disciples so we then can be a discipler, helping others grow.

Is it too much trouble for me to come to Him through prayer and Bible study to learn more and access His power?  Will it require too much energy to gather with fellow believers so we can learn, encourage each other, and challenge one another like iron sharpens iron?  Is it just too much out of my comfort zone to open up and share with a trusted Christian friend when I struggle and when I need prayer?

I don’t think so.  The gifts and blessings are there for the taking.

I need to reach out and take what is already mine.  In Jesus Name.

 

 

 

Not just today

In my groggy waking, I remember it’s Thanksgiving Day.  I think of how blessed I am.  With coffee in hand, and Bible open, I read a favorite Psalm, one that reminds me to “forget not all His benefits.”  It’s a favorite of mine.  It spoke truth to me with assurances and promises at a place when my life was crumbling before me, verses I am still holding on to.  The verses speak again today.  And I cling.

I write more entries on my Joy List pondering gifts of hearing someone’s laughter yesterday and the very breath I breathe this morning.  God is good.  All the time.

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I still have cooking to do but I stop long enough to remind myself that everyday should be Thanksgiving, not just the fourth Thursday in November each year.

Soon all thoughts will turn toward the best bargains and are there enough lights on the house and how can I fit one more event into an already full December calendar.  We will steam-roll toward Christmas Day.  But will we stop to give thanks for the best gift God gave?

I hope so.  I hope in my busy days and weeks coming, I will pause and still myself to recall the very reason we call it Christmas.  The Child who came was the Christ and He gives us reason to celebrate.

Let us give thanks to the God who rules over this universe, who has power to crush and raise up, who loves overwhelmingly and everlastingly, who does not deal with us as our sins deserve but instead removes them and casts them away when we turn to His Son for forgiveness.

He deserves praise, thanksgiving, worship.  Always.  Not just today.

PSALM 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his word,
    obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
    his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
    in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!