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Ending and beginning

I woke up with anxiety this morning realizing it was February 1st and I had missed writing a “January ending” post.

Yesterday was a full day. I had three potential writing projects I wanted to complete. I had piano lessons. There were the dailies: cooking, laundry, clean-up as always. I worked on what I thought was the most important in the afternoon. By evening, I was spent and writing does not come as easily then. I turned off the laptop and went to bed.

Thus my anxiety this morning. I began to talk to my inner self, reminding her that I am the boss of my blog. There are more important things than writing a post. I let myself off the hook, gave myself some grace and went about my day today.

There. I feel better getting that off my chest.

January 2018 was cold, and then it was warm. It snowed causing canceled appointments and kept us home-bound. Then we played catch up. It’s Kentucky. What can I say.

I bought a leather journal for the new year, first time I’ve ever had one so nice. After viewing all my journals in their various shapes and forms, I decided it was time to treat myself to something special since, obviously, my journaling is not a passing fancy.

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Sweet William gave me a custom-designed fountain pen for Christmas. It is my journal pen. I love the way it lightly scratches across the paper and the flow of the ink. I hope the rumors I hear are untrue, that cursive writing is out of fashion and obsolete in this keyboard generation. Cursive is an art form, one we should hold close and not throw aside because something new seems better, faster. Recognizing the writing style of friends and family or seeing a signature of a loved one is a sweet pleasure. Let’s don’t throw out the baby with the bath water.

I am a whirling dervish in January, going through drawers and closets, cleaning out and repurposing things to the thrift store. It gives me a lighter feeling to let go of too much stuff as I head into the new year. It has caused me evaluate my thrift store “addiction” with a determination to use caution and restraint this year.

Sometimes I organize myself into a corner and forget what I’ve done with things. Like the jar of hand cream I still can’t find.

Sweet William and I celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary quietly this year. Take-out Chinese was our lunch menu, eaten in the comfort of home. We’ve celebrated lots of different ways these many years. In this cold, snowy month, I think to myself, “Who gets married in January?” We did.

Let me mention a couple of good books and movies I enjoyed while snuggled in at the Wright House.

Between Heaven and the Real World is by singer/song writer Steven Curtis Chapman. We’ve been a fan of Chapman’s music for years. In his book he revealed an honest look at a family who achieved fame and success, who struggled with real life issues of marriage and children, who faced unbearable tragedy, and who still believe in a good God.  I appreciate the words to Chapman’s songs even more now.

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Church of the Small Things, by Melanie Shankle, was not what I was expecting. But it was entertaining and made me giggle. Melanie has a funny writing style, while telling great stories of life. She’s been a blogger for years and has written other books, some that made the New York Times Bestseller List. I will look for her again.

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Finding Normal was a DVD from my library. It was family friendly, and I just like Candace Cameron Bure.

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered was another movie we enjoyed with a redemptive theme, because sometimes I want to feel good after I’ve spent two hours of my time.

And now February begins with more weather weirdness, temperatures fluctuating from 50 degrees this morning and plummeting to the teens tonight, rain that turned to snow while my piano students wish for another snow day tomorrow. The good news is, as some celebrate the prophetic tendencies of the Groundhog tomorrow, winter will be half over and on the downslide.

Stores display their Valentine reds and pinks, and I wonder if the second month of the year could truly be dedicated to showing kindness and love? We are all fellow travelers on this earth, and the road can get rugged and long. In the words of Steven Curtis Chapman, “on the good days and the bad days and the mad days, the happy and the sad days,” we could use some courtesy and forbearance, a little patience and tenderness.

If we try, if we make a concerted effort, February might turn into a gentle reminder that sweetness is not just something covered in chocolate.

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December ending and saying so-long to 2017

As December goes – it is the best of times and the worst of times.

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The joy of Christmas mixed with the stress of the holidays can do us in. Sometimes we sigh with relief on the 26th and breathe “I’m glad it’s over.” Been there and done that.

But December 2017 was different from years past. It seemed slower, quiet days intermingled with a manageable busy. The month started with a Christmas recital of my piano students at a senior assisted-living facility that was great fun. The residents enjoyed our familiar carols, and we enjoyed talking with them.

People dropped in to share a meal or a cup of hot tea and cocoa with us. Two days Sweet William and I had a house full of girls which made for a lively Wright House. They brought conversation, giggles, and a lot of fun to us.

We spent time with friends and family, planned and spur of the moment. I am thankful for the people in my life who enrich me in ways I can’t even describe, but I recognize it when I see myself growing, the fruit that comes from companions who make me better.

My decorating was simple this year. While the Christmas tree is not my favorite thing to do, Sweet William loves it. So it was the first thing on the to-do list. Somehow completing that one task made the rest easier. Our pre-lit tree began to shut down one branch at a time, so I made a stop at the dollar store to purchase LED lights. We added them to a fully-decorated tree, and in the spirit of Charlie Brown’s friend Linus, it was not a bad little tree at all.

My December goals were simple:
1. Learn to listen better and speak less
2. Walk in peace and offer peace
3. Purge Christmas stuff as I put it away

I’m still working on one and two. Three didn’t happen. I did a major purge last year, and it seemed to be less than I remembered. So I boxed it all up and once again stored it behind a closed door.

During the month I was reading Eve Schaub’s Year of No Clutter: A Memoir. Her efforts at emptying an overstuffed junk room and eliminating clutter in her life revealed some of the reasons we collect and keep, store and even hoard. Being the keeper of memories, I began to understand myself as I read about Eve’s issues with stuff. It helped me turn loose without guilt and to stress less about keeping what is precious and memorable to me.

Speaking of books, I tracked the ones I read this year in my bullet journal. It is an interesting discipline that now shows me the variety of material I’ve consumed. Reading was not something I enjoyed in school when I was required to do book reports. Thankfully, I have learned to love the written word, and find non-fiction as attractive as fiction.

It is not surprising then, that I am interested in bloggers who list their favorite books. I take some of their suggestions as I make my list for 2018. I check my library first. Because while I am a collector of things, books being one category, I now want to read a loaned book rather than purchase another that must find room on the shelves. (Though I am still buying books. What’s wrong with me?)

As the hours of 2017 are dwindling, I become reflective, reviewing the 365 days I spent so casually. Did I use them well?

And what of 2018? A new year emerges as a clean slate, an unwritten notebook, a fresh start. As I prepare my new bullet journal, jotting down goals, aspirations, intentions, resolutions if you will, one thing I do want is to be aware of the exquisiteness of life. It is ths gift of years, days and seconds we have been allotted. The bequest of breaths I take should count for something. It is not about filling my days full of activity and proclaiming my mantra, “I’m just so busy.” That’s no way to live.

There should be time to sit quietly, ponder and meditate;
time to listen as others speak without thinking of my response and what I want to say;
time to invite others into my life in a deep and meaningful way;
time to read good books, read again the aged manuscripts of God and learn anew;
time to serve with humility and grace;
time to work hard and do it for the glory of God;
time to be fully present in the moment, to enjoy and find joy in each one;
time to love freely and to let myself be loved completely.

Solomon said, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” There is time, and it is an offering we give back in how we use it.

The passing of winter solstice, December 21, is encouraging as I anticipate temperatures in the minuses on New Year’s Eve. The days are getting longer, though imperceptible as yet. I know it is a truth. By February it will be a noticeable reality. Then spring will not be far away.

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It is much like faith which is based on what we know is true. We trust and wait to see the faith become reality.

This is Christmas in all of its wonder and glory, faith built on truth. December is really more like the beginning than the end of a year. It reminds us to pause and reflect on the majesty of God’s love and His invitation for a fresh start, a new birth, a beginning to live real life abundantly.

As I approach a new year, words to an old song invade my thoughts, “Many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand. But I know who holds tomorrow, and I know who holds my hand.

Whatever 2018 has in store, I am holding to the Maker of time and years. What is even more reassuring is that He is holding me. He will not let my foot slip.

He is not caught off guard or unaware of today or tomorrow or next month. He is God and He is in control.

Rest your future with Him.

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Changing of the holidays

On the last day of November, a Christmas Pentatonix CD  played as I move to their rhythmic a cappellas. I am a closet dancer in the safety of the home. I don’t know any real moves. I just make them us as I go along, feeling the freedom to do what I always wanted to do – dance!

Thanksgiving with all the trimmings is a sweet memory for me. I love being with my extended family. I’m not sure anyone does food like we do.

My body has finally begun to adjust to the time change. That first week of Daylight Savings Time “fall forward” had me in bed yawning at 8 pm and up at 5 am, wide-eyed and ready for coffee. The early mornings offer me the window view of beautiful sunrises as I sit in the rocker by the fireplace and sip the second cup from my “Baby it’s Cold Outside” mug.

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Believe it or not, I planted four perennials in November, the ones left in pots that I put off over and over. A warm sunny day had me digging in the dirt yet once more. And now, really, I’m done with gardening for 2017.

And so it is December, the Holiday Express Train already loaded and moving fast. As it picks up speed, we either get on board or get run over. The enticement is to rush through the next month, loading it with a plethora of activities. You and I are the only ones who can set limits and control how we will spend the days of December. We can decide to enjoy the ride or even take the next stop and get off, lest we speed through it and not remember how we got to January.

What if we stood on the side and watched that train leave without us? Could we really do that without the guilt of not doing everything just like we’ve done it for years and years?

Let’s be honest, some of the traditions we continue to do are just not fun any more and no one would notice if it fell off the list this year. In fact, those we love most might be happy to spend more quality time with us rather than see us rattled and ruffled with too much to do. We could actually use our energy on the important rather than the less-than.

I down-sized my decorating this year and finished on the first day of December. Unheard of for me. I just decided enough is enough. When people come to our home, they aren’t looking for a supurbly designed Christmas theme, they are wanting a welcoming heart and a listening ear.

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I have avoided Pinterest, though full of great ideas. I’ve not looked at any December magazines yet with the trendiest decorating ideas, easy cookie recipes, and the how-tos of a memoriable holiday gathering. I’m also not watching commercials with their enticing perfection. We do know that scenes are staged in magazines and on TV, and that it isn’t real, don’t we? It’s not real, people!

So here we are in the last month of the year, the one that will be the busiest and most stressful because of expectations that it will be picture perfect, that everyone will be  jolly and nice, and that all of our strained, uncomfortable relationships will suddenly evaporate into congenial, happy family gatherings.

Perhaps we’ve made Christmas into something it isn’t, something in our own image.

As Advent begins, the season of preparing for Jesus, we could be looking for the Savior’s activity in the world. We could pray for ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart that will understand.

I long for the glory, the glory that is Christmas.

Greg Gilbert, in his small book called Who is Jesus?, says this:

“. . . for all that, you still had to stop and pay attention to see just how beautiful it really was. 
So much of life is like that, isn’t it? In all the hustle and bustle of work, family, friends, bills, and fun, things like beauty and grandeur sometimes get squeezed out of our minds. We don’t have time to appreciate them, because doing so would require us to stop and pay attention to something besides The Urgent.”

Christmas is beauty and grandeur, blessing and grace, the greatest love come down to us in an astounding way and in the finest of details. All of it was to show us who God is and how much He wants us to know Him, to love Him, to have a relationship with Him.

Don’t miss it this year. Look for the glory of Christmas. It’s everywhere if we will just take time to notice.

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October ending

In the first week of October we took a much-anticipated trip to see our dear ones. I brought my Carpenters CDs so I could sing along.  It makes the miles go faster and keeps me awake.

This is the music of my youth, and I remember what my life was like by the lyrics of each track. “It’s Yesterday Once More” as I recall my life flying by.

Though the distance is long, the faces that come out the door to greet us are the ones we want to see. I never mean to cry, but I do. We spent the time just being together doing simple things: playing games at the kitchen table, visiting a coffee shop and some thrift stores, watching movies, talking and laughing. One evening we went to new/old-fashioned soda fountain where I experienced my first Egg Cream, which by the way, does not have eggs or cream in it.

Maisie was in dog heaven with the family’s two spaniels to romp with. The first day she kept looking at me with a dog-smile as if to say, “Thanks for bringing me here.” Playing is her favorite thing to do.

Our grandson, the youngest of our three grands, prepared pancakes for us our last morning. He patiently stood at the stove frying one large cake at a time until all were fed. Then he fixed one for himself and sat down with us. I commented on his kindness, and he said, “That’s what mom does.”

Two deaths this month hit me hard. I found out about them while we were traveling and away from home. I had wanted to see both of these friends one more time and was planning to be in touch when I returned. We never know when we will look at a face for the last time. It makes every interaction with each person important.

With the cold weather sweeping in, I moved outdoor plants inside the house and garage. Some tender perennials would not survive if I didn’t shelter them.  It’s the task that  follows a clean-out of the garage to prepare for them to sit by two windows where they will reach for the sunlight during the winter months.

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Maisie and I walk the lane and I smell fall. It’s hard to define, but I know it when it’s in the air. It’s a mixture of mown grass, musty soil, and wood fires burning. I breathe in long and my senses tell me the changing of seasons. The  leaves are scattered in the yard, the red twig dogwoods look especially red, and berries cluster on branches, food for the birds. Darkness settles early in the evening, and I find myself wanting to snuggle in and drink hot cocoa.

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Unusual for us home bodies, we traveled again at the end of the month to the  state of Mississippi, the place of Sweet William’s birth. The youngest daughter of his deceased brother was being married, and it was important for us to be there. We caravaned with Sweet William’s older brother and his wife.

It was a time of remembering for all of us as we drove familiar roads around town and saw the house where Sweet William’s parents once lived. On another street we passed the home of his favorite aunt and uncle, all now gone from this earth. Life is brief at its best, like grass that is here today, then withers and blows away tomorrow.

We visited and had lunch with his 93-year-old step-mother who still gardens and irons. She is a sweetheart of a woman, and we cherished time with her.

The wedding on Saturday evening was lovely and the bride was beautiful. She and her sister kept saying they were glad we made it. And so were we. It was one of those times when showing up was what really mattered.

Image may contain: car, sky and outdoorPhoto by Louise Wright

This quote came home to me from The Art of Simple: “I show up because I believe in the power of presence. Life is really freaking hard–but we don’t have to do it alone.

The latter trip was perfect for enjoying the glow that is Autumn. I needed a box of 64-count Crayolas to help me describe shades. As we drove through the corridor of trees on Natchez Trace the colors were brilliant. Forest and olive greens, burnt orange and mellow gold, mahogany and bittersweet. It could not have been a better weekend for peak beauty.

Travels done, we arrived at home-sweet-home, unpacked, and washed clothes. I caught up with messages since I’d been off-line and disconnected to internet for three days. It was a bit of relief.

Settled into my regular routine, I discovered another of my good neighbors will be moving soon. It was only a week or so ago when the for sale sign appeared in their yard, and I expressed my  sad feelings about that.

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They sold their house quickly, even before the first open house. I’m happy for them; this is what they wanted and prayed for. But my little world is changing quickly, and I have to adjust. I want what is best for them, the will of the Lord. And so we pray for them and for the new neighbors who will be moving into our quiet community. I hope we can be friends.

With the ending of October we merge into the two busiest months of the year. Holidays and celebrations will abound. If we aren’t careful, we will blink our eyes and it will be next year. If we are not purposeful, we will miss the most important part: time to focus on family, an opportunity to listen with the heart, a chance to look at faces we love and be there, very present, with nothing else on the agenda.

Filling our lives full is a cultural temptation. But it doesn’t mean we will experience the pleasure of it. Perhaps we should think carefully about the activity level and our commitments in the coming months.

A full life and life to the full are two very different things.

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As the holiday season approaches, I don’t want to rush through it. I want to savor the smells, the sights, the sensations. I want to enjoy the people who sit with me at the table and around the Christmas tree. I want to really be there in all of it.

Don’t you?

 

September ending

September brought hurricanes. They dominated the news and much of our thoughts as we watched them whirl into populated areas and then saw the devastation left behind from Harvey and Irma. As we texted about family and friends, what could we do hundreds of miles away except watch and pray and offer charitable contributions in one form or another?

Such disasters cause us to evaluate our lives and what we strive to achieve. More than once I heard people be grateful for loved ones being safe over the loss of house and property. Things can be swiftly swept away. It is our people who are most valuable.

Maisie completed her first obedience class this month, and it was well worth our efforts. We learned the beauty of gentle training with lots of love and treats. Thankfully, she didn’t have to pass a test. All dogs and owners went outside for the last class, and Maisie got a little crazy. She just wanted to play with the other dogs.

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I had lunch with three of my high school girl friends. We don’t get together often enough. I recalled us being teenagers, where we were 50 years ago and the roads we have traveled to get where we are now. We’ve all had our hardships, and we’ve grown stronger for it. Our faith has held us, and we’ve learned to trust the strong arm of God who sustains us.

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I read Pursuing the Intentional Life and was joined by my friend. We read a chapter a day and then texted to each other the passages that spoke to us. It made the book twice as meaningful. The author, Jean Fleming, wrote to prepare for the rest of her life. In her 70s, she wanted to live out her years with intention. While it might sound depressing initially, her words were thought-provoking and challenging. How do I want to live the rest of my days? No matter the age I am, there is a determined ending.

What time is left should be lived, with purpose and on purpose. Retirement can lull me into thinking my best days are behind me. I don’t believe that is the case. Activities and ministry may take on different forms, but both can still be vital and alive. I want the kind of life that bears much fruit to the Father’s glory all the way to the end. And that takes intention.

My favorite movie this month was The Case for Christ about Lee Strobel, journalist and proclaimed atheist. When his wife became a Christian, Storbel set out to investigate and prove wrong the Bible and the resurrection of Christ. Lest I spoil the ending, I will tell no more. Watch the movie. It’s good.

I started leading a Bible study this month, All Things New by Kelly Minter. Gathering with women each week to explore God’s Word is one of my favorite things to do. I’ve met a lot of women during Bible study. Some of them have deepened into treasured relationships. I’m always excited to see what sweet things the Lord will do as we give Him time and listen to His voice. And I’m looking for that new friend.

The gardens have taken on a wildness as fall begins. I’ve weeded,  transplanted, bought bags of mulch on sale at Lowes, and still, it has a mind of its own right now. I planted some little willow trees, put mums on the front porch, and watered everything as summer-like heat remained.

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I sat on the deck and listened to the first leaves began to fall. I walked in my little woods and crunched the brown leaves already covering the ground in the dark of the forest. I am watching for the flash of color in trees and bushes, and observing the squirrels run feverishly to plant their acorns.

As the months ends, the coolness I love about this season has finally returned to us, letting me leave the windows open during the day and snuggle under the quilt at night.

The birds’ songs change this time of year. Some have already departed to warmer climes. I still open the window next to my rocker each morning and wait to hear the little wren with the big voice waken the day. As nights are longer, his song is coming later and later.

My neighbors, who lived on this lane as long as we have, removed their mailbox. The depression in the soil marks the place, and I notice it as Maisie and I walk. It reminds me how everything changes. The fire that took their house on a shocking Christmas night altered life for them. They moved to a lovely home in a different location, and I am happy for them. But I  miss them being close, being my neighbors.

I wrote down a quote I especially liked from Maria Goff:

“We buy the plates but love sets the table.”

I love that. Gathering at the table is not about paper or china, gourmet or take out. It is about the love we give and receive to those there with us. The ministry of the table has become dear to me.  These days I find my most precious moments are when we sit with friends and family and feast on being together. It nourishes my soul like nothing else.

Sweet William and I have visited too many funerals this year, and loss begins to wear down my heart. In the last couple of months two people died who were born the same year as my own son. Recently two others have been closer to my age. It feels personal and painful.

While we mourn, we grieve with hope. Jesus went ahead of us to prepare a place for those who receive Him and His gift of salvation. This is not the last good-bye, but more of an “I’ll see you later.” I look forward to the later.

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This season of autumn is one of my favorites. The colors refresh me and the cooling temperatures bring on my flannel shirt. But it also marks a winding down of the year, the beginning of the ending. We put away the garden tools and bring in the tender plants lest they die from frost. It will not be long before the leaves will be gone from trees and the barren landscape will look lifeless.

Yet, I know that after the winter, spring will come just like it does each year.

I feel that same way about the people I love who have died. It seems wintry without them, lost and alone. But there is an eternal spring awaiting us when we know Jesus as Savior. It is what I hold close.

A new season brings a different  perspective as I watch the former fade and anticipate the next. Nothing in this world stays the same. People I’ve loved have died, and I’ve had to adjust to living without them. Bodies age and wear down, and what I was able to do in my 20s is only a memory in my 60s. People move away and life changes colors and the hues are so different. And sometimes I smile and sometimes I cry.

One thing remains true. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.

When all else is said and done, there is still Jesus.

 

 

 

August ending

August seemed to linger. Maybe it’s because it is the end of the summer. Maybe because the days are still rather long, though daylight is shortening.

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August weather was unusual this year. The expected hot days of the season were few. Milder days and cool nights enticed me to open the windows. Several evenings I was lulled to sleep with sounds of night creatures in the little woods.

The solar eclipse on the 21st was a Big To Do on TV, in classrooms, and at the Wright House. I was glad I didn’t live in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. The anticipation of it lasted longer than the actual event.

While there were about two minutes of total darkness in the center path of the eclipse, our location experienced a light temperature change and the sensation of dusk or storm clouds gathering. The solar shades I got from my public library made looking at the sun not only safe but so very cool!

I noticed that nature seemed to still as the sun darkened. When the moon moved on and sunlight began to return, the birds began to flutter and sing like it was a new day. All in all, it was fun experience.

Sweet William and I visited the state fair and a family wedding. The events were totally unrelated, but both were delightful in the good old summertime.

My neighbors’ chickens have started laying eggs regularly. The first morning Sweet William and I heard one of them cluck over her effort, we looked at each other and said, “What was that?” It was a new sound. Now I smile each time I hear it. Charming little chicken, you should be proud.

Maisie is in training, dog training. Actually, we are all in training since it’s the humans who need instruction. We began our six-week course in beginner obedience classes. Dogs from 8 weeks to 12 years old gather with their owners, all of us trying to accomplish the same thing, a well-mannered, furry companion. After three weeks, we are coming along nicely. Of course, we think Maisie is the cutest and smartest one in the class.

And just let me say, it’s all about the doggie treats. I am impressed at what Maisie will do for a treat.

As always friends are part of each month. I got the opportunity to visit a young man who was in our youth group years ago. He reminded me I was also his first boss at the YMCA. He is living the grown up life now, helping me navigate the inner workings of computers, way beyond what I can understand. It was a treat to be in his home and experience his hospitality.

My neighbor and her little boy came one afternoon for a sewing lesson. While we sewed, the little guy hung out with “Uncle Bill” in the room next door. I enjoy passing along a skill I learned so many years ago; at the same time I enjoy my neighbor’s company and watching her little one play with the old toys I cannot bear to get rid of.

I had a live phone call from someone who lives a couple of hours away. As I sat on the deck in the cooling day, she and I chatted and caught up with each other. We attended a retreat together over ten years ago, and it was a bonding time for us. Though we are miles apart, our friendship is still fresh.  We both remarked that sometimes we just need to hear a real voice. Texting and messaging are quick and convenient, but they do not replace the human connection we crave.

A surprise hibiscus bloomed unexpectedly near the end of this month. That it appeared and is thriving is a marvel, since I thought this lovely plant was lost when it didn’t appear at all last year. The garden can be such a wonderment.

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The children are back in school and school supplies have been replaced with Halloween paraphernalia in the stores. Really, already? As I talked with my last piano student tonight, we both remarked that we are ready for fall. August gets us ready.

September invites me to settle down, to clean and sharpen the yard tools and put them away for the season. Cool days and cooler nights await us, falling leaves and bare  branches, and the autumn sky that has its own patterns.

THE MAGNOLIA JOURNAL MAGAZINE 2016, INSPIRATION FOR LIFE & HOME, PREMIER ISSUE.

I have a fall issue of Magnolia Journal I’ve been saving for September. And the latest Mitford novel by Jan Karon, To Be Where You Are, will be coming out the middle of the month.  Two invitations to relax and enjoy the season

 

We never know what life has in store. Each day offers blessings, surprises, and much grace. Let’s don’t let our busy schedules keep us from experiencing the abundant life God has offered. It’s there for us, with all of its ups and downs, sideways and crooked turns.

No matter what a day or a season brings, God is in control. He is a faithful and good Father, and He may surprise us. There will be beauty arising from what seemed lost and redemption just when we need it most.

His ways are good. Believe it.

 

July ending

July is full on Summer. Hot and humid. Walks with Maisie left us both panting for water. The occasional reprieve of temperatures and a summer rain were welcome relief.

On the very first day of July, I realized my driver’s license was missing. Nothing else in my wallet was gone, so I did not suspect theft. But how could I have lost it from a place that takes an effort to remove it?

I was troubled over it for a while, but then I let it go and gave Sweet William the wheel. Fortunately, this was the year to renew and July is my birth month. Plus, my old picture was pathetic. So Monday morning, July 3, Sweet William drove me to the Circuit Court and I waited in line. The colored backdrop for the mug shot greatly improved the outcome, and my silver blond (aka, grey) hair and fair complexion were not completely washed out.

I look happier on my new license. The one from four years ago was taken on a day I felt forsaken and alone, and my face reflected it. What possessed me to go and have a photo taken, I don’t known. Each time I looked at it, it reminded me of that awful day in my life. I’m glad it’s gone.

I broke a tooth in the middle of the month, chewing on a cherry pit. I knew that pit was in there, so why? I endured an hour and a half in the dentist’s chair, griping my lip balm for dear life and reminding myself to breath. I felt some pain mid-way through the procedure and got an extra dose of numbing meds. It took a long time before I could smile normally with both sides of my mouth.

I celebrated my birthday for a number of days before and after the fact, and I sent a birthday box to the one and only son who shares my birth month. I wanted him to have Nutter Butter cookies because they are his favorite. Since I couldn’t be with him to make a peanut butter pie, cookies would be the next best thing. I purchased from Amazon and didn’t realize how many cookies I was actually ordering. Apparently it was a lot. I may not have to send cookies next July.

Creation explodes in summer. The cucumbers from my vines flourish. And nothing is quite like a summer tomato on tuna melt sandwiches.

The day lilies bloomed their last as the rose of Sharon bushes and giant hibiscus unfurled themselves. I have Shasta daisies this year, a reminder of the friend who shared them with me. They are the flowers of my bridal bouquet.

 

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The pink ladies surprised me one morning, piercing the ground in random spots like arrows. Queen Anne’s Lace has popped up in the landscape and I let them be. Though they are considered a weed, I consider them lovely. One woman’s weed is another woman’s pleasure.

Two plants are new this year. A purchase from the County Extension Office plant sale in spring produced a charming morning glory in my favorite color, blue. And my gardener friend gave me starts of Spider Plant that make my happy.

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As I sometime bemoan the fact that there are many weeds for me to tend to, I am blessed to have many flowers to delight me. I will take the trade-off and enjoy the bounty of blooms.

Summer sounds of the cicadas in trees greeted us by late morning when we sat long on the deck. The night twinkled with lightning bugs in the little woods. I discovered they eat other pesky insects which makes them more delightful to have around.

This month I read autobiography, fiction, and a book about writing. One interesting read was Blink by Malcomb Gladwell. What gave me the most pleasure was discussing the book with a young man who is a former piano student. He came to see us before heading back to college.

I participated in a Bible study group and enjoyed being a class member. Meanwhile I was also studying 2 Corinthians in preparation to lead All Things New by Kelly Minter in the fall. This will be the first study I lead this year. Twice last year I doubled up and did the same study at two different locations at the same time. It was crazy. I learned my lesson that I am not super woman.  (Actually I think I keep having to re-learn this lesson, over and over.)

I was surprised by the death of a family member toward the end of July. Too young, too soon. When I attended the funeral service, where there was literally standing room only, I saw the glory I have been looking for. As the song I Can Only Imagine played, people stood, and the husband, whose wife lay in a casket in the front, lifted his hand in worship. I watched from the back and asked the Lord, “Is this the glory?”

When we bow the knee in reverence to the One who gives and also takes away, this is glory. When people who have gathered to mourn, can rise and sing of Heaven’s hope, this is glory. When our hearts are torn, when we don’t understand any of it, when we prayed for a miracle that didn’t come the way we wanted, and yet we still believe in a good God who gives good gifts to those He loves without measure, this is glory.

There was a tremendous outpouring of people who came to show their support and concern to this family. The influence one life has on another brings this kind of response. Memories of a life lived joyfully and loveingly, all these are evidences of God’s glory in the everyday moments of life and even death.

Funerals make me think of my own mortality. What will I leave behind? What sort of seeds am I planting in the hearts and lives of those God brings in my path? Am I nurturing with love? Am I watering with prayer? Am I tending relationships with compassion?

Christy Purifoy speaks of it in Roots and Sky:

“What will we cultivate with the moments and resources given to us? I want to grow a living home. Something as vivid and as alive as a bed of flowers. I want to create something that shows the way. A signpost of the good things God has planned for us and our world.” 

Summer makes one consider sowing and reaping. We all sow in one form or another. The law of the earth says we will reap the same, only more of it. It would do us well to consider what seeds we are scattering.

I have not blogged much this month. Chalk it up to being hot and muggy, or call it the lazy days of summer. I’m not sure why, and this from Edda Walker makes it feel acceptable:

“Lovely night, warm, and filled with gentle summer noises. I don’t feel like writing . . . Instead I am going to listen to the whispering trees.”

Through all kinds of weather, in sunshine and storms, I have listened to summer’s song in July, the echoes of a faithful God. And its music has been captivating.

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