Archives

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.

101_1780

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.

101_1254

101_1793

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.

Image result for seminon realty sign in yard

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.

http://holleygerth.com/faith-missing-out/

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?

 

Advertisements

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.

101_1706

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.

101_1770

 

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.

101_1694

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.

101_1702

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.

100_0967

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.

101_1663

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.

 

101_1625

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.

101_1636

101_1645

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.

101_0960

 

 

 

June ending

I have made an effort to fly like the breeze in June, as I promised myself. Lest one think I laid around in my bathrobe all month munching on bonbons, let me clear up that misconception. There was work to do. Cooking and washing up. Laundry and folding clothes. Sweeping floors and cleaning bathrooms. Weeding gardens and paying bills. It is the stuff of life, and it had to be done. Before I sit with nothing to do, I will be transported somewhere else, maybe another planet.

But I tried to be less regimented and plan-oriented and allowed myself more spontaneity and relaxation.

donut day

The breezy part of the month began on June 2nd which just happened to be National Donut Day in the United States of America. And I think, “What a great country this is!”

After hearing it announced on the radio, Sweet William and I wanted to honor this occasion. We just left an appointment, so we headed for Krispy Kreme where the line was long but the excitement was high. Krispy Kreme was giving away a free donut with each order.  A little girl in line behind me was focused on the confection with colored sprinkles behind the glass case. No amount of suggestions from her mother would dissuade her. I knew how that little girl felt.

I spent some time in hospital waiting rooms. They are places too familiar for me.  It was a time for me to comfort as I have been comforted. I hoped just being there would provide encouragement to friends who feel like family. We gathered to offer the gift of presence, holding on to hope after a loved one experienced a trauma no one could have expected. Sweet William and I pray daily for this family.

June 4 marked a holiday known as Pentecost, important in Jewish and Christian history. It gets little attention from my community of faith, which I find a bit sad.  I get the feeling that some denominations fear the word Pentecost, as if something weird is about to happen. If we deny the dynamics and power of the Holy Spirit, where does that leave us as believers? We cannot do this thing called the Christian walk on our own strength.

We welcomed planned and unplanned visitors in June. One morning while I was still sitting at the breakfast table in my nightgown and robe, a younger friend rang the doorbell. She came in and said she just needed a hug before she faced a trying situation. I held her and Sweet William and I prayed, for courage and a perfect strength that is always available to us who are weak. She went on her way, and I have faith in the God we love that she will endure.

I read a book called The Gratitude Diaries by Janice Kaplan. She took one year of her life and decided to be grateful each day. It made me happy just reading it. The author said it changed her relationships and her attitudes about her life. She didn’t write from a Christian viewpoint of giving thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.  She wrote from a non-religious perspective, simply trying it as an experiment. Her story affirmed the truth to me once again, that God instructs us for our good. He gives us guidelines, instructions and laws, that to some seem restrictive, but actually are for our freedom and good will.

Silence and solitude were also topics of interest this month. One book was about a man who decided to keep quiet for a day. That decision stretched into two decades without speaking words to anyone, though he did gesture to get his thoughts across. I just thought that was weird and didn’t finish the book.

Another selection, A Book of Silence by Sara Maitland, was written in a journalistic approach. The author reported on people through history who have sought silence and how solitude affects us. She ventured into her own experiences of silence at a cabin, on the dessert and in the mountains. It changed her in ways that surprised her.

By far the most intriguing book was called The Stranger in the Woods, by Michael Finkel. He wrote about a man who walked away from society in his twenties to camp in the woods of Main for 27 years. He did not have a conversation with another human for the duration.  That this “stranger” could exist in the rugged elements with camping equipment and stolen objects for almost almost 30 years was amazing, but that he did not have any companionship, nor any desire for it, seemed astounding.

Letting these books influence me, I decided to take a half day and spend it in solitude at the end of the month. Sweet William was going to an early appointment and then to visit his brother, so it was a good opportunity for me to practice quietness. I was set to begin, when the phone rang, and I heard the caller ID announce the familiar number of number one son. I reset my start time and answered that call. I had the nicest chat with my boy.

I played no TV, no music and looked at no internet. There is way too much noise on-line. This is my favorite quote for the month: “The internet before breakfast does NOT lead me into paths of righteousness, but into despair. “ — 

I found it harder to be quiet than I imagined. I am an introvert by personality (though I do tend to talk to myself and that became annoying).

I spent much of the time outside, just listening and enjoying the gentle sounds of nature. Listening was a more intense activity. I realized there is no true silence when there are voices from the neighborhoods, dogs barking, cars running on a nearby highway, and an inner dialog of my own mind.

Maisie was a little confused that I was not giving her voice commands.

I found it refreshing to be still for several hours. It was a good discipline for me. I would like to do it again. Perhaps fasting from words will make me appreciate the ability to express myself and to measure what I say and how it comes across.

One other media source worth mentioning that had nothing to do with silence is the movie The Resurrection of Gavin Stone. I got it from my Free Public Library (my favorite place for books and movies), and it was delightful. I watched it twice before I returned it. It is Christian based, well done, and funny. I recommend it.

I began two different Bible studies this month. One I am preparing to lead in the fall. I am a class member in the other. I notice I am very different in these environments. It is interesting to recognize different sides of me.

As I lead a study, I am vocal and forthcoming, well-planned in how I present the topic and encourage discussion. As a class attender, I am quiet and wait for others to respond before I assert myself. The leadership role is out of my comfort zone. I recognize it as a gift from the Holy Spirit (that power source mentioned earlier) because my comfy security blanket is being unobtrusive and in the background. That just goes to show what God can do and wants to do with each individual. He gives gifts as He wills, not to make us proud or boastful or to make a name for ourselves, but to recognize the abilities and competency comes from a higher Source. It is really humbling.

June welcomed the beginning of summer, and it has been appropriately hot. The day lilies began blooming in their array of colors and shapes. Many of them were gifts from a friend who loves to share the bounties of her own garden. When the flowers bloom I think of her and am thankful for her generosity and friendship.

There were a few near perfect days this last week of June. I wistfully watch the month end. It’s been light and liberating to loosen my grip on the plan.

An email to a friend reflects my final thoughts: “I have been somewhat reclusive this month, enjoying home and the blessings God has bestowed on us. I’ve stayed inside when the weather was too hot, enjoyed rainy days from my window view. Perhaps life was meant to be more like this than the frantic way in which we spend our lives. Food for thought.”

Good-by June. You’ve been delightful.

 

 

May ending

May sang her song: “Rain, rain, go away. Come again some other day.” And then she broke into the chorus of: “The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow there’ll be sun.”

So much rain in May caused the grass to grow as high as an elephant’s eye, almost. Flooding in parts of our country caused grief as we watched our own Salt River rise and ebb. Our yard, with its peaks and valleys, was water-logged, and days went by when it was simply too wet to mow. It got so bad that a lawn care company rep came by to give me his card.

The rain also brought flowers, and oh how I love the flowers. I like to cut them and put them in the old mason jar filled with water. Whatever is blooming becomes a serendipitous bouquet. Sometimes a tiny bug or spider has crawled out from the buds, so I have relegated the mason jar to the table on the deck.  In the morning when I sit there in the quiet of a new day, I enjoy the flowers in the outdoors. The creepy crawly things are at home out there.

There’s been lots of outdoor work, planting, pulling weeds and digging in the soil. The dirt under my fingernails continues to be an issue. The yard looks reasonably well kept this spring, though not perfect. My yard will never be perfect or perfectly groomed like yards I admire, all prim and proper. I’ve come to terms with it, because this is the way I garden. It’s slightly wild and slightly pruned, and I’m OK with that. It is ever changing, evolving, becoming something different and new.

The daily walks for Maisie and me down our lane rewarded me with the heavy fragrance of honeysuckle blooming at one corner of the yard. It’s uncultivated growth sprawling in the little woods brings back childhood memories of pulling the buds and sipping nectar.

I had two recitals this month, one at the Academy of Arts and one for my home students. I am always aglow at these events, so proud of my students’ hard work that produces music to my ears. Teaching piano came to me late in my career as the result of a job loss. At the time, I couldn’t have dreamed what grace would come from something so shocking and disturbing. It is the way of God, to bring life from what seems like death.

Mother’s Day came in the middle of the two recital. My own mother has been dead for over 30 years, and our one and only son is in another state celebrating his wife, as he should. What’s a daughter/mother like me to do but be good to myself? I called a friend who shares a similar situation and suggested we spend a few hours together before Mother’s Day, somewhat grieving our loss but more celebrating friendship, our sons, and the love of all things growing.  We spent a lovely morning and afternoon together, and our shared joy helped us ease into the weekend when pictures of gathered families would multiply on Facebook.

On Mother’s Day, I did what I wanted and treated myself with much kindness and grace. It was one of the best day I’ve had in a long time.

I’ve enjoyed watching the Canadian goslings growing daily, grey downy feathers giving in to the white and black distinctive color of their parents. They look like miniature versions of what they will eventually become. I spy the single mallard mamma and her little bitties occasionally. There are six of them left and still so small in comparison to the geese. Watching these babies grow has been life-giving this spring.

I resumed my task of going through the saved mementos from the box in the garage. I came to the cards, letters, notes from my years working at the YMCA. It was my first management positions, and some days I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Nostalgia took me on a journey of memories and faces, experiences and people who helped me grow. It’s been over 15 years since I worked at the Y. They were formative years for me when I learned so much from the staff whose names appear on those mementos.

yard sale signIt’s the season of the Yard Sale. Usually I am quite the sucker for a neon pink hand-lettered sign, but I’ve passed by more often this spring. As the wise Solomon said, there is a season for everything, a time to gather and a time to scatter, a time to keep and a time to throw away. I’ve had my season of gathering and keeping. It’s time to let go.

Rather suddenly at month’s end, we excitedly arranged for a visit from my daughter-in-love, eldest granddaughter and her friend.  I prepared the house, filled the fridge and pantry, and cleared my calendar. The few days would be open for whatever plans they had. I would be bed and breakfast for them and take whatever moments I could get with each one.

They came for a wedding, my granddaughter being a first-time bridesmaid of a childhood friend. My granddaughter is grown up in many ways, and yet I see the little girl who used to come spend the night, who sat at my piano and learned music with me, who sat on the stool at the kitchen counter and told me what was on her mind.

100_0269

She and her friend had their own agenda, attending wedding festivities, visiting friends, and staying out later than my bedtime. And we who waited for the sound of them slept lightly as we prayed for their safe return. Her mother and I shared the mutual feeling of wanting to know all the chicks are home, safe in the nest, before we can settle down for deep sleep.

One has to experience it to understand. Parenting cannot be easily explained or described. The bond between mother and child is something unique and beautiful and lasting.

I enjoyed hours of conversation with my daughter-in-love as we sat at the kitchen table and drank sweet tea. For me it was like old times when she lived in the house next door. We laughed and remembered and talked about so many things. It was a balm for my soul.

I made strawberry shortcake for breakfast on the day before they left for home. It was well received and may become a tradition whenever my dear ones come for a visit.

I’ve missed my family in the years they have been living away. The few days with my girls were a jewel in the month of May, memories to record in my journal and on my heart.

Too quickly the days passed and  we said tearful good-byes, unsure when we would be together again, face to face.  And the house that sang with voices familiar is quiet once more, remnants of breakfast and cold coffee all that is left behind.

May has been delicious in lots of ways and difficult in others. And this life I live is very much like the garden surrounding me. Days are spent pulling up the weeds and clearing away the mess of a long winter. Other days I dig in the dirt and plant with hope for something bright and beautiful. Flowers bloom and fade, while others bud with promise. One morning is cloudy, rain falling; the threat of storms makes me run for cover. And then the sun emerges and water droplets glisten like diamonds. A rainbow appears in the sky and I stand in awe.

101_1527

There is a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance

May brought different times for me.  I live with fervor some days. I taste the bitter and the sweet. I sing songs and cry tears.

It is all part of this wild, wonderful life I’ve been given. It is mine to live. And I shall live it.

 

 

 

April ending 2017

I love the month of April. It may be my favorite month, and why not, I love spring.

New life popped up everywhere this month in various and sundry ways.  A cardinal built a nest outside a back bedroom window behind the clematis arbor. Three black and white eggs hatched into hungry baby birds.  When the window is open, I hear their peeps as they reach with mouths wide for parents to bring food. Daily they grow and fill their nest, and it is a gift of spring.

101_1504

The one gander who sat on her nest early last month, through the cold, hatched her eggs as the calendar page turned. I was beginning to doubt there was life in those eggs, and then there they were, five little fuzzy goslings.

Maisie and I watch for the goose family on our daily walks. Sadly there are only four babies now. I wonder how the parents feel when one is taken, perhaps by a large turtle in the lake or something wild on the bank of the river which lies beyond. Do they feel sadness? Are their hearts hurting for the one that was and now is not?

I was surprised by a batch of Mallard babies toddling along almost hidden in the grass, their little heads bobbing. I was only guessing to count them from a distance and them moving at scattered pace; I think there are eight. From what I’ve observed, mamma duck is alone. I’ve not seen her mate with her a single time.  I wonder what could have happened to him. She is a single mother trying to raise her brood. I hope she can handle it. There are so many dangers out there in the wild.

Temperatures went from cold to hot in one week alone. The gas logs burned some mornings to warm us, and the air conditioner ran its initial time this year on a different day. We experienced our first tornado warning, and Sweet William and I huddled in the hallway with our shoes on and holding tightly to our essentials. I grasped Maisie’s leash attached to her collar and imagined what might happen if we were blown away, the two of us spinning wildly in the wind. It was a madcap mental picture.

Sweet William and I visited a friend and her children at their farm in a neighboring county and shared a delicious lunch during spring break. He fished and enjoyed the company of the young son; I drank coffee and visited with my friend and her daughter, doing what we women do best – talk. We lingered so long I hoped we had not over-stayed our welcome. She said she always enjoys my company, and my heart warms by her response.

Another friend visited me on a Saturday and I was under prepared, just getting out of the shower and no muffins in the oven. I got the time mixed up. I gathered myself together, no make up and wet hair, and sat at the table with her as we laughed and remembered, and I caught up on the activities of her growing children. I understood even more that everything does not have to be perfect to enjoy fellowship with another and offer hospitality.

Yard work this month called my name, so many weeds and so little of me. I worked awhile and rested a while; worked a while and drank a cup of coffee; worked a while and read a book on the deck. At night I rubbed Arnica gel on my aching muscles. I’ve made good progress, though there is still much to do. Not finished by a long way, walking through the garden areas is more pleasant than last year when weeds flourished and I languished.

Memories are attached to the growing things in my yard. People have shared their own nature-bounty with me. The snowball bush, with its huge blooms, reminds me of my parents. The first start of it came from their home. I learned to plant from my dad, watching him dig the hole, place the plant, tamp the earth with his shoes, and then water generously. Branches of the bush with its white blossoms are in a large vase sitting on the kitchen table, a living reminder of the rich heritage I increasingly value more each year.

101_1479

Yard sale signs tempt me this time of year. I resisted the first ones I saw, and then gave in to another.  I am choosier than I used to be about what I bring home. I often admire something than say to myself, “I don’t really need that.”  It’s good to just walk away empty-handed.

Books and movies were on the menu in April. One worth mentioning is the DVD I borrowed from my library. Priceless is about human trafficing. It is gripping, heart-rending, and after it was over I wanted to do something.  The website offers an opportunity to be involved in local areas. I cannot save the world, but I can do something.

I’ve been to hospitals in April, surgeries that leave me in waiting rooms. Offering the gift of my presence is one thing I can do. Prayer is another. I’m thankful for good hospitals, for God-given healing knowledge, for doctors and medical professionals. Friends came and went during the waiting, others texted assuring us of their concern and prayers. Comfort is bestowed on heavy hearts and nerves strung taut with the uncertainty.

I had the privilege of helping prepare the table and food for Christ in the Passover event, presented by a member of Jews for Jesus.  Passover is one of my favorite holidays in the year, so full of meaning, symbolism, and truth as Jesus our Passover Lamb becomes a reality.

Passover occurred in tandem with the beauty of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday this year in April. It does not always happen that way. I’m glad when it does because the events are irrevocably joined by the life, death, and life again of Jesus Christ.

I went to a plant sale this morning, an annual event I look forward to at my local county extension office. It rained like it has for several years. Those of us who are dedicated gardeners and gardener-want-to-be’s endured grey, wet weather because we are attached to the soil and what it has potential to bring forth. A little moisture would not deter us. We are looking for growth and fruit in flower and vegetable. I filled my wagon and almost emptied my pocketbook. Now plants await me and my own dirt, those tender shoots full of promise.

101_1494

God gives the same to us. Life and promise. Hope for growing fruitful in the wind and the rain.  In the storm and the warm sunshine.  We participate in the joyful events with songs in our hearts, and we endure along with others those things that bring us to our knees in tears and prayers. Fruit is produced in us through the life of Jesus, Him living and breathing through these jars of clay.

As the hours of April slip quietly by, I yet feel the stress and strain of situations beyond my control, identifying with loved ones pressed hard and stretched thin, grieving with those who grieve. praying for relief and an end to the suffering.

I remember a story of a Shunammite woman whose son died, the son promised to her by the prophet Elijah. She hurried to the man of God, answering those who questioned her with these words, “All is well.” Her spoken faith astounds me.  Her heart was bitterly distressed for this son of hers, yet somehow she voiced her faith that all is well. And so it was. Her son came back to life by a miracle.

If I believe there is a God and that He is good and strong, that He loves me enough to die in my place and adopt me into His family, then I too should be able to speak those words: All is well.

Whatever the season, whatever the trial, in sunshine and rain, on the brightest days of spring and the coldest of winter, the Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all. He is just, compassionate, and loving in all His ways. 

All is well and all will be well.

101_0812