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October ending 2018

October is two days gone and I’m already behind. It’s like being on a speeding locomotive, the months of this year moving so quickly. Before I twirl around a couple of times I will have whizzed through Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it will be next year. Stop! Slow down, please.

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Kentucky weather is interesting if nothing else. I had to grab my corduroy coat, complete with scarf, hat, and gloves for my morning walk in October. Maisie wore her purple “Woof” sweater. It was way too soon for both of us.

woof sweaterThe few days that were warm enough for me to sit on the deck with a cup of coffee were especially enjoyable, maybe because they were rare. Isn’t it like us to finally appreciate  what we’ve had a-plenty but now long for? We become satiated and lose the enjoyment of the abundance we possess.

Having dismissed the yard work for the season, I did plant a couple of tiny trees in my cousin’s yard. It’s what I can do for her and her husband after a summer of dealing with illness and recovery. I’m praying those little saplings dig their roots deep into the earth and flourish next spring. New life speaks the language of hope.

Sometimes in our enthusiasm, we want to do great things for God, large and far-reaching. With the wisdom only living gives, I perceive it is in doing the simple and ordinary that we descern the pleasure of God. “Do what is in front of you.” “Do what you can with the gifts you have.” “Do the small things well with love.” Yes, that is the guidance presented to me.

I got to visit my younger friend in an adjoining county. Going alone this time, I was quite confident with my trusty Gypsy (GPS) telling me where to turn. Even at her directions, I passed the drive to my friend’s house, which happens every single time. The trees and telephone poles all look the same along that stretch of highway.

Arriving at her house, she showed me her latest project. She’s always got one in progress. Her home is comfortable and beautifully decorated. We ate and chatted about family, faith and things familiar to us until it was time for me to go. I’m so thankful she reached out to me a couple of years ago, just a message on Facebook that lead to a connection and friendship. God does amazing things when we are open to His leading and then open our hearts.

The book most impacting me this month was Hiding in the Light , autobiography by Rifqa Bary. Her story was in the news in 2009, a Muslim teenager who found Jesus as her Savior, with the resulting conflict in her family. It was a gripping story, a glimpse into a different faith and a young woman’s courage, and a striking contrast of God’s grace. Highly recommended.

Sweet William and I played old hymns at a dinner for the widows at church. It was an elegant and detailed event to bless the women and show them love and support. The songs stirred up memories for all of us, I think.

It was satisfying to be at the keyboard and guitar once again. There were years Sweet William and I joined the band every single Sunday, playing loud, playing long, worshiping God with the gifts He gave us. We reminisce about those good years of serving, how our hearts were tuned in to the worship, how the Lord showed up in our praise and blessed as the Spirit moved among us.

There’s one song I’ve been remembering and singing. My favorite version of “Ain’t No Grave” is by Russ Taff. His excitement is contagious, and I want to celebrate with him. I notice that when I talk of my age I’m speaking in decades now. My years are adding up swiftly, and I’m trying to come to grips with its brevity.

My body feels the affect of living long in a broken world. I move slower. I am concerned about balance and the risk of falling. I pray to stay strong and for my knees to last. I do things I hope will keep my mind sharp. I don’t want to forget what I’ve learned through books and experience.

If Jesus tarries coming for His bride, one day my life here will be over and I will go by way of the grave. There’s no fear or concern in that. I’ve rested my hope in a risen Savior who defeated death and handed that victory to me. It will be glory. And there “ain’t no grave gonna hold my body down!”

Bible study has been a major part of the last two months.  The women who gathered at our table each week, have no idea how they bless me. We are hungry to know God, stretching our faith to Believe Him. I’m coming out of this study richer for the fellowship as we journeyed together. We bond as we open God’s Word and share our hearts with each other.

The month of October has been busier than usual. I’m still trying to figure out why, hoping to plan a quieter, less stressed November. I think it is possible, even in a culture that presses me to believe enough is not really enough.

Time has limits, the same as my body, my finances, my resources, my years.  Autumn reminds me to slow, to observe, to turn loose, to draw upon the blessedness of my existence and believe my Creator has it all in His hands. Contentment continues to call me with an alluring voice. “Come, be filled with joy in the abundance of God’s bountiful gifts.”

He is good. He is strong. He is enough.

 

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On being busy

I’ve been wanting to write a post on busy-ness for over a week, but I’ve been too busy. And I chuckle at myself.

Pondering busy for days now and how I relate to it, I’ve considered the then-and-now practices of spending my one wonderful life. Just recently my good neighbor said, “You’re always so busy,” after I offered to help her with a sewing project. My response was: “I’m busy because I find things I want to do. . . . I’ll probably die busy. At least I hope so.”

A number of years ago, a close relative – who will remain unnamed – suggested I might want to start a support group for busy people. It was said in jest cloaked in a measure of truth. You recognize the underlying meaning of those comments when you hear them.

I’ve been an actively engaged woman, no doubt. When I was employed full-time outside the home, out of necessity to provide for my family, I also tried to keep the homes fires burning. Involved in ministry and volunteer positions, my adrenaline pumped hard. I went from one appointment to the next, with a daily list of things to accomplish. I seemed to thrive on it, even boasted a bit about how much I could get done.

I was playing the role of Super Woman without the cute costume. I didn’t allow for a Sabbath rest. I was burning my candle at both ends.

I remember when God dealt with me about rest, how I needed to allow it and plan for it. I was in an extremely difficult season of life, a place of utter dependence on God.

Desperation has a way of opening our ears to hear.

My weekly rhythm needed a change. I determined to do all I could the six days leading to Sunday. Then, after church, I closed my planner and chose rest for the remainder of the day. It was life changing. And I’ve been a cheerleader for rest ever since.

Still, I’ve continued to lead a busy life because this is who I am.

My mind works routinely at high speed. I think of projects I’d like to do along with the everyday tasks of life we all  must accomplish. I like to create, experience new things, organize, read to learn about the world and the people in it. Often when I sit to watch a movie, my hands have something to do.

This season of a lively life is different from a few decades ago. These days my weekly list usually includes time with people, scheduled or impromptu. I love that kind of busy. Opening the door to friends and family who gather around our table brings a richness and flavor to Sweet William and me. Preparing a crock pot of soup with toasted bread and fruit, setting the table, and the clean up afterward call for a certain amount of busy.

The rewards are well worth the energy expended.

 

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It has been an active week for me, actually several weeks of being hard at it and on the go. This morning I woke knowing I had no pressing obligations and the house to ourselves. It’s what we need today. It’s the rest required after the busy.

So I catch up with some paperwork, anticipate leftover soup or spaghetti pie for lunch, and stay in my pajamas a little longer than usual. I put off running some errands until tomorrow so I can retreat and take refuge.

Today I rest and reflect, and I finally have time to write this post and cross it off my list.

The overcast skies have already given a little rain, making it feel like a day to snuggle in. Maisie and I wandered the lane this morning in the mist. I admired the color changes emerging slowly this autumn and she kept her nose to the ground.

I’m about ready to put on another pot of coffee and relax as I sip its warmth it. Because I’ve learned the art of rest. And it’s a beautiful way to spend a day.

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Work was never the curse from the fallen days in Eden. Work was given as a blessing. A day of rest was also given to bless us, restore us, and help us realize we are not super beings. We can’t keep going 24/7.

God is the one who never slumbers or sleeps. He is omnipotent and needs no time off. He is ever vigilant and watchful. He is always working.

We find our rest in the Creator, the Lover of our souls whose work in us goes on without end.

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Sunday grace

Pain is part of life. Living in misery is a choice I make.

Someone said it in a different way long before me. Looking for its author, I find that no one actually knows. Perhaps because it is a truth we all need to acknowledge sometime in our lives. Hopefully, we learn it early rather than later.

Here is a quote whose author I do know:

“Instead of being broken and miserable, I chose to be invested.”  — Shelley Gigleo.

I wrote that one down. There were seasons I lived broken and miserable. I don’t berate myself for that since it was difficult circumstances, grief I needed to work through. But one can’t stay there too long without consequences.

In some way, I too chose to be invested. Looking back on how that mindset settled on me, I can only attribute it to my God.

He is the Father of compassion and understanding of my suffering. He weeps with those who weep. He comforts the hurting. He is near to the broken-hearted.

He sees our pain and walks with us in the vally of the shadow of death. He is the Shepherd who brings us to still water and to resting in green pastures.

But He is also the One who calls me to courage, commands me to “fear not,” and offers me an abundant life.

Jesus said it this way: In this world you will have trouble.” It’s a given. We can’t avoid trouble, pain, sorrow in this broken world of ours.

But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus said those things so I could live at peace in a world bereft of it. He is the peace I need when tribulation comes my way, as it surely will.

But I don’t have to live in misery. I can rest in the arms of a Savior who has overcome all things. He is the Captain of the Lord’s army. He is the Victor over sin, death, hell, and the grave. He has a strong arm to save me, to impart strength, to infuse me with power from on high, to enable me to do all things through Christ.

Pain is a part of life. Mine and yours. But we can choose to live in hope, joy, and peace, encompassed in the love of the Heavenly Father. All provided through Jesus Christ.

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September ending 2018

September is gone, and I wonder where it went. Autumn is upon us. The leaves of trees are barely turning, and I anticipate a month of color.

What can I say about the weather in September? It was unusual. Hot, rain and flash flood warnings, then a break with cool breezes requiring that flannel shirt I’ve been wanting to wear.

We bought a gently used car at the beginning of the month, then took it back within the time limit. I’ve returned purchases many times during my life, but never a car. We experienced a gamut of emotions during the process, but in the end we felt the car was not for us. Sometimes we wander until we find our way.

I began a Bible study right after Labor Day with a wonderful group of women. Beth Moore’s Believing God is not new, but it is deep and rich. I love meeting regularly for Bible study. It is how many long-lasting friendships developed. Sitting together at the table, sharing what God is saying to us, and opening our hearts to one another is special and unique. I treasure these weekly sessions.

I did my semi-annual garage clean-out in September. I have to lighten the space to prepare to bring tender plants in for the winter. And I had a can of tomatoes explode on one of the shelves.

It’s the shelf next to the stairs leading to the house where I store extra food stuff and supplies. I call it my Y2K shelf because it came to be in 1999 when the world thought we would implode because we were moving toward a new century. The news channels warned us to prepare for disaster, if not mayhem. So I stocked up on food. I chuckle about it now, almost 19 years later. January 1, 2000 came in like a lamb. Sometimes the thing we fear does not come upon us.

The week before a planned trip to visit our dear ones was busy with preparation and making up piano lessons. I felt like I was meeting myself coming and going and had to refer to my lists often.  Traveling is complicated for us. We don’t do it often enough to streamline our techniques. Maybe that needs to change.

We took a new route this time, the many miles of highway to get from here to there and back again. It was somewhat stressful, since we had not been this way before. As always we had our AAA Triptik, which we referred to often. But this time we had GPS! Sweet William and I are still learning about our smart phones, but I’ve gotten acquainted with Gypsy (my name for GPS). She’s a wonder. While the AAA map gives us the full scope of the journey, Gypsy gave us step-by-step instructions. I like seeing the big picture, but I’m learning to rely on those simple instructions of “in the next 500 feet, turn right.”

Our last week of September was spent with my five favorite people and their furry friends. Maisie was in dog heaven. She played with the dogs until her tongue hung out. And she chased the cat. I was worried that she would catch it, but cats have a way of displaying their power. Claws and toenails echoed on the hardwood flooring until the dogs and cat ran out of steam and found a place to nap.

Maisie seems a little depressed now that we’ve come home to a quieter house. Maybe she needs her own friend here at the Wright House.

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I did a lot of listening and interacting with our dear ones, sitting long at meal times, lingering over coffee, hearing hearts and sharing my own. I did little writing, reading or facebooking, even taking minimal pictures, because precious faces were right in front of me and I wanted to partake of every moment with them.

I lost my watch the second day of the visit. I looked all week for it, in bags and drawers, under furniture and amidst paraphernalia. It was not to be found, and I tried not to be disappointed since it was a favorite with memories attached. But I reasoned that this trip did not need to be timed. I was on no schedule except to be present with each one of my family. I hope they felt it from me, my full attention to them and their thoughts and ideas.

We experienced their town and their new-to-them house, their quiet neighborhood where Maisie and I walked and the variety of geese and ducks at the lake nearby. We declared our last day there to be Grandparents Day, and I spent time doing something special with each of my three grands. The memories linger as tears well in my eyes. I already miss them and know it will be awhile before I look them in the face again.

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I say it often, that  I don’t understand God’s ways. Why the miles, the physical distance between us and them. But my Father knows our past, present and future. I am ever-learning to trust Him with it all.

Arriving back home brings relief. The Lord kept us safe on our trip. I almost lost Maisie twice, but she is here with us. Trials come with the best of experiences, and we had those, but in the scope of it all, we had a wonderful time.

As we were unloading the car, our good neighbor pulled into the drive with a load of  pumpkins and gourds. He kept handing me more, excitement whelling up with the bounty. I will enjoy placing them around the house and on porches for the living fall decor.

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Unpacking suitcases and washing clothes is always the order of business. As I dug into a small pocket of one bag, I found my watch. I smiled and assumed it’s time to get back on schedule.

“Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride.” It has become my goal, the way I want to live. The light and dark of a day, the joy and sorrow that befalls each of us, all are threads of the weaving that become a tapestry of beauty.  I want to be present for it all.

Sometimes I think I want to see the entirety of the map of my life, like a AAA Triptik. More often I’m only given a simple instruction at the exact time I need it.

“This is the way; walk in it.”

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Monday grace

This prayer reverberates in my mind.

Revive us, oh Lord!

I hunger for personal revival, the presence of the holy God who stirs me as in days before. I long to hear Him speak to me, through His Word in the early hours of quiet, as I walk in the beauty of creation, as I gather with the saints to worship, in the stillness of my own heart.

As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?
Psalm 42:1, 2 NKJV      

Repeatedly Scripture tells me that if I seek Him, I will find Him. He is not far away. He is as near as my breath, as close as my thoughts.  What in this life of mine distracts me from the knowledge of His presence?

He offers Himself to me in a way I am yet to comprehend. He created me for relationship so I could be called a friend of God. And like the Lover of my soul, He wants me to want Him.

Does it grieve Him when I only want His blessings and not He who blesses? Do I seek after the gifts, forgetting the Giver?

Oh Father, forgive me! Create in me a longing heart so that I want You more than anything. 

You who granted life to every living thing, be my life.  Sweet Jesus. Be. My. Life.

Then, may all other people, gifts, and trappings fall into their proper places.

Let Your abundant life, the promised life, be fully mine. 

This song, by Carmen, is what I’m singing. Will you join in?

Revive us oh Lord, revive us, oh Lord
And cleanse us from our impurities
And make us holy
Hear our cry and revive us oh Lord

 

 

 

July 2018 ending

The garden explodes with color in mid summer, heat and rain creating bookends to an occasional temperature-perfect day. The flowers are the reward for my years of plantings. And they are coming up everywhere, even in the walkway.

Pink ladies (aka naked ladies) appear in unexpected places. The first blooms of morning glories signal late summer, their vines wrapping spindles on the deck. My few tomato plants tease me with their blooms and still-green fruit. Thankfully, I have discovered a local farmer’s market where I purchase tomatoes that taste the way a tomato is supposed  to taste.

The Canadian geese have returned to the lake across the road after being gone for months. Though they look like adult geese, I think they are the family of hatchlings seen in the spring. The younger ones are smaller and the largest goose is still very protective. They all fly now, coming and going at will, forming the signature V as if they practice for a long trip southward. It’s the beautiful cycle of nature, and I get to observe it from spring to fall.

The hummingbirds have been active at the feeder on the deck. They provide entertainment when it’s cool enough to sit on the glider. Maisie keeps trying to catch one. The female sits calmly and sips. The male flits around like he is on vigil and extremely alert. Kind of reminds me of a couple I know (here at the Wright House).

As in the cold of winter, we tell our Maisie that she is a lucky dog, living in controlled temperatures and feeding from our hands. Rescued from the streets of Mississippi, she has a happy home with us who dote over her.  In addition to loving to walk the lane and investigate every smell like a roving reporter, Maisie takes her place on the deck with her nose to the lattice watching for the neighbors’ dogs or the rabbits that drive her to whimpers of longing.

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Among the books read this month, one on CD that has been extremely long but interesting, is Dearie, the Remarkable Life of Julia Child. It reminded me of seeing her on TV many years ago. Her story is amazing considering she didn’t learn to cook until she was in her thirties. The book stirred my interest in all things Julia. I checked out Mastering the Art of French Cooking, perusing the detailed recipes, and I will revisit Julie and Julia on DVD from my library. I even purchased a used copy of The French Chef, which includes the recipes of her innovative cooking show first aired on educational television in the 1960s.

I’d really like to master a few of those recipes, especially the omelet and souffle. A copper bowl many be in my future, hopefully found at a thrift store.

Speaking of, my favorite thrift store is gone. Yes, gone, lock, stock, and barrel, and without my notice. I drove there with a friend this month, us excited at what we might discover, and the store was empty. I was devastated. Where am I going to find the things I need at the price I am willing to pay? I’ve gone there several times with a list in hand, and found exactly what I wanted, walking out feeling quite satisfied with my bargain purchases.

I had been looking for a gently used percolator there for several months. As a result of my store disappearing, I went to ebay, where I found a vintage Corning Ware percolator like Sweet William’s parents used when he was a teenager. I’m always experimenting to make that perfect cup of coffee. I’ve tweaked my methods to gain that rich coffee flavor I enjoy. I’m loving the somewhat old-fashioned way of preparing the pot and hearing the familiar perk. I think of my mother and dad, the many pots of coffee made at their home and how it is part of my heritage. Perhaps that is why I often approach a new friend with “Would you like meet for coffee?”

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This month I got creative for Independence Day. I made a door hanging of red and white ribbons and lace paired with denim and buttons in honor of the Flag of America. Long may she wave! I will gladly pledge allegiance to a country that has offered me so much freedom. Brave men and women have fought and died for my rights to make choices and live free. I will honor them and my county by standing and placing my hand over my heart as I sing the Star Spangled Banner.

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I celebrated my birthday and our son’s birthday this month. In his birthday box I included copies of old pictures, black and whites of his grandparents when they were in their twenties perhaps, him with his Granny and Gramps when he was young, one of him at about seven with his dad. They stirred memories in both of us.

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Sweet William and I have been on a learning curve with our very first smart phones. We have finally gotten the hang of Google Maps, which was the main reason for purchasing the phones. GPS is amazing!

We traveled from one appointment to another last week and were uncertain of our route, so we turned on The Voice of Google Maps (I’ve yet to give her our own personal name). She directed us easily and tried to route us to a simpler way, which we did not heed, not quite trusting her yet. Later we found out she was right and we should have listened. Now she is my hero.

Sweet William and I have decided we need to trust that voice in our phones though we cannot see her and don’t understand how she can tell us which way to turn. How does she know all that?

How much more should I trust a marvelous, huge God who designed me and the world I live in, who planned from the beginning to the end, and knows the way that I take? How can I put my confidence in a voice in a digital machine, and not trust the Sovereign Creator of the universe. It just doesn’t compute.

Sometime I’ve not heeded His voice because of my lack of faith in Him. Later I learned that I should have listened to Him. He is altogether trustworthy. When He speaks, I need to pay attention.

A favorite quote this month is:

“You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope and as old as your despair.”
— Douglas MacArthur

Having managed to live another year old this month, staying young as long as I can is a theme. Faith, confident trust in my God, and hope seem to be key.

  • Let me live as young as my hope.

Sunday grace

Let me experience Your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in You.
Reveal to me the way I should go because I long for You.”
— Psalm 143:8 HCSB

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The reading of the Psalms brings me to David’s prayer, and I join him, the pangs of hunger for God, for the living God, finding its way on the pages of my journal.

This day let me experience the faithful love of Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel. Let me be sensitive to His presence in the everyday moments.

Feebly, I learned to trust Jesus as a child. He drew me to Himself like a moth to candle flame.  I’ve come to know Him more through our years together. And He has been good to me. Grace upon grace and blessing upon blessing showered down from the One whose essence is love.

The hard and rocky places brought lessons to be learned as we walked together. I was never alone. We climbed mountains and tread shadowed valleys, weathered storms, and I heard Him say “Peace be still.”

With the perspective of living long, I see the beauty God painted throughout my life, the dark strokes mixed artfully with the brilliant brights and softer subtle shades. I  see His hand in it all.

He has been with me from my beginning. He will be with me until my last breath on earth.

Then I will see Him face to face. And, oh the glory of beholding my constant Companion.

Sunday grace.

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