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January ending

I’ve not posted much in January, but I’ve journaled almost daily. My inside thoughts have been more prominent that my blogging ones. It’s been that kind of month.

A few sunny hours on a few days were rare, a welcome respite from the grey days. The glowing shades in sunsets were sweet because they were infrequent as Maisie and I enjoyed walking closer to 6:30 than 5:30 in the evening. The days really are getting longer.

In the middle of cloudiness, a letter from my granddaughter arrived in the mail. It brought its own version of cheer and sunbeams, eliciting smiles as I wrapped myself in her words like a comfortable old quilt.

Which is a perfect segue into the creative project I began this month. My friend is teaching several women how to make a sticks and stones quilt out of leftover scraps from her years of quilt making. I’m still a newbie quilter, this only my second, and I need the gentle instructions and reassurance that I’m doing it correctly.

sticks-and-stones-quiltHopefully, mine will look something like this when I’m finished.

January creates an organizing frenzy inside me and the house.  While removing and recycling my mess, some objects stirred memories of former joys, and I just couldn’t surrender them yet. I rediscovered a few items I’d been looking for, which is always a treat. And I gave away a couple of treasures to new homes, new owners who were delighted to receive them.

I found Venus in my night sky. At the first sighting, I stood in wonder, its brightness enthralling me. And this verse: When I observe Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You set in place,  what is man that You remember him, the son of man that You look after him?”

Sweet William and I attended weddings and celebrated an anniversary, and I asked a rhetorical question, “Who gets married in January?” Well, we did. Lots of memories surfaced as we thanked God for His indescribable grace to us.

I stayed glued to the TV during the presidential inauguration, the peaceful transfer of power from Democratic to Republican leadership. It was calm and dignified, an example of the freedom we live with and value in the United States. Still, the country is reeling in protests against the democratic process of making a choice through our right and privilege of voting.  We are blessed with the liberty to choose and to protest. But eventually, can we just get over it and move on?

I read several books or listened to them on CD. Two of the most impacting were Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus and The Insanity of God. The first was a biography of a young Muslim man who came to know Jesus Christ. His was a deep and thorough search, a studied reasoning against all he had been taught from his childhood. He struggled to relinquish what was familiar and the connection to his family. His story moved me. In addition, I learned much about the Muslim religion and examined my own faith.

The second book, The Insanity of God, was written under a pseudonym. The author visited the persecuted church in many foreign countries and marveled how the Christians were accustomed to spending years in jail and being tortured. To them it was normal. Yet the house churches were alive and thriving in a hostile atmosphere where Christianity is condemned. The stories of the persecuted believers humbled me and I thanked God for my freedom. I questioned how much I value this privilege and how seriously I take it.

Beth Moore’s first novel, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus, was an entertaining read. I happened to be at my library branch at the right moment to check it out. Beth’s characters came alive in the heart of New Orleans. I’m hoping for a sequel sometime in the near future.

I said “yes” to a leadership team, surprising myself with the decision. I thought I’d done my share of this sort of thing and was through. The group of women with whom I will be serving are diverse in ages, gifts, personalities, and  experiences. I am looking forward to building deeper relationships with them and discovering where the Lord desires takes us.

The first month of a new year leads us toward what is to come. Annie Dillard says it this way:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

January is spent. February is fresh and waiting to be explored.

 

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Sunday grace

Plans for the New Year. Plans for January. Plans for today.

I make them and work at them and sometimes accomplish them. But often “the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men” and me, crumble like a stale cookie.

I openly say it. Often. Out loud. “I don’t understand Your ways.”

My only recourse, my only peace lies in trusting the Great Planner, the One from everlasting to everlasting who knows no beginning nor ending. His plans are sure for they are in His eternal mind.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” — Proverbs 19:21 NIV

Rest weary soul from the futility of worry about the future, about today. God is working all things according to His purpose.

It shall be done, and all is well. All shall be well.

Sunday grace.

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Sunday grace

I’m reading the book of Proverbs during January, a chapter for each day of the month.

The book is occupied with wisdom for daily living, for planning for the future, for viewing the world, for living a full and blessed life. It has much to say about words and the mouth I use to speak them.

How easily phrases and sentences leave the gateway of my mouth, and how quickly they make a mark on those who hear them. My words carry weight. They can pierce like a sword, wound and cause pain.

My words can lift the spirit of the down trodden and bring healing to the sick in spirit.

I choose the expressions and intonation, though sometimes I excuse myself when the utterances fly off the tongue too quickly without thought or consideration. And the damage is done.

If I desire to do good and show mercy, what of the thoughts and meditations of my heart? It is from the heart the mouth speaks.

So search me thoroughly, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

 And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24 AMP)

The wise woman builds her house with the fruit of her lips from a heart that has been purified by grace.

Sunday grace.

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Using the gifts

Sweet William and I attended a wedding today. Guests brought gifts for the young couple to help them begin their lives together. Their journey of two becoming one will be a challenge, and they can use a little help as they begin.

We all wish them the very best and hope what we gave them is useful. Gift cards will be welcomed as the wedded couple purchase exactly what they need.

Don’t we all love receiving gifts? There’s a thrill in seeing a brightly wrapped package or pretty gift bag that is meant just for me. I enjoy the anticipation of wondering what is inside. More than anything I appreciate that someone cared enough to go to the effort and expense of getting something he/she thought I would like, find useful, and consider beautiful.

God gives gifts to each person, talents and skills to be used to help us on this journey of life. They are to be shared and to be a blessing to others as well.

 Kelly Minter, author, speaker, and musician, thoughtfully presents a new year’s opportunity to refine our God-ordained gifts. Wouldn’t that idea help me focus myself in the coming year? Instead of spreading myself thin in lots of areas, I might concentrate on a few strengths, hone my skill set, and use my spiritual gifts for the building up of the body of Christ.

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I think it is one of the best ideas I’ve heard yet for my goal setting in 2017 (and yes, I’m still working on that). I will let these thoughts swirl around in my mind and see where the Spirit leads.

Will you join me here to read Kelly’s blog?

 

Sunday grace 2017

It is a new year, a fresh start, a chance to begin again. Like writing on a clean page in a just-purchased notebook.

Through the years I’ve listed a hundred goals to accomplish. I’ve made categories and carefully organized each one. I planned to accomplish each and every one.

In the spiritual category, I wanted to put God first in my life. It was the right thing to do. Seek ye first and all that.

Surrender is not my strong suit though my heart wants His will and His way. Truly it does. But failure has found me too many times.

While I say I want Jesus to lead and me to follow, for Him to be the King on the throne of my heart, I don’t always live it out exactly like that.

He should be the Maestro of the orchestra of my life, yet sometimes I’ve barely given Him an instrument to play.

And the melody quickly goes off-key.

Here it is another year, and so I pray this prayer once more:

O God of the second chance and new beginnings, it’s me again.

Sunday grace.

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December ending

It’s Christmas past, and I’m preparing to say good-bye to 2016.

The month of December has been simple in a way, while we had sweet communion with friends and family.

My morning quiet times pointed my heart toward being in the presence of God, recognizing and acknowledging Him. That His face is toward me is astounding. That He desires me to draw near is astonishing. It is the privilege of grace, and it is more than amazing.

As the weather turns blustery and cold, I snuggle by the fire and contemplate the months past and what is ahead. I reviewed goals set last year. Some I met; some were obviously not important enough for me to give attention to.

I ponder plans for the new year with thoughtfulness and I wonder what goals should be on a list. Perhaps I should plan for the unexpected.

An interview of Homa Dashtaki in Real Simple magazine proclaimed this wise piece of advice.

“One thing I’ve learned: the best plan is to know that nothing really goes as planned.”

And so there it is. We can write out the resolutions, make a list of goals, set our minds to achieve and do our best to aim for completion, and know that we will be surprised along the way.

God has a plan and I’m in it. His is a good plan, to give me a future and a hope. I perceive my best course of action will be to seek His presence, to dwell where He is, to know His thoughts, to learn more about His character, to live more like Jesus.

Whatever comes in 2017, it will be OK.  All will be well. God knows the future, and He knows my name.

Happy New Year’s Eve friends.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” — Proverbs 19:21

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The day after Christmas

Christmas-Ribbon-Tree

Wrapping paper and empty boxes fill trash containers. Toys and gifts are scattered through the house. We over-indulged on too many sweets and rich foods, and we declare that healthy eating begins today – after we eat up the leftovers, of course. There is still a week of school vacation left for children before the routine begins and we start a brand new year once again.

The day after Christmas finds me putting away the decorations and feeling relieved it’s over.

Some years I’ve just wanted it to be all over because of the heartache and disappointment I was dealing with. This year, I’ve experienced a deeper contentment, and I wonder if like the Apostle Paul I am finally learning to be content in all circumstances.

I have prayed for that. It must be an answer from my Heavenly Father who hears me and knows my heart like no other.

Some people choose a word for the coming year. I see it on blog posts as writers offer their choices and the reasons for them.

one-little-wordAliEdwards.com

I am considering doing that this year.

I’ve been a list maker and a goal writer in the past. In some recent years, I’ve not planned much because there was no way of knowing the direction the wind was blowing Sweet William and me. It was all I could do to hold onto the mast as the storm raged. I hoped I would not get thrown overboard.

I was in the school of Learning To Be Content.

I have given myself a gift this coming week, time to relax and reflect. I will put the house in order with an uncomplicated decor. I will start my organization throughout, checking closets and drawers and trying to turn loose of things. (I realize this is not relaxing to some, but for me it is exhilarating. I’m odd, I know.)

I will prepare my bullet journal for 2017 and make an effort to guard myself from being over committed. I will plan on Sabbath rest each week and a few minutes each day to stop, sit, and let my mind wander, probably with a cup of coffee in my hand.

I will seek the face of God to know His will as I walk out my days in 2017. I will ask to walk in power and confident trust, to see His glory in the miraculous and the every day. I will try to scatter kindness to those in my path.

The Christmas celebrations are over until next year. We are taking a collective sigh of relief as life returns to something we call “normal.”

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As I make tentative goals and plans, one thing I want to do is keep celebrating Jesus in my heart every day.

Once a year the world remembers the Christ Child born in Bethlehem. Remembering is necessary. Celebrating is good. Honoring Him every day of our lives is what matters.

And who wouldn’t want to spend the remainder of life on what really matters?

Welcome 2017. My God holds you in His mighty hands. He is sovereign over all my days. I can trust Him for the future.

Rest.