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Spring fling

Spring weather just teased us as winter holds tight a little longer.

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The trees are flowered and daffodils have bloomed. I enjoyed it while it lasted. Now the mornings find me in my rocking chair with the gas logs burning to chase away the chill. I crack the window open when I can to hear the first bird sing. Whoever that little soloist is, he delights me. Soon joined by a chorus of birds, the woodland symphony captivates me as I  walk out to the deck, coffee in hand, snugly throw around my shoulders.

It’s Spring Forward weekend. I’ve already set all the clocks an hour ahead, and I wonder why “they” keep doing this to me. My internal clock is not so easily adjusted. I’ve set my alarm an hour early several days this week in an effort to trick myself so that in the morning I will not feel so sleep deprived.

A nap is in my future tomorrow.

Weather predictions can say what they want. Spring will come. It always does. The Creator planned it to be. And He is faithful and true.

With the season comes lent which is already in process. Those who practice it, their foreheads ashen marked, have determined some sort of fast during the forty days leading to Easter Sunday.

While my spiritual experience has not always included a season of lent, I see the value of preparing our hearts to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus. His victory over death is what separates Christianity from all other religions. We have reason to celebrate.

And we have reason to prepare our hearts. For Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of the world was no small event in the history of the world. From creation, all things led to it. And from the day of resurrection all things flow from it.

To remember is a command. Jesus told His disciples as He handed them bread and wine, “Do this in remembrance of me.” It is my commission also. Remember.

I shall not take His incarnate life, His death, and His triumph over the tomb for granted. This month I’ve been reading the Gospels, anticipating the last weeks of Jesus’ walk upon the earth He created. I don’t want the story to grow old or so familiar I lose sight of its majesty.

I will think on His teaching, the hard sayings that call for humility and courage.

I will wonder at His miracles of healing and forgiveness and will believe that they are still real in the 21st century.

I will ponder His suffering for my sake, to offer a redemptive price for my sins and the sins of the whole world.

What great love, what abounding mercy, what amazing grace.

Springtime offers the perfect picture. Death tries to hold on but it cannot. It lost the battle, and the grave was swallowed up. Life has come from the tomb because Jesus lives.

I am setting my heart toward recollection and reflection of this special season. I will call to mind the great things God has done for me and give Him thanks. I will pray that the Word will be fresh bread feeding my soul and that the Spirit will spring up as a fountain of refreshing.

And I will remember to worship the living Lord and Savior of my life.

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February ending

The topic of conversation in February has been the weather. It has been unusual to say the least. We had icy temperatures and days that felt on the verge of summer, breaking records as the sun shone on us warm and cheery. I saw someone cutting grass with a push mower. Really.

Flowers are blooming, trees are greening, birds are singing, and it feels like mid-March not the end of February. It was glorious, though strange, as if something is up. Makes me wonder what will be next.

The geese in the lake across the road paired up and felt frisky. Maisie and I were entertained during our walks as the males dominated and tested each other. Let’s just say there was a whole lot of honking going on. There is one lone goose among the several pairs. I read that Canadian geese are monogamous, staying with the same mate for life. I felt sad for the single goose, wondering what happened to his gander, hoping that another single one would come along and they would find each other.

I spotted two hawks in the back of the house where the little woods are. They are a rare treat. Whenever I see them, I stop what I’m doing and just watch until they fly out of sight. I’m really hoping for some nestlings right in my back yard this year.

Sweet William and I hosted a Cousins Lunch here at the Wright House. We have become the “older generation” now, all of us baby boomers. It was a fun and entertaining afternoon. We are strong-willed, opinionated and not afraid to express ourselves. At the same time we share core values we hold dear, fundamentals, like our faith in Christ. Plus we are all good cooks.

We celebrated Maisie’s one year adoption anniversary by having her teeth cleaned, shots renewed and a few test and an exam. Now that I think of it, that wasn’t much fun for her. After we picked her up from the vet, she was wiped out for the rest of the day. Bless her heart.

I’ve not finished many books this month, probably because I’m reading too many at one time. I tend to do that, having one devotional book for early mornings, an easy novel at bedtime, and another to pick up at odd times during the day. I don’t know why I do that. I read recently of one blogger who is trying to read one book at a time, instead of several like me. I probably need to try that myself.

I had the distinct privilege of reading to some delightful kindergartners and second graders at a local school. The librarian invited a number of guest readers that week. The librarian is a younger friend of mine. My first memory of her was when she came with her her mother to bring the older sister to my house for piano lessons. My friend was just a young child, her long, dark, pony tail bobby along. Our paths crossed over the years. She was in a youth group I worked with for awhile. Later I was her supervisor at the YMCA. Finally we were on the same level, adult to adult, and the fruit of friendship developed. When I think of the progression of this precious relationship, I am deeply grateful.

I got to hear Liz Curtis Higgs live spreading her gift of laughter. What a joy-filled person she is, her humor infectious. She lives life with a smile and a funny story. The evening was made all the better by having girlfriends alongside me.  I know Mrs. Higgs’ life is not all fun and games. She tells the sad and disappointing parts, but she looks for the grace and the blessing and sees the world through eyes of hope.

I had a couple of teen girls visit one Saturday afternoon. We ate Pizza and had cookies and ice cream for dessert. It was a delightful couple of hours, our words flowing back and forth, around and around. The young women are intelligent, articulate, caring, and respectful. My hope for this generation bumped up a few points after spending time with them.

Sweet William and I finished a few small projects during the month. Some of them have been languishing for much too long. We needed to set our minds to the task and just do it. So we did, and then I wondered why we let them go all those months.

I began memorizing Scripture in earnest with a friend, us holding each other accountable and spurring one another onward. I’ve not been so diligent about memorization since I was in children’s church and prizes were given for it.  I wasn’t even sure my brain could do it at this age. But I am doing it. What is even more surprising is what a rich and rewarding experience it is. As the Word is truly hidden in my heart, it comes forth in a fresh and meaningful way.

In the middle of February I remembered the anniversary of my mother’s death and was staggered to realize I’ve lived half of my life without her. When she died at 62 years old, I thought it was too soon for her to leave us and I didn’t know how I would live without her. But I did. I lived and grew and stretched and learned to depend on God even more. He is sovereign and I will never fully comprehend His ways. There comes a time when I have to stop trying to understand and simply trust His purpose, His wisdom, His goodness.

February has never been one of my favorite months. It is sandwiched between the month of new beginnings and the month of spring. But this year, February offered so many good things to me. It’s probably been like that every February, but this year I had eyes to behold them a little clearer.

Oh that I may have such clarity every day of the year.

 

 

Sunday grace

After days of warm sunshine on my face and the wonder of an early spring, I am greeted with ice crystals and chilly breath clouds as Maisie and I walk in the early morning.

Such is life.

We receive blessing after blessing from God who gives grace upon grace.  Yet the chill of winter’s grasp pulls us to reality. We are not in Eden anymore. There are still mountains to climb, dark valleys in which to walk, trials to endure, temptations to avoid.

Still, the gifts abound in the middle of frosty days and long, uncertain nights.

This morning I am thankful.

For a warm hat, scarf, coat and gloves as I open the door and face the cold.

For gas logs that quickly warm the morning haven of home.

For strong coffee with half and half cream.

For a hot pad at my back to ease away the aches.

For Sweet William, my one and only, sitting in the rocker next to mine.

For little girl Maisie, with us almost a year now, learning obedience step by step.

For daffodils from my yard gracing our table this week.

For home filled with familiar things accumulated through our years together.

For family gathered at our table this week and for friends who feel like family.

For prayer that reaches Heaven being only a breath away.

For the daily dose of Scripture that gives me courage and turns my eyes to the Savior.

For the Word hidden in my heart that cannot be taken away.

For grace boundless and mercies new each day.

For assurance that winter lasts for a season and then comes spring.

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Sunday grace.

 

 

 

Sunday grace

The grace of a new day, ’tis sweet. Day follows night and the world keeps on turning.

The wind blows the tall branches of naked trees, them in waiting for newness and life to rebirth.

I wait with them.

The faithfulness of God astounds me. Words on a page from One too awesome for words, speaking love in the loneliness, peace in distress, assurance in faintness, and strength in the struggle. Praise exhales as breath.

Words that aim at my heart like an arrow sent from a sure bow, my spirit latching on to eternal certainty.

Cold winds threaten and taunt me  with, “You are hopelessly lost in winter.” But the Word that spilled into fertile heart soil heart says otherwise. The promise of spring and renewal casts down the imaginations of my enemy; anticipation, faith energizes me.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Sunday grace.

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Snow Day

Yesterday afternoon my piano students were excited about the possibility of a snow day. They had only been back to school two days since the Christmas holiday.

Before the evening was over, I got into their spirit of anticipation.

Early this morning, I looked out the window to see if any flakes were falling from the sky. Not yet. I turned on the local news and weather, and to my surprise schools were already canceled in the surrounding counties. This is some kind of prediction.

At about 7:30 am, the deck began to turn white. Maisie and I donned our warm coats and headed out into the beginnings of a ground cover. I wondered what she would do with snow. We welcomed Maisie to our home last March, and while snow may not be new to her, it would be a something for us to experience together for the first time.

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She sniffed at it but there really wasn’t enough yet to stir her curiosity. As snow accumulated, she ran and nosed it and seemed to enjoy the white stuff.

A snow day is like a surprise, free 24 hours, if you happen to be a school student or a teacher. For the road workers, it may be the busiest day of their week.

My home piano students were scheduled to resume lessons today after having the month of December off. I canceled those activities and settled in here at the Wright House. The snow day is a present to be opened and savored.

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I can use it to catch up on reading my current book, Beth Moore’s first novel, The Undoing of Saint Silvanus.  I could clean out a few more drawers or closets, that on-going January ritual of mine. I may put a pot of vegetable soup on to simmer.

I will most likely practice the piano since there is a wedding coming soon. I will drink another cup of coffee or perhaps some hot chocolate as Sweet William and I watch the grey sky full of flurries. Maybe I’ll take a nap.

When I really consider it, each day is a gift. God presents us a fresh beginning every 24 hours. We can use it for good, we can rest in it, or we can waste it if we are not careful.

The freedom to choose how I spend the next precious hours of my life comes from the Father who knows how to give good things to His children.

I think of Moses’ wise counsel often: “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) .

Wisdom is the thing. I want more wisdom. I need more wisdom. I want to use discretion and be discerning in how I live this wonderful, wild life I’ve been given. I want to be prudent in how I treat others, in the words I say, and the way I live out my purpose.

Numbering my days, keeping aware of its brevity and my mortality, seems to be a key to wisdom. Looking to God and His Word for the plan and following Him will be the way to invest my days. Then perhaps, this will be a life well spent.

Today is a snow day. Taste it, experience the joy of opening the gift.

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Saturday thoughts

On a snowy day when thoughts of staying warm and safe are primary, I have extra time to sit quietly and peruse some of my favorite books.

Let me share a good read with you this morning.

“We are not citizens of this world trying to make our way to Heaven; we are citizens of Heaven trying to make our way through this world.

That radical Christian insight can be life-changing.  We are not to live so as to earn God’s love, inherit Heaven, and purchase our salvation.

All those are given to us as gifts; gifts bought by Jesus on the cross and handed over to us. We are to live as God’s redeemed, as heirs of Heaven, and as citizens of another land; the Kingom of God . . .

We live as those who are on a journey home; a home we know will have the lights on and the door open and our Father waiting for us when we arrive.  That means in all adversity our worship of God is joyful, our life is hopeful, our future is secure.  There is nothing we can lose on earth that can rob us of the treasures God has given us and will give us.”

— The Landisfarne, via The Anglican Digest (from Patches of Godlight by Jan Karon)

This world is not our home friends.  No wonder we don’t feel comfortable here.  We look for a city not built by hands, but we look for one prepared for us by God our Father himself.

Travel on.  Be strong and courageous.  Walk with your eyes looking heavenward.  The end will be better than the beginning.

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Photos by Elena Walls

 

 

 

 

The helping hand

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I notice them gathering even before the sun appears.  The birds.  The hungry, cold birds needing food to give warmth and energy in these below-average temperatures.

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Taking courage, I walk out the door to the back deck in my robe and house slippers to spread seed on rails brushed clear of snow,  I can’t even get to the feeder in the yard without donning tall garden boots. They are my only shoes that are higher than the drifts.

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While they scatter at my appearance, the birds return soon.  They are hungry.  They flutter back and forth there all day long. The peaceful mourning dove, the tiny wrens and sparrows, the bright red cardinals, the bossy blue jays.  I am delighted by the sighting of two red-wing blackbirds.  Even the starlings come seeking a little something.

I put out more food late at night for the early birds tomorrow.

I worry about them, yet I remember that God created them to endure with their fluffy feathers (who doesn’t love a down comforter on a cold night).  They sit and eat in their ruffled up way to manage this extreme cold snap we are having in what most call a southern state.

A verse comes to mind.  “[God] provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.”

God provides for all His creatures.  And I put out seed for birds and dress little dog in a sweater and booties to go out so his feet won’t be frosted.

God provides for people.  And I help my neighbor who needs someone to care for her daughter in the early morning hours.

God provides for people we care about.  And I text my friend who had surgery this week, praying for her recovery, like many have done for us.

God provides what we need.  And two sweet daughters-of-my-heart send someone to clear my drive so I am no longer housebound in the deep, deep snow.

God provides shelter and daily bread.  And I have food and warmth and Sweet William is being cared for by medical professionals who know what he needs.

God provides mostly through . . . us.

Because we were never meant to live this beautiful life alone.  Not islands unto ourselves.  No self-made men or women who don’t need anyone else.

God created the earth and all that is in it to work together, to move like a well-oiled machine.  Sun warming earth to bring forth food.  Moon moving tides in and out.  Honey bees taking pollen to flower after flower.  Plants to grow and produce seed that is planted again.

The beauty of it all is just astounding when I think of it.  And that I get to be part of the process is even more amazing.  That the greatest of all, the Ancient of days, the One who is from everlasting to everlasting, who is complete in Himself and has no need of anything, the I AM – He has called me, has called you, to be part of His work.  He invites us to come along beside Him in what He does.

Jesus’ teaching about the Good Samaritan, His admonition for us to love one another, His laying down His very life for mankind is the beautiful demonstration of the hand extended to one’s brother or sister.

We are made for each other.  We’ve been given gifts and talents that are needed by someone else in our little corner of the world.

I love the story of the woman who brought her expensive perfume and poured it out on Jesus.  When criticism arose, Jesus responded lovingly, “She did what she could.”  It was what she had in her hand and she offered it to the One she loved.  She did what she could.

What is in your hand today?  I have bird seed in my hand and a warm sweater and a prayer and a word here and there.  I will do what I can.