What’s saving my life right now

I read it on someone’s blog post. It got me to thinking.

“What’s saving my life right now?” 

A few things:

February 2 marks Groundhog Day and the middle of winter, and the mere thought that we are on the other side of Jack Frost’s influence makes me happy. I keep watching the morning sun rising but cannot quite perceive it being much earlier. While I enjoy all of the seasons, once I’ve bundled up in sweats, sweaters, coats and scarves and had a beautiful snow that kept me homebound, I’m good. Let’s move on to spring.

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The mantel arrangement is somehow life-giving to me this year. I went for primarily white, using some of the small trees from Christmas. The addition of some blue pieces is perfect, because I have always, always been a blue girl. When I sit at the table and glance toward the mantel, it gives me a fresh breath, something akin to peace. Simple. White. Blue.

I saw a robin redbreast on the fence in the backyard this week. It seems early for him. When I was a child the first robin was a sure sign that spring was coming, as if its very presence ushered a warming. I know that’s not true, but the sighting of that sweet bird made me glad.

Strong coffee is keeping me sane in winter’s grey days. But then good coffee always keeps me sane. I do get extra pleasure when it’s served in my “Baby it’s cold outsidered mug, a gift from a friend last year.

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Sweet William and I are learning to play the ukulele. Actually he is already much better than me. Being a long-time guitarist, he has the finger moves. I, on the other hand, wonder how my left hand is supposed to twist in such a fashion so that my fingertips press the correct string.  Doing it together doubles our fun. I think it might be good for my brain, too.

When it isn’t frigidly cold, I walk with Maisie. Dressed warmly, wearing my cute white hat and two mismatched leather gloves (one green, one brown), we escape the house. I like the chill air and the feel of sunshine on my face, and Maisie gets to smell everything in her path.

One day it warmed enough to produce a gentle rain as we walked, and I remembered a children’s book my mother read to me when I was a little girl. The Make-Believe Parade was about a group of children walking to school in the rain, pretending what they would be when they were grown. The book was a favorite, complete with my name written inside in my mother’s familiar script. She read it to me often, and I read it to our son and then his children. It is tattered by love, much like the Velveteen Rabbit.

While snow and cold have kept me indoors, I don’t mind. I love being home with time to work on projects and creative endeavors.  My cousin and I painted with water colors this week. She had a great stash of supplies for us to use. After looking at my finished painting, I think I need to take a class.

Enjoying an hour or two with friends is saving my life. I spent the morning with someone this week, us sharing breakfast at a favorite restaurant. We drank a gallon of coffee and talked until the lunch crowd began filling up the tables. My spirits were lifted when I walked out into the cold fresh air.

Stay sane, friends. Find joy in this season. Learn something new. Spend time with friends, face to sweet face. Give thanks in all circumstances, for we have a Heavenly Father who gives good gifts in every season of our lives.

Now, what is saving your life right now? I’d love to hear from you.

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Sunday grace

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. Psalm 100:5

If it had not been for the Lord’s mercy, where would we be?

When we faced each other 46 years ago, me dressed in ruffled white and you, so handsome in your dark tux and ruffled shirt, we made promises and could not anticipate how they would be tested, how we would be tested.

We climbed high mountains and crossed troubled waters, wondering if we would come out alive. We did, but we bear the scars.

We tread the daily, the mundane, the getting up each morning to work and take care, to build and repair, and then the next day we did it again.

We have lived years as the two made one. More than two-thirds of my span of days has been spent with you. We are intertwined, you and I, like vines on a trellis.

We are different in so many ways, me the quiet reserved one, you the friendly talker. You are punctual and I am not, and you quote Brad Paisley’s “Waitin’ on a Woman” with a patient smile on your face.

We have loved and lost. We fought for faith when the Lord gave and when He took away. We have shared experiences that are ours alone. We have come far and learned life lessons on the journey together.

I can’t imagine what my life would have been like without you beside me these years. You are still the one, my only one, Sweet William.

For the Lord is good, His mercey is everlasting. He has been faithful and full of compassion to us.

And today is full of grace.

Sunday grace.

 

 

I love to hear the stories

{This is my monthly book review.  Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts.}

Let me dig right into this book review because sometimes something comes to me and I wonder where it has been all my life.

CSB Christ Chronological provides a unique way for readers to experience the life of Christ in chronological order with each Gospel writer’s account of events side-by-side. Featuring a parallel format, commentary notes for each section to provide background and context, and color-coded text to differentiate between the accounts in each Gospel, readers are able to gain fresh perspective on the life and ministry of Christ. “

 

As a long-time student of the Scriptures, I love the way this book brings continuity to the gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each have their own perspectives on the life and events of Jesus Christ, and their stories are written in their unique voices.

I have often searched through my Bible to compare Mark’s version of a story with Matthew’s or John’s, thumbing through the pages to find and read each one. CSB Christ Chronological has brought the same stories together in one place. Here are Jesus’ stories side -by-side.

In CSB Christ Chronological the gospels are color coded in the text and at the bottom of  each page.  A topic is introduced, noting corresponding chapter and verses from the gospels where it is recorded. Brief commentary precedes each section.

During the seasons of Advent and Lent, I often read Jesus’ story in each of the gospels in order to see a more complete picture. I end up with four bookmarks in my Bible as I go from one writer to another. The CSB Christ Chronologicall has done this work for me.

This book would make a wonderful addition to a Bible teacher’s library or to anyone who wants to know their Lord and Savior more.

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NOTE:   I received a copy of CSB Christ Chronological provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own. 

 

Sunday grace

Day is nearly done. Night settles into cold darkness.

Fresh baked bread sits on the counter. Maisie sleeps on her big pillow beside me. The fire pops as if it were real and not just gas spurting through artificial logs.

We have food, clothing, shelter. And we are content.

I hear from friends both near and far and anticipate communion with them next week. We nap on the couch, snuggled under fleece throws, gifts from a giving hand.

The Sabbath is nearing its end for us. Tomorrow is a day of doing and going and accomplishing. But today, I can be unhurried, relaxed, accepting my limitations and that I do not run the universe.

We are blessed beyond measure, more than we deserve. Grace upon grace flows down from the Fathers benevolent hand.

God is in His Heaven, but He is also here with us.

Sunday grace.

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Living my life

“Happy New Year” is past and January 2018 is well on its way to become mid-month. Sweet William and I waited for the predicted winter storm to move from warning to reality. It took half a day to get here. We have milk, bread and coffee.

I’ve been quiet on this blog since December, enjoying the rhythm of moving gently into another year.

Many were the feverish years when goals were written in categories, along with steps to achieve them: work, house, personal, spiritual, physical. I was regimented and orderly. These days, I am tending toward becoming a student of slow and steady, like the tortoise.

I enjoy the days where nothing is penciled into my planner. I guard myself  from my natural tendency to fill up a week in a lickety-split minute. This is a different season of life, and I want to live it well.

I am task-oriented, and I know it. Even now I must be purposeful in the commitments I make. Too often I’ve been quick to say “yes” without considering the consequences of time and energy, without understanding every “yes” equals a “no” somewhere else.

Our little girl, Maisie, teaches me about living at a slower pace. Life is simple for her. She likes to eat, sleep, play, and take walks. She sprints ahead of me with pure joy, then lingers long with her nose to the ground. This is her job after all.

101_1314My 2018 bullet journal is filled in, the pages bearing calendars and lists and things I’d like to accomplish in the next twelve months. I have a page titled “Bucket List” which includes learning to play the ukulele, something Sweet William is trying to help me do.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve read advice about the new year. I’ve done this so many times, and often I drove myself to accomplish much. Did I think it would make me more valuable, more worthy, more acceptable? Perhaps.

I know my year will include meal preparation and clean up that together take longer than eating the good food. I will do loads of laundry and fold and re-fold the same shirts, underwear and socks for the zillionth time. I will dust and vacuum and make up the bed. I will prepare at least 365 pots of coffee. I will shop for groceries, pay bills, and file papers.

I will drive to doctor and dentist offices more times than I like.

I will invite people in to share our table, and I will accept invitations from others. I will attend church, Sunday school, and Bible study and pursue relationships.

I will play the piano, tend the gardens, and watch the sunrise as I drink my morning coffee. I will walk with Maisie, slow to her pace and appreciate each one of the seasons.

I will kiss Sweet William good morning, and join him as we pray for people on our prayer list.

I will seek to hear the tender voice of the Spirit and ask to grow deeper in wisdom and understanding, compassion and mercy, love and forgiveness.

This begins another year of my life. I want to accomplish things and cross them off my list. I want to make a decision, move on, and learn something new. I want to keep trying and grow in so many worthwhile ways.

I want to live this wild and wonderful life I’ve been given. I want to help someone along the way, be a blessing, help bear a burden, let someone know she is loved.

I’ve not written all that in my bullet journal. Some things cannot be measured by list and accomplishment. Isn’t it the intangibles, the investment of time and attention we make in a life that takes more than 52 weeks to complete? And yet, it is the weightiest act of living.

The year lies ahead. The opportunities are before me. They will come one day at a time.

 

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Sunday grace

Year ends and year begins in the splitting of a second. Night sky turns to sunrise and we begin again.  The evening and the morning are a new day.

God breathes. We are given life. How then shall we occupy our place on the planet? What legacy will we leave to those who come after us?

For we have this moment. Today.

Bill Gaither penned these words:

Hold tight to the sound of the music of living,
Happy songs from the laughter of children at play;
Hold my hand as we run through the sweet fragrant meadows,
Making mem’ries of what was today.

We have this moment to hold in our hands
and to touch as it slips through our fingers like sand;
Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come,
But we have this moment today.

Don’t just exist. Live abundantly.

Don’t just work. Create art.

Don’t just tap your foot. Make music.

Don’t just stand there. Love your neighbor.

Be a blessing. Make a difference. Give grace.

We have this moment today.

Sunday grace.

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December ending and saying so-long to 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rest your future with Him.

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