When it doesn’t turn out like we planned

Life can be funny. At least we have to laugh sometimes to keep from crying.

Laughter is good medicine the wise Book tells us. It’s so true. When tension is high or stress wraps me tight, laughter can release sometime in me and lighten the load.

I love it when the one and only son calls, and his laughter is music to my ears. And Sweet William’s deep laugh can cause me to join in from pure enjoyment.

And don’t we need a little laughter on any given day? Today would be a good day for a chuckle.

Things are not turning out like I planned. The unexpected arises and I’m caught off guard. Other people do their own scheduling, and it does not line up with mine.

Sometimes life just doesn’t cooperate with me.

It has happened on any given day, the path I’ve laid out takes a wild twist and turn. Before I can catch my breath, a new agenda lies before me.

And so it is. Life is full of the unpredictable, the unforeseen. The road I’m on leads to a heavenly home, but there will be many a side street detour, a busy thoroughfare, even a rest stop I had not anticipated.

I’m ever learning to deal with the interruptions in my own blueprint for life. I’m really not wise enough to make all the decisions and chose the right answer every single time.

Thankfully, I trust in One who laid out His pattern for me. My Father’s ways are higher than mine; His thoughts are so far above mine. He knows what is best.

So today I will make a decision, a decision to smile and be happy, to expect joy in the most unexpected places. I know there are fresh mercies in store for this day.

Grace will abound, and it will be amazing.

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Tuesday thoughts

I left the cool of the house and went outside to do a little weed eating; the gas tank ran out before I was finished. The heat was undoing me, and I needed to stop anyway.

I roamed the yard, clipping away dead things, overgrown branches and pulling weeds. This time of year the flowers and the weeds mingle. It’s just going to be that way. The end of the season is near and we are done with it all.

Tie-dye morning glories mix with a wild vine next to the garage. Two young sunflowers – all that came up of the package of seeds I sowed – tilt their heads and look for the sun.

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I discovered a volunteer cock’s comb as I leaned over the deck’s railing. If I’d been a more careful weeder, I might have plucked it right out. Now it grows among the d’oro lilies, its red feather just beginning.  An interesting hibiscus variety is growing in the same general area with two buds ready to bloom. I only noticed it recently. It was a gift from my gardening friend two years ago. I thought I had lost it.

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The greens of the garden are giving way to golds, and I can feel the change coming.  I saw a few leaves flutter to the ground on our early morning walk. Heading upstairs earlier today while the windows were still open, I caught a whiff of summer. It smelled good. I think each season has its own aroma.

Forecasts are predicting thunder storms and cooler days tomorrow. I’ll take that. It will be the hint of fall I’m looking for. Summer is coming to an end, flowers fading, and I’m ready to pull up and trim back the rubble of what’s already had its day in the sun.

Let me buy mums at Lowes for the front porch.

There are things I want plucked up from my life.  They’re not pretty. They feel uncomfortable, even painful at times. I think they don’t belong, that they are my thorns among the roses. God has not seen fit to uproot yet. He knows the seasons’ beginnings and endings. He plans with a purpose. He redeems all that looks like failure.

He is the master gardener, the one who planted Eden in perfection. He patiently waits for growth and expects His fruit will be produced in His children. He is restoring what looks hopeless and lost. And He will make all things new again.

And those are my Tuesday thoughts.

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Sunday grace

I pulled out the small black spiral notebook where I sometimes write prayers. In it was a written request from January of this year.

I read my heart cries and remembered the difficulty of the situation. I was pleading and desperate for God’s help.

And He answered my prayer.

Did I ever thank Him for that? I didn’t write anything else on the lone piece of paper. Did I think to respond to the God who hears my prayers and answers them?

I feel ungrateful and forgetful. I don’t want to be like the nine lepers who were healed and kept right on going toward the temple. They did not return to give praise to God. Let me be like the one who came back, fell at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.

On the back of the page, I wrote a prayer of thanksgiving:

Dear Father,
I never wrote a praise for this answered prayer. . . . You are good and faithful. You hear prayers and You answer.
So I thank you. Summer is ending. and it has not been an easy year. But You are with us. Your strength will carry us.
Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
—  Me

Bless the Lord O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.

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A day at the fair

The Kentucky State Fair holds lots of memories for me. Yesterday morning Sweet William and I made our way there.

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Though we arrived in the morning hours, “Lot Full” signs appeared again and again as we kept driving to find parking. Lot 23 was on the back side of the ball field. But we were here and I was excited.

Sweet William, in his mobile scooter, and me, in my most comfortable shoes, headed for an open door and air conditioning. It was warm already. August, the state fair, hot temperatures. It’s a given.

We came upon the outside mule exhibit first and I love the mules. They were washed, brushed and looking beautiful, strong and muscular. Several leaned their heads for me to rub their faces and talk gently to them. And those ears – long and velvety. Who wouldn’t love the mules?

I recall my dad telling about working with mules on the farm when he was a boy. He had a different way of describing them, but then he had a completely different view of them from behind a plow.

I felt the cool air as we neared the livestock building. First in sight were the chickens in their colorful and exotic feathers. In my younger years, I would have owned chickens and gone for fresh eggs each morning for breakfast. These days I have friends who share their bounty, the colorful shells intriguing me. Blessed are those who share.

We looked at the variety of pigeons and rabbits, winding our way toward the goats. The goats are so sweet. I would have had goats too, milk goats that would give me delicious milk each day.

Next were the cows. Their big brown eyes win me over. I’m told my grandmother always had a jersey cow, a smaller breed that gives rich milk. The thick cream would rise to the top of the bottle. I can only imagine how that would taste in my coffee.

Yes, in my younger years, I think I could have been a gentle-woman farmer.

We came to the items entered for judging. I scanned the antiques, sure that I have things that old at home.

Sweet William and I searched the handmade quilts isles until we found my cousin’s entry, a beautiful gold and purple creation. Though she didn’t get a ribbon this year, her entry hung there for all to enjoy, and I am proud of her accomplishments.

I roamed through the artwork and admired the creativity and time it takes to bring forth a work of art, whether on canvas, with cloth or wood, cooked on the stove or in the oven, or planted in the earth. God, the master creator, has imprinted His image in us, giving people the opportunity to build, design, plant, craft and make something beautiful with our hands.

Food was next on our agenda, and we were looking for the Pork Producers. Bar-B-Que sandwiches and french fries only taste this good at the fair. We found a table near the end where another couple sat. We chatted and discovered they were from Bowling Green. Conversations wound around to children and grandchildren. Theirs live within two hours of driving time. I’m thankful when I hear families living near one another. I can’t help but wish my own were close enough for me to drive there for the day and come home.

God knows things I can’t figure out. I continually remind myself to trust Him with the unanswered questions.

I wanted to go through the exhibits hall where sellers of all sorts of goods are set up. It’s fun to see what items are popular and drawing the crowd. The food equipment displays always seem to attract attention as the demonstrator tells how we simply cannot live without having this vegetable peeler or that pot.

We stopped long enough to inquire at a couple of booths, and wouldn’t you know it, we walked away with some purchases (not the pot or the peeler). I just hope each one lives up to the hype that sold me on the product.

We saw some friends while we rested for a bit. It’s always fun to chat on the spur of the moment.

I people watched and that was entertaining. Some of the outfits folks wear these days are interesting. I had to wonder if we all need to look in the mirror just one more time before we leave the house.

While Sweet William’s wheels were still rolling strong, my feet were getting tired. We paused for ice cream cones, and I was refreshed enough to begin the walk to Lot 23 and the truck.

It seemed longer this time. I was well worn and my legs were tired. I’m pretty sure I got all my steps in today, though I might have canceled them with that cookies and cream waffle cone I devoured.

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Loaded into the truck with the air conditioner at full blast, I settled in and let me feet relax. I needed a nap.

At home, Maisie was so glad to see us. I washed my face to cool down, drank more water, and was ready to put my feet up and drink a cup of coffee.

Our day at the state fair was a simple, fun adventure for us. Sweet William and I have altered our bucket lists as the years have changed us. We aim for what is less complicated, what will not create undue stress on bodies and minds. We’ve learned to adjust to what we can do and let go of what we can’t. It’s still a challenge some days to be grateful for the good things in our lives and not focus on what we don’t have or can’t do.

Life is like that for all of us, I guess. God provides all we need, though sometimes I want more. I remember that the apostle Paul learned contentment and I can learn too.

My grateful list includes this day full of blessings at the state fair.

 

Tuesday thoughts

“Why are we reading, if not in hope of beauty laid bare, life heightened and its deepest mystery probed? . . . Why are we reading if not in hope that the writer will magnify and dramatize our days, will illuminate and inspire us with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness, and will press upon our minds the deepest mysteries, so we may feel again their majesty and power?” — The Writing Life by Annie Dillard

I love the written word. I love reading the written word.

When I was a child, I was not such a vivacious reader. Reading assignments in school left me feeling anxious about finishing the book. Sadly, I often laid aside the volume with pages left unread.

Somewhere in my life, I developed a love for the printed page, and I cannot imagine not having a book in progress. Often there are several.

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The written word is powerful. Being able to read is power also. To keep people enslaved, do not let them learn to read.

Words themselves carry power. The Bible says the tongue has the power of life and death. I bear witness to that truth. Haven’t we all experienced the encouraging word or the ones that crushed our spirit?

Consider the might and authority that brought forth the earth by the spoken word of God. “And God said, let there be . . .” And it was.

That the very Word of God was made flesh and lived among people is astounding. Jesus carried with Him the might and authority of the Father, yet he walked humbly as a human, being obedient even unto death.

His glory was on full display. Some saw it and recognized the glory. Some did not. Some read the signs and saw deity. Others closed the book because they didn’t like the way the story was going.

And so the writing continues in the lives of those who believe. Written on our hearts for the world to see and read is the splendor of the gospel.

May it be a story of beauty and hope, one that illuminates and inspires with wisdom, courage, and the possibility of meaningfulness. May it display the deepest mysteries of the majesty of God.

And these are my Tuesday thoughts.

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Sunday grace

Forgiveness. Unforgiveness. I am confronted with it this morning in my morning quiet time.

And a person comes to my mind, someone who hurt me with her words, a wound that was deep. I struggled to find healing for it. I struggled to forgive.

Daily sometimes I said it to myself. “I forgive her. Lord, please do a work of forgiveness in my heart.” I willed to let the offense go, but I need a higher power to removed the pain and heal the laceration of my heart. Forgiveness is a divine attribute, not a human one.

Christ in me is the only way it can happen.

I have surmised that when I think of the offense and it does not hurt anymore, then forgiveness is complete in me. So why this morning am I thinking of it once more with a twinge of discomfort?

I’m not sure. Perhaps it is the enemy of my soul trying to torment me. Perhaps it is because someone else has upset my apple cart and gotten under my skin, making me want to retaliate. Forgiveness is once again required.

Tempting me to hold onto grudges and offenses are his prime tool. Keeping hurts alive is where a root of bitterness finds a way into my soul. And Scripture warns me not to be ignorant of satan’s tricks.

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. — Colossians 3:13

So once again, I affirm my desire to forgive. How can I do otherwise? I have been forgiven much. I have no right to withhold it from another.

“Lord, I forgive _________ once again. Do the work of forgiveness in me, mending my heart and giving me a complete recovery.”

I don’t want to carry the burden any longer. I don’t want to be locked into a prison of my own making. I want to be free.

I have been given much grace. I will give grace as I have received it. In Jesus name. For He forgave me fully and pefectly.

Amazing.

Sunday grace.

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The journals

 

101_1647My old journals were stored in matching boxes, tucked in a shelf upstairs. I thought I needed to keep them out of sight, for privacy perhaps. But seldom are visitors in the upstairs room anymore.

I decided to unload the boxes. The journals lay around the room, their various sizes and designs an analogy of the years, each one different.

When I was a child, I often started a daily diary in January. The book had dated pages and I wrote regularly for a few weeks or a month. Then I’d skip a day or more. Being the perfectionist I am (and continue to try to overcome), blank pages meant I had failed. I soon abandoned the book altogether.

Tiny books record events from my teens when life seemed so challenging. I was navigating the road to becoming an adult. My latest crush was a common topic.

Journaling was sporadic at best when being a wife and mother was all-consuming; recording my life’s events didn’t seem important.

I would love to look back at those years now, see them from the perspective of the younger me.

My more consistant journaling began in 1997 in a simple spiral book with lined pages. Pen went to paper and took on a life of its own.

I began recording my thoughts as well as the events of my days, and I wrote when I wanted to. I was not compelled to do it every day. It was the niche I needed.

Sometimes I wonder if anyone will read all those books. My handwriting gets messy and illegible as I scribble the things in my head and my heart. The volumes hold the thankful days and the grumbling days, the sweet moments and the times I cried.

Perhaps they just need to be buried with me. Because in those pages are the honest version of myself, the view I try to keep hidden from public scrutiny. The words on the pages reveal more of what God sees than anyone else.

The journal was a listening friend, a safe place to vent, with no contradicting voices or interruptions. It was therapy as I worked out a problem, rambling on as I needed. Other times, it was an altar where I repented and where prayers were lifted to the Savior who understands me in a way no one else does.

I counted blessings on the pages. I wrote about friends and family, the treasures they are to me. I recorded the everyday and the extraordinary.

I suppose I will keep writing as long as I have pen and paper and a mind to do it. It matters not if anyone reads them. I do not write for others. I write for me. I write to remember.

When I am old and more confined in place, perhaps I will leaf through the pages of my journals and remember what a full and blessed life I lived. The ups and the downs, the sideways and crooked will be there. I will read and be grateful for all the days I was given.

The sweet singer of Israel wrote these words:

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance, and in Your book all the days of my life were written before ever they took shape, when as yet there was none of them.” — Psalm 139:16 AMPC

While I was writing about the days of my life as they passed, my heavenly Father recorded them before my birth. What a beautiful thought, that He knew me then, that He has been watchful to carry out His purpose in me for all my years.

I take a breath and consider the wonder of that kind of love.

I set all the journals up on the open shelves in chronological order. They are interesting to look at, their variety of color, shape, and size. For each year has been unique.

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In some way, my life is there on the shelf. But the plans for me are guided by an unseen hand, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

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