October ending

In the first week of October we took a much-anticipated trip to see our dear ones. I brought my Carpenters CDs so I could sing along.  It makes the miles go faster and keeps me awake.

This is the music of my youth, and I remember what my life was like by the lyrics of each track. “It’s Yesterday Once More” as I recall my life flying by.

Though the distance is long, the faces that come out the door to greet us are the ones we want to see. I never mean to cry, but I do. We spent the time just being together doing simple things: playing games at the kitchen table, visiting a coffee shop and some thrift stores, watching movies, talking and laughing. One evening we went to new/old-fashioned soda fountain where I experienced my first Egg Cream, which by the way, does not have eggs or cream in it.

Maisie was in dog heaven with the family’s two spaniels to romp with. The first day she kept looking at me with a dog-smile as if to say, “Thanks for bringing me here.” Playing is her favorite thing to do.

Our grandson, the youngest of our three grands, prepared pancakes for us our last morning. He patiently stood at the stove frying one large cake at a time until all were fed. Then he fixed one for himself and sat down with us. I commented on his kindness, and he said, “That’s what mom does.”

Two deaths this month hit me hard. I found out about them while we were traveling and away from home. I had wanted to see both of these friends one more time and was planning to be in touch when I returned. We never know when we will look at a face for the last time. It makes every interaction with each person important.

With the cold weather sweeping in, I moved outdoor plants inside the house and garage. Some tender perennials would not survive if I didn’t shelter them.  It’s the task that  follows a clean-out of the garage to prepare for them to sit by two windows where they will reach for the sunlight during the winter months.

101_1780

Maisie and I walk the lane and I smell fall. It’s hard to define, but I know it when it’s in the air. It’s a mixture of mown grass, musty soil, and wood fires burning. I breathe in long and my senses tell me the changing of seasons. The  leaves are scattered in the yard, the red twig dogwoods look especially red, and berries cluster on branches, food for the birds. Darkness settles early in the evening, and I find myself wanting to snuggle in and drink hot cocoa.

101_1254

101_1793

Unusual for us home bodies, we traveled again at the end of the month to the  state of Mississippi, the place of Sweet William’s birth. The youngest daughter of his deceased brother was being married, and it was important for us to be there. We caravaned with Sweet William’s older brother and his wife.

It was a time of remembering for all of us as we drove familiar roads around town and saw the house where Sweet William’s parents once lived. On another street we passed the home of his favorite aunt and uncle, all now gone from this earth. Life is brief at its best, like grass that is here today, then withers and blows away tomorrow.

We visited and had lunch with his 93-year-old step-mother who still gardens and irons. She is a sweetheart of a woman, and we cherished time with her.

The wedding on Saturday evening was lovely and the bride was beautiful. She and her sister kept saying they were glad we made it. And so were we. It was one of those times when showing up was what really mattered.

Image may contain: car, sky and outdoorPhoto by Louise Wright

This quote came home to me from The Art of Simple: “I show up because I believe in the power of presence. Life is really freaking hard–but we don’t have to do it alone.

The latter trip was perfect for enjoying the glow that is Autumn. I needed a box of 64-count Crayolas to help me describe shades. As we drove through the corridor of trees on Natchez Trace the colors were brilliant. Forest and olive greens, burnt orange and mellow gold, mahogany and bittersweet. It could not have been a better weekend for peak beauty.

Travels done, we arrived at home-sweet-home, unpacked, and washed clothes. I caught up with messages since I’d been off-line and disconnected to internet for three days. It was a bit of relief.

Settled into my regular routine, I discovered another of my good neighbors will be moving soon. It was only a week or so ago when the for sale sign appeared in their yard, and I expressed my  sad feelings about that.

Image result for seminon realty sign in yard

They sold their house quickly, even before the first open house. I’m happy for them; this is what they wanted and prayed for. But my little world is changing quickly, and I have to adjust. I want what is best for them, the will of the Lord. And so we pray for them and for the new neighbors who will be moving into our quiet community. I hope we can be friends.

With the ending of October we merge into the two busiest months of the year. Holidays and celebrations will abound. If we aren’t careful, we will blink our eyes and it will be next year. If we are not purposeful, we will miss the most important part: time to focus on family, an opportunity to listen with the heart, a chance to look at faces we love and be there, very present, with nothing else on the agenda.

Filling our lives full is a cultural temptation. But it doesn’t mean we will experience the pleasure of it. Perhaps we should think carefully about the activity level and our commitments in the coming months.

A full life and life to the full are two very different things.

http://holleygerth.com/faith-missing-out/

As the holiday season approaches, I don’t want to rush through it. I want to savor the smells, the sights, the sensations. I want to enjoy the people who sit with me at the table and around the Christmas tree. I want to really be there in all of it.

Don’t you?

 

Advertisements

Sunday grace

When my days are upended, when I don’t know which way to go, when I keep asking the same questions and still don’t hear the answers, I lean on Jesus.

In life and in death, in health and in sickness, in plenty and in want, I build my hope on Jesus.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. 
I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

As seasons begin and then leave so soon, when daylight turns to darkness, there is nothing and nowhere else to turn but Jesus.

When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale my anchor holds within the veil.

No matter what else may be offered to satisfy my hunger, only He is the Bread of life.

When other options are presented, He is the only Way and the Truth.

As grief engulfs me, obscuring my sight for the tears in my eyes, He is the Resurrection and the Life.

When the world looks scary, uncertain, out of control, when fear threatens, He is my Peace.

When He shall come with trumpet sound, oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne!

My hope is built on nothing less. Jesus.

Sunday grace.

 

Sunday grace.

Wake up

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

I credit my mother for instilling the discipline of daily devotions. I first remember her giving me Streams in the Desert, by Mrs. Charles Cowman, when I was just a girl. It was her way of teaching me the importance of daily time with Jesus.

By now, my collection of devotional books has grown by stacks.

The opportunity to review Awaken: 90 Days with the God Who Speaks, by Priscilla Shirer, was a no-brainer for me.  I’ve participated in Ms. Shirer’s Bible studies a number of times and always enjoy the journey of her teaching. Awaken is her first devotional book, and it is a gem.

Awaken

Priscilla Shirer is a Bible scholar who writes with the authority of one who knows the Author and His works. Awaken affirms that God wants to speak to us as individuals. Without dated pages, one can begin this book anytime and pick it up again when the schedule permits. No guilt if you miss a day. Just continue to the next entry.

But don’t wait too long to read another daily devotional because this is good stuff. For each day Ms. Shirer gives a short Bible illustration, coupled with her own experiences, then re-enforces both with Scripture verses.

Finally, she asks a question to help the reader make application to his/her life. The questions are thoughtful and thought-provoking. A blank page gives plenty of room to journal one’s thoughts.

It is in the writing that I often understand more clearly what I’ve read and how it pertains to and connects with me. Thus, I am able to hear from the God who speaks. Because He does want to speak to me.

This is a great book for teens or adults. Someone on your Christmas list might need Awaken: 90 Days with the God Who Speaks to help her start the day with Jesus. (You are already thinking about Christmas, aren’t you?)

A day without the Word and listening for God’s voice is not the way to start a good day. Just sayin’.

101_1779

 

B&H blogger icon

NOTE:   I received a copy of Awaken: 90 Days with the God Who Speaks, provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own. 

Sunday grace

This day.  It’s Sweet William’s birthday, and I think of the grace of God.

I’ve lived with this man longer than I lived without him. We’ve been through so much together. There have been hard roads and there have been joyful celebrations. It is the way of a life.

How is it that we have come to this place in time? We have been shaped and molded by our experiences. We have weathered storms, and though battered and bruised, we have come through victorious. By grace.

We have celebrated life together, cried at death together, and intend to walk together for as many days as the Lord gives us.

What to do for a birthday at this age when we have celebrated so many times? We have given the gifts and signed the Hallmark cards. God has blessed us beyond what we deserve.

And it is all grace.

If not for God’s grace, we would not be celebrating a birthday today. I am convinced of it.

So we will celebrate. Celebrate life. Celebrate goodness and mercy. Celebrate the boundless generosity of a Savior who gave us all so that we could join the family.

By grace alone, we were given life to live to the full. Thanks be to God for His amazing gift of life, Sweet William’s life.

Sunday grace.

 

 

 

Showing up

It’s was a week. Actually it was a couple of weeks, maybe three. Really, it seems to be this whole year thus far.

The days swiftly roll by, one after the other, and I find myself shocked at the date on the calendar. How can it be nearing the middle of October, and Sweet William’s birthday is upon me, and I don’t know what to get him?

Tempus fugit.

Image result for tempus fugit

We traveled to see our dear ones last week, a long hard drive, there and back.  It was our first opportunity this year. Seeing the faces of my son and his family was reward enough. I don’t get to be with them as much as my heart desires. Time spent in their presence is cherished.

The visit with those I hold most precious was filled with laughter, shared experiences that will fill our memory banks in the days to come when we are miles apart. The conversation, the touch, the hug will be held close in my heart.

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people sitting, text and indoor

I heard of two deaths while we were away, friends with whom I had only recently talked. Gone from this world. And I cried. I wanted to see them both just one more time.

The brevity of life occupies my thoughts the week after our travel. We are only here on earth for a short season, no matter how many years we live. It’s a reminder that interactions with people are always full of purpose, full of meaning. Not to be taken lightly.

As I remember my two friends, I was glad for the times recently when I showed up in their lives. That morning I picked her up from her apartment and we went for coffee and I paid the tab. That day I drove into the hospital to see her and we shared a vanilla milk shake her son brought to the room.

Thinking of what I’ve accomplished in my life, job titles that brought fleeting pride in the moment, the myriad of projects I thought I finished well, I realize it was when I reached out to a fellow human being that was most valuable.

The telephone call made to check on someone. The card written to say “I’m thinking of you.” The coffee date shared for a couple of hours. The quiet listening without trying to fix anything. The tears rolling down our cheeks over shared struggles. The long hard drives to be where they are on a special occasion.  The minutes, hours, days given away.

It is the giving of myself that has counted more than anything. I see it now. Because those who have given themselves to me have marked me and given meaning to my life.

I’ve missed a lot of opportunities to make a difference, to give my support, to be an encouragement, to be a good friend. To show up. I regret the many lost chances for connection.

I attended the funeral today of my 93-year-old friend. It was a glorious celebration of her life. Her family filled the front row. Another row was filled with women who had sat under her teaching at Sunday school years ago.  All those faces reflected the investment she made into their lives, a legacy of her life, her love and her belief in a Savior named Jesus.

She showed up again and again. She showed up in my life.

Time ticks away too quickly. The moments we have today will be gone tomorrow. Will they be wasted on the unimportant or invested in the eternal?

Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current.  — Marcus Aurelius

I don’t want to forget what I am learning this week, this art of showing up and giving the gift of myself. Busy-ness will try to side-track this wisdom. Voices pretending to be urgent will reach out to grab for my attention. Distractions will always be there to pull me aside. Hopefully, I will remember that life is uncertain and brief at best. This day is the present I have to offer.

I hope I can be more aware and quick to evaluate the importance of my life in someone else’s life. I only get one chance at this life. Let me live it well.

100_3200

Sing your song

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

Music was part of my life since I can remember. My mother sang in a church trio when she was young and then became a soloist later in life. She could belt out a song. As I grew to be more accomplished on the keyboard, I was her primary accompanist.

My dad did not read music but played piano by ear (the reason my mother was determined I have lessons). He could touch almost any instrument and make music with it, be it a recorder, harmonica, banjo or guitar. He played something he called a sweet potato, brought back with him from the war. I learned it is called an ocarina. He even learned to play the saw, using a violin bow.  A carpenter by trade, he had plenty of “instruments” to choose from, and make music he did.

A special memory is singing in the church choir as a child. It wasn’t a formal or trained choir, but a group of people who went to the platform at the beginning of service to sing with the congregation. We were all ages, and  my friends and I sang with enthusiasm. We were there to praise the Lord with music. I still love the old songs. I can hear one of them, and I am back there again, a little girl with a melody in my heart.

Naturally I was drawn to the book Sing!, How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church, written by Keith and Kristyn Getty. The Getty’s songs are already favorites; titles like In Christ Alone , Jesus, Draw Me Ever Nearer 2, and The Power of the Cross 3  are well known and beloved. Their gift with lyric and melody has given the church hymns once again.

Sing book

The book examines and encourages singing together whether as a family or as a church congregation.

Sing! encourages singing in our everyday lives, throughout the day, with the family at home or on road trips, as a church body. We witness to the world through our singing, and when we sing together, the message is powerful.

Chapter titles include:

  • Created to . . . Sing!
  • Commanded to  . . . Sing!
  • Compelled to . . . Sing!

Then we are to sing “with Heart and Mind,” “with Your Family,” and “with the Local Church.”

Some of my favorite quotes are:

“We are all singers. We may not all be very good singers, but we are all created to be singers nonetheless.”

“Your ability to sing is fearfully and wonderfully made. Around the twelve-week mark the vocal cords of a baby growing in the womb are in place and have been shown to work long before the baby is born.” 

“We are designed to benefit from beauty in creativity. . . . God made us to be powerfully engaged in our senses and memories by music. Songs have the power to prompt a memory or transport us back to some time and place.”

” . . . as we create, we communicate–just as God does through His creation . . . Echoing through our congregational singing is the commun.ication the divine Author has written into this world. Melodies matter. Words matter. Our songs always say something.”

“To praise him [God] is the original desire sewn into every fiber of our God-designed humanity and into every aspect of our God-designed world. When we sing God’s praise, we join with the tune of the cosmos. Just pause. Isn’t this incredible?”

Sing! can be used as a small group study; with worship leaders, choirs and musicians; with the entire church congregation; or individually.

It is essential that we understand how vital and necessary singing is to our lives.  We learn through music. Music affects us emotionally. Songs impact the way we live and the society in general.

It’s not about style of music that we choose in our churches, but it is about quality songs and a message that reflects who God truly is. The truth written in the lyrics, and sung so the world can hear, must declare that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God.

Co-authored by Stuart Townend
Co-authored by Margaret Becker
Co-authored by Stuart Townend

B&H blogger icon

NOTE:   I received a copy of Sing! How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family, and Church, provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own. 

Sunday grace

This song, this morning. It’s what my heart sings. My fingers touch the keyboard. I open my mouth to voice words that lift my eyes to Jesus. He alone is worthy of my trust.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, 
and to take him at his word; 
just to rest upon his promise, 
and to know, “Thus saith the Lord.” 

O how sweet to trust in Jesus, 
just to trust his cleansing blood; 
and in simple faith to plunge me 
‘neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus, 
just from sin and self to cease; 
just from Jesus simply taking 
life and rest, and joy and peace.

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him! 
How I’ve proved him o’er and o’er! 
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! 
O for grace to trust him more! 

              — words by Louisa Stead

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him these many years. O for grace to trust Him more.

Sunday grace.

grace100_3154100_3362