May ending 2018

May is green and shades of emerald were especially beautiful this month. On many days it seemed spring just skipped away like a rabbit, leaving place for summer heat. The air conditioner has run. While I love the fresh breezes blowing in open windows, by noon many days, the sashes were closed and shades pulled to keep the house cool.

The grass grows tall along with weeds among the flowers. I’ve decided to dub this place, “Where the Wild Things Grow” since there’s a lot of that going on.

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My garden work had to be done early in the morning, three hours being my limit. I came in soaked with perspiration and red-faced, longing for a cool shower. I accomplished quite a bit working just those few hours at a time, and the front yard looks like someone actually lives here now.

There are still areas that need my attention, and I will be busy in the coming month. That’s what summer is about for me. I shall take it in stride, move at my pace, and enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Deer sightings in the little woods have been frequent this year and it is truly delightful. The pièce de résistance was early in the morning this week when Maisie alerted us to activity on the edge of the yard. There stood a doe and a spotted fawn, easing quietly into the dark protection of the woods. It was a gift, simply a gift.

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May was recital month, always a celebration. This year one of my students was graduating high school and she played five difficult pieces for her senior recital. She’d been my student since she was seven years old. That hasn’t happened for me often as a piano teacher. To have spent that many years next to her at the piano is weighty as well as a privilege I don’t take lightly.

I put her file away today, and I am still emotional about it.

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Our oldest granddaughter celebrated a mile-stone birthday in May. She is grown up in so many ways, beautiful like her mother, taking on adult responsibilities. Yet in my mind, I still see that little girl who sat at the stool across from me in the kitchen and drank hot cocoa early mornings. She talked up a storm. We shared so many special experiences and a bond that is strong in spite of the miles that separate us. I wonder if she knows how dear she is to me?

Time with people has been varied. I have been a listening ear, a helping hand, one who weeps with those who weep, and part of the applauding audience who cheered young talent on stage. Being part of people’s lives means we give something of ourselves, and loving one another comes in a variety of opportunities.

This last day of May, Sweet William and I purchased android smart phones. For. The. Very. First. Time. I know! I’ve been holding out, not wanting a phone that would become an appendage. I suppose I feared addiction to the thing. I don’t want to be held captive to a cell phone.

But there comes a point when you know the time is right. And today was the day.  We bought simple and efficient because we live a simple lifestyle. The learning curve will be interesting as we teach our brains new things and get current with the rest of the world.

The sales people were kind and patient with us. (They were young enough to be our grandchildren.) They asked how long we had been married. Perhaps there was “an old married couple” persona about us or the fact that we were enjoying the experience together and laughed a lot.

I’ve been living in Philippians for the past month at least. I finished a study on my own but can’t seem to get away from Paul’s letter. His joy and rejoicing are everywhere in this short book. I long for the wisdom he seems to have learned.

I read something this month that is sticking with me. The author decided to stop saying, “I have to [do whatever]” and instead began saying “I get to [do whatever].” To me that is profound, and I’m trying to change my mindset.

One night when I was having trouble falling asleep, I lay in bed thanking God for all the appliances I have because I get to do laundry and I get to clean house and I get to fix meals and I get to work in the garden. Because I have clothes and a home and food and a yard. I am so blessed, so very blessed.

Such a simple change of phrase makes my life look beautiful and full of good things instead seeing my responsibilities as burdens that weigh me down. And I feel joyful and want to rejoice. Paul was definitely on to something.

There are so many things for me to learn and experience. I want to be a forever student of life no matter my age. I believe God has lots He wants to teach me yet.

Because I am confident of this that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

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Sunday grace

What if I really believed?

What if I read the words of Scripture and believed they were true?

What if I took the account of the creation of the world as genuine?

What if I heard the words, “Jesus loves you” and accepted it as fact?

What if I considered the possibility that God has a divine plan for my life?

What if I concluded that the Holy Spirit of God really does live within me?

What if I knew in my heart that Heaven awaits me because of the cross and the blood of Christ?

What if I acknowledged the stories of eye witnesses that Jesus arose from the dead and is alive, making it a reality that I can live too?

What if I were certain that my life has purpose, that my struggles are strategies to make me stronger, that trials are a testing ground of my faith, that victory is available to me in it all, and that I am more than a conqueror through Christ?

What if I simply believed?

I would live differently. I would rejoice and be glad. I would give thanks in all circumstances. I would love God and love others as I am loved.

It would make all the difference in the world.

Believe and see the glory of God.

Sunday grace.

Sunset in Colorado, by travisPhoto by Travis Wright

Our Father

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

 

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

We say the words almost on autopilot. Sometimes we speak them without thought.

We learned them as a child, memorized by rote, and quoted them weekly at Sunday school. Perhaps they have become less to us because we have used them so much.

But I hope not.

We call it the Lord’s Prayer, taught by our Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples in  the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

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When We Say Father, Unlocking the Power of the Lord’s Prayer is a sermon of its own.

“Adrian Rogers’ last written manuscript before his passing in 2005 has been edited and brought together by his son Steve, as a final joint work. When We Say Father takes the Lord’s Prayer and breaks it down to its most basic components for readers to easily learn how to pray from the ultimate source, Jesus himself.”

When We Say Father

As I read the book, I could almost hear Adrian Rogers preaching from the pulpit. It is not a cleaned-up, edited, watered-down version but purely from the heart of a man who knew His God and wanted others to know Him.

The writing is more conversational than precise and particular. I felt like I was listening to Rogers as much as I was reading his words.

Rogers takes each portion of the Lord’s Prayer and talks it through with homespun illustrations, teaching the basics so we can understand.

Chapter titles include:

  • Our Father – “The Person of the Prayer”
  • First Things First – “The Priority of the Prayer”
  • Our Daily Bread – “The Provision of the Prayer”
  • The Freedom of Forgiveness – “The Pardon of the Prayer”
  • Deliver Us From Evil – “The Protection of the Prayer”
  • Thine is the Glory – “The Praise of the Prayer”
  • Ask, Seek, Knock – “The Promise of the Prayer”

If we want to understand the depth of the meaning of Jesus’ words, then we need to dig deep, like one exploring for treasure. The Heavenly Father invites us to know Him, and that is an astounding realization.  But we have to make an effort. Learning to pray like Jesus is a way to know God, Jesus’ example becoming our own.

“When we say Father, we express His nature. . . . When we say Father, we expect His nurture. . . . And when we say Father, we ought to exalt His name.”    — Adrian Rogers

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NOTE:   I received a copy of When We Say Father, Unlocking the Power of the Lord’s Prayer by Adrian Rogers and Steve Rogers, provided by B&H Publishing, for an honest review.  The book was free.  The words are my very own.

Sunday grace

Thinking. It seems we hardly have time to or even need to. All questions are answered quickly with a Google search or a response from Alexa or Siri.

The twenty plus volumes of encyclopedia, bought when we were newlyweds and taking up an entire shelf on the bookcase, are long gone, gifted to a thrift store because no one would buy them.

Attention span is short, us flitting from one sound bite to another without retaining much of any of it.

Information comes at light speed through multi-channels of technology. There are online articles and blogs to read; news feeds to keep  me current; one thousand channels to surf on TV; CNN and FOX news telling me over and over the current condition of the world; and NOAA weather advising me if I should bring my umbrella or not.

I hardly need to think at all. And yet I must.

I seek solitude and silence, turn off the constant flow of information, in order to give my mind time to slow down and contemplate.

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I easily say “yes” to too much without thinking it through. Then I find myself in a dither, a flurry of activity, feeling the stress rise and wanting someone to stop the dizzying merry-go-round so I can get off.

No wonder we struggle to wind down, our calendar spaces filling, adrenaline pumping.

Slow down.  Breath.  Be quiet.  Listen.  Think.

I need to hush my fast-beating heart, think my own thoughts, clear my mind of the world’s voices.  Then perhaps I will hear what the Spirit of the Lord would say to me. His voice is softly gentle, easily drowned out by the shouts of a culture that wants more and entices me to join its throng.

Be still my soul. Lift your eyes to the heavens. See how the Father provides for His creatures, how lavishly He splashes beauty everywhere. Observe His sovereignty  over all things.

I will think about all you have done; I will reflect upon your deeds!
— Psalm 77:12 NET Bible

Think on what is lovely.  Just.  Honest.  Pure.  The good report.  Think on God’s promises.  His faithfulness.  His compassion and goodness.  His love.

And be still my soul.

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Sunday grace

Thank God for the women, for the ones who touched my life and left their fingerprints.

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For the women who lived before, fighting battles and suffering long that I might live free and equal and be considered a person and not someone’s property.

For the women in Scripture whose stories inspire me to be better, who stood tall and brave in the face of adversity, who spoke prophesies and championed soldiers, who stood between kingly decrees and their children, who faithfully followed in terrifying conditions and spread the gospel to the ends of the earth.

For the women who taught me through word and example when I was a child and grew unto an adult, who told Bible stories with flannel graph figures and expounded the deeper Truth, who lived lives of grace and mercy, who were mothers in the faith and endured to the end.

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For the women who lived quiet lives of joyful example, who were faithful to their husbands, who loved their babies, who freely gave to me and other people’s children, offering love and making a lasting difference.

For the women who saw my untamed talents and the beginnings of my gifts and nurtured them in me, smiling their encouragement and applauding my progress.

For the women who authored books that made me laugh and made me think, who pricked my heart and seemed to know my story, who did not condemn but showed me how to move toward healing.

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For the women who were my grandmothers, leaving their impression on my parents, passing along the inheritance and the blessings of their goodness.

For the women who were my aunts, who loved me and treated me like one of their own.

For the women who are my cousins, who have been like sisters.

For my dear mother, my mother-in-law, my step-mother, each one completely different yet profoundly impacting my life.

For my one and only daughter-in-love who continues to teach me about loving  her husband and training her own brood to fly.

From my now grown-up granddaughters, individual in their personalities and gifts, both so precious in my sight and a reward for living long.

For the women who are friends and have become like family and kindred spirits, who show me how each of us is unique and has a purpose in the kingdom.

For the women who are daughters-of-my heart, who have made their own special places, filling full the empty spaces in me.

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For the women, O Lord, who have been your vessels and have poured into my life, who opened their hearts and welcomed me into their circles, who have laughed with me and cried with me, who have held my hand and hugged my neck, who have prayed for me and inspired me to take courage.

For these women, the daughters of Eve, tough and tender, warriors all, leaving a legacy of love and devotion, being the beautiful crown of creation and housing the light of Jesus in their brokeness and letting Him shine all the brighter.

These women, all of them, have nurtured me in some way whether they ever bore a child of their own or not. These women are caring, loving, supporting, graceful and full of grace. They have made me better and I give You thanks for them on this Mother’s Day.

They bear Your image, they show Your feminine side in the most beautiful and unique way. They display Your heart as only the women can.

These women, they have left their fingerprints on my life.

Sunday grace.

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Revised and re-posted from May 2017

This, another year

I’ve been quiet on the blog for the month of May. The Wright House has been busy, my mind full to overflowing. I’ve written in my journal, but there was nothing pressing to say out loud. So I let well enough alone, ignoring any self-imposed obligation. When there are no words, what’s the point?

But today, I write.

The approach of a holiday that is difficult for me creates a storm of emotions. I felt it coming for weeks. I make an effort to push thoughts aside and focus on pressing events ahead. Tears erupt without warning and sometimes I give them release. I connected with those who share common sentiments. Understanding brings some comfort.

I plan my Sunday. I will be good to myself this one day of the year, giving myself grace. I reserved movies at my library. Mom’s Night Out will give me the gift of laughter. Sarah, Plain and Tall will give me permission to cry.  Sweet William will do whatever he can to make me happy.

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My to-do list is full for the weekend. Recitals will fill the air with music and celebration. There’s a lot of work yet to do. I love this time of year, joyful in the accomplishments of budding musicians and being amazed that I get to be part of it.

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The weeds in the gardens mock me and I have paid them no heed. Walking through the yard, I am astounded at how quickly what shouldn’t be there grows tall and lush. I need a downpour of rain to soften the earth so pulling wayward growth will be easier. I gave myself one hour outside today so it doesn’t look like the occupants have up and moved. My back pays for it.

The green of the trees in the little woods is especially beautiful this year. The warmth that has finally arrived refreshes me, and I take my chance to sit on the deck with a cup of coffee when I can.

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Two pair of geese at the lake have babies. I look for them when Maisie and I walk. They are attentive to their young during this season, these little ones being their only focus. They will not fly to other possibilities during summer. They are rooted and purposed to be the providing and protecting parents until goslings are fully grown in the fall. I watch the process and remember my mothering years.

This month of my planner is full of people and places and events. How does a life get so full while I’m not paying attention? It’s not even the middle of May and I’m already anticipating a slowed-down June. If I’m not careful, I will miss today while I look forward to tomorrow. If I let it, life can pass me by and I will not have savored the sweetness of it.

Today is a gift, the precious present. God meant for it to be lived with fullness of joy and with thanksgiving. He understands my tears and is near to the broken. He rejoices over me with singing, and He delights when I am filled with thankfulness.

No matter the circumstances, I shall give thanks for this is His purpose in Christ Jesus.

His purpose for me is to look for the gifts and enjoy what He has given, in every season of my life. What I perceive as good brings delight. What I perceive as difficult teaches me endurance, compassion, and patience. It is all for the conforming process of becoming  more like Jesus. A life conformed will shine like stars in the night sky and it will be for the glory of God.

May it be so.

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April ending 2018

Spring has finally sprung at my old Kentucky home. The trees have filled out and I no longer have a clear view through the little woods. One day last week, I saw two young deer wandering through. Maisie barked, of course, and the young buck began to stomp his feet at her. It was humorous to see them face-off each other. Never mind that a chain link fence divides their territory.

If I was going to talk about the weather it would be that in April we experienced a little of everything: sunshine and warm days, rain, sleet, snow, that kept me in my corduroy coat and a scarf. I saw Facebook pictures of men dressed in winter wear cutting their grass as snowflakes fell. Even this morning there was frost. After finally moving the plants from the garage to the outdoors this weekend, I had to cover them to prevent frostbite. It’s been a bit crazy.

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With all the growth going on, the yard calls to me. I’ve worked a few days doing the clean up required after winter. I dig, hoe, gather, pull, clip, and hope the fruit of my labor is rewarded. I know my body sure aches at end of day.

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We had some girls visit during the week of spring break, and the house rang with chatter, laughter, singing, and musical instruments. We craft and we eat and we sit at the table and enjoy the fellowship of the young who help us feel a little more alive.

We got to spend some time with our Mississippi relatives who came for a few days visit. Sweet William’s nieces, with their families, are real southerners, their accents delightful. We don’t get to see them often enough.

We celebrated the 16th birthday of our youngest grandchild in the way we can. I packed a birthday box to mail with surprises I hoped would please him. This year I sent vintage ties. Yes, the boy likes to wear a tie and has practiced different knots. Two of them had belonged to his great-grandfather and one was worn by his dad in high school. When we talked to him on the phone, our grandson was thrilled. And I told myself this is why I save things.

Family means so much, it is heritage and memory, our past and our future. We can neglect a lot of things in this life, but family should never be one of them.

Sweet William and I visited our first official yard sale of the year, and now I see them popping up everywhere. I’ve already had a talk with myself about stopping too often and buying things I don’t need. After my semi-annual garage clean-out last weekend and the things I threw away or put in the give-away box, I need to be more discriminating.

One of the books I finished in April was Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth. Its theme is simplicity, family and faith. I can testify that a simple life is better We can complicate it with too much stuff, too many commitments and too much doing rather than being. Having been there and done that, I don’t intend to buy the T-shirt from that yard sale. The message of the book was a good reminder.

I’ve been reading memoirs lately and how-to-write-memoir books, as if I think I might. But the ones I’ve read recently are about people with very disturbed lives. I’m sure there are other reasons to write about one’s life then to tell how horrible it was. My life has not been that disturbing, so I probably won’t be writing my memoir.

I don’t often recommend movies, but we watched one worth mentioning this month. (And let me say we’ve “kissed a lot of frogs” in the form of movies which is why I prefer to borrow from my library. If I don’t want to finish it, it’s no big deal, and if Sweet William falls asleep during, that’s OK too.). Same Kind of Different as Me is taken from true events and contains an uplifting  message.

After a day digging in the dirt today (my fingernails are proof), the sun is beginning to set, and I hear the birds from my rocker by the window. They sing at end of day as well as at its beginning. These musical creatures have a rhythm to their simple lives. Nests in bushes are tended by hovering parents gathering worms, with the robin being the fussy one, until the young are old enough to be on their own.

There are four goslings on the lake across the road, their parents swimming before and behind them in single file. One goose sat for weeks through all kinds of weather, faithfully tending her eggs. I watched her, admiring her tenacity. Then last week she was off the nest and gone, the eggs broken and scattered by some critter, I assume. It made me sad as I stood and looked at the remains, and I wonder if she grieved the loss of her young the way we do.

Loss has been part of this month, us visiting the funeral home too often this entire year. Is it the stage of life we are in, where those we know are aging? I’m not sure. It never gets easier no matter how many times we stand at a casket, hoping our presence offers some little comfort.

April has spoken of life, newness, and Easter resurrection. And though we have bundled up against the cold, we expected the sun to shine warm.  We find hope in this place, in this time, casting off the bleak bareness of winter to enjoy rebirth.

And this is life. Birth. Living. Death. It comes full circle whether we plan and prepare or if we just skip along unconscious and unaware of how precious each day is.

While the days grow longer, the warmth of the sun boosts my mood and gives me energy. I read in John 1 how Jesus came as the Light giving Life to all who would receive Him.

Life. Light. It is what I crave. I choose it gladly.

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