Thanksgiving Week The Aftermath

The leftovers look old, even though they are not. The turkey is pieces sitting in a baggie, waiting to either be soup or a sandwich. The potatoes, stuffing, gravy are a bit diminished in size, but still something to deal with.

Our Thanksgiving that started just as Dale and I, became four with some church friends and miraculously became seven when we found out our oldest and her family were coming.

This house has been full of laughter and movement since Wednesday. It has been glorious. I have played video games and taken nature walks and snuggled. All of this much better than any meal could be.

Today nothing was accomplished. We ate some leftovers, we sat and watched movies and we ordered pizza. Somehow looking at leftovers once more was not appealing.

This Thanksgiving has been filled with so much, we have had our home filled with people we love. We have had snuggles. We have had our hearts refilled and refreshed. We are content.

“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health.” Proverbs 15:30 (NLT)

Thanksgiving Week #3

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6- (NLT)

I grew up in a small town. It was an idyllic town, where everyone knew everyone and it was safe. I thought I always wanted to stay there and be content.

Then, I married a sailor. My life was transformed on that day, I left the security of my small hometown. I was literally plunged into strange environments. Being from the North, going to the South was confusing to me. I had no footing, nothing was familiar.

From the South, we moved to Japan. Now, that was really confusing to me, but somehow it was much more comforting than our first duty station together. The Lord began to work in me.

Eventually, we ended up in Southern California. We watched the city grow from a dirty navy town into a metropolitan area. With the growth came the influx of the homeless. I know there are many reasons for homelessness, and I am not going to go into that topic. I just mention this to make a point.

Upon seeing those who were destitute, I realized how fortunate I am. Too often we take for granted those things around us. A roof over our heads, heat that can be turned on and off, shoes for our feet, blankets to sleep under, beds to sleep on. I often remind myself of the blessings I have.

I may not have the best of all things, but, this Thanksgiving Day I am certain of this. For all that I do have, I am grateful. For the meal that I will eat, I am grateful. For the family around the table, I am grateful.

In this season of glitter and lists and shopping, I am thankful for what I will be able to do, who I will be able to bless in some way.

Lord, on this Thanksgiving Day, thank You for Your glorious provisions. You know that I have come to You many times asking for peace, for reassurance, for comfort. You also know that You remind me of the bountiful blessings that surround me. So, today, Lord, let those who are frightened, cold, and unsure be touched by those who will minister to them. Keep the cold warm, the discouraged, encouraged, and those without hope, shine into their lives. Help me to do what I can willingly. Let me reflect Your glory. Amen.

Thanksgiving Week #2

“Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 (NLT)

My Little Miss came in Tuesday night. She is spending the weekend with us along with her parents. When you are a grandparent, seeing your grands is what it’s all about. I can be hugging and playing with Little Miss (Little Man also) for a half hour before I realize the child I brought into the world is standing there waiting for a hug.

I never thought that grandchildren would have as much impact on me as they do. Little Man was our first grandchild. He grasped onto my heart and has had a squeeze on it for the past 10 years. When I get to have time with him, it is like my heart continues to beat in a rhythm that I didn’t know was missing. Our eyes will meet and it is an instant call to be goofy together, much to the chagrin of his parents. But, goofiness is our love language, except when we can take a walk just the two of us. I love those times.

Little Miss is another story, she not only squeezes my heart, she takes a piece of it with her whenever we part, making certain that piece is covered in glitter and glue. Having raised two girls, I fall back into the pattern that little girls have. Their activity is like jumping on mattresses. You bounce different ways each time you land. It is full of giggles and nonsense and plans.

After Little Miss I was introduced to my bonus grands. Again, two girls. I carefully stepped into the relationships. I did not want to ruffle feathers and be a nuisance. After a couple years, I just barged in and claimed them as my own. To my surprise I was warmly welcomed and loved. With the bonus came bonus great grandchildren, a boy and a girl.

My heart is full. As I thought of my family today, I realized what a wonderful gift my loving Father in heaven has given me. My life is fuller and brighter. My prayer life tripled, but, as the Lord has guided and kept my daughters, I know He will be the loving and caring guide to the next generation.

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and remember what we are thankful for. Today, I am so grateful for this family the Lord has built around me.

Thanksgiving week

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness.
    Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
    He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100″1-3 (NLT)

Almost every morning Dale and I discuss what we want to accomplish during the day. Sometimes these plans clash, which is always good to know and rearrange if we need to.

This morning we both have a long list of things we’d like to see done. Our oldest and her family are traveling today to spend Thanksgiving with us.

My first task is an easy one, and I am doing it now. The past three weeks in church has reminded me over and over that I am supposed to write. I know that deep down inside me, but the constant battle is what do I have to say? Each day I remind myself that I, in and of myself, have nothing profound to say, but God. He can help me write and through Him, lives can be touched. That is my prayer and hope.

Holiday season comes upon us quickly and it is easy to look at the tsunami of things to do and buy and get completely overwhelmed. This week starts that tsunami.

The past few years I could look around my home at this time and see decorating all done, cards in a stack, ready for the mail, and some gifts already bought. This year, as has happened all this year, not so much.

Yes, the holidays can be fun. They can be rushed and hurried. I am moving slower this year. At first it bothered me, but, I am getting comfortable in my pace.

When I rush, the things I want to enjoy, the things I feel I need to do take the back seat in my life. I hurriedly rush through my advent devotional, thinking that I hope something sinks in and I will be able to truly focus on the meaning of the holidays.

So, today, as we start out getting ‘things’ done, I am thankful that we can still do things. I am thankful that we have each other. I am thankful that tasks need to be evaluated as to the importance of it. I am thankful for a slower me.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever,  and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” Psalm 100:4-5 (NLT)

God is so Good

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!”Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” Psalm 34:8 (NLT)

There are times that I fight sitting down, relaxing and resting. I keep going even when I know I am tired. Then there are days when I sit and wrap up in a blanket and soak in the comfort and the quiet.

As it is Sunday, we went to church today. Sometimes sermons seem to hit you right between the eyes. You leave church and say, ‘Man, I needed to hear that today.” Come Monday, you are refreshed, but thoughts of the sermon begin to fade.

I have written about the sermon last week. Today’s sermon made it three weeks of being hit between the eyes. I can understand one Sunday, but three in a row? On the way out of church today, after shaking our pastor’s hand, I stopped and said to him, “This is ridiculous. I’ll bend over and you can give me a kick in the backside.” I think he was almost willing to do so.

The point being, the Lord has been shining a beacon on me and highlighting areas of my life that I thought were safe. Yes, it does ruffle some part of me, but not in a bad way. It is like I am being wrapped in a heavenly blanket that swaddles me and allows me to be quieted and listen to the details.

Often times we listen and hear the words being said to us, but we miss out on the details of what is being said. A few weeks ago as I walked and talked with our Lord, I heard the phrase, “you are entering a new season.” I looked around and glibly said, “yes, fall.” The Lord knows how sarcastic I can be, even with Him. I then heard, “No, a new season.”

As I really have no idea what that means, I am beginning to realize after the past three Sundays of the sermons hitting me square on, that yes, I may be about to enter a new season.

I can’t begin to surmise what that could be, but as I sit here in front of our fireplace with a glowing fire, that I am at peace. The same God who created me and saved me is the same God that leads me into a new season.

Slipping Through My Fingers

I don’t have a specific scripture for today’s post, although I know without my Bible and reading it daily, I would not have made it this far.

This week my mind has been crowded with images of my daughters. It’s a pleasant crowding. It is bittersweet though.

I don’t know if it is the approaching holidays or just thoughts of them, but each day brings more memories that were made so long ago. Being on my own so many times during the days when our girls were young, I always was afraid I wasn’t doing enough for them. I now realize that those thoughts are with each and every young mother. We spend months carrying them within us, we wonder what they will look like, and in my day, wondering if they were a boy or a girl. We imagined their first steps and their first words. While pregnant, those thoughts are usually imagined in a perfect fairy tale world.

When they are born, the time is anything but fairy tale-esque. It is a harsh reality of spit up, dirty diapers, mid night tears (usually from Mom) and all the other glorious things babies bring us.

I have thought of the above, but my thoughts this week were dotted with adventures we had taken, Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, a spring break trip to San Francisco, family vacations, and after school venting sessions. These were what made up our lives.

My heart misses daily events like this. But, we did successfully raise them to the point where they are capable adults, with families of their own.

I thank my God for my daughters. They are truly my gifts. They bless me and encourage me. They also fill my heart, and mind with precious memories.

Morning Prayer

Thank You, Lord for this new day. It is fresh and as of yet, has no mistakes in it. You are a glorious God! I praise You that I can sit and write and look out at Your glory through my windows. Thank you for this house, for the warmth and for Your provision.

Your majesty is reflected in the sun You created. The sparkle of the frost the You brought and the life You are creating during this dormant time of winter.

I am so grateful Lord for all You have given me. For those who are struggling today, give them direction and peace. Be a very present help to those in need. Reveal Yourself to those who are searching. Draw us who know You, closer to You. Let us sit upon Your lap, listening to Your heartbeat. Wrap Your loving arms about us and hold us.

I give You this day and all that it holds. Keep my focus on You and You alone.

In Your precious name, I pray. Amen

But as for me, I will sing about your power.    Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.For you have been my refuge,    a place of safety when I am in distress.” Psalm 59:16 (NLT)

A Winter’s Day

As I opened the curtains today the Simon and Garfunkel song “I am a Rock” sprang to mind. Although we had no snow, the day was dark and a bit dreary. I could feel the chill of the outdoors through the windows and it was hard to ignore the bed calling me back to it for more sleep.

Winter days are like that. Those are jammie days, staying in your p.j.’s and not real clothes. So tempting. But, I resisted and got my day going, completely dressed including shoes.

The sound of rain is still falling on the roof. The bare trees look forlorn. It is winter. Not the fun time with snow and ice, but winter. The time of year when you know that the world in your yard is dormant. The grass won’t need attention until the spring. There are still leaves to be swept off the porch and the stairs, but, today, they also can wait.

The fireplace filled the house with warmth this morning as I read and got breakfast going. It’s been a slow day. A day that this retired person thinks there is no activity anywhere. Yet, just down the street people are driving to and fro shopping, or appointments, or work. Such is the quiet of being done with work.

I truly do love these days. I always have. There is something comforting in the dark days of late fall and early winter. They somehow invite me into the quiet, and it is there that I am refreshed.

I read the lyrics to the song that has floated in my mind. They are actually quite depressing, yet, I know for years they were my personal anthem. A part of me can easily revert back to that time. Being alone, and shutting myself away. Yet, that is not where I am now. The cold, dank winter days are a respite, but not my abode.

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” John 10:10 (NKJV)

As the song goes, “A rock feels no pain. And an island never dies” is, of course correct, but with that pain comes joy and laughter and love, these things that are perfect gifts from God.

My Life Inside a Pinball Machine

My soul follows close behind You;Your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:8 (NKJV)

My life, for the most part is calm. Not much happening and if there is a small hiccup, I keep going. But, there are some years where each month brings something else and although I get through them it has an affect on me. Those years are few and far between. They each are prominent in my memory and in hindsight I see a period of growth and lessons learned.

Last week it occurred to me that this year, especially the past few weeks, has been like a ball in a pinball machine. The machine where you put the token in the slot, and begin to hit the lever to shoot the ball and score points. I have not been one to score any points however. I have been launched in the machine. I scurry off to the top of the machine. Beep, I hit a possible score, beep,beep, another one hit. I am bouncing around and sending beeps into the air. It looks great, I can do this! And then, I go into that abyss that is scoreless. Another token into the slot, the same scenario played out. Constant moving and no reward tickets.

The other image that comes to mind is that of a race in a track meet. You are on the starter’s block, feet in position, hands placed perfectly, you lift your head, waiting for the starting pistol. Bang! You are off and running towards the end goal. You are making great strides and then, the goal at the end disappears. You look around, you were so close. You look behind, something you never do in a race and see the goal far behind you. It’s time to change direction and yet the goal keeps relocating.

This has been a dilemma of mine this year. We began the year with a flu. No positive tests, but, we were both hit hard. Dale recovered first and took excellent care of me. I then went to the writer’s conference, it was exactly what I needed to get back on track with writing. I started a plan and it was in place. New blog, check. Writing daily, check. Getting book started, check. Getting a support group for my writing, check. Deadline set, check. Deadline met…. uh, deadline met,…. I said, DEADLINE MET…no. Condemnation setting in, check. Feeling like a failure, check.

That was just one area. The other area? My house. After breaking my elbow this year, Dale took excellent care of me. I lacked nothing. But, in the midst of this all, I lost the grasp I had on cleaning and organization in our home.

All of this peaked last week. Peaks are at the top of every mountain. You reach the peak, you take a breath and you observe all that is around you. It’s breathtaking! Except, last week on that peak I looked at the calendar. Dale’s birthday next week, Thanksgiving, next week. Christmas party, three weeks, early Christmas with our oldest, three weeks. Christmas four weeks. UGH! That was bad enough, but then my phone, with all of it’s smarts, notified me of pictures from a year ago. The house completely decorated for the holidays, trees up and garland hung, all that good stuff. After this year, I confess our toy room is where all my Christmas decorations lie, waiting still to be put away. It should make decorating a bit easier this year.

So, this year has been one that will be prominent in my memory. I am the healthy one usually. This year I have not been as much. Flu, biopsies,broken bone, lingering cough, and general tiredness.

Sunday our pastor spoke on “Soul Fatigue”. Besides the fact that all he really needed to do was kick me in the behind, the message was written for me. You know, one of those sermons that happen. It is then that I realized that I needed time beside the still water to be refreshed. “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;” Psalm 23:2-3a (NKJV)

“When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” Psalm 94:19 (NLT)

When I stepped away from writing for a couple of days, I did so to center myself once more. What I realized was that yes, I am a bit behind, but, who is really going to notice? The house will be cleaned and decorated when it needs to be. The most important realization though, was that writing renews and refreshes me. It is my time to express what I feel the Lord is showing me. It is my place to do what I have felt I was born to do.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:” Psalm 103: 1-2 (NKJV)

Refreshing

I am going to take a few days away from my blog. Please join me on Tuesday for a new post.

As the rains from the remnants of hurricane Nicole fall down on me, I realize I need a time to be ‘watered’ also. The past few days the Lord has had me read and re-read Psalm 63. I will share this with you now and see you on Tuesday of next week. Have a delightful weekend.

Psalm 63

A psalm of David, regarding a time when David was in the wilderness of Judah.

O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water.
I have seen you in your sanctuary
    and gazed upon your power and glory.
Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
    how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live,
    lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
    I will praise you with songs of joy.

I lie awake thinking of you,
    meditating on you through the night.
Because you are my helper,
    I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your strong right hand holds me securely.

But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin.
    They will go down into the depths of the earth.
10 They will die by the sword
    and become the food of jackals.
11 But the king will rejoice in God.
    All who swear to tell the truth will praise him,
    while liars will be silenced.