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.

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.

And then the Rains fell

10 After seven days, the waters of the flood came and covered the earth. 11 When Noah was 600 years old, on the seventeenth day of the second month, all the underground waters erupted from the earth, and the rain fell in mighty torrents from the sky. 12 The rain continued to fall for forty days and forty nights.” Genesis 7:10-12 (NLT)

This is the day after the mid term elections here in the states. Reading my facebook page today I saw many posts talking about fear and disappointment, some angry, some questioning. Interesting news feed today.

In the days leading up to the flood, Noah and his family built an ark. People ridiculed him and his family. They were called names, they were laughed at. Insults were hurled and I imagine that objects also were hurled. Noah stood his ground. He completed his task. He shared what the Lord had told him. He invited his neighbors to join them. He warned them of impending doom. No one listened. They heard what he said. They witnessed what they were building. They saw the animals walk through their towns and villages toward the ark. Yet they did not listen or believe.

Yesterday as Dale and I headed to the polls we prayed. We prayed for the day, the country, the machines. We prayed for the counting. We ended the prayer asking that the Lord’s will be done.

Politically, I am one of those people who are referred to as many things. None of them positive. I have heard many names thrown my way in my life. My height in elementary school was a cause for name calling, Stilts, Legs,Wilt the Stilt, Jolly Green Giant. You get the idea. In elementary school you don’t realize that someday gravity takes over and you then become the incredible shrinking woman.

Personally, in the past couple of years I have had my beliefs questioned and told that how I believe is wrong and that basically I am headed straight to hell.

All of this is nothing. I know what I believe, I know why I do believe in things, in the Lord and in my country. I stand by what I believe. I know that in this day and age, thinking against the flow puts a giant bullseye on you. I wear my bullseye proudly.

For, you see, that little verse that we sing-sang as children comes into play. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but, names will never hurt me.” I gladly hear the names and know that one name will never go away, the name of Christian.

The Bible has talked about this time in the world. What I see happening, watch on the news, hear in conversations, this was all foretold.

Elections come and go. As is human nature, lies are told, falsehoods are given higher standards, cheating and stealing happens. We will all have to answer for any of this. For we are all guilty, not just during elections, but in daily life.

“You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NLT)

People can come against you for using the wrong version of the Bible, they can condemn what you watch, they can be full of judgement. It is a sign of the times. We have been told.

Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.” Matthew 24:7 (NLT)

Does any of this sound familiar? It does to me. But, like Esther, we were born at this time to live in this time, to face what is happening ~ for such a time as this.

I have hope. Not in the electorate, not in the government, not in humanity. My trust is in my Lord.

Things can change in a world. Elections tend to awaken people to the change happening, and then once aroused from slumber they notice and soon the slumber comes back.

My trust is in God. None of the events of yesterday and of the next few days of haggling and discussing and fighting and recounting has made God wring His perfect hands on His throne. He is constant and true.

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b (NLT)

Veteran’s Day

“Praise the Lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle.” Psalm 144:1 (NLT)

When I was in high school I would participate in selling poppies on Veteran’s Day. They weren’t real poppies, but little red flowers that were poppies.

I would stand in front of a store downtown, with poppies in one hand and a can in the other. People passing by would stop, give a donation and take a poppy. Older men would stop, and devoutly take a flower and lovingly put the flower in their lapel.

At the time, I thought it was a weird thing to do, but as I was in a community serving group, we would do this for the local VFW. Some years it was pleasant, and some years the bitter November air would rush down Seneca Street chilling you to the bone.

I knew my Dad and my uncles were all veterans. They all served in the war. They each had stories, that were talked about briefly to each other. There were also hushed tones when they remembered their brother who passed from war wounds.

They were referred to as the greatest generation. To me, as one in high school, I did not realize or understand the depth of what they experienced or endured.

I neglected to ask questions as I didn’t think it was important. I have my Dad’s papers from his time in the service. An uncle who was in the Navy gave me some memorabilia from his time in Subic Bay. As a Navy wife at the time, he felt I would enjoy them. I do.

Veterans write a check with their lives at some point. They serve, they give and they sacrifice. I was broken in easily when I married my sailor. We were together, with no deployments for the first few years of our marriage. We explored the places we went.

We explored Japan, we had our time together to see places my uncles fought against. We lived in occupation era housing along with the bugs and rats and brick bathtubs. We relished each day we were together. I began to understand the military.

It wasn’t until the early 80’s that I began to truly realize what sacrifice and deployment meant.

This photo taken the day Dale returned after eight and a half months, sealed forever what sacrifice is. Not just for the veteran, but, for the families. His expression at seeing his daughter after such a long time brings tears to my eyes still. I was standing out of view with our youngest in my arms. It was his first meeting his baby girl who was five months old.

In case I might have forgotten the meaning of what a veteran is, our daughter, pictured above became a Navy wife. She endured several deployments with a baby, like her Mom. He is now a Veteran. Having served honorably and sacrificed much, he is celebrating his second Veteran’s Day.

We owe a debt to these brave men and women. They have accomplished things that we will never hear about. They will talk to brothers in arms with the same hushed tones that my uncles did.

Today and for the next couple of days I will remember my Dad, my uncles, knowing what they accomplished on the fields in World War II. I will once more look at Dale and see that young man who swept me off on a life of adventure, and I will pray for my son in law as he continues to adjust to civilian life.

Warriors sign a blank check. The world and powers write what is owed. Our Savior understands what these men and women accomplished, as He too, came down to earth to pay the ultimate price that we may be saved. Today, look around you and truly see what is surrounding you. Freedom comes at a very high price.

Without Wrinkle

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” Ephesians 5:25-27 (NLT)

This Saturday a neighbor’s son is getting married. A few weeks ago, I offered a helping hand in anything that might be needed. Having put together things for a wedding, I know the lists can be long and towards the end of the planning you find you may be a few hands short of help.

My neighbor graciously took me up on the offer in the form of pressing some tablecloths. She didn’t give me many, but since I do love to iron, I was excited to be able to help out.

I love ironing. There are few tasks around the home that give instant gratification. Cleaning toilets, washing windows and ironing. You do a bit of work and you see instant results. It’s wonderful.

I also know that even in the little things my Lord teaches me things. I did pray over the tablecloths. I prayed for the people who would be sitting at the tables. I prayed for the bride and groom, for their life together, for being used of the Lord as a couple, for the parents who are gaining a family member to love.

Also, as I was pressing out wrinkles, I felt the Lord speak to me. As I looked at a bunched up wrinkled mass in the middle of one cloth, I heard, this is what you looked like when you first accepted Me into your life. I paused ironing to look at the jumble of wrinkles, wondering how this was like me.

The Lord continued, that although I had asked Him to be my Lord and Savior, I still had a bunch of stuff attached to my life. Compassionately, through the years, my Lord has taken His spiritual iron and has slowly and evenly pressed me. Each wrinkle, as it has disappeared has given me freedom, or joy, or redemption, or peace,or healing. Each time a new wrinkle appears, I know our Lord is there, being merciful and loving toward me.

The ironing went fast for me, partly because I love to iron, but mostly because I was able to talk with my Lord and like the Good Shepherd He is, He gently spoke to me, knowing His voice is the One I long to hear and learn from.

Have a Nice Rest

“I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’” Hosea 10:12 (NLT)

Several times I have commented on the season of fall and the leaves changing colors and falling. The past couple of days the leaves are no longer dancing, anxious to leave the trees and spiral out and away. The leaves now are falling, floating quietly, almost reluctantly, to land on the blanket of leaves covering our yard.

It is like the trees, knowing that times of frost, cold and snow are approaching and with the leaves gone, there is no covering for the branches. So, they, too, are holding fast to the remaining leaves, hesitantly letting them fall.

The ground is newly covered in a blanket. This blanket will remain and turn to mulch and nutrients for the ground. Sleep well, ground. Rest this winter absorbing all you can from the blanket of leaves now and soon the blanket of snow. Rest easy, rest well. For in the spring you will bloom with daffodils in white and yellow, hyacinths in pink and purple and irises in vibrant deep purples and burgundy.

How often do we get covered up in preparation for a new season of our lives? Do we kick off that blanket that has been positioned on us by our Creator? Do we miss opportunities of deep seasons of growth in our lives? What if we, like the ground, readily accepted a blanket falling from above? Could we remain as it were, dormant?

I think that spring is so glorious because all we have lived with is brown for a season. Except for a bit of snow, which eventually turns black around the edges, we see no brightness through the winter. Then, after being dormant, we see a shoot of green peaking out of the hard ground. Soon a crocus. Then days later the yard is blanketed with wild spring flowers, rejoicing in the spring day.

As I have watched this fall unfold before me I have been challenged to make the most of the winter months of my life. I know spring will appear, it is my prayer, though, that my spring growth will bring glory to my God.