The Dance of the Leaves begin

Fall began today. At least according to the calendar. We went to do our Costco run and the car temp read 95 degrees. It was miserable, but the sky was bright blue and the clouds were puffy and white. It was a nice, albeit, hot day.

As we were exiting Costco, it looked like it was evening outside. Considering we got there around 1 p.m., I knew we hadn’t taken that long inside. We got to the car, put everything in and put our cart back. The sky was dark and threatening.

Dale commented that he hoped the storm wasn’t going to involve hail and off we went towards home. The temperature gauge in the car read 85 degrees. As we drove down the interstate, there were leaves blowing around the sky. I had already had the title for this post and wondered what I was going to say about it. I realized I had a post.

The rain was strong as was the wind. There was a ballet of leaves and pine needles going on above us and in front of us. We drove past a farm called Walnut Grove farm and all of a sudden we heard thump, thump, thump, we were being hit by something. We laughed (well, I laughed) and told Dale that he had said he didn’t want hail, but he forgot to mention walnuts. The nuts from the tree lined street were blowing the nuts to the ground and we were in the way.

The dance of leaves continued as we came home. I guess this is just the beginning of the colder season coming upon us. Soon the leaves will be laying on the ground preparing a covering for the spring growth.

I loved our homeward adventure today, but, I have to say the walnuts were a bit of a surprise to us.

“Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem!  Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring” Joel 2:23 (NLT)

Fall Shadows

Today the temperature is in the mid to high 80’s. Of course there is really no humidity so it makes the temp bearable.

As I walked out to the mailbox just now, the sun was shining brightly as I closed the door. I could feel the heat of the sun and the warmth it provided. By the time I got to the mailbox a slight breeze was blowing and I thought to myself, “ahh! Fall.” That glorious time of the year where you see the fluffy clouds in the sky and the leaves changing from green to yellow and red. It was wonderful.

As I walked toward the house, the sun went behind the clouds and the breeze felt a bit cooler.

My thoughts then went to how when we are walking with the Lord, listening intently to Him and reading His Word, we bask in the warmth of His presence. We can feel Him in all we do and we are covered in the glow of Him.

Likewise, when we drift away from the Lord, like hiding behind the clouds, our life becomes a bit darker, a bit colder, a bit lonelier. The estrangement isn’t noticeable immediately, but if we continue to drift away from His presence, the schism grows deeply.

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.” Ephesians 5:15 (NLT)

51 years, a brief look back

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

51 years ago, I never really thought of this above verse. It didn’t matter to me and because of that, I gave it no thought.

In hindsight, though, I think of all that was involved in bringing things to a point 51 years ago.

First a music director from our high school needed things moved to his cottage several miles away from our city. He hired two young men from the school to help him move those things. The two young men worked hard all day long and at the end of the day, he paid them for their work.

One of the young men went home and spent the night in with his parents and siblings. The other asked to use his mother’s car for a date. He then called a young girl who actually had other plans for the night.

The young girl’s sister insisted that the girl should accept the invitation to the date.

The two high school kids went to the bowling alley, bowled three games and drank a cola.

He drove her home, kissed her and they watched the 11:00 news together. He drove home.

All of these things worked together. The night went off without a hitch and that was that.

Now, I can look back and see the hand of God in all of this. Had Dale not worked for his music director, he wouldn’t have had the money to ask me out. Had my sister not insisted I accept the offer of a date, I would have gone to another fire-hall dance with my friend and gone home. I have no idea what would have been the alternate of that evening fifty one years ago today.

At the time I had no idea that it would be my last first date. I had no idea it would be my last first kiss. I had no idea that one date would be the beginning of my future. It’s funny how moments can pass innocently and we never think it was really a momentous moment.

Yet, God knew the plans He had for me. Plans for a future and a hope. Plans for good even when we goofed up and went on another path that could lead to disaster. God had a plan. I have often questioned this plan. When on my own with two young children and a deployment being extended several times over, when times were lean and months were long, when sickness or broken bones occurred and the Navy had my support system on the other side of the world.

Yet, today, I see that all of these plans were right for us. We have grown up together. We have stretched each other many times. We have challenged one another, each holding our ground firmly.

Through it all, God has seen us through. 51 years ago was our first date, thank you Mr. Runzo for that $40 you paid the guys. Thank you Mom for letting Dale use your car. Thank you Dottie for suggesting bowling instead of the fire-hall dance. Little did we know you were all part of a bigger plan.

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

Pardon Me, My human-ness is showing

 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Romans 3:23

Yes, this is my scripture for me today. You know those days where it is much better to go hide and tape your mouth shut? That’s today. That’s me. Full disclosure, complete honesty.

We all have those days, we all regret those days. I could blame it on the two Krispie Kreme donuts I had earlier, but no, I cannot. I really cannot blame it on anything except me being me.

On days like this, it seems my mouth engages and goes on and on and I stand and look at myself and wonder where that person came from. I thought when I got to be my age, I would have tackled and conquered these actions. Guess not. I can blame a lot of things as the reason for letting my tongue get the best of me, but that would not be correct.

But, what it does shake into me is my need for the Lord. I need to repent of my lashing out and I need to ask for forgiveness from Dale.

So, today I go to a scripture that I need to learn, “It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.” Proverbs 21:9 (NLT)

Boundless Renewal

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. 23 Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)

God is steadfast. Each morning He renews the day. He touches the earth and fresh life comes upon nature.

When we look closely we can see the artistry of our Creator. It may be subtle changes or it could be so intense it makes us smile. Like the first snowfall, or rain and wind after a long dry spell, or seeing leaves raining down in the fall. Or, it could be subtle. Seeing the end of the black-eyed Susan’s and then seeing a fall flower peeking out between them.

I may wake up, and think there is nothing new to do or see. I may think I have done all that is new or exciting, but then, I need to remind myself to look closely.

As I walked today this scripture came to mind followed by the song. In my mind I sang the words, knowing that I often overlook and miss the hand of God in my everyday life.

The Steadfast Love Of The Lord Never Ceases,
His Mercies Never Come To An End;
They Are New Every Morning,
New Every Morning,
Great Is Thy Faithfulness, O Lord.
Great Is Thy Faithfulness!

A Quiet Day

Most of my days are quiet. With just Dale and I together, we live a pretty sedate life. We enjoy it and relish our time together.

Today, Dale was gone and my thoughts wandered back to other times when I would have a day just for myself. I was a stay at home Mom for most of my life. I started back to work when our youngest started school. I worked part time so that I could be with my girls and they could have a schedule. It worked for us.

Before our girls were born, I usually had every other day off for the most part. I worked days on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and evenings on Thursday, Friday and once a month on Saturday. During those days off I would wander down to the villages we lived near in Japan. I would browse the shops and enjoy our surroundings. Stopping at the fruit and vegetable market, I would buy our produce and head home, either by bus or just walking. They were peaceful days and I loved the experience of living overseas.

When the girls came along, quiet days were very rare, although occasionally we would hit on one. Times spent at a park or at the beach didn’t feel quiet, but in retrospect they were wonderful memory filled times.

I stopped working full time when Dale finished college after his military retirement. His job required him to travel and I once more had quiet days to myself.

I enjoy quiet times and once we both officially retired, time together was what we have shared. I do confess, though, there are times when I ask when the next deployment is going to be. Those comments are met with laughter and I think only about the closets I would like to clean out and have things ‘disappear’.

That is what I have found. Retirement is a wonderful time, but, as a housewife purging unnecessary things is difficult. Also, just watching mindless movies that are predictable isn’t common. I find myself being cognizant of what I watch, what I snack on, what I do.

Today, though, was a throw-back quiet day. A day to myself. It has been relaxing. I haven’t really accomplished anything. I have sat back and absorbed the quiet. I have eaten brownies. The closets are still cluttered, the floors still need vacuumed, the ironing is still waiting, wrinkled, but I am almost relaxed. The dinner hour is approaching and I am drawing a blank, but I know I will bring something together.

For now, the quiet of the house has given me a respite. It has been nice. I have needed a quiet day.

A Mother’s Heart

Recently I have been thinking about a mother’s heart. Not her physical heart, but that part of a woman that makes her Mom.

When a woman finds out she is going to be a mother, at least for me, it changes her outlook on everything. Things are weighed with safety, and logic. We are bound to the life within us and it is part of who we are and who we become.

When my daughters were young I worried incessantly. Was I doing the right things? Was I taking care of them correctly? Was I attentive enough? I continued to feed, change, bathe, clothe and hover as much as I could. The result? My girls became girls.

When my daughters reached the age of being girls, I worried incessantly. Did they have enough nice toys? Did they have a healthy meal? Did they have enough social interaction? I continued to watch their diet, their social lives, their wardrobe and I hovered close by. The result? They became teenagers.

As teens I worried incessantly. Were they safe at school and during social activities? Were they making right food choices when I wasn’t there? Were they comfortable in their clothes and skin? Were they happy? I continued to monitor and hovered from a distance (or so I thought). The result? They became adults.

As adults, I worried incessantly. Did they have enough? Were they happy? Were they safe? I watched from afar and tried not to hover. The results? They became wonderful women with husbands and families.

Now, their family is growing up. I see them doing some of the same things I did. I smile and try to reassure them.

But, now, my mother’s heart questions myself. Did I do right? Did I make a good example? Did I do it right?

I know all women think similar thoughts. For those of us with children, we realize they were gifted to us for a season and questions linger when we think of the season where we had influence on our children. A mother worries. It’s our nature. We want to nurture, but we need to learn when it is not our job to nurture all the time, it is time for spouses to take that place.

I think the hardest part of parenting now, for me, is to not push myself on them. My girls have families and commitments and duties that I am not part of. I think of them daily. I pray for them daily. And yes, I worry daily. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” (NLT)

I love this scripture, yet, I wonder, did I direct them correctly? With those thoughts I once more pray for them and yes, I worry, are they happy? Do they have enough? Are they okay? Did they laugh today?

Humbled

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

Several weeks ago, our pastor challenged the people in our church to come early on Sundays and pray. The challenged hit me hard, as I used to do this all the time while living in San Diego, and had not considered doing this here in South Carolina.

I started to do this while Dale was practicing with the worship team before church. Of course, while we visited Little Miss, I spent time with her. Yesterday was our first Sunday back in church. I started walking through the sanctuary and through the hallways. I like to walk while praying, it reminds me of the children of Israel going into the promised land. They took possession of the land with each step they took.

The church we are in has been dormant for years. Rooms that have not been used for decades stand open ready to be filled with people learning, teaching, sharing, and discovering the goodness of God. I walk to claim that these rooms be filled with people searching for God. We live in a hurting world where circumstances and situations are unbearable. As Christians, it is our honor to reach out to these people. To love them and understand them. Deuteronomy 11:23-24, is what I think of, “Then the Lord will drive out all the nations ahead of you, though they are much greater and stronger than you, and you will take over their land. 24 Wherever you set foot, that land will be yours. Your frontiers will stretch from the wilderness in the south to Lebanon in the north, and from the Euphrates River in the east to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.” (NLT)

I don’t say this to brag, but to give you a basis of what I experienced Sunday morning. I walked through the sanctuary, the foyer, I looked out to the parking lot and prayed that it would be filled, that people would flock to the church. I went to the Children’s Church room, prayed for the leader, the children and that the room would be filled to capacity. In the hallways I prayed for laughter, giggles and children running rampant and parents yelling at kids for being too wild. In my mind I can hear the echoes of children.

I then went into the teen room. Our teen group is starting this Wednesday. I prayed for the teens. This is also where I am leading a Bible study next week for the ladies. This is what hit me. I felt the Lord overwhelm me with my inability to teach His words. It wasn’t a feeling of doom, dread or condemnation. It was a feeling of being honored and humble to do so. Humble like an undeserved honor to be able to share His word.

It reminded me, once more, of the gift of this blog, and my attempts that writing is to me. Thank you Lord for enabling me to put together words. They are Your words and I am grateful for the trust You have given me. Hide me as I write and teach, reveal Yourself through my attempts. May I always be aware of Your presence in my life. Amen.

The Rain leading to Autumn

“Rejoice, you people of Jerusalem! Rejoice in the Lord your God! For the rain he sends demonstrates his faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring.” Joel 2:23 (NLT)

I woke up this morning to the sound of rain falling outside our home. It was (and still is) the gentle patter that fills you with the longing of snuggling under a blanket. It is the rain that begins to turn the world around you into autumn.

I opened my curtains looking into our woods and knew that in a few weeks the leaves would begin to fall and the view would change. Fall is coming.

Some of our leaves are starting to turn yellow, some have a reddish tint to them. It is a forewarning of an approaching change. Summer is waning and soon the air will chill. Most of nature around us will become dormant, sleeping until spring when they will awake with beauty and new life.

I love the colder seasons. They are times of comfort for me. The air is brisk and assaults your senses, making your eyes water and your nose to feel cold. It is a time to feel alive in a different way than summer does.

September is almost half way done. The official start of autumn is approaching. But, today, the weather is alerting us to the change of seasons. I love how the Lord works in this way. His timing is always perfect.

Reorganizing

We have lived in our current home seven years. Seven wonderful, memory filled years.

When we were unpacking, I basically put things away in the kitchen without much thought. Now, seven years later I have come to the conclusion that many things just do not work the way they are situated now. I have put off rearranging as I really don’t like to do that, but, I am now faced with the reality that this is going to happen now rather than later.

Currently, Dale is putting together a cabinet from Ikea. It is going in my kitchen and since it will be complete in a few moments, the time has come upon me to reorganize. I have opened each of my cabinets and studied them. I think I know what I will be doing.

As I looked in each cupboard and drawer, it came to me that God does a lot of rearranging daily. He has a perfect will for us, but, often we veer off in another direction. As many of us know, veering off into a different direction eventually causes us to arrive (a bit delayed) to the place our Lord originally wanted for us. His path is the better one, better scenery, better conditions, better everything. Our path is filled with what we see as a pretty pathway, only for us to discover the hidden vines and thorns and rocky pathways that we have to deal with. His way is better by far.

So today, as I start to rearrange my kitchen I will be thinking of this. Why did I put heavy plates on the top shelf where I now have to stand on tiptoes? Why did I stack platters in odd places? And finally, why did I just throw my cookbooks up above the sink when each time I open that cupboard they inevitably fall into the wet sink? All these questions will be answered in the next couple of days. Meanwhile, I will ponder the right path and what seems like the easy path.

“But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and you smooth out the path ahead of them.” Isaiah 26:7 (NLT)