Grateful

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched — they must be felt with the heart.” — Helen Keller

We lived in San Diego for twenty eight years. I have a circle of dear friends there that make my world bright and safe. I made most of those friends in my late twenties and thirties. They came into my life and took root in my heart. They have challenged me and honestly, they are responsible for the person I grew into. They are my heart.

I also have a group of friends that are my military friends. Although all of us are now way past that time of life, having been out of the Navy longer then we were in. This group was family when families were not close for any of us. We all shared experiences that were unique to each duty station we were assigned. We recognized the need to establish friendships and become family. Otherwise we would have been alone and in need of companionship and support. These friends wrote letters, no internet in those days. These friends prayed for each other, and longed for hugs in situations where we knew they would recognize.

In 2009 Dale and I moved to South Carolina. We drove across the country with a trailer and our dog and each other. Excited for a new adventure, we knew this was most likely our last great adventure. The closer we drove to Charleston the more I fretted about making friends. I was in my late 50’s and I didn’t know if I remembered how to make friends.

I once wrote about the girl scout song, ‘make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.’ I mentioned that the friends from the military and San Diego fell into the gold section. I also realized that the friends I made in Charleston would one day fall into gold status, which they are now firmly fastened.

Seven years ago we moved to the upstate of South Carolina. Once more I wondered if I would have any friends. I should have learned my lesson by this time. Daily I am grateful for friends. I now realize that I no longer have friends in the silver category. Friends are a precious gift from God. A person who will talk with you, share with you, pray with you and be still beside you is such a blessing from our Creator. Friends are golden. Their worth is more precious than gold.

Thank you to my friends. You make my life complete and whole. You give me laughter in times of tears, you encourage me to move when I am sitting in the dirt, stuck in mud. You kick my behind when I am being stupid. You reflect Jesus to me in love, grace and exhortation. I am grateful.

Be Still

Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46:10a (NLT)

I love our property. Each morning I awake, open the curtains and look into our front yard. There, I am greeted with what the day is like. I smile and thank the Lord for where we are. The day may be overcast, sunny, rainy or snowing, each day, to me, is beautiful

As I started my walk today the wind was rustling the leaves in the woods. I could hear the birds singing and the crows cawing. Gravel on the driveway crunched under my feet. My senses were overwhelmed by the beauty of the day and the scent of the honeysuckle winding it’s way through our border trees.

The sun dappled through the leaves in the trees.

Leaving it’s light on the ground below my feet. The wind gently whispered through the woods surrounding our neighborhood. Places in the sun were warm and the shade lowered the temperature pleasantly.

I looked around my surroundings.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I was home for my morning walk. I missed these daily jaunts. This is my time of quiet. This is the time I speak to Father God.

Today, my mind quieted. I thought of writing. I asked to hear the voice of my Lord. He had joined me in my reverie. I quietly heard “Be still.” I reminded Him of who He was talking to. I reminded Him that it’s difficult for me to be still. He reaffirmed His thought.

I walked some more. I continued to hear the crunch of the gravel, the wind in the trees, and the birds. Peace rushed through me. Be still.

Worship

“Come, let us worship and bow down.  Let us kneel before the Lord our maker,” Psalm 95:6 (NLT)

Dale and I recently watched the documentary of The Jesus Music. It began with the birth of Christian music, which started about the time we became born again Christians. The 70’s with the Jesus Movement which flowed into Japan, brought by Christians from southern California. It was a great time, with great music and great excitement.

While watching this, Dale and I smiled and talked about the artists and their music. We had memories for a lot of what was being talked about.

Interspersed in the interviews were bits of songs. Songs that have ministered to me and renewed me, have given me strength and courage.

I came away thinking of worship of our God. Worship is an act of honoring and glorifying God. It is a time to literally fall on our faces in adoration. Too often we go to church we sing the songs and we leave. We do not allow the words to penetrate our souls. We do not think of the meaning of worship. God created music. He spoke music into our lives. It is deeply embedded in us. It is a natural response to our Creator.

We often play worship music in the background, it calms me, speaks to me and keeps my mind on Whose I am.

Michael W. Smith has a song that expresses my heart and worship, “Heart of Worship” The words of the chorus are: “I’m coming back to the heart of worship And it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus
I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You, it’s all about You, Jesus”

Our lives are truly all about Jesus.

Mother’s Day

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.  When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.  She carefully watches everything in her household and suffers nothing from laziness. Her children stand and bless her.  Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!”  Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.” Proverbs 31:25-30

This scripture certainly does not describe me. Maybe the first line, but I am still trying to figure out how someone can be all five verses. I guess that will be just one of the questions I will ask when I get to heaven.

Today is Mother’s Day. After having a busy week with my daughter I told her that I was thinking of using several posts on Mother’s Day from my original blog. I did rework one. I only reworked one because I didn’t have many posts about Mother’s Day.

It’s a weird day for me. It has been for the past 56 years. In school if there were Mother’s Day projects I would be allowed to draw anything I wanted to. I would stare at the projects and be reminded that I didn’t have anyone to give it to. So, the day became an uncomfortable day for me.

When I became a mother, it was still a weird day. I never wanted to go out for a special dinner because the prices are raised in honor of Mom. I try each year to have a better attitude, but I confess I am pretty jaded about it.

When I think of my daughters being mothers, it’s a different story. Pride wells up in me. They are both wonderful mothers. I can see all five of the above verses in them. I ponder where they learned this. My words to them after they turned 11 was, “I am just winging it now. If you make it to 17, then I will count it a victory.” They grew into beautiful women in spite of me, so I know that was God.

Distilling the day down, though, Mothers should receive honor and praise daily. They deal with kids who don’t want to get up, don’t want to eat, don’t want to go to school, don’t like the way socks fit. They deal with a lot of don’ts. They deal with all the emotions. My youngest would say, ‘so many emotions, so little time’. Mothers are the ones kids want for skinned knees, skinned hearts, tummy aches hiding a fear of something in school. Mothers do not get paid, no one could afford their worth. It is a thankless job. It is an exhausting job. It’s a job that is taken for granted. One day to honor them is not enough.

So for those mothers reading, thank you for being who you are. For those who just have a mother, remember her, or call her.

Today I will go to church and will most likely be asked if I want to go out. I will hesitate, and wait for the day to be over. I love mothers and motherhood, but honestly, I dislike this day.

Transparency

“You can only take others as far as you have been.” Dale A. Dudas

Often after I write (or teach or speak) I have people come up to me and remark how transparent I can be. It’s true, unfortunately, at times what you see is what you get.

The quote above I heard on April 18, 1978 a year after accepting the Lord as my Savior. The brother who was instrumental in leading us to the Lord came over to wish us a happy spiritual birthday. He walked into our little duplex in Nagai, Japan and asked us what a baby does on his first birthday. Being a childless couple at the time, we just looked blankly at him. He simply said, they walk. It should have been obvious to us. Those two words were an admonition to us to walk in our faith. He followed with the above quote. At the time, I didn’t grasp the weight of the comment but have since learned what was meant.

What you go through in life can be difficult, challenging, burdensome. As we learn lessons through our experiences, we are also glimpsing how we can utilize our lessons to benefit others.

One of the first things I remember hearing from the Lord is this, if you cannot be honest and open to people you can see, how can you be open and honest to Me, who you can’t see? Since hearing this, it has been my life goal to be open to others. I don’t always have success. But I am learning.

Being open does make you vulnerable. Oftentimes I mentally question myself as to why I said what I did. There are nights where I am tempted to delete a scheduled post. Sometimes I feel like that nightmare of walking down the hall of your high school naked has come true. I want to find the nearest closet and just close myself in.

However, I have been called to be open and honest. I have this desire to be myself. Being an introvert, this is difficult. But God… God has put this ache deep within me. Sitting down to write I have hesitancy, I cower by the keyboard. By the end of a post, the words reflecting back to me are from God. If I could say it myself, there would be pride. Proofing the posts often finds me in tears as I read my heart, the words that hide behind my personality, words I have hidden in myself.

We can only take people as far as we have gone. That saying is with me always. I look back on my life. A life filled with depression, heartache, loneliness and fear. Lord, let me reach a heart for You. Let my words be only Your words. Use me Lord. Use me in spite of me.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline”. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

Tearful Good-byes

I grew up with no grandparents alive. I didn’t realize the impact grandchildren have on your heart.

When our Little Man visits, we scheme to hide away so we can stay together. Unfortunately his parents have caught on to our plan. Tears run down my cheek as they leave the driveway. It happens every time.

When we visit Little Miss we do the leaving and although tears freely fall, I get distracted almost immediately as we travel down the interstate.

The past couple of weeks we have spent time with Little Miss and her family. I have had time with her that I didn’t have to share with her Grampy. This afternoon we did the final touches inside the lake house. Dale and my son-in-law are still working on projects outside.

Little Miss and her Mom just left. As I hugged her good-bye, she pleaded with me to go back home with her. She then continued to let me know how much she will miss me. As I sit alone in the finished living room here, my heart has a new crack through it.

“Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged” Proverbs 17:6a

I have such joy in my grandchildren. They are gifts to my heart. They have taught me and enriched my life.

Ode to Mom

He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, Psalm 23:3a  (NLT)

I was eleven when my Mom died. For Mother’s Day, I decided to rework a post about her from my original blog.

As the years go on memories of my Mom ebb and flow.  Sometimes there is a clarity to the memories like looking through a window pane. Time seems to be non-existent, like she could be sitting right beside me.  Other times the memories are like an old faded letter.  The edges are worn and the ink is fading.  Time has begun to erase the sharp edges and the clarity of what you are grasping for.

In reality, how many of us truly remember everything from when we were eleven and before?  That is an age of being a child.  A place where things like cancer and death should not exist.  A place where there should not be a bed set up in what was a playroom before. There should not be memories of a table filled with prescription bottles and get well cards.  A child should not know what a bed pan is or how to empty it.  But, this child, along with her sisters knew that.  It was our reality. It was what part of our childhood consisted of for six months.

I have often wondered what lessons I had gleaned from my Mom.  She taught us the basics, how to eat, wash, take care of ourselves, iron, do some laundry.  We learned by mistakes how to cook, clean, iron things other than handkerchiefs, how to get groceries, how to be strong, independent women.  We learned to take things in stride.  We had learned the hard lessons already,  people get sick and people die and you learn to stand up, dust yourself off and move in a forward direction.

I spent many years in differing situations wondering what my Mom would do, what she would think, what she would say.  I still do that occasionally.  The truth is, I don’t know.  For the woman who I knew and love was young.  I was young.  The truths she would have imparted to me would be the truths you tell a child.  Truths that are not totally complete, for as a child how can you grasp a full concept of things?

The one thing I remember is her telling me that Psalm 23 was her favorite Bible verse.  Of course, it may have been for that moment it was her favorite, but, I hold that psalm close to me as being her favorite.  I chose this verse today because of her.  Also, this verse reminds me of Whose guiding hand has been ever-present in my life.  He has guided me when I didn’t have a Mom to verbally tell me not to do things.  Did I always listen?  No, just like I would not have listened to my Mom.

The point is, though, that we are given one mother.  She brings us in to the world.  She nourishes us, holds us, loves us and teaches us as much as she can.  As a mother myself, I know mothers are not perfect creatures.  We tire.  We get discouraged. We sometimes focus on the wrong things.  We don’t always listen with an open mind.  We don’t always agree with what is going on.  But, underneath all of it, at the very core of our hearts, that bond between mother and child is permanently knit into our being.  It is a cord that cannot be severed.  It is our lifeblood.  It is our heartbeat.  It is that voice deep within us that echoes throughout us.

That cord was broken so many years ago, but the song of love still exists for me.  You are still missed.

Heartbreak

We all experience heartbreak. No one is exempt from it.

It could be that I have watched too many period series with my daughter this past week that has caused me to think about heartbreak.  It is rumbling in my thoughts, so I am going to consider the topic today.

Heartbreak comes in many ways. No one who is alive remains unscathed by this dilemma. Once it happens, it consumes us. No one can heal someone with a broken heart. Only time will begin to diminish it’s hold on us. Days will eventually begin to brighten. Memory starts to function again. I went through a long season of heartbreak. I could not remember the date, the year, the season. All was a blur to me. I felt devastated, alone and empty. It will rip through your mind, your health and your emotions.

In time, life was restored to me. I began to see the beauty of a day. I began to smile and eventually laughter reappeared. 

Through it all, the Lord was close to me. I know He was although I didn’t spend much time with Him. 

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed” Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

May your hearts today begin a healing if you are in a season of  heartbreak. May your days begin to brighten. May our Lord walk with you and hold you up.

Drawing a Blank

There are times when we draw a blank. There is nothing there. Nothing to speak of, nothing to give attention to.

As I started this, I thought I would just start to write and hopefully something encouraging or spiritual would flow into the words.

Instead, there is nothing. I am a person, I become tired and I draw blanks. This past week I have spent with my oldest daughter. It has been a delightful time together, we have had many adventures as she prepares her lake house for rental.

We have shopped, had lunch together and talked. We have binged some series she has wanted to watch together and we have laughed and cried through those. This afternoon she fixed me a marvelous lunch.

This week has been a work week and a refreshing week for me. No, nothing spiritual has come to mind today, but my heart is full and I am blessed. There is nothing better in life.

My mind may be blank, but I know that my devotion to my family is in place. My daughters and grandchildren are my heart. My husband is my gift. And although I am drawing a blank I know that in my spirit, soul, and heart resides the permanent love for my Lord. It is through Him that I have been so abundantly gifted with what I have mentioned above. Thank you Lord for this beautiful life You have given me.

Be like Rain

This weekend we were able to spend time with our granddaughter and her family. They recently adopted a chocolate lab puppy, Rain. She is full of life and soft and silky as only labs can be.

Rain meets you with full force. She bounds into a room expectantly. She knows that she is the cutest thing in the room and she is ready to receive any and all attention. Our other two ‘grand-pups’ are older. They actually shudder when Rain comes in. Their mouths curl up on the sides and low growls emit from them. The two who are usually the sweetest natured pups become old curmudgeons. The youthful pup versus the old, staid, steady pups. It was a sight to behold.

This is Rain after romping up and down the beach and swimming. She is peaceful, quiet and sleeping soundly. Quieted and comfortable on the dock.

Watching her reminded me of the actions of a newly born again Christian. The spiritual rebirth arouses an action of energy. People are excited and ready to share their enthusiasm with others to the point that people snarl at you. They are used to the way they do things. They have a plan. They do things their way. They are not always up for hearing and seeing new things.

I think we need to be like Rain. Playful, ready to romp and share the good Word of Life. Ready to raise a paw and pop someone on the snout, asking for attention to be brought to the Good News.

This playful, happy puppy reminded me to return to my first love and be energetic about it.

Revelation 2:2-5 says, “I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars. You have patiently suffered for me without quitting. But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.”