Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cozy at Home


Another blustery day visits us. Secretly I couldn’t be happier. Yesterday I functioned as a merchant ship:


She is like the merchants’ ships;
She bringeth her food from afar.
Proverbs 31:14

Well . . . maybe driving in to town and making my market rounds doesn’t exactly classify as going afar, but nonetheless I buzzed from merchant to merchant resupplying my larder: 12 pounds of ground bison for the freezer, a case of those yummy sprouted corn tortillas . . . oh make that 4 cases, and so it goes. I shop in bulk whenever possible. Of late I cannot seem to secure large bags (50 lbs) of organic pinto beans. Has the oft predicted food shortages begun? Or have others recently discovered the joy of pressure cooking as I have and can’t seem to get enough of those delicious fresh Mexican beans? Despite the reasons, I have had my feathers a bit ruffled at the outstanding order for pintos. But . . . I simply reach into the pantry for another sort of bean and begin experimenting on it. Having a well-stocked pantry really makes life easier on the cook.

I love to cook -- as if you didn’t already know that -- and not just opening cans and dumping, but really adding and tasting and inventing and conjuring something wonderful to feast upon. I read cookbooks voraciously and follow some to a tee . . . at first, but then my artiste persona takes over and the ingredients begin to shift. Some of my most delicious creations came from a bit of this and some of that from the fridge with a little something new added. Last night we dined on a scrumptious salmon pasta salad. I used a previous dinner’s salmon remains (two nice fillets from fish that my local butcher received via air from Oregon that day, filleted before my eyes, and then wrapped up for me to go – wow, that’s fresh!) that I grilled topped with tapenade. Into the penne pasta (our family favorite) went the flaked salmon (yes, I nibbled), cherry tomatoes, and fresh asparagus (broiled in balsamic and olive oil). I bathed it all in a basic French vinaigrette (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, crushed garlic, Dijon mustard, coarse salt and freshly ground pepper) and finished off with a generous crumbling of feta cheese. Bread and assorted fresh veggies joined the table setting as we sat and enjoyed our time and meal together. Broken chocolate pieces (rich and dark, some spiced) provided the perfect nibble of dessert. Even after a day away running errands I offered a healthy, delicious, and simple meal for supper.

Today I relish the thought of having NOWHERE to go! I love to “keep” my house. Today my agenda fills with making bread, cleaning out the mudroom to make room for the new pantry: simple shelving, chic curtains (to hide the lower storage area full of ugly white buckets of yummy grains and beans), and lots of mismatched containers of my stores to sit upon the shelves alongside cans and jars of stored-up-for-a-future-meal comestibles . I bid adieu (GLADLY) to the muddy boots and mismatched flip-flops that flip and flop right out into the pathway to the door. The mudroom is officially moving to an alcove in the garage. Big kids can stand and pull on boots . . . no benches needed. Each doorway has a pile of shoes . . . it just happens around here, but I have taken steps to tidy the jumble. (We’ll see how long it lasts.)



Aaaaaahhhhh . . . it feels so good to ramble and babble away with a teapot at hand and the beautiful piano melodies of a young Edvard Grieg filling the air (Mountain Dances played by Rune Alver) as the fireplace radiates and the dishwasher hums. Home feels so good and cozy on this chilly day in the waning April month.

Well, my teapot has emptied as has my bread basket, so I must be up and about the business of bread making. Today I shall try out my new baguette pans and continue my quest for that elusive “crusty” crust with a whole wheat bread. Maybe today will be the day . . .

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday Wonder



The fig tree putteth forth her green figs,
And the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.
Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

Song of Solomon 2:13

Friday, April 24, 2009

Read-Tale Therapy


So much can change with heart-open prayers and some serious Read-Tale Therapy. The verses and quotes and bits of encouragement in each email and comment you lavished on me have helped buoy my lips to smiling and my heart to singing once again. I awoke to the sound of gentle rain upon my gardens and I rejoiced.

Spring returns!


* * *

And so along with the smiling and singing
I feel a bit of dancing in the woods to be in order.

When my feet beg for a bit of respite
I shall sit under the trees . . .


And ponder the miracle of a pink dogwood . . .


And a fancy Shirofugen cherry blossom . . .


Along with the blossoms that merrily dance
On the Gravenstein tree newly planted
With hopes of yummy applesauce
And puddings come summer.


'Tis a lovely day for dancing
Under trees singing a full-throated chorus of Spring.


Don't you agree?

: D


* * *

Let them praise his name in the dance:
Let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.

Psalm 149:3

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Still on Plan A



I sit here without a teacup in the presence of an overly-steeped pot of lavender earl grey tea. How odd? Why didn’t I gather up a teacup when I brought the tray with the pot and the plate with the cheese omelet accompanied by that deliciously tangy glass of freshly-squeezed Minneola juice (oooooh so tart and good!)? Where is my head this day?

I just came in from a walk around the gardens. A fresh breeze has sent the recent hot summer-like days into retreat and we enjoy fresh, cool, and breezy – just how I like my springtime in the mountains; though last night Rachel took her first swim of the season, declaring “Summer is here!” Yesterday I got caught up in the heat of the moment (*snicker*) and bought two of the most deliciously-scented candles named “a walk on the beach” (all coconutty, sea-salty, warm-sandy smelling) – instantly transporting me back to the time Gary and I visited Hawaii and also recalling that first trip away from the kids when we went to San Diego . . . I pause . . . I wipe a tear . . . a few months after Andrew’s passing

My memory bank kicks in and I recall why I find it so hard to concentrate on things like teacups and steeping tea today – nearly five years ago (four years, eleven months almost to the day) Andrew went home to be with His Savior and Lord, leaving a gap in my life and heart that I still cannot comprehend; just this week I learned my dear friend’s son took measures to meet His Savior quite abruptly leaving her life in shambles; and I just finished reading an update on Baby Stellan that has MckMamma all awash in tears over a failed surgery.

Lord, it hurts to live around here sometimes! I can’t see for the fog in my mind and the jumble of feelings clogged up in my heart. Oh, my heart still beats, I still breath, I still know my name and my place and all the rest . . . but I fail to see how all of this works together for good . . .

Then I recall a sweet bit of wisdom gleaned from MckMamma’s latest blog post:

Yet what brings me great comfort, even now, is that none of this surprises God. The fact that this morning has not gone well, by our earthly hopes and standards, does not mean that God is wringing His hands. This did not come out of the blue for Him. As my friend Ann likes to say, God is not on Plan B. This is still Plan A.

Indeed.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.

"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Isaiah 55:8-9

And so, I press forward in that knowledge, tear stained face and all.


I comment upon her blog:

My Sweet, Sweet girl,

My prayers gush out for you. I have stood in your stead, though not with a heart problem, but with a son and another problem entirely. Still . . . I know of what you feel, speak, and what deeper things cry out only to the Comforter. Yes . . . Plan A . . . always. I sit here writing and preparing for a speaking engagement at church I have entitled "Simply Joy" wherein I will share my quest to remain in Him for the joy I so desperately need to go on each day. In the midst of this preparation I am praying and checking your twitter or is it twitterings? (I never even heard of twitter before you flittered into my life with your darling son and BIG love for God -- I know your God and I can assure you HE IS BIG . . . keep hanging on!) On top of all of these prayers for you I just found out that one of my oldest and dearest friends just lost her 16-year-old son to suicide. No note, no hint, just gone. How is that fair? How is Stellan’s SVT fair? How is the loss of my son nearly 5 years ago fair? I rail, I sob, I ask . . . nay plead -- HE holds me close and floods me with joy and peace that defies understanding. A newly blooming rose, a dogwood flush in pink, the first calla lily, a newly sprung lily of the valley -- they all cry out in praises to a God that sticks to Plan A because IT IS GOOD. I have not always the ability to see the good, and so I call out for peace and joy to sustain me in my blindness. He delivers . . . according to Plan A . . . as He always does.

Be blessed today my sweet, sweet MckMamma. I am praying without ceasing . . . without understanding . . . but not without joy and HOPE . . . always with HOPE.

Dear God, send comfort in the name of your precious son. Amen.



* * *

There it is. I am not expected to know it all or approve it all. I am simply expected to live under His wing. I have enough memories crammed into my rapidly-beating heart to KNOW WITHOUT DOUBT that my God has never failed me. And so I reach out and grasp the wisp of joy found in a newly pinked poet’s jasmine bud which sends forth not a jot of fragrance yet, but my memory clicks back to heady redolence of summers past. I purposely planted this delicate beauty beside my patio door so that the house would be flooded with its sweetness every time the door opened. There is no sweetness today, but I know it will return JUST LIKE ALWAYS. The memory brings me joy and satisfaction to carry on.



And so I do . . .

with that joy I cannot explain . . .
or comprehend . . .
or manufacture on my own . . .

Still I enjoy it just the same,
Realizing it’s all a part of God’s Plan A.




Then he said unto them,
Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet,
And send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared:
For this day is holy unto our LORD:
Neither be ye sorry;
For the joy of the LORD is your strength.
Nehemiah 8:10

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Weeping for My Friend . . . Praying for My Friend



Hush fills the room . . . a breath of peace sweeps through my aching heart as my Father in Heaven holds me close. I ache for a dear, dear friend who lost her son quite suddenly on March 28th.

Yesterday I received a blank email entitled “In case you hadn’t heard” with a word doc attachment labeled with his name and “Announcement_Final.” I opened the doc with a wry smile on my face, wondering what more this boy could possibly achieve; he had already secured tennis championships, coveted music awards and chairs, stellar grades, mastery over languages. This dear boy had truly amazed us all with his achievements and honors, like becoming an Eagle Scout at 14.

The doc revealed a handsome picture and a list of accomplishments that my mind’s eye took in, omitting the “Beloved Son . . .” at the opening. I read through the list expecting to read of an early graduation with honors and a trip to Harvard soon. Instead, I got to the bottom and read: “October 1, 1992 – March 28, 2009” I did a double take. I gasped. I cried out “WHAT? No! That’s not possible . . .” and the tears burned hot in my eyes as they scanned up and down for another reading and another and still another, seeking that graduation announcement or other celebratory statement that I wanted so desperately to find. I never found it . . .

Instead I sat back in a pool of questions . . . unanswered. A perusal of local newspapers revealed only that he had died. No accident listed. I knew of no illness. In fact, my friend’s last email to me contained an invite to a Sorority reunion that I declined in a newsy update. She replied back with a pat on the back for us in allowing Elizabeth to take a break from the rigors of school to do a bit of soul-searching. In that March 9th email she wrote:

I am glad she is taking some time just to be.
Our children will live to be 100, so why rush anything.

And now, such a short time later, I receive this farewell announcement for her son. He died the day of that reunion. What happened? Did she go to the reunion as planned? Was she there to receive a devastating cell call? Was he sick and thus she missed the reunion? My questions gnaw at me with a deep pain, and yet her pain and questions and gasping moments dwarf mine. I know . . . for I too have lost a son.

And so I simply pray . . .

I make off to my garden and seek solace from the Almighty. He offers neither stones carved with answers, nor burning bushes of explanation; instead I find beauty and life brimming in buds of hope and sprigs of life. I weep . . . for her, for me, for all of us as we struggle to live in this world that makes no sense sometimes. And still we believe . . . because He holds our hearts . . . and our hope.

The weather has heated up and Summertime temperatures swirl onto the stage, edging out a cool Spring dancer as I walk the gardens seeking shady spots to pause and wipe a tear. I feel the camera in my hands as I capture pictures to divert my aching heart. Such a loss in the face of blossoms in springtime . . . an oxymoron I can barely comprehend.

Seasons . . . growth . . . blossom . . . fruit . . . death . . . loss . . . preserved moments – memories to enjoy at a later date.

This day I pull out dusty memories of my friend's “little boy” who grew to attain such achievements in only 16 short years: a baby who became a boy and stood on the threshold of GREAT things. Great hope enveloped him throughout his growing years. Memories of first crawling moments that resulted in getting stuck under my sofa, prayers over boo-boos and stitches, congratulations sent for championship trophies, honor rolls, and all the rest. Like sweet preserves from a distant summer’s day (fruit lovingly tended, picked, processed and packed away to enjoy later), I thickly spread the treasured memories to enjoy a-new. I celebrate this young man’s all-too-brief life and shed tears of sympathy/empathy with a mamma’s deep, deep grief – too deep for even words of explanation.

She doesn’t read my blog or anyone’s that I know of, and she quietly demurs from connection right now . . . but I know she feels my love . . . my prayers . . . my shared grief. Friends from long ago . . . know.

Long ago we met at UCLA as newly-pledged sisters to a sorority. Our friendship grew through late night chats, lazy Sunday teatimes (even way back then friends gathered at my tea table), and lonely weekends in an empty house whose distance from our Northern California homes made weekend visits home unfeasible. Later we shared memories made at weddings (even though she arrived on Saturday eve for my wedding which took place the previous Friday eve – she was zany that way and I loved her all the more for showing up to an empty church and asking all over for me). Time elapsed and we began to share memories of babies. I laugh whenever she recounts her first visit to me after the boys were born. She showed up in a prim dress with French-braided hair, ready for a tea party. Instead we spent the next couple of hours juggling hungry babies, medications, diapers, and all the rest of the glamour that goes along with newborns. She left exhausted. I didn’t hear from her until a lonely letter arrived some years later – stay at home mommies in a working-mommy world needed to stick together. And we did.

Letters passed between us for years, gliding into emails of faster turnaround. Life passed, our families grew and moved and grew and moved again and grew some more. My five children and her two children gave us lots to talk about, cry over, and always, always pray about. Now and again we actually visited each other, but mostly our bond grew through missives. When Andrew went home to be with Jesus she offered to come be by my side, but I knew I would need her later and so she stayed tending her busy, busy life and encouraged me with her words and friendship across the miles. The last time we met for tea, about three years ago, we drank tea and chatted and then we walked in the frigid December air and talked and talked and talked. So much to say . . . so much had happened . . .so much left to care for, dream about, wonder about. We embraced one last time and went back to our busy lives. An occasional layover in her town offered hope of a meeting, but once again events clashed and we failed to meet. It didn’t matter . . . it was fun to hope and I just knew there’d be other opportunities.

My last visit with her in her home resembled one long slumber party with pedicures, and popcorn, and silly grins from her son and daughter as they watched us be silly. The hugs I lavished as I left were never meant to be the last I gave to her son. I looked forward to many more hugs and hurrahs as he climbed the ladder of success he seemed so destined for. President? CEO? Whatever he chose, or so it seemed with his string of achievements. And then in an empty email with an attachment I find out that it has all come to an end on this end of his life. There will be no further hugs or hurrahs. And I weep . . . for her . . . for me . . . for the whole world that has been cheated of a fine young man with dreams to fulfill.



My friend’s silence calls out to me for prayer. She prayed for me when Andrew died. She embraced me in love and never asked details or divulgences from a grieving mamma. She loved me . . . as she always has . . . with an open, outspoken, zany, full-hearted love of a sister. I am now called upon to return the favor though I am an introspective, pondering one who finds it so hard to shrug off and dance in a world full of questions with few satisfactory answers. I shall simply pray and wait for the moment when she needs a cup of tea and possibly a chat . . . or not.

* * *

Dear Father,

Please keep my friend warm and safe in your loving embrace, under your downy wing, through this valley of the shadow . . . as you have kept me so often.

Keep me as the apple of the eye,
Hide me under the shadow of thy wings

Psalm 17:8


A Bleeding Heart Newly-Sprung in My Gardens

Monday, April 20, 2009

Rambling and Musing

Mr. Bingley Rambling


Toulouse Musing


It’s Sunday morning and the sun has gently slid up over the mountains and splashed rays of brightness down into my little valley.


Out of the north comes golden splendor;
Around God is awesome majesty.
Job 37:22


I know I have posted this on Monday morning, simply because I have dedicated my Sunday posts to God’s Word (not mine) and I hadn’t seen this particular splendid moment until just now. I didn’t want to wait until next Sunday, nor crowd out this Sunday’s post, thus . . . I hastily scribbled this down and saved it on blogger’s handy schedule plan. (You know I LOVE options!) But I digress . . .

. . . ummmmmmmm . . . I believe this whole post will be a digression. Like a newly-sprung freshet, my mind wanders and meanders all over the place today. I fell asleep last night before 11 pm for no other reason than I felt tired out. The past few days of gardening and cooking and experimenting and a wee bit of battling with Matthew (prayers still appreciated), wrapped up in a luscious Swedish massage courtesy of dear Elizabeth, made for one tuckered gal. I crawled into bed to read another chapter in this fascinating book of interviews with monks at a nearby monastery (title info and author escape me just now . . . but I’ll find it), tucked a fragrant pot of lavender aromatherapy in bed with me and promptly fell drowsy . . . and asleep. I awoke refreshed and so ALIVE in my quiet household.

The girls arose and readied themselves for church – big girls now need little more than topsy-tail assistance now and again – while I brewed a pot of tea and set aside a leftover biscuit for my tea. I used to hustle and bustle around on Sunday mornings with all the bathing and prep and primping before scurrying off to church, but of late I stay home with Matthew (who’s pickle-ish behavior changed our routine). What began as a “loss” for me has become a true gain. I find myself quiet and alone with my Lord on Sunday mornings. Sometimes I sing or pray on my knees or stroll the gardens in conversation, other times I merely sit in pure silence . . . but always, I sit at His feet.

At first I missed the hymn singing, the sermons, the corporate prayer, the chatter in the halls following worship, and the hastily formed “dates” to get together with friends at a local cafĂ© or tea house. For years I couldn’t “join in” on all the church games because of my home duties, and I always felt a longing to be part of the hub-bub. Amy Carmichael oft expressed an Indian saying, “Children tie the mother’s feet.” A dear friend shared this with me years ago when I fretted about missing a church function and thus failing to serve God fully. Kathleen looked deeply into my eyes and shared the quote; she then prayed that I would see how much more God valued the home duties he had placed on my agenda than the church tasks I longed to place on my list. Understanding flooded my heart like golden light in a valley . . . God refreshed my agenda and I smiled as I stayed home on Bible Study days and many others.

The past few years have found my life opening up to so many opportunities. When Andrew went home to Jesus I came into possession of so many more hours in the day . . . hours that had previously been filled with his care. I ached in those empty hours, but slowly and gently the Lord opened doors for me to walk through. I took mission trips, met friends in cafes, served on committees, and became quite involved outside the home. After a fashion, events called me home again. Parental issues threaded with sorrow required attention, a college-bound daughter called me to aid, a son on the entrance to manhood balked in fear and needed more support, and so much more called me back home. When I turned back my agenda and focused on the homefront I found more than duty, I found great joy in recapturing the home-made lifestyle . . . full from-scratch cooking and more. My busy social agenda had necessitated trips to the deli instead of the pantry, one-gallon plantings rather than seeds, and a deficit in quiet tea-times in the afternoon. God’s carefully inserted thorns in my schedule revealed a peace and joy in moments I forgot to miss.

Like the US economy, my life took a sharp turn. In the beginning I chafed a bit at the return to a “tied” state, but soon I flourished in the beds enriched with possibility. For starters Gary saw the economic writing on the wall and asked that we return to our goals of self-sufficiency. In days gone by we lived in Felton (near Santa Cruz, CA) and dreamed of a self-sufficient life. We deemed our beloved Willow Cottage the "wrong" place and I went in search of the "right" spot. After countless hours in the car with the kids, I found a plot of land with a “house” (rustic but cute, if far too tiny for our growing clan) near the coast in a little town called Bonnie Doon – a smattering of acreage in need of a dream and some tending.

We hatched plans for growing lavender, raising bees, making soaps, and baking bread. Gary’s crazy round-the-clock work schedule demanded too much of him and the family received far too little. We prayed for self-sufficiency and I spun plans accordingly. I read voraciously and practiced each evening while Gary worked away from home building lasers, testing lasers, tweaking lasers. He worked; I worked. I found that lavender required dry and we had wet; that whole wheat bread in quantity taxed my mixer and exceeded my muscle-power; that my lavender soap smelled wonderful but without home-grown lavender for essential oils the cost of production exceeded reasonable resale; and so the list grew in failure ( . . . um, I meant “The learning curve continued”).

I had to let go the dreams I had spun with such delight – we didn't move to Bonnie Doon. We didn't get off the grid. We didn't find the open doorway. I wept from exhaustion and disappointment.

Little did I know that the Lord had opened another doorway, one leading Gary to run a high-tech consulting/manufacturing business from our very home. I’d never thought of that! When that opportunity presented itself, I switched gears and prayers. We excitedly ventured right into a difficult and VERY dark period in our life of business partners, betrayal, near-bankruptcy, and failing health on our son Andrew’s part. It didn’t just rain on us, it POURED and hailed and nearly washed us away in brokenness. (I’ll save that story for another post sometime down the line when I feel strong enough to revisit those unsavory memories).

All of this unpleasantness forced us to sell our beloved Willow Cottage and move to Grass Valley in search of a new start and a larger home (we’d added two more babies by now – sweet joy in the midst of so much slog). I found our future home on the internet and never personally laid eyes on it before moving in (God knew . . . Gary knew . . . and my feet were tied to home). We left Felton at midnight one Friday in July and arrived in Grass Valley at 5 am. The first rays of morning light had just broken through and bathed our new home and the barren dell around it in “golden splendor.” My eager gaze filled in the barren red land with dreams of gardens and grasses and beauty under the spreading branches of towering pines and mighty oaks from days gone by. Sure, I missed my majestic redwoods and darling cozy Willow Cottage, but new dreams were to be found here at Wisteria Cottage, my English Cottage-styled dream home, and my heart swelled with thanks to my God and His agenda.

Ah, I see I have rambled hither and yon on this golden morning. The sun has shone her full face and the white blossoms on the cherry tree call me like a beacon. Matthew still sleeps, as does Elizabeth (readying herself for another grueling 8-week schedule of massage training – with all that delightful homework . . . I can hardly wait!), and the other family members remain away at church. Since I have finished my tea and heard a heart-felt call to the gardens, I shall sign off for now and go check on our newly planted beds of veggies. I’ll be back later to tell you all about the building of the raised beds, the filling of them with fresh soil, the pick-up truck that sank into the lands (being a wee bit overfull of “ripely-manured” soil), and more fun stories of our latest venture in our back-to-the-land plan. I will also have an update on those instant refried beans I mentioned in an earlier post. I think I’m onto something wonderful!

Oh, I could babble away forever with you, my sweet friends, but I truly must be out of this chair and into the gardens . . . but I’ll be back later . . . ; D

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sunday Wonder



If ye ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
John 14:14

And ye shall seek me,
And find me,
When ye shall search for me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13



Friday, April 17, 2009

Indoors Cannot Hold Me . . .

Spring has definitely sprung around my meadows:

Festooning the shrubs with lilac's sweet perfume,

Carpeting the ground with the richest of blue bells,

Dappling the branches with cherry-blossom pink,

Awakening the Western redbud's purple petals,
And splashing great swaths of spunky dandelion yellow
All underfoot and aglow with the brightness of spring!

If you come knocking you'll probably find me not . . .

But I believe you know where you can find me
If you simply follow the path 'round back.
You can't get lost . . .

Well maybe you can . . .

In a wonderland of Springtime sensations
In a Northern California Garden.
It's a wonderful place to lose yourself in play.

Come!

* * *


April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.
~~William Shakespeare~~

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Simple Easter

The joy of Christ's Resurrection
Simply expressed in the shape of an egg:
Promise, hope, sweetness, life . . .
Combined with a "Come as you are" invitation,
Set the tone for our Simple Easter Celebration.

While flowers danced

And trees sang a full chorus of beauty,

We sat down to tea with a thankful heart
For the gift Christ bestowed so freely upon us all.

A simple feast,
Fresh and delicious,


Featuring specially prepared eggs by Rachel


Paired with mom's whole wheat buttermilk scones

Satisfied those arriving
With heartiest of appetites and smiles.


The afternoon called us to orchard walks,
Teetering and tottering,

Silly games,

And butterfly hunts.

Gentle nets and sharp-eyed girls

Could catch but a single grasshopper.
(Released promptly following an obligatory photo.)

It proved a day of sweet, sweet simple joy
Full of wishes that it could last an eternity.

Thank you Jesus for a Dream Come True

* * *

And I give unto them eternal life;
And they shall never perish,
Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
John 10:28

* * *

And this is life eternal,
That they might know thee the only true God,
And Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
John 17:3

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday Wonder

HAPPY EASTER!


I am come that they might have life,
And that they might have it more abundantly.
John 10:10b

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sweet Saturday

And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry,
And satisfy the afflicted soul;
Then shall thy light rise in obscurity,
And thy darkness be as the noon day:

And the LORD shall guide thee continually,
And satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones:
And thou shalt be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Isaiah 58:10-11




Even A tiny child can be hungry though it doesn’t quite know why.
And bigger people can be hungry too, though they may not say so.
Look out for the hungry and you will find them.
He who has satisfied them with Himself will lead you to them.

~~ Amy Carmichael~~
Founder, Dohnavur Fellowship, India


* * *


My upbringing included a sole church attendance each year – Easter. We donned new dresses with fancy hair ornaments and even gloves, at times. The baskets of jelly beans and chocolate bunnies we left behind on the hearth captivated our thoughts as we sat in a strange building on a hard bench surrounded by smiling faces of strangers. Greetings floated in the air but, since we chose a different church each year, the greetings fell empty all around us. A feast with an elderly relative (who never remembered our names) followed the service. All too quickly we returned home to ready ourselves for Monday morning and a return to the routine.

This heavily-marketed holiday provided goodies (which we lacked most of the year) and an eat-all-you-want meal of tasty specialties, but I remained hungry for something more. The filled eggs and puffed chicks sickened my stomach after a bit, especially when piled on top of a heavy, salty ham dinner. I viewed Easter as a chore, more than a treat and that became even more pronounced after my dad left and I juggled two Easter baskets and a broken heart. Many years later I would discover that my hunger pangs emanated from my heart, not my stomach. When my heart found Jesus, my hunger ceased and Easter became a celebration for me. A true JOY-filled day of remembering and rejoicing.

Throughout the years my Easter celebrations have varied greatly from LARGE family gatherings to quiet brunches with my husband and children alone. This year we will worship from home and eat a simple meal together as a family. Too much celebration would overwhelm us this year. God knows . . . Jesus understands . . . The Holy Spirit nods.

Last night for Family Fun Night we enjoyed a tasty meal, marveled over the fancy eggs that resulted from the girls’ crafty afternoon activity, and then settled down to view The Nativity Story. We wanted to tie together Christ’s life from beginning to end this year. Throughout this Holy Week we have discussed God’s far-reaching eyes and personal ties to each and every facet of creation. Not a tree in bud, not a cocooned butterfly, not a precious babe escapes His sight and love.

Tonight we will watch The Visual Bible, Matthew and continue walking with Jesus all the way to The Cross and beyond. There will be no new dresses or large gatherings, not even a lily on the table (which relatives made sure to grace me with each year, though they refuse to settle into my garden comfortably). But, we will feed those pangs of the heart as we celebrate Life Renewed and remember our Savior’s command to look around and find the hungry among us. They exist even as they try to hide or we try to avoid looking. I fret not about who to invite or what to serve, for God promises to lead me. I have only to smile a welcome and keep the pathway to my home and heart open to receive all who pass by. Some may stop for a brief respite of tea, others choose to sup fully, still others will merely wave without stopping. All receive a greeting and invitation as I have received.

Thus we will celebrate this Easter like a well-watered garden and a free-flowing spring. I wish the same for you and your families as you gather this precious Sunday in celebration of the gift of Life Eternal.


* * *



Rejoice in the Lord always:
And again I say, Rejoice.
Philippians 4:4

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday



Parting Words

These things have I spoken unto you,
That my joy might remain in you,
And that your joy might be full.
This is my commandment,
That ye love one another,
As I have loved you.

Greater love hath no man than this,
That a man lay down his life for his friends.

Ye are my friends,
If ye do whatsoever I command you.

These things I command you,
That ye love one another.

John 15:11-14,17


* * *



Dying Words

Then said Jesus,
Father, forgive them;
For they know not what they
do.

Luke 23:34


* * *

We have been shown the way.
We have been given instruction.
We have been forgiven, as we surely fail.
We must remember.

We must love.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Respite Wednesday




Selah

Pause
Poignant moments of peace
Preface to growth
Powerful silence
Pssssst . . . He has something to reveal –


Selah

Appearing 71 times in the Psalms and 3 times in Habakkuk
“To lift up” in Hebrew
From root word “To hang”
No precise definition . . . lots of theories


Selah

“I hear you Lord . . .”
I rest “lifted up” in your palm . . .
“Hanging” limp, spent, saved –


Selah

Defies simple summation
I take comfort in knowing man cannot define it for certain
I hang in the interlude of uncertainty –


At peace
Content
Hammocked
At rest
Contemplative


Peace . . . rest . . . pause . . . await . . . restore . . . ponder . . . enJOY . . .


Behold we count them happy
Which endure.
James 5:11a


* * *

Orchards of Perseverance
Meadows of Delight
Oceans of Praise
Fields of Dreams
Shadows of Respite
Freshets of Joy
Sweet, Sweet Surrender . . . Peace


* * *


Of late, the power of self-control blossoms in Matthew. Communication skills unfurl like new tendrils, clinging to a framework of love, support, devotion, and trust . . . though still battered by a storm of hormones and overload.

Hugs and kisses return. Dances and carefree twirls take place. Clapping and smiles erupt. Oh the joy of asking and receiving.


Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.
John 16:24b


Confidence soars . . . peace blossoms in the visage of a boy caught up in a world he cannot face full-fold. He chooses a return to shyness over frustration; avoidance rather than confrontation. And yet a newfound foothold of expression buds into greater communication and bonding threads spawned in areas previously isolated. A pillow once again rests clutched in a bedded-down snuggle rather than an angry grasp. A door at hand offers welcome access rather than a slamming burst of isolation.

As the waters of life churn less and mere flecks of angry foam remain, I ease back and swing in the extended Selah conducted by God. Rain clouds and cold showers usher us away from the gardens and back to hearthside for books and chats and incubations of idea – moments spent in sweet silence.

As always, emotional storms invite reassessment: a survey of the landscape when clouds part, affording a fresh view . . . a honing of plans . . . new hope revealed in areas previously obscured, now laid bare in the windblown aftermath. New perspective . . . a gift that moments of Selah allow me to unwrap and peruse without rush.

The fruits of the spirit hang heavy in some spots, swaying in the windy gusts of growing up “special.” Other places on the tree sport but the merest hint of bud . . . hope of fruit to come. The sweet perfume of Selah wafts gently o’er these Orchards of Perseverance.

Selah





I cried unto the LORD with my voice,
And he heard me out of his holy hill.
Selah.

Psalm 3:4