Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I think I compartmentalize my life in much the same way as my Christmas decorations. My favored art items are framed, and my art supplies are tucked in special spaces in my art room. I recognize them quickly and feel an endearment within. I appreciate the process of painting as much as the end result. Bright colors, rich paints, fine watercolor paper, treasured rubber stamps all bring me so much pleasure. It is a kind of celebration each day with these colored papers , stimulating art books, or my quick sketches of birds and flowers. These items decorate my life in such a special way.
I am in much the same box that I have been my married life. I quickly recognize that I am too round and too bulky when I pass a mirror. I just keep me in this same container and begin every New Year’s journal with, “This is the year I am going to lose thirty pounds and keep it off.” My intentions outweigh my results at the end of each year.
Another compartment that I reuse year after year is collecting wonderful friends. My circle of friends grows more diverse each year. I join new groups, meet new people, or try new classes. Each of these activities introduces me to new and interesting friends that shape me, mold me, teach me, and affirm me. Without these dear people, my life would be empty, boring, and useless. As I add friends, it reminds me of how I have added boxes of Christmas décor through the years. The old treasures remind me of good times past. The new decorations bring new life to me and my surroundings.
Every year I think I have gathered all the Christmas decorations and completed my task. However, when I get around to New Year’s cleaning, I inevitably discover a Christmas angel or a carved Santa that I have forgotten to pack. I am amused that this little token escaped my “thorough” scan on packing day. Isn’t that just like my life? I think I have all the loose ends tied and completed. I determine that my chores are completed for this day and realize I didn't turn on the crock pot before I rushed out of the house in early morning. Then, on a sunny summer day I discover a missed appointment because I have frolicked in my gardens too long and not consulted my calendar or my watch. Sometimes , I get a phone call from a friend that I have neglected and just needs to chat. As I hold this unpacked ornament, I realize that my job of packing and closing is only partially done until that very last day of my life.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
One of our first families was a family of nine. I was a full time mom at the time, and we lived on a very limited budget. I have always enjoyed giving our "adopted family" a fabulous gift laden Christmas. I wanted it to be the best Christmas they ever had. I hoped the family would relate this special blessed day with the birth of Christ . My philosophy was that if they remembered that the name of Jesus brought them such a wonderful Christmas, that they would one day choose to serve Him.
So, back to my family of nine. I began making stuffed animals out of all my fabric scraps. I asked my seamstress friends if they would help me by making pajamas for every child. The ladies at Center Chapel were so enthused they made each child and mom a brand new outfit. I understood that God had a plan much bigger than mine.
These children were tall and thin. So, we all made long legs in each garment. I remember the joy on each seamstresses' face as they showed me their finished product. We all chipped in and made food baskets , and I asked our sons to give up one of their three gifts to these children. They did this with a willing and cheerful heart. They went with me to select the gifts. I knew this was the teaching God intended. I could share my need to bless others , and God would teach all of us the real meaning of the Christmas spirit.
I remember many Christmases of singing " We wish you a Merry Christmas" as we entered small homes which we filled to the ceiling with brightly colored packages. One family of six little tykes stands out in my mind. The children were more excited to have a homemade gingerbread man than they were about the gifts. As the little hands reached for my tray of goodies and munched on their cookies, I tried to tell them of the love of the Christ child. As I looked at those sweet faces, I began to cry. That year someone else had to finish the manger story. As we left, my youngest child said, " Thanks , Mamma for baking them cookies." Again, God's love was magnified through the eyes of a child.
I was driving from downtown one wintery day and noticed a child standing alone on a dilapidated porch. I felt a nudge from God and pulled to the curb. Soon, a mother stepped out of the door holding a small child in her arms. I went up to the porch and asked if they needed help with Christmas. She began to cry. She helped me make a list of sizes and gift ideas for her five children. I promised I would return. I hurridly went home and called friends to see if they would help. Many times it was Young Life teens who pitched in with great fervor. They loved the afternoon of wrapping and singing carols. We would enter the home with our cheery songs or stay outside and carol. This family had a dirt floor, so I gathered many warm blankets and quilts and pajamas. We filled the tiny kitchen with cans of food and baskets of fruit and boxes of canned and frozen meats. Of course, I was crying too hard to tell the story, but one of the Young Life kids did a wonderful presentation of our manger gift and the story behind it. The mama's eyes caught mine and said, " You all are God's helpers. You helped Him answer my prayers." That was the lesson I learned that year. I could include others in the act of answering prayers to God. This was the Christmas we realized that we could be His messenger, His hands, and His heart to others.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
God just put us together as young moms , and we have weathered things together. We often question if He was sure this was the best for our neighbors and family. We have made our husbands laugh and snarl with our antics. We have embarrassed our kids and ourselves. Once we laughed so hard in church the minister asked us to leave. We have cried together, endured my mom's Alzheimer's, her husband's Huntington's disease, our children's teenage choices, ( some good , some bad), helped plan our kid's weddings, and we are still friends. We have planted and harvested gardens, sponsored many Christmas families, cooked for our neighbors, and cared and fed a lot of other people's children. Consistently, we have read the Bible and tried to figure out how it applied to us . This has been our main conversation throughout our friendship and walks. All this history and laughter has made us sisters.
So, off we go to hear Joel lead us in worship. When we get to the church, we are aware we are the oldest ones there. Nothing has really begun, so I encourage her and her granddaughter to sit with me in a pew midway back from the band. That is the only wise decision that I make that night. Soon the drummer strikes his drums which echo throughout the chapel. Next, the guitar players "get down". Joel sings some thumping songs but none about Jesus. My friend sits patiently through the " head banging melodies" as she put it.
She reaches over and pinches my leg and gives me that look. That look that clearly says, " Look what you have got us into now." We stay for the entire concert but leave quickly. We laugh loudly all the way to the car about our worshipful Sunday night service. She announces loudly, " You have lost your credibility , and I will not fall for any more invitations."
However, this Sunday on our walk number 9000, yep, we have been walking for over thirty years most every day. That is a lot of talking, bonding, sharing, and stepping . I tell her excitedly," I want to take you out to a very special Masterworks Chorale concert tonight. " She acknowledges that she read in the paper they would be singing psalms and hymns. So, we agree to leave about seven and dress up for the occasion.
As we are pulling into the Presbyterian parking lot, we comment that we are exceptionally early. We have no problem finding a parking place. We do have a problem opening the massive front door. It is locked! We peek through the window and see only darkness. Of course, we bend over with peals of laughter.
So, we decide to walk to the back of the church where we saw lights when we came into the parking lot. We discover young teens laughing and circle dancing and expressing a lot of pent up energy. Once again , we are the oldest there. The youth leader explains, "Oh, ladies, the concert was Saturday night , not Sunday. You missed it." As we left, we giggled as hysterically as the teens. This is our way of acknowledging that this isn't the first time we have missed something in our journey together. However, our solution is always to laugh.
Pixie said, " O.K., you tricked me once. Shame on you. You tricked me twice. Shame on me. Now, just don't think I will fall for this another Sunday night." With that we snicker and walk back to the car which was still parked in the front of the church.
We decide not to waste our gussying up and drive to the Ihop restaurant to have some coffee and a snack. Our choice is limited in Muncie on Sunday night because not many places are open at eight.
A petite ,dark haired gal directs us to a booth. I ask ," Do you always wear Payton Manning's jersey?" She rolls her big brown eyes and makes Pixie and I start laughing immediately. The waitress explains she is really a Bear's fan but has no place to buy a Bears' jersey. As she is taking our order , I announce, "Don't expect a big order from us. We are just all dressed up and there is nowhere else to go but here." She rolls those expressive eyes and makes a hilarious face. We love Velma because she is entertaining and so young.
"How long have you worked here?" She answers that she is "double shifting".
" I am trying to work two shifts any day next week that they will hire me." She continues, " I have two boys , age one and two. I am stir crazy from talking to them all day." We chuckle with her and say we understood. She shares she is twenty and newly divorced. " I caught my husband with another woman," she blurts. Then, she delivers our order, and pulls up all four feet eleven inches of her tiny body and says, " I am going to make it on my own. I really am."
Velma won our hearts , made us laugh, and tugged at our womanly bond to other struggling sisters. We gave her a generous tip and tried to encourage her. Maybe God just knew that we needed Velma and Velma needed us this Sunday night.
Friday, October 23, 2009
As I turn off the television, I wish I could have a remote for my family and friends. I would click on the "prosperity channel" and dial in and ask that my son's and many of my young friends' school loans would be paid, my neighbor's income increased incredibly, my friend's cancer bills paid.
Then, I would click again to the " common sense" channel. This call would ask that friends that are doing foolish things like diving into divorce, neglecting their children, depending on prescription drugs to make it through the day to be reinstated to sound thinking.
Yes, the "body channel" would be next. It would be easier than "The Greatest Loser" plan. All I need to do is call in and request a certain size, shape, and health fix and bingo, it is done. I could continue my fantasy , but I know after so many years on this earth that life just isn't that easy. I don't even understand why I have such unreasonable thoughts when I have seen God transcend all of the above problems.
"Abide in me ,and I in you." John 15:4 From moment to moment, and from hour to hour, the inner nature of man with all his problems and woes is to be continously sustained with the life of God. In other words, only when I am weak and empty can I constantly receive His fullness. He is the power source. He is every channel I could ever need, and He is the channel. Sometime when you are channel surfing, why not try to channel His words, His direction, His wisdom into your mind, heart, and spirit. This experience with God will be a reality show that gains you a little piece of eternity right now.
Monday, October 19, 2009
However, in our busy lives of sick kids, loss of jobs, hurting neighbors, public pressures to be all we can be physcially and mentally, our soul's needs get pushed back. Yes, even when I am doing healthy things like working out, Bible studies, raking leaves, planting flowers, cooking , entertaining, etc., my soul gets neglected. In Sacred Rhythms the author gives directions on how to go to that quiet place and stay. God is there waiting, but he is not instant rice. We must dwell in the place of the Almighty to hear his words and comfort. I think we all hunger to do that , but we must put aside some emails, phone calls, social times, holiday rushes to make that solitude happen.
I am very blessed to be retired and have time to meditate and seek. However, I still can make myself so busy with "doing "that I neglect" being." There is great peace in being. When I feel stretched, ancy, or hyped, these are flags of needing solitude. I need to sit at my Master's feet and just be. These are the significant moments in an otherwise routine day. Giving my entire attention to what God is doing right now takes so much practice. Isn't it strange that we are willing to practice golf, tennis, yoga, and art to become better? Yet, when was the last time you scheduled silence, being, and meditating on your weekly calendar? I encourage you to grab the moments you have and ask God to come and " let you see through his eyes." Sit, be still, and know that God is there and He will direct your vision. It just takes time.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
As I stood in line calculating how many calories one dip of chicken salad and one mini shake would cost me, I noticed the man ahead of me ordering. His body language was heavy and wilted. I heard him say his name was Snyder. That didn't register , but when he turned around , I realized it was Howie. Howie spoke at Midwest Writers Workshop and was Earl Conn's friend. At the workshop, they reminded me of two fifteen year old buds with secrets and plans. As I watched them laughing together last July, I immediately understood they were great friends.
I went to his booth, acknowledged that I knew him through the workshop, and he invited me to sit down with him. We immediately started talking about how the loss of Earl Conn created a void in the lives of so many people. Howie felt like Earl was happy now, but Howie was so lonesome. I watched his large brown eyes shed tears of love for his former friend. As he ate his tenderloin, , he told me of his and Earl's journeys around Indiana. He shared how much he respected him and cherished Earl as a friend. He said they were grieving the loss of their wives together. "Grieving together some how made it easier," Howie explained. As he continued to wipe his tears, he shared how much he and Earl laughed together. Howie told me Earl was a pensive and serious man at work, but on their trips in the last two years they laughed often and hard.
I asked if he came to Ivanhoes often. " No, not too much, but Earl and I loved to eat here," he explained. He said today he was visiting Earl's grave site in Marion. He murmured , "I just need to go talk to him this day." He was lonely and thought it was time to visit Earl. My heart went out to Howie. I know how it is to lose a close companion. There is such an emptiness that it feels like you are just flailing endlessly. Your heart hurts. Your head is confused. The grief just overcomes you at times. You realize you are not the same without your comrade.
I was grateful God allowed Howie and me to meet and share that day. It was a happenstance and a God thing. I enjoyed Howie's stories about Earl. I was touched by his sincere love for his friend. It was a day of reckoning and understanding.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Now, please don't misunderstand, I have a passion for painting. I can't wait to drink my coffee each morning and dive into those wonderful colors on my palette. I mix the paint with excitement. I am inspired by the smell of oil paints. The aroma is a new perfume to my senses. Each stroke must be precise and have a purpose. It reminds me of writing. Both are exhausting ,yet so enjoyable. I can see how God has painted me with His colors. He stroked and formed me in the womb of my mother. She birthed two girls. Each were creative and painted. She and my father were creative and painted. Both of our sons are creative and can draw, design, and appreciate the arts. In my mind, God has created a series of paintings of our family. We each have things in common such as art and creative energy. Yet, we have some different interest and priorities. Yet, we are still family when we differ or agree.
As I paint, each portrait is different , yet connected. They are connected by structure, similar poses, and an impressionistic style. The paintings differ in color, in highlights, and in shadows. I painted them all ; yet, they are different. For some reason, painting helps me understand how big God is. He created each one of us. I think it took time and work. I think he labored as I do creating just the right nose or eyes. I realize a key limitation in my creations and His. I cannot breathe life into my portraits. The people remain still .
Each time I see a new baby born, I marvel at that first breath. Suddenly,a babe is a small person that feels love, warmth, acceptance or rejection. As I sit with a dying friend or relative, I am amazed at how his last breath leaves ,and there is just a lifeless shell that remains. It is that breath that makes us in God's image and living ,caring human beings. Tonight I am stating the obvious, but it is still miraculous in my eyes. My paintings merely suggest life. God gives life today and offers us an everlasting existence with Him. I wonder if painting will be easier in the heavenly realm.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Name: Sandra Baron
Date: October 6,2009
Years of service to the Lord: 60References: Holy men such as Svend Orhvall, Myron Oyler, Ron Hoopingarner, Matt Carder, Rusty Clements, Greg Parris, and Randy Kroening.
Experience: I have learned to love Jesus more deeply each year. I have gained a deeper understanding of the working of the Holy Spirit each hour, each day. I have realized the sovereignty of God for sixty four years.
Reasons to be thankful include:
1. Ellis, our granddaughter, is divinely made and in a perfect state of health.
2. Adam , our son, has found a Christian soul mate who he loves.
3. Dennis , my husband , has been faithful and loving for forty three years.
4. John , our oldest son, chose a wife who helps me as willingly as Naomi of the Old Testament.
5. My son John keeps me grounded and organized as well as nurtures his daughters with love and affection.
6. Ava, our first granddaughter , has taught me to love reading, playing house , babies, and making crafts with the vigor I knew as a child.
7"I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you." Thank you, Jesus. I am redeemed.
8. Each day I see new things in the wonder world around me. Every day brings new discoveries of God's handiwork.
9. I have been made in His image, a creator. I so enjoy learning how to create His way with my paints and writing.
10. I am healthy and have the strength to serve others as God shows me their needs.
11. God promises even in my old age and gray hair, He will sustain me. " I have made you and I will carry you." Thank God I don't have to rely on medicare or man's plans.
12. God has healed our son from purthees and he has no limp.
13. God saved Adam in my womb even when the doctor said he would naturally abort.
14. God saved my husband at the age of 33 , and he has remained faithful to his Redeemer.
15. God sent both of our sons to college by opening the doors for full scholarship.
16. God has given me the opportunity to teach of His goodness for thirty-five years both here and abroad.
17. He has shown me miracles while I have been on mission trips.
18. He has done miracles and healed the sick here in Muncie.
19. His word is alive....living and breathing new understanding in me each day.
20. He allowed me to be born in a free country that allows me to worship as I choose.
21. He has known me since I was formed in my mother's womb. He chose my family just for me.
22. He has given me wonderful neighbors and dear and faithful friends.
23. He provided me with an education via the generosity of godly men.
24. He allowed me to teach , love, and help shape young people for thirty three years.
25. He has increased my boundaries of giving and serving.
The application might further read, " Share any times you have neglected to be thankful."
1. When I was sad and full of myself.
2. When I wished I had more and was not grateful for these things I have.
3. When I forgot to lean on God , who was standing right beside me all the time.
I think filling out a thanksgiving application helps build my faith, my confidence in God. It brings together His constant faithfulness. It makes note of His miraculous ways. It confirms His presence in my life. Maybe I need to fill out this application a few more times each year. I am grateful for the revelation of His mighty ways through simple obedience. Thank you, Lord.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Some days I focus exclusively on nature, my gardens, and the weather. Other days I grieve for a dying friend, a lost loved one, or a hurting neighbor. I recognize that living in Indiana affords me quiet times and big skies held down to the earth by soy beans. Because of so much flat land, my mind is not cluttered. I can reflect on yesterday, today, and savor the dreams of tomorrow.
Each day I am amazed how God leads me to write . He reminds me of His gentle words, His directions, and His commandments. God is my Father, my Creator in whom I trust . I depend on Him , and He never has let me down.
I have remarkable friends. My neighbor has helped me find humor in every day . We sometimes laugh inappropriately, but we always laugh. Our laughter has kept our friendship alive. Laughter has created a bond and understanding. For her I am grateful. I have a friend that has thirteen siblings and still has time for me. I cherish our talks and visits. We are forever trying to discover a successful, healthy eating program. Best of all, both of these friends talk to me about God. They share new understandings in the word of God , and we share books we have read. We pray for each other and earnestly seek God. It is a blessing indeed to have spiritual sisters.
My blog reveals my love of the arts. I hunger to create. Sometimes it is creative writing, but other days are filled with painting and classical music. I thrive on entering into creation or appreciating other people's art and writing. I spent thirty three years trying to inspire young people to love reading, enjoy writing, and appreciate poetry. Many days I returned home exhausted. I had embellished too many poems, discovered so many dangling participles, and asked a plethora of questions. I gave all my creative energy to my students. I had little left in me to write , paint, or even read. I think that is why I appreciate the arts so much in my retirement. I have the energy to engage , learn, and attempt a new work. This is a wonderful place in my life.
I write because I enjoy using words to mold an idea. I write to persuade. I write to reflect and describe my world. These words are my tools. Some days my writing is stronger than other days. Nonetheless, I write to share my love of God and my family and friends. I have discovered what kind of life I live through blogging. I am blessed.
Monday, September 14, 2009
I focused on the small ,yellow finch sitting on a rock by my little stream. I feel as if I am a part of his world. I watch him stretch his neck and bob for a drink. He enjoys each trickle. He quickly darts in and out of the water flicking his feathers. For a moment I was one with his survival, his pleasure, his existence. I will share this moment with my grand daughter, Ava .I will remind her how important all life is to our journey.
I am in a zone of contentment. While on the porch, I fill my pallette and canvas. I mix beautiful colors of teal, lavender, and greens . I watch the juxtaposition of the colors. I am excited. Then,I brush strokes to resemble a river of reflection. I crave to capture this moment for when I am discontent. Surely, this memory can revive me.
Whether yellow finches or ochre paint, the moment is a gracious rendering of a significant moment in time. I wish I could cling to these moments and hold them forever.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Today when Ava and I went up stairs to play house and veterinarian and school, she asked her mommy to please hold baby Ellis. This was the first time she didn't allow me to bring Ellis in her room and let her play our pretend games. She really has shown no digression in skills or jealousy, but today I realized she needed her time with me and only me. It is that time that she is special; she is in charge; she gets to determine what we play and how long we play. I am just the "obedient friend" that goes along with each idea.
Haven't we all wanted such a friend? We would love a mate to be so constantly cooperative or a friend that does what we say with no rebuttals. Childhood is the ideal. It should be anyway. However, when Ava and I are playing and laughing, I realize some children never experience this kind of love. Many children will never have a room of their own or so many toys. Now, many of these toys have been passed down to Ava via her cousins, but still, they are many things for her to learn from and interact. She is privileged in love and blessings as is her sister. Her parents are patient and extend much grace to both of the girls. They are patient and kind in their instructions and training.
However, this ideal world is missing for so many children. Children crave attention and love. When they are not nurtured, they become listless or aggressive. They become the incorrigible teenagers. Having taught for thirty three years, I saw many times the lack of love and guidance.
Life is not fair. I wish I could change some of those destinies. I can reach out at Christmas and summer Bible schools. I can give generously at Thanksgiving . I can pray. I can mentor. I can extend a kind word to the neighbor boy who seems so needy. I can offer to read a book to a child. I can look for children who need extra encouragement. This is my offering unto my Lord. When I do it to the least of these, I serve my Father in heaven.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Later, I was having tea and soup at Panera Bread. I noticed the man in front of me had a well worn Bible. He was young and the Bible looked old. That is a clear indication of a man after God's meaning for his life. I saw how intently he would read the word of God; then, he would translate his feelings and ideas on his trusty Mac lap top. Again, I cannot explain what moved me , but I knew God was near. I knew God was this man's quest. I asked if I could read his Timothy Keller book for a few minutes. He seemed surprised and delighted. He handed me the library book and said this was one of his favorite books. He had a knowing, a light in his eyes, and a humble, shy like smile. He returned to his Bible "digging" and I felt warm inside. He had "selige sehnsucht" , a blessed longing, according to Goethe. This young man had a blessed longing to know more of His God.
I read in Keller's book, " We not only feel reality but also the absence of what we long for." Isn't that so true of our life? When we are seeking, we are unsure of what we are seeking. We long for something ,and we know not what. Some folks spend almost their whole journey seeking. They declare there is no God. Yet, they continue to search , to refute truth ,and yet they are seeking truth. I am sure God must smile a lot at his creation spinning their wheels and losing sight of their true destiny. Then, one day the intellectual seeking realizes that if we are just an accidental collection of atoms, than we and he have no purpose. Even the most intellectually elect knows he needs purpose. Then, he begins his seeking once again.
Our Lord Jesus made it so simple for us. Yet, we try to make it so difficult. He came as a little babe . Babies soften all hearts. Babies take commitment to rear and nourish. That is all Christ wants from us: a commitment to Him. He will nourish us with His word. He will care for us even when there is no bed, no food, or no money.
Our hearts feel strangely warm and tell us the purpose of our journey. Our hearts know, if only we would listen.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Today when I was meditating, I kept seeing a vision of a tea cup. So, I drew one on my sketch pad and used my concordance to find scriptures with "cup" in them. A favorite scripture is Ps.23:5, " You anoint my head with oil and my cup runneth over." One has to stop to be anointed with oil. Cease your fretting and darting about and be still. Another sobering scripture was Mathew 23:25. "You clean the outside of the cup and dish,but inside they(Pharisees) are full of greed and self-indulgence. " The message is clear. First, we must clean the inside of our cup , and then our outside will be clean and reflect a clear vision to others. I thought how many of us besides the Pharisees have that dirty cup problem. I am working on cleaning up my cup, how about you?
As I took the time to seek, His cup was offered to me."This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this whenever you drink in remembrance of me." Yes , His cup of blood given for the forgiveness of sins. That is a cup of which we all want to partake.
The cup meditation netted new truth and understanding and provided me with a clear spiritual goal. I want my cup clean inside. These scriptures pricked my heart this morning. As I grasped my coffee cup, I looked at it in a new way. Each time I offer a cup to a guest, I will be reminded of my cup meditation. Yes, cups are an important commodity in our busy world.
Monday, September 7, 2009
I think of my brain as a crowded science lab. One part is analyzing and dissecting an idea. Another area is contemplating color, texture, design, and composition. In this lab, some neutrons are firing and some are not doing so well as I age. What used to be a simple task of finding a synonym , can sometimes be quite a challenge. A joke my sister and I have is , " No direct questions, please." It just seems that it takes a bit longer to recover, discover, or hover over an idea. All the students are in the lab but some are horsing around and some are sleeping. However, amazingly, my brain continues to learn, to function, to grasp without any meds or buttons.
I am honored and thankful for its faithfulness. I delight when it spurns new ideas, visions, or pictures. I hunger for art days because my brain needs art to regenerate and expose its uniqueness . Nothing looks the same in a bright light, a shadow, or a memory. The brain transcribes according to my demands. It is a delightful gray mass that keeps on keeping on.
So, I just wanted to take today and say, " Thank you, brain."
I know my Creator lives when I meditate on how intricate He created our brains. How could He design such a complex organ that can visualize, love, or do algebra? Why , my brain can hurl itself across mountains and clearly see the Pacific Ocean. I can remember snorkeling through a school of fish and almost reinvent the senses of that day. The brain is a dull colored mass that is essential for this life. It houses our mind. It is our mind and only ours. Our mind a pleasure dome of dreams, senses, and our very private expectations. Like snowflakes, no two minds are alike. We are wonderfully and divinely made. Is that not evidence of our Lord God , our Creator?
Sunday, September 6, 2009
In her teaching me blue, I learned to meditate on the clouds, the earth, the trees, and most importantly God. I began to recognize that He was many more layers than I realized. As I focus on Him, I have understood how amazing and encompassing He is. By training my eye through the scriptures, I have begun to understand His character, His essence, His magnificence. Through daily meditation I have learned to know Him well, but not well enough. I must continue to look for reflections of meaning in God's names. I must see how He changed my destiny and yours by sending His son to the cross. I analyze and realize His worth, His love, His creation. So, I thank Aunt Louise for teaching me blue because she was teaching me how to see God in so many new ways.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Evidence of that sharing of love was demonstrated by the many people who attended her celebration of life service. The Church at the Crossing was filled. Laurie loved people and people loved Laurie. Her children testified to how much she loved praising the Lord. They presented songs of praise and Elizabeth did a stirring praise dance dedicated to her mom and Jesus. Jon read his letter to his mom , and I am sure it challenged every mom in the audience. Laurie left her children a legacy of love of the Lord. She encouraged them and taught them to praise. In her last days, they sat around her bedside singing praise to comfort her. Her husband, Greg would read scripture and praise with them. Her last days were a practice of the presence of God. He provided the truth of peace to them. He comoforted them in the midst of tragedy and loss.
It was a precious ceremony that lasted about two hours. Grievers were invited to take communion and pray at the altar. It was a most honorable celebration and farewell. I hurt that these young men and women would no longer have Laurie in their lives to encourage them and guide them. My heart ached for Greg who had to give up his soul mate much too early. He was grief stricken yet rejoiced in his hope that Laurie was dancing with Jesus and someday he would be there with them. Greg had been a most effective youth pastor. Many who attended were young adults that he had influenced greatly.
As I sat there, I wondered why Laurie had to die so early. She had such an effective ministry here on earth. She had touched so many including her family. She had been a wife who continually loved and was devoted to her husband. She reached people that were lost in despair and troubled. I have no answer, but I do have an understanding that she is absent from her body and is with the Lord. I do know that her legacy was teaching her kids to have a personal relationship with Jesus. I do know that she did hear from the Lord and followed His direction. I felt a peace , a knowing, an assurance that she was in heaven with her Father. So, my unaswered questions are not as important as those things of which I am sure. I am sure that my Father lives. I am sure that Jesus died for our sins. I am sure that Jesus rose from the dead and sits on the right side of the Father. I am sure that those who believe in Jesus will be united with Him and the love ones that followed him in this lifetime. I am sure that this life is but a chapter of our everlasting life. I am sure that the spirit leaves the body at death and returns to its creator. These things I know.
Friday, September 4, 2009
When I decided to do this blog, I was unaware of the discipline it would take. I have already missed one day in September, but I am inspired to write each day. So far my formats seem to be of a devotional genre. I didn't intend that. It just happened. I am unsure if I will keep that format because I read in my friend Linda's blog that the language should be casual and conversational. Wow, that creates new expectations. I think it is important that I use this blog as a discipline and a way to establish my writing voice. When I wrote my daily feelings, epiphanies, joys, and hurts in my private hard copy journal, no one read them. I didn't publish them. Now, I choose to do that. It is building my confidence, so I will send in articles to publishers and editors. There I go making more demands on myself.
I think almost my whole life I have put demands on my days. I thought when I retired that I would relax, read, cook Julia Child kind of meals, and take endless walks. I have been retired nine years and have worked most every day. I weed a garden, trim a bush, mop the floor, clean a closet, wash a window to name a few of my daily chores. Those task are just "givens" in my to do list. Then, I turn it up a notch and ask myself, " What if this was the last day of your life? " That is tough one because I love to help people with their problems, their self esteem, their understanding of language. I enjoy fixing meals for the sick or cheering the forlorned. Exhortation is my gift. Lifting others up brings me great fulfillment. These are things I want to do my last day on earth as well as create.
Then, I ask," what have I done for my spirit today? " I love to study the Bible, pray, and read books by spiritual philosophers like Blackaby,McDonald, CS Lewis. Each of these readings stretch me and help me understand God more clearly.
Next, I ask. "What have you done for your body today?" I walk the dogs every day. Walking is just part of my day. I do need to do a more challenging exercise because my body has become accustomed to walking. I bike a bit, do water aerobics once or twice a week, but I still need to do more.
Ahh, I nudge, " What have you done to day to satisfy your creativity?" I write, draw, paint, artfully journal, scrapbook, or stamp and make cards. I love all these activities and wish I had more time to spend in my art room. I do something creative almost every day, but desire to do more each day.
Then, I say, what have you learned today? I address this in several ways. I read a new concept on painting, or an article on writing, or pursue a topic through a google search. Learning is a strong desire , and I seek each day.
Now I need a little extra money, so I work a few hours each week. I wish I would be more disciplined and write more and become published. I fantasise of making money by writing. Writing is such hard work, but it is what I chase in my dreams..
So, you can readily see that my days are busy. My expectations are demanding. My choices are many. I like this even though my body loves to lie on the couch and nap and read. Today I have shared some personal things about me . I want you to know I do not understand the blogging rules or expectations. I raise the bar each time I sit at the computer. I don't mean the space bar or the alcohol bar.....just that bar of life that keeps prodding me onward. I expect all humans measure their day much as I do. We are evaluating what makes life valuable. I do cherish life and all the opportunities. Life is reaching,working, learning, and building lasting relationships. As the T-shirt company's motto says, " Life is good."
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
My breathing is soft and gentle. My shade is my Father's wing. Under His wing I am a mere child protected. I linger in this state as a bird perched by a stream. Nothing is wrong with me, my family, my world. I hover and enjoy this celestial covering. It is my paradise, my garden of Eden. I will wait for the gentle voice to speak calmness over calamity. I will wait until He calls me by name. I am one with him in the cool stillness of this summer day.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
I collect dishes because of their patterns, shapes, and colors. I have Christmas china that serves many memories of family gatherings and good times. I have Polish china that is white and trimmed in gold. It is an announcement of Denny's love of Poland. Also, in my china cupboard is a set of a rosebud design. This set was my mother's. Each time I set the table with the rose china I envision steaming browned turkey, crispy pork roast, fluffy sage dressing, and raving revues of my mother's cooking. Since I have visited and learned to love Kazakhstan, I have Kazakh china and a beautiful creme and white tea pot that my dearest friends presented to me. When I serve tea in these cups, I remember lingering moments of fellowship and love.
Then, I have one set of gold rimmed Noritake in a Grasmere design. This set was my Aunt Estelle's.I inherited it , but since it is only a set of six, I have used it only once. I have pieces of Belleek from Ireland and Polish serving dishes from Krakow. These countries are Den's and my heritage, and I just couldn't resist lugging them back to the States . Each time I use one of these pieces it creates scenes of green landscapes in Ireland and the folk music of Poland. Now, those are my special dishes. Yes, I have a variety of everyday dishes too.
I have white every day dishes, summer blue and yellow ones, and a warm teal set fashioned by a potter in Key West. Of course, I have a sage green set to match my living room walls. These are sturdy plates that connect me with many family dinners, celebrations, every day problems, and my hardy eating sons. More, yes, I have porch dishes. These are made of melamine or metal to guarantee a safe dinner on the patio. Grand kids may drop them , and there is no calamity. But, they are pretty indeed.
Now , do you understand why pretty is my sin? I get great energy setting tables with these various dishes. Of course, the linen closet is overflowing with linens from every country that accentuate the special dishes I have collected. I make colorful tables with fresh flowers to greet my guest. I am sad because it intimidates some folks when I intend to show them how much I value their friendship. I want to create a beautiful table and tasty food to reach out and show them my love.It is so much work, but since "pretty" is my motivation, it is rewarding to me. I know one day I will not be physically able to create such lavish tables, so I make haste in my "pretty" sin.
I haven't shared my love for crystal. It is beautiful, shiny, faceted, and feels wonderful in my hands. I have so many water goblets because I enjoy drinking vessels on pedestals. I have some wine glasses that are a hundred years old. I have new crystal from Ireland and wine glasses that I have purchased in antique stores and rummages. My eldest son always likes to make a joke when he sits down to one of my holiday tables. " Yep, mom, when you die , someone is going to like buying these Waterford glasses and china dishes for a quarter at my rummage sale." I am sure an engineer sees no purpose for such fussing and so many kinds of dishes. He has recognized my "pretty" sin for years. Hey, maybe my sin isn't "pretty" ; maybe it is hoarding pretty.
Repenting of "pretty" seems impossible. Golden autumn hues, spring greens, and winter whites delight my soul. Color invigorates me and reminds me of God's passion for pretty. I relate closely to His love of color and texture and design. When I mix oil paints, I always search for one of His colors. He is the master artist and gardener. It is He that has created me in His image. He has given me an inborn aesthetic that is just like His. I am drawn to more and more beauty as I age. Beauty is His compass to attract me to a heavenly home. I can not perceive the glory of an celestial garden. I cannot imagine the vibrant colors of heaven. All I know is that I love pretty.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Let me share a little story. When Denny and I were in Alaska, we went on a helicopter to see a glacier. When we landed, I marveled at the expanse of blue ice and snow everywhere. The snow covered land was barren, just white land for as far as I could see. I looked down in a ravine , and it was just more ice and more ice. The blue sky contrasted dramatically against the white snow. As I was walking around, I heard a familiar buzz. I thought I must be confused since I am accused of being in that state often. However, there by the helicopter wing were two tiny humming birds. We were miles and miles away from nothing and so were they. I heard a nudging from the Lord that morning. He said,"Never underestimate what I can do." Those little hummers gave me hope and faith that what seemed impossible to me could be so easily accomplished by the Creator. Each time I see a hummingbird, I remember that special miracle moment. Today was no different. My faith is resurrected each time I see one.
I was a bit like the butterflies, bees, and hummer today. I just flitted from one task to the next. I admired the beautiful August lilies, the ever blooming hydrangeas, the purple holly hocks, and smelled the sweet aroma of my lavender. Nothing is more pleasant than a morning garden walk.
I really wish I could fly like my little friends. But, I am content to appreciate the many wonders of nature and reflect on its beauty and meaning in my life. Ahhh, summer days are heart memories to be recalled on a cold, gray winter day.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Ava and I always play house. I have to be the little sister and she is mama. She uses such a soft and tender voice to tell me to pick up my clothes, make pink icing, and take a nap. I try to rebel a little but she patiently states, " Now, MiMi , I keep having these talks with you. When I ask you to take a nap, that's what you should do." Her eyes are intense and her words exact. I am amazed how much she has learned in three and a half years. Often Ava puts me in quiet time. She says I need to think about being a good girl. I announce, " I am a good girl." She responds, " You have been naughty, and it is time to think about how to be good."
I am amused because I have considered how I could be good all my life. Her daddy once told me, " A boy can only be good so long, Mommy. and then a little bad squeaks in." I knew there was wisdom and realism in that statement. The same applies today when I weaken and eat that frosted malt. Perhaps I just don't feel like putting the dishes away or making the bed. I just walk away hoping a magic fairy will appear and do all my chores. Then, in my quiet time, I think about how God forgives me for all sins, big and small. I consider how to live my life better and serve others in new ways. I consider my weaknesses and how when I operate in them, Christ stands strong and guides me through the unknown. I consider all the suffering in our world. It makes me heavy and I am sad. However, I know that I must go on today. I must deliver God's joy to others. I must reach out and make a difference to my neighbor, my friends, and my family. I know that I am very blessed ,and my heavenly Father understands that I can't be disciplined every hour every day.
Adam calls on Sundays from Seattle. He shares his week and weekend with his dad and me. He talks of his new love, Annie. and what great times they have had together. He tells us of his new challenges and what excitement he feels in reaching new goals in his EPA career. It is his chapter summary for the week. We listen to his problems and their resolves. I wish I could feel his hugs on Sunday, but I have learned to appreciate Sunday phone calls.
So, Sundays are a blessing from morn to evening. For this I am very grateful. I savor this day.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
My teacher is Susie. She is an upbeat gal who loves art. She repeats patiently all the painting rules, things that work, things that don't work over and over. I have always considered myself bright and creative. These classes have humbled me. I can't retain these simple rules or make the paint brush shape the image I desire. For example, I dab instead of use controlled brush strokes. I like a color and use it excessively destroying the balance of the values. I labor at painting not in detail. Details don't matter; yet, they do. "Paint dark to light, " she reminds me. Then, she tells me I need to place some light to keep the hues balanced. Oh, my, it is a lot to retain and practice. It is enjoyable but difficult. It takes as much concentration as writing. We all know that takes zoning in and staying in the now. Painting reminds me of writing because sometimes I keep putting off making time for it. I know it is going to involve my whole being , my mind, even my spirit. If I have to be interrupted, I would rather not begin.
Each decade of my life I have tried to learn something new. My extra curricular activities have been varied but so entertaining. For example, in my twenties I learned how to sew and make my clothes and design matching outfits for my boys. Because of my obsessive nature, I purchased yards and yards of wonderful fabric. In a fabric store, I became a glutton. Ideas for new dress designs danced in my mind. I sewed in the evenings, during the day, and often way into the night.
In my thirties, I focused on learning the Bible. I delved into the studies with great intensity. I utilized my language background to study Greek and Latin translations. It was a most productive period in my life and served my soul well.
In my forties I learned ballet. I was quite awkward but I loved it. I even had ballet bars put in my study , so I could practice each night. To my husband's dismay, I performed in a recital at the school where he was an administrator.
In my fifties I began going to more writers' workshops and groups and developed my writing skills. This is the same era that I became a stamp artist and a scrapbook creator. Out went the ballet bars and in came wonderful cabinets with little drawers to hold my 3000 stamps I had accumulated. I loved stamping in the wee hours of the morning creating collages, cards, and scrapbook designs.
Now, in my sixties I am learning to paint. Last winter my sister taught me how to use acrylics. I have played with my watercolors on cold nights when going out in the snow and ice were just too much of a challenge. Now, I am working with oils.
Each discipline has taught me something about art and literature. I suppose my thirty three years of teaching English influenced my choices. All have been a part of God's creative spirit. I have been mesmerized by each challenge. I crave knowledge and discover new ways to learn each day. I have not mastered any of these activities but immensely enjoyed learning and practicing them. Sewing has fallen by the wayside as has ballet. However, I do ballet exercises in water aerobics and remember my hours at the ballet bar. Writing is part of each day as is studying God's word. Stamping, scrapping, and painting are a part of each week. So, I suppose these have had a permanent effect on the quality of my life's journey. Each new art project is so exciting to me. Every morning epiphany from God's teaching creates in me a new passion for life and reaching out to others. I am eager to see what new specialty I will embrace in my seventies.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Sometimes, we are waiting on a spouse. This can bring up anxious moments when we are wondering, "Is he OK? Has he been in a wreck? Where is he?" This is probably the only time the fellow gets an open the door greeting. He is kissed and welcomed. Another waiting scenario might bring him a very different greeting. If the dinner is cold or the company has arrived, a greeting might be in my mean voice through gritted teeth, "Thanks a lot for calling. " This may be the only words he hears from me all night.
Then, there is the nine months of waiting for the creation inside of me to make entry into the world. This waiting is filled with anticipation. Will the baby be a boy or a girl? Will he be healthy? Will he look like dad's side or mine? Will he be bright and clever? Will I be able to handle all those night feedings? Will I be a good mom? Can I afford to send him to school in eighteen years? It really takes nine months to ponder and decide on little munchkin's being. Meanwhile, I can feel life within. This makes waiting easier because I know someone is in their kicking and developing into the child of my dreams.
When I sit with a dying family member, I realize a long and labored wait. It is the most difficult kind of waiting because the loved one is leaving. I don't want them to leave, but I don't want them to linger and suffer . This waiting is so difficult because I am unsure of how long the process of stepping over to another life will take. Will dying take nine months ? It takes nine months for a life to incubate and grow into a breathing person. Will dying be a little less life day by day or will death come suddenly and catch me unaware?
Today's meditations on waiting remind me that there are lessons learned in waiting , but many times there is suffering too. As my sweet grand daughter Ava says, " That's just the way it is Mimi; that's just the way it is."
Thursday, August 13, 2009
How many of us create a quiet place? We seem to innately yearn to be alone for comfort and strength. "Open my eyes to divine teachings from earthly wonders, " I ask. As I look at the expanse of the blue heavens, I have clarity of mind. My earth born cares just yield to the joys of my heavenly communion . The Lord meets with me in my secret place. I gather His grace from the soft and gentle breezes of the surrounding shade trees. As I peep through the vine covered trellis, I feel His presence. I feel very blessed to have him spend time with me. He sees me always when others cannot. He hears my heart and feels my warm tears fall on his scarred feet. The greens of the garden remind me of the everlasting life He has given me. I am in the glory of a sun swept day.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I am working for YOC on a mentoring program. I am trying to match mentors and mentorees this week. Tomorrow is my day of calls and connections. I hope I am awake to be successful.
I am tutoring foreign exchange students who need a little language boost. I am trying to write and get something published. In the midst of this work, I am having lots of company this weekend. The munchkins are coming as well as their mom and dad. Then, I have a dinner for my prayer group on Sunday after the kids leave. So, there are household chores like clean sheets, dusting , and cleaning that must be done. I suddenly decided I have to dig out all the ferns in my north side gardens because they look messy. I have new flowers to plant in there and summer is almost over. I have planted all summer. I got a late start and now it is an obsession with me. Plant, transplant, plant some more. I need garden therapy.
I love my life. I complain about always being busy. There is just not another way to live. I embrace the morning with my Lord Jesus. Then, I am off running. Apparently, today I overdid the running pace and now I must lay me down to sleep.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
I remember when I was a young mom I felt that same guilt. Sometimes it wasn't guilt; I just couldn't understand how others kept their house so clean . I didn't have time to read parenting books because I was trying to fix dinner for my husband and kids. I didn't ever get a job completed because the boys had a question, a problem, an issue. I loved playing with them, so I would sit down and play legos or cars or best of all help them hunt worms and snakes outside. All of a sudden, the door bell would ring and there stood my neighbor. She had her makeup on , her blouse ironed, and I knew her house was spotless. I hated inviting her in because there were toys all over and dirty dishes. She didn't seem to care I was messy. She would chat a while and ask if I had seen her boys. Of course, they were usually in our backyard or playhouse. They loved to play in my son's room because they didn't have to put everything away immediately. Consequently, my boys always had extra playmates and a messy room. I made extra lunches and brownies. I stopped to share a craft with them. Then, it was dinner time. I remember clearly not feeling organized or a good home maker.
In retrospect, I realize I truly was a home maker. I made a home where kids liked to play and create. I made healthy snacks they enjoyed , and I would help them scoop up toys into shelves and toy boxes just before dad came home. No, my house wasn't spotless until right before company was coming. I would clean like a mad woman making everything shine and be in place. That was my way of keeping house. I played with our boys and cooked great dinners. I kept the laundry up and made pretty gardens. We went on walks in the woods, we found lonely turtles, we enjoyed watching the clouds. When they were babes, I spent most of my day rocking and singing to them. Nursing my infant was far more important than vacuuming.
I don't regret one day of playing with them. I do regret the times I said, " I 'll be out later. I have to get this work done first." I don't regret teaching them to love to read by reading to them by the hour. I do regret that somedays I used my mean voice to get them to clean their rooms. I told them ,"We have to clean it up at least once a week. " I don't regret our bike rides together. I do regret that I didn't learn to ski with them. I don't regret that we spent grocery money on paints, paper, and paper plane books. I do regret that I didn't hold them longer each time I hugged them.
So, I would say to young moms, houses will always need attending. There will be time later to keep everything in place. Now is the time to tend your young impressionable babe. He will remember warm, sunny August days as times of swinging, swimming, and playing ball with you. You will have shaped his heart, his mind , and his spirit. Who really cares how you shaped your living room pillows?
Sunday, August 9, 2009
As my eyes slowly search for new growth and blossoms, I see the pink begonias confluent with the tall deep blue annuals adjacent to the fountain. I painted the fountain terra cotta this summer to highlight its Aztec design. Just as I was admiring the new color, a bright red cardinal, flew under the fountain to wet his feathers. I laugh as he shakes off the water and preens his feathers. He needs a cool bath on this sweltering summer day.
Next, comes Mr. Hummer to gather the nectar from the peach salvia blossoms. He flits from stem to stem checking that he doesn't miss any of the sweet nourishment. He is amazingly small and so fast. No wonder so many neighbors put out red feeders in hopes of attracting hummingbirds. They delight the eye and entertain us all.
It is because of summer mornings like these, I toil and plant each year. God's blessings are abundant and bring me such joy. Even though I say each year that I am cutting back, I remember mornings like today and plant more fervently each year.