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.