Wednesday, December 31, 2014

preeminent (not prominent)

Last week we drove to Arkansas and celebrated Christmas together with Noah's family and Josiah's family. Ahh- the 2 baby boys and 3 little girls. . . they clear spaces for us and beg us to scoot close to their little bodies on the bench for meals. (of course, we give them candy)

Then yesterday we drove home from Memphis, a 12 hour trip; John drove the whole way and it was good. I read aloud, The Story of God, the Story of Us-   we talked about big, lofty, God focused thoughts, and when my voice wore out I dug out the knitting.  . .  then when my arms sort of fell off from knitting, I resumed reading.

I opened my journal, for tomorrow's a new year. . .it's good to review and remember.
There's lots scribbled in my journal, but here's just one thought for today and tomorrow and all the rest of the tomorrows in my earthly life. . .and yours.

"He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. . . 
so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything"
Colossians 1:17-18b

I've been asking myself, What does it look like for Christ to have preeminence (not merely prominence) in my life? Soul, since Christ is to have first place in everything, there's no picking and choosing! And if Christ is preeminent, He's got to be on the throne of my heart and affect how I live.
So, it all comes down to this for me-  I must choose to elevate Christ to the throne day after day, moment by moment, when I'm tempted to be angry with my husband, impatient with my family, tempted to take up an offense against my friend or to love with half a heart, listen with half an ear. . .

And lately, when fear inches into my mind, I've got to remember in 2015 that He Himself has first place in everything.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

something old, something new

It's been one of those weeks where you mark up the calendar and remind your spouse,
 "Ahh, God has been faithful!"
Then you peer through the crack in a new door. . .

Tuesday John signed his retirement papers- that means he's terminating with the school district and January 28, 20015 he'll turn in the keys.  It's time to embrace something new, but signing those papers kind of feels like the ringing of the final bell.

Thursday morning I sat in the packed social security office with a book and a bit to knit. I punched in my number and waited. After awhile a friendly man called me to his window.

"How can I help  you today, Ma'am?"

"I'm turning 65, my husband is retiring- it's all happening next month and I think I need to. . . ."

It was all pretty routine, not at all painful- and as I stood up to leave, I shared a personal memory with this stranger:
"Shortly after my 16th birthday my father took me to the social security office to get my number and card. He reminded me to to be patient, there would most likely be a wait- and I felt grown up!"
The stranger nodded and smiled.

And one more thing. . .last week I spent a morning with a friend. She's enduring and trusting God amid a lengthy trial;  my friend encourages me as she waits, as she trusts.
I suggested,  "Friend, let me read  Psalm 92 to us. . .the first part reminds me of you and the last part is for me. . .

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, And to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
To declare your lovingkindness in the morning and your faithfulness by night. . .
For you Lord, have made me glad by what you have done, 
I will sing for joy at the works of your hands. . .

The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree. . . Planted in the house of the Lord,
They will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green. . .

Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday quiet

I love a quiet Monday- it doesn't always happen that way, but so it is this morning. . . mailers and wrapping paper and little gifts cover my dining room table- our dear ones live so far away, you know. Last night I ordered Texas ruby red grapefruit, Valley Gold, for my sisters in California. I expect that they will send us navel oranges and almonds, California Gold. . .

I'm thinking about the quote club and the one Lisa shared a few weeks ago-- especially sharp and applicable to me, I love this quote:

"We are silent in the early hours of each day because God is suppose to have the first word,
and we are silent before going to sleep because to God also belongs the last word."
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

So, I readily embrace the part about silence in the morning --really, I know that unless God has the first word in the morning hours, I am doomed to a self centered day.  Although it doesn't always happen, I want to give Him the first word; I'm expectant. . .
But to be honest, I hang onto the day's last word, wanting to listen to my own words, to your words, to words about my day, words of worry, concern, anticipation, even good words.
And sleep often evades me- I don't really want to give up the night to God. Maybe I think that He owns the day but the night hours are mine . . .hmmm, how prideful!

Last week I shared these thoughts with a friend and she reminded me -

It is vain for you to rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for He gives to his beloved even in his sleep. (Psalm 127:2)

Thanks, friend. . . and we are silent before going to sleep because to God also belongs the last word.

where I work on a quiet Monday morning

Monday, December 8, 2014

unite my heart. . .

It's a cold day in Texas. I'm making turkey soup with barley- just like my mother. And I'm stitching a bit on this quilt- I can't seem to stitch fast enough to keep up with the babies.

I was tempted the other day to join facebook.  I was missing out -at least so I thought. . . but it's not for me for now, maybe never- for you see, I'm already too interested as to when you do your laundry.
But I like technology, enjoy writing on this space, send lots of personal emails, and I text, really I do!
John and I joke with each other- about how we text- how often we text- how slowly we text!

But it's good, in fact lately I've been texting Scripture to dear ones as I pray for them.
The other day, feeling perplexed and low, I prayed for my heart- and then I texted Psalm 86:11 to my friend:

Teach me your way, O Lord, unite my heart to fear your name.
I wil give thanks to you, O Lord God, with all my heart,
And will glorify your name forever.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

just reflections

I had sweet company in my kitchen yesterday. . . How can I help? Let me wash and dry and organize, stir and pour, arrange and put out! They kept offering- I kept saying, "of course." I love fellowship in the kitchen!

 "Ladies, I  get  kind of bossy in my kitchen when I'm hosting a crowd. . . not like yelling, but my voice gets this staccato edge- have you noticed?"
Ahh, how we laughed amid my kitchen chaos. They know the bossy temptation too.

I'd brought my soul and my temptations to God before dawn that morning, "Lord, I'm gonna be tempted. Produce your fruit in my life today, gentleness, patience, self control, I can't do this alone!"

And Lord, give me your joy. . .

It's Friday and I'm picking up- but not too much. I'm slow, enjoying pie for breakfast, reflecting on yesterday-  I'm thankful for sweet fellowship, some deep conversation over dishes and whipping cream, a new friend, a diverse group around 2 tables, yet another Thanksgiving at my house, and my Redeemer, faithful, ever faithful to love and change me.

And this morning I'm winding some beautiful yarn for a special project. Lovely fibers with names like: Au NaturalCharcoal, Paper, Calligraphy, Gravity. . .
I like the monotony of the winding rhythm--round and around, loosely winding. I'm thinking about my friend, Pam, who taught me how to wind yarn years ago. Even insignificant tasks have a technique, right?

I loop the hank around a chair back, winding, winding. . . I pray for my dear friend.

Friday, November 21, 2014

to hope continually

The weekend rolls around and I take stock of the flying days . . .

Last week was crowded with listening and responding, praying and weeping- remembering that God is good and does good, that He is King, always.
I  cooked dinner once last week. . .  some days you just have to make do (or as my husband says, "there's always eggs!")
One morning before leaving for school, John prayed with me- you see, the weight of pain seemed overwhelming. But then I'm thinking. . . how to understand the paradox of sweet and bitter, sorrow and peace all wrapped up together? It's there, totally there, and God reminds me that He's very present in it all.

Friday night at Bible study I prayed with 4 young women. They each shared- then I shared,
"Ladies,  I'm in a different season of life. . .and this week the burdens are so heavy; please pray that I'll rest, that I can trust God. . ."

Then I knew that Christ's body is beautiful. . . women in different seasons, overwhelmed and burdened by vastly different circumstances; we love the same King who never changes. . .I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. (Psalm 27:13)

I will hope continually. . . my mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day, for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come.
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone.
Psalm 71:15-16

Thursday, November 13, 2014

to choose a worthy quote

My dear friend, Lisa, invited me to join a quote club and with barely a blink, I responded, "I'm in!"
I love a good quote- succinct, memorable, worthy of conversation. . .
Our goal is to learn 52 quotes in 52 weeks!  Every 6 weeks my turn comes around to share a quote. I'll need to post my quote and its context by noon on that Friday.

 I wanted my first quote to come from Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer--but how to choose??

These days God keeps nudging and convicting me to love more by listening more. I'm a pretty eager talker, you know. . . I especially notice the talking trap when I'm on a long distance phone conversation, catching up with dear ones, sometimes counseling, and when I can't catch facial cues, I just jump in and continue the talk! (have you noticed?)
With all that in mind, I decided to choose a quote from the section of Life Together titled "The ministry of listening".
And I'm looking hard at my own heart while remembering Bonhoeffer's encouragement to listen long and patiently to others, not listening with just "half an ear that presumes to know what the other person has to say."
So-I chose to share a quote with a warning last Friday, my first quote week.

"He who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either;
he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too."
                                                                                                             Dietrich Bonhoeffer

( The first line of the quote is impactful enough, but I added the second line because the idea of "prattling in the presence of God" is a frightful prospect!)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

to bear her burden

Wednesday evening I stood in the luggage line at the airport- back home in America.  Next I waited in the customs line; my cell phone beeped- a call from a sweet friend.
So, once on the curb, luggage in tow, I returned my friend's call as I waited for John to come swooping by for me. It was one of those moments then. . . when the pain of a dear one takes your breath away,  pain that feels so real it's like choking.

The next morning I called my friend, "I didn't sleep much, feeling kind of dizzy with a cranky ear this morning, I'd better not drive over to your house--but I'm here, you know."

Then as an afterthought I texted her. . .

"I almost didn't tell you that I lost sleep over your suffering last night because I know you don't want to be the cause of my sleeplessness! But I decided to tell you anyway because I'm learning that God wants us to nurture a culture of mutual burdensomeness within the church. I bear your burden not because it's a duty but because I love you and because Jesus bore it all. . ."

The brother is a burden to the Christian precisely because he is a Christian.
For the pagan the other person never becomes a burden at all.
He simply sidesteps every burden that others may impose on him.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Life Together)

Friday, October 31, 2014

even when I don't say it quite right

Selma  pumps the peddles of her little tricycle, bouncing along cracked sidewalks. She waves and shouts greetings to favorite shop keepers along the way.
Now Selma is 7 years old and all the neighborhood knows. . .

 Naomi and I made our way to the flower market on the metro. Roaming the stands, examining mounds of color, we searched for  birthday flowers for our girl. . . flowers that are "bueno, bonito, y barrata" (good, pretty, and cheap!) Then we hauled huge bunches home, again on the metro.

"Mom, hold onto the pole! keep your bag close." my daughter reminds me. It's a Mexico City adventure.

Saturday morning  Selma's school friends arrived for her party; we arranged flowers, crafted bracelets, ate fruit and sliced the little round cake with strawberry frosting.
And  I met some sweet mamas who came with their girls and stayed all afternoon.
Tere accompanied Diana, a sweet 7 year old with a face like a lit up moon and dimples.

So, I stepped into conversation with Tere, "Is Diana your only daughter?"
Ahh, how mamas in every culture share their hearts. . . no, there is another daughter who died years ago. Tere showed us a picture.
"But now I have Diana!" she exclaimed, smiling.

Too often my Spanish fails me in situations like this, when I want to move in deeper with compassion and comfort; I open my mouth and hear the wrong words or verb tense spilling out.

But I try anyway. . .

"Diana is so dear but she's not a replacement for your other daughter!" I stumbled, not saying it quite right.
Then I hugged this mama tightly-- and we cried.

Selma and Diana

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

a visit across the border. . .

I've been raffling through old pictures, lots in boxes, more filed on my computer. I pieced this quilt for Selma when she was born. . .I packed the quilting hoop in my suitcase when I traveled to Spain for her birth.
So, today I'll be off to Mexico City to visit Joshua and Naomi and the sweet grandchildren. And I'll be there for Selma's birthday--the first time since her birth seven years ago!

Again I'm packing suitcases, no quilting hoop this time but lots of goodies. . .

 So, my family asked the big question, "What do you want to do during your visit?"
 I came came up with a dozen options . . .

* Walk to and from school with the children every day
* Visit the urban garden in the neighborhood
* coffee at the favorite neighborhood shop
* make pozole (Mexico City style)
* visit the women and children's shelter
* meet and visit with lots of friends
* braid Selma's hair and eat birthday cake
* shop in the neighborhood produce market
* play at the park every day
*worship with the church

hmmm, I think we'll be busy. . .and of course, we will read books.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

ordinary work

I'm attempting to make order from my collection of saved paper. . .words, words, words written on paper. I love paper, and even as technology strides into my life, I still reach for paper, write words with my favorite pens and pencils, still keep a paper calendar, imagine that?

I dug into a "to go through" box on the shelf and found some homemade cards. I spent an hour reading through those gems- 10 years ago a sweet friend penned this quote in her card to me:

"Ordinary work, which is what most of us do most of the time, is ordained by God
 every bit as much as is the extraordinary. All work done for God is spiritual work 
and therefore not merely a duty but a unique privilege. . .
The story is told of three women washing clothes. A passerby asked each what
 she was doing. 'Washing clothes' was the first answer. 'A bit of household drudgery' 
was the second. 'I'm mothering three children who some day will fill important and 
useful spheres in life and wash-day is a part of my grand task in caring for these 
souls who shall live forever' was the third."
(The Shaping of a Christian Home, Elisabeth Elliot)

It's pleasant to think that when I was in the thick of washing and mothering, my heart reflected that third woman's response. But truth be told, I'm sure I responded like all three. . .
But then my friend wrote that she was praying . . . " I'm praying for you this week as you embrace the 'holy privilege' of  ordinary work."

I called my friend the other day and thanked her for the card and the quote, for her prayers for me. I keep reminding myself that ordinary work is extraordinary when done for God- my work looks different now (I mean, how many clothes do I wash each week for just the 2 of us?)
And I pray for the women I know who persevere in their ordinary work for the glory of God.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

their stories and more. . .

John's bike bumped up the porch at almost 6:00 PM on Thursday. He advised me in the morning, "I'll be late- I've got a mandatory faculty meeting about school policy incase of a safety threat."
And then I wondered if my husband was in lockdown. You know, sometimes the day feels endless.

I'd found remnants of his predawn breakfast . . . a crumpled wrapper from a dark chocolate bar, a mug with chocolatey dregs- I'd best feed the man. So I cooked dinner, a pasta dish with sautéed eggplant, sausage and feta cheese. And we sat on the bench at the cluttered dining room table, pushing aside papers and projects and books. How did 10 people ever fit around this board?
Dusk crept through window panes and over dinner we shared our stories from the previous day- people stories, kingdom stories.

First he told me about Juan Jose, a young fellow fresh from Mexico. Somehow he's connected with our children in Mexico City. He showed up at John's discipleship group, content to be there with men who love Jesus. And on the ride home he told John his story, "This is hard to say. . . but I trust you."

Then I told John about my new friend, a young woman who immigrated from Mexico years ago. She invited me to her home and and over coffee she shared her story. We talked about all the usual stuff  women talk about- and we talked about the gospel. I knew she would ask. . .and I was ready, pretty much ready.

"Her questions were sincere, thoughtful and I made it through in Spanish, well almost. . . Aye, I was cast upon the Lord!" I told my husband.

"Ah, I wish I'd been a mouse in the corner to hear it all," he exclaimed.

"I didn 't get it quite right in Spanish. . .the redemption thread connecting the Old and New Testaments. I need to practice- help me!" I appealed.

And he did. . .

Sometimes when I think about the next season of our lives, our retirement years, I wonder what it would be like to be retiring from a career. But no, right here is where I love to be, hearing their stories, and sharing His. . .

(Juan Jose's coming for dinner this week- he loves pozole. . . I'm sure there will be stories.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

noisy words

The city is paving our street- I dream about the banging, grinding, bell ringing  machines ramming into our house. I awake, startled. It's 6 AM, already a noisy day.
John came home one afternoon this week and commented, "Hear that clicking whistle sound? that's the sound I make in the school gym when the kids come in with shirts untucked- they think it's funny!"
Soon we'll have nice smooth pavement, a street without potholes. Then I'll wipe up the grimy window sills and I will have forgotten all about the chain gang on my street.

I'm always ready with words, maybe you know that about me? I love God's good plan, the potential that my words might love, comfort, convict, refresh, challenge someone.  It doesn't always happen that way. . . in fact, I'm thinking about an encounter last week when my words had the affect of noisy reverberation, akin to the paving machines on my street.

And later I confessed, "Friend, I'm sorry for my careless words."
So, I'm taking stock of my words, examining what transpired in my heart before the noisy words overflowed into awkward space.  I think my words outside the particular context were fine words- kind, truthful, caring, but- I got too personal in the wrong setting that day.

Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,
but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion,
that it may give grace to those who hear (Eph 4:29)

An aspect of wholesome talk is that I wisely tailor my words to the occasion and to the needs of the specific hearer. And why, Oh why, am I still learning these lessons? After all, I've memorized lots of Scripture and taught all my children, like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word fitly spoken in right circumstance. (Prov 25:11)

When I step back, I see God leaning in hard- because he loves me, doing his work to restore his shattered image in me, that one day I might truly look like my beautiful Savior.
(hmmm, I can't wait. . .)

Monday, September 29, 2014

bearing long in love

A few weeks ago I set out tiny seedlings for our fall vegetable garden, 6 broccoli, 4 cauliflower, lots of kale, and already the cooler mornings and evenings encourage lovely growth. A few basil plants sprouted from dropped seed; those little beauties should produce bunches of basil until a December freeze--hummm, tomato basil soup on a chilly day!
I can usually think of ways to use the broccoli but creativity with cauliflower challenges me-mainly I love to see the contrast, snowy white cauliflower heads among a garden of greens! I've earmarked two cauliflower plants for my friend, Kate. She feeds her family lots of vegetables and makes cauliflower rice!

Kate and I have been studying Ephesians for months; one afternoon last week we slid into the booth at our usual coffee shop and opened up to Ephesians 4.  "This was so so good for me!" we agreed, almost in unison.

Well, God's living Word is always good. . . but sometimes He uses his Word to drive me deeper into his heart; perhaps it's just because I'm ready to hear. It's like the King has set the table, prepared his feast, graciously served it - and I'm hungry. I love when a friend on the same journey (although in a different season) affirms the impact.

I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling for which you have been called, 
with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 
eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:1-3)

So, Kate and I had lots on our minds to share personally about the good Word that day, and it still  rumbles around inside me. . .
walk worthy of the calling to which you have been called. . .that calling is the Gospel call on my life! bearing with one another in love . . .  I ask myself, "Amid personal conflicts do I bear long in love. . .not giving up on relationships, not turning away when its hard?"

No, not always, not often enough. . .I'm remembering today that when a relationship is strained, I need to respond in loving tolerance, with patience and humility.
I need this gospel challenge today- because forbearing love begins with me. . .

Monday, September 22, 2014

bits and pieces

I'm a sweater girl who lives in south Texas. Surely, cooler days are on the doorstep, so today I sewed up  a hole in the elbow of my favorite sweater- then I hung it up,. . .

On Monday John visited the school district office and then over our 2 plate dinner we talked about the new pieces in the retirement puzzle; we submit and receive papers one by one. Retirement officially begins January 29, 2015.
"They say the benefit package is good." he shares.
"What's that mean?" I wonder.

Hmmm, we're not quite sure- there's so many details to work out; the pieces are adding up, creating a portrait of retirement.

I have set the Lord continually before me, because He is at my right hand, 
I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8) 

Crashing woke me in the wee hours of the morning--then silence and I wondered if I'd dreamed it? But in the morning while sweeping, I saw it. . .pieces of a terra-cotta plate piled on the table.
Many years ago when my kids were quite little and we lived in the mountains of Mexico, we would come to the city to shop and sometimes purchased items in an artisan place in the heart of Puebla. And that's when I selected 4 rustic clay plates, different sizes, the colors and scenes of the Mexico I love.
So, last week the largest one fell off the wall, ending up in a pile of chunks, shards, and dust.
Was it valuable? Oh no--only in memories. The collection of 4 plates has hung like that on the wall of all our homes for 35 years- in our adobe houses in Cuautempan and Aquixtla and in Texas forever, so it seems.

"I heard the plate crash down in the night." I commented to my husband.
"I picked up the pieces, collected them incase you want me to glue it together."
Glue it together?  that's my husband, he's been gluing together pieces in my life for 42 years.

No, but thanks- we're moving on, piece by piece and the Lord makes all things beautiful in His time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September. . .and a few worthy pursuits

I've been knitting away for my favorite little boys - and during our summer road trip I delivered 2 striped hats with ear flaps and a blue sweater with wooden buttons and a shawl collar to the ones in Arkansas, Tennessee, New York. It's September and soon enough they'll be ready for warm wool.

I think it's about time for some pink- this Lottie Cardigan is for Eleanor in New York; I love the garter stitch texture and couldn't resist the yarn called raspberry. (bright bright, what will her sweet mama think?)

In this season when my routine isn't precisely framed, sometimes I wander, trying to discern the worthy pursuits God has for me- then I pray, Lord, teach me the way that I should walk. . .teach me to do your will because you are my God.
And He does. . .

Last week John and I stayed with 4 dear children from our church family while their parents were out of town. It was so so good for us to remember the scene and to tackle daily meals for 6, diapers, chores, homework, park evenings, bedtime routines- and all the rest, including their hearts.
One day we argued about how he handled some contention, and later we asked forgiveness, me for being critical and him for being defensive; a bit amused, we asked each other "How did we ever handle that one with our own 8-- do you remember?"
Ahh, this opportunity, a worthy pursuit, and to think their parents trusted us.

And last week women's Bible study started up at church; this year I'll lead a small group with my dear friend- Martha and I are  mother-in-laws together, have been for almost 15 years and we share  grandchildren.  We've worked in women's ministry at Believers Fellowship for lots of years but this will be our first time to partner; I'm anticipating good things and growth. . .Martha tells me that she'll learn from me this year, but really, I think the same about her. One day I surveyed the roster of women in our group and I texted her,

"Martha, I don't know half of the women in our group!"
"I know-  I'm excited to get to know so many new women!" she immediately returned my text.

You see, already I'm learning from her. . .

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

He writes their story

 When we visit our Syracuse family in the summer, we go out for ice cream- it's tradition; our favorite spot is Arctic Island where I love to wait my turn, surveying the menu of ice cream flavors  printed in columns on old cracked walls. Folks up north know how to do ice cream stands.

There's something broadening and delightful about sharing new experiences with our grown up kids.
We stand on the outside, taking in the spinning gears of their lives--but honestly, sometimes it feels strange, lonely;  I tell myself that the changing dynamics of families is God's good plan.

Sometimes Scripture comes to rest in my mind with an unexpected application--especially when the character of our God is on display. And right here the truth of Acts 17:26 helps to untangle my heart.

 "From one man God made every nation of men, that 
they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined 
the times set for them and the exact places where they should live."

The Master designer has determined that my children would grow up and be involved in relationships, geographical locations, experiences and worthy pursuits apart from me and outside of our home that would powerfully influence and shape them. He is writing the story of each of their lives-perfectly.

So, today I tell myself again. . .if I am going to love my children well, I must worship God as Sovereign.

Friday, August 29, 2014

common tears

Yesterday as I signed the check-in clipboard at my dentist's office, I peered under my eyelids at the dental assistant seated at the counter--she's worked alongside the good dentist for 20 years; I remember when her children were just babes.

"So, did you get him off?" I asked. my voice barely audible.
Her tears welled up instantly, spilling over. It was so fresh- she'd just taken her oldest to college in Boston, to the New England Conservatory, no less.

She ushered me to the treatment room and as we waited, she shared her mother's heart struggle--it's so good but it's so hard and I agreed. Then my appointment was all finished, quick, pretty much it was just a professional chat with the good dentist- in fact I almost didn't need to be there. but then I did. . .

Gathering up my chart she asked, "Where's your purse?" and we lingered by the door. I hugged her again, "This is God's good plan for our children- you know,  change is almost always perceived as loss. . .it will be okay, he'll write or call or text- trust God with your boy and with all the tomorrows." I assured.

Then we cried together-- and Why me?  my boys and girls sailed off to college and beyond long ago.  But we're the mamas peering  over the edge from the outside into our kids' new lives. . . and again it's all so fresh.
hmm, mutual reassurance is good- as is the dampness of shared tears.

Ahh, Coneflowers in Ohio- wish I could get these beauties to grow in my yard ini Texas!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

visits and memories

I suppose I'm at the age where memories come flooding in with the slightest nudge-

Built in book shelves line one wall of the dining room at Brett and Rachel's house in Ohio. Wouldn't you know that my eyes and interest would drift over there. I found my old copy of the La Leche League Cook Book, published first in 1971.  Rachel was born a few years later and that's when I got that book, so eager to do the most natural, most healthy thing for my yet unborn babe. I flipped through the pages,  Did I really cook this? I think I first tried my hand at yeast bread with one of those recipes. I told Rachel that I'm not attached to the book memory-really, she can pass it on without any emotional hiccup from me.  I read aloud the titles of at least 8 recipes for cooking liver--40 years ago, I was starting out the motherhood journey- they said that liver was the very best food for expectant moms--I haven't eaten it since.

I remember the time my mom came to visit us in Texas and she insisted that I needed a paper shredder; I didn't really think so- but she insisted and gave John money to buy one. That trusty machine shredded a ton of paper over the years.
So- I visit my grown children and I'm like my mom, usually it has to do with kitchen stuff. . ."Ahh, she needs new measuring cups. . .or new wooden spoons. . .or her Italian coffee pot lost its handle, she needs a new one of those!" It's funny- in my mind I sound like my mom and maybe I understand her and her love for me a bit better.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

to embrace dependence

Before leaving town in June I spent a morning with my friend, Karen. We shared about our lives and our individual walks of faith and my friend observed, "It's good that you can get around- you can still visit your family!"  I hadn't thought of it like that, but Karen's right- I can still get around. 

So, in New York I kissed and wiped small sticky faces, and on the first day of our visit I selected a book from Abi and Nathaniel's collection, Radical Disciple by John Stott. I finished it that week and penned some notes on a scrap paper shoved in the pages to mark my place. Stott wrote Radical Disciple when he was 88 years old; in the preface he states that he's ready to lay down his pen for the last time. . .and he did.

Stott sketches a portrait of Christ's radical disciple- in the chapter titled Dependent, he reminds us that God's plan is that we should be dependent- on Him and on others; our great Creator designed us to be a burden to one another- you and me, and the life of the family and the church should be one of "mutual burdensomeness".

So, the idea of "mutual burdensomeness" percolates inside me and I want to pursue it- but honestly, it's easier for me to embrace you as my burden, and harder for me to think about it the other way around, if you know what I mean?
In Radical Disciple, Stott describes a time of personal dependence- one Sunday morning he fell in his home; the ambulance arrived, transported him to the hospital. Surgery and a lengthy convelesence followed. I copied his insights on that paper bookmark:

There is another aspect of dependence which I experienced which was new to me, 
which I am tempted to gloss over, but which my trusted friends have urged me
 not to conceal. It is the emotional weakness which physical infirmity
 sometimes brings to the surface and which finds expression in weeping.

John Stott, man of God, theologian, experienced and wrote about his emotional weakness and about weeping-- and I find myself praying, "God, teach me more dependence, more about mutual burdensomeness. . .and yes, even about weeping.

Friday, August 15, 2014

a little creative work

We're diving back into work at home and around town, and this week we've covered the dining room
table with a little creative work. My part is fabric. John's part is industrial tile.
He's cutting, labeling, stacking tiles, creating a running game with his homemade scrabble tiles, 1000 tiles to be exact. He describes the game to me, but I can't quite get it. He tells me, It'll be good, and I believe him. The tricky part of all our creative work is carving a little space for two dinner plates at the end of the day.

So, today is the first day of the new school year for my husband. His part of the creative table is all cleared and trucked off to the classroom.

As far as traditional work goes, it looks like this will be the final year, the last hot August day for my husband to ride off to work on his bike, to greet children for a fresh school year.
Our emotions are mixed up ( mine more than his) but what's ahead will be good. . .because our heavenly Father always gives good gifts to his children, right?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

sharing their work

A month and a half is a long time to be away from home- just glance briefly at the garden, brittle and brown in 100 degree August.  I love to resume my morning routine, hose watering the garden, drinking coffee with toast, picking up my tattered Bible in the same familiar spot- at home.
And about the road trip- well, there's lots to remember, record, process.. . here's just a bit.

We stayed a week at a time with family in Arkansas, Tennessee, Ohio, New York, and we got to work! John repaired machines, built stairs and beds, scraped, and painted walls and ceilings, chopped weeds and yanked out poison ivy. I worked too, albeit not so arduously- washing, sorting, organizing.
One day I overheard a son comment, "Thanks, Papi, that's not exactly how I planned to do it, but that's fine!"
Our kids grew up and we fed and cuddled them- now we cuddle their children and share their work.
We get to be productive in a season of of life where productivity at times appears fuzzy.

So- thanks, kids, for sharing your homes and families, loving us and letting us share your work.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Home -and a fan in the window

Last night we came  home after almost 6 weeks on the road.  John unlocked the side door and called into the dark, "Hello house, we're home again!"

So, we cranked open the windows, wiped the layer of dusty film off all the surfaces and wedged a fan in the bedroom window.

 How could I forget that Texas is HOT. . . in Ohio they say of cool summer nights, "It's good sleeping weather!"
 If you've never experienced sleeping in August heat in Texas, a fan in the window is the best way to do it.
You see, a 70 degree breeze blows in  at midnight- it's nice.
So, we lie there, still, attempting to embrace the hot night - and I ask my husband, "Does it feel like home?"

Then I hear bird like chirping from the window--Ahh, the gecko on the scream, our guard gecko chirping, chirping. And to me it feels like home on a summer night.

Summer at Lake Erie

Thursday, July 10, 2014


Last Friday on the 4th my dear friend sent me a text, "I'm remembering our gathering last year and I miss you!" Ahhh, me too. . .

I've been thinking how we mark time by celebrations and gatherings; for more than a decade, at least since our children have grown older,  John and I have waved the red, white, and blue on July 4th, delighting in diverse gatherings, never in the same place or with the same folks. I love it and wish I'd kept a journal of the people and memories.

And since a blog is a bit like a journal, I'm remembering and recording this year's gathering in Tennessee with family, including 5 sweet grandchildren, cousins, all with eyes like dark chocolate.
It was a first for John and me to spread a blanket on the bank of the mighty Mississippi, under huge Cottonwood trees, awaiting the fireorks display, watching our little granddaughters chase cotton fluff from fallen pods over an expansive green. (I forgot the camera for that part.)

It was a July 4th to remember- who knows where and with whom we'll gather next year?
But I'll probably call or send a text, "I'm thinking about our gathering last year and I miss you all."

Monday, July 7, 2014

old and new

I love the way windows in a house invite the outside in.  There's a lovely picture window in Noah and Jamey's new home in Arkansas.

We've been helping our family move to a new state and I keep thinking how moving means upheaval and a bit of chaos.  It's like camping but you're not on vacation.

And always there are sad goodbyes. Monday morning friends in the old neighborhood waved us off, "This is hard but better than waving goodbye to an empty house." commented my sweet daughter-in-law.

Then there's the stuff that gets boxed and hauled, dropped and bent- just stuff but it's our stuff and we're attached. Small distractions seem unending- like the coffee maker but no carafe, beds but no sheets, the first week box still in hiding. . .

But the little pink bike came off the moving truck,  there's a new park around the corner, new neighbors on the doorstep with cookies and a new home with a picture window. Around a makeshift table with paper plates, plastic spoons and dinner in the crockpot- Noah prayed, "God you are faithful and kind."

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever and his faithfulness to all generations

Saturday, June 28, 2014

family on the move. . .

I'm packing for a trip- I tell myself, "Darcie, don't forget the cords, you know, phone cord, camera cord, laptop cord." It's the way to travel these days; I'm learning not to forget the essentials.

We'll be on the road til school starts up again, visiting the family, all the way to New York and back.
The other day I checked on my neighbor's place and texted her, "I'm watering your tomatoes and basil and then you can water my cantaloupe-and please, eat it!" Such is the stewardship of what we leave behind.

And Noah's family is with us this week- they're moving to Arkansas. Soon we'll have a new place to visit, a new state to explore, but honestly- we'll miss them in Texas! Noah and John drove to Arkansas the other day. They're working on the house (and riding bikes together). Jamey and the children are with me- so so nice.

One morning in the garden before breakfast this little lady collected rollie pollies, explaining,
 "This is the daddy one and the mommy one and this is the big sister one, and this one died!"
The other day she demanded, "Gran, put on my shoes!" Then she paused, took a breath and continued, "I can see you are busy. . . I can be patient. . . I can wait."

Nice, sweet girl! I overheard her daddy helping her practice just the other day, "I can be patient, I can wait."
I'll tell him how his girl remembered. . .

Lately I've notice a struggle in my heart to be patient with customer service, like when I'm the customer and I expect to be served faster., you know what I mean.

I'll be practicing- I can see you are busy. . .I can be patient. . .I can wait.

Love is patient. . .love does not insist on its own way. (1 Corinthians 13)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Life together

Last weekend John and I had the opportunity to care for 3 sweet children while the parents went away for the weekend together. John and the adventurous 8 year old bicycled at the park- in the mud. they collected a ton of golf balls, divided up the haul and passed out bags to friends who enjoy golf- that's my husband, the creative collector.

The sweet 2 year old awoke in the night; the baby monitor squawked on the table beside our bed. . . the baby monitor- an amazing gadget for modern parents. John rolled out of bed and trudged upstairs to comfort the little guy (exactly what he use to do with our own) and I could hear his tender whispers through the monitor, shh-shh, do you need water? Put your head on my shoulder. . .

And later back in bed, my husband asked me, "How'd I do?"

"Great, just great, like all those other times. . . " I assured.

Happy birthday. . .65 years old!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

my neighborhood

Maybe you've heard. . .the Spurs are national basketball champs. That's big news in our town- and when the Spurs win a playoff game, the next morning Valero gives everybody free coffee, hot chocolate, cappachinos, any size, totally free.
Last Wednesday our grands spent the morning with John and me; the children came over from their north central neighborhood to our southside neighborhood, and it happened to be a Spurs win morning. We headed to Valero-it's tradition in our town and especially in our neighborhood.

We pulled into the corner store off the highway, the Valero right next to John's school; the parking lot was jammed and the line of customers for free coffee snaked out the door- honest, out the door.
"Do we really want to do this?" I questioned.
"It's tradition in our town and in our neighborhood," encouraged my husband.

So the 5 of us queued up on the sidewalk, tight against the neighbors. Little by little the line crept along and as we jostled and chatted.

"Coach! what are you doing here? Are these your children?"

"Ahh, meet my grandchildren! During the school year you all are kind of like my grandchildren, aren't you? Let me introduce you. . ."

School and neighborhood talk was easy and by and by we made our way to the hot chocolate machine and then out the door. I think most of our neighborhood was there sitting on the curbs, crowding the doorway, enjoying the scene, a Spurs win, free drinks and each other.
To be honest, the coffee wasn't that great and John and the kids agreed that the hot chocolate was kind of weak and sweet--

But it was worth it just to join the neighborhood scene.
(Thanks, Valero)

a few of our amazing grands. . .

Friday, June 13, 2014

some sweet and some bitter

Mercy came home for a little visit last weekend- I think she'd say that New York is home now, but I say there's still lots of her stuff  in the closets in Texas. 
So, my girl and her dear friend Katie spent the night at our warm Texas house, in her garden green room where the adventures of Betsy, Tacy, and Tib still line the shelves. They hung around Saturday morning and it was sweet. I'm grateful for those times over coffee- we even made a second pot.

For months I studied and asked myself the question, What is God centered gratitude? I talked about gratitude to lots of women and even blogged about it--gratitude is good for the soul.
But I'm also very aware how readily ingratitude presses in, sometimes initially unnoticed; a wise woman said, "Ingratitude to God is sin which creeps around the edges our hearts".
I remember during our family's growing up years, John would remind us, "When the people complained it displeased God and his wrath  burned against them." (Numbers 11:1)
Yikes! ingratitude bears bitter fruit. I'm very aware of the temptation to categorize ingratitude as a "lesser sin". Hmmm, ingratitude, not quite so bad as. . . but in Romans 1 God describes the downward spiral of humanity into sin, "Although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him." 

So, I ask myself, "If I know grumbling is bitter, that ingratitude displeases and dishonors God, then why do I struggle so?"

Well, I'm prideful and pride manifests itself in thoughtlessness towards God.  Jesus healed 10 lepers (Luke 16) but only 1 leper came back to thank him. I don't think the other 9 were grumbling about their circumstances; they weren't hard hearted or rebellious. Those 9 healed lepers just didn't pay attention; they were thoughtless towards God- they were simply silent.

To be silent about God's mercies is to incur the guilt of ingratitude. (Elisabeth Elliot)

And I forget. . . I forget God, forget gospel reality, forget his mercies. And I know I'm not alone-

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. . .but they forgot God who had done great things in Egypt." (Psalm 106)
I read in Mark 8 how Jesus fed the 4,000 hungry people and then the pharisees demanded of him a sign. Jesus warned the disciples about spiritual leaven but they were preoccupied with their lack of physical bread. Jesus rebuked his disciples,
"Why are you discussing the fact that you have not bread? . . . are your hearts hardened? Don't you remember when I broke 5 loaves for 5,000, when I broke 7 loaves and fed 4,000?"
No, they forgot that Jesus is the very Bread of Life. . .and so do I.

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of his benefits. . ." (Psalm 103)

Also I think I'm entitled to more. . . entitlement springs from a wrong view of God-I view him as a stingy Giver; like Eve, I focus on what God chooses to withhold from me. When we think we deserve more, we minimize God's blessings - have you noticed?
I read this interesting observation, "The higher the cost of living, the more ungrateful (discontented) we become." While I don't find it described exactly that way in Scripture, I see the truth in my own heart. For instance- in Mexico my neighbors didn't have a bathroom, and then I was grateful for the toilet I could flush with a bucket (and many more basic comforts). Then I moved to America- in my heart I complain that my washer is in the garage and think: Life would be good if. . . .
(Ahh, true confessions!)

What do you feel entitled to that robs you of a grateful heart?

So, there it is, a bit of the bitter, but God is infinitely gracious and forgiving.
Let's be ruthless with ourselves, identifying and rejecting any seed of ingratitude before it invades the edges of our hearts; we need each other-
"Encourage one another while it is still today lest your hearts grow hard by the deceitfulness of sin." (Heb 3:13)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

excel still more

A few weeks ago I met three friends on a Friday afternoon at our regular spot. We call ourselves ROCC:  Real Organic Conversation Club-

"What's organic conversation?" I hear you asking. . .

We're just four women working on it- pursuing transparency and honesty about our struggles and sin, living out the gospel, encouraging each other in the journey, and we talk about it!
So, over coffee that day, Lisa shared details of a recent trip to California; she met a woman who excelled in hospitality and another who excelled in loving others. Women boldly living out their faith  challenged my friend to do the same, to excel still more.

That conversation still rumbles around inside and I'm wondering about me, What in my life encourages others to excel still more and what do I need to work on?

To excel still more isn't about obligation- it has nothing to do with making God love me more. Jesus paid it all and his love for me is extravagant, forever. Why then? Certainly, it's that fierce love of God  that controls and motivates you and me to excel still more day after day.
And I'm encouraged  to excel still more in lots of areas of my life, but today I'm focusing on honoring my husband, focused on being his companion. Because the love of God compels me, I'm going to apply myself there. You can ask me how I'm doing. . .

Because that's the way organic conversation begins.

"Finally. . .we exhort you in the Lord Jesus that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God, that you may excel still more." (1 Thess 4:1)

Monday, May 26, 2014

up in the air so blue. . .

My mom was the quintessential kindergarden teacher; over many years she often recited
 "The Swing" to us, her children.

"How do you like to go up in a swing,
   Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it is the pleasantest thing
  Ever a child can do?"

I still love to swing-there's something about sailing up in the air so blue that clears
 a crowded mind; lately I've been pushing little boys up. . .

 Friday I pushed, pushed Aaron and Jonas in their back yard swing-
"Miss Darcie, can you give me and under doggie?" squeaked the little one.
"No, sweet boy, I'm too old, too weak!"

 Tuesday I pushed Eoin in the swing at the park.
"Eoin, before I push- just park your sword over there," I instructed.

Then Wednesday I pushed Landis- by now he knows  not to ask. . .
"You can't do an under doggie, right Gran?"

So- I push and tell them, "Boys, Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, so that you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man. . .remember Jesus is the only way to life and truth!"

This week  I'm scheduled for a bone density scan- and I expect the doctor will say,
"Ma'am, your arm bones look good and dense."
And I'll say, "Oh, it's the little boys. . .I've been pushing them up in the air so blue!"

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

See what kind of love. . .

When my grandchildren visit they sit on the brown bench and play at the kitchen windowsill.
I wash dishes and watch their play; then they go home and I'm slow to pick up the remnants, enjoying the memory, thinking about next time. . . remembering how my little sons and daughters played at that exact spot at the kitchen windowsill.

Sometimes a dear person comes into my life for what seems like the blink of an eye. I met Cory in March and this week she moved away. I'm feeling a bit wistful about it, "Ahh, friend, why so soon? I will miss you!"

We've been squeezing in Friday morning coffees at Central Market, sipping and sharing. . . two small women, nestled in square, man size chairs under an outdoor awning.
So- eager to pack in personal stories in the space of a breath,  we trip over our words. . . and the other day we admitted a common heart struggle- you see, we're each vulnerable to hurt when others don't love us well, or when it appears they don't . . . do you know that struggle?

I told my friend that when the internal battle rumbles, desperate for love, I say inside, "Soul, love God more. . .reach out and love others fervently, intentionally!" True, very true. . .but first I have to bathe my heart here:

See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.
(1 John 3:1)

Think of it- God chose me for his family and lavished his grace upon me because he loved me even when I was most unloveable. God says to me,

I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with loving kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3)

So, I tell Cory, "Dear friend, I'm a lot older than you are and I'm a slow learner . . . yet I yearn to understand that God's love for me, his child, is deep and abiding and forever, a love that changes me.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

in strength and in weakness

 Saturday morning I awoke revived, "A bicycle ride sounds nice!" I told my husband.
So, he jumped on the idea, always delighted when I suggest a ride. I expected we'd ride calmly along the river, but I've noticed about my husband. . .when I'm up for a bicycle ride, he's eager to show me all the places I miss when he bikes without me.
Really, we should have stopped at the Cinco de Mayo parade at Mission Espada, stayed right there, enjoying the scene, considering it just enough for half way, but we biked on; he pointed out favorite things that I would never notice on my own. He was sweet, delighted to have me along for the ride. . .I grew fatigued, discouraged- why so slow, feeling so old.
"Should I go back for the car and pick you up?" he suggested.
No, I can make it, but slowly, please no hills!" I said
Retirement is coming. . . can I keep up with this man? 

And in the afternoon we drove to the store and bought a new computer- imagine that? Thinking about retirement, thinking about what might be ahead for us, we made an investment. . .
Hmm, I love this new machine and I'm typing really fast.
My husband types slowly--in fact sometime I type for him.
We're fast and slow, strong and weak in different ways. 

Love is patient. . .love bears with the weaknesses, love rejoices in the strengths of others--and that's good because I keep learning to trust God more and more.

(and sometimes we just laugh together about our differences and about growing old together.)

Friday, May 2, 2014

to keep a quiet heart. . .

Every spring I'm compelled to document a bit of Texas beauty--especially for friends and family who live elsewhere (and to remind myself in the scorch of Texas summer. . .)

While studying gratitude I pulled some books off my personal favorites shelf, but one I borrowed from a friend- Keep A Quiet Heart by Elisabeth Elliott; the author shares thoughtful truths about gratitude but she writes so much more. . .
Elisabeth Elliot use to write a newsletter and for years I received it bimonthly in my mailbox, a paper newsletter when paper was still the norm; in her words, "the letter was meant to cheer and encourage--once in a while perhaps to nettle or amuse--those who want it." (and I wanted it, needed it . . .)

Keep A Quiet Heart is a compilation of lead articles culled from the newsletter; the chapters are 
short, the subject matter broad- but always, as customary with Elisabeth, she encourages, "Do what the Bible says. . . trust and obey!" 

So, I'm reading and gleaning and savoring and one sleepless night last week I did an internet search- Elisabeth Elliot. I learned of Elisabeth's decline with dementia beginning a decade ago. I read beautiful, compelling articles and posts testifying that when Elisabeth recognized her fading memory, she put into practice "what she had long preached".  She aptly applied a quote form Amy Carmichael to herself, "in acceptance comes peace."

She turned to Isaiah 42:3 for comfort and now at 86, unable to speak, this beautiful woman is still keeping a quiet heart.

And for me personally- somehow, knowing about her life today gives credence to her words, and I'm 
encouraged to keep a quiet heart today. . .and come what may.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, 
and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God. . .
Isaiah 43

Sunday, April 27, 2014

gratitude is good for me

Here's what's been going on at my house this week . . . and now they're off, home to Mexico City.
Can I tell you that my grandchildren have changed in 9 months? Josu reads smoothly in English, Selma has the sweetest sprinkling of freckles across her cheeks, and Malachai- soon he'll turn 11!
The visit seemed short- but everything about life seems short these days.
 I remember that  gratitude is good for me. . .

Like so much of life, what I do with gratitude depends on who or what I worship. . .

"I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, I will recount all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exalt in you. I will sing praise to your name, O most High." (Psalm 9:1-2)

I love how the Psalmist gives clear context to gratitude - God himself is the object of authentic gratitude, He is the Giver!  Christians worship the Giver who gives meaning to human existence.

"God who made the world and everything in it. . .He gives to all mankind life and breath and everything." (Acts 17:25)
He gives life- He gives breath- He gives everything-  He gives to all mankind.
I've been reminding myself, "Heart, God is a good Giver, He is the giver of every good gift!" (James 1:17)

"Be careful how you walk. . .always giving thanks for all things in the name of the Lord Jesus."(Eph 5)
What God tells me to do always is his moral will for me, and since God's will for his children is always best, gratitude is good for me- like a cheerful heart is good medicine!

 Have you ever noticed how gratitude gives hope, drawing us close to the throne of God; one writer says it like this, "Gratitude puts us in God's living room!"
 I like to hold the picture in my mind- even when I squirm in my circumstances, that's exactly where I need to be. . .in God's living room.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

gratitude and worship

Christians agree, at least philosophically, that we ought to be grateful people- but then we struggle to mind the gap between theology and practical living. . .  I see the gap in me.

So, I dug deep and ruminated long over the root of two worldviews: What the world tells women and what God tells women about gratitude. 
Because the sin of man affects a culture, the world tells us that it's totally acceptable to gripe and complain when things don't go our way. The world tells women to be grateful when it's convenient, when life looks good, but on the whole, griping thanklessness, sporadic gratitude define the world's way. (just watch and listen in line at the grocery store, in the airport, inside you and me. . .)

But then, all humanity yearns for relief from the misery of sin; by and by the world has discovered 
that gratitude is good. At  "greater good-the science of a meaningful life" experts tell us that people who actively become more grateful in their every day lives are happier, healthier, sleep better; the world's expert on gratitude will teach you how to keep a gratitude journal that will create meaning in your life. A recent article asks, "Can gratitude help you thrive?"

hmmm. . .the world embraces a torn edge of truth- gratitude does produce a sense of well being, gratitude lifts our spirits because that's how God created us! The world mixes up good and bad, expounds the benefits of gratitude, tells us to feel good about being grateful.

Like so much of life, what I do with gratitude depends on who or what I worship.
(of course, there's more. . .)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Words. . .sweet, healing

My sweet friend gave birth to her baby boy . . .and a few days ago she moved with her husband and children- to a new home far away. I jotted down some thoughts on mothering in a tiny journal book with a scrolled lavender cover and left it on the table with a note.
Friend, I will miss you. . .miss watching how the Savior continues to grow and change you into his likeness- and here's a little bit of me. . .

What is desired in a woman is her kindness (Prov 19)

My children grew up- and I wish I had been a kinder woman; in Titus 2:3-5 older women are instructed to teach younger women to be kind! We almost miss it. . .to be kind, a little word wedged in between workers at home and subject to their own husband. Just be kind. You'd think we wouldn't have to work on this one, after all, we're mothers!

 The woman in Proverbs 31 opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue-
Friend, show kindness with your words. Scripture teaches that kind words are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones- words go deep. . .

Sometimes a mother is tempted to harshness or impatience when her children are weak, not mean or rebellious, just weak. . .maybe her children are sick or slow or forgetful.
Ahhh, slow, slow, slow squeezes our hearts. But then a woman can choose kindness, "I am so sorry this is hard for you, let me help you."

Friend, my children are grown up, but I'm still learning and practicing-
Kind words are sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24)

Monday, April 7, 2014

gratitude. . .it's personal

I came home to Texas thinking a lot about gratitude. . . grateful for my weeks in New York, for family and a sweet new granddaughter, for mounds of snow and ice encrusted fir trees, for deep conversations and tea time by a dancing fire, and much much more.
But mainly, my mind  fixated on gratitude because I was set to teach the woman at my church. . .

What does it mean to embrace a lifestyle of gratitude? why does gratitude matter?
I'd been preparing for months. . . If I get to teach, then I'd better be ready! But still I wrestled with how to teach about choosing gratitude when it's really hard- to teach truth with compassion. So, in the end, I decided to make it personal and last Monday I shared  this-

Sometimes we limit our thanksgiving to things that look good to us- even when we know that giving thanks in and for all things is God's good will for his children (I Thessalonians 5:18, Ephesians 5:20).  We live in a broken world and experience hardships, sufferings, miseries and there are times when it's almost impossible to express gratitude to God.
 It's in those times we "offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call upon the name of the Lord," (Psalm 116:17)
 The sacrifice is costly, it's a sacrifice of faith to "the Giver".
 I say, "Lord, I trust you based on your promises, based on who you've proven to be for me, based on truth that you do all things for my good- and I give you thanks.

In the past year I've faced the challenge to offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord amid a painful circumstance- I admit it's hard. But I remember that my sacrifice of thanksgiving honors him and He is worthy. I remind myself that gratitude is good for me- if I don't offer a sacrifice when it's hard, I grow bitter, resentful, cold towards God.
And here it is. . .I don't want to be a hard, bitter old woman! I want to be gracious and sweet and tender towards the Good Shepherd to the end. Perhaps that's the path God is carving in my heart as I plant a seed of faith and offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to the Lord. A dear friend shared this observation:

I found myself being challenged. . .was I being thankful in my circumstances because they were smooth at the moment or because of who Christ is? Can I be just as thankful if the road is rocky? It is easy to be thankful when things are going our way but thankfulness makes the rough road so much more delightful. I wish I could be there. . .

(Ahh, me too sweet friend-and thanks for that)