11.07.2013

Another season

Well, it’s that for me, both literally and figuratively…the golden leaves of fall have ushered out summer, and I’ve started a new season of my life.

Yes, we made it here to Arizona safe and sound after a zany few weeks of chaos.  At least that’s how it felt.  Our life in a zillion boxes, emotional good-byes, the unrelenting pace of selling, closing, cleaning, and leaving our home was an exhausting project.  The final week of driving our truckloads here was well covered with prayer and bottles of 5-Hour Energy!

My thanks to all of our wonderful friends who showed up with packing boxes and willing hands to work at whatever we needed.  You all were so awesome!  We absolutely couldn’t have done it without you, and your cheerful smiles and help were the lifeline we needed.  God bless you all!

Part of God’s purpose in having us here just now became apparent right away.  My dear mother-in-law was having some debilitating health issues when we arrived, so were able to lend a hand and help with some of the immediate needs.  Since we haven’t found a home yet, it’s worked out great to stay with them, helping each other through an unusual time.  I’m finding (again!) how wise God is—it’s been good to just stop and catch up with ourselves, both mentally and physically, before starting the new-home process and all it entails.

I’m loving the milder climate—now I remember why people move here!  We’re enjoying day after day of sparkling sunshine, spectacular sunsets, and breathtaking vistas of ranchlands and mountains—love it, love it, love it!

And of course, it’s wonderful to be near our families, the main reason we relocated.  We’re looking forward to building a rich relationship with each one, something that’s been hard to do with a once- or twice-a-year visit.  God is good!

So in spite of the unsettledness I feel right now, it’s good to have the move behind us.  We’re where God wanted us, when He wanted us, and I am trusting Him with all the unknowns on the road ahead.

Oh, how good it is to belong to Him!

[P.S. - We have limited internet access for the time being, so I can't keep up well with my blogging friends.  I read as I'm able to but will have to wait to catch up on my comments.]

9.08.2013

The wallpaper story

Well, first off, the good news—we’ve had an offer our house, and if all goes well, we’ll be moving in a few weeks!  I’m so glad the process of cleaning-the-house-to-make-it-salable every day lasted only a week. While it was wonderful to have everything pristinely perfect all the time, it’s so unrealistic while you’re trying to live and pack to move.

After weeks and months of getting the house ready to put on the market, we agreed with our realtor to have an open house.  With all demand of other things this past year, my time was limited to sorting, packing, and clean-out rather than fix-ups on the house.  That was my dear hubby’s department and he did a marvelous job.

But some things we just had to forego—certain yardwork projects, fresh paint in every room, etc.  The big project I had to let go was stripping the wallpaper in my new kitchen and giving it a new look.  I just couldn’t pull it off.  So we did some touches of new paint and d├ęcor to go with the wallpaper colors, and I prayed earnestly that the Lord would send a buyer who could live with it or be willing to change it herself.  It did look rather charming, I thought, a country kitchen all gleaming white and new.  I consoled myself with assurances from interior design gurus on the internet that wallpaper is coming back in.  (Maybe they won’t know this is twenty years old.  We call it ‘classic.’)

Fast forward to open house day.  When we returned home from our don’t-hang-around escape to the library, our realtor happily informed us that we’d had an offer for the house from an out-of-state couple relocating here.

“It was funny,” he said. “When the lady walked into the kitchen, she looked at the wallpaper and cried, ‘Oh!  It’s just like mine at home!  I love it!’”

I started to laugh.  Can you believe it?  Isn’t that just like our dear Lord to answer my prayer so specifically during such a stressful time?  To so kindly and specifically save this house for the lady-who-loved-the-wallpaper?  I needn’t have had an anxious thought about it—God had been arranging things for months.

I’ve been smiling all week.  There’s just nothing like having such little, super-personal revelations of the Lord’s love burst in on your daily landscape.  What a perfect reminder of His incredible, detailed care about everything in our life, such a comfort for both now and in the days of change ahead.

Maybe you should consider wallpaper in your kitchen.  Smile

4.11.2013

Changes

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Spring is here, though it’s a little hard to tell with snowstorms and freezing temperatures regularly making their appearance.  However, little green leaves dotting the landscape are a wonderful promise of the goodness to come, so we bide our time.  I know that all too soon we’ll be raking and planting and mowing, so I guess I’ll enjoy the dregs of winter while I have them.

With the seasonal changes a-comin’, our lives are changing too.  We’re busy getting our home ready to sell and planning to move to Arizona.  With both of our families there, it will be wonderful to be closer to them.

Wow, all the ‘stuff’ a major move requires!  Cleaning out, boxing up, trips to the thrift store to donate our surplus; trips to the hardware store for the myriad items we need for updating things in the house, and discussions about what and how much to do before we are ready to sell.   Then there’s the inner process it requires—letting go of friendships and comforts and dear familiar things.  We have the best of friends, the best homeschool group, the best church, the best doctor, dentist, chiropractor, shopping…a whole life-support system to disconnect and leave behind.   That’s the hard part.

Some days there are so many things to think of and do that I hardly know what to set my hand to next.  My lists fail me; often I just want to sit down with my tea and a good novel and escape.  My darling auntie counseled me just this afternoon to go ahead and do that once in a while—so since I can’t easily give myself permission, I’m glad she did!  I’ll try to work that in more.

We’re in the home stretch of SweetPea’s school year, trying to stay focused and on track with a million distractions.  She’s taken on a project that satisfies her artistic leanings—doing our support group’s yearbook.  Using a computer program designed especially for yearbooks is making it really fun, and we’re counting it toward a graphic design elective credit. 

And Honey is making great progress on the kitchen (I wonder if he wonders when the ‘retired’ part of retirement kicks in?).  I’m now enjoying my white cabinets and gray granite countertops (yes, gray, not black—an order mix-up that we liked better!)…next he’ll be doing white backsplash tiles and wrapping it all up with wood-look laminate flooring.  Whoever buys our house will LOVE this kitchen!

So we press on.  Change is hard, change is good. I know from experience that with God in the change, we walk a sure and blessed path.

2.10.2013

How Great Thou Art!


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This morning in church we sang a most beloved hymn, “How Great Thou Art,” one we sing often. It’s a favorite. And every time we sing it, I’m swept back to a very special memory from long ago…

Many years ago in my single life, I spent some time in Mexico visiting a missionary aunt and doing some volunteer work with her organization. I was privileged to do some wonderful touring with the group of missionaries, and one Sunday found us on a bus headed out to an Indian village to participate in their church service.

We bumped along the dusty roads and finally stopped outside a worn, stucco building proclaiming “Iglesia Christiana.” We found our way into the dark, cool meeting room and crowded in on the hard wooden benches. Soon the church service was underway, the pastor preaching from the Bible—in a language I didn’t understand at all.

It was hard to keep up with him, trying to guess from gestures and expression what he might be saying. As I looked over the small crowd of Indian villagers, I was struck with such a sense of ‘foreign-ness’—me the one out of context, sitting here in a different world.  But they loved the same Jesus I did. That much was clear. This is what heaven will be like, I thought. We’re all here for the same reason, to praise and worship Almighty God for inviting us to spend eternity with Him, forgiven and clean.

Then a man with a guitar stood up, strummed some opening bars, and the congregation swelled into their hymn of praise. Chills ran up my spine as I recognized the tune, “How Great Thou Art”—here in a village in the middle of nowhere!--sung not in my language but theirs. The dear words in any language meant the same thing. I joined in, singing in English, fighting back tears.

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hand hath made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Refrain:
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee; 
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!


It was a moment I’ve never forgotten, a peek into the incredible world of heaven that I’ll one day share. As we climbed into the bus to head back, the little girl in yellow in the photo above smiled a shy goodbye. Her precious sweetness seemed to distill the whole experience for me, her smile feeling like Jesus Himself was smiling at me.

A good remembrance this Sabbath day!


2.05.2013

God and the birds

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The birds came back today!

Our first real promise of spring winged their way into our yard this afternoon, chirping and singing and eating and drinking—a large party of robins, woodpeckers, starlings, orioles, juncos.  We threw open the windows to watch and listen to this late-winter gift, knowing it would only last a short while.  This happens every year as the migratory flocks return from their warmer homes in the south, and we always stop whatever we’re doing to savor the spectacle.

And it does mean spring is not far off!

It’s funny, I’d been thinking about birds just yesterday. A couple of verses in my Bible reading moved me with such a touching picture of God’s great heart.  This passage is where God was laying out his laws to His people, showing what His love should look like when lived out in our lives.
“If a bird’s nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall surely let the mother go, and take the young for yourself, that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days.”  (Deuteronomy 22:6-7)
We’re talking about birds here!  He ties His blessing on our lives to how we live with justice and compassion, just as He does. He cares about and places high value on the whole of His created world, even down to the smallest and most helpless of creatures.

Jesus showed us the Father’s heart, too, using birds to illustrate.

He spoke about worry:
“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature.”  (Matthew 6:26-27)
And about fear:
“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”  (Matthew 10:29-31)
It was a wonderful reminder today…the loving God who cares for these little creatures wants us free from worry, free from fear.  We’re treasured and valued and cared for by the God of the universe, and nothing about our lives is outside of His loving care and will. I hope that comforts you as much as it does me.

And...spring is coming!


1.27.2013

Faith & patience

Our pastor was speaking today about the faith battle we have as believers when we’ve prayed about something—and then it seems like God just doesn’t answer. We may respond with discouragement and impatience, or being tempted to think “this is just not working.”

What should a right response be?

~ Know that God set the thing in motion when you prayed. He will work out all the details—and what is for your best good—as you wait.  (Patience is not our strong suit!)

~ Stay in faith, whether it’s long or short.  Don’t give up.  Don’t give up.

~ Deal with any blockages in your own heart—disobedience to God, failure in loving others, doubt and unbelief, trying to control things, etc.

~ Recognize that the devil is a liar all the time.  Choose to believe God’s Word about your situation.  Choose to speak His Word about the situation instead of your own doubts.

~ Rejoice and praise God in the meantime!  Your answer is on the way.

He also spoke about how to keep our minds renewed with the Word of God, citing some interesting statistics.  Here are the percentages of how much  information you retain through various methods:
  • hearing – 10%
  • reading – 25%
  • studying – 50%
  • meditating – 75%
  • memorizing – 100%
It keeps coming back to making the Word our #1 priority, doesn’t it?  All else is affected by it, and certainly that’s the way to build our faith.

So I’m starting my new week encouraged to ‘hang in there’ in faith, to wait patiently on God, and to work at those last two on the list especially.

May the Lord bless your week and fill you with renewed faith in Him!


1.07.2013

New year thoughts

Ah…a new year. I love the word new – it’s loaded with such freshness and promise. I, like many others, love the chance to craft a new list of resolutions and goals. I write up overviews, think through the to-do’s of a busy life, journal my prayers and commit my life in the year to come to God for His leadership and strength. I consider the areas I failed in the past year and try to come up with something more effective that might work this year (you know, like ‘you don’t get dinner unless you’ve exercised’). As an inveterate box-checker, the new year provides a candy store of stuff I can happily make lists over.

I’ve even done a bit of this for 2013, will probably do more. But 2012, being the year of upheaval, uncertainty, and demand that it was for me, has drawn me into a different thought process for this year. Usually I get a ‘theme’ from the Lord of what we’ll be working on for the year, He and I. But the season before me holds the possibility of great change, and I’m not sure I have the luxury of following a comfortable checklist to keep me on track.

So my new year ‘aims’—my list for the year, look more like this:
~ Seek God more.  Learn to still my flurried heart in His presence until I have my cup filled.
~ Make time in the Word priority, work more of it in every chance I get, any way I can.
~ Then obey it!
~ Make my first response worship and praise.
~ Be more loving. Be more patient.
~ Be a better listener. 
~ Be quicker to act in obedience to the Holy Spirit and His promptings.  Be available.
~ Be more flexible. In fact, it would probably be good to go out on a limb and say ‘have no agenda’ and ‘have no expectations’—other than expecting to see “the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
~ Just do my best, every day.
~ Leave the rest to Jesus.
There’s probably more. Oh, yeah…one big one:  simplicity. With apologies to Martha, I think “One-Thing” Mary really embodies my heart desire this year. I am certain that the complexities and needs of her life were just as ‘met’ as Martha’s were, for all her planning and fussing—only in peace and simplicity.

That’s my aim for 2013!


1.02.2013

Changes

I’ve had an unintended break from blogging the past few weeks, brought about by that thing called Life.  You’ve had those times too, I’m sure--you just have to walk it out and wait until things settle back to normal.  To be honest, I just haven’t felt very social, haven’t felt like blogging.  But now with the holidays accomplished, I’m wanting to have a fresh start with the new year.

I was back and forth to Arizona several times this fall, helping out as I could with my family.  My mom had a stroke in August, was in rehab for several weeks, then the day before she was to go home, had another stroke.  She passed away in mid-November from the effects of that second one.  It was a gift of God that we could all be with her during her last days.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACan I share a miracle with you?  Normally, our drive to their town takes 15 1/2 hours.  The day we drove, we were slowed down by icy roads through the mountains and it should have taken us fully that amount of time.  In the middle of the day, we received a call that my mom was failing fast, so we were all praying that we’d get there in time.  We made the drive—door-to-door—in 14 hours…and had an hour and a half with my mom before she passed.  Isn’t God good?!  He knows how hard that would have been for me not to have been there to say my goodbyes and be with my family.

In the midst of the heartache of losing her, though, we’ve had the utter assurance of the incredible place she moved to—heaven—and the joy of knowing that we’ll be with her one day there—forever.  Mom was a woman of great faith, a student of God’s Word, and I just bet she wishes she could tell us about what she’s seeing and knowing!  I miss her like crazy, wish I could pick up the phone and have one of our long, wonderful talks.  I still had so many things I wanted to ask her, share with her; hard to think that the time for that is gone.  She was one of my dearest, truest friends, and I can never thank the Lord enough for the privilege of knowing her and calling her my Mom.

We came home to face the holidays, hardly having time to catch our breath from the previous emotional weeks.  I tried to keep things as simple as possible and was grateful to have some time for rest and reflection. 

And…we start the new year with yet another change before us—after nearly 32 years with his company, my husband took a retirement offer just before Christmas and is discovering the joys of a more leisurely lifestyle.  (I have had to remind SweetPea that she and I are not retired!)  That doesn’t mean he’s sitting in his easy-chair all day; he’s busy putting in a long-awaited new kitchen, and it’s lookin’ good! 

So in the midst of this topsy-turvy time, I’m asking the Lord to breathe fresh vision and clarity into my soul as I begin a new year.  What I want most is to hear His voice, follow His plan, and face each day with His life permeating every aspect of it. 

May your 2013 be filled with blessing and a new sense of God’s love for you!