Friday, June 24, 2011

A Study in Contentment

As I was driving to work this morning I realized what a wonderful example of contentment our dog, Ruger, is to me.  At the mention of the word "go", as in, "okay, it's time to go to work..." he is IN the car.  He never knows where he's going but trusts me, come what may.  You can see his wheels spinning when we turn onto certain roads.  He is one who studies the road quite intently.  As I pass one of my workplaces, he looks up the driveway longingly (his friend, Chloe, is often there to play).   When I pull into our destination Ruger is happy to stay in the car, sometimes waiting for long periods for me to return.  He always knows that I am coming back.  He's especially happy when he can go in with me, as being with  people who love him is his favorite place to be.   Sure, at times he gets tired of it all.  Just last night (after a long day of being hard at work, laying around), he was glad to be on his way HOME, where he could run!  His curled up position in the front seat changed abruptly upon hearing the blinker.  I turned down a road that we seldom take and Ruger's brow furrowed.  He lay back down, head on the console and gave an audible and definate, "sigh!"   I truly felt bad for him as I knew that he would be in the car for yet another hour, at least.  He was rewarded with a small treat, a reminder that I understood and that we'd be home soon.

When my Lord says to me, "go", how do I react?  Am I ready?  Do I run to do His bidding?  I have a trustworthy God who will never lead astray.  Though I don't know where my Lord is leading on any particular day,  I should be studying His way intently; ready to wait long periods of time, perhaps, for answered prayer or guidance in any certain direction.  I know that He is coming back, and will not leave nor forsake me.  Also, am I longing to be with my Lord?  happy for the fellowship that only He can give?   Yes, I may have set-backs.  Sometimes I "sigh" and get discouraged.  The Lord is always there to remind me how much He loves me and to just trust Him.

It is amazing what we can learn from those with whom we spend time.  The Bible says (this may not be a exact quote, as I do not have the Scripture before me at this time), "iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."  Even 'man's best friend' taught me a lesson today!  I hope we can sharpen each other's contenances as we share things from God's Word together.

Quiet on the Hill

Things have been quiet here for the past couple of days.  Work has taken not only my time, but it seems it has temporarily taken my desire to write away.  Sitting in the still of the living room this morning, rain again pelting against the windows and causing the roof to gently hum, words still do not come.   I actually started a post yesterday, saved it as a draft but it is not ready for anyone to read, so it will stay idle for a while longer.

We have had no shortage of "green" this season.  Thank the Lord for sending the rains.  The ground is certainly saturated now and I am even praying for a sunny weekend.

I leave you with a fun picture that I took last week.  My brother's outhouse has hopefully seen some use lately, but who left the door open?   Not wanting to be surprised by a skunk, I did not investigate further.  Next time any of you visit there, I would give a holler and stand back before entering.
I hope to reuse this pic for a future post.  Hope no one minds seeing it twice.

Have an adventure-filled day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Reflections on the Pond

Our pond is quite small.  In early Spring it is alive with frogs.  The chorus is deafening until you step just close enough - when all sound STOPS.   The patient visitor can stand quite near, very still, and then the voice of first one, then two, three - and soon the symphony begins again; hundreds of tiny individuals, singing their hearts out.

Though not very large, this body of water gives a beautiful reflection.  Perhaps the stonewall lends its beauty to it, or the few flags that blossom for a short time near its shore.  The tree tops and sky; clouds floating among leaves and reeds, which hide an occasional turtle, salamander or mallard duck.  Upon the drake's movement, ripples drift across the surface.  All pictures are distorted for several minutes.  Slowly everything comes into focus again.

I walk through life; it is a small life in many eyes.  My Lord is the focus and strength of it.  My husband is my best friend.  I have wonderful family and very dear friends.  The Lord has blessed us with a small house and both Syd and I have jobs to keep us busy and to provide the money for our needs to be met.  While walking this way of "life", I pray that I will only reflect the greatness of the Lord.  The sky is the largest "picture" on our pond.  My Lord is in the heavens; in a place that none of us here on earth know very much about.  I have been reconciled to this great Creator God because of the work of His Son on the Cross, shedding His blood for my sin.  I pray that this is the focus of another's gaze as they look upon my small reflection in the pond of life.

These two images were taken yesterday.  On my way home I was blessed to see the sweet duck, standing there waiting for me; hoping for her picture to be taken.   I couldn't disappoint her.

I hope you have a beautiful day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Make Room for the Unexpected

I am home from a self-inflicted, bad-attitude-laden afternoon.  After all is said and done, it was an afternoon where much was accomplished.  If I had just stopped and smelled the roses I would have been having a good time; instead I pushed my way through and had to confess my sin of murmuring to the Lord.  I am so glad that He forgives me.

I returned from my morning job, a free afternoon before me.  When I got up to my mom's, seated in the rocker on the porch, she said, "I wonder if I have any more of that material" (one side of her cushion for the porch swing got ruined, while the other side is in fine shape).  I told her that I'd go upstairs and check; that started a chain of events which led to all my problems.  We found some beautiful contrasting material with a floral print.  First of all, her sewing machine would not work correctly, tensions were off (that always starts my tensions up!);  I said that I'd go down to my house and get my portable sewing machine.  When I reached home, I said aloud, "I really don't want to do this today!"  That was the beginning of the end.  We set the machine up on her lovely back porch, in the shade, where there was a delicious breeze wafting past.  All our work was done outdoors and it's a truly beautiful day.  The pins I chose were WAY too skinny and flimsy for this thick upholstery material, so they not only killed my fingertips when I tried to push them in, most of them bent!  They were doing that on purpose!  We ended up having to piece a spot because the cloth had been cut strangely on its last project.  It was especially thick material going onto an already-thick pad, so every so often my bobbin thread would ball up; Everything was against me!!  While I fumed my way through the project, the wind was blowing over my clothes rack, over and over again.  Each time, Mom would patiently go over and stand it back up, turning it, so the wind wouldn't take it down again.  At one point while the machine was balling up and the clothes rack was going over, Mom and I just laughed and laughed!

The project turned out beautifully.  She is so pleased with her new porch swing cover.  When we sat down to enjoy a sandwich, the breeze cooling my raw nerves, I told the Lord how sorry I was for my murmuring spirit.  It brought back the thoughts that I was jotting down this past Sunday.  "When something unexpected comes up in our lives, to upset our well-laid plans, make room for it.  Move over and know that this unexpected thing can be used in both my life and in the life of the other individual, bringing glory to Christ's name.  Life is an adventure--may I allow the unexpected to pop up around any corner.  May I not order everything so rigidly that I miss being a blessing first to God, then to someone else.  The Bible says that, "all things work together for good to them that love God and to them who are the called according to His purpose."

Those are wonderful words and lofty thoughts.  Even when I wrote them on Sunday, the Lord knew that I would be tested in that very area this week.  He uses testings and temptations to work patience in us; then patience works experience.  I hope that I will look back on this day as a learning experience.

Remember to make room for the unexpected in the days to come.

The Fruit of Thy Labor

I read an email from a dear friend today.  It means alot to get a heartfelt message.  I never thought that a lettter via computer could be ALMOST like getting one on paper.  A couple of years ago,  you could have told me that and I would have laughed.  I must admit (though I hate to), the "Arial" type-text email I received this morning was full of as much heartfelt love and encouragement as hand-written words on a card could give.  The note itself encouraged me to grow in grace and in the knowledge of my Lord Jesus Christ, as it says in II Peter 3:18.  That verse goes on to say, "To Him be glory both now and for ever.  Amen."  My growth in the Lord depends on Him and the Lord Himself will receive the glory for it.  

I was just outside seeing Syd off as he left for work.  I perused the plants in the garden and I see that the beans are shooting up, tomato plants are blossoming, the lettuces are struggling along.  My lilies are getting ready to burst open.  The zinnias have been trying to avoid Ruger's heavy feet and destructive tail daily.  As yet none of them are broken off and they just may blossom soon.  Some of the flowers which were started from seed are peeking through the earth, trying to reach for some sun.  Every plant out there is in a different stage of growth.

Those of us who have a relationship with our heavenly Father, "have been planted together in the likeness of His death..."  As I turned to Romans 6:6-9, it reminds me that when I made that decision to trust the Savior's death for my sin, I died with him.  After Christ died, He ROSE from the dead.   He is alive now.  An important note:  There has never been another person, historically, EVER, who rose from the dead of their own accord!   These verses go on to say that I rose with Him also!  What an encouraging verse is Romans 6:11, "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead INDEED unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord"!  God is doing a work of growth in my heart, and in the hearts of those of you who have this same relationship with Him.

It was wonderful for me to see my little plants in different stages of growth.  Each one of these seeds had to die in order for new life to spring forth.  Imagine how the Lord takes pleasure in seeing his little believers coming out of the ground and reaching up toward Him, leafing out; getting sturdy stalks; some of them may be struggling along, but moving in the right direction; others are growing buds here and there and then to have those buds burst forth and produce fruit!  If we get pleasure from earthly plants, we can be assured that our Heavenly Father, the Husbandman, gets much more pleasure and glory in watching His people grow!
Well, the "poor little Oxalis" has been moved outside.  If you look closely - It's growing!  There's a new little shoot with leaves right in the middle and, dare I say, another tiny one coming.  This is before giving it the Diet Coke, which I was advised to do.  I will still try that, though I may be forced to use regular Coke because of my aversion to anything "diet".    I think it needs sweetness (don't we all).  It certainly needed the sun, and part-shade.

I hope that you all have a sun-filled day and can take pleasure in some of the fruits of your labor.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Toad to Remember

My little niece and I worked hard to get the following picture.
We had found a wonderful toadstool and it was not long afterwards that she had spotted a toad which we certainly thought would go perfect with our earlier discovery.

Though we all know that toads should naturally wish to sit on toadstools, this little fellow did not seem to realize this fact at all.

I held the camera and tried to assist Beth in coaxing our new friend to sit still and say "cheese".  I'm not sure how many times he leapt from his perch.  Each time that he was replaced, I would get "camera ready" while Beth held up her small hands to create a barrier -- only to see him leap in the opposite direction!  Our patience wearing thin, the toad sensing it I'm sure; Beth would carefully place our subject back on his stool--holding her hand over the little acrobat until I was again set for the perfect shot.

As you can see our toad is a bit fuzzy--yet in real life he had the usual wart-laden surface.  We were SO happy to experience the camera "click" only a millisecond before he was off again, this time allowed to hop to the safety of some tall grass.

When you decide to work with toads, choose a sturdy stool, bring along a companion and be ready for your patience to be tried.  In our experience, this was certainly a toad to remember.

I hope you all have a nice, adventure-filled day.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Thousand Little Ways

Reflections on my father on my second Father's Day without him.  We miss you, Dad!  In the following statements, though the thoughts are of my Dad, I can't remove my mother from the truths in each one.  They were always together.

How did my father love me ---in a thousand little ways:

~ in the way he would take me on his lap when it was time to say "good night"
~ his big bear hug when returning from work each evening.
~ he let me help him rake or carry firewood, even when I was really too small to do much
~ in his acceptance of my girlfriends, who loved him like their own dad
~ tirelessly taking me to friends' or the skating rink--18 miles away- only to come back down a few
      hours later to bring me home again
~ his cinnamon candies and BeechNut gum supply was always open
~ the pleasure he had in meeting my soul-mate, Syd, before Dad knew he was just that
~ after all the months of planning our wedding, yet Dad informed me that "it's still not too late to back
     out", just before we walked through the back doors and down the aisle; when most fathers would
     say, "don't you dare!"
~ he so received my husband that often people could not remember whether I was Dad's daughter
     or Syd was his son
~ Dad always wanted to meet our close friends and would spend much time with them often
~ the way I would find a five or ten dollar bill stuck under the fruit bowl or hidden near the bathroom
~ he was always ready to help out with a project; whether fixing a broken table leg or helping put up
     the walls of our cabin
~ driving into the yard for a visit on a day you really needed him
~ meeting him unexpectedly downtown and sharing a bite to eat

I saw a white Park Avenue driving towards me a few weeks ago and had to refrain from waving.  "Dad,
I have a hard time knowing it's not you (and Mom), there on the road.  I can't wait to see you again in Heaven."
Though Dad didn't like his picture taken, we have some wonderful ones of him; Such a good sport, he was actually clowning around in this shot.

Softer Blue, Sweeter Green

I do believe that this was the most beautiful morning I have seen on the Hill this Spring.  It's amazing that Summer is getting ready to start.  We have had a wonderful amount of rain.  I try not to complain about rain (though many areas have had just terrible flooding, I realize) because the Lord only knows how much we will get or not get during the Summer months.

"He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.  They give drink to every beast of the field; the wild asses quench their thirst.  By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches."  Psalm 104:10-12

As I had coffee with my mom on her deck this morning,  the greens of the field and trees were almost overwhelming.  Layers and layers of color; bright green to deep, rich greens; blue green to blues; then in the distance, purple mountains of our neighboring state.   As quiet as it was, when I closed my eyes I realized just how much was going on around us.  There was a bluejay giving some kind of instruction from a nearby tree, likely warning the other birds that he was ready to approach the feeder; crickets rubbed their little legs together in the grass; dogs barked in the distance;  Ravens flew overhead, crying out, "Awk, awk."  An occasional hen squawked from the farm across the field; and even a truck could be heard, laboring its way up the main road far below.

Most of you who have visited me here before know that I am a born again believer; trusting the Lord Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, which has brought me from separation because of sin, back into a relationship to my heavenly Creator.   Today was another Lord's Day and we had a special time listening to the reading and teaching of God's Word.  It is by the work of my Savior that I grow more and more into what God wants me to be.  In II Cor. 3:18 it says that is is by gazing into God's mirror (glass) that He makes me into the same image, from glory to glory (from one stage of growth into another).  I am so glad that this is a lifelong process.  He will never stops His work in me until one day when He'll take me home to be with Him.  Does this take all the responsibility off ME?  No.  I must choose to look into the Bible for the instruction that the Lord wants to give me.   When I make the right decisions, He does the actual changing.  

It may seem that these truths don't really relate to the beginning of my post today.  I suppose that the fact that I know that the Lord is in control of the work of changing me from the inside, does make me more atune to how He controls all nature around me though. 

I leave you with just a few drawings and these words from a hymn we sang today, entitiled "I am His and He is Mine" 

"Heaven above is softer blue; earth around is sweeter green; something lives in every hue, Christ-less eyes have never seen; birds with gladder songs o'erflow; flowers with deeper beauty shine; Since I know as now I know; I am His and He is mine."