Monthly Archives: July 2016

IF I HAD A SONG

“If I had a song
I’d sing it in the morning
I’d sing it in the evening
all over this land…”

I’ve firmly decided.

I’ve been singing the wrong song, and God gave me the wrong kids.

I know – God doesn’t make mistakes and since it is His song I sing, I guess that can’t be wrong either.  Even when I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open to say my final night prayers, I hear mom and dad laughing over my whining-praying-for-my-kids- mode.  Clearly – I hear mom’s laughter the loudest.  Maybe this is because when she was on a roll, her laugh could cross a room and find my ears no matter how crowded it was. But it is, most likely, because during her last years of life, she would laugh (over my whining complaints), “Oh you totally are getting what you deserve.” I knew she was loving that moment —- ALOT!

I think I usually stomped out of her house, went home and took it out on hubby.

“We will not conceal them from their children, But tell to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.” Ps 78:4

My youngest “child” (and I do use that term lightly since she is in her 30’s) is getting ready to wind her way east as she heads to graduate school at Columbia in NYC.  She will be camping for the next month with her dog and spouse  – in a tent – “all over this land”.

Seriously?  A month in a tent? Can you see me rolling my eyes?

While on the other hand, my eldest “child” is wrapping up a similar camping trip in a camper with his spouse and four teenagers.  Being the elder, he has up-graded from the tent phase.  But still – 4 teenagers?  Oh my – how can they do this to their mother?

“I’d sing out danger.
I’d sing out a warning.”

As I rest in my Father’s tent, he brings forth that buried memory of one of my own

summer 1972a

c. summer 1972

camping trips.  Ah yes – there was more than one journey –  a tent – in parks even less developed than they are now – sleeping under the stars with no ambient lighting – anywhere near us – seeing and trying to comprehend things I had never seen before.  I was even younger and probably – (nah – forget the ‘probably’ – insert: ‘assuredly’) much more foolish.  Those youthful years brought the same rock to my stomach that I feel today. Reminiscent times. A time spent still mourning the loss of my earthly father’s tent and trying to find my heavenly Father’s tent…

“I’d sing out love between
my brothers and my sisters,
all over this land”

Journeys take many steps – a week full  – a month full – sometimes – years and years of steps. They take many different shapes and forms as we journey into ivory towers, primeval forests, beyond-belief-canyons, endless starry nights, dilapidated neighborhoods, overly bright sunny days, while we live in tents of differing shapes, textures and dimensions.

“The LORD appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. 2He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground.” Gen 18:1-2

The important thing is to keep making the journey.  Like Abraham, who opened his tent in all directions looking for visitors on a hot day – even the hottest day of the year – the journey becomes a life event that changes us and the world we touch.  Abraham became the father of a nation as he spread his knowledge, wisdom and faith in His Father. As we venture out – open our tent flaps – we are not only learning – we are blessing the world with who we have become.

I may not like being away from home much these days or into camping (tent or otherwise) for any length of time, but I am still opening my tent flaps and waiting to entertain the strangers when they approach my tent flaps.  It is my journey and – – – I guess God was right all a long.  The song I’ve been singing and the “crazy kids” He attached to my life are exactly the right ones for me.  Sometimes God just needs a hammer to get it through my thick head.

 

 

Happy Birthmonth, America

  • In Philadelphia on the 2nd of July 1776, a vote was taken that changed the way the world thought.
  • On the 3rd of July 1776, a small sentence on the second page reported the results of that vote.
  • On the 4th of July 1776, the final draft was submitted to be published and eventually – signed in August of 1776.
  • Thus, the date everyone in this brand new country saw as they read this small document was July 4, 1776.
  • Independence Day.

It was [is] not a perfect country, and it was [is] filled with controversies.

  • Natives vs Europeans vs Africans vs …
  • English vs French vs Spanish vs Dutch vs …
  • Catholic vs protestant vs Jews vs atheists …
  • Tory vs Yankee vs Rebel vs Republican vs Democrat vs …
  • Slave vs Free vs indentured vs …
  • Rich vs middle vs poor vs homeless vs …

The divisions continue to swirl in growing concentric circles over and over and over.

We are human and we tend to make mistakes – sometimes – very big ones. Unfortunately, we also tend to dwell – focus – ruminate on those mistakes over and over. Giving it new names – justice…punishment…pay back…unfair… bias…bigotry…  But what if instead of concentrating on the mistakes, we concentrated on the knowledge and the wisdom gained from those horrible mistakes?

Walking dogs are always a great way to meet people. A couple of years back, one of those people encounters introduced me to some new concepts that I’ve just started re-reading this past week. Typically (for me), I get side-tracked by daily craziness, or whining about this or that, and do not pursue things with great intensity. (After all, I am reitred and “deserve” to be a little lazy, right?) I guess that laziness was a mistake because…(ready for it?)…guess what popped up in a devotional today? You got it!  Not one but both ideas in one short devotional. One God giving a one big hint. Gotta love those God hints.

The first idea is called Appreciative Inquiry by David Coopperrider and Diana Whitney. Essentially – it is looking for the best in any situation.

http://http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/intro/whatisai.cfm

The other is a 2004 documentary called “What the (Bleep) Do We Know?” The content of this movie explores a spiritual connection between quantum physics and consciousness.

http://http://www.whatthebleep.com/

Now the first idea relates a little more to my world. After teaching for so many years, I’ve trained my self to look for the best in most everything (although like everyone, I can get caught up in negative situations). Quantum physics and consciousness is a little out of my realm – well – more than a little. Although, I have picked up a lot of scientific facts from reading National Geographic, Discovery, ect, I really struggle with the in-depth study of it. Thank God for my children who seem to have taken after hubby and are much more adept at understanding such things so they can help explain it to me.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” ~ Phil 4:8

Fairly obvious advice from the WORD. Think on the admirable, the excellent or the praiseworthy. What if we tried to do that more in our world today? What if we did that with our friends? Our enemies? Our state? Our nation? A couple political conventions? A lot of people would complain that we are only hiding our heads in the sand or taking a “Pollyanna” approach. Yet, if we acknowledge the injustice, the damage, the pain and accept that we can find knowledge, wisdom and discernment in our mistakes, is it ignoring the problem or moving forward with new insights? I need to keep reading, but now I have a spiritual underpinning for this thought.

“Then Balak said to him, “Come with me to another place where you can see them; you will not see them all but only the outskirts of their camp. And from there, curse them for me.” ~ Num 23:13

The second one takes us a little deeper and back into the OT with Jewish wisdom. I have always skipped over stories that I don’t understand or can’t figure out why it is in the Bible. Drives me crazy. Like a jigsaw puzzle that takes forever to put together. I will read and re-read a story trying to figure out why it is important for me to know and after a while – I will just push it out of my mind and go on to the next puzzle. Obviously, I don’t know this Bible story well, so again, I will have to go back and re-read it a few more times. Essentially, Balak, King of the Moabites, hired Balaam to curse Israel. The hitch was that they had to see the people to make the curse work. You might be wondering what this has to do with Quantum Physics? Lucky for both of us, the rabbi who wrote this devotional had the answer.

“The gift of sight allows us to take in so much information about the world around us. Not only do we receive facts and knowledge by looking at something, we also may receive inspiration or good feelings from what we observe. However, what we often don’t realize is that when we look at something, we aren’t just on the receiving end. We are also contributing and affecting the world around us, even if we don’t know it. Quantum physics confirmed this concept through an experiment that was set up in order to ascertain whether matter was a particle or a wave. I’m not here to give a physics lesson, but the end result was startling. When not observed, matter behaved like a wave. However, when the matter was observed, it changed into a particle. In other words, scientific evidence proved that an observer does influence what is being observed. That means we all affect what we look at, and how we see things affects them profoundly.” ~ Rabbi Eckstein.

America has completed her 240th year.  For those who are moving and shaking and those who are just observing. it looks like the 241st year will be another decisive and derisive year in many ways.   I wonder how and what I am learning today relates to those facts, yet – I know it does. I need to do some more reading on both of these ideas. I need to read more American history. I NEED to read more of the WORD. Knowledge always comes first, and if I’m observant, wisdom and discernment will follow —- eventually. Right now, I do know that America and Israel are tired together in more ways than the one that is written on paper and stored in Washington D.C. I know God is moving more than just me. I’m just not sure why I’m on the journey that I am walking. It makes me smile, because there is always something unexpected and uncontrollable that Our Father will bring my way – if I have the courage to stay the course unto its completion.  One step at a time…

In the meantime – Happy Birthmonth, America. It is promising to be an interesting – if somewhat scary – yearus-1443698_960_720

DARKNESS

“He reveals mysteries from the darkness
And brings the deep darkness into light.”~Job 12:22
 
It is night.
Darkness.
Quiet.
Restful.
There is the occasional sound of a car returning home – a four-wheeler rounding the corner to pay a visit to another neighbor – a dog barking awareness to our little world – and our own furry girls stretched out side-by-side under our feet until the old girl rises to climb up on the couch. I smile.  Like clockwork, her younger sister also rises to amble over to an extra doggie bed that sits in another corner. The older one sighs as she snuggles deep into a ball. She is more and more like me – a little slower – a little more focused on sitting than chasing squirrels – and in case you are wondering, I have chased many squirrels in my day. Teachers chase squirrels it is in our nature – lots and lots of squirrels. Now I chase Grands because chasing squirrels a few hours a day is enough fun for me now.
I think I love this tiny area that we now call home. Hubby and I have met more neighbors here than we did in the previous three years in our other neighborhood. One neighbor gave us eggs. One gave us daylily roots.  Many stop just to talk when they are walking their dogs or riding their small motored vehicles. One night when I came home, hubby had a fairly large crepe myrtle waiting for me in the bucket of the tractor. A neighbor had gifted us a tree.
I cried.
I thanked God.
We himmed and hawed.
Front yard.
Side yards.
Back yard.
In the deepest recess of my soul, trees are one of my touchstones. It was under a big maple tree – in another new home – that God spoke to my 7 year old self. So trees are just a few of the reasons, hubby and I fell all over ourselves when we saw this property. Trees were everywhere and continue to call out more loudly than we thought possible. We looked at each other and laughed. There was a ravine. There were rocks. There was one big rock that we didn’t even notice until much later – buried under the neglect of the past few years. Rocks are just another one of my touchstones, and eventually – maybe next year – that rock will be the center piece of a corner garden in our neighborhood. And – once again, I will paint a familiar Bible verse (just like I have on every property that we have ever owned), Joshua 4:4-7:
“So Joshua called together the twelve men he had chosen—one from each of the tribes of Israel. He told them, “Go into the middle of the Jordan, in front of the Ark of the LORD your God. Each of you must pick up one stone and carry it out on your shoulder—twelve stones in all, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future your children will ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ Then you can tell them, ‘They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the LORD’s Covenant went across.’ These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.”
In the dark of this night, I sit at my desk and write.  Listening to the sounds of a fairly new house (to us) and envisioning those things that may come to be and blessings yet to roll over this little patch of ground, I guess the only thing missing from our prayer list is running water.   I chuckle under my break and smile. Somewhere, deep inside of me,  I half expect to walk outside one of these warm nights and hear the burble and gurgle of water coming up from the ground and flowing down the ravine that has been prepared for it.
God is like that.  He loves His children.He listens to their petitions. He laughs and enjoys their happiness.
BTW – the crepe myrtle is flourishing and has gifted us with its first flowers.

San Diego: A big trip to prepare for an even bigger trip

It’s not like we haven’t been camping before. Just a month ago, we spent 5 nights camping – definitely our longest adventure (read about our week without a house here). But this t…

Source: San Diego: A big trip to prepare for an even bigger trip

PACKIN’ MY BAG

“Oh – I’m packin’ my bags,                                                                                                                          And I’m leavin’ today,                                                                                                                                    I’m takin’ a trip,                                                                                                                                      OHIO way…”

Long ago and far away, my next-door-neighbor, best friend, ‘sister’ and I found out that we could sing together.  She was 9 and I was 7 when we discovered this. We sang A cappella long before Glee and Pentonix.

1st singing performance together

1st singing performance together

We sang with our 33 recordings of broadway on a screened-in front porch – My Fair Lady – South Pacific – Porgy an Bess – West Side Story. We sang on the way to girl scout camps.  We sang on the Band and Choir Bus. We sang in local shows. We sang in church.

We sang in the backseat of my parents’ car on the way to the drive-in. The same refrain torturing their ears over and over – “my baby don’t care, my baby don’t care.” – until they threatened to turn around and dump us with her parents. We laughed and started all over again.

We sang as we walked the streets on a spring warm-up day, a hot summer evening, a crisp fall night or caroling with our church groups.  Neighbors often requested us to linger and sing a favorite song or a song from their past.  We sang as we drove her to city for her first week of college.

“Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers! I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will praise the LORD, the God of Israel, in song.” Judges 5:3

It is what we did.  Tomorrow, I am packing my bags and making a trip back OH way.  This mother-daughter trip will be the first one in 3 years.  I will drive past familiar places.  I will drive our old neighborhood, wonder about the changes and look to see if the hole in the fence is still there.

It will be good to meet up with old friends.  Meet up with teachers and other best friends that I have worked with over the years. Visit my OH son, my big brother, and his family.  Walk familiar streets, spend a minute at my parents’ graves and look at things that have made up the landscape of my life.

“Sing to the LORD a new song;
            Sing to the LORD, all the earth.

      2Sing to the LORD, bless His name;
            Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.

      3Tell of His glory among the nations,
            His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.” Ps 96:1-3

Singing, home, family, friends, God seems to be the multicolored strands that are woven into the tapestry of my brain.  I am excited to go home.  I am excited to sing praise in the place where I first knew LOVE.

It is good to take trips even when my ‘sister’ won’t be there.  She lives far away in another state, but we still find ways to sing to each other over the distance.  Technology makes things like this so much easier these days.  However, we are making plans to see each other in September in NC.  Hmmmm – come to think of it – that’s another song we used to sing.  How fun is that?

“See you in September
See you when the summer’s through…”bryn and jo

THE GARDENER

To paraphrase the famous quote applied to the US Postal Service – neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night – nor even pesky mosquitoes –  stays me from the swift completion of my appointed rounds.

Nah – I haven’t become a mail carrier or even a hard worker, but I do walk and carry things and deal with biting critters. I generally start in the front yard since our back door isn’t exactly functional yet.  Front yard is a also a misnomer since it really isn’t a yard yet.  Trees, mud and mulch might be a more apt description. Then on to the side yard -back yard – and a side woods garden. Sometimes the dogs join me.  Sometimes, I walk alone.  It really doesn’t matter – it is the land and gardens that call me, and I have to answer.

As a child, my Grandma Mac and parents walked me through my initial introductions to garden blessings.  But it was my father-in-law that sank my toes and fingers into the dirt and hooked me for life.  During the early years of our marriage, hubby and I lived on a piece of ground that his parents sold to us.  We built a house out of old barns that we tore down.  One barn from my hometown.  One barn from the city where we were both born. We made a home and planted our first garden around a wishing well.

During the work week, hubby helped farm the land and milk the cows.  I taught 6th grade in a small town about 30 miles away.  Before grading papers or writing lesson plans, nights would find me feeding the cows and cleaning the milk house with Pop.  I would sing.  Pop would talk.  We would walk.

He showed me how to walk the fields to check the crops.  How to let the dirt sift through my fingers like flour. How to feel the land under my feet for moisture and critters. How to chew wheat kernels like gum.  How to break open an ear of corn to check its growth without disturbing it too much.  How to talk with God on a much deeper level.

As our culture stands in awesome wonder in the miraculous power of prayer, the over the top magnificence of Our Father Jehovah portrayed by the WORD or in the towering cathedrals built by man in His name, we often forget that EL started out as a gardener.  He planted a garden.  He walked in it.  I like to think His angels walked in it as well.  We know for sure that He walked in it with Adam and Eve. A garden home for His first creations – male and female caretakers- “When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden.” Gen 3:8

Naturally, this is where I feel closest to Our Father.  It is where I go when I am heartbroken.  It is where I go when love is to big to hold inside.  It is where I go at the start of my day, at the end of the day and often many times in between.  It is my temporary heaven on earth and where I feel the strength of the Holy Spirit the most.

Tonight, as I did my final walk around.  I picked up a lawn ornament that had fallen apart.  Hubby helped me put it back together, and I hung it back up.  The baby crepe myrtle had tiny pink flowers.  The day lilies were shriveling up into a tinier version of its day self.  The side garden changes that we made this morning need some more tinkering tomorrow – it it doesn’t rain and bring out those biting demons.  Rounded the corner of the house to my tiny front bathrub garden.  Yup – you read that right.  When we tore the bathrub out of the master bath, we planted it. Plants have been doing well in and around it but over the past few days, my pepper plants started showing signs of unhappiness – and this is the point of tonight’s blessing.

I was worried about those tiny plants.  Not greatly, but enough to check them off and on today.  Wondering.  Contemplating deep inside of me.  Here’s the gift – God answered those worries before I requested.  He knew because He was walking the gardens with me and He listened to my heart.  Tomorrow I will go out and mess with the peppers from what He showed me tonight. You see, Our Father is like that.  He is the ultimate gardener.  He is the ultimate Father, and nothing keeps Him from the swift completion of His appointed rounds with His children. Not a bite out of an apple.  Not the death of His only Son who also spoke of gardens.

A gardener who plants the seeds of life and waits for them to sprout.

“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”Matt 28:20

 

SEEKING THE PRESENT

Today, is the last day of my 65th year.

We humans are strange. We acknowledge our year AFTER that year has been completed. I am now officially recognized as a “senior” member of society and qualified for that huge paycheck from that bottomless pit that claimed so much of my paychecks over the last 50 years. I even have a pretty red-white-and-blue, stock paper card to prove it.

Yea me.

It is a day that has always been a reflective one as well. When I was a kid, I would lie awake most of the night – wondering what my present would be – where it was hidden and how long it would take me to find it. I can’t tell you how sad I was when I became a teenager and mom stopped hiding my presents.

I was also born one day before my parents’ 15th wedding anniversary. I’m not sure why that figures in there, but it always does. Instead of just one day, my birthday stretched over 3 days. If it wasn’t a party for me, there was a party for the couple who gave me a path to enter this earthly plane. Somehow – it seemed to be a completion of some sorts in this befuddled mind of mine.

As I got older, I realized that my mom had trained me to use my “birth” day as a different sort of “birth” day. It became a day – not about “getting” things – but instead – about “seeking” things. Where should I seek? When would I decide? How would I know?

Tonight, as I wrote out my war room prayer card, added some doodles to my journal, and read the sixth chapter of Proverbs, I found “new” Bible verses breathing life into this 66th year of life. It reminded me to praise the One who is always with me. [v1-3]. It reminded me to be thankful for my youth and to honor those lessons. [v 20-22] It reminded me to be humble as it highlighted my weaknesses, faults, and the lessons learned there.[v16-17].

When I moved on to Psalms 30, it breathed a reminder that “weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning…” I needed that today since it has been one of those weeks of watching and remembering people I know that have crossed between the physical and spiritual planes – a former student – a favorite aunt – a mother that could drive me crazy and love me completely.

Finally, 1 Peter 3, huffed its final goal: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” [v15a]

So, as I close my eyes on this last night of my 65th year, I will be thinking of many things. Praying for people I know – people I love – and people that I will meet tomorrow. The course has been set, now all I have to do is try to live up to it. Whomever said life got easier when you get older was nuts. I am still struggling to just figure it out a little bit – but I think I just may stay awake a little longer tonight. Wondering about the present My Father has hidden for me to seek this year and just what I will learn. ‪#‎lovingbirthdays‬ ‪#‎gettingexcited‬‪#‎Godismovingonceagain‬

dec 26 2015

On to new adventures

A FLOOD OF BLESSINGS

The fourth of July 2016 is almost here.

Firework explosions of His-story, memories of love spread across the sky of my life with wild, bright emotional colors. Cousins running around many yards, sparklers held high to light the sky. Ice Cream socials in Central Park followed by band concerts and ball games. Trips to Wooster to see ground displays that moved, twisted and spun, shooting off sparks of red, white and blue. Sharing a few stolen kisses amid the ooo’s and ahhhh’s. Lying on my own private roof just outside my bedroom, watching the best show of all as the mysteries of the sky twirl above me.

But the one that stands out in my mind with vivid clarity is the one that happened the year I graduated from high school. 1969.  Does anyone ever forget their senior year of high school?  Everything seems momentous.   For me, it had been a learning curve year with stunning highs and lows. A summer trip to Europe before the year even started.  Zimm’s with a friend who introduced me to a ball player with sun-streaked hair.  A boy from our rival school. Twirling fire batons.  Singing.  Reading. Speech class. A week in the hospital with mono. Prom with the boy who would become my future husband (albeit -12 years in the future). Graduation. An epic 4th of July flood.

Loudonville mid 1950

Loudonville mid-1950’s

There you go. Out of the 18 4th of Julys that I had lived through experienced, it is the 18th one that made the greatest impact on me.  That 69 flood raged into my life, tore the weakest moorings out from under my feet and provided an abrupt transition.  A transition that had already started, but not fully realized.  High school to college. Rural to city.  Family to friends. Knowledge to wisdom. Small blessings to large.  Blessings that established a rock to latch on to during all the other crazy times when waters have swollen and erupted out of their containment banks.

The first blessing woke me in the middle of the night. Fourth of July explosions were becoming a memory, and I had fallen asleep with my favorite sound.  A thunderstorm raging, so maybe it was an especially large crack of thunder or lightening burst. Maybe it was the rain splashing outside my bedroom door (Remember back in the 1st paragraph? I had my own private roof and screen door that would stay open on warm nights – after all – no air conditioning in those days). Whatever it was – it was unusual. Or maybe – just maybe – it was my guardian angel stirring the waters a little louder.

Since the mono experience in April, I slept hard and easily. Waking up at night just didn’t happen, but it did that night. I walked downstairs and found dad standing by the dining room window – and talking. At first I wondered if he was talking to himself, but as he continued, I realized he was talking to God. I remember standing there for a while just being silent and wondering. He knew though and beckoned me to come stand beside him. I remember asking him what he was doing. He said when bad times come, it is best to Somebody wiser than himself for answers. He said there was a flood coming, and he needed to stand watch.

flooded riverside parkFor those of you who don’t know, my family lived just up from the Black Fork tributary of the Mohican River in Loudonville. It floods often into Riverside Park, but I don’t remember a flood like this one. One that threatened our home. Like usual, Dad wasn’t wrong about the flood, but luckily for us, it didn’t completely reach our house. Came close but not enough to cause a problem. We talked for a while, listened to the rain, until he hugged me close, told me not to worry, and sent me back to bed. I talked to God that night like I heard Dad doing and then slept like a baby the rest of the night.  Blessing number two was that rainy lullaby.

When I got woke up, the third blessing was already in progress. I didn’t see much of mom and dad for the remainder of the weekend. Each were off doing what strong adults of small communities do in times of disaster. Mom in the village office fielding calls and organizing. Dad off with the Masons and Legion. Sandbags filled. Friends and family to check on. Clothes and supplies gathered. Food prepared. Prayers shared. Extra rooms filled with friends, neighbors and relatives who needed a bed or a place just to sit and clean up. Impromptu gatherings of believers doing what they do when disaster strikes.

4th of July, 1969.

A flood of memories.

A flood of transitions.

A flood of epic proportion.

A flood of blessings.