Monthly Archives: July 2019

ROOTS BY THE STREAM

Zilch.

Nada.

Nothing.

Absolutely – completely – totally – accomplished 
– – – not 
– – – one 
– – – thing.

And you know what?

After four weeks of pushing, driving, writing, devouring books, moving mulch, painting walls, hanging pictures, changing life around in every way possible – – – I’m okay with that. In fact, I’m more than okay with that. I sat on the patio swing and read the Sunday paper. I fell asleep on that said swing until the sun’s heat woke me up. I vegged out doing some word puzzles. I sat on the couch with the lab girls and rubbed their bellies after one of our many excursions of ball searching in the woods.

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in Him.”

There has been peace beyond any of my understanding in today. Mostly, because in the past few years (hmmm – decades??), I haven’t had a day like this. A day when my mind has been still. A day when books, crafts, goals are ignored. A day when my thoughts just enjoyed the things in front of me and not even looked over the hill to see beyond that.

What is that?

I don’t do this.

I’m am used to being busy and keeping things running.

But not today.

Today I just let it be. Wet grass before the sun was up. Hummingbirds hovering around all the flowering plants and feeders. Moths landing on my finger and then on the mulch. Cardinals. Sparrows. The elusive blue bird. Squirrels and bunnies dodging away from the lab girls. The last day lily of the season. Tomatoes ripening. Magnolia blooms opening. Squeak of the swing as the sun sets. Hiss of a cat when she loses her butterfly before coming in for a cuddle.

“They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.”

In fact, I don’t think I have done this since – once upon a time – long time ago when I laid under a maple tree in a small yard at 421 Riverside Dr. For whatever reason, today has been re-visitation of that day. That original day came the same summer my father had his first heart attack. It had been a long month for this “Daddy’s Girl”. Days of only being able to see him through a hospital window. Days listening to my mother cry at night. Days when I first grappled with things beyond my ken. Days when I needed to hear my father’s voice in my ear and to feel his arms lifting me into the air again.

“It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.”

GOD is good like that. He knows what we need before we do. On that day long ago, He let me hear His voice as he lifted me high beyond those maple leaves, so that I could see the clouds and feel the same peace I’ve felt today. It was the first time on this earth that I recognized GOD as My Father.

“It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”~ Jer 17:7–8

This morning when I woke up, I was just lying in bed. Stretching. Saying good morning to the lab girls. Saying good morning to GOD. Head full of all plans and things I was going to get done. Finish the last few chapters of the book I am reading. Read another devotional chapter. Play the piano. Move a few wheelbarrows full of mulch. Paint a wall or two. Go to church. But even before I got out of bed to feed the hungry lab girls, He was smiling and showing me that day under a maple tree.

And sometimes –

It is just good to be still; to listen to His voice; to let Him lift you beyond the leaves to see the clouds and to let His peace cover you. I really need to do this more often, Father, I really do. Thank you for always knowing exactly what I need and when I need it the most. “You are good, good, oh-so-good…You are good, good, oh-so-good…” 🎵

“I, even I, am He who comforts you.”~ Is 51:12a   

30

3 is one of those prime numbers that people love to use as an example for life’s ups and downs.

“Whoops – two things have happened. Wonder when the third will occur?”

“Didn’t exchange 3 words with that dude.”

“It’s a 3 alarm fire.”

3 cheers – 3 R’s – 3 musketeers – 3 sheets to the wind…

Need I say more?

In Jewish tradition 3 – in essence – it the number that builds a bridge between two opposing values. 3 days between death and resurrection is probably a strong way to look at this in concrete terms. Hence, since 3 X 10 = 30, it is suggested that 30 is a strong number as well. 30 days in a month – 30 pieces of silver – “oh-dark-thirty” which is military speak for any hour before the dawn – “Don’t trust anyone over 30” which a lot of us baby boomers recognize as a memorable quote shouted from the rooftops of our wisdom – – – not to mention an the opposite – – – – Rabbi Yeshua began his ministry at age 30.

To many, 30 speaks of transition or reconciliation in time – in life – in growth. To many, it is the age when a person comes into their full strength – in physical, emotional, or spiritual maturity. “This power to begin transforming the world in earnest begins when we turn thirty. Up until that point we are in training.” ~Rabbi Dr. Hillel ben David (Greg Killian)

30 years. 30 months. 30 days. 30 hours. 30 seconds. 30 in ad finitum.

I’ve been walking a journey for 30 days now. It still feels like a transition. It doesn’t feel like strength or even reconciliation – – yet. But it has – at times – been a journey of 30 “long day’s journey into night” – – – and at other times – 30 “long day’s journey into LIGHT.”

When GOD gave me my Bible verse this year of Rev 21:5 “I am making everything new!” I laughed. It was the new year. I’m entering into the last year of my 6th decade – I had recently started a new portion of my career journey – I was enjoying meeting the new people in my life through that job – so the verse made a lot of sense. Over the next couple months, new ideas for a book that I’d put on the back burner many years ago started coming to me. I was enjoying singing and playing the piano again. There were a couple of visions of things during my quiet time – you know the time – when you are half asleep and yet awake enough to start praying – that time before you throw your feet to the floor or snuggle your head back into the pillow – visions that literally – make me want to sing for joy at the top of my lungs even now – many, many 30 days later.

And then there was 30 days ago. A long day’s journey into the darkest of nights – – – – – –  but – hard as it is for even me to believe – it has become a long day’s journey into LIGHT. One in the same. A transition. A reconciliation. A strengthening period of choices between two opposing worlds. Never an easy journey. But – then again – His journeys never are. BUT – and I sometimes choke on this as I am stepping out of the mud – His journeys are always, ALWAYS, worth it!

One GIANT step forward – two baby steps back.

There’s that three again.

3 steps.

3 choices.

Some go backwards, but when that one step goes forward it bridges the mud – the mess, the sloppy waste – and finds footing on a Rock that is higher. A Rock that is the cornerstone for where I want to be. A Rock that was made just for my foot, and a Hand that has carved my name into His nail, scarred palm.

30 is a good number, and as I stand on the bridge tonight looking back and looking forward, I begin to yawn – and smile as I contemplate a new step. (There’s those two opposing values again waiting for my step.) There are still many 30‘s ahead of me just as there are many, many 30‘s behind me. There are still many muddy traps waiting for my footfall, many bridges being built so that I can cross safely, and oh, so many dreams to achieve. For when Our Father gave me that verse this year, He planted so many new visions in my heart that I can’t wait to see what lies beyond this next step even if I cry as I take that step forward.

Transition.
Reconciliation.
Strength.

Seems right tonight. “For behold, I make all things new!”~Rev 21:5

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”~Jer 29:11 

– 30 – 
(as we used to end our newspaper stories)

 [Google images]

PHEW AND PRAISE THE LORD

Four hours of walking the push mower. 2 – changes of sweaty clothes. 2 – breaks to gulp water. 2 -15 minute naps. 1 – shower and another set of clothes. One lost ball in a hole under a tree. A dog trying to dig to China through said hole. Praise the LORD – the yard is mowed for another couple weeks and the heat and humidity is on its way out of NC.

Phew!

“The very thing we thought would burn so brightly with joy has turned out to burn us.” Lysa Terkeurst, p93.

Needless to say, the rest of the day has been one of recovery and discovery. The lab girls are still pouting about the ball, but I have been reading and watching the rain clouds accumulate over our house. Painted a wall. Hung a few pictures. Opened my ears. After a busy morning, spending time doing the things I love most is always a good thing.

“I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry.”~Ps 40:1

We got an inch of rain on Saturday, so the grass and gardens have been growing steadily despite the 12 days of 90 degrees and humidity that has plumbed the sinuses beyond their tiny cavities. Two zucchinis and several tomatoes later, I am reading my book on the porch and enjoying the breeze that always proceeds the storm. Our Father is good that way. He breathes and those that listen hear the storms’ approach and hunker down for the duration.

“He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”~Psalm 40:2

Nice thing about storms. They eventually pass. The thunder and lightning that scared me have disappeared over the horizon. My feet are in a firm place. I can wrap my arms around the porch post, feel the rain wash my face of its salty residue and smile. The hopeful prayer I had whispered in my heart at the beginning of June has come true. Grass so thick and soft has grown beyond what I thought possible, and I can walk barefoot in it every morning without a rock bruising my toes (it also stopped the mower a few times). The volunteer tomatoes are so bushy that they cover a good portion of the garden, full of fruit, and beginning to climb the blooming magnolia tree. And the tiny wisteria spouts that I planted a year ago? Well, they are stretching halfway across the portico that covers the patio.

“My hope is tied to the unchanging promise of GOD.”~Lysa Terkeurst, p94

Sometimes, life is just not easy. There are just a lot of storms that pass by in life. The physicality storm that followed mowing this morning did take its toll on this ol’ gal. The back ached even with my new back brace for the hard part of the yard. The knee hurt – even after using the inversion board – but after icing – much improved. The sinuses were swollen but less so after the essential oils. So with a little help the physical storm passed, and I’m ready to let my body yawn, listen to a little Lauren Daigle or Danny Gokey and bury my nose in a book full of hopeful covenants that are never broken.

Phew and Praise the LORD!

Tomorrow is supposed to be in the 70’s, my heart is full of joy, and hope is all around me. After all, this little guy came for a visit – until the hummingbirds kept dive bombing him. Talk about unexpected joy.

Phew and Praise the LORD!

  [personal images]

KA-CHING

The aging or gender app has certainly brought a lot more “seniors” into my feed this week. It has also made me laugh to see my kids look older than I do – at least in my eyes I still look pretty nifty for being in my 69th year. (Hmmm…did I just date myself by using the word “nifty”?)

“Even to your old age and gray hairs
I AM He, I am He who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”~Is 46:4

Monday was a ka-ching kind of day. Moved 6 loads of mulch. Walked the dogs, or should I say, played ball with the dogs as they lost said ball in the woods 2 times, and I had to go help them find it. Walking them is always a ka-ching adventure – especially when they get excited and try to knock me over trying to get the ball first.

Then it was time for the wonderful, always-look-forward-to yearly check-up with my specialist for blood tests and all the awesome things they have on a medical checklist for the elders of our culture. I am not about to list it all here, but let me say – my doctor is thorough. Everytime I go in he spends a good half hour with me but this time – all he could say as he left was “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it! I wish I could see the turn around in all my patients like you’ve made.”

Ka-ching! Ka-ching!

Take that tick disease. It may still be in the background (along with that “wonderful” mono virus that I got in high school), but for now – it was a jump-up-and-down, smile-on-my-face, ka-ching day.

“Even in old age they will still produce fruit; 
they will remain vital and green. 
They will declare, “The LORD is just!
He is my rock!
There is no evil in Him!”~Ps 92:14-15

Yesterday, was also full. Walk. Dogs. Mulch (just four loads today as I am almost out of this load of mulch, and it is way too hot to want to do more – even at 7 AM in the morning). Met a couple friends for lunch and just enjoyed some laughing and learning new things.

When I got home, the dogs were ready to walk again – even in the heat. I love my neighborhood. It is like a very small version of the town I grew up in so long ago. Neighbors call out greetings and sometimes just stop their trucks to chat for awhile. Others mow my roadside grass because they know I don’t have a riding mower. Others play with the lab girls when we meet on our walks. So yesterday as a thank you, I made refrigerator pickles, and in a couple of days will deliver them.

Ka-ching, Ka-ching, Ka-ching.

“But on this forty-eighth birthday I opened the coloring book, and someone had erased all the beautifully drawn lines.”~Lysa Terkeurst, p73.

And then there was today. It was a hard day. Old things popped up that made me reflective. Thoughts strayed and that made me sadder. So I took a nap. But what woke me up was a refrain of a song singing through my dream and shining in my eyes. Our Father sends light into the darkness. My cleaning lady came today as she does once a month, and she shared her sadness with me. I knew then I was right where supposed to be for such a time as this. Even with the language barrier, we were able to communicate about Our Father’s goodness together and the refrain sang again in my heart.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”~2 Cor 1:3-4

I don’t like this dark journey that I am on. “It Wasn’t Supposed To Be This Way”. But this is the journey that God continues to bless almost every hour as He goes before me or stands beside me. I feel Him in every step I walk with the dogs and even sitting in my chair as I write. It may be dark now, but I am not fearful or dismayed because that Light continues to shine until morning comes.

Ka-ching, Ka-ching, Ka-ching, Ka-ching.

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it is bursting out! Do you not perceive it?”~ Is 43;18

ONE PERFECT SABBATH

Today was one of those days made perfect by the tiny small acts that happened throughout it. Acts that have warmed my soul and reminded of the holiness of the day.

A day that really didn’t start out so well. Our youngest lab girl woke me up at 3:30 with that dreaded sound that all pet owners or kidlet parent recognizes – regurgitation breaths. Getting untangled from the the bedding in the middle of the night is not one of the fastest things I do anymore – but I managed, and Koay managed to hold it in until I got her out the door. The old dog didn’t even get up. She just rolled on her back, thinking she might get a belly rub when I returned.

Needless to say, I was not in the mood to rub anyone’s belly, and Ryndi just sighed as she rolled back over. Luckily, Koay did what needed to be done fairly quickly and was back in the door within a few minutes wanting her belly rubbed. Again, I was not amused. I crawled into bed and hoped I could fall back to sleep.

I did – – – eventually.

The last time I glanced up at the time reflected on the ceiling, an hour had already crawled towards dawn, and I was yawning my way through one more Bible verse (which is what I do when I can’t sleep). Obviously, my plans on rising early to do some mulch moving during the coolest time of our 90-degree-really-really-humid-days got lost in catching up on some much needed 💤 .

Early morning chores followed. Walk the dogs, sweat. Pull some weeds, sweat a little more. Throw the ball and listen to panting dogs hunting for it – sweat. Sit on the patio swing while glancing through the paper and – you guessed it – sweat. By that time, it was time to get cleaned up and go over to the daughter’s for breakfast and help the oldest Grand paint her room – or should I say – help her parents paint the room as she added a couple of brush strokes here and there.

In any case, it was there – standing in her room – in between playing with clay, talking about “Hatchables” and the habitats we had made from clay for them, tossing a “Wubble” up and down the stairs, and those few swipes of a brush in her bedroom, we found ourselves pretty much alone for a few minutes.

We were talking about the color of her room – a very striking turquoise – when she curled under my arm and wrapped her arms around me. We kept talking and laughing for one of those moments which you know is searing itself as a treasure chest memory into your heart. The almost 11-year-old, leaning into me just like she used to do when she was tiny – just like her mama used to do when she was tiny.

My heart was blessed beyond measure with such a gift.

The ultimate gifts of any day are not usually fancy. Usually they come so quickly that we don’t even notice. They don’t usually cost money. They can be as simple as having a butterfly land on your finger at the end of the day as it flutters its wings and probes your skin for its salty moisture. The gift of a Lab girl that wiggles under the inversion board as you stretch your back, so she can rub her head against your head just to show how special she thinks you are in her life. A Father who sends His blessings in so many ways if we only take time to notice.

It was a good day – a perfect day – a day to praise God and remember why we should keep the Sabbath and make it holy.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”

~Ex 20:8-11

 

A sonnet for St. Benedict

“…Centre in Christ and enter in his peace…”

Malcolm Guite

20130710-093249.jpg

On July the 11th the Church celebrates the feast of St. Benedict of Nursia, the gentle founder of the Benedictine order and by extension the father of Monasticism. A moderate and modest man, he would have been astonished to learn that his ‘simple school for prayer’, his ‘modest rule for beginners’ led to the foundation of communities which kept the Christian flame alight through dark times, preserved not only Christian faith, scripture, and culture,but also the best of Classical Pagan learning and culture, fed the poor, transformed societies, promoted learning and scholarship, and today provides solace, grounding, perspective and retreat not only to monks and nuns but to millions of lay people around the world.
Here is my sonnet for Benedict, drawing largely on phrases from the Rule, I dedicate it to the sisters at Turvey Abbey. It appears in my second book with Canterbury Press, The Singing…

View original post 132 more words

A WHOOEE – A WHOOEE

Mama Mick used to say, “When the sh** hits the fan, get off your lazy butt and move.”

I used to just think this was one of her hilarious ways to get people to laugh. She loved to make people laugh – – especially the boys I brought home on a date. Truth be told, they all kept in touch with her long after we broke up. Mostly, because she could tell a joke and make them feel like they were part of her inner circle as they laughed and laughed at her jokes. While I blushed and blushed and cringed at the jokes she would tell (riske doesn’t begin to describe her jokes).

But – the twist on the adage in the first paragraph was a little different. As I have gotten older, I’ve seen the wisdom behind the picture she painted with her words.

“My mama done tol’ me, when I was in pigtails,
My mama done tol’ me,”🎵

So in June, I got off my lazy butt (moved the fan because who wants a stinky fan anyway?) and did a bunch of things that I’ve just thought about over the past few years including losing weight… oh – boy I get to buy clothes before school starts… because all my shorts and tops are hangin’ where they ain’t supposed to hang.

“A Whooee, A Whooee…”🎵

✔️– Been indulging my artistic side. Writing on some old things that have been sitting on the shelf for more years than I want to think. Written some new poetry. Did some doodling. Created clay sculptures with the Grands. Plucked garden flowers and arranged them where I could look at them often. Pulled out the markers and decorated my new journal.

“Now the rain’s a-fallin’,
hear the train’s a-callin,
“Whooee!”🎵

✔️– Been working the body. Hulled almost another dump truck load of mulch. (The only reason it isn’t done is……“It’s too darn hot, it’s too darn hot…🎵) Planted a new tree in our rocky, hard, clay dirt (Can you tell I’m whinin’ while I am praying over and watching carefully this new tree since it is late, late, late in Southern season to be plantin’ a tree). Walked the dogs 4-5 times a day and spent lots of time chasing ball (me included when I throw it in the woods) – losing ball (especially in the woods) – arguing over who gets the ball – and panting like crazy with big goofy smiles on all our faces when we come inside. In this heat, none of us stay outside long – not even the cat who generally hates coming in before it is time to eat.

“Whooee!”
(My mama done tol’ me)
A-whooee-ah-whooee ol’ clickety-clack’s a-echoin’ back th’ blues in the night.”🎵

✔️– Painted my bedroom with the help of daughter and family. Then – best of all, created a window seat in this “new” bedroom, hung lace curtains, added a small bookshelf full of my favorite authors/poets, and turned to my dogs and solitary cat said – “It is good”.

The window seat is so small and cozy that I started to wonder if I would really use it or just look at it. Then I looked outside. One of those mysterious summer showers that often seem to come out of nowhere was just starting. I found myself sitting. Sitting in the window seat. Curled up with my teddy bear – my Sefer (Book of Life) by my side, watching the rain and wondering at the “great and mighty things” that He shows me day after day after day.

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”~Jer 33:3🙏

I may sing the “blues in the night” at times. Tissue boxes empty as the cat pats my face with her paw. The girls curl at my feet or behind my chair, so I can reach down and pet them when they cry with me. But in the morning — aaaahhh yes — in the morning, the dawn rises – Our Father wakes me up and I hear Him whisper: 
“Choose JOY! 
For this is the day that I have made just for you.
REJOICE!
BE GLAD!
And surely – goodness and mercy shall follow you all day long – every step – and with every breath – – – -with you – – – –
I AM!
You are my child – created in my image – beloved of the King.”

Can’t get much better than that. After all my Mama Mick done tol’ me long ago:
“A Whooee da whooee, A Whooee da whooee”

 

[personal images]

NEW CORN, NEW BOOK

Why is the first corn of the season always, always, ALWAYS the best corn of the season? NC corn is on the byways and highways just in time for the 4th of July…….and me? After not eating much for the past few weeks, I am enjoying every bite that is just a wee bit salted and dripping in butter. Which by the way, drips on to whatever bit of clothing I am wearing at the time.

June was a long, long, LONG month. One book closed and right there – by my side – is another. Part of me wants to pick it up. Another part of me, isn’t quite ready to put the effort into even picking it up quite yet. It is a different kind of book. 
Not new. 
Tattered cover. 
A few ripped and stained pages. 
Maybe even a page or two missing. 
It has been stuffed at the very back of my bookshelf for 40 years and is the one that I haven’t even thought about in ever so long – let alone pick it up……..
but there is this tickle. 
A tickle way back of my eyes that keeps pointing at it. 
A tickle that reminds me that I liked reading it long ago. 
A tickle that is hinting that it just may be time to pick it up again and discover whatever wisdom might lie beneath the words it holds.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”~1 Cor 2:9

It is hot in NC this week. Humid, steamy, muggy, yukky hot. My sinuses feel swollen beyond the confines of my normal sized head. So – out come the oils. Inversion board coming up. But sometimes – I’ve found the best thing is to go out and just sweat.

Early in the morning or late, late in the afternoon – – – right after the deepest part of the night has passed or right as twilight begins at night – – – I meander outside with the lab girls. We do our neighborhood walk, and then I get to work and try to avoid the mosquitoes. I have found that I actually love moving wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of mulch around my small home. The gardens are somewhat dry since we haven’t had a serious rain in a couple weeks, but they are still flourishing. Tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, flowers. God is definitely good, and I see His hand everywhere in the yard with every drop of sweat that falls.

During the heat of the day, if I’m not writing or watching Grands, I head to the bedroom and begin to paint the walls. The knees creak a little more than when I did this a few years back, but I have found that atmosphere is vital when starting a new book and well worth the noisy grunts from various body parts. Best of all is asking the daughter and SIL for help where the walls go much higher than my old knees want to climb.

God is so good.

The new book is still sitting rights beside me. Sometimes I feel like it is inside of me, just waiting to be opened. And because I have this strange curiosity that often gets me into trouble, I peek inside that dusty ol’ book. The Light sparkles around the words that are imprinted there. My eyes are blinded since they are too bright to read for now. Quickly, I slam that book shut once again. I think I will wait a little longer. I know that in time,The Holy Spirit will stop with the tickles and slam me upside the head when the time is exactly right. He just likes to forewarn me – – peak my curiosity – – just like he has for the past couple decades of my life. I don’t really like the “Gibbs slap”, but it does get His point across succinctly.

“We must let God’s WORD become the words of our story.”~Lysa Terkeurst

 [personal images]