Tag Archives: books

I BELIEVE

Believe-1Today was a day of contrasts. The kid who has spent the past two days in melt-down mode found the laughter button. Warm sunshine played hide and seek with rain-heavy, dark clouds. A secular world intrusion into my day made me smile while a spiritual world experience brought tears. It is Wednesday. Hump day. Half of my work week is complete. I can start looking forward to the Grands coming for their 2nd overnight stay, and (once they are gone) finishing the painting of the master bedroom. Play and work. Meditation and activity. Silence and music. Books and writing. Tom Hanks and the Newsboys. For a gemini, it is a perfect day.

“Listen, you heavens, and I will speak; hear, you earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.” Deut 32:1-2 This lenten journey has not felt like previous years, and I’m not sure why. I finished my lenten devotional. Still reading others. Watching the skies. But instead of going quickly the time seems to be dragging, and I keep wanting it say, “Hurry up, will you?” It feels more like Christmas when I was a kid. Waiting. Expectation. Breathless. Impatient. Thinking that the darkness would never pass. Maybe it is all the crazy things going on in the world, Maybe it is all the signs in do-you-believethe earth that seem to be replicating passages in the Bible. Maybe it is all the movies, music and books that seem to be shouting the name of G-d to the whole world. Roma Downy, not content to just do movies shouting His holiness, is planning a new version of “Touched by an Angel” TV show for next September. Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Jn 13:7 We never know what lies ahead; it is only in hindsight that we see the road plainly. We walk our paths. Share our gifts. Raise our families. Pray for our families, others and ourselves. Stumble over rocks during our testing periods and bandage the bloody parts until they heal. I don’t understand why I awake expectantly every day or go to sleep with one eye looking out the window. I don’t know why I feel like I need to read more and more and more. I don’t know why I cry almost everytime I hear the song, “We Believe” by the Newsboys. I just know that I do and my heart is soaring higher every day. I believe. [google images and Akiane’s artwork]   Faithfulness_by_Akiane

Attitude of Gratitude #8-14

porch days

Gratitude #8: Books. Books. And more Books. As much as I like technology – especially typing things instead of writing things (it goes so much faster…especially when I make mistakes ), but books are my still what I love best. Fiction. Non-fiction. Humorous. Informational Text. Devotionals – or spirit filled. Biographies. Autobiographies (obviously, as all my students will tell you). The WORD. Even books that are in the “oral tradition” (storytellers) capture my attention and hold me enthralled. Touching pages that others have touched. Smelling the paper on which it is written. Entering a world that was once in someone’s mind or is part of their knowledge base challenges me to get out of “me”. I am deeply thankful for books – especially the WORD which always challenges, humbles and blesses.

Gratitude #9: Laughter. After starting my Sunday with Tim Conway,Carol Burnett, Vikki Lawrence, and Dick Van Dyke – how could it be anything else. Our world needs more laughter. Laughter transcends so many barriers and elevates our perspective on life. My father used to say, “Thunder is God’s laughter,” and I loved the image of God’s laughter booming over our house every time a storm rolled through. Somehow, I was never afraid of storms. Though I might have cringed when mom told my boyfriends some risque joke, I loved the fact that she could tell jokes so well and so often. Our home was filled with laughter – commediennes on LP records, TV variety shows, minstrel late-night-endmen-joke-planning. So who better to end my day than – Bob Hope? Gotta the internet’s access to old video clips. With Veternans Day approaching, I chose an overview of all Bob Hope’s trips. I am thankful for laughter and so thankful for those who can tell jokes – cuz I sure cain’t.

Gratitude #10: Unexpected gifts. Holiday season – decorations going up – gifts wordare on the mind. Those to buy – those to make – those in need. But sometime – it is the unexpected gift that means the most. A butterfly on a beach. A choc lab that whines to sit in your lap. A child’s trust. A late fall flower in bloom. The sound of geese flying low over the lake. A hug from a stranger at church.on Sunday who said, “Your mom said you needed a hug today.” All gifts that I didn’t deserve and yet blessing my life in more ways than I could ever imagine. I can’t be thankful enough to Our Father for dropping unexpected gifts on to my path these last few days.

Gratitude #11: Veterans. This one was obviously the choice of the day. Originally, the world set aside this day to remember those who had died in WWI. Whether it is called Armistice Day – Rememberance Day – or it’s more modern freedom to voteterm: Veterans Day – it is now a day to remember all veterans and say thank you. In America we have Memorial Day, so 11-11 at 11 A.M. was changed in 1947 to honor all Veterans and the sacrifices they made for our country. Leaving home. Leaving family. Leaving the comforts of home. Heat. Cold. Impossible tasks and choices…Life…Death. They have made sacrifices that I can’t even imagine. I admire all the veterans I have known growing up: my father, my brother, my uncles, my peers, my former students. Veterans are truly an example of: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Jn 15:13

Gratitude #12: Mothers. I was talking to one of my FB friends about how I have had many mothers in my life, and I couldn’t get that thought out of my mind as I said my devotions. Who would I be without my “mothers”? They carried so much 254942_1682499116937_4399549_nknowledge, practicality and wisdom that proved invaluable to my life. They emerged from my family, extended family, peers, collegues.and miraculously (as if God didn’t plan it that way ), they manage to appear right when I needed them. They “mothered” me through those tough times and stepped back when I spread my wings. Lucky for me, I had a great mother, so I was able to recognize it when I saw it. So thankful for the many mothers in my life – but mostly thankful that Our Father sent me to learn from the best. Still missing her and still thankful.

Gratitude #13: Devotions. A day can be so-so and then something happens that makes it – the same – great – or terrible. The interesting thing is that we often have normanvincentpeale130593a choice. Each day I try to spend a couple different times in devotions (needless to say – this does not always happen…to my detriment ) A new Jewish wisdom story started the day (seeing the OT in a new way made me wonder all day long) – a preacher who (with lots of jokes and stories thrown in for fun) reminded me why one little verse in the NT can change the way we think – then change our heart – then change our mouths – was the way I ended my day. Thinking about God always makes me truly thankful. “…whatsoever things are TRUE, whatsoever things are HONEST, whatsoever things are JUST, whatsoever things are PURE, whatsoever things are LOVELY, whatsoever things are of GOOD REPORT; if there be any VIRTUE, and if there be any PRAISE, think on these things.” Phil 4:8

Gratitude #14: Excitement. There are days that are totally “God-blessed” from start to finish. An unplanned day trip with the hubby to Nashville – not OH, too small – not TN, too big – NC, ahhhhhh….just right! And in that small town there was a cafe. Good food, interesting local arts and used books. The excitement comes in here. We went to Nashville to buy a kitchen island with a slate top that we had been looking for since last year. It is beautiful and perfect. That is still not the excitment. It was finding two books out of hundreds that I found in 5 minutes and knew deep within me that I was supposed to bring them home as well. You know – that little voice that nudges…”look at the books…old books…that one that you can’t read the title…don’t leave…look at that other book two cases over…” Excitement builds as you pull out the first one: His Eye Is on the Sparrow: the Autobiography of Ethel Waters. One of my favorite jazz singers/actresses from my mom and dad’s era. The second was: The Best-Loved Religious Poems by James Gilchrist Lawson. Excitement is bubbling. There is much more I want to share about these wonderful gifts, but that’s not the message of the day. Sometimes (as I am reminded by that same small voice} we must stay focused on the message – I’m just thankful for God-blessed excitement of the day and where it is leading me. Long video but such a great example of Ethel Waters talents.

 

STUFF

clutter

I love productive days. I’ve had this box of loose “stuff” that I started gathering when we moved my mom out of my childhood home. Needless to say, those were busy years for me…teenagers in the house, grandchildren being born in MI, Mama needing lots of time, husband trying to start a business, so I added more “stuff” to that box. Today, I got through the top assortment of “stuff”, and I feel as if the back room has a new lightness to it.

“… keep away from worldly desires that wage war against your very souls.” 1 Peter 2:11

“Stuff” does get in the way we see things and sometimes clouds our judgement. After I returned to my home town, I made the mistake of cleaning up an area around my mom’s chair. Mom threatened to disown me if I every touched one of her magazines or books again. She was right. It was her stuff to get rid of – not mine. Mom collected and kept most everything; she was a card carrying member of the original re-cycle crowd. Depression babies are like that. We re-used everything until it fell apart in our hands. When my brother and I finally had permission to clean out her house (without the threat of being disowned), it took pretty close to a year (or at least – it seemed like it). As for Mom, after she moved, she often wondered why she kept all that “stuff” because she said she didn’t miss it at all.

“You will be ashamed of your idol worship in groves of sacred oaks.” Is 1:29

SOS5We tend to really like our “stuff”. We want this or that – and usually multiples of the “this and that”. Between books, Barbies, pictures on the wall, and a few sundry of other things, I have done my fair share of collecting. My husband collects “manly toys” – you know – boats, motorcyles, tools, etc. “Stuff” adds up quickly and clutters up our lives pretty fast. Don’t get me wrong, I still love having “stuff”. But as I dug through all the “stuff” Mom had collected, I boy clutterrealized how there were very little of that “stuff” that meant anything to me or my brother. One day I sat in the middle of what used to be our dining room – surrounded by “stuff” – and was overwhelmed by the sheer uselessness of it.

“…The message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” Rm 10:8

I got a clearer message a few years later, when we had our house fire, I got another nudge about “stuff”. After emptying several large dumpsters of “stuff”, my husband and I made a new rule, if it couldn’t fit in our pocket, we wouldn’t buy it. Obviously, we did not stick to that rule very long, but we have stopped “collecting” a lot stuff. Our smaller home is still full, but most of it (I’m happy to say) are things that weren’t damaged by the fire.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ep 2:8-10

“Stuff” doesn’t get us to heaven…we can’t take it with us. It clutters the corners and builds walls around us. (In my mind’s eye, I can still see my mother’s chair sitting amid piles of “stuff” on every side of it.) It can even cloud our vision as we lose sight of what truly matters. This is where my day became truly productive. It wasn’t about cleaning out the “stuff”. It wasn’t even about initiating a chore that I had wanted to start for years. It was this: Jesus said: “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” Lk 18;22 Looking around my room, I began to wonder: If the Messiah said this to me today, would I sell everything…or would I be like the certain ruler who just walked away…