Weeks of water and wonder

God’s been on a mission around here lately. He’s been answering some prayers and watering my plants–and everyone else’s!–with abandon…for days and days.

As He’s done so, that low place in the driveway filled up and made a spectacularly large birdbath delighting me and the birds who have taken full advantage. The hard Georgia ground has softened up to accept a few more new plants so I could take advantage of a break in the downpour and finally get around to planting some iris rhizomes that were gifted to me at the beginning of April. (Yes. April! I know. Blessings on you, Cyndi, and please thank Will, again, for his patience about returning his bucket!) Though I won’t see anything from them this year, they’re already holding a promise for the Spring–and isn’t it just like God to use something we normally complain about to help us become more pliable and full of beauty for the future?!

As we’ve watched the waters fill up buckets and overflow rain gauges, God has also filled up our home with guests and laughter. He sent us out to minister to others and helped us enjoy seeing that adding margin to our own lives can actually become a blessing to those around us, as well.

Our guests have been delightful and nourished us much like the rain has blessed our plants. We’ve seen some incredible growth in both plants and relationships–and both are beautiful. I’ve lost count of the number of hydrangeas arrangements have left this place to find new homes and, hopefully, give cheer in their new locations.

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It seems that nature has used this rain to fullest advantage…and now we have a new, though unplanted crop being enjoyed by our local squirrels. Although their abundant presence in our yard often annoys me as I work to stay ahead of planted nuts growing into trees in all sorts of odd places, I laughed to see how the squirrels have nibbled all around the edges of a string of mushrooms all lined up like a buffet. I guess God thought He would provide for those guests, as well.

As I wandered through the yard this afternoon, I couldn’t help be be reminded how blessed we all are and along the way, I found a few more things to share. For those of you still asking after Grace, I’ve included a picture of her below. She’s showing out these days…just like God.

I’m looking forward to seeing what God does next…and to home-grown tomato sandwiches and a caprese salad or twelve, as well. In the meantime…

Grace and Peace!

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Quotidian praises

I love finding new words. Of course, they may not actually BE NEW words, but when they’re new to me, I take great delight in them, just the same. It’s kind of like an odd little  present from God. It doesn’t cost anything and most people would probably skip over them and move on, but I feel compelled to look them up and find a use for them so I won’t forget them.

I’ll bet you can see where this is going, can’t you? ( Want to take a wild guess at what my latest one was? grin)

I’ve always loved words. I think they might just be one of God’s best gifts to us–and I love to see Him at the heart of making sure we have even more new words as evidenced by the Scriptural account of the tower of Babel. One of the side benefits of having more languages in the world is, of course, finding new ways to integrate them into our own–and mangle them in the process! Yes, I’m sure that God knew that would delight me and annoy others in equal measure, so I’m particularly grateful to be on the delighted side of that one!

IMG_20180416_212228055_LLFor years, I’ve made a habit of looking up words as I came across them in my reading. My old red hard-backed Random House College Dictionary was one of my favorite gifts as I graduated from high school, even though I now have no idea who gave it to me. (If it was you, then THANK YOU very much!–I hope you liked the card I sent shortly thereafter as a way to express my gratitude! I’m absolutely certain that happened because my mother and Miss Manners insisted that I use some of those words for every single gift I received during those summer months between high school and college!) My shiny new red dictionary joined the Roget’s College Thesaurus from Mrs. Coffey’s Senior English class, and the small black paper-backed New Handy Webster Dictionary (illustrated) that I had scarfed from my father’s possession long ago as one of my most treasured possessions as I moved out into my own future…into a land that had no idea about personal computers, much less accessing websites to find out information within moments on any given topic.

Along with holding a faded flower, a letter from a former classmate, my certificate of admission to and a note card with the combination for my new mail box at Mississippi University for Women, and a few other mementos, my big old red dictionary has been held and searched by many of the children–and more than a few adults!–left in my care for almost any period of time over an hour or so. I used it the way I was taught:  “When someone uses a word you don’t know, LOOK IT UP!” Countless games of Scrabble and even general conversations required little (and not so little) hands to search the pages and then use of that new found word in as many sentences as possible so that the knowledge would stick. (Y’all are getting a whole new level of how much of a word-nerd I am, aren’t you?! HA!!)

In any case, imagine my delight when I found a new word earlier this evening! I didn’t even stop to finish the sentence before I grabbed my phone and looked up the meaning. Times and energy levels being what they are, I didn’t get out of my chair and take steps to reach for that big red book until it was time to take a picture! In any case, I rolled that new word across my tongue and around in my head as I read the definition. From an online dictionary compliments of Google, I read the following:

quo·tid·i·an
kwōˈtidēən/
adjective
  1. of or occurring every day; daily.
    “the car sped noisily off through the quotidian traffic”
    • ordinary or everyday, especially when mundane.
      “his story is an achingly human one, mired in quotidian details”
      synonyms: dailyeverydayday-to-daydiurnal

      “the quotidian routine”
      ordinaryaveragerun-of-the-milleverydaystandardtypicalmiddle-of-the-roadcommonconventionalmainstreamunremarkableunexceptionalworkaday,commonplacemundaneuninteresting;
      informalnothing to write home about, a dime a dozen
      “her horribly quotidian furniture”

 

In my delight, I immediately informed some close friends about “my new discovery” and found it was a new word to several of them, as well. That these are particularly well-educated women made my delight even greater!

Eventually, I got back to reading the sentence where I first found the word in print–and had the audacious thought that, perhaps, the quoted person should have chosen another word…just to make things clearer, you know…even though it would have made me miss out on a new word. I had to share my merriment at being particular about the use of a word with which I had been unfamiliar just 30 minutes prior. As I laughingly shared with one of my friends, “These are the things that I think must make God put His head in His hand and just sigh deeply about me.”

It’s true…or perhaps it would be, if God weren’t a spirit. Either way, as I thought more about the meaning of my new word, I decided that it actually fits the intent of this blog. In a strange way it is one of my deepest desires that I would offer praise that is so regular and so common as I go about my daily life that it becomes quotidian in the way I live my life. I certainly have the means, the opportunity, the desire, and the option of making it so.

Perhaps you’ll join me? Let’s be quotidian–in the best sense of the word!–in our praise of a God who is anything but, and yet relishes it all. I don’t think God will find that mundane, unremarkable or uninteresting at all, and I’m certain that He would enjoy the change of pace from some of us…including myself.

Grace and Peace!

My own New Year

I had another birthday recently and, as usual, began the process of evaluation for what I want to get accomplished the year to come. I’ve always ignored the traditional New Year’s resolutions in favor of starting my own New Year on my birthday. I’m weird like that. (grin)

What I found this year was a bit surprising: I don’t have as many new goals as I used to. I’m not saying that I’ve finally lived up to that “Most Likely to Succeed” superlative from high school, but I would say that I’m making progress–and most of it is in the direction that brings me joy. Hopefully, my progress is also making God smile a bit more than He used to, as well.

Sometimes we get all caught up in what other people expect from us or, perhaps more accurately, what we think they expect from us. I know I used to, anyway, but the older I get the more excited I am about my life. I’ve been blessed with a good one–despite the challenges, which we all face in one form or another. I’ve found that the best way to face them is to remember that those challenges are temporary and I am eternal, not because of anything that I have done, but by virtue of the very One who made me in His own image. By the way, the same can be said of you since the same God made us all.

34136This past year, I’ve already seen progress in some specific areas that I’ve been focused on for the last several years. I’ve exercised my “no” a little more and created some necessary margin in my life. I’ve cleared out a bunch of “stuff,” opened up my home a lot more, and made some more room for the people in my life to kick back and relax here with me. As a bonus result, I’ve been able to breathe a little better, as well. I’ve chosen to be more deliberately creative–and yes, you can do that! I’ve dug deeper into my study of what God wants for me and loved it as He has continued to turn some of that innate stubbornness into a more tenacious faith-life. I’ve prayed more with and for others and celebrated more of the small things in the everyday schedules I make for myself. I’ve laughed more this past year and enjoyed my husband and our marriage more. I’ve made deliberate choices to look past the faults of others without unsolicited commenting, but more importantly, I’ve managed to give some more of that grace to myself. To be honest, I’m having a lot more fun being me than I used to…and I’ve always liked being me. (HA!)

As I look back at that last paragraph, I see that this past year could most accurately be labeled as “a year of more.” I want to keep going in that direction in the year to come. I like what God is showing me about what He can do when I’m more focused on enjoying Him and the life He’s provided than when I’m just trying to “do the right thing,” check all the right boxes, and being too concerned about pleasing others.

As in years past, because I’m an optimist serving an Almighty God, I expect this new one to be a good one, but I am determined that it will be a more-God one. I look forward to what my new year will bring. I’m fiercely resolved to be a better steward of the life God has given to me. The following verse just feels like what I’m hoping for out of this new year:

“Not that I have already reached the goal or am already perfect, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12 (CSB)

Perhaps I should have just started–and stopped–with that. Oh, well. I didn’t say anything about this year being less “wordy.” Looks like I’m off to a great start there, too. (grin)

Grace and Peace!

Promise of Spring

Today is the first official day of Spring and the temperature where I live in Georgia was already up to 70 degrees by the time I left Bible Study. The forsythia, Japanese magnolia, and daffodils have already bloomed and gone, and the “Great Yellow Death” (aka “pollen invasion”) seems to have arrived in full force. (My big red truck has a decidedly orange cast as the colors meld across the expanse of the hood.)

Last night, the sky was filled with God’s own version of fireworks complete with thundering booms and, afterward,  torrential rain and a little hail–and, thankfully, no tornadoes near us. Today, we woke to slushy ground and mildly cleaner surfaces marred only by mini-rivers of the pollen where the rivulets of water had already retreated. All of this occurred in preparation for what we are told will be temperatures near freezing later tonight. In fact, a friend in Tennessee just texted the following:  “Spitting snow here. Not kidding.” We’re in the same planting zone.

Welcome to Spring in the South!

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I tried to let my cat out to enjoy the screened-in porch out back earlier today, but he took one whiff of the pollen and decided that was plenty for him. (LOL) It feels a little like a world gone mad, and yet on the walk out to the truck this morning, I stopped to check out the roses (yes! I already have rose buds on both of the new roses!), tried to decide about when and where to plant some new veggies, and noticed a few other things, as well. From the tightly closed roses, peony, and clematis buds to the

IMG_20180320_084312698first few sprays of dogwood and Spanish lavender blooms just in time to celebrate Easter, I was reminded of a promise God gave us way back at the very beginning:

IMG_20180320_084255910_HDRIMG_20180320_084540709“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

Genesis 8:22 (ESV)

God is still faithfully keeping His promises. Who are we to complain if all of them seem to come true at once? (grin)

Have a marvelous Spring! God never does anything halfway. It’s going to be amazing!

Grace and Peace!

 

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25

I’ve heard it said that people only put their best lives out on social media. While there may be some truth to that, I’d prefer to think that most of us are just celebrating the good parts. What many people forget, however, is that we need to celebrate the ordinary parts, as well. My husband and I recognize a lot of those, so I guess that makes us “extra” ordinary. I’ve always loved seeing those two words next to each other because they remind me that when we choose to celebrate our all of our extra ordinaries, we realize that our lives have actually become extraordinary.

IMG_20180219_120533263A few of days ago, we packed up the big red truck and drove off the mountain on our way home. We took the scenic route: farm land, forests, majestic views, patches of daffodils at places we imagined long-ago homesteads, cows, and towns small enough to pass through in under a minute. No interstates crowded with commuter or big box stores and restaurant chains for most of the way.

Like our getaway, the trip home was a reflection of who we are:  generally peaceful, decidedly ordinary…and plenty ok with it. We’ve been celebrating 25 years of marriage this week. Actually, we’ve been celebrating all along the way for the whole 25 years. We learned to do that early on in this thing when with just a few months before our 5th anniversary, we heard the dreaded word, cancer. Since then, we’ve heard other dreaded words like infertility, job loss, heart failure, death of loved ones, and so much more. That doesn’t make us that different from you, does it? It makes us ordinary or maybe, even extra ordinary/extraordinary…just like you. We decided long ago to take each day as it comes, so our lives have been a reflection of just what Scripture tells us in Proverbs 27:1, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” 

We’ve also learned a little about the flip side of that verse from Matthew 6:34 (ESV) which says, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” 

img_20180219_120424062.jpgWe’re a lot better about not worrying than we used to be. We’ve seen God show up and show out for us so many times that even those dreaded words don’t seem to feel as dreadful as they used to. We’ve learned the joy of being together and knowing that we both belong to God. Whatever else happens, we’ve decided that those things are our non-negotiables. We’ve gotten stubborn about them and that’s ok, too. It’s good to get stubborn about the things that are most important to you. By the way, being stubborn about knowing you’re completely loved and accepted by an all-powerful and all-knowing God has led to some pretty stubborn faith, as well, and that stubborn faith has stood us in pretty good stead.

IMG_20180219_121246248_HDRSome of what was important to us at the beginning has changed over the past 25 years. We’re more apt to focus on people rather than things now. We’re still learning to be good stewards of our resources and we’re choosing to focus on more of the little ordinaries and celebrate them rather than waiting for the big extraordinaries to come our way. Those are still happening, by the way, we’ve just learned that an impromptu date in the middle of the week with friends, an unplanned side trip, daffodils blooming in February, or taking the time to just sit and look at the mountains from a peaceful place in the woods might ought to be counted as one of them.

Other things are still the same…or at least so slightly changed that they appear that way. We still crack each other up, finish each other’s movie references, and love getting off the beaten path and “eating local” when we’re out on the road. We’re aware that showing love is even more important than just saying it…and that still saying it, is critical. We still have times when we agree to disagree and when that happens, we both walk away KNOWING we’re the one who has it right and being ok with being married to the one who got it wrong. (grin) Home is still our favorite place to be…and home is generally wherever the other one is. We still value the family and friendships God has blessed us with and we’re still newlywed enough to hold hands most of the places we go together.

In short, we’ve been blessed with a most ordinary life filled with the most extraordinary gifts from an even more extraordinary God. May we all be so blessed. Here’s to the next 25!

Grace and Peace!

 

 

Change of plans

Earlier this week I scheduled an outing with friends as a way to introduce a little Sabbath margin in the middle of our week for all of us. It was great! I had a wonderful time thinking about it beforehand and an even better time doing it. Those involved seemed pleased and happy to be along for the fun. “The food was good and the company was even better,” said one reviewer, so a good time was had by all, I think. It didn’t take more than a few hours and then we all headed home to our regular schedules.

Nothing wrong with that at all.

I thought about it later and decided that I would probably create another weekend challenge for the blog like I used to and encourage all of us to do more of that kind of thing…you know, where our own margin helps create some for someone else…

It was going to be fun.

And then…some someone asked me to do something for them that wasn’t what I would have chosen to do.

My first response wasn’t pretty–or even very nice, so I’m really glad that only God and my cat saw it.

I’m putting it out here, though, because maybe that’s what the challenge should have been all along: create some margin for someone else this weekend…even if it stretches us a bit.

This isn’t the same thing as becoming a pretzel person just to make some unreasonable person happy. THIS is about believing that we all deserve a little more margin…and doing our part to make that happen.

I hope your weekend is wonderful and that everyone you know is healthy and happy and has just the right amount of margin to have to some fun…but don’t be afraid or automatically back away if creating some margin for someone else looks a little bit more like something you wouldn’t have chosen. After all, you can still choose to serve with a good attitude…even if you need time to adjust yours. (Grin)

Grace and peace!

The missing piece

My maternal grandmother loved birds. Actually, I think she just loved LIFE, but she had a special fondness for the birds. She watched them, fed them, and fussed when the “mean old blue jays” swooped in and frightened off the other ones. She couldn’t stand birds who “acted ugly.”

I still remember the rows of Audubon Society bird prints in their matching  thin black frames that hung over the sofa in the front room. I spent a good deal of time looking at those prints (kneeling because you weren’t supposed to put your shoes on the furniture! remember rules as a child? grin.) and trying to remember the different kinds of birds so I could ask her about them later, because there were always a lot of us around and it was rarely quiet. (At her passing, she had 13 granddaughters and 13 grandsons…and that number has expanded a bit since then. Yes, there were a LOT of us, so conversation with her one-on-one was something to be prized. Still, I think most of us would say that we got our share of her attention and bloomed because of it. She made quite a deep impression on each of us mainly because of the way she loved us.)

Grandmother’s Audubon bird prints were beautiful in a formal mass-produced sort of way which always seemed a stark contrast to the bedlam often happening around them and I think, even then, my internal color sense was a bit offended by the added contrast of the late 60’s-early 70’s upholstery beneath them. I kept trying to figure out why these things didn’t seem to go together…for at least a few seconds before joining in the fray.

IMG_20170125_110849382The sofa had a matching chair and that chair was always referred to as “Grandmother’s chair.” It was where she held court at Christmas when the whole family gathered around and waited to see her reaction to whatever gift she happened to be opening at the time. We all measured our growth a bit by how many of us it took to fill the seat when she wasn’t in it. I know my Cousin Bobby and I did, anyway.

After Grandmother passed, the chair ended up at my mother’s house and it sat in the back hall for a long time before I got up the nerve to ask for it. It didn’t go with anything I owned, but I had coveted it for years.  I didn’t have the money for getting it reupholstered, so I threw a favorite old bedcover across it and declared it “good enough.” Once I decided to make that project a priority, I took my time thinking about the fabric I wanted. (That chair got it’s own Pinterest board for awhile!) I settled on something traditional, pretty, mostly pink (because it was one of her favorite colors), and spiced up with a few threads of red and green and gold thrown in to deepen the elegance factor. I think I may have been trying to get it to finally live up to those Audubon bird prints. (grin)

My friend Cyndi did the job of chair transformation about a year ago and I love it! I had her marry a spare ottoman I found to the chair and threw in a little contrast fabric just on it just for fun. I have loved it, but I still felt like there was something missing.

Yesterday, I found the missing piece.

IMG_20180126_101051123It’s a crazy-patterned pillow…with some very silly-looking birds on it. It made me laugh right there in the store and I knew it had to go home with me even though it doesn’t match anything else in my house except that chair…and my amazing childhood memories. The fact that the chair is now more elegantly attired and the birds look wildly silly is a bonus for me. It seems things have come full circle. Better yet, it was on sale for $10, and my thrifty grandmother would definitely approve…and you can tell that Smokey isn’t bothered, either.

I’ve smiled or laughed every time I’ve entered the room since I put it in place, so I’d say that’s a double bargain.

Who knew I’d find margin in a silly ten-dollar bird-pillow and childhood memories about a woman who was never famous, but had so much influence on the people around her? God did…and I think He’s still chuckling with me.

Grace and peace.