Changes in atmosphere

40469This week has been one of change. On Monday, I was pulling grass out of the back garden flower bed when tiny drips and drops of liquid sunshine began to fall all around me. There was no need to stop doing what I had started because the drops were gentle and sporadic. My work continued.

Within thirty minutes the drops had increased in both frequency and intensity, while the sky remained full of light. Still, I moved toward tasks that could be done indoors.

As I dug into the recurring efforts of maintaining order and folding clean clothes inside (yes, I know: definitely first world issues!), the sky opened up outside and dropped an upturned bucket-load of rain all around us. I watched puddles form in the driveway and then watched them connect with others out in the yard to create a mini-moat around the front of the house.

My neighbor called a little bit later to tell me that his rain gauge indicated we had received a little over 2 inches of rain in less than 30 minutes…much faster than our ground could absorb in that amount of time. He also called to ask if I was interested in having fresh pears. The answer was an enthusiastic “yes!”–even before he sweetened the offer by saying that HE would have them picked and delivered to me early the next afternoon.

Now, seriously, who could say “no” to that?! (And, yes, I DO have the best neighbors!!)

As I pondered this latest gift from God–because my husband had just been talking about wanting some pears this past weekend!—I also thought about some of the other changes going on in my life right now. I’m a bit over half-way into this year of adding more Margin to my life and I’m beginning to see some significant benefits emerge. I’m also beginning to see that this may not just be limited to a one year search for me. Already, the changes have been quite profound.

  • I’ve noticed that while I still haven’t lost all of my impatience with area traffic conditions, I’ve also made room for being nicer while I’m being affected by them. I can now foresee the possibility of having a ‘church sticker’ on my truck, which I have previously avoided because I tend to be impatient and there was just NO reason to tick people off about church because they got ticked about my impatience behind the wheel. (yes, really.)
  • I’ve become more aware of the times I’m tempted to walk in and take over, and I’ve begun to step back and allow other people to “figure it out” for themselves…and I’ve TRIED to offer advice only when asked…or when I see a fatal flaw…ok, maybe this one still needs some work. (personal eye roll)
  • I’m learning to include some time for me in my week that doesn’t involve “just getting it done” all the time. It turns out that this actually makes me happier to go along with other people’s schedules when needed…who knew?!
  • I’m spending even more time talking with God and I’m finding a deeper love of His Word. That’s something I’ve been asking Him to help me with for quite awhile. It turns out that I am enjoying the challenges of the Word more now that I’m not taking on ALL the challenges thrown my way by the world!
  • I’m finding that while the work doesn’t go away, sometimes I need to. Choosing to find a stopping place and walk away may seem like a no-brainer to most of you, but that’s a hard one for me. I’m not in any danger of becoming a slacker (grin), but I am choosing to heed what my body, mind, and spirit are in need of instead of just being hyper-focused on accomplishing the task no mater what the cost. This may just be the biggest change of all for me so far!

Like the rain on Monday, these things started out slowly and have built in momentum over the past 8 months, but they’re picking up speed and forming new connections with  thoughts and goals that have been put on the back-burner for longer that I can remember.

I’m becoming more creative and discovering the idea of “play” again–and just the idea of that makes me a little emotional. God certainly intends for us to work and do good while we’re here on the earth, but He is no hard and crushingly demanding taskmaster…despite my own previous behavior toward myself. Choosing to take  time to enjoy the opportunities God has placed in front of me has a new dimension now. While I have long enjoyed God, now I find I am approaching the tasks I’m assigned with a much more relaxed attitude and finding ways to make them even more fun instead of just getting them done and checking them off like so many items on a chore list. Like that rain, this idea is both refreshing to my soul and producing growth in other areas of my life.

Thank you, God, for the idea of Margin, for including room for play in your plan, for being patient with me while I stubbornly clung to the idea of accomplishing much with great effort instead of doing so with great joy, for choosing to bless me in spite of my mistakes and frustrations, and for loving me enough to send me pears before I even prayed for them. You are good…and I am grateful.

Grace and Peace!

 

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Greedy

I woke up singing this morning. I love it when that happens. Today it was EVEN IF (by Mercy Me) and I woke singing it as a prayer about a lot of things going in right now.

My prayer lust is full right now. Yes, that third word was supposed to be “list” but I guess even autoINcorrect gets a score every now and then. (eye roll!) The list isn’t a physical thing so much as a running conversation with God about all kinds of things: the health issues of friends and family, the state of our world, upcoming speaking and teaching opportunities, the women who will attend these events, questions about the future, and SO many other requests that are full of details that are “too personal to share” but have been anyway because the hurt was too deep for someone to carry any further.

The trust of these requests always gets to me. That someone would open up that way and be so vulnerable to one who can’t fix anything, but knows the One who can fix everything…it can be a weighty honor at times. And then I remember: I can’t fix it, but my job is to simply take it to Jesus with them. It is the ultimate privilege to walk out Galatians 6:2 and help shoulder a burden that has become too heavy to bear alone.

Today, this weight was both reinforced and lifted as I read Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:3-10, and found myself and my prayer list all over again in each of these verses.

Blessed? Blessed when we’re down, when we mourn, when we hunger and thirst for righteousness, when there’s a need for the merciful and the peacemakers in the midst of such a lack of the same? Yes. Blessed. Blessed because when we bring these needs and these hurts to Jesus we don’t have to leave as we came.

We are changed even if our circumstances aren’t immediately altered. We leave strengthened for the work, armed for the battle, and confident in the knowledge that we are neither alone, nor following a directionless leader, but One whose plan is for our ultimate good and whose love for us is without end.

I am greedy for that knowledge today! I am greedy for you to know it, too. I am greedy for the answers to be swift and easy even as I know that it will not always be that way. I am greedy for the things we learn IN and BECAUSE of the trials that will make us more like Jesus and help us pray for others when they are hurting, as well. I am greedy for the celebrations over answered prayers and I am greedy for the witness that will come as a result.

In short (even though this has been long!–grin), I am greedy for God to show up and show out in us today no matter where we find ourselves and I am greedy for it to truly be well with our souls.

Grace and peace—and many, many prayers!

 

EVEN IF (sung by Mercy Me)
They say sometimes you win some
Sometimes you lose some
And right now, right now I’m losing bad
I’ve stood on this stage night after night
Reminding the broken it’ll be alright
But right now, oh right now I just can’t
It’s easy to sing
When there’s nothing to bring me down
But what will I say
When I’m held to the flame
Like I am right now
I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul
I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
You’ve been faithful, You’ve been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
‘Cause I know You’re able
I know You can
I know You’re able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
I know the sorrow, I know the hurt
Would all go away if You’d just say the word
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone
It is well with my soul
It is well, it is well with my soul
Songwriters: Bart Marshall Millard / Benjamin Glover / Crystal Lewis / David Arthur Garcia / Tim Timmons
Even If lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Essential Music Publishing, Capitol Christian Music Group

Sharing time, history, and beauty

40472“We seem to have lost the gift of patience, of waiting for time to unfold its story.” ~Mary Irish

I found this quote today and I love it! Too accurate by far, it reminds me, most unfortunately, of myself! Patience has never been one of my virtues. I like things to happen when I want them to happen–and so, dear friend, do you. (right?)

40468The one place I’m most content to practice the “gift of patience” is out in the garden. I love counting days by what’s in bloom and what stage this plant was or it will be by the next year or season. After being back in Georgia for a little over four years, I’m better acquainted with my surroundings, the timing, the expectations, the new growth, the dying back, and the filling out of this place.

I like to wait at least a year before I start making too many changes just so I can see what’s already in a place before I begin to add in the things that make me call a garden “home” and take away those things that don’t add to that particular comfort. I agree entirely with Sydney Eddison,when she says, “Gardens are a form of autobiography.”

That’s absolutely true for me and as I think about the parts of my autobiography that are left in all of the different places I’ve lived, it makes me smile. Oh, I’m aware that none of it is just like I left it. That’s as it should be! Someone else is the caretaker now in each of those places, but when I ride by and see the maples that we planted grown strong and tall in the yard of our first home, see the roses or ornamental grasses grown tall there to the side of that place, and the herb garden grown more mature and permanent at that one…well, it’s a part of my story even now just the same as it is for those who were there and planted before me.40469

I think about the plant gifts that have gone with me as I left for new places and the ones I’ve sent out into the world where others have also come and gone–it’s good to share beauty, you know?! I don’t need a whole lot in this world, but beauty can always find a home out in the garden. This morning was no exception, so I snapped a few shots and fulfilled the quote below electronically. I hope you’ll enjoy them, too

“I thought about giving you a bouquet of flowers, but then I thought, why don’t I take you and show you the garden instead with all the beautiful flowers in it.” ~Anthony Hincks

Grace and Peace, Everyone! Just enjoy the beauty and ignore the weeds! (That’s pretty good advice for just about everything! grin)

40471

Found objects

I was really blessed this past week to have friends who stopped by and wandered around the yard with me. There’s always something else to do when you have a yard and mine is total proof of that statement! The autumn and end of last year was supposed to be a time of clean-up and prep for Spring, but that didn’t happen–at all!–so I’ve had plenty of tasks to keep me busy this Spring. Along the way, I’ve “found” several new delights.

IMG_20180428_133626944_HDRThe hydrangeas in the back that only gave me three blooms in season last year suddenly started blooming like mad in late December and continued right up through the first hard frost, so I never got them trimmed back. Right now they are loaded with blooms on the old wood and it is entirely possible that they may take over my house before the summer ends.

There are blueberries on almost every bush and I spotted some blackberries blooming near the edge of the woods. My newly planted herbs and tomatoes are setting up nicely and I am ever so glad to have the debris piles burned back…and now, started over!

IMG_20180502_170042955_HDRAs we wandered around to the front, my friend Jaybrena was entertained to see that I had decorated my front porch with an old iron floor grate. She said she had done her best to avoid those as a child and we laughed at how it had gone from something slightly scary to becoming an item of interest. I guess that’s the case with a lot of things in life. The more we grow, the more we know…and it’s always fun to see something in a different light and give it a new purpose, right?

IMG_20180503_193438992I think my favorite surprise out in the yard right now has to be the daffodils blooming–late, but beautifully!–out under a tree I can see from my kitchen window. The bulbs were a gift from my friend Audrey and intended to brighten my winter, but they never bloomed inside–or even sprouted greenery!  I honestly wasn’t certain if I was planting them or just burying them earlier this spring! Look at them now, though! They’re showing out and reminding me that my schedule isn’t God’s and that waiting on Him is always worth it.

If you’re waiting on something special today, I want to remind you to stick with it and not lose hope! God is on the move whether or not it seems evident to us and He loves you very much.

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

In the meantime, do your part as well. Look for the good things, try to find a new way to use something you already own, and don’t forget hope even if you have to plant/bury those things that appear dead to you…you just might be in for the surprise of your life to see what beauty God can bring from them. As always, the following verse makes for a good plan while you wait:

“Therefore, return to your God, Observe kindness and justice, And wait for your God continually.” Hosea 12:6

Imagine that! God has a plan…and it’s for your good!

Grace and Peace!

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!

Best New EVER!

 “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”  Matthew 28:1-10 (NIV)

 

 “Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.” But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”  Mark 16: 2-7 (NKJV) 

 

 Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’

And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles.  Luke 24:1-10 (NKJV)

It is finally here! Easter! The Celebration Day of the very best news ever! In spite of every human plan to the contrary, God made a way to save us from ourselves and give us the opportunity to spend eternity with Him by sending His only Son to save us. If that’s not news, then I’m not sure what would be!

Like most news, this news comes with a choice: Believe or not.

THIS news, however, isn’t something that will change. It isn’t something that will go away. It isn’t something that will become old and outdated or no longer relevant. What you choose about THIS news will change your life–either way. There is no delay and there is no denial. This matters more than anything else you will ever decide. 

 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach):  that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”  For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.  For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:8-13 (NKJV)

It isn’t complicated, but you do have to choose, and once you choose, your life and your heart will be changed…for better…and for good.

If you’re still unsure about this news and want to know more, I would love an opportunity follow the directions given to each of us who believe: Go and tell. Message me, reply in the comments, text or call.

I would SO love to help you know my Jesus!

Grace and Peace…and Happy Easter!