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!

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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!

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!

 

What are you waiting for?

Waiting. I’ve yet to meet anyone who loves it…or doesn’t have to do it. We fuss about it and, yet, can’t actually live without it. Outside of Genesis and the garden of Eden, life just doesn’t happen without some waiting, and even there, God still took His time. We don’t like it, but waiting might actually be one of God’s most under-rated gifts to us. In any case, He makes us wait on a regular basis and as one of my favorite quotes reminds me, “God never plows unless He purposes a crop.” While we are often frustrated with the painful plowing, we are probably least fond of the waiting on the crop to arrive. (That’s not just me, right?)

God seems to be trying to teach me something about waiting as I search for more margin in my life because the subject keeps coming back up in my Bible study homework, in conversation with friends, and, today, in a book of essays about doing life well and, because of all of this focus on waiting, even in the movie we chose to watch tonight.

I’m pretty sure that we’ve all made some variation of the following statement: “If I can just get/do/accomplish _____, then I’ll be/feel _____.” All of our fill-in-the-blanks are different, of course, but the sentiment is still the same. We all believe that there’s more to be done before we can fully enjoy the now.

We’re wrong about that.

“NOW” is what we’re actually here for. NOW is when we can love on people, help make a difference, or just relax and enjoy the moment and have a chat with the Almighty. Since we can’t go back and do the past over and we have no guarantee of the future, NOW is what we have to work with. Naturally, there’s a significant link between NOW and Margin.

What I do NOW matters and affects whether or not I’ll actually have Margin later. Take today for instance. It was a pajama day for me. Maybe you call them something else at your house, but the whole point was to relax and just stay in the house. I try to have one on a pretty regular basis. We read, cleaned, straightened, organized, made good food, caught up on a couple of TV shows we like, updated our budget, watched a movie, and took a nap. It was a VERY good day and, once it started to wind down, we talked about our mutual sense of accomplishment in just taking it easy as we worked our way through all of these tasks that, in and of themselves aren’t very important, but whose collective whole have a tendency to make our lives just “better” when we do them.

We also talked about how much better we feel when we take care of ourselves in these simple ways. They make us more relaxed and put us in better positions to take on the bigger things we’ll face in the days ahead. They give us space to enjoy the moments NOW, energy to face the moments to come, and the comfort of knowing we’re better prepared for whatever else those moments bring.

As I’ve been typing here, I’ve also had an old song running through my brain,

“Be strong in the Lord” by Linda Lee Johnson.

1 Be strong in the Lord, and be of good courage;
Your mighty Defender is always the same.
Mount up with wings, as the eagle ascending;
Vict’ry is sure when you call on His name.

Refrain:
Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord;
And be of good courage, for He is your guide.
Be strong, be strong, be strong in the Lord;
And rejoice for the vict’ry is yours.

2 So put on the armor the Lord has provided,
And place your defense in his unfailing care.
Trust Him for He will be with you in battle,
Lighting your path to avoid every snare. [Refrain]

3 Be strong in the Lord, and be of good courage;
Your mighty Commander will vanquish the foe.
Fear not the battle for the vict’ry is always His;
He will protect you wherever you go. [Refrain]

I think there’s a definite link between having the courage to choose living in the NOW, Margin, and waiting on God to show us the next thing He’s got in mind for us. Some of us might have missed that as we’ve rushed or worried our way through our NOWs in our haste to avoid the wait God has installed to teach us lessons that might actually make us more prepared for what He has waiting when we get there. Let’s not do that anymore, ok?

Find your margin in the NOW and let God lead you toward confidently trusting Him more today. Take courage, be strong in the Lord…and make a point of doing what you can to enjoy whatever wait God has you in right now. He already knows the plan, so it stands to reason, He knows why the wait is right for us, as well.

What are YOU waiting for?! (grin) Look for ways to add margin while you wait!

Wait for and confidently expect the LordBe strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.”  Psalm 27:14 (AMP) 

Grace and Peace!

Timely reminders

I woke up Saturday morning and groaned. That knotted muscle that I thought was finally eased had tightened up again overnight. Neither knotted muscles nor groaning is my normal thing. (Thank you, God!) In fact, I usually wake up and talk to God first thing, but with our travels and getting back into the swing of routine at home, I suddenly realized that I hadn’t started up that way for several days, so after I stopped the groaning, I apologized to God and hobbled for the heating pad. I had a two hour meeting at the church later in the morning to help us share Jesus with others, tax prep paperwork all over the dining room table with a looming appointment, more upcoming travel, and I still needed to work on my Bible study before I could lead on Tuesday. I was WAY behind with more stuff headed my way, and I have to say this: I was not in the mood to share ANYthing with ANYone right then, much less Jesus. Oh, how I wish I could say I was more spiritual than that, but I just flat-out told God all of that as I asked Him to PLEASE change my attitude before that meeting.

As I reached for the bag with my study materials, I tugged on the handles (trapped under a heavy bowl without my knowledge) and out spilled fruit and snacks…all over the floor. Oranges rolled in every direction. This would require bending and that would be painful.

I just cried.

I  was hurting. I was mad.  I was behind and totally unspiritual. It was all my fault…and margin was nowhere to be found.

Thankfully, my husband was nearby and came to my rescue. He picked up all the oranges, got me settled on the heating pad, brought me juice, offered breakfast, and then left me to recover.

As I settled into his big chair, I had to start somewhere, so I prayed again. This time for a friend who was leading a women’s ministry retreat at her church using the same study our ladies had just finished: BREATHE, by Priscilla Shirer. As I texted my friend, I prayed for ALL of us to breathe God in so deeply that we have no choice but to breathe Him back out to those around us. I knew for certain that I needed that for myself!

I physically concentrated on breathing in and breathing out as I prayed. And then…the margin came…mainly because God showed up in the middle of my mess and my messy prayers and began again the work of peace for my soul.

I opened my study materials and the first thing I was asked to do was read Psalm 107 out loud. I turned to it and read.

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble.”  Psalm 107:1-2 

More margin. More peace. More reminders about the goodness of my God and how he has redeemed me.

That word “redeemed” is something special. It means “bought back; recovered with a price.” We had studied it in depth last year and the lessons learned then flooded over me again.

My God loves me! He loves you! He loves us so much that He chose to pay the highest price so that we could all spend eternity with Him! The joy of that made everything else unimportant right then. I had to share it or explode…so I wrote this blog post to share it with You! (Because no one else was there at the time and I was sticking with that hot pad!) I knew this wouldn’t be published for a day or so and that you might not get to it for a bit, but I am still confident that the timing will be right when you finally read it. Maybe it will come when you’re in the middle of a meeting or a muddle. Perhaps it will come in on a day when all is going well, but you’ll still need to be reminded or know someone who needs to be reminded: God is good. He loves us–right in the middle of whatever we’re dealing with! He is with us. If we breathe Him in and breathe Him out, the margins begin to suddenly get larger automatically because He can’t be constrained by our circumstances.

God sent my reminder on time. I’m counting on Him to do the same for you.

Grace and peace!

 

Signs

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When I look at this sprig of Mississippi cedar leftover from Christmas, I’m not entirely certain that our Georgia winter has run its course, but I’m ever so aware that Spring is certainly flirting wildly with us.

Might I suggest that you make some time to get out and flirt back this weekend?

Margin is just waiting to happen…go find some for yourself!

 

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“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

 

 

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“Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that hope traversed them at night and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.” –Charlotte Brontë

“The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.” ~Bern Williams

Grace and peace!