My Dog Skip movie theme

Thursday, February 28, 2013

My "I Love Lucy" afternoon

I'm in awe this am.  You see, yesterday I experienced a mostly laughable series of events, like an episode of "I Love Lucy", except that it included a scalding burn to my left hand. I've had scalding burns a couple of times in my life, and always had redness, blisters, and pain.  But this time it was different and I know it was because Jehovah Rophe, our "God who Heals" heard the prayers for healing of my Journey Lifegroup friends (church cell group) and my husband. 
My "Lucy" episode began when I realized that my husband's dog (a german short hair named Chief, 6 mos. old but as tall as me when he stands on his hind legs) the one that likes to bust through our fence, did his damage again and got out of the yard--I found a huge hole in the fence and him barking his head off in the alley at the neighbor's dog.  It took some strong encouragement, the help of the neighbor boy, and a treat, to get him back in his kennel, but I finally got him back under control--Ken is lucky that his dog still lives....(Ken was out of town). Mission accomplished...for the time being...and the episode continues...

When I got back in the house, I started the coffeemaker and put the tea kettle on the stove to boil water to pre-heat the big thermos for transporting the coffee to church, 30 miles away.  Then I went to get the thermos down from a high shelf over the pantry. (Just imagine dear Lucy now)  As I was pulling it down by it's handle, an insulated container next to it fell off the shelf and in an effort to protect myself, I took my left hand off the thermos. About that time the thermos, which I was holding onto with my right hand by it's top carrying handle, cleared the shelf, and the body of it flopped down and hit me in the right eye and cheek bone.  That hurt!  I put a bag of frozen corn on it and thought I would have a black eye for sure.  But after a little while all was ok, and I finished getting myself ready for our meeting. (I realize Lucy probably would have gotten a black eye!)

When the tea kettle started whistling, I poured the boiling water in the thermos.  I then got our other dog from the yard into his kennel outside, and came back in the house to pour the scalding hot water out of the thermos and the coffee in.  (I can just see Lucy, feeling good about things right about now, just as I was...) 
But that's where the funny part ends...that's when the burn happened.  The pain was more intense than any burn I've ever had.  It seemed like the pain was coming from inside my fingers radiating outInitially I ran my hand under cold water for awhile and then wrapped it in a wet paper towel and thought I would be able to endure.  I tried to pour the coffee into the thermos but changed my mind as the pain intensified.  In the process of putting the coffee pot back on the coffeemaker, it hit a cup full of coffee sitting on the counter and spilled it.  (Another Lucy moment, and at this point I was wanting to cry just like Lucy!!)

That's when I decided I better call someone and tell them I would be late getting to lifegroup.  Then my Lucy episode continued while I was trying to hold my left hand under the cool water as I reached across from the sink to the bar for my cell phone which started ringing.  It was Ken, but the connection wasn't working. I fumbled one handed with my cell as I searched my contact numbers. I called Kathe and asked her to let our group know what was going on and helped me come to the decision to go to an urgent care center,
...and she prayed with me,
...and then I called my husband and he prayed, 
and then our lifegroup prayed...

And when I got to the urgent care center 16 miles from home and unwrapped my hand, amazingly it was barely red, and not blistered at all.  Uncovering the fingers made the pain start up again though, strong as ever.  Since I was the only patient there at the time, the nurse and I talked and decided I should get back home, put neosporin ointment on my fingers and keep them wrapped.  (she didn't "admit" me or charge me!) She said to come back today if there were complications.  I continued to have pain until bedtime, when it finally eased up and I slept all night. 

This morning I can hardly tell I was burned.  The skin is barely tender and just a little swollen. But NO redness, NO blisters, and NO burning pain!  

Whether I was having a "Lucy" day, or whether the Lord allowed things to happen for a higher purpose yesterday while I was getting ready to go to Lifegroup, or whether Satan was working overtime to keep me my book, the healing from God had the victory! 

I'm praising the Lord, and so thankful for faithful friends and a husband that were praying for me!  

And I'm thankful that God gave us a sense of humor for times like this...
but especially, I'm thankful that
It's not the trial, but the power of God in the trial, 
that let's us know His love and presence is with us.

God is Good, All the Time, God is Good
and my "I Love Lucy" episode ends just like the TV show, 
but instead of Ricky and Lucy hugging, 
it's God and me!! 

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Remembering Mother--mine, yours, and all those who take her place in your life

On this Mother's Day, I want to put forth a challenge.
Not all of us have a "Hallmark" mother.  Many people have been hurt by their mother.  An unfortunate fact of life, even when the mother never intended to be hurtful.  I can relate--being the middle child with an older brother and sister and a younger sister and brother, I felt a little invisible at home--feeling that I wasn't as important to my mom as the other children.

As a young adult I began to acknowledge those hurts, and spent some time trying to figure it all out.  But then I became a mother too--wow!--did that change my perspective?! 
God was so good to provide me with some wisdom about the wounds in my heart--He is a HEALER! Also...take heart my friend...

He makes ALL things good according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28). 
I challenge you to embrace your memories, wounds, AND blessings of your childhood, KNOWING that God uses all things in your life for His purposes.
I don't think my mom had a handle on how I felt as the middle child, or how to do deal with it.  After all, like my sister says below, "mother was always the life of the party, and was never at a loss for words."  But I was VERY shy and being invisible became a "comfort zone" for me. I struggled with feeling insignificant, and from time to time, I still fight the spiritual battle to overcome that lie.

I know God took all of that and used it for good, however.  He gave me a heart that really breaks for shy kids because of my own experience.  In first grade I was nauseous everyday for six weeks because I was so afraid of reading out loud in reading circle. One day I actually up-chucked on the child sitting next to me (my most embarrassing moment!).

I wanted to be invisible--after all, it was my comfort zone--but in that reading circle, my time to read forced me into visibility.  Now I know that what a shy child needs is special one-on-one attention and baby steps out of the comfort zone of being invisible.  I thank God for my first grade teacher, Mrs. Shirley, who nurtured me as a second mother that year.  And now....I don't crave leadership and standing before a crowd, but I can do it in the strength of the Lord when I know it's His plan for me. And it's always a victory for me, the shy girl.

And, God has now placed in my heart a deep desire to help others find their significance and purpose in God's kingdom--and that gives me significance too.
I know it's hard to let go of bitterness, hurts, and disappointments, but again I challenge you to let the healing power of God, His love, and His grace, wash over your mind and empower you to seek out the good that God has made of these things for His purposes. We are meant to be overcomers!

The following conversation took place between my younger sister and I about our Mother....things that we have become more aware of and are more meaningful to us now that we are older....I want to share them with you. 
from Andi..."My Mom has always been the life of the party, never without words, loves people (with all her heart and soul) and has decided to see the good in everyone and focus on the positive wonders of their life. She's taught me how to look beyond someone's faults, weaknesses, quirks, and see their greatness. She's always there for me and I don't know what I would have done without her in my life for the last ten years."
from me..."The older I get the more I appreciate her character. She now has numerous ailments, but she continues to feel blessed and grateful for her simple life and as she says, "I have everything and more than I need." When we were growing up she was always saying, "We may be poor in money, but we're RICH in love". That really was the MOST important thing to her.
from Andi....."I'm tearing up....Mother has said to me,  'If the only reason to be alive is to help you with Monte's sisters and niece, that's why I'm gonna stay alive.' She has touched my heart with her life. And the astounding thing is, I couldn't do it without her. She has become their "Mother" figure. I see her loving on those girls and my heart leaps!' (my sister and brother-in-law are the caregivers of his 2 sisters, and a niece who each have developmental challenges)
Our Mother has faced many challenges in her life, but always made it through with a positive attitude, and a thankful heart.  She was and remains an example to all her children of persevering through trials with an uncompromising spirit, and coming out on the other side stronger and wiser. 
As her children, we can thank God for a mother who taught us right and wrong, expected the best from us, and made sure we became responsible adults who love the Lord.
 Even if you cannot say those things about your mother, I pray that there are other "moms" in your life that have showed you love and guided you along your way.  Look for them....they are there just waiting for the opportunity to love on you!

"Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies."  Philippians 4:8 (The Message)
My Mother's 80th birthday celebration, 2008
My brother Rick, Tracey (my brother's daughter), Me, sisters Andi and Carla, Jenny (my daughter), , and Mother

Happy Mother's Day, to my Mother, and to all the women in my life who have influenced my walk of being a Mother...I love you all....Mommy, Mom (my gracious mother-in-love), Aunt Gloria, Carla, Andi, Jan Whatley, Jan Rice, Joyce Ryan, Elaine Russo, Gwyn Rosser, Cindy McCloy, Lou Cogsdill, Cilli, Becky, and many more....

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Prayer of Relinquishment

Many years ago a dear friend, an "older woman", gave me a set of  books by Catherine Marshall.  You may have heard of A Man Called Peter and Christy.  Widowed in her thirties, with a young son, Catherine Marshall faced the spiritual challenge of her life.  But God did great and mighty works in her life and the multitude of lives she touched, like mine.  Although her books are decades old now, and she is gone from this world, her writings remain classics, and have shaped my walk with the Lord. 

So this morning in my quiet time, as I prayed for a friend suffering with cancer, I suddenly thought of something I had read in one of Catherine Marshall's books.  It was about a place in prayer where we, like Jesus, have to say, "Not my will, but Thine, O Lord."  Ms. Marshall had a description for it that I couldn't quite remember.  It's so amazing when God gives a thought and leads you right to the source. I went to the bookcase, picked one from 3 of Ms. Marshall's books that I still have, and it opened right to the chapter--The Prayer of Relinquishment.

When I read this chapter the first time years ago, it was very profound for me.  It put the words in my head that described an experience of relinquishment that was my own.  You see, as a young married woman I had experienced a couple of years of infertility and ultimately an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy.  Eventually, it was time to have more extensive tests to see if I would be able to become pregnant and deliver a healthy infant.

If you've been in this situation you know the thoughts that go through your mind over time . . . the what if's . . . what if my husband leaves me for someone who can bear his offspring; what if we have to face the future childless; what if we can't afford to adopt?  And then the questions . . . Why God?  Is this punishment for___? Why should my husband have to give up having children of his own?  Is it because I would be a bad mother?

I wasn't consumed with these thoughts and questions, but underneath it all, they were never far away. God had put two families with adopted children in our lives.  That sure made it look like God was preparing us for this inevitability.

So the day came when I lay on a cold, hard table, in a cold, dimly lit radiology room, all alone, waiting for the doctor to come and initiate the test that would determine if my uterus and falopian tube (singular, since the other had been removed due to the tubal pregnancy), was open, closed or scarred.

But the struggle I faced in prayer that morning was not about infertility or childlessness.

It was about whether I could trust God . . .
trust in His love for me, trust in His wisdom, trust in His healing power,

trust in His higher purpose. 

 could I trust His sovereignty?

In those moments of prayer, in the fear of my future without children of our own, God brought me to
a place of Relinquishment.  

It was the most glorious peace I had experienced since the night of my salvation.
I knew that I had just entered into God's presence, and He had held me.  
The fear was gone, and His love and strength to face what would come . . . His plan, not mine . . . was so real, I literally felt lifted above that cold, hard table.

Then the doctor and radiologist came in, the procedure was started, and I experienced the worst pain of my life, as the dye was injected into my uterus and forced into the falopian tube.  The pain began as a full and burning sensation, but gradually grew until I thought I would pass out.  The doctor's face was very serious, and then suddenly I felt an explosion in my abdomen followed by a gradual release of pain. 

In the days following the procedure, we were left in a state of limbo, not knowing what our future of childbearing would be.  But we had hope--there was a possibility that the pressure of the dye being injected may have opened the tube, which the procedure had revealed to be closed.  However, the caveat was that the tube could still be scarred and cause another tubal pregnancy.

But I had PEACE in my heart, that God was in control, and our future was in His hands.

Relinquishment gave me Hope as I rested in the Promise that He had a Plan.

In my case, as you know if you've read about my children, God had opened the tube, and gave us three healthy babies without complications. I became pregnant with our daughter during the month after the procedure.  And God gave us two sons during the years that followed.

But, I can assuredly say, that I know God had also given me the faith, on that day of Relinquishment, to trust Him even if I had not been able to have children from my own womb.

As I remember the excruciating pain and explosion in my belly as the pressure of the dye pushed against my organs, I wonder . . . Could the pain have been the beginning of God's power to resurrect life in my body?  Could the relinquishment of my dreams for His purposes, been a sacrifice, pleasing and acceptable to my God, a sacrifice that would yield his favor?

The Prayer of Relinquishment has been a powerful force in my life.  When my husband faced being paralyzed, God brought peace to my heart as I released the future to Him, and claimed the specific Word that He gave me that day to WAIT on Him . . . for the mounting up, for the walking and running. I sat alone in a waiting room breathing in and out, my heart still in His presence, absorbing His strength, once again held by his arms.

When my youngest son was walking in inner pain and rebellion, I relinquished my sorrow and fear for his future to my God who had created him and had a plan for his life. Although it was almost a daily exercise, God worked to free me from guilt and anxiety, and gave me life-giving prayers that gave me peace and eyes to see His work in my son's life. He gave me patience, hope and endurance, even when I was weak...

The Prayer of Relinquishment is so much more, however, than just a sense of faith and hope and peace.  It is saying to God, "I freely give you my self-will, what I think I need, and open my heart and mind to willingly receive what you know is best for Your purposes."  

As Catherine Marshall stated, "I'm tired of asking (for healing)...I'm beaten, finished.  God, You decide what You want for me. . . . Gradually, I saw that a demanding spirit, with self-will as its rudder, blocks prayer. . . God absolutely refuses to violate our free will; that, therefore, unless self-will is voluntarily given up, even God cannot move to answer prayer." Adventures in Prayer

Some may ask if this Relinquishment is just a lack of faith, a resignation of hopelessness? Or is it the essence of a heart and mind that says to God, "with you I can face my fear, my trepidation about this road I'm on, and believe in Your love, grace, mercy, power, and plan that will accomplish more than I can ever comprehend."

Dear Father . . . all things are possible to you.  Let me not have to drink this cup!  
Yet it is not what I want but what you want.   Mark 14:36

This was Jesus looking at the torture and death He was facing, and asking God to change His plan. "YET," he yielded to God's will in obedience. "I will voluntarily give up my self-will to do what you want."

"The prayer was not answered as the human Jesus wished.  
Yet power has been flowing from His Cross ever since."
Adventures in Prayer

This West Texas fire, much like the battles we face in prayer, stopped at the foot of the Cross.
 And when God sends rain He will bring the barrenness back to life . . . 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

He brought us out . . . to bring us in

Whether remembering 9/11 or your own life circumstances, may we contemplate the truth and power of God always present in our lives.  I found this anonymous poem from "At the Beautiful Gate", in Mrs. Charles E. Cowman's  September 10 devotional, Streams in the Desert, Vol. 2, 1966.

"He brought us out . . . that He might bring us in" Deuteronomy 6:23

"Out of the distance and darkness so deep,
Out of the settled and perilous sleep,
Out of the region and shadow of death,
Out of its foul and pestilent breath,
Out of the bondage and weary chains.
Out of the companionship ever with stains:
Into the light and glory of God,
Into the holiest, made clean by blood,
Into His arms, the embrace and the kiss,
Into the scene of ineffable bliss,
Into the quiet and infinite calm,
Into the place of the song and the psalm.
Wonderful love, that has wrought all for me!
Wonderful work, that has thus set me free!
Wonderful ground, upon which I have come!
Wonderful tenderness, welcoming home!

 Out of disaster and ruin complete,
Out of the struggle and dreary defeat,
Out of my sorrow, and bondage, and shame,
Out of the evils too tearful to name,
Out of my guilt and criminal's doom,
Out of the dreading, and terror, and gloom:
Into the sense of forgiveness and rest,
Into inheritance with all the blessed,
Into a righteous and permanent peace.
Into the grandest and fullest release,
Into the comfort without an alloy,
Into a perfect and confident joy.
Wonderful holiness, bringing to light!
Wonderful grace, putting all out of sight!
Wonderful lowliness, draining my cup!
Wonderful purpose, that ne'er gave me up!

Out of the horror of being alone,
Out and forever of being my own,
Out of the bitterness, madness, and strife,
Out of myself and all I called life,
Out of of the hardness of heart and of will,
Out of the longings that nothing could fill:
Into communion with Father and Son,
Into the sharing of all that Christ won,
Into the ecstasies full to the brim,
Into the bearing of all things with Him,
Into Christ Jesus, there ever to dwell,
Into more blessings than words can e'er tell.
Wonderful Person, whose face I'll behold!
Wonderful story, there all to be told!
Wonderful, all the dread way that He trod!
Wonderful end, that He brought me to God!"

Our great and mighty God of the Bible, of the Declaration of Independence, and The Constitution of the United States of America, Our God and Creator, God of all Power and Wisdom and Love . . . let us never forget where we have been, and where you want to take us.
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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Discipline of Remembering

Last week my husband and I took a ride down memory lane.  After an extra long work week, over 10 days to be exact, we took a couple of days off while we made our way home from South Texas back to the Panhandle. We traveled familiar scenic routes through the Hill Country, while over-nighting in Kerrville, where we started our honeymoon 35 years ago.

 The roads we now traveled revealed the reality of severe drought in Texas . . . 
obvious almost everywhere . . . like sin in our midst. 

 Huge cypress trees growing along barely flowing rivers have turned brown . . . will they survive?  Pastures that in past years were filled with cattle are now empty,  the grass brown and sparse.  My husband says there was little spring green-up or growth this year, so what little grass we see is last year's dead winter grass, void of it's nutrition, the reason we see so few cattle . . . costs of feeding them is just too high in this economy.  In the evening we saw lots of small deer on the roadsides, looking for food where run-off from the little rain that has fallen yields some patches of nutrition. Lawns around houses are brown, tree leaves are wilted, and it's very hot...the day we left for home it reached 109. 

Yet, evidence of the faithfulness of God is still to be found . . . just like our memories . . . as we visited our old stomping grounds . . . with our eyes wide open to what will be when the rain finally comes.

In Genesis 9, God set the rainbow in the sky as an everlasting sign of God's covenant between Him and every living creature that there will never again be a flood to destroy all flesh. He said in 9:16, "When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant . . . "

Even the Lord remembers.

We lived in the Hill Country of Texas from 1980 to 1994.  During that fourteen years we went from a family of 3 to a family of 5, from parents of a daughter, to parents of a daughter and 2 sons. We matured as adults, we grew in our walk with the Lord, we started homeschooling, we worked as a family ranching, we made life-long friends, and we knew the faithfulness of God through all kinds of circumstances, spiritual, emotional, and physical. We experienced life, in it's triumphs and losses.

As we weaved our way through the hills and valleys, we remembered the markers of our lives lived  in those places, among people who made a difference in our lives. We don't often mark our memories with altars like our Old Testament counterparts, yet many verses of Scripture encourage us to remember and to pass on to generations what our Lord has done not only in our lives, but down through the ages of time.

". . . in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you."
Exodus 20:24

"In every place . . ." it says. Remember what the Lord has done, and you will be blessed.  Remember His Word, His promises, His deliverance, His answers to prayer, His miracles, His presence, His still small voice spoken to your heart . . .Remember what He has done. 

As we drove the roads we thought of people and experiences that we hadn't thought about in years. We remembered how blessed we are, how those times prepared us for our future, shaped our character, and give us strength, even now, to continue on this journey called life.

Near Medina, the road followed a creek running through a ranch.  The creek looked dry, maybe flowing underground only.  But in the middle of this drought, the owners were looking forward.  They were preparing for the rain that will some day come.  They were trusting that the rain would come and fill the creek again--they were digging out their lake, maybe repairing their dam, taking advantage of the dry conditions.  

We don't know the ranch owners, but we think we know their character.  They have found some good in dire circumstances.  Rather than "woe is me" bitterness and hopelessness, they are optimistic . . . their hope "springs eternal." Whether they are believers or not, we think they remember that good will come eventually, and their hope is keeping them steadfast and busy with preparations for better times.

And in the midst of dry riverbeds, and pastures barely covered in last year's grass, we passed through Hunt, TX, where the river runs peacefully, wide and deep, the huge stately oak trees spread their canopies and shade lush green lawns, and all seems perfect and peaceful.

And the reality of "treasures in the darkness," "streams in the desert," and "abiding in the shelter of the Almighty," is not just heavenly, but a tangible place of rest. God's Word is true, He is faithful, and hope does spring eternal when we are walking with the Lord.

Thank you, Father, for new memories mixed with old ones, for reminders to remember how . . .
"all things work together for good, for those who love the Lord, and are called according to His purposes."  Romans 8:28

Hunt Photos

This photo of Hunt is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Monday, August 15, 2011

Counting 1000 gifts of thanks with Multitudes on Mondays, page 3

It's always a good day to list gifts of thanks with Multitudes on Mondays--a good discipline also.  And first of all, I thank the Lord for Psalm 16:8, a verse I've been meditating on for the past week:

I have set the Lord continually before me;
because He is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

How do I "set the Lord continually before me" ?  It is intentional, it is a discipline, just like giving thanks.  I don't always succeed, but the only way to live in the rest, joy, and peace that I am promised, is to discipline my mind, taking every thought captive, and turning it toward the Lord--focusing on His ways, His plans, His promises, His truth, His love, His power, His presence with me, His Word.....seeing and knowing Him right now, on this day, every day, at this time in history, in my circumstances.

Thank you Father.....rather than a spirit of fear, that leads to a sense of vulnerability and weakness, you have given me power, love, and the discipline of a sound mind . (II Tim.1:7)

".....because He is at my right hand".....In this scripture, and many others, the right hand, or right side of the body, is considered the strong side, the most dexterous or coordinated. Psalm 16:8 expresses David's need of protection from his enemies or from death. Because he has the Lord at his right side to be his strength, he is able to stand against that which could harm him.

Thank you Lord, that you stand next to me, ready to steady me, giving me Your strength when the circumstances of life are being used by the enemy to bring me down.

As a nurse, I trained fellow workers and families to stand on the strong side of one who is weak when helping to stabilize that person, and increase their mobility.  The weak side of the body draws strength away from a person standing on that side and makes it more difficult for the strong one to stabilize the disabled one.  But the strong side--their"right" side, will become stronger and able to overpower the weakness with the added strength of the one who stands by.

Thank you, Holy Spirit, the One who walks beside me, giving me stability, even in my weakness, the One who holds me by my "right hand" so that I will not fall headlong, for You are the one who holds my hand.  Psalm 37:24

And the thought occurs to me, that I can be that same kind of support for others.  When I walk alongside a friend, what support I have to offer should be given in a way that will encourage and support their strengths.  Weakness is overcome by strength....just as strong muscles become stronger when stressed by use and exercise.

And more thanks.....
For my #1 grandson who, at 3 y/o, has decided he shouldn't go anywhere without his Bible.....and for his parents, who have helped him to taste and see that the Lord, He is good, and an ever present help in trouble.


For my daughter and son-in-love celebrating 7 years of marriage, always ready to share their blessings with others...and for becoming such good parents to grandson #2....teaching him saying "no ma'am" (which means "no sir" also).

And for this son-in-love who plays in the rain with his son...
good memories for this nanna...

For my #2 son and his special lady, sitting at the side of a special uncle at a family reunion, sharing life stories, taking time to love and respect.....

For Becky, my good friend from the past, an example of perseverance and faith through blindness, grief, and struggles of life.....thank you Lord, for giving us time together last week.....a time to support one another and renew our friendship.

For the love of Chester...our English setter...who always waits for me to pet him after I let him out of his kennel, before he runs off to find the birds in the yard.  I need my Father's touch of love and affirmation, too, before I run off into the world everyday....

For fresh paint on old walls......a spiritual picture of renewal by the miraculous changing power of God in my being...

and the list goes on.....because His mercy is new everyday.....just like fresh paint!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pulling it all Together

crabapples and my pretties
 My crabapple tree was beautiful in full bloom this spring, and now it's loaded with fruit.  After reading an article on "The Art of Arranging" in the August issue of Real Simple magazine, I was inspired to make this arrangement on my dining room table, and crowned it off with crabapple limbs. Doing things like this really help me get "centered" after times that stretch my spiritual walk with the Lord and pull me away from my daily routine. Somehow, being creative and focusing on the details of beauty help me get back to a spiritual perspective for all that has rattled me.

As I tried to put into practice the suggestions from the article, I couldn't help but think about how I was trying to "pull it all together" spiritually and practically now that I was home from three very busy and trying weeks of traveling and working--first babysitting grandson #2, then painting my mom's living room, and in the middle of it all--a wonderful 4-day summer fling with my "forever friends"-- then a few more days of painting and preparing for bed bug treatment at mother's house, and finally at the end--a family reunion. Then, once home, our clothes, luggage and pillows had to be treated for the bed bugs we had collected. You just never know what life will hold...

So using "The Art of Arranging," from Real Simple magazine, let me share how I've pulled myself  together....after days of joy, pleasure, difficult circumstances, personal challenges, and physical and spiritual demands.

"Where to begins with hunting and gathering....Successful displays are about character, composition, and a pulled-together palette."
Opening my Bible put me on the hunt...hunting and gathering the Words of Truth about all that concerned me.  God's Word, a rich habitat for the trophies of wisdom and understanding, and the Holy Spirit, renewed my mind and replaced wrong thoughts with right ones. Then with thanksgiving, allowing Christ to have His way in my weak and flawed flesh. Afterall, it is only the character of Christ on display in the brokenness of my life that will bring glory to my God. A composition of redemption and renewal, a pulling together of the Perfect into the imperfect of my flesh...

"But you don't have to get it right the first time.  Let things evolve...tweaking...along the way"
Have you noticed that we rarely get it right the first time? But we have a Savior who sympathizes with our weaknesses and so lovingly pours out mercy and grace to help us in our time of need. We are "being changed" into the image of Christ....always present happens by a daily dying and resurrection--not all at once. Our Lord gives us grace for this evolution...we must give it to each other also....

in the dining room...       "The center space is your canvas..."
I had to spiritually focus on myself and my Father for a few days.  I was physically tired, but more than that, spiritually unsettled and hungry.  My center space has been made alive to the spiritual and it is now God's canvas--I don't create myself...He creates Christ in me. Spiritual living in the physical and the physical becoming the spiritual. I needed my Lord to clear out the periphery and create in me a clean that would receive his creative life-giving touch.

"...and the ends stay clear so there's room to eat without moving everything."  
A heart that's hungry, needs spiritual food....but if I don't clear off the table, there's no room for the manna.  The clearing away, agreeing with the Lord about what has to leave my heart, is mandatory for the centerpiece to shine true.

"Imperfect symmetry makes for a dramatic but not-too-formal view."
What's imperfect in my life fits into God's symmetry when He miraculously makes a Simply Susan into an arrangement of His making.  He's so good at taking "matching pieces" of the physical life of His children--the common-ness of sin, strengths and weaknesses--then throwing "in something subtly off,"  like glass with pottery--or a smart "dumb" blonde so that each of us can say to the world, "That's right--I'm eclectic."  not perfect...

"A splash of pattern and solids a point of view...exposing some wood adds richness to the scene"  
God's art of arranging our lives makes all things good and beautiful in time, and especially when the wood of the old rugged cross shines forth on the solid foundation of His work. reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.  Eph. 4:22-24

crabapple in bloom
crabapples galore!