Sunday, December 13, 2015

Make Room for Jesus

For the past couple of weeks I've been participating in a Holiday Haiku Challenge given at Wendy Speake. The prompt for Day 7 was "Make room." I wrote several before settling on one to share. This evening while reading over them I thought they would go well together as a longer poem with stanzas. Hope you enjoy!






Make Room


This holiday time
Amid shopping and parties
Make room for Jesus

Are you all alone,
Weak, sick, helpless, without hope?
Make room for Jesus

Feeling lost and empty?
Only One can satisfy
Make room for Jesus

With mercy and grace
He can meet your deepest need
Make room for Jesus

Make room for Jesus
Your heart will overflow with
Love that knows no end




May we all make room for Jesus this Christmas season. May we seek Him with our whole heart. May we find joy and peace.

It's not too late to join in the #holidayhaiku challenge. Go to Wendy Speake for all the details!

I'm also linking up with:




Friday, December 11, 2015

Five Minute Friday: Reflect

The Five Minute Friday word for today is reflect.




As I reflect on this past year, I find things that make me happy and things that make me sad. I lost a friend earlier this year and have had other unpleasant things to deal with.

On the other hand, I have made new friends and have improved somewhat in my writing skills. I have continued writing poems which is very enjoyable to me.

One of my goals was to have my house rid of clutter, but that goal is very illusive. It seems that the more I take out, the more comes in. Must. Remedy. That.

Another practice I wanted to establish was to have more regular times of prayer. I have been able to do that to an extent, but not as much as I had hoped. But I am happy with any progress made.

My computer stopped working and I've had to make do with an older laptop with an unfunctioning monitor so it is hooked up to a monitor on my desk.

Some fun activities have been a trip to visit daughter Jamie and meet an online friend in person.




My time is up already, but I think I'll continue just a bit.

I have continued my practice of working in my art journal and expanding it to other notebooks as well. I have found it to be a form of reflection as I think about how to arrange things and what form of media to use. Mostly it's been collage with some occasional found poetry.

My husband and I celebrated our 41st anniversary by staying a couple of days in Gatlinburg, TN, where we spent time resting and walking and taking pictures. I was surprised that our motel room had an actual key rather than a card or code.




A highlight of the year was my first time attending the Allume conference in Greenville, SC, in October. There I met more online friends and have enjoyed their friendship more.




Most recently I've taken on a holiday haiku challenge which you can read about at Wendy Speake in case you'd like to join in.

On the whole as I reflect on 2015, I find myself at peace as we approach the end of the year. Even though some events have been difficult, I am always able to find peace in knowing that God is faithful and will be with me wherever I go.





Friday, December 4, 2015

Seasons of Life

When I first hear the word season, I think of winter, spring, summer and fall. Each one has a beauty of its own. Depending on where you live winter can have snow, which if not always practical, is very pretty and fun to play in when you have no place to go.




When you're really tired of winter, a break comes with spring and new life. Trees have new leaves, flowers bloom and the air is a little warmer. Spring begins to prepare you for summer.

Summer can be a fun time, but it can also get very hot. The heat can seem unbearable at times, but then you can refresh yourself. It's a time of picnics in the shade, of drinking cold drinks and having fun.

Fall is one of my favorite seasons. It gives a break from the summer heat and there are cooler breezes. We can begin wearing sweaters, thinking of hot chocolate and falling leaves.




There are also seasons in our lives from infancy, to childhood, to adulthood and then old age. Each season seems to have sub seasons, times of joy and peace, times of sadness, times of light and times of darkness, times of good news and times of bad.

All these add up to make up our lives. We need them all to become the people we are meant to be. And God will be with us through each and every one. 







Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Waiting With Hope

The #wholemama prompt for today is wait.  Yesterday as I was reading The Circle of Seasons by Kimberlee Conway Ireton, I found out that the Hebrew word for wait also means hope. I thought that was interesting because here is what I had been mulling over in my mind: Wait with hope.

Advent is a time of waiting with hope.

In all the busyness we can take a few minutes each day to contemplate what the coming of Jesus meant. We can think about what a sacrifice it was for him to leave the glory of heaven to be born as a human, fulfilling his mission all the way to the cross.



But how do we wait with hope when we are faced with unplanned circumstances?

We get caught in traffic and wait. We sit at the doctor's office and wait. 

We stand in line at the grocery store and wait. We wait for our children as they hunt for the lost shoe and we are running late again. 

None of those kinds of waiting are fun to do. We fret and worry and want everything done NOW. Our days seem like a blur as we run from one thing to another. We don't think we have time to wait, because there is so much to do.

Waiting forces us to slow down and that can be a good thing.

What if instead of fretting when we find ourselves waiting, we intentionally focused on our surroundings looking for something to be thankful for?

While waiting in traffic we might notice details of the different kinds of cars, or see an unusual cloud formation in the sky, or study the architecture of houses or other buildings around us.

Maybe at the doctor's office we can notice the other patients and pray for them.

In the grocery line we could try hard to be calm and smile at others. When it's finally our turn we could say kind words to the weary cashier. I have done this and have seen their faces light up showing they are encouraged.

We won't always get it right. We'll make mistakes. We'll lose our cool.

But we can do our best to help make someone else's day brighter. In so doing we will brighten our day, too.

We can rejoice that Jesus did not stay dead, but conquered sin and death once for all. He has ascended to his place of glory at his Father's right hand. One day he will return and every knee will bow before him as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

We can seek peace and comfort in our own lives as we actively wait with hope, knowing that Jesus is with us wherever we go. Let's share that love.



I'm linking up with:
I'm also taking on a #holidayhaiku challenge which you can read about at Wendy Speake.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Greetings from Our House to Yours




Tomorrow many of us will be gathering with loved ones to reflect on our blessings and to have a feast together.

 
Thanksgiving is often pictured as a lovely family time, but often there is a mother who feels very stressed. In my family there are several birthdays that occur during Thanksgiving week, and I usually let them pick what they want for breakfast and dinner. As you can imagine when there is a birthday on Wednesday, Thanksgiving on Thursday and another birthday on Friday, I have been exhausted by the end of the week. This week happens to be lined up that way, but I am choosing not to stress about it. 


I am actually enjoying the planning and preparation this time.


Because a grandson also has a birthday today, we had my son's birthday dinner yesterday - homemade lasagna, salad and some garlic bread with a yummy homemade cheesecake for dessert. 


*We have a rather large family, but this year there will only be about thirteen of us.*

My oldest daughter and her family will be here, and although we don't live too far apart it's been a while since we've gotten together.  I wonder what stories my grandchildren will have to share from their adventures in homeschooling and otherwise. They are so full of life and will bring some much needed excitement into our home.

We will also have my mom and probably all three of my sons joining us. There will be some catching up on news of all their activities, some interesting discussions and possibly a long walk outdoors after the meal to enjoy the beauty of nature and burn some of those calories.


There may be clutter all around, and my house won't be as clean as I'd like.


I may not have a big variety of foods or extravagant desserts. 


It probably will not be picture perfect, but there will be love and laughter and a happy time. We will celebrate and also fondly remember those who are not with us.



Have a blessed day and remember to give thanks!


For those who are sorrowful this Thanksgiving I pray that God will be with you and grant comfort and peace as only He can.



the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 
(IICorinthians 1:3,4)



I'm linking up with #ThankfulThursday!

*Due to last minute circumstances there were only four of us today, so it was a rather peaceful and still enjoyable day.*

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Contentment: How Do We Find It?

Contentment is the #wholemama word for this week. Some of the words I found that were considered synonyms were happiness and satisfaction, but I'm not sure they cover the full implications of the word.

To me contentment has a lot to do with an inner peace, the kind that is promised by Jesus when he said,



Is it possible to have a sense of contentment when our circumstances aren't the happiest or most satisfying?

Maybe contentment has more to do with our state of mind regardless of the circumstances. It reminds me of what the apostle Paul said.


Obviously Paul had found himself in situations that were less than desirable, but he had learned to practice contentment anyway. How was he able to come to the point where he could be content in any situation? Certainly not in his own strength. He was a human being just we are. There was nothing special about him that he could manufacture contentment.

What was his secret?

The answer is found in verse 13 of Philippians 4:


Paul's strength came from Jesus, who is the only One able to provide the enduring stamina needed to live a life of contentment no matter what. You and I have that same power available to us, if only we would remember to ask. Of course sometimes we are so down we don't even think about the power within us, but Jesus comes anyway to hold us up. 

I memorized Philippians 4:13 when I was a child, but I learned it as a stand alone verse. I took it to mean that God would help me with anything I needed to do. While this is true it doesn't cover the full extent of the meaning. In its context the verse shows me this:

God doesn't necessarily change my circumstances, but he does give me the strength I need to go through whatever comes my way.

I'm still learning how to be content. It's a long process, and I have not come to the point where I am always content. Often I complain about circumstances when I know complaining doesn't change a thing. It just makes me miserable and also affects those around me. 

What helps is when I look for the good in every day, when I pause to give thanks, when I keep my eyes on my heavenly Father and spend time communing with him. Things don't magically get better, but when my attitude is one of thanksgiving, I am more at peace and can be content even when times are hard.



Friday, November 20, 2015

Where is Your Dwelling Place?




The Five Minute Friday word for today is dwell. This first thing that came to my mind was the above scripture. 


What does it mean to dwell in the shelter of the Most High? 


When I think of dwell I think of the place where I live or spend most of my time. Obviously I can't at this time live in a place where I actually see God physically, so how do I dwell where I am sheltered by him?


My mind goes to thoughts of reading the scriptures and meditating on them in order to learn more about who God is and what he does, to learn his attributes and how he relates to me. I can also spend time praying, communing with him, praising him and looking to him for guidance.


What I find is that he is the great Creator who has made this beautiful planet, albeit we have spoiled it somewhat. He has also created us in his image with the ability to create in our own finite way.


God has promised to watch over his people. 


He is constantly with me even when I am going through a difficult circumstance. What I've found is that he gives me peace, the kind of peace I won't find anywhere else, a peace that lets me know He is always good and will do what is best for his people.



To read what others have written about the word dwell or to add your own post, head on over to Kate's place and Five Minute Friday. I'm also linking with Still Saturday and Word of God Speak.


Here is Psalm 91 in its entirety:

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."


"Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare 
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.


You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.


A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.


If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.


For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.


“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; 
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him; 


I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”





Thursday, November 19, 2015

Feeling Thankful on this Autumn Day





During this month of November it seems most everyone is thinking about giving thanks. Maybe it's because we set aside a day, commonly known as Thanksgiving to spend with family or friends and celebrate our many blessings.

I have much for which to be thankful starting with a God who loves and cares for me even in times of hardship. I have a family who loves me including my dear husband of 41 years and counting.




Today has been a beautiful day. There has been so much rain lately that a sunny day with temperatures in the seventies has been very welcome. This afternoon I went out for a few minutes to snap some pictures of the beauty. 




I am thankful to live in a place where I can enjoy the change of seasons finding something to like in each one. My favorite season is Autumn. 




I love the colors, the cool breezes and the hint that changes are in the air.




I even saw the pale half circle of the moon this afternoon as it sat in the vast blue ocean of sky.




There is much sadness and horror in the world, but there is also hope. May our God be near to those oppressed and hurting. May we show love to those we hold dear and to whoever God brings across our paths. May we remember the faithfulness of God.





I'm linking up with 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Our Carolina Hilltop Home


Our #wholemama linkup this week is all about home. To me home is where my family is and except for a short time away, our home has been here in the Carolina foothills since 1998. I wrote this poem last year but recently changed it up a bit. I hope it conveys to you a little bit about my home. Enjoy!




Near the Carolina foothills
stands a house made of logs
Front porch view will give you chills
Back boasts forest scenes

In spring of nineteen ninety-eight
our family of nine
moved into this hilltop home
filled with scent of pine




Our dwelling place of many years
holds hidden memories
of laughter and of tears
deep within its walls

We shared our space with friends in need
with teens from distant lands,
We celebrated birthdays
weaving tighter strands



Toasty warm from wood stove heating
sipping homemade cocoa
talking, laughing, eating
Fun times wrapped with love




Be sure to visit Erika Shirk and #wholemama to join the linkup and read what others have written about home. I'm also linkup up with #IntentionalTuesday.

*The outdoor photos are my own taken outside my house. The other one was taken in 2001 when for a time there were 13 people living in our home. We had two exchange students - one from France and one from Spain, and a friend with her little girl.*

Sunday, November 15, 2015

When Weary, Turn to God


Many of us are weary these days. There is so much hate and destruction in the world and we are weary of hearing about it. We feel like we are small and wonder what difference we can make when it is so widespread.

We also are weary from our day to day activities. We push ourselves to do one more thing until we are finally exhausted. Sometimes then we can't sleep because we are wound so tightly it is hard to relax.




Day after day it seems like more is piled on to our already long to do lists and we feel like we never get finished.

Maybe our lists are too long. Maybe they should include time to rest scheduled right in there amongst cleaning the floor or making an appointment, or finishing that dish for supper.

Sometimes our weariness can't be helped. A sick child needs our attention and we sit up all night caring for them.

Sometimes we bring on weariness because we just don't want to stop for the night. We don't want to face the quiet when we crawl into bed. 

In those times when your very soul is weary, turn to God and find rest in him.



I'd like to leave you with this prayer I wrote back in June in hopes that it will encourage you to relax and go to God when you are weary and tired.




I'm linking up with


*All photographs are my own*

Sunday, November 8, 2015

On This Day of Rest





Jesus said,





May we all find peace and rest today wherever we are. 

May we know the presence of the Holy Spirit as we move through our day. 

May we be filled with a sense of childlike wonder and find the beauty in ordinary every day objects. 

May we worship God with our whole being, and may we be blessed.


I'm linking up with:

*An earlier version of the poem on the photo was published last month* (Sorry about the duplication)

Friday, November 6, 2015

Come Dancing With Me


It's interesting this week that both the #wholemama and #FiveMinuteFriday linkups had the same prompt which is the word DANCE.




I love to watch people dance. Ever since I was a child I loved musicals. Watching the couples dance during a song, I could imagine myself whirling and twirling across the floor. It always looked like such fun!


A few years ago my husband and I took some dancing lessons from some friends. It was a lot of fun and I wish we had kept up with it. But we never got very good at it. At least we had a good time. 


I think it's about time to revive it again. It's a great way to get exercise and have fun at the same time.


Also, I think of a myriad of leaves dancing along as the wind blows them to the ground. When the colored leaves are all piled on the road it looks like a wild dance when the cars go by and force them to rise and twirl and fall again.





I like to think of my life as a dance. Jesus is beckoning me to take his hand and follow his lead on this journey of life.


Sometimes the dance is happy and fun.
Sometimes it is sad.
Sometimes it is hard.
All times I feel safe and secure in his arms.