Friday, February 27, 2015

Lord, Visit Me



Five Minute Friday topic is the word Visit.  I'm also sharing this at  #GiveMeGrace.  This poem also fits in well with the #LiveFreeThursday prompt, "I need you."  We all need God every day. Think of this as a prayer for you today. 


Lord, Visit Me

Lord, visit me
in my sickness
in my pain
in my distress
in my shame
in my loneliness

Visit me, Lord
in times of health
in times of happiness
in times of peace
in times of strength
in times of company

Lord, visit me
every second
every minute
every day
every week
every year

And may I visit others
to show them your love.
May I shine your light
wherever I may be.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Touch of a Father's Hand

My dad was around 6 ft. tall, not really a giant, but to a child, his size could be intimidating. My friends were sometimes a little afraid of him, which I could never understand. To me he was just Daddy, the man who loved me and took care of me. My friends soon learned there was nothing to be afraid of, because he was so kind and welcoming to them.

(having a laugh at the table)


I remember his hands were large. He wanted me to show him how to play the piano, but his fingers were so large that he couldn't seem to play just one key. His finger would automatically get two at a time. He did love to hear me play and wanted me to be a concert pianist, but as much as I loved playing, that was not my desire. I played for fun, for inspiration and for worship.


One day when I was about 4 years old my dad and I were walking hand in hand. He saw that I was having to run to keep up with his big strides, so he put his hands around my waist, lifted me up, and carried me along. It felt almost like I was floating through the air.


(my family when I was 3)


Through the years I never doubted my dad's love and that he cared about me, my brothers and my mother. We did not always see eye to eye. Sometimes he would take me to choir or youth meeting and we would not even speak to each other on the way, usually because I was angry at him for not letting me do something or go somewhere.


Mostly, though, I always wanted to go with him when he went to the store or wherever. I enjoyed being in his presence. On one occasion I was sitting in the front seat with him when he reached over, patted my knee and said, “I've got a pretty daughter.”

That meant the world to me, and I will never forget it.


Always before bed both parents would hug and kiss me and let me know they loved me. This continued even when I was grown and had kids of my own. Whenever we would visit, we would share the nightly hugs and kisses, and my kids also were included.



(My dad with my daughters)


Often during the day, when he passed by where I was sitting or standing, my dad would put his heavy hand on my head or on my shoulder. It was one of his ways of telling me he that he saw me and loved me. My girls remember him doing it to them sometimes, too. He loved his grandchildren dearly.


Most of my married life we lived pretty far from my parents, so it was a treat when we or they would visit. We probably saw them twice a year for a week at a time. Every week they would call on the phone and we'd catch up on recent events. It got to the point where I'd have to let all my kids say hello before I could talk or they'd be begging me the whole time.

I have two more special memories of the touch of my father's hand.

One morning while still in bed I got a call from my brother telling me Daddy was in the hospital and they didn't really know what the problem was. Two weeks later I found myself, along with my 15 month old son, on a plane ready to go to FL hoping to make it before it was too late. Our flight was delayed five hours, two of which were after we had boarded the plane.

When we finally arrived it was after visiting hours at the hospital, but after we left my son at my parents' house where someone was babysitting my brother's kids, we went on to the hospital. They were kind enough to ignore the rules for us.

When I went in to see my dad, he opened his eyes and smiled. He reached up his hand and ran his fingers through my hair, and I think I must have grabbed and held his hand.

My dad's touch always meant so much to me.

(my dad wearing the suspenders my daughter made for him)


After that night his responses were dwindling and I never saw him smile again or open his eyes, but we were assured that he could still hear us. My brother read to him a sweet letter my oldest daughter had written to her grandfather. I knew that I would not be able to keep from crying if I tried to read it aloud.


The last time I held my father's hand was just before they took him for one last surgery. My mother, brothers and I had met with the doctors and had agreed to this one last effort even though it might not help. I remember he was squeezing my hand tightly, and I wondered later if he was trying to tell me that he did not want to go through with the surgery. It was as if he knew that it would be pointless. He never did regain consciousness.


The night he died my mother and both my brothers were with him. I had gone back to my mother's house where my sisters-in-law were also staying. I also knew that my son would need to nurse before he went to sleep that night. Looking back, I can see that it was better for me not to be there when he died. I don't know if I could have handled it. My brothers were super supportive to my mom and I'm glad they were there with her.


(my parents at their 40th anniv. less than a year before he died)


It has been 23 years since I lost my father and I no longer have the touch of his hand, but my heavenly Father is always with me. I feel His touch through people He has put into my life, through His provision of my needs, and through the peace He gives me as I read His word and pray and trust.  One day I will see my father again, because he is with our Father in heaven.


I'm linking up with #livefreeThursday. Today's prompt is the power of touch. I'm also joining the #DanceWithJesus Friday linkup!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What Determines My Worth?


My OneWord 365 is intentional. I haven't written about it in the past few weeks. In fact, I haven't thought about it much at all. Isn't it funny how we get all excited every year thinking about how THIS YEAR will be different? We start off thinking we will make changes that will benefit us, and then somehow the excitement fizzles away and we are left wondering how we ever thought we could follow through and actually make those changes.


Yes, it's easy to get discouraged when circumstances seem to fly in the face of what we want to do. I wanted to systematically rid my house of clutter by being intentional about it. So far not much has been done. I even started a blog series called Empower: You Can Do It where I was going to share my progress by taking small steps, baby steps. I made a little progress but not much to speak of.


My year started out well, and I was very excited when I thought about how soon I could have my house uncluttered. Excitement doesn't get you very far when there isn't action to go with it. It's so easy to look at the whole thing and feel overwhelmed. Hmm... I need to take my own advice and only focus on one area at a time, then work at it until it is done.




I think one reason I get discouraged is that I focus on what I don't have or what isn't getting done rather than keeping my eyes on Jesus. I worry about how I need to lose weight, spend less time on facebook, spend more time reading the Scriptures and pray more each day. I look at all that I'm NOT accomplishing and begin to feel like a failure.


BUT THEN I REMEMBER.

  • My worth is not determined by how much weight I lose.
  • My worth is not determined by what I do or don't do or even how I feel.

MY WORTH IS DETERMINED BY GOD ALONE.

  • I am a beloved daughter of God, created in His image and I am loved by Him.

What more could I ask for? He is with me all the time. He provides for my needs. He is faithful to strengthen me to do the work He has called me to do.

When I look to God rather than myself I realize how much I really do have. I don't need to worry about getting all my goals accomplished. Worrying only causes more stress.




I need to make a conscious choice to put God first in my life. When I do this I have peace, and I know that I can trust Him to bring about His will and do what is best for me.

  • Do I still need to rid my house of clutter?  Yes.
  • Do I still need to lose weight?  Yes.
  • Do I still need to be intentional about setting goals?  Most definitely.
  • Will I still get discouraged at times?  Yes, of course, I'm human.

What I need to remember is that those things don't define me.


I need to accept myself right now with all my limitations before I can really make any lasting changes. I need to remind myself who I am in Christ whenever I start to be discouraged. Then I need to act on what I know even if I don't feel like I can do it, knowing that God will give me strength and grace and forgiveness when needed.

  • So what about all those goals I have?
  • How am I going to accomplish them?
  • Am I even going to get all of them done?

I don't know and actually it's not really that important.  When my goal is to please God in my work whether or not anyone else is pleased, I will feel much better about myself and what I do.


What IS important is that I do my best and have an attitude of thanksgiving.


I will ask Him to give me grace every day, to open my eyes so that I see beauty in the ordinary, to help me be aware of His presence in my life, to give love and grace to others, and to see that His love and faithfulness never fail.




I'm linking up with the lovely Lisha Epperson and #GiveMeGrace.
Also linking with Susan Mead and #DanceWithJesus linkup.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Open Up!

Usually before I start writing a Five Minute Friday post I have to think about the prompt for awhile. Today was no exception. I began by making a list of phrases that began with the word open putting down whatever came to mind thinking to use it as a springboard. I came up with some interesting things.

Reading over them I saw the sentence, Opening your mouth. That brought back a funny memory. When I was about 10 years old, I was riding my bike around the yard, because my mom wouldn't let us ride in the street. I must have had my mouth open because in flew a butterfly. Boy, did that feel disgusting! I remember telling my mom about it saying, “It sure didn't taste like butter!”




Another statement I wrote was Open your life to receive blessings and trials. We need to be willing to accept whatever God allows in our lives knowing that He will be with us and do what is best.

Open up to understanding others is another sentence in my list. I want to be willing to listen to others, to get to know their hearts, to encourage them in any way I can. Even if we have differing views, I can still listen and try to understand where they are coming from.



Open up to the wonder
Open up to the light
Open up to the beauty

My time is up, but I thought you might be interested in seeing the rest of the list I came up with. Maybe you can use them as prompts sometime when you can't think of what to write.


Open your heart
Open your eyes
Open your ears

Open the door
Open the curtain of your life
Open the oven door
Open the fridge
Open the gate
Open the window
Open the cabinet
Open the suitcase

Open a can of worms
Open a present
Open a new journal
Open a letter

Opening a jar of peanut butter
Opening of a concert
Opening of a new show
Opening of a dream


Don't forget to visit Kate Motaung and the rest of the Five Minute Friday writers.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Empower: When There Is No Power

This is a little different than the rest of the Empower series, because I'm not talking about clearing clutter or taking baby steps to accomplish something, but nonetheless there is a kind of empowerment you need to have when things are different than expected. Mostly it helps you see that you are not in control and reminds you that God is the source of your strength. I'm joining the #RaRaLinkup, which is being hosted by Katy McKown.

What do you do when you have a day planned full of things like making yogurt and elderberry syrup, cleaning bathrooms and doing laundry and you have no electricity? Not to mention that your house is around 51 deg. F.

That was my predicament yesterday.

Around 2:30 A.M. we woke up to complete darkness with the only noise being the wind and sleet. When our power is out we have no water, no phone when the battery runs out, no WiFi and no heat. Good thing we had flashlights. My husband got up and went downstairs to light the woodburning stove so we would at least have a little heat. He was up again at 6:00 to check on it and then at 7:30 to go check on the chickens making sure they had food and water.

I stayed in bed for quite awhile because it was warm under my down comforter, and I didn't want to get dressed in the cold. Finally I got up, dressed in layers including a sweater and sweatshirt, and went downstairs to figure out what to eat. I found a bagel and smeared it with blueberry cream cheese and drank a glass of milk. 

What I really wanted was something hot.

We added more wood to the stove to try to make it warmer, but I guess we piled it too high and the flames started up the chimney sounding like a freight train! At first I didn't know what the sound was, then I realized, so I quickly closed the damper and vents to block the air flow. That seemed to do the trick, but then I was a little leery of keeping the stove going. 

I went upstairs to sit in bed and write, thinking I would be a little warmer, but the air was just too cold. My hands were freezing, so I came back downstairs and decided to put a kettle of water from our osmosis system on the top of the woodburning stove along with a pan of milk to use for hot chocolate later. I waited awhile, but the water really only got a little warmer than lukewarm. I had my tea anyway. At least it warmed my hands a little while holding the cup.

Using my cell phone I was able to let people know we were without power, but that was tricky because it only gets a consistent signal if I hold it up to the window. The battery was getting very low, so my husband went out to the car in order to charge it up using the mobile charger. After awhile I went out so he could tend to some other things like gathering more wood and draining water from outside tanks to use for flushing toilets. I basked in the warmth of the car especially with the seat heater, and I took some pictures. 



(lots of ice on the bushes and trees)

Later that afternoon I was getting pretty frustrated with our lack of power, and I'm afraid I started complaining. I didn't know what we would do for supper having no idea when the power would be back on. We had planned to make pizza, but obviously we couldn't do that. I also went back out to the car to charge up the phone again. It was our only link to the outside world.

When I came back inside I decided I would try to have a good attitude and maybe take some pictures outside. I grabbed my camera and went out onto the porch. As soon as I turned it on it flashed a message to charge the battery and then shut down. Not daunted, I came back inside and got my phone instead. This first picture is the landing at the top of the stairs. Part of our driveway looked like this.



Look at this exquisite picture of the ice on the tree that comes up above the porch railing.




Refreshed, I came inside knowing that I needed to round up something for supper. First I made some carrot sticks, then sliced cheese, then got out slices of pepperoni and put it all on a plate. By this time it was getting dark so we had candles burning. I put the food on the coffee table, added another pot with some milk to the other one on the wood stove thinking that if there was only a couple of inches of milk in a thin bottomed pot it might heat up faster. I also served bread with butter and fruit spread.

The four of us gathered in the living room and my youngest son got the bright idea of watching a movie using his brother's computer since it had a long lasting battery. We chose an old suspense/comedy starring Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant – Charade. While watching it the milk finally got warm enough to add cocoa and maple syrup and honey, which I did by candlelight. Just as I finished, the power came back on. 

What a relief!

None of my planned chores got done, but the four of us spent more time together bundled up with blankets, afghans, coats or sweaters. (The house temperature never got much higher than about 58.) We were forced to be resourceful, and in the end, as I look back, it was actually kind of fun to see what all we were able to do. And when you think about it, we only endured about 18 hours of no power. Others may have had it much worse.

I'm joining other bloggers with Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkup, which is being hosted this week by Katy McKown at A Football Wife's Life.  Take a look and you'll find some good encouragement there. You are welcome to add your own post to the linkup.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

What Does it Mean to Love?

Is it a feeling or an action?
Is it directed towards someone or some thing?
How do we find true love? What is true love?

I was thinking about these questions last week and started writing down some thoughts in the form of a poem which I share at the end of this post. This morning as I thought again about true love, this verse came to mind:



Would I be willing to give my life for someone else? That's a hard question to think about, but Jesus did give His life for us, and He calls us His friends.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
(I John 4:10 )

Is there any greater love than this? How can we even fathom such love! When I think about His sacrifice I want to show my love for Him, and then He asks me to do more.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and every one who loves is born of God and knows God.
(I John 4:7)



My love is so feeble compared to His perfect love, and yet He wants me to love others, too? How is that possible? I John 4:19 tells us:

We love, because He first loved us.

It is because we have received such great love from God first that we are able to give love back to Him and to others. And is that love to be a feeling or action or both?

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and in truth.
(I John 3:18)

I don't think it means that we never use words to tell of our love, but that our actions back up what we say. If we say we love others and then turn them away or look down on them, our words won't mean anything at all. We are either hypocrites or liars.

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.
(I John 5:2,3)

There are infinite ways to show God's love to others. When we think of all the ways He shows His love to us, we will find it easier to show love to those around us. 
 
Will any of us do this perfectly? I think not. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

God is always full of grace, ready to forgive, surrounding us with His love.




Where Is Love?

Love is all around us daily even when we cannot see.
Love shows up in a gentle touch when we are sad and lonely.
Love shows up as a nice hot meal when we are tired and hungry.
Love shows up through a simple smile to a stranger on the street.
Love is there when you lose your way and someone kind directs you.
Love is there when you have no strength and someone comes to lift you.
Love is there when you're discouraged and friends come by to cheer you.
Love protects and Love provides and Love is always kind and true.
Love is everywhere that God is, and He uses you and me.


Friday, February 13, 2015

When

I'm updating this post to share with Kelly Balarie's #RaRaLinkup. Be sure to catch the poem at the end. I hope you will be encouraged.

Friday is here again, the day that many of us take the challenge and write for five minutes on a one word prompt given by Kate Motaung and #FiveMinuteFriday.  Today's word is When.

GO:

Sometimes when I see the prompt I'll think of different phrases to write and it starts to become a poem. There have been times when I have written a poem in the five minutes allotted so I will use it for my five minute writing. Today, like one other time, I started a poem and wanted to finish it even though it took more than five minutes. So that's what I did and will still share it here at the end.


(chimes on my back porch)

Often when I see the prompt I like to think about it awhile before I write anything down. I think many of us do that, and it's okay to take time.

It's hard for me to write and not try to edit as I go, but the five minute Friday writing is supposed to be free writing. 

The thinking is to write whatever comes to mind, but the editor in me always wants to make sure it looks or sounds right before I hit publish. I guess it's hard to be vulnerable and put our unedited writing out there for all to see.

When will we learn that it is okay to not have everything just so?

It's okay for others to see our mistakes.

No one is perfect, and when we allow others to see our imperfections we can often encourage them. 

We let each other know that we are not alone.

And now I've gone over five minutes again, but it's okay.

 (woods behind my house)

God Is With Me Always

When I am lost and all alone
And cannot see the way
You are there to guide me
To help me through the day.

When I find it hard to trust
And doubt your loving care
You are always with me
Though I am unaware.

When I am all upset inside
And feel my anger rise
You bring peace to calm me
To still my anxious cries.

When I come to you in sorrow
With a heart full of pain
You are there to comfort
And lift me up again.

No matter what I say or do
I do not have to hide
You are full of mercy
In you I will abide.


(photo taken by my house)


Come join us for Five Minute Friday and see what others have to say! Also check out Kelly Balarie and Friends #RaRaLinkup.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Keeping Faith

 The prompt for Five Minute Friday is the word keep

When I saw the prompt last night I immediately thought of a Bible verse, but this morning I could not remember what it was. Instead, a verse came to mind that I learned many years ago from the King James version of the Bible found in Isaiah 26:3.


Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee.


Several friends of mine this week have been struggling with anxiety. It is a very real thing and so hard to deal with. I think that's what made me think of this verse. 


Usually when you think of the word perfect you think of something without error, but it can also mean complete as in having all you need for a certain thing. As I thought about this I realized that even though we are promised peace we may not always feel peaceful.


We can know the verses about peace. We can believe God, but sometimes it doesn't seem very real to us, especially if we are going through a difficult time.


(photo by Gayl Wright)

What is the solution? How can we find that peace we are promised? I have found that when I am focused on myself and on the circumstances I will begin to worry. I have taken my eyes off of God and begin to doubt.


I wish the solution was easy, but it is so very hard to let go and trust when everything seems to be crumbling around you. Another version puts the verse this way:


The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You. (Isaiah 26:3 NASB)


How can we keep our minds steadfast? Many times we have to act on what we believe even when the feeling isn't there. It is hard, because often when we get our eyes back on Christ, we look at our circumstances and find ourselves right back in the place of anxiety.


It's times like this when we need others around to help us, to trust with and for us, to be right there with us so that we know we are not alone. It's easy to quote a Bible verse, but often it is action that is needed to give proof that we are supportive when a brother or sister is struggling so hard. 


Sometimes they need our faith to uphold them for a bit, to help them along as they struggle to see through the fog and darkness where they find themselves. Our prayers and encouragement can help more than we realize. There may be times when we all need someone else to believe for us for awhile, to help point us back to God and to trust in Him.


(photo by Gayl Wright)

My prayer is that we will be there for each other when we experience those times of anxiety, when we can't quite see that God has given us what we need and is right there with us. Sometimes we need that tangible proof of a loving friend to show us.

I believe we can honor God as we use our lives to love and encourage one another.


Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling,
 and to present you faultless before the presence
of his glory with exceeding joy,
 to the only wise God our Saviour, 
be glory and majesty, dominion and power, 
both now and ever. Amen. (Jude 24 KJV)


I'm linking up with Lisha Epperson and #GiveMeGrace Kelly Balarie and the #RaRaLinkup, and Five Minute Friday. ( Confession: It took a little more than five minutes to write)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Grace in Creation


(photo by Gayl Wright)

You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, 
even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, 
the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. 
You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. 
(Nehemiah 9:6 NIV)


This week my husband and I are spending time at the beach with his siblings and their spouses. Today has been a lovely day enabling us to have some needed rest and relaxation. God, in His grace, created us with the need for regular times of rest. That's why we have the Sabbath.  It's during these times that we can slow down, notice His creation and praise Him for His mighty works.  We are so small compared to all His greatness, but He loves us so much.  

There were lots of birds like these on the beach including one tiny bird that had an injured leg but was hopping pretty fast with his good one. It was pretty amazing!





The day was perfect for flying the kites that my sister-in-law brought. We enjoyed seeing their bright colors being carried on the currents of the wind.


 





Here are more interesting things we found as we walked along the beach.








This little beauty caught my eye right next to the path as we headed back towards the road.



Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth
 by your great power and outstretched arm. 
Nothing is too hard for you.
(Jeremiah 32:17 NIV)


I'm linking up with Lisha Epperson and #GiveMeGrace.