Saturday, November 21, 2015

Thankful for my single geranium bloom on a snowy day

Today I woke to inclement weather.

I had to be somewhere at 5:55 a.m.  On Saturday morning.  Yes, I did.

Yesterday had been warm and beautiful.

Today I woke up in the dark.  Fortunately for me, I dressed and left my house before I was aware of much.  At some point between the first and second turns away from my home, I realized that all was black and wet, but I just kept driving, and the Lord kept me safe.  I assumed that the precipitation was rain, because everything was as black as night.  Well, to be fair, it pretty much was night.  I did try to read the temperature on my dashboard, but I wasn't wearing my reading glasses (I can't see in the distance for driving, if I have reading glasses on).  All I could make out on the dashboard thermometer was thirty-something.  I chose to believe it was 36 or 38 degrees.

When I got out of my meeting, three inches of heavy snow coated my car.  Punch-drunk from early morning, the others who had attended the meeting commenced to lobbing snowballs in the parking lot.  One man drove off with a mini snowman perched on his hood.

When I arrived at home, my neighborhood looked like this:

But, on my front porch, a potted geranium stood resolute and fuchsia, barely sheltered from the blowing sleet beyond.

Gawky, yet determined.

I am thankful for the sight, for the fact that this flower could bloom at all on the 21st of November, and for the symbolism.

Hope springs eternal.  Miracles abound.

I am thankful.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thankful for windows

I am thankful for windows.

Have you ever imagined what the world would be like, if there were no windows?

Windows let in light and air.  They connect us to the world around us, even while we shelter in our familiar cocoons.

Windows show us beautiful views.

They can also show us brokenness, despair.  This is not a bad thing.  Windows (like books) open our eyes to new perspectives that we need to understand, teaching us empathy.

Windows gently encourage us to imagine things beyond ourselves.  Brightening and darkening, they help us mark time.  Open, they refresh with a cool breeze.  Closed, they shut out a violent rainstorm.

Have you ever watched raindrops squash against the outside of window glass, smearing and straining but unable to dampen you?

Our own windows bring familiar views, day by day.  When we travel, we might see almost anything from a window, especially if we peer out the window of a car or an airplane.

Windows demand quite a lot of upkeep, cleaning and maintenance.  They are worth it.

I am thankful for windows.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thankful for the sun, light and sight

As I age, my eyesight is deteriorating.

My lupus medication is hard on eyes, so I can be a bit paranoid about the whole thing.

But, today I can see, and for that I am truly grateful.

I need my reading glasses for almost everything: reading, cooking, shopping, cleaning.  I can't even do a decent job of washing dishes without my reading glasses.

Sometimes I just wear my reading glasses all day.  Since they blur my distance vision, I find myself walking up and down hallways and stairs with my hand held up 18 inches from my face, as a focus point.  This is something I can do, and it works fine, and I can function, and I can see, well enough.

It's strange how much more thankful I am to be able to see, now that my sight is no longer what it used to be.  Or perhaps it isn't strange.  Perhaps it only illustrates that we don't always appreciate things fully, until we are at risk of losing them.

With decreasing visual acuity, I also appreciate light more than ever.  (I've been glad on more than one occasion that we installed white counters and a white backsplash in our kitchen work areas.)

The sun, of course, is the ultimate source of light.

Since moving to the midwest, I have gloried in the frequent presence of sunshine in my days.  I never tire of it.  We do get a cloudy day, now and then, and it is nice to stay inside and do quiet things while the clouds temporarily muffle the brightness of the sun.  Clouds never last too long here, and it is an absolute wonder and a balm to my soul.

I am thankful that I can see.

I am thankful for light.

I am thankful for the sun.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Thankful for time to be alone

I love to be alone.

I also like to be with people.  I don't like to be alone over tremendously long stretches of time.  For instance, when Shawn goes away on business trips.  Business trips result in more alone time than I really appreciate, especially in the evenings after the sun goes down and the windows turn black.  Going to bed at night all by myself is lonely in not-a-good-way.

But I do love to spend some time alone, every day, preferably in the morning.  Long, quiet mornings alone are an unspeakable luxury.

I like to read my Bible and pray, all by myself.  It's much harder for me to do these things when there are people around.

I like to be alone when I write.  Actually, I probably fundamentally need to be alone when I write.

There's that song, "Give me Jesus."  It has a verse that says, "When I am alone, give me Jesus."

When I am working on chores, or taking a walk, or eating, then I prefer to have company.

When I am praying, studying, writing, then I like to be alone.

I am thankful for times when I have opportunities to be alone, to get centered, to let the Lord examine my heart.

Since Jesus promises never to leave me nor forsake me, I am never utterly alone.  Alone with Jesus, that's what I love.

I am thankful for time when I can be alone with Jesus.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Thankful for hope

I don't know what the future holds, what is beyond the next hill or twist in the road.

It is a mercy that we don't know the future, I think.  It's a mercy not to be burdened with all the details of what is to come.

We do know this:

Jesus is coming back, and He will bring the final triumph of good over evil, completely and forever.

Knowing that, we have hope.  Sure hope.  Hope that, as the Bible says, will never be put to shame.

I am thankful that no matter what lies across the horizon, I can hope in the Lord, and He will never let me down.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Thankful that my husband is home

Paris is under seige.

But here in the flat center of the USA, the sun is shining, and my husband, who has traveled five out of the past six weeks, is home.

It is good to be together when the world is in tumult.

He fixed me the first good cup of coffee I've had in ages.

We feasted on leftover crustless quiche, because I made it for myself while he was gone and didn't even get a fourth of the way into it.

We sat, talked, hugged, held hands.  It feels good to rest your head on the shoulder of the one you've been missing.

Together.  Near.  With.

I will wash his laundry from the week, and life will be mostly normal, despite everything.

I am thankful that my husband is home.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thankful for books

I am thankful for books.

Books teach us truths, transport us to other worlds, and broaden our minds and understanding with perspectives we would otherwise never know.

The books we read have a great influence on whom we become.

In my older years, I mostly read the Bible, but I do read other books, and I have read many other books in the past.

In a soul-bearing move, I will show you pictures of some of my bookshelves.  This is threatening both because it tells you a lot about who I am, and also because the photography is particularly bad.  Part of the reason for the bad photography is that I don't put much effort into making my books look aesthetically pleasing on a shelf, and then when I go to photograph them, I don't know where to focus, so the overall sloppiness just piles up. 

Nevertheless, I am thankful for books, and here are some of my favorites:

Here is a group of books I love, mostly by John Piper and C.S. Lewis.
Honestly, if you had only the Bible, Piper, and Lewis, you would be fine.
Desiring God by Piper.
Mere Christianity by Lewis.

At the end of my set of Bible commentaries, 
some blessedly solid theology by Tozer and Packer, 
with a couple other authors thrown in.  
Packer's, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God 
is an important book that simplifies a difficult subject.

This shelf makes me smile, for the sheer randomness of it.

The Magic City by E. Nesbit (one of the few things our dog Piper ever defaced by chewing)
I am David by Anne Holm
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
Pearls of Lutra by Brian Jacques
Hank the Cowdog: The Case of the Haystack Kitties by John R. Erickson
Ralph S. Mouse by Beverly Cleary
A book from the Series of Unfortunate Events series
A Hardy Boys Mystery
A couple of books full of history trivia to stimulate young minds
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Iran: The Coming Crisis by Mark Hitchcock (? -- haven't read it; sounds scary)
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias
The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
Seeking the Face of God by Martin Lloyd-Jones
The Sovereignty of God by Arthur Pink
Spiritual Depression by Martin Lloyd-Jones
Amy Vanderbilt's Everyday Etiquette by Letitia Baldrige
Another history trivia book for kids
Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

And they all sit on top of a massive art book full of Van Gogh prints, while The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle nestles in behind, perpendicularly because it is too wide for any shelf.

I guess I read theology and children's literature, mostly.  These are all in our study, upstairs, where I write on my computer.  We have three six-foot-tall bookshelves against the long wall in here, and it feels like a library.  I love it.

Downstairs, in our front hall, there is another bookshelf.

Originally this was meant to hold "real literature."  It is rather a random mix, but with less children's literature (maybe).  This is where I keep my Dickens, my George Eliot and my Jane Austen, and where I placed Tolkien between Chaucer and Homer.  But you will also find the Hunger Games trilogy on this shelf, The Book Thief, Ender's Game and two (??) copies of The Great Gatsby.

In a closer view, you also see a collection of Alan Bradley and a collection of Madeleine L'Engle.  Oh!  There's The Wind in the Willows and The Phantom Tollbooth.  Maybe I've placed as much children's literature here as anywhere; there's even a green anthology of it.

I am thankful for books.  I've made many friends through books, and there are a lot of people I look forward to talking with in heaven, to thank them for how their words have ministered to me on earth, even though we've never met.

Ruminating on what books mean to me, and how they have touched me, gives me a deeper understanding of what the Bible means when it calls Jesus, "The Word of God."  He is the greatest "book" of all.