Wednesday, January 28, 2015

February Series

 white peonies from my garden in Liverpool, NY

2015 started out rough.

But God has been here, all the time.  
He is at work in my heart, in my life, in the lives around me.

I am exhausted, but today I have chosen a day of rest.  It is 12:52 p.m., I am still cozy in my navy plaid pajama pants, and I choose not to be apologetic about this.  Not today.  I've been meaning to take a nap since Sunday, and today, even if I do not actually get a nap, I will read in my bed, in my pajamas, and rest my body and nourish my soul.  This is not a bad thing.

Although this blog has been neglected, it is a good thing.  It has been a time of retreat, withdrawal, a time of prayer and contemplation and finding my rest and peace in the Lord.

For He is always with me.  Whether I am happy or sad, whether I feel quiet or communicative, whether I am full of fear or full of confidence, He is always with me and never leaves me, never forsakes me.

During January, I've been thinking about things, about choices people make, and the choices others make in response, and about responsibility and carelessness, wisdom and foolishness, pain and healing, sorrow and comfort.

1 Peter 4:8 says, 
"Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, 
since love covers a multitude of sins." 

I am pondering this, trying to figure out what it looks like in my own life, wondering what could be the power of my own love, if I could learn to love well enough.

I've been ruminating on love, and realizing that true love is mostly made up of grace. 

Love and grace.

I haven't totally figured them out, solved the mystery, grasped the truth, practiced the principles . . . and I don't don't know if I ever will. 

But I am going to try to write something about love and grace on each day in February.  
(Well, maybe not on the weekends.)
February is the love month, after all.

Ha!  I have three and a half days to get my thoughts in order! 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Leaning in peace

Today I saw a post on Facebook by a cousin of mine.

She had a baby boy a couple of years ago, and she is only a tad bit younger than I.

Apparently, in his sweet toddler way, this baby has learned to sing, "Safe and secure from all alarms."

Today, on the brink of my youngest moving out (not going to school, mind you, just moving out), the story of my cousin's little son hits me in many ways.

Her boy is small.  She can hold him and rock him to sleep.  My boy is 6'4" -- all I can do is pat his arm, and that probably annoys him.

Safe.  Secure.  These are not words I associate with my day today (or my upcoming weeks and months).  I cannot keep my boy safe and secure.

Of course, I never could.  But still.  There were times when it certainly felt as though I could.

Am I alarmed?

I have been.  I have been very alarmed.  Frightened.  Sick to my stomach.  Distraught.

God is at work.  He always is.  He does not slumber or sleep.  He does not take his hands off the world.  He is always present, always in control and (imagine!) never worried!

God is not worried about this.

What's more, in His goodness, He has been preparing me for this.  On my birthday, three weeks before events began to unfold, He gave me the verse He knew I would need:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.
~John 14:27

Throughout November, God cultivated gratitude in me and taught me to have a thankful heart.  I believe He did this partly so that I could be anxious for nothing but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present my requests to God and have the peace of God which transcends all understanding guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

I will lean on His everlasting arms.  He will not drop me.  No, He will not.

  1. What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms;
    What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms.
    • Refrain:
      Leaning, leaning,
      Safe and secure from all alarms;
      Leaning, leaning,
      Leaning on the everlasting arms.
  2. Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms;
    Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms.
  3. What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms?
    I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
    Leaning on the everlasting arms.
I really especially like that third verse.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

If God even loves birds

This morning when I woke up, the sky was white and in the bare, black branches of my maple tree a bright red cardinal perched, his feathers puffed fat against the winter cold.

It was quite a sight, quite a first morning view.  I hoped it was a love note from God, telling me that He sees.  He cares.  He has it all in His control.

I'd slept well, which was a blessing.  Also, I'd not set an alarm.  It was 7:34, and I'd slept through until the sleep just wore itself off, with no alarm.  I cannot tell you what a blessing it is to awaken to silence and a white sky punctuated with a red bird.

Things are not unraveling the way I would choose.  I can't really discuss it.

Sometimes your heart feels as though it has been ripped out and twisted, and you can't breathe very well, and tears just spill down your face and you choke on the snot from your nose.  Other times you feel pretty much okay.  You match the socks, fold the underwear, take the dogs out to wet on the ice in the bitter wind, steep another cup of tea.

I ventured down to the basement today, to try to work on the boxes that still sprawl there a year and a half after the movers unceremoniously schlepped them in.  I found a box of treasures from my childhood, things I'd painstakingly packed up long years ago when I first moved out of my natal home.  I left a lot of things at my parents' house, so I know that the things I kept were precious to me, gifts with memories, trinkets that had once brought delight to my girlish imagination.

It is a curse to have an active and vivid imagination.  When life takes twists you had never reckoned on, and you start to imagine what might happen next, it can be a real curse.  (This is an aside.)

Two of my old music boxes are broken.  I should not write that here.  I want to throw them away and never remember them again.  The sense that I'm losing my past is excruciating, the memories running out between my fingers, although they are not really memories, just feelings, strong emotions that well up in response to the sight of things long forgotten.  Broken music boxes that used to sing, before I had my children, before, even, I had met my husband, things from so long ago that nobody could share the memory, which, once forgotten by me, will be lost forever.  But now that I wrote this, it will be that much more difficult to let go and forget.  So is this sin?

Upstairs is safer.  Mostly.  It's set up and functional.  The basement is a hazard to my mental health, I think, a symbol of the wreck of memories that I was unable to keep nicely.

And life marches forward with all of its uncertainties and heartbreaks and hopefulnesses.

A cardinal is hopeful, don't you think?  Even if he is cold.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? 
Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. 
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 
Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
Luke 12:6-7 (NIV)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

For 2015. Three things.

It's been the New Year for awhile now, and I haven't said anything about it.

Which probably doesn't matter.  Plenty of other people have had plenty to say.

(Sometimes when I go into a book store, it takes all the wind out of my sails on the "I-want-to-write-a-book" front.  There are already so many books.  Many are much better than anything I could ever write, and some are actually much worse.  But the point is, does the world need any more books?)

But now that we are in the double digits of January, here are three things I would like to record.

1.  My life Bible passage

Rejoice in the Lord always.  
I will say it again: Rejoice!  
Let your gentleness be evident to all.  
The Lord is near.  
Do not be anxious about anything, 
but in everything, 
by prayer and petition, 
with thanksgiving, 
present your requests to God.  
And the peace of God, 
which transcends all understanding, 
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
~Philippians 4:4-7

2.  My verse for 2015

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.
~John 14:27

3.  My word for 2015


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

a photo journal of Christmas 2014

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

They all dressed in Hawaiian shirts.  
This is a blurry picture because I was not able to get an un-blurry one.

David eats the protein bar that I put in his stocking.  
The others received Lindt Lindor Truffles.

Shannon enjoys a cup of Christmas coffee.

Jon hangs out with the Schu.

Laura and Matthew sit in the sunshine.
The sunshine was fantastic that morning.

Shawn ponders the events to come.

A Christmas morning fire.
Christmas is pretty much the only morning we have a fire.

A funny picture of Piper.
The egg-bake was not done, so we were killing time
after opening the stockings, 
which had a fight-the-virus theme this year
(medicines, tissues and cough drops).

The gingerbread house
that Jon and Shanny decorated,
posing in front of spaghetti squash.  Ha!

Jon and Shannon wait patiently.

David, a.k.a. "Mr. Christmas," 
works on distributing people's presents
from under the tree.

Another shot of "Mr. Christmas,"
taking his duties seriously.

...and yet more to go...

The angel atop the tree says, 
"Be sure to get the right gifts to the right people."

Random decorations.
Remember, killing time while the egg-bake bakes.

Dad wants to get in on
the Mr. Christmas thing.
I do not know what Laura is doing with her shirt.

So many amazing things about this picture.
I leave it to you to notice them.

Dad inspects his packages.
A sax and dumbbells because
David is in the house.

Some of our Christmas cards 
form a Christmas tree on the wall.
Soon I will do something more permanent
on this wall.

Wondering how she'd get this home on the plane.
It's okay.  It turned out to be a carry-on suitcase.

Curiouser and curiouser.

So... who has more anticipation,
do you think?

I like this picture because it shows
Mr. Christmas,
the fire,
the tree,
the sun streaming through the windows,
and at least a piece of nearly everyone.

Finally a delicious breakfast.
Oranges, fruitcake and egg-bake.  Yay!

Back to the task of opening presents.
I do love the sunlight in this picture.
What a glorious day.

A very cute shot
of a very cute dog.

Are we having fun yet?

Jon is a champion wrapper.
(It was a beautiful fountain pen with ink cartridges.)

He knew what it was right away!
Some of us needed an explanation.
A tee-shirt with the Greek alphabet 
and all the things the letters stand for in science.

A dog's life.
And the reason why we have blankets on our furniture.

No more presents here.

So. On about 12/23, I realized I'd made a mistake, 
and was short a gift for Jon.
He got a box of chocolate dipped granola bars
to even the count.

Periwinkle is nice on Shannon.
How do you like it with the Hawaiian shirt?

I tried to make
a small lap quilt for Laura
out of fabric squares
from her wedding centerpieces.

Poor Matthew asked for a scarf and got a face mask.
The online picture was not representative.
He was a good sport and said it would be useful 
when he rides his bike to school.

My favorite shot of the day.
He asked for a sweater vest.
I did not know that this is how he would wear it.

A random shot of Christmas in our living room.
So it doesn't feel left out.
David played lovely carols.

Oh yes, and I was there too.
So I don't feel left out.

My boys and me (David!).

A better behaved shot.

the papa and the mama

haha.  I finally realize that the candles are crooked and fix them.

with the newlyweds

They wanted me to hold both dogs.
That is a big armload of dog.

A private moment in the sun.

And... Jon is ready
for Second Breakfast.

Random decorative shots.
Keeping it festive.

The dining room, all decked out.

What, pray tell, is that?

Aha!  The gravy boat from my discontinued china
that my kids hunted up
and bought me for my birthday...
awaiting the gravy from the
Christmas roast beast.

An afternoon game of Pandemic.
Highly recommended, cooperative game.

Shannon whips up some creme brulee
for Christmas dessert.
It's gluten free.

Christmas dinner.  
My boys are incorrigible.
No valid excuse exists
for Jon's facial expression.
David is a ham.
(**Matthew is not incorrigible.**)
Do you see the new gravy boat?

And now:
A Creme Brulee Vignette

Shannon is really good with a blow torch.
She glazes that sugar just gorgeously.

Cracking through the glazed shell
to the creamy goodness below.

After dessert, we sat around in the living room 
and listened to David play Christmas music on the piano.
We were too tired to take many more pictures.

And that was Christmas 2014.
A blessed day of family togetherness,
a day to remember our Savior's birth.